Don’t pull the plug!

For the past two going on 3 days I’ve felt something was missing and that’s because something is, I‘ve been without my trusty iPhone for the past 48 hours and it’s not a fun feeling. What I’ve learned from this is how plugged in we are and how powerful mobile is, at the moment my social interactions are limited. If I’m on the go I cannot interact with anyone between points A & B. No phone calls, emails, tweets and I can forget about using any location-based GPS apps like Foursquare! I’ll probably lose mayorship’s because of this mishap?!

I thought in the spirit of research for all you designers I would like to ask that others experiment with the idea of not being “plugged in”. Put your mobile phone away and try to resist using it for the rest of the week. I guarantee you that you will feel a sense of disconnect and will experience uneasiness. You really do not realize how addicting mobile can be until something like this happens.

I’m quite confident that I will reunite with my iPhone and feel a sense of wholeness once again, but until that happens I must say that it sucks plain and simple! I probably used it so much that my phone needed a well-deserved vacation and decided to get up and go. So iPhone until we meet again I bid you a fond farewell!

Rappathon Hacking for a Change

I wanted to share my recent experience I had last week at RAPP’s Rappathon: Hacking for a Change. Last month I attended my usual Digital Dumbo event and was approached by someone about checking out this upcoming hackathon event, and being the person that I am; I’m always looking for the next opportunity to challenge myself, collaborate and learn. So I reached out and was given a brief two days before the event that laid out 5 problem areas in that we as attendees would need to solve.

Check out the brief here: Rappathon Social Media Week Brief

We were encouraged to come up with ideas prior to attending and I thought to address the problem of “How can we eliminate the barriers to adopt alternative forms of transportation such as bicycles”. My idea consisted of a mobile app which empowers and educates people on the choices they choose and the impact those decisions have not just on ourselves but our environment as well. Now known as comoti. The idea was to give people an option to choose how they move from point A to point B. The visuals would amount to icons some examples would be of walking, bicycling, skateboarding, a car, train, bus, boat or airplane.

Rapp Presents Rappathon – Hacking For Change: A New Way Of Collaboration

The app would use location based technology like Google’s map quest API, this would enable the user to input a starting and end point which would equate to travel time. The data would capture expenses, calories burned and a carbon footprint documented into weeks, months or a year but through visuals. An example would be of someone who walked every day to work from home their analysis would be for sake of argument, today you expended 120kcals; saved $10 reduced your carbon footprint by 5% in a total time of 35min 5sec. If this same user on another day chose to take a taxi the analysis would be expended 20kcals, spent $15, increased your carbon footprint by 10% and reached your destination in a time of 15min 25sec. This data would be converted into visuals and can be shared throughout you’re social networks with a gaming perspective in setting challenges for yourself or against others who partake. We could also toss in some fun stuff like you just grew a forest from a seed, this would be someone who uses alternative means consistently, or you just chopped down a tree if you chose to go in the opposite direction of decision making.

I pitched this at RAPP’s ideation session which garnered a positive response and people seemed stoked to work on it. Two other ideas pitched were Start up Start Up and Social Smack down. We were broken up into 3 teams consisting of different disciplines; in addition we had 3 stations in which the idea would stay tied to. So the idea remains at a specific station and the teams would rotate collaboration on the ideas. It was extremely difficult because we had to commit to the project and be able to detach once rotation time came. The role I played was in providing user experience (UX) and Information Architecture (IA).

The 3 ideas we worked on throughout the day was presented at this past Social Media Week hosted by Big Fuel. The panel was moderated by Wayne Pick  Camilo LaCruz   Craig Elimeliah  Paul Steketee  Ozioma Egwuonwu   and Benjamin Gatzke 

They all played an integral role in helping the teams gather their thoughts and strategically structure how it might be best to tackle the situation. Other people involved that contributed was Edwin Chog @e4c4 (backend developer), Paul Molluzzo @PaulMolluzzo (strategy), Aliona @siberiancharm (designer) and Jason Rosado @awayofart (front-end developer).

