EJM Designs Limited Blog

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Inspiration Monday: Excuses and Others and Bill Murray

I'll kick off this Monday's inspiration with a quote from the newest entry in the Whedon-verse, "Dollhouse," from the first episode of the second season.
Everyone I know is pretty poorly constructed. Everyone has an excuse for not dealing. But eventually, that's all they are. Excuses.
The take home on this one?

Stop making excuses. You are tired, you are worried, hundreds of things are going on in your life. But you have amazing potential. For the most part, why have you not achieved? Excuses. Stop making them, take control and open yourself to success. Excuses never cut it, especially now.

I also heard something this weekend that made me think of this post:
What you do for yourself will die with you. What you do for others will live on forever.
The sentiment is solid. Give to others first.

Today's lesson? Stop making excuses for why you're not succeeding and succeed. And do something - today - that is completely selfless, completely for someone else, and realize that you are not wasting time but gaining personal satisfaction. Talk to someone... and I am reminded of and revert to the end of Scrooged with Bill Murray.

Enjoy, don't just do this today but every day, and if you haven't seen Scrooged, see it. Now. Have a great week!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wednesday Twitter: Jaclyn Not-Dead, Sports Again, Myspace?, and AP Ignorance

Not surprisingly, these bits of love I gather that bring Twitter into the headlines are generally gathered on Wednesday to be as timely as possible. The problem with that is that Twitter and news headlines are juxtaposed so ubiquitously that this post rarely spans more than two days of time.

In the future I promise to check a couple times a week to guarantee you're getting the cream of the Twitter crop when it comes to news once a week.

And starting today, the link to the article will simply be the subheader which will always double as the copy for the headline of the article. No reason to get all complicated.

Jaclyn Smith announces she is not dead on Twitter

Wow, that's funny that she had to... um, who?

Just kidding. Kind of.

Jaclyn was the victim of [Celebrity below serious fandom] was in [foreign country] and died when [an accident befell them]. Recently happened to Jeff Goldblum.

She put down the rumor with one tweet: "Jaclyn is safe and home with her family. She is not in Honduras. It is a lie."

Lesson? People, please verify things. You're like a nation of my aunt forwarding emails that Bill Gates is going to give you money with your RT buttons. Yes. That bad.

Redskins & Twitter

Fans booed Redskins' Coach Zorn. Rookie linebacker Robert Henson sends tweet "saying that the booing fans were dimwits. Henson also wrote: 'Who are you to say you know what’s best for the team and you work 9 to 5 at McDonalds.'"

Boo hoo. The Sports-coach-player-Twitter meme was tired weeks ago: Player tweets something, rules are undefined, drama ensues. They need to make a policy and assign fines and be done with it. So unless we have crime or espionage in that loop, this'll be my last sports related Twitter reporting.

MySpace Expands Twitter Syncing To Six New Countries

MySpace is allowing you to synch your Twitter 2 ways with your MySpace account. While I do still appreciate MySpace for my indie music fix, this innovation is tantamount to announcing that the VCR can make toast. "What MySpace won't tell me is how many total users have synchronized their accounts so far." I'm sure it is a closely-guarded and heart-wrenching number.

MySpace still has its place and still does a couple things quite well, but is, well, like talking about Jaclyn Smith at the Oscars.

Actual people physically gather to talk Twitter

This inept platitude of a headline may be witty in circles that know next to nothing about Twitter, but a solid case in point for news organizations having someone who knows what the heck is going on in social media. The blurb is talking about the Twitter conference in LA.

One of the things I have been evangelizing about over the past several months has been social media - including Twitter - being the bounce-off point of real, human interaction. We are currently living in a society and job market where a presence online is not enough. Social media is not enough. If you want the job, if you want the contact, if you want the contract, you show up and put yourself out there, and Tweetups are nothing new. Commerce is decentralizing and you need to be the expert in your field and the face and the brand and the salesperson. All in one.

Twitter and meeting is no longer new; it is necessary.

And the AP headline about the Twitter summit (which in and of itself appears to be more hip than practical) was, plainly, ignorant.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lacking for Inspiration

This morning, inspiration wasn't an inherent quality in my drive to write to you today; I had to search for it.

