Tag: Photoshop

The Internet ROCKS.

The Internet ROCKS.

I swear, I don’t know what I’d do if we’d never come up with this whole interconnected awesomeness thing.

I re-launched my business earlier this year, which involved picking a new business name. It was incredibly hard to come up with a name I liked that was also what my business needed, and I was so much better at it when I had help from lots of Twitter and ADN friends. People were so generous and pragmatic and willing to share their expertise. Plus, I found a couple great blogs with loads of helpful naming advice. I wasn’t able to shell out for those experts like I hoped to, but they were still incredibly supportive of me, and I know I’d go to them if I had to name a more grown-up company with a proper budget in the future. I learned so much about this entire naming field that I didn’t even know existed when I named my thing this time around. Which is clear, because that name and URL sucked, and they’re much better now. :)

IMG_3978Since the big rename and relaunch, I’ve predictably had many woes getting the technical details of my new website together, not to mention the graphical stuff that just totally loses me. My husband Grant has been my biggest helper in the graphics department, but the amazing Berklee has been a close second. He’s been ever so generous with his time and energy, throwing business card ideas and mockups at me faster than I can download the files. This was the final design*, in case you were wondering, although I plan to change the “consultant” terminology to something that better encapsulates what I actually do. (“Coach” is the closest I’ve got right now.)

Bryan Redeagle of Capsule DX offered to help me with web stuff, and he was so appalled by some of the shoddy code in my former theme that he just full-on wrote me a new one, all custom from scratch and designed to fix exactly the stuff that was frustrating me. He never charged me a penny, because we worked out a special deal, but mostly because he’s fucking awesome and he honestly just wanted to help (and wanted code to shine like all perfectionist programmers do). I can’t thank him enough, or recommend his work loudly enough. I’ve never gotten this level of service out of anyone I’ve hired for any project, except for the amazingly affordable florist at our otherwise overpriced wedding. Most of you who know me know that praise does not come from me unless it is sincerely deserved.

Marie of Code it Pretty has also been a very generous donor of her time and expertise. She already generously writes a blog that just helps people figure out frustrating web crap, and she’s so cool about chiming in when I have something tricky to solve. And oh, remember when I wanted to make that app? Well, it’s still in the works; I’ve had to kind of put it aside in favor of earning money via my main business. But Marie is weighing in about user experience and will probably help with an Android port someday.

Martin and Doug and some other generous folks all piped up wanting to assist me, which is fan-freaking-tastic and also incredibly generous. (Oh, and I never would have gotten in touch with them if it weren’t for Rob Rix by way of The Modern Scientist, who connected things via Twitter, and whom I met via Keith Bradnam whom I originally connected to because of some Marco or some 5by5 thing.) Oh, and I’m totally going to connect with Brandon Wright to make completely different apps down the road, because we just find each other awesome to work with and he reached out to me because of Quit.

Dude, even my ergonomics are improving, not as much as I’d like but still some. Fellow standing desk enthusiasts, from Lex Friedman to Kelly Guimont have chimed in about footwear and other tips for making my home work setup more reasonable, and Twitter-whining about various aspects of it has often produced helpful results. The most helpful thing of all, though, was a visit to the Fully showroom in Portland. I urge you to set up an appointment if you’re near there. Either way, some of the best recommendations  and price quotes I’ve gotten were from them, and of course I discovered them online.

Oh, and you know how I suck at being new to Mac? Well, of course loads of people have helped me out with that. Heck, Paul Holbrook sent me a PayPal contribution towards buying the damn thing because he could tell how badly I needed to switch, and Michael Clifford straight up bought me a license for Moom because he knew it would solve my problems. Oh, and the fantastic Jean MacDonald reached out, helped me get settled with some fantastic software, and has generally been insanely helpful and fun. So all those folks and everyone else I’ve mentioned and then some have just been so full of great links, tips, and advice. Let’s see, what other resources have I fallen in love with online, thanks to Internet connections? Mixergy. Marie Forleo. Heck, even Jenna Marbles inspires me. Laura Roeder. So many more I’m forgetting. But I never would have found any of those sources on my own!

And how did I forge most of these connections? Why, by listening to shows on 5by5 and communicating with that network’s general audience. A huge chunk of my most interesting Twitter following also grew out of me baiting Marco Arment into retweeting something useful or funny or silly or random I posted, and then following every single person who favorited or retweeted whatever that thing was. And you know what? That strategy has put me in touch with some of the coolest Internet pals I’ve met to date. I’ve had great conversations with many a jackal, and I’m also launching a podcast soon with Kai Davis and Chris Zaborowski.