Closing thoughts: Would I do something like this again? In a heart beat! I learned what I’m capable of accomplishing under super tight deadlines working on multiple projects, 3 to be exact. That is a tremendous amount of work to take on, I had an awesome time making new friends and learning from them also. As I sit here and wonder what could have we accomplished if we had two days or a week?! Collaboration in rotation can it be the new way to innovate? What a concept.

The Friendship Effect

The Age of Social

It recently occurred to me today during my morning commute that we all posses the most powerful social media platform, it’s not an app located on our mobile phones or tablets that needs to download. This powerful platform I speak of is friendship real friendships that live outside of the digital landscape.

As I look back on the past year (2011) at how many new friendships I’ve gained through social media it’s pretty awesome to say the least. Social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & Foursquare among others tend to initiate or strengthen these relationships which continue to foster outside of the space. But I think it’s important to note that as good as we can be navigating the new pretty interface of the next app, gaining followers & sharing content, we have to continue to practice our skills of communication when we are unplugged. Don’t be mistaken being social offline is just as much a skill as it is to be in the digital space maybe more so.

Carry on the conversation

You might be surprised to find out what you’ll learn in a f2f meet and greet. All of the little subtleties that articulate when carrying on a conversation, funny, charming, serious etc… These things you cannot experience when tweeting or leaving a wall post. I was fortunate I gained my social skills from playing in a band, touring around the world and going to clubs and that carried over into the social media world.

I’ve met some smart cool people that I’ve learned from because of social media. Social Media was the first initial connection, but when you really break it down it’s intended to be a tool to stay connected. In addition it’s better not to limit social interactions solely to the online space. So while it might be cool to have tons of friends online be sure to strengthen those relationships offline as well because these skills will not only carry over when talking about friendships but also career wise as well when interviewing for that next awesome gig.

Six Degrees of Separation is Obsolete

I’ll tweet you later

Almost everyone I talk to these days are on Twitter, I don’t think it’s necessary to explain what Twitter is as it’s well known. If you are unfamiliar with the social platform chances are you’re not so social when it comes to online. In any event I started to contemplate that old saying of everyone is separated by six degrees. Not anymore! I think one of the best features of Twitter that attracted me to the platform is the flexibility of being able to follow anyone and have a mutual exchange of tweets with that person. And the best part is you don’t have to follow someone in order to conversate, if a tweet catches your eye and generates you to respond you can do so and move on; or you can choose to follow if you like the content they share.

Unlike the Facebook platform in which you need to friend someone. Twitter has really opened the door for all of us, whether you’re looking for the next gig (first in my case) or other interest like following your favorite movie star.

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

The origins of the above quote aren’t really known I believe FDR included it in one of his speeches? But I really like Stan Lee’s quote better (being a comic book fan/artist myself) used in Spiderman from Uncle Ben.


Now more than ever we need to heed those words as the digital landscape becomes more transparent and all content is retrievable. So don’t be annoying or stalk your interest or recruiters because that’s not cool and you will quickly burn bridges or any chances you might have had. But by all means feel free to be social though and contribute content that is meaningful or helpful to those who share a common interest. I enjoy speaking with friends via Twitter sharing content and seeing how their day unfolds. So in conclusion “Six Degrees of Separation” should be put to rest, long live One Degree of Twitteration!

The road traveled

Navigating for inspiration

Visiting sites for ideas is one of my favorite things to do early in the morning, I’ll grab a cup of coffee get in front of my laptop and look at various design trends, fonts and dive into code. As someone that likes to develop and design it’s necessary to stay relevant and current with the new hotness as far as web apps go. Here are a few cools sites I’ve been recently checking out:

The last two above are really more for staying on top of what’s going on in with tech at the moment.