There weren't any specific quotes that stuck out for me, or perhaps today I could simply not remember them.

I went through my morning exercises in order to drive up some emotion on it, to have something bubble to the surface, but wasn't inspired by any of the ideas that passed through my calming mind.

I paged through some books about business and about spirituality and even about quotes. I googled inspiration (and even used Bing). But came up empty. Oh, there was plenty of material out there, anything I could simply masticate and spit out sickly sweet to the world about how to drive and move the world, but I was not particularly driven or moved by the words. And being true to myself in passing along information like this is truly important to me.

I don't just fish out some glurge from the swamps of the internets and hose it off and put it in a pretty box and say "here: use this."

And I'm still looking, though I'm not sure I'll find it today.

And that's reality. Unfortunately, today you get not direct inspiration but a realistic vision of life: sometimes, some days, inspiration is difficult to come by and it just won't stick. Sometimes in searching and trying so hard to light that fire, by the time you find it you're exhausted for trying. Sometimes you have to accept that today's not a driver, not blow-out, crazy, get everything done kind of day. And you have to be okay with that.

I guess in that comes another kind of inspiration: knowing tomorrow will be a better day.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Linkedin Comment FAIL

Linkedin Comment Fail

Anyone else ever notice that if you submit a blank comment on Linkedin that instead of there being a warning that you have not actually entered anything you get your home page with the warning above?

This is very basic interface design and a surprising and annoying piece of what I previously thought was a pretty polished design.

Always interesting to find these quirks.

Friday Videos: Fishin Kitties, LOLCats, Gaga, and, Well...

Fishing Kitties

Adorable joy from the Cincinnati Zoo - Fishing kittens. This is not your average LOLCats.

I Can Haz Pancakes?

Um, but this is.... Sorry.

Lady Gaga

Did you see Lady Gaga's VMA fashion statement(s)? Do you care?

And Then There's This...

See you next week with more video fun!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Your Website Was Build in Flash Sympathy Card

I love getting a request for an analysis; it's time to hit the internets and help someone out and let them know how to increase exposure and, potentially, improve design to get more reaction and visibility (seriously - I'm not even charging for analysis right now, check site for details).

But every once in a while I punch in or click that URL and my heart moves from thrilled to a flopping drop into the pit of my stomach the second my eyes convey to my brain that yes, it is a loading bar before my eyes.

"But no! Wait!" I shout and hope wells up even though I know I shouldn't indulge in that wellspring that so often fails in these situations, "Maybe it's just the part of the site; I mean, it happened so fast."

And I right click. And right click. And right click, to find and find again that I am only repeatedly greeted with the same grey gaze, a grim, unfeeling menu that begins with prompts to "Zoom In" and ends with "About Adobe Flash Player 10...." And it is done.

Melodrama aside, a website developed entirely in Flash will still suck the life out of any SEO campaign. There is some evidence that search engines are starting to parse some information, but even in a best case scenario where all content is read, it's still only one page of content.

Writing up what I am sure will become my stock "Flash Analysis," I wondered if there was an existing sympathy card that could properly convey my feelings - not that I would ever send said card as that would be unprofessional.

There was not, so I created one. Enjoy. And educate yourself about Flash and SEO before beginning any website endeavor.

Ironically, this card is an embedded Flash object.
Here's the link if it fails to load.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Motivation: Getting Out of Bed


I'm not a morning person. I'm generally up and working by 7am, but only reluctantly. Coffee helps, but only mildly. The most productive portion of my day is 11am - 3pm. I'm just not that morning guy.

But I get up. We all do. The working world seems to operate that way.

And there is a great deal of intrinsic drive to me getting up every morning: so much time and so little to do. Wait. Strike that. Reverse it. Little projects, big projects, contacts and sales. Making sure I've left something good in place of a day passed.

But even with all the mental push you can muster, with all the good intentions you scrape together, I know some of you are still thinking "but I just don't want to get up!" And physically, early in the morning, your body just doesn't want to rise to the occasion. So what to do?

Little commitment, big payoff.

