Thursday, February 7, 2013

Taking a Cold Shower

This might seem like a skill most often needed in remote parts of the globe, but it happened to us this morning. It takes a way-too-long fire stick to relight the pilot light in our condo's water heater, so we had no choice. Wanda gamely heated cups of water in the coffee maker but that takes too long and heats too little. I decided to try the direct approach. Note: a shower wand works much better for this than a fixed shower head. Start with your extremities, which have the least blood near the surface and are therefore cooler to begin with. Feet and hands first, then arms and legs, then your head... Cold water in your face is almost always refreshing, right?. After the first splash, turn the water flow down really low and let it run on the top of your head, which will preheat the water before it runs down your neck and body. You can condition yourself to the cold water in just 2-3 minutes this way.

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Taking a Cld Shower

This might seem like a skill most often needed in remote parts of the globe, but it happened to us this morning. It takes a way-too-long fire stick to relight the pilot light in our condo's water heater, so we had no choice. Wanda gamely heated cups of water in the coffee maker but that takes too long and heats too little. I decided to try the direct approach. Note: a shower wand works much better for this than a fixed shower head. Start with your extremities, which have the least blood near the surface and are therefore cooler to begin with. Feet and hands first, then arms and legs, then your head... Cold water in your face is almost always refreshing, right?. After the first splash, turn the water flow down really low and let it run on the top of your head, which will preheat the water before it runs down your neck and body. You can condition yourself to the cold water in just 2-3 minutes this way.

Posted via email from Useful Stuff

Monday, August 20, 2012

Seth Godin on Linchpin

I found this in my email Drafts box from a couple years ago; Seth Godin posted this on his site just after publishing Linchpin. It has lots of great info on publishing in the Age of the Idea. Obviously, it'll do more good posted here than buried on my computer. I'll check with Seth once it's posted to make sure it's OK, of course.


[I'll be updating this post all day, just fyi,click through to see the latest update]

You know by now that I haven't gone to any traditional media for the launch of my new book - no pitches to newspapers, magazines, or television. Instead, I went directly to my readers and the many intelligent voices online. I sent review copies by request to my readers - who were generous and creative in their reviews, and now we'll hear from the bloggers and other online denizens. This is the short head of the new long tail, the group of professional and semi-pro writers and journalists that are increasing in influence daily.

I spoke to over 40 different people from various industries and blogs about Linchpin. I was given a warm reception by artists, business blogs, marketing sites, brand innovation sites, and creative blogs. It was a blast. My interaction with them reminds me that the online world is quickly becoming even more human and connected everyday. The page summarizing all of the links is right here.

There are a lot of people on this list, and I respect every single one of them, for their insights, their generosity and for plugging away at a medium that's just getting started.

Here's what we talked about, organized by general theme and topic. There are some overlaps, but I figured rather than talking about my book on this blog, I'd let them lead the conversation.

Thanks to each of these big thinkers for sharing some time with me, and thanks to you for reading! If you find a blog you like, don't forget to subscribe to it.

What is an Artist?

  • Michael Hyatt: Over the top generosity from the head of one of the largest book publishers in the world. Michael interviewed me about making a difference. Visit his site if you'd like to win a free copy of the book.
  • Tom Peters: A guest post on the blog of one of my role models and heroes. I take on the idea of 'excellence' and what it means now.
  • Good Experience: Mark practically invented the science of simplified web design. I do a guest post about why artists break things.
  • Gaping Void: Your favorite cartoons-on-the-back-of-business-cards provocateur generously asks me ten (hard) questions, and I generously answer them.
  • Pilgrimage of the heart: Jeff and I talk about breaking rules, technology and art.
  • Art of Non-Conformity: Chris is at the forefront of rethinking work. We talk about the courage needed to do it. And plumbers. It keeps coming back to plumbers.

Shipping and The Resistance

  • Behance: I first launched the ideas in Linchpin at their conference last year, and here's a guest post about shipping.
  • Steve Pressfield: The godfather of the resistance, the five-star general in the war against fear, Steve takes on the ideas in Linchpin and asks me some hard questions about my personal creative habits and the idea of making a ruckus.
  • White Hot Truth: Danielle takes on the burning questions of pushing yourself to do art that matters.
  • Ruzuku -Another Step Forward: Rick is leading a tribe of entrepreneurs. We talked about why I wrote the book and how entrepreneurs can use it. And I talk a little about golf.

Creativity and Art

  • Dan Pink: Dan's new book is really terrific, and he let me interview him about it.
  • Derek Sivers: The man who re-invented music distribution for indie bands. We talk about good vs. great music and why there's already plenty of good.
  • Merlin Mann: Merlin is well-known for inventing inbox zero, and we did a podcast together about creativity.
  • Martha Beck: One of the most well-known coaches, Martha is a leading thinker on how individuals can make a difference. We talk about jazz and writing...
  • Jennifer Lindsay: What keeps one writing, a video conversation.
  • B.L. Ochman: I did an interview with BL about what keeps marketers (and people) from being creative.
  • Richard Pachter: Richard is a regular reader. He tracked me down and we did an interview about curiosity for the Herald.
  • Cool Hunting: A cutting edge site about the changes driving our culture. A podcast about my take on art.

Be a Linchpin, Be Indispensable

  • Duct Tape Marketing: John is the Peter Drucker of small business tactics. In this podcast, that's what we talk about (small business, not Peter Drucker).
  • The Happiness Project: Gretchen dives into how you can become indispensable (and whether it will make you happy).
  • WebInkNow: David Meerman Scott is the Charles Darwin of new media marketing, tirelessly chronicling how it works. In this video, we talked about becoming indispensable.
  • Where are the good things in life? That's what this site is about, and we talked about making change.
  • Fuel Your Creativity: On the intersection between digital arts, graphics and becoming someone they can't live without.
  • Marty Wilson: You can see a picture of me when I was 18. We talk in depth about learning to be a leader, canoeing and how you can choose to make a difference.
  • Crazy Engineers: Not so crazy, actually. Driven, but not crazy. This is an interview about how a cube-dweller can make a big impact.
  • IQ Partners is an executive search and retention firm. We talked about the new standard for people worth hiring.
  • Gail Goodwin: Gail writes about non-traditional thinking and opportunities. We talked about creativity and being remarkable.
  • Charlotte AMA: Some very sharp marketers in Charlotte. We get tactical on this podcast.

Entrepreneurs, Money, Art and Balance

  • Lee Stranahan: Lee often writes for Huffpo and we discussed (via podcast) the power a Linchpin has to change things. We all live in Detroit now.
  • Joi Ito: If you don't know Joi, you should. I interview this cutting-edge linchpin on his blog.
  • Personal MBA: Josh and I did an interview on entrepreneurship and stepping out of the status quo.
  • Writing on the Web: Patsi and I talked on this podcast about coaching and making a difference.
  • Ladies Who Launch: Shipping and marketing with the ladies who know how to do it.
  • Mongezi Mtati: This video interview wins the prize for longest-distance by Skype. Mongezi called in from South Africa to talk about the struggle between giving it away and making money.
  • Mixergy: A podcast with the always interesting Andrew Warner. (Transcript too)
  • Twist Image: Mitch is at the cutting edge of what it takes to succeed in new media. He lives it every day (in Canada even!). We talked about What Matters Now on this podcast.
  • Fearless Business: Mediocre obedience and being remarkable are covered in this video.
  • Be The Media: David and I use this podcast to talk about how innovative thinking impacts distributed media. And he has a great logo.
  • Self Brian interviews me on self improvement and becoming indispensable.
  • Untemplater: Jun and I talk about the value of an MBA and entrepreneurship.Hint: not so much. We do a video chat.
  • Careerealism: Because every job is temporary.
  • Site Visibility: Kelvin and I talk on this podcast about remarkable products and their place in a world of SEO and clicks.
  • Neville Hobson: A podcast about innovation and marketing.
  • Mark Ramsey: Mark is a visionary about the future of radio. In this podcast, he's his usual insightful self, and I try to keep up. This is the new normal.