Man what a Year

As this year quickly comes to a close I have to look back and marvel of how far I’ve come and how much further ahead I must travel. As someone looking to become a full time developer it’s been one hell of a ride. I’ve hunkered down and coded my heart away, racked my brain with multiple design concepts in Photoshop and Fireworks. Made it my priority to create for the user and their experience in mind. Fiddled around with fonts and getting a feel for using the right font for the right content and design (design with content in mind). Interface overhauls and everything in-between soaking up as much knowledge as my mind would allow, and then did it some more in preparation of rolling out my site soon. It’s way over due!

Which way to go?

There are some who are unsure of the role they want to play and that’s fine, it’s perfectly OK to feel your way around as to what you would like to do ultimately and that’s the process of finding your niche. My foundation will always be grounded in design but I’ve made the decision to be a front-end developer. If you think for a moment devs (a good one) need to know design regardless being they work in Photoshop in order to prepare assets used when building out applications. So that’s a no brainer there! So I’ve jumped in with both feet getting more into complex code and applying it to my work. It’s been be a bit nerve wrecking but exciting to say the least.

Strip courtesy of I Am Paddy

The show must go on!

Anyone knows that what you would love to do for a living/career is not easy, nothing comes easy that’s worth doing. So with that thought in mind I continue making connections and becoming friends with others who share my passion and continue to push forward in my studies. I’m looking forward to becoming apart of a great team someday and sharing what I’ve learned as well as learning from them.

For now peace out two fingers. : )

Recently I attended Adobe’s “The Expressive Web” here in NYC. The event was held at The Hudson Theatre and it was jammed packed with designers and developers waiting for the big unveiling of Adobe’s Edge.

Let me back up for a moment, previously the night before the event was to take place Adobe released a downloadable Edge preview. I have to say that if you’re familiar with their products, Edge reminds me of After Effects even though some people say it resembles Flash? I just don’t see that tbh.

Getting back Adobe asked that we show up with laptops in hand, which lead me to believe this was going to be a hackaton to my dismay it was not to be. Tons of industry professionals were on hand to talk about HTML5 and where it will lead us as far as the web is concerned.

The first guest speakers talked about The State of the Web w/Dion Almaer & Ben Galbraith from Ajaxian. They gave good insight as to the direction HTML5, CSS3 will take us in creating beautiful content for the web. Afterwards was a tutorial lesson on Adobe’s Dreamweaver CS5.5 and HTML5 & jQuery Mobile w/Greg Rewis, showing a step by step approach to creating web & mobile sites.

Next we get into the juicy stuff the grand unveiling. Adobe’s Edge Demo and Open Discussion with – Mark Anders and Doug Winnie. This was the moment us designers and developers were sitting on the “Edge” of our seat waiting for (pun intended). First I have to admit that the crowd had mixed feeling as to how useful Edge would be, Edge is made to be very flexible while giving the capabilities of creating motion graphics without writing any HTML code. Kind of funny when you think of it, here we are sitting at a conference to talk about how HTML5 will change the way we work, yet we are here to talk about a tool that empowers a user to do away with writing code.

As a designer the moment I glanced at the Edge interface I was already familiar with it being that I have experience with After Effects & Flash. There is some differences as there always is for instance easing is not accessed through a menu bar, in-fact you must select the objects timeline in order to get the easing property. I also noticed and I asked this question to Adobe’s Mark Anders, Edge doesn’t have a Z property therefore no 3D capabilities. This doesn’t mean that you cannot still tweak the x &amp y property to mimic 3D, it just won’t be true 3D. Mark Anders displayed some of the current capabilities Edge has to offer easing, drop shadows and more.


As I played with Edge I also noticed that Edge cannot (@ least from what I can see) alter a path like in After Effects or Flash. I assume as HTML5 develops further that will be possible. Also another draw back to Edge would be the importing of assets, when importing multiple assets you can only do one at a time which can become a bit tedious depending on how many assest you need to work with. All imported assets are automatically wrapped in a div tag which is pretty cool. As of now Edge does not support any coding capabilities but Adobe is working on that, in the menu bar under window you’ll see an editor which cannot be accessed at this time. This editor once complete will probably convince more hardcore hand coders to try Edge and not feel as though it’s a tool for completely cheating when it comes to developing HTML/CSS.

