Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Running Across America - August 27, 2008

If running across the United States in record time is something you can’t fathom, and most of us can’t, imagine being able to get into the mind of someone who is. Charlie Engle, one of the co-founders of MISSION Product famous for running acrcoss the Sahara Desert in 111 consecutive days, is running across the U.S. begining September 13th.

Charlie will be Twittering ( his psychological and physiological developments as his race to beat the time for running the U.S. evolves. He will need to finish the race in 45 days to beat the record!

This is somewhat a shameless plug, but nonetheless I think it's really cool. I worked with Charlie to help set up his Twitter page and provided him with advice on what he should be tweeting. Charlie is a really cool and great guy, who is incredibly driven. He and I have even discussed the tattoo he is going to get, called Man in the Maze, in anticipation of the run. This tattoo is actually a a reference to a design appearing on Native America petroglyphs, which positions him at the entry to a labryinth.

Good luck Charlie, and I look forward to watching your feed.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Trend Terminology - August 16, 2008

Locavore - describes the practice of eating food harvested from within a 100-mile radius, on the basis that local products are more nutritious, taste better, and easier on the environment.

The local food movement is a collaborative effort to build more locally based, self-reliant food economies - one in which sustainable food production, processing, distribution and consumption is integrated to enhance the economic, environmental and social health of a particular place and is considered to be a part of the broader sustainability movement. It is part of the concept of local purchasing and local economies, a preference to buy locally produced goods and services. Those who prefer to eat locally grown/produced food sometimes call themselves "localvores" or locavores.

To be a locavore in SF, go to the Ferry building to buy up all the local produce.
(photo from Archrise)

Monday, August 25, 2008

How Not to Cast a Face – August 25, 2008

Yesterday I somehow persuaded Sosia to allow me to cast her face with a skin-safe silicon casting product called Dermasil. I picked up Dermasil from my local sculpture shop Douglas and Sturgess. I know I’ve mentioned them before, but I love that store and the employees are incredibly helpful.

Casting a face can be tricky for several reasons: your model has to be able to breath, your model must hold their face totally still, and gravity is fighting against you as you apply the casting product. Most important to remember is the fact any time you cast someone’s face it is integral that you apply a release agent (e.g. Vaseline) to their skin so that the material you use to cast their face actually comes off. Always apply generously! Additionally, always ensure your model can breathe!!! There are three ways you can cast someone’s face.

The first way (and the cheapest) is using plaster gauze. It’s simple to do, but doesn’t take a great impression. All you need is the gauze and a bucket of water. Dip the gauze into the water, squeeze off the excess water, and start placing over your model’s face. The second way (more expensive, and less durable) is by using alginate. Alginate is the stuff that your dentist or orthodontist uses to make a mold of your teeth. Long story short, you mix up a batch then pour it over your model’s face. Once it sets you need to create a mother mold, which is like a support structure for the alginate because it is so flexible. A mother mold is made using plaster gauze. Just apply the gauze on top of the alginate that is set on the model’s face. Once it sets remove the mother mold first then CAREFULLY remove the alginate, place into the mother mold, then immediately cast a positive mold as the alginate will break down within an hour.

The final way one can make a mold of someone’s face is by using a skin-safe silicon (the most expensive). First, mix up a small batch of the silicon and paint a thin layer on your model’s face. Then mix up the rest and keep painting it onto the model. Once it sets, you’ll need to make a mother mold, and follow the same procedure as you would for alginate, however, the only difference is that silicon is good forever and you can cast your positive mold whenever you like.

This weekend Sosia and I used the skin-safe silicon method, but didn’t get good results. Unfortunately, the Dermasil was incredibly thick and hard to mix and measure, so rather than opting for a thin layer in the beginning, I decided to slap it all on at once. The Dermasil also set much faster than the label suggested, which was 15 minutes, and in reality it was only like 5-7 minutes. As a result, the Dermasil became really hard to apply, and actually would pull at other areas where it was nicely set. Then, when it came to demolding, it stuck a little to parts of Sosia’s skin and eyebrows. She applied a layer of Vaseline ahead of time, but I think because the Dermasil became so thick and hard to apply it actually pushed the Vaseline out of the way.

Next time, I’m going to try to Smooth-On “Body Double.”

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Smorgasbord of Interestingness

Dine in the sky? What happens if you have to go pee?

Horse Dancing? Seriously, horse dancing? Okay, dressage is one thing, but rocking out to Beyonce and make a horse look like an idiot is another.

