Rise of the Machine | Random Thought for July 6, 2018

When’s the last time you were asked to remember someone’s phone number? What about basic directions to get somewhere? I got to thinking about that this morning after listening to a replay on a radio show where they were taking calls on weird and crazy things that have happened as a result of wonky navigation app directions.

Old(ish), but not a fogey

I’m a Gen X’er. I’m in my 40s, so I’m part of this last “analog” population. I’ve seen the explosion of computer use. The transition from LPs and video tapes to CDs and DVDs, and now streaming. I remember having to carry loose change if I needed to call home while I was out. My dad had maps in his glove compartment, and I would help navigate on long car rides. I also needed to remember those numbers I wanted to call, or, I suppose, write them down in an address book. Come to think of it, when’s the last time you HAD an address book. The last one I bought was over 20 years ago (I’m sure I have it in a box somewhere).

I still have a stack of scraps of paper with usernames and passwords that I mean to transfer to a notebook (I just can’t bring myself to use one of those password managers). There’s a core set of websites I visit daily, and I key in login info by hand. Not only is it good mental exercise, but it’s also a way to not be dependent on technology.

This doesn’t mean I’m some sort of tech-averse luddite (I know someone like that, and believe me, I DO NOT want to be that type of person). My smartphone is my go-to piece of tech that is with me pretty much everywhere. I love my DVR. Spotify is basically my source for music discovery. I’m comfortable in that world. I embrace it.

the takeaway

And that’s it– sure, technology can, and does, make our lives easier. But it shouldn’t be at the expense of losing what, for lack of a better metaphor, is part of what makes us human.

Random Thought for 11.10.15- my delicious salad dressing

This bit o’randomness has nothing to do with design, print, web, packaging, business, or anything that’s related to pretty much any profession (I suppose those in the culinary field might say otherwise).


 

MY SALAD DRESSING

Ingredients:

  • Olive Oil (I prefer Extra Virgin)
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Lemon Juice
  • Honey

For one salad, put a couple of drops of honey into a small container. Add 2 teaspoons each of lemon juice and balsamic, and about a tablespoon of oil. Mix or shake to blend/emulsify. Drizzle over your salad.

Note: Measurements are suggested. Feel free to tweak the proportions according to your taste.


 

So, where did this come from?

Lunch on work days typically consists of a salad I bring from home. Healthy options near work are few and far between, so bringing lunch keeps me out of trouble food-wise, as well as not being terrible for my pocket. 🙂 And, for a while, I was just using either leftover pouches of dressing from Wendy’s, or I would just throw some oil and vinegar together in a small container. Eventually, this got a little boring, so I looked in the cupboard and the fridge to see if there was anything I could add– hot sauce, dried herbs… Something. I gravitated to the honey and the lemon juice, and well, voila.

So, there you have it. If ever you’re stuck with having to make salad dressing, I suppose there are worse choices you could make.

Enjoy!

The Sheep and the Unicorn

“That’s the way the competition is doing it”. “That’s how it’s always been done”.

These are not fully valid reasons for making choices. Sure, there can be times when visual cues or specific language help the consumer make an immediate connection to whatever is being sold. But, more often that not, falling into this type of groupthink and making decisions from that place can be at best a bad idea, and at worst catastrophic. Thinking like this can dilute a message. It can take a standout design and make it generic. It can take the air out of a successful marketing campaign.

Figure out what makes you you, and leverage that. Forget the sheep, and embrace the fabulous unicorn within.

The Social order of things

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. Not sure why. It’s just something that popped in my head one day. It’s been sitting here as a draft. I’ve been contemplating fleshing it out, but as best as my brain can see it, there’s not a whole lot to flesh out, so I’m just going to think it out loud and leave you all to come to whatever conclusions you will.

A while back (September of this year, to be precise), I jotted down the following:

Does the order of social media links matter, and how does this affect visitor perceptions?

The idea behind it was that, if someone visited your website, or anywhere else there may be social media links grouped together, would the order the sites were linked make a difference?

For example, if I were to list my social profiles in the following order:

What would be a visitor’s impression? And would it be the same if I listed them this way?:

  • Linkedin
  • Google+
  • Twitter
  • Facebook

It’s not that the information provided is any different. They would link to the same places, the information on the profiles would be identical.

But would it make a difference? That’s what’s been sitting in the back of my head, festering. And it bugs me.

And frankly, it’s not something that bugs me enough beyond it being an academic exercise. Which is why I’ve never bothered with testing this out in any way. Maybe one day I will. Who knows?

So that’s it. I fell better having thought this out loud. I’m curious what you, dear reader, think about this. Am I on to something? Or am I just making more out of it than I should? Let me know in the comments, or get in touch with me through one of the social media outlets above.

(Thanks for reading! Hope you have an awesome day.)

