Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Apple reveals itself for the big bully it is.

This is an extra post because I realize that not everyone who reads this blog has an invested interest in the development side of the iPhone and the iPad. Apples latest terms and conditions are a real slap in the face to anyone who was really looking forward to using some amazing third-party programs to build applications for Apple products but I think it may also be indicative of the direction that Apple is heading away from their most loyal customer base.

For those interested this article highlights the particularly inflammatory bits of the new Apple agreement.

Discussions about these latest terms and conditions have abounded across the net and personally I am still furious.

The article by Blog.joa-ebert on What Apple Just Did is one of my favorites but for a more level headed view viewpoint and one of the best articles I've read on the subject thus far comes from Code Computerlove. The comments esspecially offer a wide range of really intelligent opinions on the topic. My favorite is this one..

"Even if Apple’s strategy is 'just business' (hostile business nonetheless, otherwise this 3.3.1 clause would not have been released 3 days before the release of CS5), it serves no purpose to confuse your own developer base.
Apple’s interest is going more and more towards the big players, and less towards small independent developers. Why else would Apple not even bother to release a clear statement about what will and will not be allowed? I as a developer would very much like to know if I should invest time and money in third party tools or focus entirely on objectiveC. That’s not too much to ask is it?

Do I really need an army of lawyers to decipher apple’s vague statements? Is that really fair to expect of small time independent developers who made the iPhone such a successful platform?"
This summarizes my opinion on the topic very well. I have swallowed the restrictive App Store rules and approval process and I could have handled Apples announcement that apps produced by third-party programs would not be allowed IF this announcement come six months ago when Adobe made their first announcement about CS5. I have been planning several applications that I was going to build in the new Flash CS5 suite. Now none of them are possible.

Apple seems to have forgotten the loyal group of developers and designers upon which their brand was built. I'm disappointed and frustrated, I have lost my trust in Apple to let me know what curve its going to throw next.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Save money, live greener, and exercise. Woo!

I've been trying to decide what to write about all week. I kept hoping to come up with something especially amazing or enlightening but I guess if I had a lot of those ideas I would have quite a bit more money than I do now.
So instead of writing, I washed my clothes.

Until very recently I had never washed my clothes in anything other than a washing machine and a dryer. In fact, I have gone out of my way to only purchase clothes that I can throw into the washing machine/dryer without having to check tags and decide what has to be line dried or washed only in cold water because I'm lazy and I had just never bothered to learn another way.

Then I moved into my current apartment. The apartment is a wonderful place and I love it a lot but it does have its downsides. For one it is far away from any laundry facilities and the washer and dryer in the basement are... quirky at best. A while ago the washer died completely and since then, has sat in the basement with a big piece of paper taped over the top, "Washer is broken. Will fix as soon as possible." Now two months later I'm not sure I believe the 'soon as possible' bit.

So I went online and I learned how to wash my clothes in the tub. After a few loads I've figured out my preferred way to do it and have started to kind of enjoy it.

1. Start filling the tub with warm or cold water depending on tag instructions.

2. Add laundry detergent. You can use any type or brand that you want but don't put a lot in. I would use 1/4 - 1/2 of the amount you usually put into the washing machine because without a spin cycle, getting tons of soap out of your clothes is a pain and a little soap gets them just as clean.

3. Stir the soap around in the water a bit then add your dirty clothes. Follow the same basic whites and darks rules of washing machines unless you're like me and either only have darks or don't really care.
Turn off the water when you've filled the tub or when you've covered all the clothes in water.

4. Let them soak for a minute. At this point in time I go get a stool from the kitchen, set it up away from the tub, put my laptop on it, and put on a Netflix movie. This keeps me entertained because I get bored with mundane tasks quickly but it also keeps the laptop far away from water or anything that could damage it.

5. This is the fun bit.
Go stand in the tub. I would of course recommend taking off your pants first, or wearing shorts but hey, I suppose its another way to wash an extra pair of pants.

6. Now just walk around. Use your feet to stir up the clothes in the soapy water like a washing machine would. You can march, or dance, or whatever makes you happy and you can watch the movie. Woo!

7. I usually walk around for 5 - 10 minutes. You'll see the water get darker as you get the dirt out and as some of the dyes mix with the water.

8. Drain the water, continuing to mix the clothes either with your feet or with your hands, squeezing out the dirty water as you go.

