30 November 2006

Art & Design of Nik Ainley

Artwork: Athena

Nik Ainley is a UK based web designer who also has a passion for producing personal art and illustrations. After teaching himself Photoshop in his spare time while gaining a degree in physics at Imperial College London, he has since moved into full time web design. He is constantly trying to further his expertise in digital media, and won't stop until he has mastered all the tools he needs to fully realise his designs.

Shinybinary was first launched in 2004 as an online presence for Nik. Version 1 has since been hugely succesful - clocking up almost a quarter of a million unique visitors. Version 2 has followed as a complete redesign to further this success. The site is still young and Nik has grand plans for its future development.

As a designer, Nik has been receiving more and more exposure, his work featuring in several magazines as well as on book covers, posters and clothing. He was listed as one of the 'Top 10 up-and-coming creative talents of 2006' by Computer Arts magazine, and his work has appeared at the 2006 OFFF exhibition in Barcelona.

In the future Nik expects to continue his work both on and offline, while trying to satisfy his huge appetite for mastering new tools and techniques. Things are going to get even shinier.

Check out his work by visiting:


22 November 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Freedom from Want, by Norman Rockwell.
The Saturday Evening Post, March 6, 1943
Story illustration
Oil on canvas.

Get a taste of American Art by learning more about Norman Rockwell:


Or visit:


18 November 2006

Takagi Masakatsu

Takagi Masakatsu is a visual artist and musician whose work knows no aesthetic borders. He has presented video installations and performed live at art spaces around the world. He also produces music videos, as well as music for commercials and film. He has toured with musician and remix artist David Sylvian. In 2006, “Bloomy Girls,” a visual book with his video arts collection, was released. Res magazine named him one of the 2006 RES 10, an annual selection of emerging artists who will influence the worlds of film, video, design, advertising, music, and media art in the upcoming year and beyond.


16 November 2006

Vincent Colet: Interior Creators

See creators of innovative furniture and other interior designs from around the world.

Visit: www.vincentcolet.com

09 November 2006

Artista Muvek: Illustration

Creative site that's a pleasure to click through. Great illustrations, logos, print, and quarky, unique characters!

Visit: www.artistamuvek.hu

31 October 2006

Antoine Martin Photography

Beautiful black & white photography from Paris to colorful Stockholm Streets...

Visit: antoinemartin.canalblog.com

13 October 2006

Worst Halloween Costumes

It's getting pretty close to Halloween...see some of the worst costumes:


28 September 2006

The first step to sales success is to overcome fear

By: Laura Laaman

What's the thing that stops people from realizing ultimate professional success? The economy, competition, oil prices? Nope. As challenging as those external factors can be, nothing comes close to the power of your largest obstacle: fear.

We all have it. When we fear something we believe can harm us, our body has two primary reactions: fight (defend our position) or flight (run like heck). However, we also have a powerful ability to analyze and understand. We can step back from our fear and determine if it is worthy of the flight instinct.

Fear in business can take on many faces. Owners can fear adding staff or even advertising. It's not the fear of the employee or the fear of seeing one of your ads in the paper. It's the fear of the employee or the ad not working out and your losing on the investment.

Sales employees' most typical fear is of prospecting or cold calling because they fear being blasted with rejection.

Top business performers have developed a multiple-step approach to conquering their fears. And you can learn from them.

First, ask yourself a few important questions. Try to identify what you actually fear. Ask yourself what's the worst that can happen if you fail. Most of the time in business, it's either a fear of loss or a fear of embarrassment.

Next, identify what you could gain if the task or strategy works out well. This positive vision helps overshadow the negative fear.

Last, ask yourself what the price is to you or your family if you don't overcome this fear.

Top performers use what's called desensitizing or, more simply stated, positive action. They do what they fear. And each time they do it, they fear it less. This positive momentum breaks the immobilizing hold that fear can have on you.

Remember when you were learning to ride a bicycle? Remember the fear of falling down and getting hurt? The upside, which won out, was riding your bike with your friends.

Role-playing is a way to desensitize yourself. For example, managers can role-play with someone in advance of meeting with an employee on a difficult issue, running through possible employee reactions such as the dreaded tears or even anger. Human-resources managers are great partners for this exercise. Once you are able to successfully stay calm and clearly explain your position, you will feel more confident and, therefore, do a better job.

Top salespeople, who have less fear than others, understand that when a prospect rejects them, it's not personal. But they do take it professionally. They review the call and critique what they could have done better.

Overcoming fear is a lifelong quest. Ask yourself what's the worst that can happen if you try but fail. The prospective customer hangs up on you? So what?

There are two types of people: those who try, stumble and get up and try again, and those who fear stumbling and never even try. Guess which type is more successful.


Key steps forovercoming fear:

- Try to identify what you are actually afraid of.

- Ask yourself what's the worst that can happen if you fail. Most of the time in business, it's either a fear of loss or a fear of embarrassment.

- Identify what you could gain if the task or strategy works out well. This positive vision helps overshadow the negative fear.

- Ask yourself what the price is to you or your family if you don't overcome this fear.

Laura Laaman is an award-winning sales, management and customer service speaker and trainer. For free sales tips and newsletter go to www.lauralaaman.com or call 1-888-SELL-MORE.

14 September 2006

Reboot Site

If you are thinking about redesiging your site, you may want to visit the link below for ideas and an usual way of launching your new look...


31 August 2006

You Are Beautiful


You Are Beautiful is a simple, powerful statement which is incorporated into the over absorption of mass media and lifestyles that are wrapped in consumer culture.

This statement and the context in which someone finds it gives meaning to its message and purpose to this project. The intention behind this project is to reach beyond ourselves as individuals to make a difference by creating moments of positive self realization in those who happen across the statement: You Are Beautiful.

Intention is the most important aspect of the You Are Beautiful project in its idea of purity. Graffiti and street art are an act not a style, but stylistically large corporations have been copying and using the 'urban decay' look to sell products.

It all comes down to intention. Nothing is sacred. Everything that has a perceived value becomes commodified. Companies hire out teenagers to slap up stickers and posters, and pay their fines when they are caught by the police. This is not street art, but a marketing campaign.

The reasons why street artists are doing what they are doing, in the way that they are doing, is not simply to question their surroundings; but to provide alternative perspectives, meanings, or values to those of consumerism.

Advertising elicits a response to buy, where this project elicits a response to do something. The attempt with You Are Beautiful is to create activism instead of consumerism.

You Are Beautiful uses the medium of advertising and commercialization to spread a positive message. Projects like these make a difference in the world by catching us in the midst of daily life and creating moments of positive self realization.

28 August 2006

The Determining Factor is Absence

Black and white photography in its' simplest form.


23 August 2006

Winners of the "I Look Like My Dog" Contest

This is very funny! These people really do look like their dogs:


21 August 2006

18 August 2006

Vote for Your Favorite Mickey

Lists top ten rated Mickey or draw one and submit...

Visit: www.everybodyneeds2drawmickeyonce.com

17 August 2006

Colin Carruthers Paintings

Beautifully painted landscapes from Birmingham, England.

Visit: web.mac.com/colinbcarruthers

14 August 2006

09 August 2006

Terra Galleria

Online galleries of travel, adventure, landscape, and nature photography by Quang-Tuan Luong.


07 August 2006


Fantastic photography portal.


What does "Innovation" really mean?

How to insure a success with your clients
By Brianna Sylver

The term "innovation"— along with it's shopworn adjective, "innovative" and it's breathless verb, "innovate!"— has become the rallying cry of every product manager, the pursuit of every design consultant, the autocomplete of every press release writer. The word's been wrapped around everything from the Apple iPod to a new template in Microsoft Word. So how can one term be used to describe such vastly different things?

In essence, what does "innovation" really mean?

Technically, "innovation" is defined merely as "introducing something new;" there are no qualifiers of how ground-breaking or world-shattering that something needs to be—only that it needs to be better than what was there before. And that's where the trouble starts when an organization requests "innovation services" from a consulting firm. Exactly what are they really requesting? The fact is, innovation means different things to different people.

Understanding the motivation
It is critical to establish a baseline read of what innovation really means to the hiring organization (or client), so that the "innovation process" can be uniquely— and appropriately— tailored to address the specific challenges and requirements of that organization. But getting this foundational knowledge of what an "acceptable output of an innovation project" is...well, more difficult than one would suspect. It sounds obvious, but in order to define what innovation means to the client, the consulting firm contracted for the innovation services first needs to understand the client's motivation for seeking innovation services. Corporations typically seek innovation services in response to one of three situations:

1. They are currently engulfed in the flames of the "burning platform" (as Russ Ward, Director of New Product Development at IMP, Inc. calls it). Their profits are dropping, their products are not selling and they don't know what to do about it.