Stay fit, and track your progress with your cell phone. Information such as speed, distance and time are automatically stored in your training diary, and on this site you can store and share your workouts and routes.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Just a Sick Photo - August 20, 2008

That's Ryan Sheckler ollying over Steve Nash. Sick! From Flickr.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Waboba Ball Succeeds - August 19, 2008

The Waboba Ball (wah-bo-bah) "bounces" on water, and practically kills small children due to uncontrollable speed. Oh well, thanks though Trey!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Worst/Best Community Participation Idea Ever? - August 28, 2008

I was cruising Boing Boing the other day, and I noticed this terrible banner ad. Just look:

Then I noticed another terrible ad:WOW! The copy on both of those ads sounds like there were 50 year-olds trying to write like teenagers. Seriously, "We're well known bloggers churning out updates"??!!!??! That is just horrible, and makes people who actually contribute content to the web sound like losers. Have you ever been like, "Hey, my name is Reid, and I'm a well known blogger?" Never!!!

The second ad with the video in it is even worse. There is a huge disconnect between what the copy says and what the video played. The copy says, "Submit your hardest rocking win free passes," and the video that was played is of three people gently swaying to some trite indie rock. That to me is not hard rocking.

Long story short, I'm like what is this CrowdFire? I do some quick searching and find out that CrowdFire is a platform that is promoting itself as the place where people can share music experiences with another in the form of video, pictures, and text. These ads were to encourage people to use CrowdFire at the OutsideLands festival.

The actual screenshot of the CrowdFire page.
Overall, I think CrowdFire is an interesting concept, however, I have some serious concerns about its success. First off, their communication with content creators needs to be drastically improved. Their messaging is totally off. Secondly, people are already utilizing several other major outlets to share their everyday experiences with friends (i.e. Flickr, Facebook, blogs , etc). They already have tools that connect their phones with these outlets as well, so why would they begin to use CrowdFire. Thirdly, CrowdFire is presented by Windows, and everyone knows Microsoft isn't cool. Finally, it's yet another thing I have to join, furthering my social networking fatigue syndrome.

I can appreciate CrowdFire's attempt to secure a niche market, but I'm uncertain as to whether they can convince people to begin using it. Not only is it a emotional and behavioral change for a consumer to make, but there aren't any clear benefits as to why they should use CrowdFire over any other service (minus the free tickets).

It should be interesting to see if people actually use CrowdFire during the Outside Lands Festival.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Human Creativity Project - August 14, 2008

I recently met a couple guys from the Human Creativity Project, Julian and Adam. Their whole mantra was about getting creative people the exposure they deserve (along with some bling bling).

Here's a statement from the site:

"When artists wish to share their work with the world, we will help them to find their audience. Professional creators inevitably struggle to earn an income. We will join forces and help to improve the financial outlook for creators by introducing a number of ways to realistically earn money."

Julian, the GEO (geek executive officer) was an intriguing guy, but I'm perplexed about how the company will work. The website is really vague as to what they are going to offer, but who knows, it could end up being like the next Craigslist or something.

I wanted to share their story, and their killer business card, which came in a nice little velum envelope.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Saying Little = Nothing or Everything - August 12, 2008

Once again, I find myself pondering the existence of micro-blogging platforms (aka Twitter or Facebook Status). Although I'm an active participant of these technologies, I am always struggling to decide when and what to say. Okay, I'm not really struggling, but I'm finding it difficult to find inspiration to share my small snippets with the world.

I think these tools make alot of sense for several purposes such as: informing people that you are traveling or arriving somewhere, asking a question at a conference via a feed, posting something up for sale, or even giving a shout out to a band you're listening to. I think all of the following provide valuable information of some sort.

The key to micro-blogging is to offer unique and useful content. Too often I've seen Twitter feeds turn into RSS feeds or shameless self promotion plugs. Either of those don't help me....I've already got plenty of places to get my news, and I already read blogs on a semi-regular basis.

For the love of god, stop the Twitterrhea!!!! Either give me something useful or shut up. Speaking of Twitterrhea....

p.s. It should be noted that I tried to post a LOLCat for a picture for this post, but sadly, there are no LOLCats with the word Twitter in them :(

p.p.s. I'm don't really follow my own advice, and often I post things to Twitter that aren't that compelling, but at least it gives my friends a little better idea of my personality

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Elevator Pitch – August 8, 2008

Suppose you have a good idea. It doesn’t matter what it’s for, but you are going to need to quickly and coherently communicate what it is to a group of people or an individual.

