Window 7 – So Easy, Even You Can Launch It

September 24, 2009 at 7:51 pm (advertising, Branding, free, networking, News, social event, Social Events & Networking, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

In order to launch Windows 7, Microsoft isn’t sending out reps to address the masses, there’s no pomp and circumstance, and no caucus of bald men dressed as Dr. Evil marching in formation like Macintosh’s 1984 commercial would lead us to believe. Instead they are taking a queue from Tupperware and candle sales. That’s right, they are having a house party – several house parties to be exact.

To prepare for the main event there is a page on houseparty.com to get you pumped up about having your very own Windows 7 launch party. I love the introductory video, which invites you to the festivities and tells you how great it is to host a party. After all you are “just throwing a house party with Windows 7 as an honored guest. Sounds easy, and it is…” All you have to do is load Windows 7 onto your computer, clear off anything you do not want everyone perusing, double check your photo files – just incase your boss or preacher show up, and hope that no beer gets spilled on the keyboard by the guy who talks with his hands.

According to the video our four hosts got to have their parties a little ahead of schedule, and feel like dispensing some awkwardly scripted advice while feigning camaraderie. The video is even shot with cuts and camera zooms as if it was a home video done by someone who almost knew what they were doing. I enjoy the personalities of the four hosts – retiree, housewife, average young professional, and quasi-computer geek, who of course led three activities during his party instead of just two. I like that they tell you show the “help” section as a kind of last call to help wrap up soiree. And remember, “Part of the fun of a launch party is seeing what you already know and what you can figure out.” This gives me visions of my AutoCad teacher in college; everyday in class he would find himself telling us “well, this worked yesterday.”

I do have to commend Windows for adapting multi-tier marketing strategies to a multimedia product. It seems like a smart move in the current economic times, because no one can scream foul about them blowing access money on a big campaign or party. The ROI has to be nearly perfect, and as a buzz marketing case study it will hold value …but are they really only trying to put the product in the hands of the consumer, or really trying to save money – you be the judge.

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Graduates of Distinction

September 23, 2009 at 6:38 pm (Art, Art Event, Design, Design Events, Florida, free, Graphic Design, Logo Design, Miami, networking, News, photography, South Florida) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

portfolio-review

It’s graduation season at the Art Institutes again, and once again I was not disappointed at the showing in Miami. The graduating class at Miami International University of Art and Design seemed a little smaller this quarter compared to last, but the work was equally as good. Interior design was set up outside the hall and the extra space allowed for a little less congestion throughout portfolio review. Fashion Design, Accessory Design, and Fashion Merchandizing had a good showing with a wide variety of styles represented. Graphic Design showed sound composition and design aesthetics. Juan Lopez from the Graphics Department caught my eye with some interesting 3D work.

Visual Arts had only two graduates this quarter, but both were very strong. Alejandra Cicilia showed her diversity in photography. She had some fantastic photos of construction workers in front of the Fontainebleau on Miami Beach, her fashion photography was well composed, and her nighttime photography has an amazing use of color. The work of Chantal Disler can be an event in itself. She takes watercolor, newsprint, and other mixed media and forms them into beautiful arrangements of harmony. Her branding seems to be set around birds in different forms and flight patterns. Her photography, drawings, and portraits all follow a free will aesthetic.

This quarter’s showing was very good. The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale had their portfolio review today at the Broward County Convention Center. Unfortunately I was unable to attend both, but wish graduates from both schools the best of luck!

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Facebook May Cost Man 10 Years in Prison

September 22, 2009 at 12:58 am (News, social media) (, , , , , , , , , , )

facebook

Back on August 31 I blogged about the Boca Police Department using the twitter handle @BocaPolice to dispense information to the general public in real time, and joked that social media could cost you your freedom. Well, kids guess what happened to one West Virginia fellow?

19-year-old Jonathan Parker likes burglarizing people, turns out he likes facebook, too. He enjoys these two activities so much that he decided to do them in tandem. In all his excitement he remembered to take the $3500 worth of diamonds, but forgot to log out of his facebook account from the victim’s computer – I wonder if his status was “excited about my new bling!”?

The burglary happened on August 28, and Jonathan is being held in the Eastern Regional Jail in lieu of $10,000 bond, if convicted he could get up to ten years in prison.

I guess the lesson here is: always steal the computer …or earn your money like the rest of us.

