Why Every Creative Needs To Know a Little Unix

February 6th, 2013

The Mac OS has developed into a truly powerful and stable operating system. Long gone are the day of System 7 Type 11 errors that would bring your machine (and your productivity) to a grinding halt. And yet, all that power has not come at the expense of usability. Apple have done an outstanding job of shielding the end user from all of the UNIX, Apache and other hard-core technologies Mac OSX is built upon. Apple have always been known for wrapping their products in an attractive Graphical User Interface (GUI) thus allowing even the most digitally retarded end user to jump in without feeling overwhelmed.

Creative types long ago adopted the Mac as their platform of choice because it allowed them to create without having to learn any type of scripting, command-prompting or back-door hackery. We gladly traded off those ‘Ultimate Power User’ features that fans of Windows and Linux would gloat over. No, Mac users have been content to just turn on the box and get to work, joyfully ignorant of such shenanigans.

However, there are times when the raw power sitting beneath the sheen of a user-friendly GUI needs to be accessed directly. Sometimes the shiny user-friendly GUI gets in the way just a little too much. Fortunately, Apple have provided several windows (no pun intended) into the machine room of Mac OSX, where one can tinker with the cogs and pulleys that make The Big Cat roar. The easiest and most obvious way into the land of UNIX is via the Terminal, found in every Mac OSX Utilities folder (Cmd-Shift-U from the Finder). The Terminal is an application that lets the user open a ‘shell‘ to run UNIX command line instructions and gain greater access than a normal admin account can.

I’ve dabbled in UNIX commands in the Terminal a little. Listening to the Mac Geek Gab piqued my interest and I taught myself a few minor tricks. Nothing too fancy. This week I found myself depending on Terminal to save my bacon, because the ‘nuke and pave’ I performed last week left my MacPro in a state of Permissions meltdown. Actually, it was the Migration Assistant pulling my User data back that made a mess of things. Luckily I found a few really useful tools to force my belligerent machine to behave again. Read the rest of this entry »

The Great Software Swindle : A Tale Of Engineered Obsolescence

January 28th, 2013

There was a time, not too long ago, when software that was more than two years old was NOT considered obsolete. Over the last decade, as update cycles have gotten shorter and shorter, software publishers have become increasingly anxious to drop legacy software from their support programs. I’ve had numerous battles with software companies lately over various issues that needed (in my opinion) some minor attention; retrieval of a serial number or a challenge/response code for example. Unfortunately I found that these companies (Steinberg, GRM, Waves to name a few) were completely unwilling, and in their opinion unable, to offer any assistance.

My problem it seems was that I was using software that was up to five years old. My reasons for keeping the digital status quo on my workstation are not unreasonable, either. To the software publishers though, I have outstayed my welcome and am now invited to sod off on my merry way unless I want to part some of my hard-earned yet scarce Nelson Eddie’s.

As I said, I have my reasons for resisting the upgrade urge. The last major upgrade I did was to migrate from Mac OSX Leopard to Snow Leopard, and this was one of the most brutally painful and disruptive upgrades I have performed. Not since the move from OS9 to OSX did an operating system cause so much havoc and disharmony to my Applications folder and my workflow. That’s another story, suffice to say it took many months to get my workstation back to peak operation. With this in mind, I’ve been reluctant go through another upheaval, so it has been a decision to stay pat. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Read the rest of this entry »

Lean Angles Blog Design

August 2nd, 2011

I built and launched a blog and podcast I have branded Lean Angles. It covers the world of motorcycles, specifically sportbikes and road racing. This is a project I have been planning and working on over the past 18 months, spending any spare moments of down time finding and modifying a WordPress template, designing the logo, defining the brand identity and generating content for the site. Here is the design and a couple of the options I came up with.

The finished blog can be found at Lean-Angles.com

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Using Social Media in Marketing : Part 5

July 29th, 2011

Putting The Media In Social Media

Beyond communicating directly with potential customers, Social Media can be used to extend a campaign or reinforce a brand by using these outlets to publish content. This content should be bespoke web content. Created to engage viewers and build awareness around your brand, ultimately designed to turn customers into evangelists through viral networks and word-of-mouth advertising. Podcasts, live streamed events, online games: just some of the possibilities to take your brand into uncharted waters.

Branded content, the new paradign in online advertising, is an emerging form of content that presents an ad disguised as content. This is not a sneaky attempt by an advertiser to coerce a viewer into watching. In fact it is very specific content created to offer value to the viewer beyond simple “Here’s my product. It’s for sale”. From expensive, high-production value mini shows to lo-fi videoblogging, there is an entire universe of possibilities to explore. The point is to be subtle with sales proposition, avoid hard-sell “Get It Now” messaging, and focus on interesting and relevant topics that surround the brands ecosystem. The content could narrative and dramatic or comedic, with subtle product placement or subtle pre-roll/post-roll branding. Or it could take an educational tone, how to get the best out of the product, or tips on associated topics not directly related.

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Using Social Media in Marketing : Part 4

July 28th, 2011

Okay I Get It, How Do I Get Started

Now you are ready to dip your toe in the waters of Social Marketing, the cheapest and easiest way is to add a blog to your website. Write short posts a few times a week about topics relevant to your business, offer insights to manufacturing processes or customer case studies. Keep it topical and timely. Set up a Twitter account and a Facebook page, and share your blog posts or other interesting articles you have read online. Most importantly, be honest and genuine. Be human. Interact, respond to questions, join conversations. It’s not always easy or immediately rewarding, but given time you will develop your own ‘voice’ and your personality will shine forth.

