Wednesday, January 30, 2008
It allows you to download YouTube videos as mp4s ... and therefore insert into presentations (regardless of internet connection).
As someone who teaches advertising in a building sans wireless, this is incredibly valuable.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Now I have a challenge for you Account Planning community. Find a way to use THIS in your presentation...
I also don't really understand how going slow helps the frogs that much ... it seems like to small frog a 10mph car is still pretty darn scary and unavoidable a dilemma. But whatever. (Also shouldn't we be going slow because of the crosswalk anyway?)
But we weren't here for that. We just had last winter, which was a dry one.
We've had a lot of rain.
One of the good things it did was to was off Bird Rock at Rodeo Beach. Bird Rock usually looks like this (top right). It is completely white, even with all the crashing waves. Not anymore.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
But it was really cool. I had this app that I could load and it was a transparent frame that went around whatever I had open on my screen ... word doc, pdfs and firefox were the specific things I had going in this dream. Around this frame were various icons: pandora, flickr, blogger, google reader, yahoo! mail, itunes ... and also pictures of people, little facebook-esque avatars.
So what this killer app did was it allowed me to search through connected content with ease. I could highlight a text, and the icons would light up that were relevant, as well as a list came up on the side of "degree of relevancy."
Therefore, when I highlighted a sentence/topic such as "society falling apart" the icons would light up and I could click to see what was the relevancy: a blog post I had read on google reader, a picture of post-Katrina home on Flickr I had recently seen, an e-mail/facebook discussion I had about the topic, a lyric from a song I had heard on pandora, a topic in a podcast I had listened to on iTunes ...
but here was the kicker. I could click on a friend ... and see things they had looked at relevant to the topic as well. (I realize in reality this has major privacy issues ... I definitely don't need everyone to have access to what look at online, especially e-mails. But it was just a dream ... ) This even extended to student work, which made my life easier.
Anyway, I kind of see where we are headed, I think. Not exactly like this ... maybe 2% like this.
OK. Had to get that out of the brain. Time for deep breaths of ocean air again.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Saturday, January 19, 2008
We also recently recovered some old Chicago pictures off a defunct hard drive. I LOVE this set of Luke and Sam and the tulips...
NPR had a couple of recent stories about the transfer of memories online, much as many of us have transferred our phone number memories onto the cell phones (which for dyslexics like myself is quite a relief.) One of the more interesting points was this idea of the importance of "forgetting." How we have evolved a very select system of growth through forgetting. There are things which we are required to forget. So I guess when I blog I am counting on those instincts of what needs to be remembered and what should be forgotten.
Friday, January 18, 2008
So TV sucks for many people these days eh? Try out some pre-existing media from some truly amazing writers. No not the DVDs I'm talking about (there is so much time we can spend in front of a screen). I am talking about some of the truly great comics out there. Here are some of my top recommendations for those of you missing good tv (I've included the writers because of the theme of the posts, but an awful lot of credit goes to the art):
1) DMZ - Written by Brian Wood, Vertigo. Great story about the "current state of things in the U.S." Just started so you can get current quickly. Chaotic beauty.
2) Y:The Last Man - Written by Brian K. Vaughan, Vertigo. I love this book. Something happens that wipes all males off the planet, except for one dude and his monkey. The absurdity of the situation next to Vaughn's detail of story are remarkable to behold. If you are looking to think of things that you have never thought of before ... grab this book (before the movie).
3) 100 Bullets - Written by Brian Azzarello, Vertigo. My current favorite book (amazing art!). 100 untraceable bullets and a reason to use them handed out by Agent Graves. Mystery and noir at its best. If Orson Welles were alive, this is what he would be reading.
4) Invincible - Written by Robert Kirkman, Image. Superhero stuff is great. But, for the inexperienced, reading Marvel and DC can be complicated (52, Infinite Crisis, Civil War) if you don't know the history/players. Invincible starts a new superhero universe and it is so much fun.
5) Walking Dead - Written by Robert Kirkman, Image. I am not a big zombie fan. Seriously, they are just "okay" to me. But this is a survival book more than a zombie book. What happens in a world with a longterm major zombie attack? This can be a pretty intense book ... so don't read it unless you are okay with some pretty messed-up stuff.