2. They have emerged from the days of the "burning platform" and have come to understand that innovation is not a start/stop process, but an evolving one that requires constant attention.

3. They are a leader in their industry and are determined to stay there. Failure is accepted within their organization because they understand and fully embrace the numbers game in product development.

Each of these situations generates a different definition (and role) for innovation within the hiring organization, and consequently defines a different landscape for how to manage the gig. For companies engulfed in the flames of the "burning platform," they've found innovation in a reactive mode. Speed is of the most concern, and "innovation" in this context often means taking the me-too approach to what their competitors are doing. For organizations that have recently emerged from the days of the "burning platform," their focus is on the quick hits and small wins— they're thankful that they have found some stability within their organization, but the days of job insecurity are too close for them to feel comfort in thinking "blue sky." For the industry leaders, they've usually got time— and the benefits of positive cash flow— on their side. They can think strategically about where they are today, and where they want to move in the future. They still need the small wins, but they can afford to think more tactically about how those successes contribute to a larger corporate strategy.

Understanding the tolerance level
So, why is it so important to understand their motivation for hiring innovation services? Because their motivation (derived from their situation) defines their "innovation tolerance," which in turn provides insight into the success criteria for the project. By understanding the level of innovation being sought by the client, it becomes easier to frame up the kind of deliverable that makes the most sense, and ultimately, that makes the most business sense. This kind of analysis helps determine if the project needs to be geared toward discovering the breakthrough, revolutionary product in its category (the iPod), or if the conservative, low/no cost solution is the more appropriate direction to drive (the new Word template).

We've all heard more than a couple stories of consulting companies taking a project and running with it, only to come back with fantastic, ground-breaking ideas that the hiring organization could do absolutely nothing with. The research, documents and prototypes become shelved, and everyone leaves the situation resentful. The hiring organization feels like they didn't get the value that they deserved for the price tag they paid; the consulting firm feels as though their efforts were undervalued, and that the client wasn't nearly as progressive as they had hoped (or promised).

Does each organization have a right to feel slighted? Perhaps, but the true lesson here is that the two companies weren't working towards common goals. "How would you approach this project without us?" is the question that MAYA Design, a design consultancy and technology research lab in Pittsburgh, PA, asks their prospective clients. David Bishop, the Director of Human Sciences, shares that "the question, while simplistic, reveals a lot about their client's psyche— how systemically the company views their operations and their capabilities for working across departments within their organization." Charged with this knowledge, MAYA can design a study targeted to align with their client's current innovation tolerance, while exposing them to strategies for progressing them along the innovation continuum.

So, for instance, if an organization responds to MAYA's question by stating that "some engineers would probably get together and develop the next version of the product," then it's quite likely that that organization has a product-focused, small improvement mind-set towards innovation. This contrasts with an organization that may respond to that question differently, by stating that in the absence of their services they would "put together a cross-functional team designed to represent the user, business and technology perspectives of the issue under discussion." This organization's ability to organize and coordinate that cross-functional team means that that organization has prepped themselves to entertain innovation initiatives that require more buy-in and support of other departments. The difference between these two viewpoints of innovation is the difference between taking an incremental versus paradigm shift approach to innovation.

Understanding the organization's culture
Of course, knowing a company's motivation and tolerance for innovation are two big hurdles in the race. But the third is perhaps the most critical: understanding the political infrastructure of the company, and the personal innovation philosophies of the executive management, are absolutely key to understanding the organization's readiness for change, and their ability and willingness to implement recommendations. Without this piece of knowledge, you can be a sitting duck.

There's probably a bit of dirty laundry here, but best practice is for the client to be open and transparent about how decisions get made within their organization, about the past attempts to solve the problem (both failures and successes, and everyone's respective understanding of why), and—here's the laundry part—about any individuals within the company that will likely try to sabotage the effort. Charged with this knowledge, consultants can better understand how to navigate the political waters with awareness, and will have a higher probability of creating recommendations and developing project deliverables that can gain traction within the hiring organization.

Likewise, it's imperative for a consultant to be made aware of the personal innovation philosophy of the executive management. As Jason Schickerling, the Director of Core Ladder Products at Werner Ladder Company, succinctly states, "The levels of risk accepted by the executive leaders of the organization define the level of innovation that a company is willing to commit to." If the executive management supports innovation holistically and fosters a creative climate in the organization, then recommendations and solutions closer to the revolution end of the innovation spectrum might be appropriate to share with this client. Conversely, an organization that defines innovation in a more compartmental fashion may experience extreme discomfort in stepping too far outside their existing product lines.

Hire a coach; conduct a workshop
Hiring organizations can help consultants get the lay of the land by assigning a dedicated project sponsor or "coach" to the project. This sponsor is the touch point into the organization for the consultant, and should be capable of providing the background information needed so that everyone is always progressing towards common goals. Additionally, the project "coach" should be of a high enough level within the organization that their sponsoring of the project ensures that the initiative has been defined as a priority within the organization. Ward of IMP, Inc., makes the valuable observation that it is often the high-ticket consulting projects that get the attention of the executive management— often being conducted with the large consulting agencies— while the smaller consulting firms often have their projects sponsored on more of a middle-management level. This doesn't mean that the projects conducted by the small consulting firms don't have equal value to offer to the organization, but it may mean that the project sponsor within the hiring organization needs to be keener at communicating the progress and output of the project across the organization. If a consultant is clued into the priorities of the executive management, they can better assist their project sponsor in positioning the project within the organization.

The team at Cloverleaf Innovation, an innovation firm located in Evanston, IL, understands that multi-disciplinary teams, comprised of members of the hiring organization, are the keys to making impact within an organization. For this reason, they conduct a "Discovery Workshop" at the start of each of their projects. This workshop engages all critical partners and stakeholders of the project together to think about the topic at hand. By soliciting multiple perspectives from the hiring organization at the outset of the project (and throughout the process), Cloverleaf is able to get a good read on what the innovation tolerance of the organization is as a whole (i.e. the spectrum of acceptable solutions to the problem), while creating an open and collaborative environment conducive to fresh thinking.

Final thoughts
Good consultants understand that no one knows their business better than those who live in it daily, and, as a result, take more of a facilitation role in helping an organization meld their internal and competitive knowledge with the expertise that they have been hired to bring to the table. They work toward understanding the environment, culture, and politics of the organization, and qualify the tolerance level of the organization for change. All of this requires an openness and a transparency that is hard to attain, but critical to insuring success. Without understanding where an organization is, and where they have come from, it is impossible to lay a path for the future without coming off as the stereotypical, all-knowing, flippant consultant ready to solve everyone's problems without having a clue about the internal workings of the hiring organization.

And after you've covered those bases, THEN you can talk about "innovation" in a way that isn't hollow and reflexive; that doesn't confuse the consultant's philosophy of innovation with that of the hiring organization.


Brianna is the founder of Sylver Consulting (http://www.sylverconsulting.com), a product innovation firm that assists organizations in finding opportunity sweet spots between their customers¹ needs, business objectives and innovation capabilities. In addition, she offers her expertise as an adjunct faculty professor at the Institute of Design, IIT in Chicago teaching courses in communication design and human factors.


Original article: www.core77.com

04 August 2006

Download of the Day: Tunatic and Tunalyzer

Free program Tunatic analyzes whatever audio is playing on your computer (whether through a microphone or your desktop) and gives you the artist and track title.

Ever thought ‘what is this song?’ Let Tunatic hear it and you will get the artist's name and the song's title within seconds. Tunatic is the very first song search engine based on sound for your computer. All you need is a microphone and Internet access.

Tunatic works pretty well with more recognizable songs, but can't always catch lesser known songs. However, if you've got a Mac and you want to contribute to the Tunatic database, give Tunalyzer a go.

Tunalyzer (when installed and enabled) scans your computer for music. When it finds a song that is not in Tunatic's database yet, it analyzes it and sends its audio fingerprint and metadata (title, artist, etc.) to the Tunatic server. Thus, that song can later be identified by other Tunatic users.

So essentially, the more people who install Tunalyzer, the better Tunatic will be for all. Don't you just love the democracy of free software?



03 August 2006

Workaholics struggle to say "No" to work

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sam used to sneak into his office before dawn so no one would know how many extra hours he worked. Charles goes on all-night work binges to meet deadlines, and Susan can't say no to volunteer projects, social clubs, bridge games, choral singing, lectures and classes.

Each one is a member of Workaholics Anonymous, a 12-step recovery program for compulsive workers based upon the structure of Alcoholics Anonymous. Each one opted to keep their identity secret.

"It's been called the addiction that society applauds," said Mike, a physician and member of the group known as WA.