Adobe did make it a point to mention that even though HTML5 will continue to grow in popularity when it comes to creating web content, but they also wanted to make a point for all not to misunderstand them in regards to thinking HTML will kill off Flash. Adobe said even though HTML5 CSS3 is expected to make big waves in the future as it continues to develop and improve, Flash is still very powerful and useful in creating interactivity. So it seems that Flash is not going anywhere any time soon. Adobe is smart in acknowledging the possibilities of HTML5 and placed themselves in a sweet position. They continue to back up Flash’s reliability even though not supported on mobile iOS devices such as iPad or iPhone etc… But they also have a tool that will work across all platforms ensuring that as a business will keep them in the forefront of tech.


While most people were there to see what Adobe had cooked up with Edge, I have to be completely honest I was waiting for the next presentation the most. One of my favorite digital agencies was about to speak and I was like a kid that was just told we are going to Disneyland. Big Spaceship’s head developer Stephen Koch was up next and I was all ears! Big Spaceship was approached to develop a site showcasing HTML5 CSS3’s current capabilities as it relates to the web. Stephen presented The Expressive Web Beta It’s a brilliant site that displays how different aspects of HTML5 works, some features include HTML5 canvas, video, form, audio, storage, CSS3 web fonts, transitions, transforms, shadows, queries, gradients & animations.

He also spoke about Big Spaceships creative process and structure or lack thereof. Big Spaceship doesn’t believe in working in silos which for me is very refreshing to hear and I’m a firm believer in this process. Big Spaceship consists of multiple teams each team has it’s own identity for-instance one of the teams name is blood turkey, each member of that particular team created a hand print on paper resembling blood hence the name. Stephen goes on to tell us that each team consist of 3 designers & 2 developers, they all sit side by side or back to back at any given moment of an engagement’s process they can turn to each other to solve any problems that arise, or contribute any new insights or ideas working in true collaboration. This ensures a nice natural flow in the creative process, if a designer runs into a development wall they can ask a developer to assist or vice versa, if a developer has a design problem the designer can take over the reigns for a bit.

Stephen also pointed out another important piece of information, he said that designers need to learn code! I wrote an earlier blog post touching on this subject. He stated that any designers that work closely with developers should take the time out to sit with a developer and have them teach you some code. It also goes without saying that developers would be smart to learn as much as they can about design as well. So any teams out there start learning from each other, you will only benefit in the long term, I know that’s what I plan to do as a designer learn as much code as I can.

If you would like to reach out to some of these individuals feel free to contact them. Stephen Koch @skoch (twitter) or via his Posterous blog komielan. Dion Almaer @dalmaer Dion Almaer’s Blog Ben Galbraith @bgalbs Ben Galbraith’s Blog Adobe website download Adobe Edge preview here @ adobe labs

So recently I’ve visited the Google offices here in NYC for their hackaton and I must say it was awesome! First I was shocked to learn of the location of the office nestled in a building that I’ve been to a million times and never once had a clue or indication that Google was located there. It’s so exclusive I might have as well have been visiting the CIA. Upon getting by security and climbing a deceivingly dingy rusty staircase that looks like it leads to a garbage dump I ascended into heaven or the garden of Eden you could say. Upon reaching the top of the staircase you’re greeted by a glass wall with an electronic lock on the door, no surprise there its Google remember. I entered the reception area which has an awesome masonic piece of the Google logo (see pic), also included is a waiting area with comfy couches and flat screens loaded with what else but Google TV.

The office is huge and occupies an entire warehouse floor, it’s laid out like the map of Manhattan. When you enter the doors the location starts in Brooklyn and moves uptown going through each neighborhood until reaching the top (Washington Heights). They have anything you could possibly want delicious food, awesome toys (ping pong, Lego room) and you can ride scooters everywhere.

