EJM Designs Limited Blog

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Violent Video Games: I Can See for Miles and Miles...

From Techdirt:
Nearly six years ago, we wrote about a study showing that playing video games can help improve your vision, and now there's another study showing that such video games can help improve vision -- specifically contrast sensitivity, which is noted to be "important in situations such as driving at night, or in conditions of poor visibility." But, of course, rather than paying attention to all that, we get stories about how all violent video games must be banned.
It's a delicate balance and a controversy that will always be around, especially as games for next-gen consoles (and those coming after that) are only going to get more and more realistic. Unfortunately, the studies and research and thoughts are all reliant on tests trying to quantify subjectivity. Vision is measurable and objective, but violent tendencies and video games rely on hundreds of different personality and history variables that really can't be converted to reliable numbers. And even the worst studies hit on correlation - not causality - which is the rule more than the exception in psychological studies.

What are your thoughts? Are video games too violent? Is there good in them if they have benefits? Do you think brain exercise titles that have appeared recently for the Nintendo DS and Wii can replace the violent nature of war games and still deliver the benefits?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

John Stewart Explains Twitter

I've got a post brewing on technology and privacy and Wii, as well as insight to a poll taken a while about SEO services. However, due to some wonderfully busy days, I've only this to offer: John Stewart. Explaining Twitter. It's 3 weeks old, but if you haven't seen it, it's worth a look.

Be back tomorrow with something more substantial.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Twitter Frenzy
Daily Show Full EpisodesEconomic CrisisPolitical Humor

Friday, March 20, 2009

Joe Kowalski and RetainingWallExpert and Gary Sullivan

I don't usually throw out my clients as blog subjects, but a good friend and client of mine, Joe Kowalski, runs the site RetainingWallExpert.com. Joe is a brilliant engineer here in Cincinnati and I've been lucky enough to work with him in the past couple months through EJM Designs Limited to develop some interactive ideas and implementations for his current site.

Joe has quite a following here in Cincinnati and nationally for what he does, so it's exciting from a personal and local event to find that he's going to be live on "At Home with Gary Sullivan" tomorrow morning at 9am. National audience, national exposure, and his business and talent gets the recognition it deserves.

And if you're not in Cincinnati, it's surprisingly difficult to find affiliates that have picked up Gary's show, but you can listen live at WKRC's website or, of course, on the actual radio at 550 AM.

Joe Kowalski, RetainingWallExpert.com and local Cincinnati entrepreneur on Gary Sullivan Saturday, March 21, 2009 at 9am.

I'm always happy when someone makes good for themselves, especially when they're local, and it's a friend of mine.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Luddites ISO Copulation with New Media

What fantastic timing. I just wrote a post on how Twitter can be quite useful in the real world, if you take the time to learn and appreciate its nuances.

And then Columbia Journalism School professor Ari Goldman, on the first day teaching Research and Writing 1 says "Fuck new media." (please note: not a huge fan of profanity, but not afraid of it when appropriate):
"F*ck new media," the coordinator of the RW1 program, Ari Goldman, said to his RW1 students on their first day of class, according to one student. Goldman, a former Times reporter and sixteen-year veteran RW1 professor, described new-media training as “playing with toys,” according to another student, and characterized the digital movement as “an experimentation in gadgetry.”
This would be the technology equivalent of an SEO Expert saying that Twitter is stupid and not worth the time. Why would someone say that? Because they never took the time to understand it.

At our core, while many of us embrace it, many more of us fear change. Change is something different, is something new and foreign and if we don't understand it at a glance, it is something to be feared.

Ari's problem is his perception of media as a whole. He does not want to acknowledge that the internet is changing the way we look at media even though the unemployment and ad dollars and circulation figures of industries like newspapers are staring him in the face. Why? Ari's a media expert - or was. He's got a good bead on things - or did. People get complacent and when something shifts, they grumble. If it gets pulled out from under them, they become fearful. In order to protect their psyche, they do not show fear but exhibit anger, puffing and beating on their chest. And they scream "Fuck new media!" while shaking their fist at God.

But everything changes. You can shake your fist at written language, at the printing press, at radio, at television, at recorded music, at internet...everything, but it'll keep on coming, faster and faster. Everybody knows this Ari. Even you, at some level.

Especially in media and technology, especially in our ever-accelerating present, embracing change is necessity, and cursing it only exposes you as a fool. Get a foothold, take the time, and take it in. Otherwise, perhaps in ten years, someone will dust you off, point, and say "That's how NOT to relate to reality."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Is Twitter Worth a Damn? Hint: Yes

Twitter: Leggo my Tweets!

Whether it's a social media "expert" shouting down from his cloud that Twitter is foolishness or an early-adopter eschewing the micro-blogging site because it's too mainstream and polluted, there are thousands of Twitter naysayers out there, some of which spread their message via Twitter, which is interestingly, simultaneously ironic and hypocritical.

I currently operate a quality Twitter account based on EJM Designs Limited that, at last count, had me following 184, 166 following me, and 216 updates.

I've already addressed the size considerations of a custom Twitter background, and I'll post about the intricacies of Twitter usage and all the side-apps and my own induction in a later post, but the point of this gem is whether Twitter does anything for business other than waste your time.

It depends on how you look at it, how you approach Twitter usage. I recently saw a comment somewhere that stuck with me and rang to the effect of "After 4 days and following 2000 people I can say Twitter sucks." This is the wrong way to approach Twitter usage.