"People brag about it and say, 'I'm a workaholic,'" he said. "But workaholics burn out and then you've lost them or they become very dysfunctional and bitter and cynical in the organisation and corrosive."

Workaholics Anonymous keeps no central count of members, but organisers estimate dozens of weekly meetings are held in the United States as well as in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Britain. The group also sells about 100 books about WA a month via its Web site, according to organisers.

WA's roots go back to 1983, when a New York corporate financial planner and a school teacher founded a group based on AA but designed to fight compulsive working.

WA identifies workaholics as people who often are perfectionists and worriers, derive their self esteem from work, keep overly busy, neglect their health, postpone vacations and overschedule their lives.

Workaholics don't even have to have a job; they can just be compulsively busy as they seek an adrenaline high, to overcome feelings of inadequacy and low self esteem and to avoid intimacy, it says.


The weekly meeting in New York draws an average of a half dozen people in a city that might be considered a hotbed of workaholism. Such meagre attendance invites the predictable joke that most workaholics are too busy to attend meetings, a quip that organiser Charles has heard a million times.

"People think it's funny," he said. "It's amusing until you hear the stories. There have been many people who have come, and work is destroying their lives."

Unlike alcoholics, who can measure recovery by their days of sobriety, workaholics have no quantifiable gauge of their problem, or their recovery.

"In my case, my boss was telling me I had to get my work hours down to 40 a week, and I couldn't do it," said Sam, a former senior project engineer in California's Silicon Valley.

"I was sneaking into work at 5 a.m. on a Sunday so I could get work done and be out of the place before anyone else showed up," he said. "I didn't want people to see how much time I was putting in.

"Now I'm more willing to try to do a mediocre job and keep my own mental health and sanity than to do the perfect job on everything I attempt," he said.

Like AA, WA uses a 12-step program for recovery from addiction. At meetings, members share their experiences and study the organisation's literature and guidelines.

"It really forces you to look inside and say, 'What's really going on with me?'" said Charles. "A lot of people don't want to do that."

Even if workaholism is hard to define, you know it when you feel it, said Mike, who has left his high-pressure urban job for work at a rural clinic where cows wander outside.

"After a while one gets a feeling of what driven, compulsive working feels like," he said. "There's a tightness to it. There's a lot of adrenaline surging. There's a lot of worry.

"There's a lot of preoccupation, which is different from just waking up in the morning and saying, 'Wow, I really love what I do'," he said.

31 July 2006

Brilliant Branding Builds Business

Branding is more than product recognition or a simple logo. It is the overall intellectual and emotional impression people have when they think of your company and its product. It is a strong and consistent message about the value of your business.

A memorable and trustworthy brand reinforces customer loyalty. It helps them remember that your business provides the perfect solution to their problems. Therefore, to succeed in branding you must understand your customers’ needs and issues.

Brand building is an ongoing business strategy that has an easy-to-measure cost in time, money, and effort. Its value, on the other hand, is harder to establish because it involves measuring emotional associations that may not immediately translate into revenue. Branding is an essential element of success, however, and it should be reinforced during times when business is booming and when sales are slower. You want customers and potential customers to maintain a positive association with your company and its services.

You control the messages you send out through marketing, advertising, customer service, and your Internet presence. Branding is a combination of everything your company uses to present itself. Here are a few key elements to analyze and enhance in your branding strategy:

Professionally designed marketing materials (logo, stationery, ads, and the like): These tell customers your company is strong, confident, and credible. Your marketing materials should reinforce your company's image and positioning over and over and over.

Consistency in advertising: Develop a tagline to succinctly describe your company - and use it! Develop a campaign that can provide different messages, but is recognizable as your brand.

Excellent customer service - always! Make sure your entire staff positively represents your business image.

A strong and professional Website: It must be easy for viewers to navigate and understand. It should let visitors know what your company does and why they should care. Provide compelling, easy-to-understand, and interesting content. Make it easy for visitors to make purchases.

Differentiate your brand: Make sure your customers and potential customers understand why you are different from the competition. You want to establish a superior benefit with you target audience that encourages long-term loyalty.

Branding is not what you say about your company and products; it's about your customers' perception of your company and products. To strengthen your brand, make sure you can answer the following questions: What do you do that is different from anyone else? Why do you matter to your customers? If you can't answer these questions, you don't have an effective brand.

ACTION ITEM: Take a good look at your company and product/service strengths. Determine your primary strengths and benefits and then make sure your branding strategy (marketing materials, advertising, sales, customer services, logo, etc.) reinforces this. Simple, eh?

What's the Lowest Price?

by Mark Monlux

Dear Mark,
There is no question in my mind that I should not sell myself or my fellow artists short, but I don't make any real money at the jobs I'm currently holding, and I could really use the money right now.

So, when something comes my way I am tempted to consider the gig and possible compromises in pay because I'm not really far off when I goof around about being a starving artist. Not to get too personal, but if it wasn't for my wife and her paycheck I don't think I could make rent anywhere on what I earn.

This is why I come to you smart people for wisdom ... and an idea of what actual (or best figure possible) price I should ask the few times I've been contacted to do work like this. I know that I'll learn in time and it'll become second nature to me, as it did with you I'm sure.

So, I suppose that what I'm asking for (and I do feel very amateur asking) is some sort of "don't go any lower than this" price to ask for, an idea of what I should want/ask for regarding the renegotiating of the rights.


Dear Struggling,
I can tell you not to go lower than the prices inside the Graphic Artists Guild Pricing and Ethical Guideline Handbook. Those are real prices from projects that were work on and completed by designers in the industry. Because of FTC collusion laws, neither I, nor the Guild, can tell you what I think a price should be, I could be fined or get 4 years.

But, what we can do is tell each other the prices we did receive because they are of historic record. And that is what the Guild does to arrive at these figures. They conduct a survey asking for prices on completed projects that fall into the categories provided by the questionnaire. The questionnaire does not ask what the prices should be; only what that person actually invoiced.

And those prices are often compromised figures working stiffs negotiated lower to claim the project. So, the Graphic Artists Guild Pricing and Ethical Guideline Handbook (or PEGs as we call it for short) is a filled with prices that were compromises. Anyone looking at those prices and thinking that they are high are really shooting themselves in the foot.

When I look at those prices, it take the knowledge that these were negotiated prices I look to the high range or even add 20% before I consider the initial offer I make to the client.

Because, it is much easier to negotiate down a price than it is to raise a price while negotiating.

28 July 2006

"No Pain No Gain" May Not Be Good Advice

PHILADELPHIA - For David Kozlow, turning 40 was a major pain in the neck. And in the ankles, back, groin, shoulder and hamstrings.

A lifelong athlete who played high school lacrosse and college football, ran a 5:20 mile and bench-pressed 300 pounds, the attorney found himself approaching his 40th birthday with a laundry list of exercise-related injuries.

One of those ailments, a herniated disk in his neck, took two years of acupuncture and heat therapy to alleviate the pain.

"I still had the mind-set that I was in my 20s," he said. "It took a few years for me to come to the conclusion that I couldn't really do what I used to do, and I had to readjust my sights."

Getting older hurts — and when it comes to exercise injuries, doctors say that's more the case than ever before. Many are seeing increasing numbers of baby boomers with blown knees, sore backs, stiff shoulders and other complaints.

"The volume of people in their 40s, and even in their 30s, coming in with (knee) osteoarthritis is much higher than a decade ago," said Dr. Jess Lonner, director of knee-replacement surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. "It's a highly motivated generation that plays harder than a generation ago."

Sports injuries among baby boomers increased by 33 percent from 1991 to 1998, according to figures cited in a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report. Baby boomers in 1998 suffered more that 1 million sports injuries, to the tune of nearly $19 billion in medical costs, said the report from 2000, the most recent data available.

The highest numbers of sports-related injuries came from bicycling, basketball, baseball and running, according to the consumer report. The most common injuries come from overuse and affect knees, ankles, lower back and shoulders.

Aging can't be avoided, but injuries can be. And doctors say that doesn't mean all avid joggers must hang up their running shoes, or lifelong basketball players must necessarily forgo the neighborhood court — it's all about exercising smarter.

"The old adage 'no pain, no gain' should be less relevant as we age than when we're younger," Lonner said. "It's a matter of being educated in how to exercise appropriately and what signs to look out for when exercising, like muscle soreness and joint pain."

For Kozlow, the solution was to switch from strenuous weightlifting to a workout that was gentler on muscles and joints. Now he does yoga and tai chi every day, strength training with light free weights and push-ups every other day, along with isometrics and elastic resistance bands. He also walks to and from work — about a 35-block round-trip.