Here's a little exercise that I do on a regular basis:
  1. Turn and sit on the edge of the bed, feet on the floor. (Yes, you can do this in the dark with your eyes closed.)
  2. Begin rotating your shoulders forward, as though you were rowing but without the arms involved.
  3. Take a deep breath. Hold it for a few seconds. Slowly exhale. Then two more like that.
  4. Now reverse direction of the shoulder roll and take 3 deep breaths.
  5. Instant jump in alertness.
Why it works:

The rotation of the shoulders gets your body morning, even if on a minor level. The specific motion helps to open up the lungs. The deep breathing - paired with your opening lungs - delivers more oxygen to your brain, naturally making you feel more alert and awake. Even the grumbliest of morning grumps will feel more awake after this brief moment.

[NOTE: For those of you who - like me - spend most of the day in front of the computer which lends itself to non-optimal seating positions that may naturally shallow breathing: this exercise is a great pick-me-up to re-seat and re-invigorate yourself a couple times a day.]

So now you're out of bed. Go smile in the mirror and get off to a great week!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Funniest Craigslist Post This Week

I am considering making this a regular feature, not because I post so much about Craigslist, but because I can easily find the fodder for a regular post. Here's your mental candy:
I need someone who has great talent and passion for what they do but has very low self-esteem and is willing to work for $15 an hour - after I ask you to go against everything you've learned in school and beat you down so that you're a broken shell of a designer, I may pay you up to $20 at that time.

This is going to be a HUGE business - one day I hope to be handling at least 10 local small-business websites we'll rip the design off of from templatemonster and you're definitely going to want to get in on the ground floor of this deal!
Either a joke or wonderfully candid. At least it doesn't read "perfect for a student" which means "crap pay."

FYI: Most CL gigs out there are pushing $20-$30/hr for work. No. If you want to catch a decent web developer, you should offer at least $50/hr. This might get you in contact with someone who takes the time to tell you they'll consider the job for $75/hr, though they usually charge more. As for the flurry of emails you'll get drooling over the offering, make sure you request a link to their website's portfolio page. No show, no go.

Expect a post about designers and hourly rate next week. We need some chatting on that.

Friday YouTube: BBC, Reading Rainbow, Cincinnati Cheetah

BBC Embarrassing Revelation

Making the rounds one chuckle at at time.

LeVar on Geordi on Reading Rainbow

You read that right. I was reading fellow Cincinnatian and geek Kelly's blog post about how Reading Rainbow has been on for 26 years and the last original show had been aired. And then I remembered this episode:

Cincinnati Cheetah: World Record!

This has nothing to do with Cincinnati cougars. That's a whole other blog.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thursday Tech Fetish: Military Tweel, Palm Pixi

I know my past two Thursdays have fallen by the wayside, so it's time to step it up and get cracking. I'm also working on a Palm Pre Homebrew Review post that'll be out tomorrow or for Saturday Gravy. But on to the tech!

A Military Tweel

Tweel for the Military

As soon as I saw this post on a new, airless military tire, I *gasp*ed and said "OMG: Tweel!"

What's a Tweel you ask? It's a combination of tire and wheel that I heard about over a year ago on Discovery or something. The original (that you can see at the above link) is a wonderful "why didn't anyone think of that sooner; is there a tire lobby in Washington?" invention.

A tire without air does not get popped. Simple as that. The good news is that if the military is testing it, then it's probably getting the funding it would need to bring itself to the masses. And that means no more highway berm tire changin'.


Palm Pixi

If you've been reading my posts for a while, you might note my affinity for my lovely phone, the Palm Pre. And now the Pre has a little brother, the Pixi! Awww...how cute. Just enjoy the wonder for a minute.

Looks like 1/2" shorter screen and no wifi are the only changes to this adorable little candybar lovely. Yum. Good show Palm.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wednesday Twitter: Leavitt Leaves It, AIM 2-Ways, and Anthem BCBS?

EJM Designs Twitter

Leavitt Leaves It

I'm surprised every week at the flurry of news having to do with how sports and Twitter are intermingling (and often fighting). This week has South Florida's Jim Leavitt quitting Twitter:
Leavitt has decided to quit in part because he found out a few of his players were tweeting on the way to and even in the locker room before Saturday's game against Wofford. Carlton Mitchell was updating his Twitter feed during the rain delay before kickoff.