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Call To Action From The Wolfsonian–FIU

September 15, 2009 at 7:42 pm (Design, economy, Florida, Miami, News, South Florida, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Wolfsonian

Reproduced from an email by the Wolfsonian Museum:

The second and final Miami-Dade County public Budget Hearing is scheduled for this Thursday, September 17th and your personal messages to the County Commission about the value of support to cultural organizations is critical. Presently, if no positive action is taken, there will be “zero” dollars in the County budget for social service and cultural organizations.

We all recognize the arduous task before the County Commission; however, we have all worked so hard over the past two decades to build a vibrant cultural community that reflects the creativity, innovation, and generosity of our community. The arts have demonstrated their impact on quality of life, education, the economy, and job market, not to mention that almost all of the good news that comes out of Miami-Dade County is related to cultural organizations and arts events.

The severe reduction of County support of the arts will impact every cultural institution and the community it serves. It will result in the reduction of staff and seriously curtail most public, educational programs—exacerbating an already dire economic situation. Furthermore, the economic multiplier of this loss of funding is immeasurable, affecting numerous local businesses, service providers, and countless individuals. No one would argue that Art Basel and Design Miami, among other major conferences and events, have chosen to come to Miami, in part, because of its dynamic cultural scene.

If you have a strong opinion about the County budget, we urge you to attend the upcoming budget hearing and state your concerns.

Alternatively, if you are unable to attend the meeting, you may write members of the Miami-Dade County Commission to express your opinions or concerns. Visit http://artsactionalliance.wordpress.com/elected-officials/ for a list of Miami-Dade County Commissioners. Your individual letters about your personal experiences are more valuable than a form letter.

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The Jay Leno Show – Out of The Box & Already Dated

September 15, 2009 at 10:20 am (News) (, , , , , , , , , )

Picture 20

Congratulations to Jay Leno for spending his retirement in primetime. We’ve been looking forward to his return for three months, and the commercials promoting it have been driving us crazy. So, how did the first show go?

The intro had an interesting concept behind it – showing images of Jay over the years – but I did not feel the execution was done well. It already seems dated, like a Saturday Night Live intro from the 90s, and the voice over was rather anticlimactic.

His new set is also designed with a flair of 1990 but materials from 2009. The design is too literal in regards to a living room design, and the chair set up reminds me of the Montel Williams Show, among others. The stage is huge! There are at least four zones – Primetime Band area, desk, interview area, and performing space. The set is so large that it seems disconnected during studio pans and jib shots. I do like the band shell area, it allows for a lot of flexibility by the performers in regards to space planning and décor.

The show itself will improve over time, this first episode seemed a little forced. The oddest thing happened during the interview with Seinfeld when a TV monitor dropped from the ceiling so Oprah could talk. Both Jay and Jerry looked in the direction of the screen as if it were there, but due to camera shake and other rendering glitches we find that the TV monitor is actually keyed in. That’s right, they spend a lot of money on Jay’s set, but someone thought that a digital representation of a TV monitor was a better decision than really putting out the money for it. Later in the show Kanye West made an appearance and apologized for his actions during the Video Music Awards when he grabbed the mic from Taylor Swift and announced that Beyonce should have won. While Jay was talking to him he looked like a little kid in a principal’s office, especially when Jay asked if his mother would be disappointed if she were still living.

Overall I enjoyed the show and know that they will continue to tweak it as the show progresses -the first show is always the roughest. I wish Jay and the cast and crew luck. A lot of shows were cancelled to make way for this one, so I hope the show develops into a really strong and entertaining piece of television history.

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The Great Grove Bed Race 2009

September 6, 2009 at 10:14 pm (Florida, free, Miami, News, social event, South Florida) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Bed-Race

Coconut Grove was the location of this afternoon’s “Great Grove Bed Race.” This competition pits teams of 5 (one rider and four pushers) against each other to race down a 1/8th mile track; their vehicle is of course a twin-size bed.

Race events kicked off the evening before with a Pajama Pub Crawl through the Grove’s many watering holes with 100% of proceeds going to the Alonzo Mourning Charities. Race day began with the Ford Motor Company Family Pajama Party at The Bookstore and included the reading of “The Princess and the Pea” by the Alonzo Mourning Charities Honey Shine Girls, along with live music and book giveaways. At 1 PM the races began with the Pit Row Parade. At 2 PM time trials began down Grand Avenue, and by 4 PM the Sandbar Sports Grill team had clenched the win.