"The goal was to be pain-free and to be fit without hurting myself," said Kozlow, who didn't rely on drugs or surgery to heal his injuries. "You have to readjust your mind-set and be more attuned to your body and its limitations, which can be hard to admit."

As we age, experts say, it's easier to get injured and it takes longer to heal sprains and strains. The physical changes and ailments that can come with age include loss of muscle mass, decreased bone density, diminished muscle and tendon flexibility, and joints less able to handle impact.

If the idea of exercise is to keep in top physical condition, hot-dogging it on mountain bike trails or trying to relive those varsity-letter glory days in "weekend warrior" style can be counterproductive, said Dr. Vonda Wright, clinical instructor in the department of orthopedic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

"Many of us may still feel like we're 20, but we're not 20," she said. "Men come into my office with ruptured Achilles' tendons or muscle tears because they insist on doing the same things they did when they were much younger."

Doctors recommend a physical exam, including a cardiovascular work-up, for baby boomers looking to get active or stay fit. The results can be used to tailor an individual fitness program with the lowest injury risk.

"It all depends on the person. If you repeatedly get banged up by being on the basketball court, you should think about getting on a bike," Wright said. "There's a time to reconsider doing extreme sports, but there's never a time to stop being active."

25 July 2006

Salespeople Can Be the Definition of Success

by Jeffrey Gitomer

The sales world is the real world. It is the heart of the world's commerce, the pulse of the world's economy.

And salespeople drive it.

Many people (including salespeople) never give a thought to the depth of sales and selling.

Think about what sales consists of: It's about communication, engagement and needs. It's about negotiation, orders, money and competition. It's about customers' expectations, delivery, keeping promises, relationships and reputation. It's about goals, success and failure.

And sales has its own language. Consider the following real-world sales definitions:

Customers: People who provide revenue.

Satisfied customers: People who will shop any place. All satisfied customers are vulnerable to the competition.

Satisfaction: The lowest level of acceptable service.

Loyal customers: People who buy from you more than once and are willing to refer someone else to you and give a testimonial.

Angry customer: An opportunity to recover and serve in a memorable way. Also an indication that you did something wrong.

Price: The most feared word in sales. Often confused by weak salespeople for "value."

Discount: Money you take off the top line that comes right off your bottom line.

Not interested: The prospective customer's response when a salesperson is not interesting.

Engagement: A salesperson's ability to gain interest on a genuine level.

Objection: A stall or an indication of buyer interest. Either way, the customer is saying, "Clarify."

Cold call: A rude interruption of a prospect by a salesperson who is too lazy to network or earn a referral. It's also the worst way to make a sale.

Service: Something to be of 24/7.

Belief: The inner feeling that allows a salesperson to win sales.

Opportunity: Every interaction with a customer or a prospect.

Referral: If approached properly, the easiest sale to make.

Unsolicited referral: The ultimate sales report card.

Testimonial: The most powerful sales tool.

Brochure: A bunch of self-serving messages that marketing people and advertising agencies put together at great expense, which customers throw away without reading.

Training: If presented in a real-world, compelling manner, an opportunity to learn.

Boss: A leader, a teacher, a coach, an encourager. Not a manager.

Real boss: The customer.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless, is president of Buy Gitomer of Charlotte, N.C. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached by email at jgitomer@bizjournals.com or at 800-242-5388. He also has a web site at www.gitomer.com.

21 July 2006

19 July 2006

Art of Making Money

Golden Rules for Making Money
by P. T. Barnum, 1880



15 July 2006

The Many Faces of Rembrandt van Rijn

Of all the fine-art superstars, only one painted, drew, and etched nearly 100 self-portraits – Rembrandt van Rijn, the Dutch Baroque artist. Was he an obsessed narcissist or just a perfectionist refining his craft? Why he was so prolific at whipping up pictures of himself will remain a mystery, but that won't stop art historians from glamorizing his eccentric achievement. Painting in a "dark manner" called tenebrism and using printmaking techniques known as burnt plate oil, Rembrandt emerges with a stoic stare. He gradually ages from his 20s to the year of his death in 1669. Like many artistic geniuses, the life of tragedy boosts fame, and he had his share of both. Although he didn't slice off an ear or kill himself driving drunk, he reputedly dove into poverty and also witnessed loved ones die from the plague. We crave his reactions to these events in each portrait, but creepy lighting and kooky outfits sometimes steal the show.

Don't take our word for it; judge Rembrandt's work for yourself in commemoration of his 400th birthday.


Rembrandt 400

The Rembrandt House Museum

Rembrandt – Olga's Gallery

Celebrating 400 Years of Rembrandt

14 July 2006

Unfair Boss Could Shorten Your Life: Study

That crummy boss in the window office could be slowly killing you, according to a study of British workers published on Monday.

Researchers in Finland who did the study found that workers who felt they were being treated fairly had a much lower incidence of coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in all Western societies.

"Most people care deeply about just treatment by authorities," study author Mika Kivimaki of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health wrote in this week's Archives of Internal Medicine. "Lack of justice may be a source of oppression, deprivation and stress."

People consider that they are being treated fairly at work when they believe their supervisor considers their viewpoint, shares information about decision-making and treats individuals fairly and in a truthful manner, the study said.

The researchers tracked the 10-year incidence of heart disease in over 6,400 male civil servants in London who had been polled on their perceived level of justice and injustice in the workplace.

"In men who perceived a high level of justice, the risk of coronary heart disease was 30 percent lower than among those who perceived a low or an intermediate level of justice," the researchers said.

That finding was not accounted for by other risk factors, from age and socioeconomic status to cholesterol levels, alcohol consumption and physical activity, the authors said.

Rania Sedhom, a labor and employment attorney with Meyer Suozzi English & Klein in New York who commented on the research, said a parallel study in the United States could find even more dramatic results because of the longer American work day.

10 July 2006

Top 10 Design Tips You Don't Learn in Graphic Design School

You don't learn everything you need to know in graphic design school. Here are Web design and print design tips from the real world. They're the sort of design tips you learn from the school of hard knocks.

1. Know Both Print and Web Design
While Web design may seem very sexy, you'll be more marketable if you have a thorough understanding of both print and Web design. Contrary to popular opinion, print isn't going away any time soon. Even if you decide you only want to do Web design, someone, someday, will ask you to do print work.

2. Work with Printers
It's okay to admit you don't know how to do something. When it comes to print design, the best thing to do is run your ideas by your printer. Most printers are happy to answer you questions; if they're not, you should find a new printer.

3. Intern, Co-op
Right now the graphic design market is very, very tough. Who knows what it will be like when you graduate? Students with experience and a good portfolio will have an edge.

4. Learn Marketing
Whether you plan on working in-house, for an agency, or for yourself, you better know something about marketing. It's not about how pretty your designs are, it's about the results your designs get.

5. The Customer's Always Right
Most schools don't teach you how to deal with customers. The customer -- whether that's your boss or the person who hired you -- is always right. If they're wrong (if they pick the ugliest design, for instance...which of course you should never design something you don't like), it's your job to educate them. Be prepared with concrete reasons why the design you like is the one that works.

6. You're Too Busy
If you're just starting a design company, no matter how much work you actually have: to your customers you're buried in work. No one wants to hire someone with lots of free time on their hands. They can't be very good if they don't have any work, right?

7. Design Logos in Black and White
Even in today's technicolor world, companies need black and white versions of their logo. At some point, they will need to fax and copy their logo. It's easy to design in black and white, then colorize a logo. It's not always so easy to make a color logo black and white.

8. Always Have a Contract
I don't care how well you know the person, you should always have a contract. The contract tells the customer what to expect from you, and what you expect from them.

9. You Own the Files
If you've read tip number eight, then you know you shouldn't begin a job without a contract. That contract spells out who owns the file, which normally is you. If the contract doesn't spell this out, your customer can get the files from you and turn them over to another designer.

10. Networking Never Ends
You might think that you want to guard all your customer and design secrets, but the truth is you'll be a better designer if you network with other designers. You'll have people to bounce ideas off of, vent to and learn from. You might even be able to pick up extra work occasionally.

07 July 2006

Can we use fonts in logo design?

by Mark Monlux


I'm creating a logo for a small, local business that provides a service. I want to use a font for the logo...I called someone at type foundry and they said that fonts are owned by their designer and therefore can be used if purchased for anything except a logo because of trademark laws. Most commercial and free fonts have restrictions on use.

What do people usually do? I don't want to have a font created...I just want to shop for one to use!

Even if the logo is trademarked - aren't you really just claiming ownership of the composition/artwork/name of the logo - not claiming ownership of the font?

And...last question, if the small business isn't going to trademark the logo - then can any purchased or free font be used???