And, of course, Quit. Most people who are bothering to read this know that I’ve called in to that show a good number of times, and that I’ve finally taken my online dating coaching business full time thanks in large part to the nudges I’ve received from Dan Benjamin, and to the inspiration that a number of shows on his network have provided. I continue to seek ways to make it more sustainable thanks to his relentlessly business-minded approach. And, of course, his shows inspired me, but so do the connections I’ve made from listening to them and appearing on them. I even got one (just one so far, but still) paying client who heard me first on Quit! Altogether, the social aspects of the Internet and of 5by5 in particular have skyrocketed my own success and happiness and ability to easily and quickly find affordable and effective solutions to at least 75% of my tech problems on this earth.

Lastly, I made many of these connections happen because of my own output, lest you think it’s ALL just Internet magick [sic]. I made them because I was open to socializing with people and learning new things. I was willing to put myself out there even when exhaustion or shyness or House of Cards would rather prevail. I followed up on leads, wrote things down, Skyped/FaceTimed/GooglePlusHung my little heart out, learned a bunch of new stuff, flared up my tendinitis, lost sleep, called 5by5 and waited on hold for hours, checked my email/DMs/etc., read, wrote, retweeted, subscribed, shook hands, followed back, spent money, and generally put myself out there and followed up on shit. But that effort has been so incredibly rewarding, and SO much easier than it would have been without all this great Internet infrastructure.

So to my friends and family members who don’t get why the Internet is so important to me and why I sometimes can’t stop checking my iPhone, well, you’ll probably never read this anyway so never fucking mind. But the Internet rocks. :)

 

 

 

*Special Business Card Footnote: Futura on the front, since I know .05 people are going to ask, and a weirdly condensed Franklin Gothic Medium on the back logo. Vistaprint; wouldn’t use ’em again; saving up for proper letterpressing but first things first financially, thanks Dan. Going with a press guy in Chicago who can paint the edges red too because OMG sexy. Curt Stevens of Lithocraft if you need ANYTHING printed in Seattle; tell him I sent you. Avoid Allegra Graphics in Greenwood no matter how good a deal you thin you’re getting; you’re welcome.

I suck at Photoshop

I suck at Photoshop

I’m trying to learn to become more independent in graphic design. I’m not remotely trained in any way. I’ve got an increasingly defined sense of design, although I’m just as susceptible to trends as the next blogger who suddenly decided that rounded corners were over yesterday. I finally got a copy of CS6 of my very own, but with no training or experience whatsoever, I of course suck at using it. And I’m constantly paralyzed by that. And since Grant is the one who’s been doing most of my image editing up until like right now, he’s the only one with access to the .psd versions of anything at all.

Beyond sucking at the actual tools, and not having assets, I’m just kind of clueless and/or thoughtless about the actual content I want to create. Sometimes I build things dumb or ugly just to not have to rebuild an entire other thing, you know? I understand this to be a common problem in software development; it certainly was in the game companies I’ve worked at. No one eeeeever designs the UI to be big enough for German terms, for example! Take that sidebar, to the left. The text “my day job” is not an effective or eye-catching way to link out to what I actually do in my online dating consulting business. This is a really, really important part of my identity; I’m trying to do it full time after leaving Big Tech and it’s scary and I’m broke and I’d like to generate more traffic and more paying clients. So you’d think I’d want to really make that stand out, right? But my stupid, stubborn sense of aesthetics dictates that everything in that sidebar (custom built by Grant, and tweaked with some help from John Hardman) should be the exact same height/font size and roughly the same width. So instead of rebuilding the sidebar to allow for some different copy, or reworking it so that all of the link-images were larger and could contain more text, I just came up with “my day job” placeholder and asked Grant to tweak it into place and now it’s stupid and doesn’t tell you to please go hire me for the fascinating weird thing I actually charge money for. Sure, you can get there if you’re curious enough to click, but I don’t trust you! :)

Anyway. I got this new Mac recently too, and am sitting on a post about my process adjusting to Mac after fifteen years of PC. I got this idea to make an iPhone app and I’m sitting on the process of really figuring out how I want it to work and learning enough fragmented bits of how to program to understand how to formulate reasonable requests to the very kind folks who have expressed an interest in helping me make something functional. And I got a copy of Photoshop and I have no idea how to use it. Sometimes I just feel so stuck by all the things I’d like to learn more about and can’t justify taking the time to learn more about, ya know? Not that I’m always using my time well (self-subtweet to this blog post) but I feel guilting spending money and time on a Lynda course when I should be doing more things to generate Heartographer leads.

