Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye Zeros

Good bye Zeros. As a decade you sucked. You started off with a great personal loss for me, and turned into a big financial zero really quickly. Seemed like most of the decade was hijacked by backward, political & ideological systems that drove this country to the brink of collapse. Only good thing about you was the lessons you dealt forcing me to rely on myself more. I'm ready to forget about you now.

* mom died of cancer, lost all my savings in the tech bubble, 9/11, hurricanes and tsunamis, and a painful realization of how corrupt all the "systems" are that I'm supposed to depend on to live.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Nothing Says Merry Christmas Like HOT Artichoke Dip

I make this Hot Artichoke Dip every Christmas Eve... This year I'm trying it with an added teaspoon of habanero paste for extra hotness. I'll add a photo here very soon!

- 2 (13 3/4-ounce) cans artichoke hearts (drained & broken into smaller chunks)
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup packed freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
- 2-3 tablespoons habanero pepper paste (more or less to taste)
- 1 large garlic clove, mashed
- A few dashes of tobasco sauce
- A few cranks of fresh black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, stir well. Scrape into an oven proof dish, cover and bake for 40 minutes. Serve this savory dip HOT, with bagel chips, corn chips, crackers, bread... anything! Enjoy!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Stop and Think Before Crowdsourcing Your Design Work

Crowdsourcing is this new way to get really cheap design work done. By using the internet to 'source' a large group of people to check out your project, you can get designers to propose ideas to you in a 'contest' like system. Effectively, crowdsourcing creates a 'marketplace' for design work, but since one designer 'wins' a job, many more designers loose...

Here's a Wired magazine post explaining crowdsourcing and some issue facing designers (note, the comments are great):
Is Crowdsourcing Evil? The Design Community Weighs In

I DO think these sites are disruptively evil, and it's not because I don't think other organizations deserve affordable design. Crowdsourcing encourages cheapness and impatience from potential clients. These websites imply to clients that they'll get Saks like quality design work at Walmart prices, all at internet speed... but the design process doesn't actually work that way. Worse than marginalizing the design process, there are some huge intellectual property issues with these sites. If somebody were to create some artwork, and this artwork ended up being extremely profitable a few years later, what's to stop that artist from suiing that client to recoup the IP gains from his work? I can see intellectual property lawyers just waiting, like vultures, to dive into this in the near future.

The main reason that crowdsourcing is evil is the same reason that it's successful, Ideas. As all these ideas are propagated around these sites, it's just a matter of time before the designers (who aren't making enough $) get their own entrepreneurial ideas ... It's not difficult to launch your own online store (especially if you already have the software). It's not hard to set up your own blog (especially if you're creative). It certainly is not hard to set up any web business of your own, especially if you're half way there already, and all you need is an idea to base it on.

Crowdsourcing is bad for me because it undermines my investments in my own career, investments of time, money, and relationships. It's harder to promote my unique style & process when people's expectations have been set by a crowdsourcing websites. I've seen rates for design work drop, while at the same time the costs of maintaining a professional practice (expenses like education, rent, software, hardware, hosting, and broadband) don't go down at all. Why bother working with clients who assume your business is less valuable than their business?

I personally think anybody using a crowd sourcing site is going to get poor results, and no good designer participates on these sites anyway. The work we do at Studioroom includes planning, project management, writing, and development - ALL of our work is design-to-build, with SEO and usability baked right in. We want relationships with people, not popularity contests.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dear Spam

We've known each other for a while, even though you haven't seen me in years. I've been getting thousands of emails from you since 1999, please don't be angry with me that I haven't replied. I simply don't need my penis to be any bigger, nor do I need any pharmaceutical help in the bedroom, or bathroom, or anywhere. I'm not going bald, there's nothing in my life which needs fixing.

I've been ignoring your treaties of "help" so much now you are trying to find new ways to get at me. Through facebook, and twitter, and now my blog... The thing is, I have a spam proof wall around me, it's called Google. More precisely, it's called 'cloud computing'. You simply cannot reach me. You're just wasting your time. Give up.