Connecting, Being Human, and why it matters

  • Anne Jackson understands the power of faith, regardless of religion. She's worth learning from--and she was kind enough to give me a guest post.
  • Sasha Dichter: Sasha works for Acumen Fund and writes a powerful blog about giving and philanthropy. We talked about whether there will be a surplus of linchpins and my early history in working for not much money.
  • Marketing Over Coffee: Just like it sounds, except I had tea. We use this podcast to talk about the death of the factory.
  • First Friday Book Review: Robert Morris, an inveterate Amazon reviewer and journalist, interviews me about the book.
  • John Moore: One of his classic (and very funny) video readings, this time of a little bit of Linchpin. Horrifying.

Education and Giving Gifts in the new economy

  • Personal Branding Blog: The power of applying linchpin thinking to your own brand. This is a PDF magazine for download.
  • ArtBeat of America: On Rick's podcost, he and I talk about artists who can't draw.
  • Rethinking Learning: Barbara asked some startling questions about whether higher education has a future.
  • Book Blade: Randy and I talked about education and the broken school system in this video interview.
  • Todd Sattersten: We talked about choosing words carefully.
  • Goose Educational Media: Chris Taylor interviews me on video about changing education and being remarkable.

Shenpa, Emotional Labor, and Fear

  • Pam Slim: Pam wants you to quit your job. I did a short guest post on her blog about why that might be hard for you and how to get started.
  • Communicatrix: More than communication, insights that turn things upside down. Colleen will make you think.
  • Innovate on Purpose: Jeff asked some hard questions about mediocre obedience and being a cog.
  • Church of Customer: Jackie and Ben pioneered the idea of the 1%, and in this interview we cover five questions that matter to marketers (and artists of all stripes).

Thanks to each of these big thinkers for sharing some time with me, and thanks to you for reading! If you find a blog you like on this list, don't forget to subscribe to it.

Bonus! A guest post on shipping for Leo on Zen Habits.

Why write a book?

If you've never written a non-fiction book, there are a lot of reasons why you might want to. It organizes your thoughts. It's a big project worthy of your attention.


But once you've written a book, it's not clear that it's a useful thing to publishone. After all, it takes a year. It involves a lot of people. You need to print a lot of copies, ship them everywhere, create a lot of hoopla and hope that people actually a) hear about it, b) decide it's worth the effort to track it down and c) read it and spread it.

Wouldn't it be easier to just blog it? Or to post a PDF online and watch it spread?

Some of my books have been short... one was under a hundred pages long. It could certainly have a been a series of blog posts. And the posts might even have reached more people than the book ultimately did. If my blog posts were counted on the same metrics as bestselling books, every single one would be a New York Times bestseller. Yours too, most likely. Books don't sell that many copies.

The goal isn't always to spread an idea. Sometimes the goal is to make change happen. A book is a physical souvenir, a concrete instantiation of your ideas in a physical object, something that gives your ideas substance and allows them to travel.

Out of context, a 140 character tweet cannot change someone's life. A blog post might (I can think of a few that changed the way I think about business and even life). A movie can, but most big movies are inane entertainments designed to make a lot of money, not change people. But books?

The reason I wrote Linchpin: If you want to change people, you must create enough leverage to encourage the change to happen.

Books change lives every day. A book takes more than a few minutes to read. A book envelopes us, it is relentless in its voice and in its linearity. You start at the beginning and you either ride with the author to the end or you bail. And unlike just about any form of electronic media, you get to read the book at your own pace, absorbing it as you go.

I published a book today. My biggest and most important and most personal and most challenging book. A book that scared me.

It took me ten years to write this book. I'm hoping it changes a few people.


[Amazon, BN, independents, volunteer reviewers. Kindle too. I'll be posting details of a fascinating media tour in a few hours if you want to see what the book is actually about.]

Update on the early Linchpin citizen reviewers

Last month, I offered readers who wanted to review my new book a chance to get an early copy. It was a pretty big risk, because it meant ignoring the tried and true process of talking to big media and tailoring a message for critics and reviewers. What happens when you go to your best customers with a product that's untested?

Five weeks later and I couldn't be more pleased or more grateful. We sent out thousands of books (your donations raised more than $100,000 for charity) and so far, the book has been well received (if you're still expecting one, please be patient, especially Canadians, it should arrive soon - the postal service works in mysterious ways).

The page collecting the blog posts and tweets is here, and the range and depth that people are contributing is really exciting. Some will appear on the end papers in the next printing of my book. Here are some twitter blurbs along with the people you might want to follow:

scott_allison: Just read a preview of Seth Godin's new career manifesto for the new world, Linchpin. Should be given to all school kids. AronStevenson: Reading the preview of Seth Godin's upcoming book Linchpin - Seth once again delivers what he's promised! Bigbrightbulb: I wish I could tweet [the] hand-scrawled Venn diagrams, they are such a hoot... jlottosen: Very inspirational - as always. Works on all job types - what do you want to be the great giver of?lantzhoward: Loving Seth Godin's #Linchpin. Navigating a new trail in 2010. This is a book for everyone... bnlv: Yes yes yes yes yes!!!!! I'm not available at all until this book has been read. recordstyle: one of those books that you read from the inside out. More of a "find the (you) in between the lines" style, flow, and feel. BarbaraShantz: Reviewing Seth Godin's new book, Linchpin. Fantastic Common Sense like we've not heard before. DanBlank: I'm only on the table of contents, but I've already fallen in love with Seth Godin's new book 'Linchpin'rickysteele: Again, Seth Godin, has written a masterpiece. His newest book, Linchpin, will be one of this year's most important books. Life Changing!paul_shinn: Also read all of Linchpin in one sitting. A great book. Going to think about who I will give the book so they can read it too. mavenroger: Just got my prerelease copy of Godin's Linchpin! In short, it's about doers not talkers. Psyched...more to com. johnwaire: found myself taking some extra time to warm up the car this i could squeeze in a few pages of linchpin ... You can find fresh ones here.

In addition, here are three or four blog reviews. The rest are here.

I can't imagine why any author given the chance to do this would hesitate. Bypassing professional critics and allowing real people to use the newly powerful platforms available to them is faster, more direct and gives you far more feedback on your work. Not for the faint of heart though. It's emotionally easier to just push things to retail and hope for the best. Thanks to all who have contributed so far. I'm really humbled by the response.

First, organize 1,000

Kevin Kelly really changed our thinking with his post about 1,000 true fans.

But what if you're not an artist or a musician? Is there a business case for this?

I think the ability to find and organize 1,000 people is a breakthrough opportunity. One thousand people coordinating their actions is enough to change your world (and make a living.)

1,000 people each spending $1,000 on a special interest cruise equals a million dollars.

1,000 people willing to spend $250 to attend a day-long seminar gives you the leverage to invite just about anyone you can imagine to fly in and speak.

1,000 people voting as a bloc can change local politics forever.