No matter what the idea, how complicated the technology, when it will happen, who executes it, you are going to have to learn to be able to encapsulate the essence of what the idea is and why it makes sense. I firmly believe that if you can draw the reasoning between the what and the why, you will have a much easier time convincing people to "buy" your idea too.

One of the best ways I communicate my ideas to people is by providing an analogy. For instance, MISSION Product, one of my clients says their product is “like Gatorade for your skin.” I instantly get it. Also, think of how the “Aliens” was pitched, “Jaws in space.” Super quick and to the point, yet all very relate-able and easy to comprehend giving the person/group you are talking to an understanding about what you’re talking about.

Other ways people pitch business are through leveraging existing knowledge, such as Google saying , “we know email is big, it’s cool, people love it, so we are going to make the best email platform ever.”

All in all I think that the best ways to ensure your idea comes off the way you want it to is by:

- Providing context

- Providing some relate-able information

- Be short and concise

- Be confident

Not sure why I wrote this post, other than the fact I’m constantly around people pitching ideas, and more than most of the time they lack what it takes to get me intrigued.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Jelly My What? – August 6, 2008

A new mini phenomenon might be taking lonely, remote, and isolated employees by storm. It’s called co-working. Just what the hell is co-working anyways? When I first heard the term it made me think of people working in harmony on a project, but alas, I was only somewhat wrong.

Co-working, as stated by the almighty Wikipedia, is the social gathering of a group of people, who are still working independently, but who share values and who are interested in the synergy that can happen from working with talented people in the same space. Some co-working spaces were developed by nomadic internet entrepreneurs seeking an alternative to working in coffee shops and cafes, or to isolation in independent or home offices.
When I was at the PSFK conference I saw Amit Gupta talk about his co-working project called “Jelly.” Amit was tired of working alone, and thought that many people would benefit from being in a room together working independently, but sharing ideas and inspirations with others. He even opens up his apartment in NYC for people to come and work. They sit on chairs, sofas, the floor, or at tables. Jeremy Townsend of Ghetto Gourmet commented to me that he was very interested in co-working, which made me think maybe I should be too.

I suppose if I had an internet venture, and I was consistently holed up in my apartment it would only make sense that I’d want to be around other driven, interesting, and smart people. Additionally, I guess that if I were working for an incredibly stodgy company I'd to want to immerse myself amongst other interesting people.

Overall, I think this is a really unique trend that could be responsible for rolling out new ventures and businesses. I’m certainly going to keep my eye on this.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Bug Fight Club - August 4, 2008

I guess if it's big in Japan it must be cool.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Random Thought - August 1, 2008

Remember transitioning from taking baths to showers? At what age does that happen, and why is it that I don't really like baths anymore, even though when I was little I loved them?

Big Brother Out To Get Some Bangers and Mash – August 1, 2008

Google has been given the okay by the UK government to drive their “Street View” cars across their country. Horray England! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the street view feature, but I feel that it does compromise our privacy. Before I list why I think it violates our privacy, here’s what I love about street view:

- The ability to “stroll” the street past a restaurant that I ate at one time, but forgot the name. When I use street view I can check out the signage to get the restaurant’s name.

- Browsing the exterior of apartments that I’m looking at on Craigslist

- Spying on celebs houses to see who’s parked outside and see if you can look into their windows

- Exploring cities I’m going to visit so I can get a lay of the land ahead of time

- Seeing funny things that people have noticed in Street View.

Should Street View be illegal, does it violate our privacy? Maybe. It reveals things to the public that private citizens may not want to be seen. I have several friends who are upset about the fact their car’s license plate is clearly visible. It’s especially disconcerting that the car might be parked in the driveway, which would instantly give someone the information they needed to identify who the house belongs to. Other complaints deal with people being upset that their faces have shown up. (note to self – try to find myself on Street View). Finally, there's the whole, OMG you can see right into my house/apartment.

All in all I think that the biggest issue for me is the fact that a company is making money off of people’s information. The information is of course their houses, cars, etc. But I feel that the value it provides me is worth the intrusion. I also look at it from the angle of, “What if the government was doing this?” Most people would freak out and rebel. Does Google make my life better, yes. Do I think Google should continue to improve the way people find things and explore the world, yes. Does Google even care what I think, no.