I hope you are able to get back to me on this - I am new to the graphic design business and would like to know how other people deal with this issue.


It is true that the USA Copyright Office does not copyright typeface design. However, that does not mean that typeface does not have some restrictions. Specifically in the Copyright Ruling of 1988 it says regarding typeface: Useful articles are not protected except to the extent the articles contain artistic features capable of existing separately and independently of the overall utilitarian shape. Variations of typographic ornamentation [or] "mere lettering" are not copyrightable. So, the question here is: does your logo contain artistic features capable of existing separately and independently of the overall utilitarian shape?

If your answer is “Yes” then you are dealing with something that has a copyright, and anything you create from it would be seen as a derivative. What to do? Some typefaces have been around for centuries and are open to fair use as their creators copyright has expired. Other typefaces are new or adaptations. Your instinct to contact the type foundry, which sold you the font, was the right one. Ask first, get permission. Most type foundries have user agreements printed with the disks they supply or posted online at their websites. All user agreements are not alike. Read through them and see if permission is already granted. If the foundry does not hold all the licensing to the typeface then they should be able to provide you with the name of the artist who created it.

Now you might be saying to yourself, “Hey, if I outline the typeface and make it a graphic, won’t I be able to call it my own?” Not so according to The TypeRight Guide to Ethical Type Design: “The data in a font is protected by law, so you are not allowed to take it to create your own font. This misconception has encouraged piracy and the illegal production of ultra-cheap font CD-ROMs by individuals and companies that profit at the expense of original designers' efforts.”

Lettering artist are underappreciated, even in comparison to illustrators and graphic artists. Just like illustrators and graphic artists they live from the licensing of their work. Negotiation over their licensing should be do the same way you negotiate with your photographer or copywriter. And as with working with any professional, you will be pleased with how easy, and affordable, it is achieving a favorable result.

Now you also might be saying, “Hey, I don’t know where this font came from.” That’s the same as saying I don’t know where this photo, illustration or logo came from. Just because you don’t know the origin doesn’t mean you can use it. And with technology it is getting easier all the time to see where the typeface came from. Look at the information file for source information. Should that fail a number of font foundry websites have OCR search engines which can help you. My personal favorite is MyFonts.com’s What the Font?! which has helped me countless times.

Okay, so the short answer is: it’s typically permissible to use typefaces in brochures, books, magazines, and other enlightening, and informative works because the typeface is being used as typeface. But specialty uses are going to require that you do a little homework. And be sure to read that user agreement which comes with your font.

06 July 2006

When Aerosol Outlaws Became Insiders: Graffiti Art at the Brooklyn Museum

An exhibition of twenty large-scale graffiti paintings from such influential artists as Michael Tracy ("Tracy 168"), Melvin Samuels, Jr. ("NOC 167"), Sandra Fabara ("Lady Pink"), Chris Ellis ("Daze"), and John Matos ("Crash"), Graffiti explores how a genre that began as a form of subversive public communication has become legitimate—moving away from the street and into private collections and galleries. Forms of graffiti have been discovered on ancient Roman and Mayan architecture and like today were both illegal and a form of communication. Modern graffiti, which is associated with hip-hop culture and spans all racial and economic groups, began in the mid- to late 1960s; it made its way to New York City and quickly became a phenomenon.

Urban youth used the sides of subway trains and buildings as their canvases, reclaiming sections of their neighborhoods by "tagging" them with stylized renditions of their names or the names of the groups they formed. The self-taught graffiti artists turned the walls of public (and sometimes private) buildings into giant panoramas and subway cars into moving murals. Later, graffiti artists began to paint on canvas or large sheets of paper, attracting the attention of art dealers and collectors. One of the first dealers to collect graffiti was Sidney Janis. His heirs Carroll and Conrad Janis donated almost fifty works from his estate to the Brooklyn Museum in 1999. Graffiti is drawn primarily from this gift and supplemented by material the Museum's Libraries and Archives.

This exhibition is organized for the Brooklyn Museum by Charlotta Kotik, John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator and Chair, Department of Contemporary Art, Brooklyn Museum.

Through September 3, 2006. To learn more visit:


05 July 2006

A Most Famous Work of Art

Interesting concept...

A couple capture people's facial expressions while they observe one of the world's most famous works of art in Florence, Italy.

View video here.

03 July 2006

Email Design Guidelines

This certainly isn't an exhaustive list, but to me these are the key issues that seem to be overlooked in most of the emails I receive and a great deal that are sent through Campaign Monitor. We're all busy people, so here’s a summary of what you should be doing to meet each of the guidelines.

1) Never use images for important content like headlines, links and any calls to action.

2) Use alt text for all images for a better experience in Gmail and always add the height and width to the image to ensure that the blank placeholder image doesn't throw your design out.

3) Add a text-based link to a web version of your design at the top of your email.

4) Ensure your most compelling content is at the top (and preferably to the left).

5) Test your design in a preview pane, full screen and with images turned on and off before you send it.

6) Ask your subscriber to add your From address to their address book at every opportunity.

If you’re interested in the reasons behind these tips and learning just how important they are, read on...


30 June 2006

Showcase of Sebastien Chevrel

We love Sebastien's portfolio and the way he presents his most recent work, art projects, and music.

Check it out: Sebastien's Site

Graphic Design Rules

Know the rules before you break them!

Design is informational
Though form and function does not necessarily improve the content of your message it can improve the ease with which it is accessed--and design can effect how well it is understood.

Design is a visual language
Use icons as prompts - On paper, scissors mean to cut something out, a clock means time-sensitivity, a knife and fork means food, and so on. Think of innovative ways to spare words and prompt action with illustrations.

Design makes a statement
Make it informational - A book typically contains editorial information--to entertain or to educate--not to sell. You can do the same by mixing your selling message within the editorial coverage of your subject.

Design leads the viewers eye
Guide the reader - Use subheads and visuals to draw the reader through your booklet. Words and visual cues tell the reader where they are and help them focus on one subject at a time.

Use icons instead of words
People from any language can understand them. Plus, you don't need to read anymore, instead you lead the viewer's eye to what is important.

Design follows rules such as balance, contrast, dominance, harmony, rhythm and unity.
Be stylistically consistent - Try to stick to one illustration style throughout. Using images from different sources can degenerate into a patchwork. You can for example double your image - The small version of this illustration conveys the message it was designed to. The large version is a design element used to echo the idea and add interest to the page.

Things to keep in mind:

Everything on a page should align with something else
Repetition reminds the viewer
Use enough white space
When space is a premium, drop smaller and less important graphics
When in doubt, don’t use it
Don’t let graphics distract from the message
Use few fonts (preferrably no more than two different fonts on one page)

29 June 2006

More Ad Pitches Could Get Embedded

The already hazy line between entertainment and advertising is about to get blurrier.

Commercial products could pop up more frequently than ever in TV shows, movies, music and video games with the introduction of an eBay-like website that gives buyers and sellers a simple, one-stop marketplace for deals.

"To date, product placement has been opportunistic and Rolodex-based," says Hamet Watt, CEO of NextMedium, which launched the product placement marketplace it calls Embed. "We're trying to create a real business. Our goal is to establish brand integration as an ad category."

His Los Angeles-based firm is hitching its star to one of the hottest forms of entertainment advertising. Lots of companies see product placement - the product appears on and might be written into a story or game - as an effective way to reach consumers who increasingly use digital video recorders and other devices to avoid commercials.

Content makers like the extra revenue. David Norton of Reveille - which makes and distributes The Biggest Loser, Nashville Star and The Office - says the company assigns a producer to each show specifically to be sure brands are treated well.

The number of broadcast TV product placements in prime time grew 30% in 2005, vs. 2004 says Nielsen Media Research's Annie Touliatos. The time devoted to them rose 21%. While the price is generally not disclosed, she estimates that companies' placement airtime would have cost nearly $2.3 billion last year if it sold for prices comparable to conventional commercials.

NextMedium says that it's providing the first marketplace where producers can let a broad array of potential buyers know what kinds of placements they're willing to take. For example, they might allow products to appear as props or part of a character's wardrobe, to have them mentioned in dialogue or given away as a reward in a game show. They also can offer sponsorships.

Buyers can check out data such as a TV show's ratings and what other products are already being featured in a production.

Buyers and sellers then can indicate what they think a given opportunity is worth.

Embed is open to those who pay a subscription fee. NextMedium also gets a fee for each transaction.

Watt says the site will keep deals confidential. "To feel organic, it can't be publicized that the brand paid for placement," he says.

That's exactly what worries critics of this trend.

"Undisclosed product placement is dishonest advertising," says Gary Ruskin, executive director of activist group Commercial Alert. "We're trying to get Congress to pass legislation prohibiting undisclosed product placement."