1,000 people willing to try a new restaurant you find for them gives you the ability to make an entrepreneur successful and change the landscape of your town.

Even better, coordinating the learning and connections of this tribe of 1,000 is not just profitable, it's rewarding. If you can take them where they want to go, you become indispensable (and respected).

What's difficult? What's difficult is changing your attitude. Instead of speed dating your way to interruption, instead of yelling at strangers all day trying to make a living, coordinating a tribe of 1,000 requires patience, consistency and a focus on long-term relationships and life time value. You don't find customers for your products. You find products for your customers.

Save the date: January 15 in New York for the book launch

[NOW SOLD OUT. See you there.] I'm doing a live presentation on the morning of January 15th in New York. The low price for general admission is basically the retail price of the new book, and we're giving ticket buyers a copy of the book as well.

Arrive as early as 9:20 am to get your ticket checked, doors open at 9:30, we start at 9:45 sharp.

Hope to see you there. Tix are limited (and there are a few VIP tickets as well, which also include a small Q&A session after).


Get a review copy of my new book

[UPDATE: Our goal was reached and exceeded in just 48 hours! The site is no longer accepting donations, but you can visit Acumen's site and donate without getting a book.]

There used to be one hundred people who mattered.

That's true in a lot of industries, but particularly in books.

One hundred people who could make a book a hit. These were key buyers at bookstores, reviewers and editors at newspapers, the person who booked time at Oprah or the Today Show.

So publishers courted these people. If the one hundred loved it, the book launched as a hit. Of course the 100 all get free copies. Lots of free copies.

Today, of course, those one hundred people matter a lot less. And who matters more? You.

You, because you have a network. You blog. You tweet. You talk things up at meetings or recommend things to friends.

And there are a lot more than a hundred of you.

One solution is to give everyone a free copy. Publishers and authors could do this and try to make money doing something else. Another solution is to let the best of this group, the most committed, the most interested... let them stand up and identify themselves.

So, that's what we're experimenting with on Linchpin. For a select group of motivated readers, I want to send you a copy of Linchpin (at my expense) three weeks before anyone else can buy one. My US publisher is not sending free review copies to magazines (the few that are left,) newspaper editors, TV shows, any of the usual media suspects. Instead, we're allowing people like you to raise their hands and, if they like the book, asking them to tell the world about it in January.

How to choose? I can't afford to buy a book for everyone, so I needed to come up with a filter. Here it is: The first 3,000 people who make a donation to the Acumen Fund (at least $30) get one at my expense. The money you pay goes directly to Acumen, you get the fun of making a donation and get a tax deduction before the end of the year, and I figure out which of my readers most want a copy of my book.

If you're excited about getting a first look, I hope you'll [link removed]. And thanks for your support, every day. It means a lot to me.

Please hurry, since once they're gone, I probably won't be able to offer any more.

[UPDATE: After 9 hours we've sold half of the reserved books and raised more than $70,000 for Acumen. Thanks guys. UPDATE 2: After 49 hours, we raised over $108,000. Wow.]

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Drawing System Rules of Thumb

Dashed lines for porch beams above should run between columns, not entire length of porch, so that dash pattern centers on column space.

Center of toilet to nearest wall: 18"

Center of pedestal lavatory to nearest wall: 15" unless it's an oversized lavatory, in which case, do what makes sense.

Chamfers on 4" nominal posts are 3/4"; chamfers on 6" nominal posts are 1"; chamfers on 8" nominal posts are 1-1/4".

A plan view of a chamfered post should show both the chamfered section you're cutting through and the square section below on the Miscellaneous Plan Items layer. Only the section you're cutting through shows on the Profile Lines layer and the Wall Blockouts layer.

Profile lines inside of screen on screened porches are .35mm. In other words, treat it like interior space.

Profile lines should always be a single polygon from end to end simply because it's easier to manipulate that way, rather than having a bunch of little line segments.

Floor Plan Final notes are Times 9 point, except for door & window sizes, which are the same but italic. Floor Plan Presentation notes are Bembo SCTT 9 point.

I have switched bring to front, send to back, bring forward, send backward, zoom in, zoom out, full size, and fit to screen commands to be the same as they are in Adobe products.

Lines from notes to objects noted are .045mm bezier curves with standard filled arrowhead.

Note column types & sizes on floor plan.

Always check all comments layers before printing anything to make sure there's nothing left to do.

Always turn off Title Block layer before doing Black Color for All because some of the lines on the Title Block layer are grey, and should remain that way.

When placing the building on the site plan, start on the first level floor plan with the Floor Plan Presentation sheet layers turned on. Then turn off the text and furniture. Next, cut on the Floor Plan Area layer. Copy everything. Go to the site plan and paste To Scale and At Mouse. Change all lineweights of what you just pasted to .13 mm. Now, you'll just need to adjust the area polygon to include the window sills so it doesn't look weird. It'll take just 2-3 minutes to run around the entire plan (unless it's immense) but it creates a much more professional-looking drawing. So do it. Next, change the area fill to Grey #3 (two notches lighter than 50% grey; it's 12-1/2% grey, FWIW.) Now, select all of the floor plan elements (including the now-grey area polygon. Group them so it's easier to move it as a single element. Put it in the right place on the site, and on the Buildings & Outbuildings layer.

The back-most item on any door or window symbol should be a white-filled polygon (if all of the edges are straight) or bezier (if any of the edges are curved, like happens when the cap detail includes a curved molding of some sort.) The white-filled polygon or bezier obscures the wall poche below (brick lines, siding lines, etc.) so that you can move or delete a door or window without having to worry about cutting, trimming, or healing the wall poche.

Door and window symbols should be drawn on two layers: the Drawing Layer and the Surface Lines layer. As usual, the Drawing Layer is for anything that breaks a plane (makes a displacement of depth from one side of the line to the other.) The Surface Lines layer is for anything where there's just a surface break, like the edge of a chamfer, where the surface turns but doesn't displace. Surface Lines should generally be .045 mm, except for siding poche on a frame building. This is because there is a 5/16" break at the bottom of a siding board, so it needs to be .13 mm because it breaks a plane. But on the other hand, since it's a wall poche (and there are usually a lot of them) it's far cleaner to handle them on the Surface Lines layer even though they're not a true surface line (surface break only, no displacement.)

On an elevation drawing, always show all floor levels and plate lines as .13mm dashed lines on the Comments layer. Do NOT delete these lines... ever!

On a floor plan drawing, always lay out the plan with .13mm solid lines on the Building Layout layer. Do NOT delete these lines... ever!

If you're revising a simple rectangular building, it may be easier to make all the revisions on one side elevation, then copy that and flip it to create a new elevation of the other side, then make minor modifications there, rather than trying to make all the same modifications (in reverse) on the second elevation.

Keep the lowest-hanging portion of foundation lattice or screens 6" above grade. This is known as a "cat-saver" because cats can run underneath but dogs cannot. It's also a good policy because it keeps wood away from grade, where it would be more likely to rot. Mulch is notorious for filling the gap, hence the 6" gap.

On elevations, .25mm profile lines occur where surfaces break at least 6" but less than 6'. .35mm profile lines occur where surfaces break at least 6' but less than 25'. .5mm profile lines occur where surfaces break more than 25'. The ground line should be shown as a .7mm profile line.

Show grade visibly sloping away from the building on all sides on elevation, beginning at the edge of the building.

On an elevation, no line should occur on the Profile Lines layer that doesn't also occur on the Drawing Layer. The profile lines are exactly that... profiles of lines below. When you turn that layer off, you should still be able to see the entire drawing.