I’ll get there; don’t worry. And I’ll come up with something catchier than “my day job” eventually. Maybe you can help—what do you think I should put there to drive people to The Heartographer? (Oh, and I turned off comments à la Marco and John but I’m not coding-savvy enough to know how to hack my custom theme to turn them on for certain posts only, so I guess you’ll have to tweet/FB/App me your response. Which you were probably going to do anyway, because it’s 2013, right? (But I still get blog comments on my other blogs sometimes, and I LOVE THEM when they happen and aren’t spam or dicks. So maybe I’ll go back.)

You thought this whole rambling post was going somewhere, didn’t ya? GOTCHA!

Oh wait, I was going to post something. This is some of my incredibly unprofessional art-attempts that I’ve made in my pre-Photoshop days whenever I needed content for a blog post or an ad campaign and didn’t know diddley about image editing or computer drawing or anything like that and I just needed to GO already. I think my Shlok Crest inspired me to at least feel semi-competent at creating stupid little doodles that other people might find amusing, and it was just so much easier than trying to learn an entirely unfamiliar software program to get something simple out the door. Sometimes you just have to ship it instead of really making it great, you know? Which I hate. Anyway. Enjoy!

Questioning Kitty
I believe this is the one I used in my Facebook campaign, because I am a professional. I believe the copy was something like “Is your cat worried about you? It might be time to start dating again.” I don’t fucking know. It helped me break 100 Likes which was the douchey goal from a friend who’s a marketing consultant. Yay confused felines?
Happy Birds
This was a part of the one we used for my Stranger (local alt weekly) ad. The birds are supposed to make you jealous, I guess? I drew it with ballpoint pen on paper and Grant scanned it and futzed with it in Illustrator, I think.
Sad Bird
The sad bird represents you, single person who wants to pay me money to help you find love online. Also for the Stranger ad.
"Copy This Bird" - that's all I have in my notes
This bird was an early attempt. You can see me experimenting with avian eyebrows. I have no idea what I’m doing. Pretty sure this was in MS Paint, and I tried to make the body out of smart shapes. Bad call. You can totally tell where “circle” ends, huh?
Lovelorn Kitty
This was an earlier attempt at a kitty for the FB ad. I’m partial to him even though I’m not sure why his face is curly and his body hair is straight. Also not sure why he’s a he, nor why he lacks whiskers. Life is full of mysteries. I did this on Paper on the iPad I think, just the free pen setting.
Another Lovelorn Kitty
Another lovelorn kitty for FB attempt. Sorry for the failure to crop, but this is just gonna get slapped in here all speedy-like. He didn’t look sad or confused enough.
Concerned kitty
This cat is concerned about your love life. This is more the direction I was going in, and I like the colors, but after I did this guy I realized the dimensions were off for Facebook’s very rigid specs.

Anyway, there you have it. I have no idea what I’m doing but these were kind of fun and I didn’t have to buy anything, pay anyone, or violate copyright. Yay.

The Girl with the Missing Book Club

The Girl with the Missing Book Club

Not to jump on the literary bandwagon du jour (or rather, du 2005), but I finally picked up The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.* For the first time since 2006ish when my book club disbanded, I really miss having a group with whom to kvetch about whatever’s on my nightstand.

This book started slow, then got interesting at around 16%.** But I’m SO distracted by the author’s constantly awkward references to technology. It’s as if it was written by somebody’s grandpappy who’s just baffled that kids these days can send each other messages with their pocket walkie talkies.

For example, one mere chapter references the iBook***, PhotoShop [sic]****, a Hotmail.com email address, and checking one’s messages on Eudora. Oh, and a “…a Canon digital camera the size of a cigarette packet.” CAN YOU BELIEVE HOW SMALL THAT IS, READERS? Cigarettes in packets. GOLLY GEE. Go bring Grandpa his pipe, now.

This has me ponderingt how writers can include specific, pointed, identifying details yet avoid sounding dated and precious. To be fair, the book’s 2003-ish references were published posthumously, so maybe the author would have had time to clean them up or modernize them… but it seems like any specific reference to software, brand names, etc. is bound to end up sounding silly in five years.

After the storm of dated references, I was flummoxed enough to look up the book’s (2005) publication date on its Wikipedia entry, which contained a big spoiler as well as some fascinating info. The original Swedish title, Män som hatar kvinnor (Men Who Hate Women), is so much harsher and more interesting than the stateside translation. Why the heck did they change it here? Google Images tells me France and Catalonia got closer translations. And check out the differences in international cover art choices — only the USA gets a disrobed gal’s back instead of the cold face of a jaded, punked-out, once-brutalized woman who happens to have a tattoo of a dragon, among much other body art. Mmph.

Anyway: Book club, I miss you; blogging, a little less so, but maybe I’ll stop back again soon; Eudora, not at all. You suck. Everything ever should be web-based now forever. Suck it. Stupid footnotes after the jump, because clearly I have forgotten what blogging even is. What a very dated thing of me to do.

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