9. When the tub is empty you are left with a pile of wet soapy clothes. Turn on the tap and start rinsing them under the water, a few at a time. Pull these rinsed clothes out and squeeze the water out of them. Avoid twisting the fabrics whenever possible.

You can save a lot of water by turning off the water whenever you're not using it to rinse.

10. After all your clothes are rinsed and the excess water has been squeezed out you can either hang them around your room, out on a line, or throw them into the dryer.

You save money, water, you get some exercise, and you have a perfect excuse to mez out with your favorite passive entertainment. A fairly productive use of an hour if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Networking tools and resources

The Wednesday Link List tradition has begun. To continue the theme from the last post. Here are some tools and links on the subject of networking from people much smarter than me.


Dribble: Twitter for Designers
You can't actually sign up yet. The web site just came out of private beta over the weekend and is still limited to invite only. However the concept seems really sound and its something to keep an eye on.
If you would like to try for an invite you can post your portfolio to featural.com.

Facebook - Yeah. Most everyone has one but more and more often Facebook is being used by clients and employers to find out more about the people they are hiring.

Linked In - If you don't have a LinkedIn account you should get one. Keep an up to date list of your work. Recruiters often use LinkedIn to find people with the exact skill set they are looking for to fill a new position.

Twitter - I have mixed feeling on twitter. It can be used as an amazing networking tool but it can also be very very annoying. Some of the following articles discussing social media networking using twitter.



Identifying and Dealing With Different Types of Clients

Secret to Landing Clients nearly 100% of the time

3 Simple Ways to Create Client Loyalty


7 Ways to Spice Up Your Resume

Funniest Resume Mistakes


Common Questions about design professionalism

7 Ways to Build Trust on a Portfolio Site

Social Media

25 Ways to Engage Contacts in Social Media

Using Twitter for Business

General Networking Tips

10 Game-changing Tips from the World’s Top Freelancers

5 Things I'd Tell my 21 Year Old Entrepreneurial Self

5 Reasons to Network in a Touch Economy

Avoid These 10 Networking Blunders

and finally 10 Ways to get myself into the studio and working. My favorite, #10 - Have a chocolate chip cookie waiting on my work desk

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Learning to start a conversation

I'm in big trouble for not getting this up on time last week. But I'm back on track now and I promise regular updates on Wednesday and Friday as usual.
 Knowing the 25 Absolute Essentials for Networking Success is all well and good but starting the first conversation is always the most difficult.

I'm a shy person by nature, although my friends probably won't believe me, and networking is truly terrifying to me. Whatever front I put up when I'm approaching people is simply that. Behind the mask is the little me rocking back and forth saying "don't' judge me. Please don't judge me. Like me. Please? I'm cool... right?"

That little me doesn't get work, she doesn't find a job, and she doesn't meet new and interesting people who make life worth living. She just sits in a corner and watches the world go by.

Getting over my fear of interacting with new people was mostly a process of sink or swim. In my Junior year of college I started throwing myself into situations with large numbers of new people. I forced myself to go up and say hello and I swear there will never be more awkward conversations in my life. After the first hello I would freeze, I had nothing to say, words got caught in my throat and I could feel my heart start to pound. I probably looked like a deer in headlights and those poor souls I approached were just waiting for an opportunity to escape.

It was better if someone approached me first but I was still tense and the conversations were stilted at best. I constantly worried about what I was going to say, how I would sound, if what was being said would have long term consequences. Basically I over thought the whole conversation.

I was sitting on the bus heading to a job when I decided that while repeated exposure to excruciating conversations would most likely eventually lead to networking prowess, it was slow going and my stomach could only take so much anxiety. I needed another way to expose myself to starting conversations with people without actually talking to anyone. Thus began the Bus Trick Experiment.

Surrounded by people moving in and out of an enclosed space, what better place to practice talking to complete strangers than on a bus? With nothing else to do on my way to and from my job I started forcing myself to mentally interact with these random people. Every time someone got on the bus I gave myself 30 seconds to think up a way to start a conversation with them. It had to be something original to each person, I would have to guess what would be a good way to talk with them based on their clothes, their hair, or the way that they were talking with someone else on the bus.

When I started, even the act of imagining talking to these people was nerve wracking. However after days of doing this back and forth to work, I started having fantastic conversations with these random people, even if it was only in my head. I relaxed into the process and stopped trying to over think each word. It took me months of practice to really feel confident. I practiced the technique on the bus, at the college cafeteria, and walking down the street.