"It just seems like something they probably shouldn't do," Leavitt told the Times. "I'm not going to use Twitter anymore. ... If I'm going to ask my players not to probably do it during that time, I'm just going to stop. My twittering days are over. .. .That's it for me, and hopefully it is at certain times for other players. We'll see."
Again, we're dealing with the advance warning, the threat that someone might let someone slip. And as I've said before, restrictions like that are in place because not every Twitter user is the brightest bulb in the bunch. Honestly, I'm mildly surprised that there hasn't been a college or professional sports team that's made the news because of a firing based on dumping extra-secret information at a very wrong time.

While it may be unfortunate for fans and a little extreme in my view, Leavitt is at least walking the walk well before he talks the talk to his team.

AIM on the 2-Way, and I Don't Mean Cincinnati Chili and Noodles

I can't say that this is huge news, but as someone who has been a Trillian addict for years now, I'm a little detached from what each IM client has been doing individually. Here's the skinny: in July, AIM upgraded their service to include Twitter and Facebook feeds. The rub? You could only read the feed, not update through the interface. Why anyone would release a service at half o'clock is beyond me. But they did go ahead and implement that pesky extra stuff everyone was asking for a week or two ago. And now you can update Twitter and Facebook through AIM.

As I may have already mentioned: just get Trillian.


To avoid confusion, please allow me to begin by stating that the annotative context of the article lies here:
Currently, Anthem is piloting a program in which it uses Twitter to identify members who may have questions or concerns about their health benefits. Twitter allows Anthem to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, real time conversation, and respond to each tweet about Anthem. Members can follow Anthem on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AnthemHealth.
Okay, that's a notable item. Additionally, they have a Facebook fan page to implement discussions and a YouTube channel to ...channel their expertise and advice.

The Twitter and Facebook pieces make me somewhat nervous when talking about health care. I'm guessing that ABCBS has some generally knowledgeable folks in charge of owning their conversation online (though you may question that after the next paragraph), but there are a bevvy of folks on both Twitter and Facebook that do not understand either how to use the services or how visible their personal use can be. And then one angry woman does an @AnthemHealth Tweet about why they won't pick up the cost of [enter embarrassing personal surgery here] and wonders why her tweet is on a dozen schadenfreude websites and people have stopped following her.

Oh, don't change that channel! We've got one more level!

Because this if from Reuters we can assume it is a published news release - verbatim - from Anthem ("SOURCE Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Wisconsin"). And that's where the connotative nature of this article reveals itself.
Not just for teens anymore - social networking and media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are being used by adults to interact with their friends, families and to gain information.
I know. It's like listening to your mother karaoke "Baby Got Back." The most recent research on Twitter showed teens are much more a minority user than previously assumed. But even at that level of media ignorance, language assuming Twitter as EVAR a huge teen/tween phenomenon pushes past a n00b label to "You do not now - nor have you ever - understood what this is about. Please stop embarrassing yourself, leave, and self-educate."

Wait. More?
Anthem is also launching a brand channel on YouTube (www.youtube.com/AnthemHealthConnects) to create a vital and viral community around health and wellness.
Oh, and your uncle dials up "I Will Survive." Just because you have a YouTube channel does not mean that you are doing anything viral. Yes, YouTube videos can go viral, but it is generally because it is something nasty, sick, painful, heroic, incredibly annoying, or unbelievable. I'm guessing Anthem's professional and informational outlook would prevent them from anything that had the potential of going viral.

My biggest hope about this article is that it was not written with the advice or input of the team that is heading up this social media expansion, and that the author just doesn't get it (not that that says much for their collaborative organization). If not, then Anthem might want to brace for a very serious Epic Fail.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Guitar Hero: Beatles?

As many of us giddily await tomorrow's release of Rock Band: Beatles, here's an appropriate parody of what Guitar Hero might do...

(h/t to Allen, a friend, who worked on the real project)

Inspiration and Social Networking Tie-in: Selflessness

I snagged this quote from somewhere on the internets late last week and it has stuck with me every single day since:
Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness, and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.