6) Preacher - Written by Garth Ennis. OK, this is even more messed up. It is a Southern chicken-fried steak dinner with a nice bold Cabernet. So wrong, it is just so right.
7) Written by Warren Ellis - I particularly enjoy Desolation Jones and Fell, but all his writing is a good decade ahead of its time so his older stuff is great as well.
8) Written by Ed Brubacker - besides 100 bullets, Brubacker is writing the most streetwise stuff out there, and the great thing is he is spreading it across so many titles. Unfortunately, this is one where it helps to be a slight Marvel historian.
9) Fables - Written by Bill Willingham. Everybody is saying this is the best thing to happen to story in a long time ... everybody is right. I think Joseph Campbell would have had a field day reading these.
10) Bone - Written by Jeff Smith. I used to think that this was a silly, kids story. I also used to think Lords of the Ring was a little story about the lives of furry-feeted Hobbits. It turns out I was right about both ... and that was what made these highly-evolved, action packed epics so wonderful. Seriously, at like 2 cents a page, how can you go wrong?
These are some of the things I like, but a comic shelf has many things for many people (I just finished and loved Persepolis, can't wait to see the flick). Anyway ... Go writers! (We can't leave Lost hanging...)
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Who wants to play Talisman?
While Christmas shopping, we ran across this great game store in San Rafael: Gamescape. I was like ... well, like a big ole nerd in a geeky game store. Anyway, I ran across a game that I played hours and hours of as a kid/teenager with Anthony: Talisman. I had never really thought of it as a "family game." But you know what? This is so much better than monopoly. Your character has strengths, and you win the game by enhancing these strengths ... rather than just being a dog, an iron or the little race car (vroom!)
It is funny how often we turn to the generic games and overlook these involved games that might open our imagination a bit. One Thursday evening, we hope to make it to Gamescape for a "game board night."
Until I realized something. Many of our creative exercises involve getting adults to think like children again.
Fortunately, there is a bit of an objective. The students are writing a narrative (some sort of personal story). I am supposed to help them find their inner voice. hmmm.
Regarding creativity and children, I think there are a couple of things to hit upon:
1) Children are so often taught, "this is how you do something" ... obviously creativity has no such application.
2) Kids (especially in school) are often put in a place of working on their weaknesses ... whereas creativity is so much about using one's strengths.
3) Kids see rules as hampering their creativity. They live in a world of rules. This is the stage where we begin to suspect that a life without rules would be MORE creative: the "blue sky" idea. However, I'll rely on the quotes I learned about in Ernie Schenck's Houdini Solution:
"Art lives on constraint and dies of freedom." - MichaelangeloWe'll talk about how "rules" are what makes creativity possible.
"When forced to work within a strict framework the imagination is taxed to its utmost – and will produce its richest ideas." - T. S. Eliot
4) Creativity is about useful originality. How do we get somewhere original? One of the best methods I have seen is starting where people don't typically start from:
a) Pick the worst qualities of something, now describe them in an overwhelmingly positive manner. (That food is full of preservatives = that food will cook on the top of Everest during a zombie rampage; I'm bored = my mind has ample space to wander; The projector is broke = PowerPoint presentations suck anyway, finally I can just talk with you; I have too much work = I can focus on the stuff I enjoy doing most (the other stuff will always be around.))
I know, sounds like optimism tricks, but it also gets us looking at things from a different view ... if you are a pessimist by nature (use your strengths) than pick the positives and find the bad light to them (remember when "experience" was a positive word in politics?)
b) Take your subject and then bring it out to broader subjects. What fascinates me about the Golden Gate Bridge ... what about Bridges ... what about Orange ... what about Metal ... what about Connections ... what about Icons ... what about Tools .. what about a Gap ... what about Transcending a Gap? then brings those back to your original subject.
c) Replace a single element/variable. At the heart of experimentation and scientific discovery is this idea of switching a single variable to see the influence. This also works quite well in creative thinking. Sam is planning on writing his narrative on the stick incident. What if he replaces pieces of his story? What if it is not him, but Wolverine ... what happens? What if it is not a stick, but an Olympic javelin? What if instead of happening at Golden Gate Park, it had happened at middle of nowhere Point Reyes? (This was something that Mary and I thought about afterwards ... this helped us realize how lucky we were, the advantage of the city, proximity ... all these elements that aren't part of the story until changed.)