The event was fun. There were many creative ideas for beds – everything from a hospital gurney, to a cabana, and even a President Obama. I hope to be able to participate next year, nothing’s really filled the void left after Flugtag never returned to South Florida.

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He Shoots. He Projects?! – Nikon CoolPix S1000pj

September 4, 2009 at 3:11 pm (Design, News, photography) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Do you like being able to show off your photos immediately to your friends? Are you a creative professional who needs to go from inspiration to presentation seamlessly? Nikon might be able to help.

The new Nikon Coolpix s1000pj is both a camera and a projector! That’s right you can show off your photos (and video) instantly with this new Compact Digital Camera – the projected image size ranges from 5” to 40”! Not only does it function as a camera and projector, but it also comes packed with the features you’ve come to expect from Nikon.

Here’s a breakdown of some key features within the camera:

  • 12.1 Megapixels
  • 5x Wide-angle Zoom-Nikkor Glass Lens
  • World’s first camera with an ultra-small, built-in projector
  • 5-way VR Image Stabilization System
  • Incredible, Bright 2.7-inch High Resolution LCD
  • Scene Auto Selector
  • Nikon’s Smart Portrait System
  • Quick Retouch
  • 16 Scene Modes
  • Record movies
  • Macro shooting

You can even purchase a projector stand and remote control for easy viewing.

I won’t be abandoning my D90 for this little ditty anytime soon, but this is yet another example of Nikon’s forward thinking in design and innovation. A special thanks to @Tracydesigns for tweeting about it!

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5 Ways to Stay Current as a Creative

September 2, 2009 at 12:08 pm (Art Event, Design, Design Events, economy, Education, Florida, Fort Lauderdale, marketing, Miami, networking, News, social event, Social Events & Networking, social media, South Florida, Uncategorized, unemployment) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

gaping1You’ve been downsized, laid-off, or decided it was time to strike out on your own and try the world of full-time freelancing and consulting…Now what? In school we’re taught that “no one designs in a vacuum”, but lets face it, when your whole company consists of you, your computer, and maybe a pet, you are not constantly surrounding by other creatives that provide inspiring stimuli. Have no fear, here are five ways I’ve found to keep myself  out of the vacuum and up to date while working as a design consultant:

1. Stay in the loop through social media
Social media can mean different things to different people, but what it comes down to is forging relationships with people online who you may not have otherwise met or stayed in contact with. Though reluctant to it at first, I have found Twitter to be one of the most informational and beneficial social media hubs. The reason for this is because I follow other professionals, media outlets, and design related companies and websites through Twitter. Here’s an example of a tweet from Smashing Magazine:

“@SmashingMag: 30 Amazing Retro Posters and Flyers – http://bit.ly/nG9i4#retro #inspiration

If I’m interested in the topic I don’t have to search through the website, because the link is right there. Other good online networking and portfolio sites are: Facebook, LinkedIn, Behance, and Coroflot.

2. Socialize and network in real face-to-face situations.
If you are on Twitter or Tumblr you might want to attend a local tweetup, where twitter members gather to have real conversations. Refresh and barcamp activities are usually free and informative. The open platform allows for a wide variety of topics to be covered by several presenters. Meetup.com is another great resource. You can find social groups for just about anything. I’ve written several posts about the Shoot Miami photography group that I belong to, but there are groups for WordPress, photoshop, young professionals, etc.

You can also go to art galleries, design events, museum openings, and other social events. Mix with a new demographic, tell them what you do, and maybe you’ll generate some new business contacts.

3. Read industry (and non-industry) related publications:
You don’t have to subscribe to the publications because most of them are online. Some of my favorites for inspiration are: Smashing Magazine, Inspired Magazine, Freelance Switch, Web Designer Depot, and Wired Magazine, and I still receive printed versions of Event Design Magazine. Computer Arts Magazine is a great resource that I check out when I go to book stores, and Smithsonian Magazine and Reader’s Digest are a great resources for escaping from all the creative stimulus when you want a well written and engaging story.