Building sections are drawn to illustrate the relationship of major elements of the building. Dimension floor to plate height, floor system depth, roof slope, etc., but do not dimension small items like roof overhangs.

Arbitrary dimensions anywhere on a drawing are intolerable! Some dimensions will be gobbledygook (arbitrary) because of geometry, but nothing should be placed anywhere on a drawing at all without having a precise reason for its location. This means that you should be able to click on any object in a drawing except one that is on an angle or that is a bezier curve or text, and if you click into the edit box, you should get even-inch or fractional dimensions, not decimal gobbledygook. This is HUGELY important because inaccuracies breed. If you're using a drawing component over and over on a number of jobs, after awhile, there won't be any dimensions on it you can trust. So be intolerant with gobbledygook from the beginning, or you'll be overcome with it in the end.

Don't group things unnecessarily... only group them if you have a really good reason. The best reason is if it makes the drawing more accurate, or speeds up the drawing process in some way.

In wall sections, overhang dimensions should go to face of sheathing, which should be in place by the time the rafter tails are cut. Draw 1/2" sheathing. Show dimension, both horizontally and vertically, between top outside corner of sheathing and top outside corner of rafter. Dimension everything else from these two points.

All sorts of speed can accrue when things are where you expect them to be on the page. It is essential to align things with where they belong in the modules. Text should always be in the text slot, for example. The first level floor line should always be in the center of the bottom module occupied by the wall section. The left side of the wall (finish surface) should always be at the centerline of the left module (if more than one) of the wall section. If you do these things, then you can duplicate stuff back and forth between various wall sections on the page without stopping to measure to see how far apart they are because you already know. Also, it makes for a much cleaner-looking drawing.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Zenfolio & Pinterest!!! At last!!!

Not sure what they changed, but I finally figured out how to pin Zenfolio images on Pinterest! This is really big, because until now, we haven't been able to do it, and so all the photographers on Zenfolio have been forgotten in the Pinterest rush. But now, we can! Do this:

1. With Safari on the Mac (haven't tested it with anything else yet) open your Zenfolio portfolio and click on the image you want to pin. This will bring the image up at a larger size with smaller thumbnails of the rest of the portfolio to the side. Click into the URL window. Select All. Copy.

2. Open another browser window and navigate to Make sure you're signed in, then click the Add + button in the top bar, then click Add a Pin (the leftmost option) then enter the URL you just copied. Click Find Images. It should find the image you want. Enter a description, and then pin it (ideally with a post to Twitter as well.)

3. Now comes the tricky part. For now, you have to quit Safari. Then reopen. Then go back to Step 1. Lather, rinse, repeat.

It works!!! Can't tell you how excited I am about this. I'll be pinning tons of photos as a result of this. Thanks so much to whoever made this work!

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Monday, March 5, 2012

The gogo mistake

Hoping to get a blog post up a couple hours earlier in the day, I bought a $9.95 flight pass from gogo this morning. BIG mistake! They apparently compress images radically, and now every image in my blog post looks really crappy! So now I'm wasting time trying to figure out how to make Sandvox load the images again. I'd have been much better off just waiting until I got to the airport to post.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Updated Video Workflow

Here's my basic video workflow. I've added a few items since that post:

A. Click the little gear in the lower left corner of the beginning of each clip and select Clip Adjustments. Under Video Effects, select Cartoon for OGTV videos and Hard Light for TA-TV videos. Cartoon has a dreamy look and saves video size because the soft focus means adjacent pixels are more similar. Hard Light is bigger, but necessary for the details in TA-TV.

B. I've changed my opening title method so that the opening title is now overlaid on the first 3.5 seconds of the clip. The closing title is still on a gradient background.

C. To finish, I export the movie using QuickTime. A few people don't have QuickTime, but it's a free download, and offers much more flexibility than the other options. In the export dialog box, click Options in the lower right. Under Settings in the Movie Settings dialog box that comes up, select Compression Type: H.264, Frame Rate: Current, Data Rate: Automatic, Compressor: Medium, and Encoding: Best Quality. Under Size, I use 512x288. This doesn't work with older iPhones, but does work on 4's and on all browsers with QuickTime. The reason for selecting this size is because it's my title image size used elsewhere on the website. Under sound settings, I leave all defaults. Under Prepare for Internet Streaming, I select Fast Start.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Mac HTML Email Signatures Simplified

Scroll down for my new email signature. I blogged nearly two years ago about how I created this signature. Recently, my image hosting service has been screwing up a lot, so I moved the images, necessitating rebuilding parts of the signature. Fortunately, I've discovered easier ways to do several parts of it:

HTML Editor
Previously, I used industrial-strength Dreamweaver because it was part of my Adobe Creative Suite. But the learning curve was very steep. Now, I'm using Komodo, which is free and much easier to use.

Image Host
Previously, I used ImageShack to host the chiclets and book image in my signature because I could never get images to work when hosted on Zenfolio or MobileMe. Recently, I've switched to A2 Hosting as part of my move from iWeb to Sandvox. After my recent troubles with ImageShack images disappearing, I decided to experiment with putting them on A2. I created a folder for the images in my public_html folder, tested it, and Bingo! It worked! Here's my twitter chiclet, for example, so you can see the URL.

What to Edit?
I tried for almost half the day to figure out how to edit the .webarchive files directly, because that's where the signatures are stored. I eventually gave up on that, because I could never find a tool to do it directly. Back when I originally created the signatures, I noted that the first thing to do was to build html files for each signature, then use Safari to save as .webarchive files. So I still had the original html files, and that's what I ended up editing.

Editing HTML
I didn't need to totally create the signatures from scratch, as I was just modifying what I already had. What made it much easier was that once I fixed the image sources by changing them from ImageShack to my Original Green site, I was easily able to copy the HTML of the chiclets from the first signature and paste it to each of the other signatures quickly. You can only edit the html in Komodo, so it's not a true WYSIWYG editor, but if you click the Preview button in the toolbar, it splits the window, showing the html in the top half and the design in the bottom half.

Saving Signatures
I don't know why I hadn't seen this earlier, but there's a much faster way to save signatures than what I'd previously used. To begin, simply open all of the html files in Safari and Save As .webarchive files. These files should be named obviously. The New Urban Guild signatures for Wanda and I are named NUG_Steve.html and NUG_Wanda.html, for example. So the corresponding .webarchive files are NUG_Steve.webarchive and NUG_Wanda.webarchive.

Next, open a second Finder window next to the window holding the html files and navigate this second window to Home>Library>Mail>V2>MailData>Signatures. Start at the top of the Signatures window and work down. The .webarchive file names are complete gobbledygook that you can't possibly remember or distinguish (like 2FE15CC0-C16E-458D-BCE0-A6A894EFCE8B.webarchive,) but all you need to do is to click each file and tap the space bar to bring up the preview window so you can see which signature it is (New Urban Guild, Guild Foundation, etc., in my case.) Click into the gobbledygook file name, and copy it. Go to the master html window and find the matching .webarchive file. Click into its filename, and paste the plain-English name with the gobbledygook name from the Signatures folder. Finally, move this file into the Signatures folder, overwriting the old .webarchive file. Do this for each signature and you're done.

As promised, here's what the signature looks like:

Original Green book

Steve Mouzon

New Urban Guild
1253 Washington Avenue
Suite 222
Miami Beach, FL 33139


the Original Green the Original Green Blog Original Green twitter stream We Do This Because... blog LinkedIn Original Green page on Facebook
Mouzon Design Project SmartDwelling New Urban Guild Mouzon books Mouzon images Mouzon plans

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Figured Out plist Editing!