The mental preparation of talking to all these people paid off at the next networking event that I went to. I started conversations with strangers again and I felt... well still awkward but I also felt confident, powerful. I didn't worry as much and the real conversations went far smoother than they had before.

I also started to notice that I wasn't the only awkward person there. All of those poor souls I had been trying to talk with were just as terrified as I was. It didn't do anything to help the stilted conversations at first but it did help my own confidence when it actually sunk in that I wasn't alone.

The bus trick is just something I made up to help me, what are some other tricks that other people have learned to get conversations started with new people?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Job Links

Tips for finding a salary job

http://www.onedayonejob.com/ - edited by Willy Franzen. Every day highlights one interesting employer and entry level positions they are offering.

12 Indirect Job Interview Questions

According to companies what makes a great cover letter?

Tips for Freelancers

10 ways designers can earn more from projects although they focus on web designers most of their tips can apply to designers in any field.

The Secret to Landing Clients Nearly 100% of the Time

How to Identify and Deal with Different Types of Clients

Friday, March 26, 2010

What is College Worth?

Was it worth it?
When I was ten years old I came to my mom, anxious and upset. She asked me what was wrong and I said, "Mom, I don't know what college I want to go to."

At the time my mother thought my worries were both heartrending and adorable. Now I wonder if it wasn't an alarming example of what our current society is doing to learning.

Our social system puts so much pressure on kids to succeed. To study, gain information, get good grades on tests so that they can score well and get into a good college.... and then what?

Colleges in the United States seem to be suffering a case of confused identity. The majority still attempt to stand as bastions of advanced learning and thought, yet they pander to the helicopter parents, lazy students, and a passionless student body so that they can continue to raise enrollment and there by their ever increasing tuition fees. They are building a conveyor belt style of teaching that may work for some but is hardly worth the thousands upon thousands of dollars colleges demand.

Even at a school heralded for its challenging programs, MCAD classes were hit or miss at best. There were several classes, especially in the liberal arts department that I could breeze through on bullshit alone.

I distinctly remember the few professors I had who demanded more from me than just turning my assignments in. My GPA suffered from those few teachers but I felt satisfied and content with my grade, like I had actually accomplished something. They demanded more from me, pushed me beyond my comfort zone and showed me wonderful possibilities, some of which I didn't learn to fully appreciate until months later.

But their passion was rare. There seem to be two sides to higher learning. The avenue of career advancement and the exploration of learning for knowledge's own sake. Both are necessary, but too many colleges try to balance these without acknowledging that either exist as distinct paths.

I learned a lot in college, I can acknowledge that. But for the thousands of dollars I, and my parents have spent there are a few real world skills that I wish had been included in my education...

  • How to write a resume
  • How to make business cards
  • How to write a cover letter
  • How to present myself at an interview
  • More than one solid class in drawing anatomy

Sometimes I wonder sometimes why we seem to have done away with the apprenticeship model of education. If so many of us are focused mainly on getting a job, why do we have to spend thousands of dollars on a mostly theoretical education?

What do you think? High school or college, what wasn't covered in that should have been? Should colleges be more career focused or should they focus on learning for learning's own sake? and what about apprenticeships?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Cafe Creative

We're there. Right now.
We're the 20-somethings, we're done with school, at least for a while and we have been dumped into this world of rent, loans, car payments, and health insurance with little more than maybe a degree and our own wits.

I hope some of my possible readers out there have more going for them than this but lets be honest. With the recession and the obscene cost of college we're all just a bit desperate right now and the mountain that is our career looms in front of us like Mt. Everest covered in barbed wire. Most of us have no clue what we're doing, and that more than includes me. Very few college programs, let alone high school ones offer rational and real life advice on getting a job. There are blogs out there on networking, and job advice but they all seem to be written by men and women in their 30's and 40's who are already established. They have good advice, yeah, but I couldn't find anyone who was writing about the immediacy and the interests and the passion of the post college collective.

I won't claim I know what I'm doing and I may contradict myself on more than one occasion. I'll certainly be referencing people who know a lot more than me and I'll hopefully be including a number of interviews with people all across the board.

I write from the perspective of a BFA graduate who loves programming and discussing human computer interaction, and this blog is dedicated to the 20-somethings, like me, who know they want a career but haven't been able to figure it out just yet, and the obscene about of coffee we'll be consuming along the way.