4. Start a blog:
Having a blog and actually trying to write interesting, topical, and engaging information everyday really helps to change your thinking. You start looking for new technologies, techniques, events, and anything else worthy of note to add to your blog. Pick a general topic you are interested in and write about it. As our good friend Benjamin Franklin said: “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

5. Expand your creative horizons:
While working full-time you probably hit a comfortable stride. You knew what your boss wanted to see, how things should be done, and what type of clientele you were dealing with, so shake it up a little bit! Do projects outside of your comfort zone; this helps you expand your design reach. Be careful not to over extend yourself, but look for a project that is in a different style than what you are used to, or a new industry that you haven’t explored. E.g. I recently created a logo for a cake decorator. Most of the concepts I did were feminine with script fonts. This is not my usual style at all, but it expanded my design style a little further.

Another great thing you can do is volunteer. Find a museum or charitable organization within your field to help support with your time. You’ll feel better about yourself, have access to industry developments, and make valuable contacts all while doing some good in your community.

Hopefully these 5 little tips will help to keep you out of that design vacuum. Good luck in this new phase of your life, and remember to enjoy the journey.

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STOP, Or I’ll Tweet You to the Police!

August 31, 2009 at 11:49 pm (Florida, News, social media, South Florida, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

tweet-policeWe’ve heard of people posting updates to social media sites that have cost them their jobs and relationships, but how about their freedom? The City of Boca Raton, Florida has started using Twitter as a crime fighting and public information tool. Who knew that the little blue bird from twitter would replace McGruff the Crime Dog?

It’s refreshing to see that local police are adapting to the new frontiers of social media. Sure cybercrime units are nothing new, hey there are even some movies featuring cybercrime now, but to use social media as a communications link between the top brass of crime prevention and the community is fairly new. Boca Police Chief Dan Alexander gets it. His blog, The Chiefs Corner, outlines why he chose to create a blog:

“Through this blog, I think we have an opportunity to provide another, perhaps more personal angle to the issues we face and the work that we do. We have turned on blog comments, but we will screen any messages in order to avoid the obscene, offensive and otherwise inappropriate. I hope you enjoy this blog and look forward to hearing from you.”

He later discusses that the department’s use of social media is to be “not interested in technology for technology’s sake.” We have eliminated those [social networking sites] that don’t reach our target audiences and will try to avoid merely being fashionable when it comes to new programs in the future.”

So you may be asking “what real world application does all this web based Tom Foolery have for a serious police department?” Well, he can tweet things like: “If you work in a bank, please call when this guy walks in. Please make patrons remove hats and glasses.” with a link to a surveillance picture of the bank robber. Or a link to information about a recent hit and run involving an officer. This way the public can assist in the community policing effort and information can get released in real-time instead of hearing about it on the news after the fact.

I say well done to Chief Alexander! You can follow him @bocachief and the police department @BocaPolice.

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District 9 – No Non-Humans Allowed

August 30, 2009 at 11:52 pm (movies, News, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

District 9 is a movie that unexpectedly brings together some of the best features of several movie genres. The premise of the movie is that 20+ years ago an alien spacecraft came to rest just above Johannesburg, South Africa. “It hovers above the city for three months without any contact; eventually humans take the initiative and cut into the ship. They discover a large group of aliens who are malnourished and sick.” Eventually these aliens, nicknamed “prawns” by the local human population, are forced to reside in a government controlled area-cum-slum named District 9. Multi-National United, a private company, takes control of the operation when it is decided to move the prawns to a new area, named District 10, 240 Km from Johannesburg.

The film is shot in a documentary style employing several camera techniques including: helicopter views, security cameras, first-person-shooter, and, of course, extensive shoulder mounted camera work. The image movement is kept well under control through most scenes, so there is no Blair Witch type of motion sickness. The only lock-off/tripod shots are those of interviews shown at the beginning and ending of the movie.

Like vintage sci-fi films, the audience forms an emotional connection with the monster, or aliens in this case. Sharlto Copley, who played the protagonist – Wikus Van De Merwe, actually adlibbed all his lines, a feat that may not have been done since Robert Altman’s 1970 movie, MASH (it won an Oscar for Best Writing – the script was barely used), which probably added to the uneasiness and awkward fluidity of Copley’s performance, and helped sell the documentary feel of the film. The CG of the aliens was done very nicely, but the alien mechanized battle suit reminded me too much of the ED-209 from Robocop.

Overall, I think the movie was very well done. The majority of the actors are either unknown, or have worked mostly in television instead of film. The camera positioning and technique helped to define the movie as a sci-fi mockumentary, and the storyline is laid out better than most action films. I can’t wait to get the DVD release and watch the special features.

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