The unseen benefits of Apple Air Pods

I have been an iPhone owner for several years. During those years I have replaced the wired headphones, on average, every three months. Which, apart from being a hidden expense of ownership is also annoying. The phones are great, don’t get me wrong, but things seem to happen to them with a depressing frequency that you could almost set your Apple watch by.

Reasons vary. It is usually wear and tear, or more accurately heavy use. I never take them out. As a result, cables wear and odd behaviour emerges – only one ear bud will work, or the mic stops working. Sometimes the phone starts or rewinds audiobooks. Sometimes it opens apps or sends emails and text messages because Siri thought you were talking to her, when you were in fact yelling playfully imaginative invective at the driver that just cut you off… that can take some explaining. I hear.

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I'm Back

It’s been a while

I used to author blogs. A lot of blogs. Several times a day I would research, write, and then post articles on a range of subjects as diverse as mental health, hardware, software, and security, for a group of companies based in New York. ‘Thought Leadership’ in action. I would push SEO optimised content out on schedule across all available channels, and measure the metrics so I could report back to those I was writing for. Fun stuff, for the most part. Highly challenging and highly rewarding in equal measure.

That changed a couple or three years ago, for a variety of reasons I won’t bore you with here. My productivity dropped. Off the map. I have redirected myself into other channels. Simply, been too busy with other challenges: I run a host of training platforms, manage servers and Sharepoint document repositories, and keep things ticking over for a dozen web sites with thousands of user accounts. Busy times. Since that change of pace I write blogs infrequently.

Blogging has become a personal activity rather than a commercial one, and almost dried up completely. In many ways I was and am glad of the respite. I have nobody to answer to. No deliverables to meet. No stats to analyze. No metrics to report. The constantly hungry beast that is corporate social media no longer needs to be fed. Well, at least, not by me. And I can use the Oxford comma to my heart’s content which gives me more joy than you can imagine. Neither the AP nor Chicago Style Guides now dictate my output. Which means I am free to spell optimise the way the English language intended it, with an ‘s’, and ignore that red underline with a smile.

I took a sabbatical. And it was fun.

I’m now feeling the need to express myself again, this time purely for myself. I have opinions, insights, knowledge and fun things running around my head, and a new-found hankering to share them.

Perhaps it’s the warmer weather. Perhaps it’s Spring Fever. Perhaps I just want to do something. Whatever combination of reasons are responsible, they have conspired and combined to drive me to the point of finally picking up paper and pen (monitor and keyboard?) again to write blogs.

So here I am.

Time to write. The void shall be filled. Onward.

Adobe Bauhaus Design Contest

Adobe are running a contest right now to celebrate the release of two new fonts derived from the archives of the Bauhaus school of design, a powerhouse of contemporary and modernist styles from its founding in 1919 to an untimely closure in 1933 due to pressure from the growing Nazi regime under then Chancellor Hitler. The story of Bauhaus is one I can recommend taking the time to learn. But it’s not THIS story.

At a loose end yesterday, I decided to throw my own entry into the ring for this contest. The #AdobeHiddenTreasures #contest (yes, I dropped in the required hashtags. Deal.) challenges entrants to use one or both of the new fonts to create a logo. That’s it. Once created, share it on social media with the tags previously mentioned, and sit back. This, I have done.

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Peewee Memorial Ride 2018

Peewee Memorial Ride – An Annual Shindig

A few years ago, a fine woman died. That’s how this annual shindig all began.

Pierrete, affectionately known as Peewee, was a central part of her group. Every year since her death, her friends and family have celebrated her life with a Memorial Ride fundraiser in her name. Every year, I shoot the event for free. It’s my way of contributing. I knew her too. Read more

A Personal Project – The Predators

It isn’t always about the money. Sometimes, a project is worth doing just for the fun of it.