Ever since moving my websites to Sandvox, I've been bedeviled with one little aspect of creating new themes: modifying the plist. Let's start at the beginning:

A. Determine which Sandvox design is closest to the look of the site you want to build. My choice is Clean Sheets, FWIW.

B. Do you have any custom Designs already based on this design? If no, the navigate to Applications>Sandvox. If yes, skip to C.

1. Right-click or Control-click on the Sandvox icon, which will bring up a list of choices. Select Show Package Contents.

2. Navigate to Contents>Designs

3. Select the .svxDesign file for the design you've chosen (file names are fairly self-explanatory) and duplicate it.

4. Move the duplicated file to username>Library>Application Support>Sandvox.

C. Select either the Sandvox design you've just moved (if the answer to B was "no") or a custom design already in this folder (if the answer to B was "yes") and rename it for the new Design you're creating. For my New Media for Designers + Builders site I'm working on, I renamed the file NewMedia.svxDesign. Now, you're ready to modify the Design.

1. Right-click or Control-click on the .svxDesign file, which will bring up a list of choices. Select Show Package Contents.

2. The file you're looking for is Info.plist, but don't just double-click it. If you do, it'll open it up in Property List Editor, where (for reasons I can't fathom) it's almost impossible to save correctly. I've worked with this for many hours on my first two sites, finally stumbling on the right combination of key and mouse strokes completely by accident, and unable to remember precisely what I did. So don't do that. Instead, do this:

3. Open Info.plist with TextEdit.

4. Change the Bundle identifier to "Sandvox." (don't include ... I'm just using those to make clear that "newthemename" is a variable... the name of your new theme (remove all spaces and other extraneous characters.)

5. Change the title to .

6. Save and close.

7. Modify your Design by changing main.css. I've had great luck with CSSeditor, but that app has been bundled into Espresso, which I haven't worked with yet. In any case, it's the main.css file that determines the look and feel of your custom Design.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Creating Modified Email Signatures

I blogged some time ago about the process of creating my email signature from scratch. But what about when you just need to duplicate and modify a signature in Apple Mail? It's a lot simpler:

A. Go to Mail>Preferences and click the Signatures tab.

B. At the bottom of the second column, click "+" to create a new signature. Don't do anything to it right now.

C. Quit Mail.

D. In the Finder, navigate to (your username)>Library>Mail>V2>MailData>Signatures. The signature names (the ones with a .webarchive extension) are complete gobbledygook, but don't worry. You'll see one with a Date Modified of just a moment ago. Click on that one to select the file name.

E. Copy the file name.

F. Delete the file.

G. Now, click one of the other .webarchive signature files. Hit the space bar. This will bring up the Preview window. Scroll until you find the one you want to modify.

H. Duplicate that .webarchive signature file.

I. Reopen Mail and go back to Mail>Preferences>Signatures. You'll find the duplicated signature in the list.

J. Change its name to whatever you want.

K. Make the changes in the text of the signature.

L. Copy it into all of your email accounts where you'll be using it by simply dragging it onto those accounts in the left column.

M. Close Preferences... you're done!

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Why Move from iWeb to Sandvox?

I went through months of agonizing over what to do about the demise of iWeb, and ended up with something that's an improvement on several counts: Sandvox, by Karelia Software, comes closest to iWeb's ease of use, but with several advantages:

A. It does Search Engine Optimization stuff as second nature, whereas iWeb wasn't SEO-friendly at all. It had been conceived by Apple as a sort of personal website maker before Facebook came out, and so SEO stuff was never built in. I've had MUCH better Google results since moving to Sandvox. The Meta Description is right there at the bottom of each page, waiting to be filled in. Tagging a page with keywords is simple, as is tagging photos with alternate text. Sandvox is set up with a dialog box to easily configure Google Tools and publishing a Google sitemap (the sitemap.xml.gz) is as easy as clicking a checkbox... only once, not every time you publish. These are all things that iWeb could only do with difficulty, using third-party software.

B. At first, the layout seems to be a bit of a downer... iWeb let you move text and graphics all over the page, like a page layout program, whereas Sandvox is more restrictive about how and where you place stuff. But iWeb sites often did very unpredictable things on different machines and browsers, whereas Sandvox sites are far more predictable... so the restrictions are a blessing in disguise.

C. Karelia has an active user community like iWeb did, but the difference is that whereas Apple never talks about future products, Karelia's engineers and even their owners are heavily involved in discussions of where to take Sandvox. And they listen. Already (I've only been using Sandvox for 6 months) they've implemented several changes I asked for.

D. These changes come quickly in the form of new versions, especially if you choose to take part in the beta program. No waiting a year or two for upgrades, like we did with iWeb.

E. The mechanism Sandvox uses for blogging (a "Collection") is extremely versatile. Basically, you can use the blog mechanism not only with a collection of blog posts, but with a collection of project pages, tool pages, book pages, services pages, product pages, plan pages... whatever. If you need a cover page and several detail pages within it, either organized chronologically or alphabetically, this is a really nifty feature.

F. Sandvox is much more nimble with template pages of any sort. Just set the page up the way you want and click Draft (do not publish.) You can now duplicate your new template anytime you want a new post, detail page, or whatever. Also, unlike iWeb, you can duplicate an entire collection if needed. Better yet, you can even drag and drop pages or entire collections from one domain file to the next. For example, I could copy my entire Original Green blog to the Mouzon Design site if desired just by a quick drag-and-drop.

G. Publishing is easy and clever. And if for any reason the site doesn't publish entirely (internet hiccup or whatever) you just click Publish again and Sandvox picks up where it left off rather than starting over.

H. Sandvox's sidebars are a huge time-saver. In iWeb, because it acted like a page layout program, sidebars on two pages were two distinct elements. This means that if I wanted to post lecture dates in my sidebar, I needed to change it on every single page the dates are found. With a large blog, this quickly becomes too labor-intensive. Sandvox, on the other hand, is extremely clever. For every object created on your page except for the basic text block, you can choose whether it's Inline (moves with basic text block) Callout, or Sidebar. If Sidebar, the then it gets listed as one of the available sidebar elements and you can place it on any page that has a sidebar. So if I want to change my lectures, I simply click into any Presentations element on any page of the Original Green site where it appears, make my changes, and it automatically revises it on every page where it occurs. A HUGE time-saver!

I. Sandvox has a lot of built-in Objects, from raw HTML objects to Amazon lists, Facebook buttons, contact forms, Flickr thumbnails, lists of external links, page counters, Google maps, Twitter buttons, YouTube content, etc.

J. It's easy to create a favicon for your site... you probably know already, but a favicon is the little icon that occurs in the URL line of your browser for each page of a more sophisticated site.

K. iWeb used its own blog comment system, but it was quirky and when something went wrong, it was usually impossible to fix... the comment was gone forever. Sandvox, on the other hand, has built-in support for several comment systems. I use Facebook comments, and to great effect because it drives many people to my sites that would never have known about them otherwise. When one of my Facebook friends comments, it goes on their timeline and all of their friends have an opportunity to see the comment and join the discussion. If each has 500 friends, then each comment on my site reaches close to 500 people I don't know, assuming we don't have heavy friend overlap. And you can put Facebook comments anywhere you want, not just on a blog post. Matter of fact, I have a comments module at the bottom of almost every page, because I want visitors to have the opportunity for a conversation about my entire site, not just my blog.