Obviously, one of the other common elements of this exercise (part b of c) is to change perspective ... don't just tell your own story through your eyes ... tell it through different eyes. The place where people too often screw this up is that they focus on other major players: Mary, Cameron, the paramedic, the surgeon ... What about the paramedic's spouse hearing the story casually told at the dinner table, what about the dog walkers in the park who are clueless to the proceedings and the wonder of the mystery (J.J. Abrams knows the power of this), the kids who saw Sam's scar days later, the person in the next ER room ...
Anyway, those are some of the things I am thinking about ... we'll see.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Friday, January 11, 2008
On Make the Logo Bigger, there is a mentioning of this wonderful Flickr pool: Entrance to Hell. These are fabulous pics. However, what I enjoyed most was the fact that you can use the map to find those entrances closest to you. I found the one above through the map; it appears (ironically) to be on Point Bonita ... possibly the creepy hatch that leads to the lighthouse?
Thursday, January 10, 2008
I have started prepping for my classes. The picture above is formation in action. According to the board, I am planning three classes, but actually just one is going on right now: ADV360 Account Planning. This class is for planners, art directors and copywriters.
Thanks goes out to Jon Steel and Greg Carter for their emphasis on the power of Post-Its when planning. I have shifted this class over and over and over. The 15 rows are the 15 weeks. The five columns are "Class Topic," "Word of the Week," "Homework Assignments," "Creative Brief Status" and "Class Activity." As touch becomes more a component of computing, I am sure this Post-It method will fade in importance. However, I truly can't see much need for improvement. How do you plan? (Not that anyone comments ... so treat it more as a rhetorical question, I guess.)
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Barack Obama: "The truth is, actually, words do inspire, words do help people get involved, words do help members of Congress get into power." (photo credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Maybe it is because I was an English major or maybe it is because I am a college instructor, or maybe it is because I am a blogger, or maybe it is because I just like Obama ... but I thought this was a great exchange that put Obama as the clear choice in my head right now.
Mary has mentioned that the thing she likes most about the Obama campaign is the quote at the top of the site, "I am asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... I'm asking you to believe in yours." And the power of words to motivate to action is significant in a society/culture/government that is meant to be for the people by the people.
I guess I am starting to take the classroom view of things. Where I have witnessed the best approach is when I can get my students charged up to think and learn for themselves ... inspire them to use their own creativity. The power to inspire is one of the most powerful tools on this planet. There are people who do great things ... and there are people who motivate thousands of people to do great things...
I don't know. I just really like the current direction this whole thing is going, and I normally hate politics. I won't talk about my politics much ... sorry ... Off to hike. Later.
Saturday, January 5, 2008
As you may remember, back in October, I came up with the idea that Sam and I should train it back from Chicago to San Francisco. I am so glad we did ... it was a wonderful trip of sharing and seeing. It was the first time Sam and I did something this involved for this long, with out Mary.
While we are happy to be back home with Mary, we enjoyed our time together tremendously and hope for many more trips together.
Anyway, find out more in the Flickr Set (I limited myself to 50) complete with descriptions.
Sam and I finished our train trip from Chicago to San Francisco last night. As you may have heard, there was some concern about making it through the Sierra Nevada range ... We were the last train allowed through the pass. Phew. There were rumors circulating the train that we would be spending the night in Reno and then bussed over later... but alas the mighty train prevailed. It was a great way to see a mountaintop blizzard, because there are certainly few ways to get through it.
The train trip was incredible ... a wonderful way to spend time together and to see the country, especially the snow-blanketed Rockies and Sierra Nevada. Once we hit Western Nevada and the "Great Western Storm" the wet window made picture taking a bit difficult, but I did get this little video of when we went through Donner Pass:
I have new appreciation for how stuck the Donner Party was up there! I'll get a more extensive train post up soon ... as well as start blogging again, with Christmas stories, Avery and Ian musings (I got a few Flickr pics up while in Chicago), New Years Eve snowball fight and other random stuff. I am looking forward to "catching up."