28 June 2006

Artists Shown as Romantic Outsiders

By JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press Writer

LONDON - From Lord Byron to Sid Vicious, artists have lived fast, sparked outrage and died young.

A new exhibition opening Wednesday at Britain's National Gallery traces the image of the artist as rebellious loner from its Romantic roots through works by Vincent van Gogh, Edvard Munch, Edgar Degas and others.

Co-curator Alexander Sturgis says "Rebels and Martyrs" explores "the romantic myth of the genius suffering artist" that arose in the early 19th century and is still going strong 200 years later.

The unmade bed that bears the corpse of boy-poet Thomas Chatterton — a suicide at 17 — in Henry Wallis' 19th-century portrait prefigures the messy-bed installation that made Brit art star Tracy Emin famous in the 1990s. The pale skin, disheveled hair and staring eyes in self-portraits by Gustave Courbet and Alexandre Abel de Pujol are echoed in elegantly wasted rock stars from Keith Richards to Pete Doherty.

In art, everyone loves a bad boy — or a wild woman.

The show demonstrates that this was not always the case. The exhibition opens with a room full of solid, sober 18th-century self-portraits by artists who desperately wanted to be part of the establishment and set up self-regulating bodies such as Britain's Royal Academy to protect their status.

By century's end, more romantic notions were taking hold. Artists often depicted themselves as lone geniuses, ostracized by society but fired by an inner flame. In one of the show's most striking self-portraits, French painter Courbet stares at the viewer, wide-eyed and tousled, looking for all the world like an emotional Johnny Depp.

Sturgis said the works in the show express a belief that "it is the fierce individuality of the artists that is the wellspring of art."

This notion was partly a reaction against the 18th-century's Enlightenment philosophy, with its emphasis on rationality and science — replaced, Sturgis said, by "an emphasis on the spiritual, the intuitive, the internal."

Partly, he said, the cause was economic. When the growing middle class replaced state and church as the main buyers of art, "artists became much less secure. The poor, struggling artist was an economic reality."

The show brings together an eclectic collection of more than 70 paintings and sculptures, many of them on loan, that range from the sublime to the ridiculous. Wallis' iconic picture of Chatterton sits next to a satirical painting by Leonardo Alenza in which a demented artist prepares to hurl himself off a cliff — even in the 19th century, the self-important artist was a ripe source of humor.

As the bohemian image of the artist took root, even the most successful depicted themselves as outsiders, or likened themselves to tormented mythic or historical figures. The gallery's exhibition includes Camille Pissaro's portrait of Paul Cezanne, bearded and dressed in peasant coat and hat. Eugene Delacroix's mammoth "Ovid Among the Scythians" shows "the artist in exile, surrounded by barbarian hordes who don't understand him."

The works span the 19th century and nudge the 20th century — there's a 1903 portrait by the young Pablo Picasso of his friend, Angel Fernandez de Soto.

For some artists, the pressure of being an outsider proved unbearable.

The exhibition contains two works by Paul Gaughin and van Gogh, painted in the same year, in which each artist likens his own agonies to those of Jesus Christ. Gaughin's "Agony in the Garden" shows a suffering Christ with the artist's own features. In van Gogh's "Pieta After Delacroix," the pale, dead figure of Christ has the red hair and beard of the painter.

Van Gogh, with his breakdowns and ear-severing, remains for many the epitome of the tortured artist. But he was far from the last. Sturgis said the image of the tormented outsider "is fantastically persistent — and now frustratingly difficult to see behind."

"We can't look at Rembrandt or Caravaggio except through post-Romantic glasses. Caravaggio was forever trying to get a knighthood, but we see him as this romantic rebel."

"Rebels and Martyrs" is at the National Gallery in London until Aug. 28 and will not travel.


Whatever Happened to Thank-You Notes?

Perhaps Brad Morris' friends just weren't that thankful.

Sure, their marriage ceremony in Las Vegas went off without a snag. Morris journeyed there from Frisco, Texas, and gave the couple, his pals from work, a generous gift: a crisp $100 bill.

About a month later, he got an e-mail - a mass message from the bride's Yahoo account addressed "Dear friends," or some such. It thanked the group for attending the wedding and for "all the nice gifts," Morris recalls.

That was it - no monogrammed Crane stationery, no ballpoint pen signature, not even a stamp. The e-mail was his thank-you note.

"It was cheap and pitiful," says Morris, 34. "I would just as soon have received no thank-you as to receive that."

In fact, that's what many generous Americans will receive during this season of giving: absolutely nothing in return. This time of year, when virtually everyone owes someone a thank-you, many people assume that if they open a present in the presence of the giver, no formal thank-you is required.

Even when it comes to expensive baby shower and wedding gifts, the thank-you note increasingly is becoming the thank-you not. Putting fountain pen to ecru eggshell has just about gone the way of plunking IBM Selectric keys onto onion skin.

It's not just that people don't write as many personal notes as they used to. Today, when gratitude is expressed in writing, it's often done grudgingly, as obligation rather than art - via a casual card or e-mail with a generic, hastily scribbled message: "Thank you for the present."

The trend is a reflection of how Americans' short attention spans and electronically wired lives - combined with a diminished mindfulness of etiquette - have made the USA, well, a pretty ungrateful nation.

Faced with such transgressions of taste, what would that guru of good manners, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, do? "Faint," says Shelly Branch, co-author of What Would Jackie Do? An Inspired Guide to Distinctive Living.

The impersonal nature of the mass e-mail that landed in Morris' inbox would drive Onassis - who was legendary for dashing off her thank-you notes within 24 hours - to the smelling salts, Branch says.

Such e-mails amount to nothing more than confirmation of a gift's delivery, she says. Instead of conveying appreciation, the sentiment screams, " 'Yes, I got it! Routing number XYZ!' It's horrible."

Since the hip elegance of President Kennedy's Camelot, "we've seen a decline in formality," says Tom Farley, editor of Town & Country Modern Manners: The Thinking Person's Guide to Social Graces. Dressing up for dinner and verbal courtesies such as "sir" or "ma'am" are all but obsolete, to the relief of many.

But standard civility also is being challenged. A 2002 Public Agenda survey found that a plurality of adults (48%) only "sometimes" encountered people who made an effort to say "please" and "thank you"; 16% said they saw such behavior "practically never." In a 1998 Gallup Poll, 30% of adults said they made a point of expressing thanks or gratitude to others only "some of the time."

Fill-in-the-blanks thanks

The thank-you note is another casualty. People use today's informal culture as an excuse to avoid something they simply don't want to take time to do, Farley says. "But there are certain niceties worth holding on to."

One argument why gift-thanking has become so rote, if not rare, is that gift-giving itself has become so mechanized. (Consider the ubiquity of online registries and gift cards.)

That's no excuse, Farley says: "You get this image of (a gift-receiving couple) sitting assembly-line style, the husband licking the envelope and his wife handwriting messages, and it's the same message for all 200 guests. That's not acceptable.

"If you're going to do that, you really shouldn't bother."

The busy schedules and hectic pace of modern life also complicate the tradition of thank-yous.

"People just multitask to the extreme," says Brandi Morrigan, 30, an advertising graduate student in Memphis. "There's not a lot of time to actually sit down and write things" - be it a love letter or thank-you note.

Morrigan says she has received one such note in the past decade, three years ago for a wedding gift of a couple of bottles of wine and some wine glasses. She says the note was on a party supply-store card - "no quality stationery here." Meanwhile, she has given five or so other wedding gifts, to no response.

Americans' obsession with saving time also has fueled another phenomenon that makes traditionalists cringe: The Mad Libs-style, fill-in-the-blank thank-you card: "Dear (blank), Thanks so much for (blank). I love it! From (blank)."

Farley says they're fine for youngsters who can't yet put together a noun and verb. "If this is training wheels for a real thank-you note, I applaud it. If the child is 7 and still using this formula, it's like they're still in diapers. It's the lazy way out" - for kids and adults.

A company called Knock Knock - in a nod to today's fast pace and the plummeting position of manners on our collective priority list - offers "Etiquette the easy way!" with its Multiple-Choice Correspondence. With a wink, Knock Knock says its cards show recipients that "someone cared enough to check off just the right phrases for you."

The company's cards thank gift-givers for, say, "the unexpected surprise" or "the cold hard cash." They're a fun and cheeky way to thank a neighbor for feeding the cat for a weekend, Farley says, but not to show gratitude to Grandma for a hand-knit sweater.

Indeed, elegant writing supplies are getting harder to find, says J.A. McErlean, 51, known in his social and professional circles as the last aficionado of fountain pens (always black ink, often Montblanc) and embossed paper.