Og Mandino (1923-1996) essayist and pop psychologist
For me, it's one of those bits of wisdom that sticks with you, word for word, and it will influence every day for the rest of my life. It's giving first, a certain degree of selflessness.

And since we missed yesterday, that's today's inspiration point: Worry about giving and the getting will take care of itself.

How does this relate to social networking? How doesn't it?

I attended the Tristate Business Network's Tuesday meeting today and smiled to myself as I thought about that quote, knowing I was going to post about this today. TBN's mantra is: Focus on what you give.

If you enter with the intent to give, to help, to be a resource to others, then everything will take care of itself: others will notice your giving nature as inspiration; others will want to help you; everyone will benefit from a single seed.

So the take-home lesson here is to eschew the tone of the ever-salesman. Granted, if an opportunity to sell your product or services arises, kindly take it. But it's all about attitude. Genuine attitude. Blake in Glengarry Glen Ross focuses on "Always Be Closing." I say Always Be Giving.

Go in giving and that attitude starts a flow. Go in taking and people will take notice. And avoid you.

Be a giver. "Your life will never be the same again."

NOTE: I can't say enough about the Tristate Business Network. I'm a member of probably a dozen different networking groups, and the focus on both networking and giving, reasonable price, and frequency of gatherings is something I've found a real affinity with. All scheduled events are guest-friendly. Get involved!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Video Splendor: Just Funny

Today we're going to hit some items I ran into this week. But today I'll stick with a couple to brighten your weekend.

Bizarre Foods Name Fail

Puppy Stuck on Back

And One More Fail...

Have a great holiday weekend!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Another Note on Drudgery

Earlier this week, I caught another praise for traffic over at The Drudge Report that went like this, captured in all-caps glory with bonus ellipsis:

I'm rehashing this because I am not a fan of cheaters and I've covered this from a web programmer's standpoint. Please check out my post on how Matt Drudge is gaming the system and why the numbers are misleading. Both interesting and informative.

French Phishing!

My French may be a little rusty, but I can spot a scam email a mile away. In all my years of broken English lottery or money transfer spam, a foreign language one is a new one on me. Thought you might enjoy:
Très Chère;

Depuis notre dernière rencontre à la diaspora internationale du bénin sur Internet, je n’ai pas laissé votre E-mail adresse;

Dans le seul but de rentrer en communication plus profond avec vous dans un cadre bénéfique a tous deux. Par ailleurs je passe par cette opportunité précieuse pour vous proposer une affaire d’une grande importance ;

Je voudrais sollicité votre aimable et discrète concours pour la récupération d’une mallette contenant une importante somme de: (§12,000.000.00us) douze millions de dollars us.

Ainsi je vous faire comprendre que c’es après le crashe d’avion Libanaise qui c’étais produis en décembre 2003 en Afrique notamment au Bénin que mon feux patron a aussi connu la mort ;

C’est bien là que je suis rentré en possession de ces fonds ; Alors pour ne pas susciter l’attention malveillante des autorités compétentes de la banque ;

J’ai déposé la mallette dans une maison de haute sécurité de bien privé, ou j’ai déclaré que elle comporte des documents précieux pour un partenaire qui viendra la récupérer dès sa présence.

Alors très chère ami je vous propose si vous acceptez mon offre une commission total de 20%sur la somme total dont 5% pour couvrir vos petite dépenses effectuer pour la réussite de cette l'affaire.

Espérant vous relire sous une bonne discrétion.

Contact Téléphone : (00229) 93- 30-49- 33

Cordialement Monsieur Christ Prince

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wednesday Twitter: Tennis Balk, Emergency Use, Surgery Window

EJM Designs Twitter

Roddick Tweets Back

From the NYT:
It did not take long for Andy Roddick to respond to rules posted by the Tennis Integrity Unit regarding players’ use of Twitter during the United States Open. His vehicle? Twitter, of course.

“I think its lame the U.S. Open is trying to regulate our tweeting,” he wrote Friday night. “I understand the on-court issue but not sure they can tell us if we can’t do it on our own time … we’ll see.”
Another sports figure being Tweet-blocked by the governing body of the sport. It's only a matter of time before every sport has some written policy about Twitter and social media. He goes on to state that you'd "have to be a moron to send ‘inside info’ through a tweet." But that's the problem and reason in and of itself: rules and guidelines like that are in place to rope in the lowest common brainpan.