There's much more, but you get the idea... leaving iWeb seemed really painful at first, but it's been one of the best changes I've made in years to my internet presence.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I've just found a great little tool called TinkerTool that lets you set all sorts of obscure little settings on Mac OS X Lion all in one place... things like showing invisible files, etc. It doesn't change any component of the operating system, and it's easy to set everything back to previous conditions with just a keystroke.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

We Do This Because...

I started Useful Stuff nearly three years ago as a sort of external memory device, to help me remember things I've figured out so I don't have to figure them out again a few months from now. Others have apparently found these things useful as well.

Recently, however, that original mission has expanded to include all sorts of musings, and I worry that people looking for how-to stuff won't be so interested in the theoretical rants, and vice versa. So Useful Stuff will go back to being a "know-how" blog, and I'll put all the "know-why" stuff on my new blog instead. It's entitled We Do This Because... because it looks more at the reasons behind things, rather than just the practicalities of getting stuff done.

I've just gone back and copied nearly three years of Useful Stuff's theoretical posts there... if you like posts like these, please consider following this We Do This Because...

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How to Do a Visual Preference Survey

A Visual Preference Survey takes the pulse of a group of citizens concerning their preferences between various pairs of objects. We use them to test public preference for various languages (styles) of architecture, but they could also be used to test for many other object types as well.

To begin, select two sets of images... some use 50 pairs, others use 100, although the number isn't critical. Rather, there should be enough pairs to show trends, but not so many that they cause participant fatigue. You'll project each pair of images side-by-side, and participants will choose which one they prefer.

Each pair of images should show the same building type, but in two different languages of architecture. In other words, comparing a house to a gas station will almost always favor the house, so that result isn't useful. Also, a cottage often gets better ratings than a large house, so the size of the buildings should be similar. Also, you should control for image externalities. In other words, if one image has a blue sky, the other should as well, as a blue-sky image almost always rates higher than one taken on a grey and cloudy day. The bottom line is that you want to make the architecture the primary difference between the images, so that the results are meaningful.

Participants are given a simple scorecard, and are instructed to check the right box if they prefer the right image, or the left box if they prefer the left image. Each image pair is numbered, as are the checkboxes on the scorecards. When the survey is complete, the results are tallied in a database where they can be analyzed.

The results are often striking. Whereas we as architects can debate endlessly over architecture, the non-architects are usually quite decisive. It's really a technique we should use more often, IMO.

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Time Passages and Fully Living Life


Italy unlocked the strangest secret to me this week. I've just returned from there, where I spent more time (almost 3 weeks) than ever before because with airfare skyrocketing, it's uncertain how much longer I'll be able to afford to go.

The first day back was completely surreal because on the one hand, thinking back over all the things that happened on the trip through Rome, Pienza and the Tuscan countryside, Fiesole, Parma, Bologna, Vicenza, Venice, Florence, and back to Rome again, it seemed like several months since the beginning of the trip. On the other hand, sleeping in my own bed, showering in my own shower, making coffee in my own kitchen, and riding my bike to the office seemed like things I'd done just... yesterday. Not before the seemingly months-long trip. How can this be?

I'm no brain scientists, but I do have a fascination with the ways we remember. And I'm wondering if maybe our minds have a kind of shorthand for the things we do many times, so that instead of creating a whole new memory from scratch, it instead says "I did one of those things again for the umpteenth time"?

If that is so, then one could spend years doing mostly repetitive things and have few memories to show for it. Doing so would seem to impoverish the mind and possibly even the spirit. This mechanical paradigm has been the ideal of the Era of the Company that began with the Industrial Revolution, and thrived on armies of humans as cogs in the machine, doing the same thing each day, living for the weekend. At its extreme, a life spent this way might seem like little more than a few weeks from graduation to retirement, assuming someone worked the same place and did the same thing throughout their career.

In the end, maybe the secret to a long life isn't how late we die. Rather, maybe it's how fully we have lived. Put another way, living 100 years repetitively is not nearly so good as living 1/3 that long most meaningfully.

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Building a Better Mousetrap


You've likely heard the "Build a better mousetrap..." proverb all your life. Well, someone has actually done it! No chance of snapping your finger when cocking the thing. Don't get messy while emptying it. Easily cleaned over and over again, etc.

This makes me wonder how many other proverbs there are out there, right under our noses, waiting for someone to take them seriously?

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Fashion vs. Sustainability


This was my grandmother's mixing bowl. My mother got it when she died. My mother has had Alzheimer's for a decade, so when Dad & Mother were closing up housekeeping not long ago, Dad gave it to me because he knew I've loved to bake bread ever since I was a kid.

Actually, that's not exactly right. What I actually liked was eating raw yeast dough. But Mom and Grandmother wouldn't let me eat very much of their dough, so I thought "I'll fix that - I'll watch Grandmother really closely (she was a master at bread) and see how she does it." And so I did. But back to the bowl. Obviously, this bowl is out of fashion... You won't find one of these at Williams-Sonoma (unless by chance it's now been deemed "Retro.") If I wanted our kitchen to be in fashion, I wouldn't have it around.

Fashion lines the pockets of manufacturers by enticing us to buy something new each season. Sustainability works by handing things down. Because sustainability, after all, is "keeping things going in a healthy way, long into an uncertain future."

Here's the bottom line: if you want to be sustainable, you likely won't be in fashion. If you want to be in fashion, you likely won't be living a sustainable lifestyle. It's really a simple as that. Isn't it?

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Setting Up Another Domain

I'm setting up a second domain ( on my new hosting account, and it's not so clear-cut as the first. Because I'll be doing this with at least three more domains (,, and I'll need these instructions again.

I host with A2 Hosting primarily because they were recommended by Karelia Software, author of Sandvox… and because the research I did didn't turn up any other hosting companies of substantially higher benefit/cost ratios. A2's Control Panel looked almost identical to many other companies' so this set of instructions might work for others as well.

1. Log into Control Panel and click Home icon. Down the page, there's an icon that says Addon Domains. Click that. I entered the following:
New Domain Name:
Subdomain/FTP Username: mouzon

2. Go to, where I register all my domain names. Go to Manage Domains and select It gets a bit complicated here for reasons that have gotten a bit fuzzy. It has something to do with hosting mail on MyDomain and hosting the website elsewhere. But in any case, here's what it's currently set up like under DNS Management:

MX record - points to my incoming mail server
A record - points to the URL of the MobileMe servers
CNAME record - points to my incoming mail server
CNAME record - points to my incoming mail server
CNAME record - points to my incoming webmail server
CNAME record - points to

Normally, you'd think you could just change the name servers and that would be fine. Not so here, because of the mail and website being handled by two different companies. Instead, all you need to do is to change the A record to, which is the A2 Hosting server's URL.