Since his local fine stationery store closed several years ago for lack of business, McErlean, a physician from Farmington Hills, Mich., has had to buy his name-engraved paper in Chicago or St. Louis.

His two college-age daughters? "I don't even know if they know how to write a thank-you note," McErlean says.

"My wife is always on their case when their grandparents send them Christmas presents. About a month later, after a lot of arm-twisting, it gets done."

The scourge, some say, is technology. Tethered to computers, "we're so used to just tapping out everything from the serious to the banal," Branch says.

Note-writing becomes "a little bit scary," Branch says. "You look at it, your penmanship's bad, your lines are crooked, you have to start all over. ... It's somehow safer to send something electronic, even if it's not appropriate."

To Farley, an e-mail is "only remotely" better than sending nothing.

But in a 2001 survey by the Emily Post Institute, 70% of the respondents said e-mailing thank-you notes was appropriate, especially to acknowledge a small gift or gesture.

Much appreciated

Even if they're seldom executed, thank-you notes still are expected in other arenas. A survey in August by CareerBuilder.com found that nearly 15% of hiring managers would reject a job candidate who neglected to send a thank-you letter after the interview; 32% said they would still consider the thankless prospect but that their opinion of him or her would diminish.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of managers prefer handwritten thank-yous, the survey said; 21% seek a typed hard copy, and 19% want e-mailed thank-yous followed up with a snail-mailed letter.

And those e-mail thank-you cards you can get at Hallmark.com or BlueMountain.com? "A big no-no," says Sue Callaway, co-author of What Would Jackie Do? "You have to click through to a website and it's playing some jingle and you're watching a dancing puppy on the screen and you think, 'Why did this person go to the trouble to send me this?' "

Would that Anna-Marie Ganje received one of those musical missives. In the 23 years that she has been sending gifts to her now seven nieces and nephews, she has never heard or read a peep - not a "Thanks, Aunt Anna-Marie!" let alone a "Yes, I got the package, Aunt Anna-Marie."

"Oh, it's totally bad," says Ganje, 41, of Minneapolis, who habitually handwrites her thank-yous, even if only for a tin of cookies.

So this Christmas, she threw down the gifting gauntlet. She tucked into each family's shipping box a note, hand-printed in Sharpie: "If I do not hear a reply from you on receipt of this package, do not expect another gift." Not for Christmas, not for birthdays - nothing. She has yet to get a response, and she doesn't expect to.

"I've just had it," says Ganje, who works for a music distributor. "They should know better, especially when they're old enough to tell you what they want for Christmas." She says she has tried dropping heavy hints to her three younger siblings, asking one of her brothers, for example, whether his kids had received a package of hers. His reply? "Oh, you'll have to ask my wife."

Ganje is incredulous. "My dad always says: 'You were all raised by the same people. Why does one send thank-yous and not the rest?' " Her father, meanwhile, knows that his grandchildren received their gift money only when his checks clear the bank. "It's ridiculous," Ganje says.

Or reasonable, if you're Carolyn Crawford. "Sending a thank-you note that has no thought behind it but to let your relatives from California know that you received the package that they sent the week before through UPS is just as impersonal as not sending one," says Crawford, 23, of Massillon, Ohio.

She was reared by a mother who, the day after Christmas, "would physically sit me down at the kitchen table, put a pen in my hand, and supervise me while I wrote the same thank-you note over and over, only substituting the names and corresponding gifts." The text felt like a script. "I remember thinking, 'They have to realize this says the same exact thing every year.' "

The other day Crawford's mother reminded her to stock up on thank-you notes. But Crawford doesn't plan on it, and she doesn't think her high school students (she's a life-skills teacher) will send them, either.

Crawford recently attended a co-worker's baby shower. "She opened (a photo album), she said, 'Thank you,' and I was satisfied with that." No note necessary.

But a month ago, Crawford received a letter from another co-worker, thanking her for her help with a student project. "I was very surprised," Crawford says. It felt sincere. "It wasn't obligatory and I didn't expect it. She did it because she wanted to."

For Sarah Cowan, the stationery store is her candy store. The thank-you note devotee trawls San Francisco's paper boutiques four times a year, to restock her supply and simply to browse.

"I don't ever want to get a present and feel blasé about it," says Cowan, 25, who works in communications. "Because it's an act of generosity."

Still, when she hands a gift to someone, "part of my present is that I say they don't have to write a thank-you note, because I appreciate that most people don't like to write" them.

Cowan attends a lot of bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs, and she's "cheerfully surprised" when she receives a note that's genuine, or at least appropriate - unlike the one her sister got that indicated she was "the only guest who didn't bring a present." (For the record, the gift was in the mail.)

Or the doozy that landed in a friend's mailbox: "Thanks so much for your present. I returned it and got something else and I'm really excited about that." (OK, the author was about 7 years old.)

Too much thanks?

Still, there are signs of a pendulum swing. One of FamilyFun magazine's top 10 toys of the year was a 21-card stationery sampler from American Girl that, the editors say, "may even inspire timely thank-you notes."

But for toddlers, the solution is trickier. Callaway's 2-year-old daughter is on the birthday-party brigade - five in the past three months. The hosting mom often writes a long thank-you "as if it were from their child to my child," says Callaway, of Laguna Beach, Calif. " 'Thank you for coming to my third birthday party. It was so much fun playing in the sandbox. Thank you so much for the books. I didn't have Make Way for Ducklings!' They've gone absolutely overboard" by standing in for their kids.

"I don't think Jackie would have done that."

27 June 2006

How to Pull an All-Nighter

Blogger Christian Montoya has posted several do's and don't's for pulling an all-nighter.

I happen to have a lot of experience in the area of sleep-deprivation, and I'd like to share my techniques. We must first, however, define the term. An all-nighter, at least in my book, is any night where the sun comes up before you go to sleep. If the sun comes up at 6:30 am and you go to sleep at 7:30 am, then that's an all-nighter. It's also very unsettling.

The intended audience is students, but the tips are pretty universal. Ideally, if you've got all your ducks in a row, you'll never need to pull an all-nighter - but let's be honest, sometimes the unexpected will happen. Christian offers some pretty good tips for successfully getting through a cram session. What are your all-nighter tricks? Let us know by posting in this forum.


26 June 2006

10 Design Mistakes to Avoid

Don't use all your fonts in one document.
While it's tempting to use all those pretty fonts, it can be distracting to the reader and you probably won't get your message across. Try sticking to different fonts within one typeface, or one font for text and one for headings.

Don't put in a paragraph space by pressing enter twice.
Almost all word processing programs ? and definitely all page layout programs ? allow you to choose how much space you want after a paragraph. Use this instead. You're more likely to get a consistent look (not to mention even paragraph spacing) using this method.

Don't use two spaces after a period.
Two spaces after a period is a holdover from the days of monospaced fonts, like Courier and typewriters. They helped signal a pause. With proportional fonts, it's unnecessary and can make text downright hard to read.

Don't use straight quote marks.
Page layout programs, and most word processing programs, give you the option to use "curly" quotes. These may also be called smart quotes or typographer's quotes.

Don't leave large text unkerned.
Page layout programs allow you to manually kern your text (increase or decrease space between specific characters). This is a good idea, especially as you use larger fonts (around 24 points and above), since the spaces between characters tend to be more pronounced the larger the font size. In word processing software, you normally can't manually kern text, but you can turn kerning on over a certain point size. Kerning in word processing programs isn't normally on by default; I suggest you find out how to turn and on ? there's no reason not to let the software kern what it can.

Don't center large amounts of text.
Centering is fine for a few words or a headline. But it makes paragraph after paragraph of text very difficult to read. It's hard for your eye to find where the next line begins.

Don't use all capitals – especially if you're using a calligraphic font.
Nothing screams amateur like a headline set in all caps in a calligraphic font. Upper and lowercase letters help people read faster. All capital letters should be used sparingly.

Don't leave widows and orphans.
A widow is a paragraph whose last line is at the beginning of a column of text. An orphan is a paragraph whose first line starts at the bottom of a column of text. You can usually set how many lines must be in the beginning of a paragraph of text, or how many lines must be at the top of a column of text.

Don't use every box and line available in your software.
You look at your document. Looks a little boring. A light bulb goes off! "I'll just throw in some rules and boxes; that'll liven things up". Overuse of rules and boxes only confuse the reader; they don't know which information is the most important, and it makes it hard for readers to skim for the information they're interested in. Use boxes and rules sparingly.

