zuLIVE

zuLive is home to musings from the zuCrew, photos, and generally anything that interests us. Don’t expect anything too polished, this is where we let it all out.

Hello Saskatoon. The Internet has arrived.

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When zu started out back in 1995, there was no such thing as Internet in the home or at work. In fact, zu was one of the first businesses in the city to have internet access, when on February 8, 1995, WBM began offering that service. Soon after, the Interactive community began to evolve.

In 1995, there were a few “clubs” around; SMUG (Saskatoon Mac Users Group) was the most active and most of the people at zu became members, often logging into their BBS on a 2400 baud modem (I remember getting a 14.4k modem which seemed as fast as a race car at that time). But this was a small group, with a limited focus.

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The first “big thing” in our industry was the development of the Saskatoon FreeNet, which gave people free access to the Internet in late 1995 or early 1996. I remember having

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Memorable Moments

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We spend an estimated 90,000 hours of our lives at work. If that’s the case, you’d better make sure it’s not boring. We asked current and former staff to look back at some of their lasting memories from the past twenty years.

Head shot of Zach Perkins  Zach Perkins, Design Director, 2010-2017

Most of the funny stories that come to mind probably shouldn’t be repeated (and only half of them involve Tony). I’ll never forget my first April Fools day here. The design team was all working on the 2nd floor at the time and the developers were on the third floor. The night before April 1st, one of our developers, Kevin, went to Home Depot and bought rope and screw hooks. Late at night, he came in and strung up all the chairs in the design team area from the ceiling by himself, including a 6 foot long couch. It took us

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Here There Be Dragons

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One thing that drew me to becoming a web developer was that it was a world of unknowns. In 1996, I was 15 and the world wide web became a “thing” as it was popularized. I started playing around with Amaya one day, at my dad’s behest, and I found what you could do with it quite neat. I discovered a huge world of possibilities even though it was merely text and a couple of images at the time. I’d play around with web technologies on and off throughout the late 90’s, but never thought I’d spend my life with it.

Aside from web development, my only other job involved a finite set of possibilities (burgers, fries, and occasionally gravy). Being able to do something perfectly over and over again is a wonderful goal, but if I’m not learning something I lose interest quickly. After I discovered

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20 Years of Design

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20 years ago, the internet was only in its infancy. From Angelfire, to hit counters, to Web 2.0, we take a look back at the evolution of the web design, and the exciting developments still to come.

1995

Although the first website was published in 1991, websites as we know them didn’t become a “thing” until years later. Back then, there was nothing pretty about web design. Tables were often used as the only structural element, which resulted in a mess of tables within tables and spacer gifs to create white space within. Another trend was slicing, where designers would create a composition layout in a program such as Photoshop, and would then cut it into several pieces and reassemble it like a puzzle. Since this was long before the responsive era, this worked great for page performance;

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Decades of Digital: An Inside Look at the Origins of zu

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In 1995, the idea of a business in digital may have been unfathomable; 20 years later, it has become an integral component of our lives. We sat down with Ryan and Tony to see how it all began.

How did you meet each other? First impressions?

Ryan: I met Tony when he was a rockstar for the amazing band IBS. He joined the band after they fired their first guitar player and I remember thinking, “Oh no, IBS is going downhill.” Then Tony started playing and I thought: “Wow, these guys are good!” He made the band way better. I also remember that they set up a mic stand for him and the only thing he sang all night was two words of a song “Kiss Me” (Ask him if he remembers the song). Anyway, I started talking to him more and he offered me a job at the Students Union print shop at the U of S,

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10 Lessons Learned from the Past 20 Years

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Over the last two decades, we’ve grown, shrunk, failed, and won on many occasions. Maturing as a business was especially hard. In the early days, because of our industry and geographic location, there were very few examples to model ourselves upon. But here we are. We’ve made it through some interesting times, and can now look back at some of the bigger lessons learned:

1) Choose a rising market over a mature one

We started our career in business with what we knew: Printing. This was the boom of desktop publishing with Apple-based page layout programs, and the beginning of Photoshop, Illustrator and QuarkXpress. On the downside, big box office stores were cutting in on the trade and a million home-based designers were also putting downward pressure on pricing. In 1994 we looked beyond

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