Beyond those simple beginnings, we can get a little more involved. Build a Ning community around your brand where your customers or users can commune and hold discussions and share their stories. Develop a YouTube or Vimeo channel for training, advertising, branded content or seminar highlights. Populate a Flickr account with photo’s from conferences and Expo’s your company attends or speaks at. Offer promotions through FourSquare using location based marketing. The tools are numerous and varied, but they don’t have to all be embraced at once. Take on one at a time and slowly develop an online social marketing presence that supports your overall brand personality.

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Using Social Media in Marketing : Part 3

July 27th, 2011

So What Does This Mean To My Marketing Strategy?

So this new web-born freedom is great and all, but how does it apply to business? Why should my business use these tools, or more importantly, HOW? At first glance it may seem there is no place amongst the Facebook Werewolves and YouTube haters for any serious business to venture. What could I possibly gain from sharing web-space or associating with that crowd? Actually, there is a huge gain to be had in joining the Social Network masses. These people are your audience, your customers. Never before have you had an opportunity to communicate so directly with them. Creating relationships with potential or existing customers has never been easy. Opening the doors of your social network to your audience allows a greater level of transparency and interaction. If done well, it can put a human voice or face to an otherwise anonymous corporate entity.

A dialog can be opened between the people you have been producing print ads for, who’s mailbox you have been dumping direct mail into, who you have been writing newsletters for all this time. Not only do you now have a channel to canvas ideas and feedback, your customers now have a door to poke their heads around and offer you suggestions, complaints, praise. You may have paid handsomely for this market research in the past. Of course you have to be committed to offering the best product or service you possibly can. Opening the social network doors will only lead to a barrage of angry followers if your offerings are less than advertised. If what drives you is the desire to be the best in your field, and your attempts to garner input are sincere then this feedback should be nothing short of gold.

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Using Social Media in Marketing : Part 2

July 26th, 2011

Everybody Is Doing It These Days

Yesterday I claimed that Social Media was all about the conversation. But this conversation is nothing new. Since the dawn of the web people have been socializing online. BBS’s and newsgroups have been around for eons. Look at YahooGroups for evidence of that, there is an apparent group for every conceivable topic. And where would the web be without the blessed forum. Forums are a lively, helpful resource for many people to learn and help others. All of them are two-way and conversational. So why is Social Networking such a novelty? Are Social Networking and Social Media just terms coined by those web poseur types that hang around in coffee shops with their MacBookAir’s? Possibly, but it would be foolish to ignore their relevance and importance to the modern internet landscape. With the advent of Web2.0 technologies like AJAX or RubyOnRails developers were able to expand the features of old static websites into something modern and dynamic. This allowed social networks to be expandable, extensible and highly customizable, whereas the good old forum or newsgroup are the exact same experience for every visitor. Social networks allow each participant to create an area on the web that reflects their taste, interests, ideals and personality.

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Using Social Media in Marketing : Part 1

July 25th, 2011

The Birth of The Social Network

Okay, so unless you have had your head buried under a rock for the past 5 years, you have likely come across the a little website called Facebook. And if you watch CNN at all you’ve probably seen Anderson Cooper inviting you to join the conversation on Twitter. And of course, who hasn’t wasted precious minutes, not to mention company bandwidth, watching dancing cats on YouTube. Social Networks. User Generated Content. Social Media. Buzz words galore. Tweetups. Meetups. Twestivals. Blogs and Vlogs. To many, it seems like an entirely new dialect has sprung up almost overnight. If it feels like everyone else in the office is hip to the scene except you, it shouldn’t. Like all trends that seem to sprout from nowhere, they begin with a vocal minority who like to think they are part of a movement the rest of us are not privvy to. Now, the trend has reached the mainstream, and its never too late to get up to speed and join the ever-growing throng of cool kids with their Tweety pages MyFace profiles.

It’s time to join the world of the Social Network.

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Lean Angles Blog Pre-launch landing page

June 28th, 2011

I have been building a blog and podcast I have branded Lean Angles. Aiming to launch the site in June (which is rapidly fading) I had to get a branded pre-launch landing page up so I could begin to generate some buzz around it. Here is the design and the options I came up with. It uses all my own photography so rights are not an issue.

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Final Cut Pro X – digesting the pandemic of outrage

June 24th, 2011

In case you missed it (which is hard to believe considering the noise on the internet) Apple released the long awaited successor to their professional video editing suite Final Cut Pro Studio this week. Final Cut Pro X was announced at NAB back in April to an eager user-base, and despite only seeing a few screenshots and an hour long demo of the top level features, expectation was colossal. It is now available in the App Store for the paltry sum of $299.

Final Cut Pro X has a bold new User Interface

After NAB everyone interested in FCPx had a pretty good understanding of these top level features; the magnetic timeline, the one-click colour correction, the background rendering and ingest, the Auditioning feature, the multi-format timeline and the Precision Editor for trimming clips. And of course the drastically renovated User Interface built around a solid metadata foundation. This was not your father’s FCP.
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