If even given the chance to visit the office or better yet work there, I highly recommend it!! It quite awesome being surrounded by people from other agencies who are smart creative and enjoy innovating new useful applications for the web. I know when the new one rolls around I will be ready to head over again and work to my heart’s content!

design+development=webbuilders?

There’s so much going on right now as it relates to the web 2.0, digital is everywhere whether it’s a website, mobile app/site, e-commerce, video games or interactive experiences. What all of these platforms have in common is that they all need to be built by someone. This brings me to a current thought I had concerning designers and developers, the very people who make all of these wonderful and hopefully useful innovations happen.


Both play an integral role in the process.


Designers are responsible for making the site or application LooK the way it does with their knowledge of, color theory, typography and UI design. In addition to using production tools such as adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks including web languages (HTML/CSS, javascript etc.) They also layout how the site will navigate when users interact with it.

Developers are on the other side of the coin sort of. A good developer is well versed in computer languages like the above mentioned and many more… They also tend to delve deeper. Writing clean functional code is what matters most to developers so that the created site will function properly and is maintainable either by themselves or someone else, which usually relates to coding it in CMS if the latter. Another piece of the dev side that needs to be considered is front-end development (client side) or back-end development (client facing). That then brings to languages being broken out for specific uses, html/css, javascript, xml etc…are generally front end client side languages while PHP, SQL, C etc.. are back end server side languages.

I started to ponder how the line between both disciplines are so blurred now to the point that there’s no true blue distinction anymore really, unless an agency is looking for something specific. If you browse today’s job listings whether it’s for a designer position or developer most agencies ask for the applicant to know code from basic html to complex server side languages. Today’s web designer must get into coding and on the other side of the coin developers can make themselves more valuable by getting into design &

motion graphics(Flash, After Effects, Maya 3D etc.)
even though now with html5 canvas tag you can convert flash objects into native web applications. This in itself makes developers more useful and takes a little away from web designers giving designers more reason to study and learn code further blurring the line.

I feel that the line is so blurred and skewed at this point even titles should change in my opinion. I think at this point the term “web designer” or “web developer” is null in void, it’s probably more appropriate to just merge the two and title them web builders.

Companies who block Social Media are hurting potential business.

I have to wonder why some companies/agencies would ever consider shutting it’s social media doors by blocking it’s empolyees from socializing with the outside world?

Any good agency knows that in order to grow it’s business or brand it needs to stay connected to others on the outside, it brings us back to that social media bubble I spoke of in past entries (see google+ circles=bubbles?) by not allowing new ideas or interactions you’re just killing your brand slowly. Our society thrives on being social with sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and now Google+ why wouldn’t you want your employees to market your company’s brand? This reminds me of My good friend and co-founder of RobRobCreative Robert F. Peterson (@robertfpeterson) blogged this very subject in his blog It’s a (M)ad World. Robert writes in Employees, the best marketers he states “For a long time I have preached that your employees are the best marketers and marketing strategy you could invest in. When you love your job, which seems to be rare in most cases today, you love to brag about the company you work for and how great they treat you.”

Ah ha! therein lies the problem, most cool agencies or places you would love to work at don’t wouldn’t have a problem with their employees being connected to the outside world. A happy employee will boast about how cool or fun it is to work at X company just as long as they are appreciated and taken care of, that kind of employee is loyal and will work hard for you. So after mentioning that it makes you wonder what exactly is a company saying when they block employees from such sites? What does a agency like that have to hide? This kind of action speaks volumes about a place without any words. It can be perceived that management has a old way of thinking and is not innovative or up to speed on social, doesn’t trust it’s employees to speak about their experience at the company probably because they realize they don’t treat employees well and might be spoken of in a negative light. A negative culture is not a healthy place anyone would want to be. Employees should look forward to going to work and look forward to a new day of exciting possibilities.