Random Thought for Wednesday, January 15, 2014

On decisions–
There’s an old saying– “It’s better to fail trying something than it is to succeed doing nothing.

It’s one thing to change a decision once it’s been put into action and its results can be evaluated. It’s another to constantly make second-guessing decisions without ever putting any of them in motion.

The former shows flexibility, strength of character and the potential for growth. The latter a paralyzing fear of the unknown.

Given those options. I’ll take the former any day.

Photoshop– you sure you’re doing that right?

I was walking around the mall this afternoon running a couple of errands before I start my new job on Monday, and I happened to come across a poster for the upcoming Scott Pilgrim movie. I thought it was pretty cool as a teaser type poster (I’ve always been partial to bass and drums). That is, until  I took a look at its feet:

What jumped out at me was how oddly angled and out of proportion (relative to the figure as a whole) the sneakers looked. And let’s not get into the shadow. For a second I thought the whole thing might have been an optical illusion created by overly baggy pants, but the jeans looked loose or relaxed, but definitely not baggy. I also looked Michael Cera up on IMDB, and found that the kid’s close to six feet, so not only did the shoes look like they had been replaced, but they were now tiny as well (I’m fairly confident in saying that, if anything, Mr. Cera would not want to be known as the guy with the tiny feet).

Just so things are in context, here’s an image of the whole poster. I took the liberty of really quickly drawing a rough “wireframe” of where I think the original feet were placed.

I’m hoping the reason such slipshod work was put out was because of time constraints. I’d hate to think this exemplifies the type of quality the studio’s marketing people (whether in-house or not) are putting out.

So, tell me– am I correct in my observation? Am I completely off-base here? I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this.

Craigslist ads– sniper rifle or drum of dynamite?

Craigslist ads are a pretty good value for the dollar, if you ask me. Where else do you have such a large place where you can put up an ad virtually anywhere in the world– for nothing.

That being said, these free ads can be a pain sometimes, because of this very public nature. It’s almost like those ads you see in laundromats, dorms, and other public spots where you just tear off a little strip with a phone number on it. Anybody can snag one, so for every legit inquiry, there’s probably at least 5 spammy ones tha come your way. And in this age of the Internet, those spammy ones can potentially steal personal information, not to mention zap time from following up on actual, bona fide potential clients.

You could also– quite reasonably– argue how it’s like whispering in the middle of  Grand Central– at rush hour. But we’ll leave that argument for another day and focus instead on their bang for the buck. After all, free stuff’s good. Right?

image courtesy of morguefile.com

Now, I’m not going to go into a whole thing on how to place these ads. What I want to focus on are the ways you can reply to these ads. When you place an ad on Craigslist you have the option of showing a link to (a) your actual email, (b) displaying an anonymized email link, or (c) hiding the email altogether. For the most part, the ads I see (and have placed myself) have an anonymized link, which forwards/redirects the message to your actual email inbox. This is supposed to protect you by keeping this bit of personal info– your email– off the ad and the intitial contact.

Is this a good way of doing things? Maybe

Recently, I’ve switched tactics and decided to hide the email address completely. Instead, at the very end of the listing, I give out my website address in the form of rafaelarmstrong [dot] com, and direct folks to use the contact form I have set up there.

This results in a couple of things. First, it weeds out the people who may just be replying to any and all posts that are remotely related to whatever project they may/may not have on deck by forcing them to physically type in the address in their browser, visit my site and navigate to the contact form– hopefully after checking out the samples I have online.

Secondly, the form itself has a captcha set up, which helps in reducing– if not outright eliminating– spam bots that would just troll Craigslist ads for email links.

Now, I’ll probably get less hits off that ad than if I just left the email address as a “reply to” (even if it’s anonymized), but the quality of replies is improved slightly. And, isn’t that what we ultimately are looking for?

What do you think? Am I on to something? Is it naive and foolish to even place ads on Craigslist? Leave me your thought and suggestions below.

Create Something Every Day (#daily365)– for May 2

So much for the “every day” part. Although, I have been doing a fair amount of work these past couple of months, so it’s not like I’ve dropped designing and coming up with stuff altogether. Anyhow, I think I have a plan on how I’m going to get somewhat caught up fairly quickly. Here’s a start.

I was reading online today about two things that seemed to dovetail together in a funny way– to me, at least. First, the capping of the well out in the Gulf (BTW, if this isn’t the definition of cluster#$%&, then I don’t know what is. I’ll get off my eco-political soapbox now). Second, I read on a blog somewhere about a series of short videos made by the Old Spice Guy (OSG), some of which personally thanked celebs or “internet famous” folks. Both these things got me thinking about the long-running meme about Chuck Norris. And, being a fan of the show Deadliest Warrior, I started to wonder who’d win should Chuck and the OSG were to meet in a mano a mano.