But I can also understand where Roddick is coming from. Especially in tennis, every player is a free agent and you're as valuable as two things: your record and your PR campaign. For anyone with an agent worth their salt, they recognize that Twitter is a part of the popularity package and limiting it could literally hit in the wallet.

Tweet in Case of Emergency

The Safe America Foundation:
a national safety group working with the U.S. government, announced yesterday that text messaging, social networking sites, and Twitter could help families stay in touch in the wake of a disaster. Although Twitter hasn't always been known for its stability, in emergency situations when phone lines and other traditional communication avenues are down, social networking sites like it and others could turn into reliable backup methods for reaching loved ones.
While I wouldn't necessarily rely on Twitter alone, it is an interesting idea to - extrapolated - keep in touch during a disaster by using various social media. GMail went down earlier this week. Where was the confirmation? Twitter.

Unfortunately, all of my forms of communication rely on 3 things: landline, cell signal, and electricity. Electricity going out (and it seems the most fragile) knocks out the router, therefore any access to the internet. Cell signal and data package would still allow for internet access and phone calls, but with no internet at home, most of those channels would be packed, leaving the most reliable communication to the tiny SMS packets that can pop through much more easily. If that goes down? I may be one of the only people in my family that has both a corded phone (no electric dependency) and an active land line, but I'd be calling people without corded phones or through the clogged cell network.

Good advice to expand resources, but how realistic is it, really?

A Window Into the Surgical Process

This was a heartfelt story of one of the hundreds/thousands of ways Twitter can be used, from the AP:
[Monna Cleary] underwent a hysterectomy and uterine prolapse surgery, had given her OK for hospital spokeswoman Sarah Corizzo to post a play-by-play of the operation on Twitter, a social-networking site that lets users send out snippets of information up to 140 characters long using cell phones or computers.

Corizzo sent more than 300 tweets over more than three hours from a computer just outside the operating room's sterile field. Nearly 700 people followed them. Eight tweeted questions to Corizzo about the procedure and a Cleary family member commented on how fascinating it was to follow the surgery.
When the haters sneer at you and say "Yeah, but what's it good for?" you can link them to this article.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Sidenote: Facebook Rant

I like you Facebook. I really do. And I like you, people I friend; otherwise I wouldn't friend you. But as I douse all the pending requests today with Ignore juice, I feel a need to rant:

I don't want to be a farmer. Otherwise I'd move 10 miles east and buy a couple acres and some overalls and a straw hat and a combine. I do not need a cow or a pig or a banana tree (banana tree?). I certainly don't have time to pretend to be a farmer. Please stop the Farmville requests. It's bad enough I have to see your farm snapshots in my feed.

The Godfather trilogy and Goodfellas was good enough for me. Even if I had a time machine to go back in time to when the mafia was a hard core, in-control group of legend, depending on the exact date, I'd end up at Woodstock or a Bauhaus concert. I don't want to be a gangster. Or a gangsta. And I don't want to pretend that part of my lot on this Earth entails fighting mob bosses and offing the competition - or asking my friends to help me complete said tasks. Please stop with the Mafia Wars requests.

See above paragraph as to why I am not interested in being a Gangster Battle participant, which is apparently the redheaded step-cousin of Mafia Wars.

I don't want to fling food, I don't have time to find out what Disney Princess I am, and What Greek God I am equated with due to a fluff quiz put together to sell ad space is of NO interest to me.

I have no L'il Green Patch. No Flair.

Facebook is good and kind and I love it as both a way to keep in touch with others as well as keeping people - those who choose to be a fan - up to date with my business. And maybe it's my lack of free time that turns me against these Facebook flourishes, but the amount of time people spend on these diversions truly boggles my mind.

Get out! Use social media to socially network! Meet up with others, share experiences, network, or just hang out. Do it in person!

I know I'll continue to get them, and really I won't mind hitting that Ignore button once or twice a week. But dang. It would be nice to get a week or two off.