3. Set up the iWeb version of the site to publish to A2. Later, I'll install redirects on all the old site pages that take you to the new site. Settings should be as follows:
Publish to: FTP Server
Site name: MDZ
Server address:
Directory/Path: public_html/
Protocol: SFTP
Port: 7822

4. Publish iWeb version of the site, hopefully in time that there's no downtime once the nameservers switch over.

5. Go to This should show all of your existing apps. Once you're there, do these steps:
a. Click Create New App.
b. It'll bring up a New App window where you have to name the app. I use the same name as the name of the website… in this case, Mouzon Design.
c. On the next page, set App Domain to
d. Set the category.
e. Click Edit Icon and upload your favicon.
f. Click the larger graphic and upload your logo.
g. Under "Select how your app integrates with Facebook, click Website and enter
h. Save Changes.
i. Under Settings in the upper left corner, click Advanced.
j. Under Description, enter "This app provides Facebook connectivity to the Mouzon Design website."
k. Under Privacy Policy URL, enter the URL of your privacy policy page on your website. In this case,
l. Save Changes.
m. Go back to and copy the App ID.
n. Go to Sandvox.
o. In the Page>Appearance Inspector, Click the Setup button beside Comments.
p. Select Facebook for the Comments Provider, enter the App ID, set the number of posts to 20, and click Done.
q. Turn on comments on all the pages you want them on. I have them almost everywhere, because I want to give people every chance to discuss our site.

6. Set up the Sandvox version of the site to publish as follows:
URL Format:
Document Root: /public_html/

7. Publish Sandvox version of the site. Note that it can't confirm connectivity until the site has flipped over from MobileMe to A2 Hosting.

8. Set up Google Analytics:
a. In Sandvox, select File>Configure Google Tools.
b. In the Sitemap window, check Publish Google Sitemap
c. In the Google Analytics window, follow the instructions for registering the site with Google Webmaster Tools and installing Analytics. It's quite self-explanatory.

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Schooner Bay Miracle

Schooner Bay has no houses built on stilts. They don't use hurricane windows... as a matter of fact, their windows are all homemade, fabricated onsite. Yet not one pane of glass was broken. Many of their carpenters were fishermen a year ago. Conventional construction around Schooner Bay was smashed... some houses were completely washed out to sea. This post details a stunning story of the triumph of low-tech measures that have been tested for centuries, and calls into question the direction of FEMA and hurricane codes in the US.

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Original Green blog posts

As you might recall from this post, I've long been an advocate of building vigorously interconnected networks of many nodes. But I've now built enough Original Green nodes that I need this checklist to make sure I catch them all whenever I do new Original Green blog posts like the one today. So here's the list:

Original Green group on LinkedIn - I catch this one with my first pass of notifications sent out by clicking the icons at the bottom of each post, beginning with Digg. I click the LinkedIn icon, then click the check box for adding groups to the post.

Planetizen - I'm starting to submit my best work to Planetizen. Their submissions web page is

New Urban Network - I have for some time been submitting my best work to the New Urban Network. I do this by emailing Rob Steuteville <>.

Grist - I'm hoping they pick up Original Green blog posts; I've submitted

Original Green Yahoo discussion group - I email to to post to this group.

Google Plus: from my Google home page, I click the +Steve in the upper left corner which takes me to the Stream page, where I can share at the top.

Listservs: I post to appropriate listservs like Pro-Urb, TradArch, NextGen, Urbanists, Transect, etc.

Interested Parties: I email people who might have a special interest in the post.

Link Targets: I email people I'm linking to in the post.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Finding Movies in iTunes

When you have thousands of photos in iPhoto, it's kinda hard to find the movies if that's all you're interested in at the moment. I found a really cool method just now on Rather than steal this blogger's thunder, why don't you just read his really simple description of how to do this?

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Video Workflow

I'm beginning to get my video workflow in order… at least for OGTV, on the Original Green website. Here's what it's looking like:

A. I'll be shooting on my iPhone from now on (at least most of the time) because the quality of the iPhone 4 back camera is so good, and because I always have it on me. Here's where I go from there:

B. Import the movies to iPhoto 11 because that's the easiest way of getting them off my phone, deleting them once they're downloaded so they don't clog the phone (they can be massive.)

C. I can see all my iPhoto videos from inside iMovie 11's Event Library, so getting them into iMovie is no problem.

D. Create a new project in iMovie's Project Library window by clicking the plus in the lower right corner. This will open the project's window in the upper left, where the Project Library window was a moment ago.

E. Drag the clips you'll be using into the window. Normally, I have just one clip as I try really hard to say everything I want to say in one take.

F. Click on the T in the middle right of the window to bring up the Title Browser.

G. Drag the Centered title (upper left) into the project's window, to the beginning of the project. Drag another Centered title to the end of the project.

H. Each time you drag a title, it'll ask you for a Background. I'm starting to use Gradient, but use whatever makes the most sense with your videos.

I. Double-click each title in turn, then double-clicking the text to select it. Then, change the font, color, and special features to what you're looking for. I use Futura Extra Bold, no outline, with the Original Green color.

J. Change your titles. I use the title of the clip at the beginning, with the name of the participants (normally just me, sometimes Wanda as well) at the beginning, then at the end.

K. Click on the Transitions tab, just right of the T (Titles) tab in the central right of the iMovie window. This will bring up all available transitions. I use Cross Dissolve.

L. Drag a transition between the titles and each end of the clip(s.)

M. Because the final credit is only the website (which is quicker to read than the opening title) I select the last second of the final credits and delete it, leaving 2.5 seconds of final credits and the default 3.5 seconds of opening titles. They each come in at 4 seconds to begin with, but once you insert the transitions, it clips a half-second off each end.

That's it for now… more as I figure out more of this stuff.

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Taxis and Credit Cards

I've just spent several days in Boston, where the taxi drivers treat credit cards like Kryptonite. They would rather sit where they are for another 20 minutes to pick up a cash fare than to take a CC fare. But in that time. They could be back to pick up that cash fare! Go figure...

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Web - Why I Did What I Did

Getting your stuff on the web can lead down many expensive dead ends, but I think I'm finally getting close to my ideal web interface after all these years. Here are some of the big hurdles, and how I got over them. But first, is anyone old enough to remember one of those first Mac ads back in the mid-'80's where a stern looking guy says "I use a Mac because it helps me do what I do best. And I don't do computers!" Remember him? Well, that guy is me. I never did DOS, and I don't want to learn HTML or CSS, as I said earlier. I have other things to do with my life. I could hire a web development company (that's what I once did) to build the Original Green site, the Katrina Cottages site, the New Urban Guild site, the Guild Foundation site, and the Mouzon Design site. At $5-10K per site, I'd be out enough money to guy a car or two. But that's not the worst of it. Every web developer I've ever worked with has been really nice. One was even a good friend. But every time I want to add something or change something, I've got to go to them, get on their schedule, and then pay them to make the change. Both during initial site development and forever thereafter, it requires more of my time (a lot more, actually) to have them get it exactly the way I want it than it would take me to just do it myself... If I have the proper tools. So going the conventional route of hiring someone is out. So what are the tools? I've used iWeb for years, and it was crucial to the development of the Original Green idea. Without it, the idea would likely still just a warm fuzzy in my mind. But with it, it's a cause with hopes of graduating into a movement, and it has thousands of supporters spread over every continent except maybe Antarctica. The Katrina Cottages site, meanwhile, has languished because it was built conventionally by an HTML guru in a way that is painful to modify as noted above. So it has not been modified since 2007. Yet it gets more hits than any other site I've got... By far. Imagine how much good we could have done with Katrina Cottages had I taken the time to rebuild it in iWeb years ago. But iWeb was never perfect. Its biggest Achilles heel was its unfriendliness to search engines. Simply put, it allowed novices to create beautiful sites better than any other tool, it was a pleasure to use, but then your site was unlikey to be found by Google. Original Green Blog posts, followed by dedicated adherents to the cause, normally get a few hundred readers. But posts on this blog regularly get a few thousand, even though I promote them less and they're more general in nature... Presumably because Posterous is far more Googlicious. All that doesn't matter now, because Apple is essentially killing iWeb with neglect, and with the demise of MobileMe. After getting over the denial of losing iWeb, and then after a lengthy search and evaluation period, I've settled on Sandvox as the web development tool with more of iWeb's strengths than any other tool, but with other strengths where iWeb had weaknesses like strong SEO (search engine optimization) tools built right into Sandvox. There are a few other utilities and resources that round out the Sandvox capabilities into a system that really works for me: CSSEdit is a nifty utility that let's me see the effects of changes I'm thinking of making in my Sandvox themes without having to know the underlying coding. At $25 or so, it paid for itself almost immediately. WebINK serves up a ton of fonts using an HTML thing known as "@font-face." It may sound like a juvenile insult, but it allows you to use the fonts you want without having to resort to "web-safe" fonts, most of which are dreadfully ugly and boring. Photoshop is essential for developing the graphics and modifying the photos. OK, so there are others, but Photoshop is the best. Once I create a graphic, I open it in Preview and re-save it. This strips out all the Photoshop baggage, leaving just the raw graphic, often saving half the file size (or more, for small images.) the smaller your graphics are (while still being beautiful - a balancing act) the faster your pages load. PayPal lets me create Buy, Add to Cart, and Donate buttons so I don't need an often-expensive e-commerce module. That's about it... If I think of anything else, I'll add it to this post as a comment.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Delicious Disaster Aid