Don't rely on your software's automatic leading feature.
Leading is the space between lines of text. Many programs default to a straight percentage for leading, often 20%. So 10 point text would always be set with 12 point leading, 12 point text with 14 point leading, and so on. But all fonts are not created equal: longer lines of text need more leading; sans serif text usually needs more leading; fonts with a large x-height may need more leading; and headlines typically need less.

reference: about.com

25 June 2006

Give your client a better understanding of their print files

I highly recommend every designer educate their client. If that means printing out a sheet with file explanations do it. It will make your client happy and let's not forget a returning, paying, customer!!

Everything you wanted to know about logo files, but were afraid to ask

Since the onset of computer-aided graphic design, most logo designs have been and continue to be created on the computer. One of the side effects of this groundbreaking transition has been an alphabet soup of graphic file tags like EPS, TIFF and JPG, the lot of which can be terribly confusing to the uninitiated.

Having worked for ad agencies and design firms for many years, I’ve received all sorts of questions from clients about the graphics files prepared for them. Here are the most common:

Which graphics files am I supposed to use for what?
What files are essential?
Which are best for printing?
Which are best for on-screen uses such as Web sites and PowerPoint presentations?

To best answer these questions, it’s first necessary to discuss the five primary types of graphic files used and then to make recommendations as to which ones you can and can’t do without. I will start with the highest resolution files and work downward.

AI Files
AI stands for Adobe Illustrator, one of the most widely used graphic design programs in the world. Usually a file with the tag AI is an original design file, meaning that this is the file the designer created when originally developing your logo design. AI files can only be opened using the Adobe Illustrator program and cannot be pulled into other applications.

EPS Files
EPS stands for Encapsulated PostScript. PostScript is the universal language used by computer printers as well as professional printers. This type of graphics file can be pulled into almost any other application – from Microsoft Word and PowerPoint to layout-based programs such as Adobe InDesign and Quark Xpress. It can easily be reduced or enlarged without loss of resolution and is the best file to give to a professional printer for reproducing your logo on the printed page.

TIFF Files
TIFF stands for Tagged Image File Format. This type of graphics file is compressed, meaning that it has been paired down to contain only vital information. Like an EPS file, a TIFF file can also be pulled into almost any other application. However, a TIFF file cannot be enlarged without loss of resolution; it can only be reduced.

Guide note: TIFFs normally are not compressed, although they can be. And while they can be reduced in size, you may lose some quality if you do reduce it.

JPG Files
This graphics file is also compressed and can open into almost any other application. JPG files are typically used for on-screen purposes such as on Web sites and PowerPoint presentations; this is because the files are smaller than EPS or TIFF files. They are not ideal for printing and cannot be resized without significant loss of resolution.

Guide note: Some printers do indeed accept JPG; it's not usually the file of choice, though, so you should ask your printer first. In fact, you should always ask your printer what file types they support.

GIF Files
These are used in the same fashion as JPG files but are compressed even more, making them ideal for graphics with solid fields of color; because of their high compression, these files should not be used for graphics with gradients (such as photographs).


When you are having designs professionally created for you, make sure your designer provides you with, at the least, the following files:

AI file- This file provides you with the original artwork in case you ever switch designers or need your design modified or updated.

Guide note: It is rare, except in the case of logos, to be provided with the original file (which may or may not be an Illustrator file). The file belongs to the artist; if you do need the original file, expect to pay more. An EPS of your work should be sufficient. For example, in order to use an Illustrator file you must have Illustrator -- and it must be at least as recent a version as the designer used. With an EPS, it should plug into any design program (but you'll still need the design program).

EPS file- You will need this file for any printed and promotional materials.
JPG file- You will use this file for posting your design on the Web and in electronic presentations.

24 June 2006

Networking Tips – Are you the shy, bashful type?

by Mark Monlux

Are you the shy, bashful type? Have you ever found yourself going to a business event only to find yourself back at the office a few hours later wondering why you have nothing to show for it? And, it's not that you are a business wallflower either. You went, you chatted, you heard the speaker. But, as you parked the car back in the office parking lot you have a nagging feeling that you left your coat behind.

Your disgruntled feeling might be your instincts making you aware that you missed a networking opportunity. Well, before you berate yourself too badly and convince yourself never to step a foot outside your office again (thus insuring the demise of your business and career) allow me to provide some helpful networking tips.

1. Take Business Cards
Yeah, it sounds obvious, doesn't it? But you know you're guilty of leaving them behind. So be sure to grab a dozen before heading out. We will get into how to hand out a card in #4.

2. Go Early
Not only will this afford you a better parking spot, but it will also allow you more time to network effectively. The folks who usually show up early are key group members who tend to know everybody and the speaker who you came to hear anyway.

3. Wear that Nametag.
Not everyone has a photographic memory. Most of them can't remember their in-laws' names let alone yours. Do everyone a favor and wear your name where it can be clearly seen and if you get the chance to write your name, go big. Most of us wear glasses.

4. Card Etiquette
--Do not drop your cards on plates throughout the room. For one thing you want to meet people, not plates and for another, the group hosting the event may reserve the right of table distribution for the speaker or sponsors.

--Have your cards ready in an easily assessable pocket or cardholder. Digging around in your wallet or purse makes you look like you're getting ready to tip somebody.

--When you receive a card, take the time to read it over. Confirming the information is a nice way to engage and assures that you won't get a fax tone in your ear when you call later.

--Write the date and any notes on the back of the card. You'll be glad you did later.

-- Have a pocket ready to slide the incoming cards. You may need to refer to it before the meeting is over and keeping them in one place will lower the odds they end up in the laundry.

5. Remain Engaged
-- A common mistake is to travel around the room, seeking to hand out and collect business cards as quickly as possible. Your objective is not collecting cards to wallpaper your office; it is making connections. You don't want to take on the desperate air of a lonely single in a bar on Friday night. Take your time speaking with others.

--Ask "feel good' questions like, "How did you get started?" or "What do you consider a challenging project?" You will learn more about your contacts' business than asking, "Hey, you got a job for me?"

-- Look for a familiar face who is talking with a stranger. Waiting for their acknowledgement will smoothly lead to an introduction.

--Do not be dissuaded by small groups. Think quality rather than quantity.

-- Don't hog a person. Yes, you lead a highly sheltered life and meeting a person who deeply interests you can be very intoxicating. But get a grip; they're here to mingle too and you don't want to be remember as cramping their style.

6. Go with a Goal
If you go with just the goal of listening to the speaker, that is okay. But, if you want to take the most advantage of your "shmooze" time, give yourself an objective. Seek out a potential resource for yourself or tell yourself you want to meet three new people.

7. Follow Up
Establish an informal communication quickly after the meeting. This is important because it is outside of meetings you will want to maintain ongoing conversations. Business groups may come and go but the connections you work at establishing will remain.

Follow these tips and you too can become a social butterfly.

23 June 2006

Cash pours in for student with $1 million Web idea

This is such an interesting story...if you haven't already heard about it, this is a must read!

LONDON (Reuters) - If you have an envious streak, you probably shouldn't read this.

Because chances are, Alex Tew, a 21-year-old student from a small town in England, is cleverer than you. And he is proving it by earning a cool million dollars in four months on the Internet.

Selling porn? Dealing prescription drugs? Nope. All he sells are pixels, the tiny dots on the screen that appear when you call up his home page.

He had the brainstorm for his million dollar home page, called, logically enough, www.milliondollarhomepage.com, while lying in bed thinking out how he would pay for university.

The idea: turn his home page into a billboard made up of a million dots, and sell them for a dollar a dot to anyone who wants to put up their logo. A 10 by 10 dot square, roughly the size of a letter of type, costs $100.

He sold a few to his brothers and some friends, and when he had made $1,000, he issued a press release.

That was picked up by the news media, spread around the Internet, and soon advertisers for everything from dating sites to casinos to real estate agents to The Times of London were putting up real cash for pixels, with links to their own sites.

So far they have bought up 911,800 pixels. Tew's home page now looks like an online Times Square, festooned with a multi-colored confetti of ads.

"All the money's kind of sitting in a bank account," Tew told Reuters from his home in Wiltshire, southwest England. "I've treated myself to a car. I've only just passed my driving test so I've bought myself a little black mini."

The site features testimonials from advertisers, some of whom bought spots as a lark, only to discover that they were receiving actual valuable Web hits for a fraction of the cost of traditional Internet advertising.

Meanwhile Tew has had to juggle running the site with his first term at university, where he is studying business.

"It's been quite a difficulty trying to balance going to lectures and doing the site," he said.

But he may not have to study for long. Job offers have been coming in from Internet companies impressed by a young man who managed to figure out an original way to make money online.

"I didn't expect it to happen like that," Tew said. "To have the job offers and approaches from investors -- the whole thing is kind of surreal. I'm still in a state of disbelief."

Read his latest blog postings at: www.milliondollarhomepage.com/blog