The value of Twitter is the value that can be found in any social network. Technology is by definition sterile: auto-responders, auto-dialers, and auto-direct-messages. If you inject the humanity into it, it can become valuable. But if you jump in without that thought, that ideal, in your head, you end up following 2000 people in a couple days and whining "Where's my money?"

Here's how Twitter can be valuable for a business:
  • Open your account
  • Tweet at least 20 times about your industry over a couple days
  • Follow people in your field locally
  • Follow local businesses not necessarily in your field
  • Follow people in your business nationally
  • If you are followed and the person is relevant to your business or locale, don't be a jerk: follow back
  • Be involved in the conversation; reply to others; help those in need.

Now, if you've been paying attention to those you're following, you've set yourself up for information pertaining to real-world meets. If you don't notice any, ask! That's what people are there for. If there is no local meet? Create one! That's what you're apparently there for. Then you meet people in person. Then you trade cards. Then you sign contracts.

The effort you put forth online might amount to a couple hours of work a week, but if you participate and refine those tweets into actual, physical interaction and make yourself available, that's where the magic happens.

So yes, Virginia, there is a purpose for Twitter. But without a little work and a little humanity - like with anything - you probably won't find it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The MySpace Birthday Fail

This showed up in my email concerning my MySpace account:

Ooh, which one of my friends or bands has a birthday coming up? As opposed to deleting like I normally do, why not give it a shot? It might just be relevant!


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Size Does Matter (or Your Twitter Background Doesn't Look as Good as You Think)

Size does matter

I heard it first when I was 9 or 10: When you ASSUME, you make an ASS out of U and ME. Little early? Sure. Hey, I grew up in theatre.

I recently took notice that someone was not just riding - but driving - the Assume Train a month or two ago. In my quest of ever-further understanding in social media, I noticed that there was a new Twitter Rule: Make custom Twitter backgrounds look bad my computer.

What is happening?
It's simple enough: Most custom twitter backgrounds I've seen assume browser viewing width of at least 1280 pixels. Why would that happen - how could that happen - so consistently? Most everyone is following directions based on very bad data.

About my setup
I've a lovely ASUS laptop setup, a workhorse that can easily run all of Adobe's Master collection. The max screen display resolution is 1280x1024. Because I run Trillian in my right margin and like to see people coming and going, my current browser display width is about 1100 pixels.

Browser Resolution Numbers
As of January 2009, W3Schools reported that 40% of internet users are still using a resolution of 1024x768 or less.

So that means that your custom Twitter background doesn't look good on 40% of browsers, right? Wrong. The number extends to everyone viewing at 1280×1024 pixels as well.

How can that be?
The template most people are using makes the following incorrect assumptions:
  • Everyone works at a minimum of 1280 pixels wide

  • Everyone views their browser maximized

  • A maximized browser displays 1280 pixels of content

Wha-what? What do you mean the browser doesn't display at - huh?

Case of the Missing Pixels
This is a common problem in web design in general, with many people designing the width of their sites for exactly 1024 pixels. Why is it a problem? Because even when it's maximized, the browser itself can eat up pixels left and right. No, literally: The interface eats up pixels on the left and on the right. And Twitter is tall, which means you're losing even more pixels on the right to the up/down scroll bar.

For example, maximizing Firefox, including the scroll bar, my display area is 1262 pixels. So even maximized, custom Twitter backgrounds do not always look good when optimized for 1280 pixels. Meaning: I might not be able to make out your phone number in order to call you and buy your services.

And, yes, that means you should probably design your websites for a max width of 1000 pixels.

Why doesn't anyone notice?
This is a completely unscientific guess, but my experience shows me that the folks who are savvy enough to put up their own custom background are also savvy enough to use a Twitter tool, such as TweetDeck, and therefore have little or no interaction with their own profile. Being more tech- and web- prone, they probably also have a screen display resolution over 1280 pixels wide so when they do see it, hey, looks good to me.

How do I fix it?
Here's the easy part. Let's pull the pieces together, add some math, and we'll fix that Twitter background right up for you.

Twitter's central block is 762 pixels. And we've already discussed designing for 1024 means designing at 1000 pixels wide. That leaves you with 238 pixels. Half that for what you're left with on the left side and you've got 119 to work with. Give it a little breathing room in the worst circumstances and you should keep your left block of your logo or pic or extra information down to 100-110 pixels wide.

Is that a little tight? Sure. But you'll frustrate less people and open all of your extra information to 96% of internet users, even if they have to maximize it to see it. (Yes, some 4% of poor souls are still floundering at 800x600.)

Be flexible; be durable; but most importantly: don't piss off people looking for your information. The web is a subjective place, a reality seen differently by everyone who uses it. Do the research and do not assume anything.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Results on a Niche: Jaguar Grooming in Cincinnati, Ohio

I recently posted about gaining a niche. That niche was for Jaguar Grooming in Cincinnati, Ohio.

jaguar grooming cincinnati oh

As you can see, a search on Google for "jaguar grooming cincinnati" popped me up at #1 (minus the sponsored links, of course).

Because it's so specialized, "jaguar grooming" itself only tops my post by a single Flickr account with an actual jaguar grooming itself.

But that's the crazy thing about the internet and Google rankings. This post itself will alter the results I am currently reporting upon. Which is another lesson: SEO and internet rankings are always in flux.

So grab onto your niche. Own it. Figure out exactly what your customers or clients are searching for, make it a part of your site and blog and Twitter, et. al.

Make it yours.