Contributing money to assist disaster victims is a good thing, of course, but contributions often dry up in short order, long before the devastation is healed. I've been wondering: what can we do that might have a more long-term effect? One of the ideas at the core of the Original Green initiative is that we do what we OUGHT to do only for a short time, but we do what we WANT to do for years.

So how might you WANT to help the disaster recovery from, for example, the Tuscaloosa tornado, or from Hurricane Katrina? What if you developed a taste for products that would bolster the local economies? Like the barbecue sauce from Dreamland in Tuscaloosa? Or Tabasco Sauce from Louisiana? Here's a delicious recipe that includes both:


Slice up a panful of mushrooms of your choosing plus one bulb of garlic cloves and one medium onion. Pour just enough olive oil into a sauté pan to thinly cover the bottom. Heat on high until a garlic slice crackles when dropped into the pan. Now, pour the rest of the ingredients into the pan.


Reduce heat to medium-high and sauté until mushrooms have begun to caramelize and onions have just begun to become transparent.


Pour balsamic vinegar into pan so that it's standing about 1/8" deep around the other ingredients.


Stir until the vinegar has entirely caramelized. Reduce heat to medium.


Pour one can of black beans into pan. Pour a healthy dollop of Dreamland Barbecue Sauce over the beans. Don't be shy... This is supposed to be a savory dish. Next, shake Tabasco Sauce liberally into the pan as well... use a bit of caution because it's hotter than the Dreamland sauce. Top with your favorite meat spices as this dish, while completely made of vegetables, can nonetheless be as zesty as many a meat dish.


Cook on medium until the bean juice has cooked up, stirring continuously the last 90 seconds to make sure you don't overcook. Serve... and enjoy! And Tuscaloosa and Louisiana will thank you for it.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Photo Workflow 12 - Process

Step 12: Process
Photoshop is cool because it takes all the metadata in your RAW (DNG) files and embeds it into your JPEG files that you save from your DNG files. Here's what I do when I process my files:

Open the DNG file by double-clicking in the Finder. This will open the file in Photoshop if you own it. Everything in this post assumes you own the version of Photoshop found in CS5. If you don't, upgrade. The Context-Aware Delete alone is worth the price of the upgrade (varies according to which version you have already.) Within Photoshop's RAW converter, here's what I do each time, and occasionally:

Basic window (the first one):

White Balance: set to Daylight, Cloudy, or whatever setting is most appropriate to your image.

Click Default, just above Exposure. This will create Photoshop's best take on the exposure, which you'll modify. Often, I'll focus on the Recovery (which focuses on recovering detail out of the blown-out highlights) and Fill Light (which focuses on pulling detail out of the shadows) sliders. Only seldom do I modify the Exposure, Blacks, Brightness, or Contrast sliders.

At the bottom of the window you'll find the Clarity, Vibrance, and Saturation sliders. I almost never mess with Saturation. For Clarity, you need to decide what's the defining characteristic of the shoot. For my Havana shoot, for example, the defining characteristic was the depressing decrepitude of the city resulting from the economic train wreck that is Cuban Communism. To highlight this, I generally bumped up the Clarity, which highlighted detail. For other shoots, you might go the other way. For example, the ruggedness of a male portrait is highlighted by bumping Clarity up, while the softness of a female portrait is enhanced by bumping Clarity the other direction. The Clarity setting may change somewhat from image to image in a shoot, but varying radically will make the images seem to be from different photographers. Go softer on one, go softer on all... just by varying degrees.

For vibrance, I usually bump images upwards. Consumer-grade images bump vibrance upwards by 80-100 points. Because most of my images are meant to resonate with a broad audience rather than a small under-vibrance group, I test a few images in each shoot at +60 and decide where to go from there. If I settle on +60 as the baseline, the shoot might vary between +36 and +80. But I work with a highly valued client who wants to see a lot of paper through the ink, so vibrance on his work might be -30 on the average. So you really need to consider not only your own preferences, but your audience.

Lens Corrections (the sixth Photoshop RAW tab):

Look at the edges of the image. Do borders between dark and light look either green or red? If so, we'll come back to this later.

Under Profile, I always click the Enable Lens Profile Corrections. This starts with Photoshop's best take on correcting spherical and chromatic aberration for my lens. It's a start, but not always perfect.

Next, look at the vertical lines at the middle of the image. Are they plumb? If not, select the Straighten Tool in the upper left corner. Click at the top of an object nearest the center of the image that should be vertical and drag to the bottom of the image and release. This will create a crop marquee on the image that will straighten the image (if you've plumbed it correctly.) If you haven't plumbed it well, you can adjust by moving your mouse outside the crop and rotating the marquee.

Next, look at the overall image. Do you really need to make all verticals plumb? You can, if you need to, by clicking the Manual lens corrections tab and correcting the Vertical (and maybe Horizontal) perspective. You may also want to make other geometric corrections under this tab. For example, if the image looks swollen or pinched, you may want to correct the Distortion slider.

Finally, if there was a visible red or green fringe at the beginning of Lens Correction, let's revisit it here. Zoom to full-size by clicking Command-+ until the indicator in the lower left corner indicates 100% zoom. Scroll to the corners of the image. See red or green fringes between bright and dark areas? This is known as "chromatic aberration." Basically, different wavelengths (colors) of light bend in varying degrees. Fortunately, Photoshop's RAW converter can pretty much fix this for most images. For my camera and lens, if I drag the Fix Red/Cyan Fringe to negative values (between -8 and -36, according to the image) it'll fix the problem. Just use your judgment. Maybe it needs no correction at all. I generally don't manually-correct chromatic aberration unless I can see the problem at full-image (fit to page) resolution before doing automatic Lens Correction.

Once you've gotten to this point, you're done. For most portfolios, I upload to Zenfolio. More on this later. But this is the end of the basic processing. The final step is to move the images to the outer folder "St. Michaels, MD" and delete all inner folders ("-6 Tag & Process," and whatever else is left.) Obviously, this is a lot of work. But as noted a long time ago, images that run this gauntlet are worth far more to you than random snapshots. There's no doubt they're worth the effort to me... I hope they're worth it to you as well.

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