As the other co-founder of RobRobCreative along with Robert we strongly feel that anyone who comes on board our team is given the right to enjoy themselves and have fun, in-fact we prefer that they do. Of course we work hard at concepting new ideas and innovations, it’s only fair and right for team members to enjoy themselves as well. Work hard play hard. Taking part in fun activities can sometimes lead to new ideas, you can never know where a brand new idea might emerge from or an innovation on an existing one.

FYI any new team members must learn this in it’s entirety prior to joining the team. This will give us the analytical insight we need to make an informed decision.
https://www.youtube.com/v/pQpTf2wuuno?version=3

Additionally social media is an extremely powerful tool that companies/brands should take advantage of. It can be used to connect with future customers or possible partnerships this can only help a company generate more business. But for this to happen the company must remain constantly social, customers are smart and can spot rubbish from far away. As a company looking to speak with consumers you must carefully inject yourself into their conversation, speak to them as a friend not someone looking to sell a product, be sincere. Consumers are more responsive to brands that get it.

Think!

There’s no secret that I love designing for the web and mobile space and as I continue to do so my love for it grows each day. But…it didn’t start out that way. In-fact before I fell in love with digital I couldn’t stand it. Even though at the time I wasn’t into digital and web design I was still into technology. Like a teenage girl I would glow with joy anytime I acquired a new video game or any other gadget. I’m also into illustrating comic books, growing up I’ve always been into Marvel & DC Comics and followed each the same way a couch potato would dedicate each day to their reality TV, parish the thought that I would miss an issue of Batman or X-Men.

I am aware that I have an intro post but I thought to re-post or better yet delve more deeply into how I managed to find the road I now travel. I started out probably in a typical manner reading and drawing comic books, I would wake up in the morning toss on some tunes and create my own from morning to night. The only time my mom would get a glimpse of her son would be if I was starving and in need of food, or to make a pit stop @ the bathroom. I was a crazy kid with a crazy dream of working in one of the better known comic book companies, that pretty much meant Marvel or DC comics, as those were and still are the two top dogs.
As the digital space grew I became more interested, now as a web designer I cannot imagine not tweeting, checking in on foursquare, writing on a facebook wall or most recently sharing with my circle of friends on Google+. Digital (social media) has become so integrated into my life that I don’t realize how much I tend to use it on a daily basis. I sleep with my iPhone right next to my head for christ sakes and am checking my phone each time I get a notification! I must be sleep deprived?! But who cares there’s a digital revolution happening and I’m playing a part in it, I’m not quite sure how big or small just yet, only time will tell that tale.
Regardless of anything I’m super grateful of all the people I’ve come across in this industry, I’ve connected with genuine people who are willing to help in any way they can. It’s really cool to share the same passion for an industry with so many others. Last night I attended the monthly social networking eventDigital DUMBO for what’s you status run by Carrot Creative and sponsored by Bigfuel.

I attended the event with my good buddies/RobRobCreative team @robertfpeterson and @awayofart upon entering the event we were given t-shirts to write on indicating our status and contact info. It was pure genius on the part of Bigfuel! Everyone had a complete blast, plenty of drinks and opportunities to be social. We shot the breeze with Mike Germano president of Carrot Creative which was an honor, he’s a super cool dude and someone so full of passion for creative that it’s coming out of his pores class act all the way! Avi Savar of Bigfuel is another individual who’s also a gentileman and worth getting to know. We also hung out with  fellow creative @RonnieLordi a graphic designer out of New Jersey, it was his first digital dumbo and he told us how awesome the event was and will continue to attend future events. Good for you Ronnie we always welcome anyone new creatives to the digital district.

All of this is but a small fraction which makes what I do so rewarding. As a creative I love being able to creative new exciting innovations that are functional, useful and fun to use. I realize how lucky I am to be able to do these things on this scale and I look forward things only getting bigger and better. When you love what you do and can do it on a professional level, that is the best feeling ever!

Think