Such a project came my way recently when my colleagues decided to form a ball hockey team. They registered, paid up, and were ready to rock and roll in the Niagara region Ball Hockey D league. A mixed group of seasoned ice hockey guys and total novices, they had never played together before as a team. Without skates. Shoot, some had never played before, period. In hindsight, this was never likely to end well. Read more

Conquering The Commute

Like millions of others, I drive to work every day. What fun.

Even though I vary that by randomly choosing one of 7 possible routes, it averages 40 minutes each way, each day. 80 minutes. 5 days. 400 minutes per week. Dividing by 60 gives the total hours per week. 6.66… There is a joke in there somewhere.

Drivers don’t get the luxury of our train-or-bus travelling fellow commuters. We can’t read a newspaper or book. Can’t do a crossword. Can’t knit. We must keep our eyes on the road. For me, that is a waste of over 6 hours of time. Time that I can spend doing other things.

Like learning.

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The Honeymoon Is Over

Our recent wedding (4 years ago, give or take) was followed by an epic Canadian road trip of over 5,000 kilometres.

From our starting point near Niagara Falls, we went to a dockside bar in Montreal. Then drove on, to the ramparts of Quebec City, before heading to New Brunswick and St. Andrews. We fell in love with this place and one day, if we win the lottery, we’re going back. For good.  Read more

The Ultimate Cube: 3D Design For The Win

Some time ago I created a design for a campaign that ran nationally in US print magazines, on assorted web sites, and which was also used in video for trade shows and presentations.

I designed what would affectionately be nicknamed Rubik.
Internally, of course. Copyright and trademarks, disclaimers, etc…

The client company develops EHR (Electronic Health Record systems) that are used across America by addiction and recovery treatment centres, their chosen area of specialty. It handles all aspects of daily administration, including patient histories, treatment plans, and medication management. As you will imagine, it is by design and necessity an extremely complex beast.

That made summing it up in one image quite a challenge. A challenge met, and won.

We sought the CEO’s and money people in the healthcare industry. That’s a hard target to hit.
Several brainstorming marketing sessions identified a shortlist of ‘pain points’, topical buzz words, and features and benefits of this behemoth EHR.

I crafted those words into a word square, picking each out in different colours. These I extruded to  add some depth. Add a plane behind, throw in some mood light… a wall mounted frame. Nice. This was enough for many print articles and layouts. We also used several variations as intros for a series of webinars.

I went further.

What if, I thought, I take this square of blocks and use each one as the face of a cube? Enter Rubik.

Being 3D, this can be positioned anywhere. Lit from any angle. Built into any mockup or design.

I could put a camera inside and shine a virtual torch to make it look like a cathedral, or put a bow on it and send a holiday postcard, or  turn off the top face and have a jack-in-the-box popping out holding a banner saying “Happy Thanksgiving!”

Yes, we actually did all of these. And much more. For a full year, we had a lot of fun with this campaign.

But these were all flat images. Something was missing. Rubik was 3D. I had used Photoshop, Illustrator, and Blender 3D to develop the design this far. Taking it to another level, I used Adobe After Effects, Cinema4D, and Premiere Pro to spin Rubik in video. That made for some great spot ads and trade show videos.

But what I have never done before, was added Rubik to a web site in this way.
In full interactive 3D glory.

Click and drag to move around. Mouse scroll wheel zooms in or out. Fly across the surface. Spin like a top.
For real fun, zoom in and look around the inside of Rubik. If you are feeling adventurous, go full screen. Just be sure to take your Dramamine first.

I have since worked with this style and refined it further, creating other cubes (and shapes).
The technique has proven highly effective at quickly communicating complex messages, simply, and with great visual impact.

While you are flying around this 3D version of Rubik, just remember that this could be your own message, and that any angle you can see could be a part of a still shot for your own advertising. That degree of flexibility opens whole worlds of opportunity. Your message. Your way. Or rather, mine.

If you need your own Rubik, just get in touch. I’ll make your message fly.

(Additional: This may have display issues on some phones. Apparently they can’t handle this much processing on the fly. If you get load errors, please retry on your desktop. Sorry for the inconvenience.)