ERA404 2006 Holiday Card

WinkyLinc is a genius. I came up with a rough idea for this year’s holiday card about a month ago. This year, a number of clients had been telling me that, which our creativity and skills generally outshine competition, our customer service is unrivaled. They love our committment to customer satisfaction. So I thought, why not show our clients and friends what it would be like if customer service in the North Pole wasn’t that hot (so to speak).

The idea was to create a fictional company called “PolarExpress Shipping” (or PolEx). Sorta a Chris Van AllsburgFedEx rip-off…If you just groaned, then I did my job well. The customer service elf, Winky, is supposed to help you find your lost package or gift or whatever. Instead, you just get frustrated asking him questions when he has absolutely no desire to help you.

I’ve personally been in this position with a number of companies lately (Sprint, Home Depot, Best Buy, Verizon, T-Mobile, HIP Prime, A Security Depot, etc.) and thought people might like the idea that we’re recognizing that customer service has gone down the tubes. A neat tie-in to this idea is that ERA404 offers a number of applications geared toward improving end-user customer service (Lyrek, Timebank, MediaPASS, ERA404 CMS, etc.), yes, that’s a shameless plug.

Anyway, Linc illustrated our card last year (which was listed in Communication Arts/Design Interact’s 2nd Annual, Unofficial Holiday Card Contest) and he volunteered to do it this year as well. I love the guy. He has a way of drawing and thinking that’s so perfect, I feel somewhat upset that I know I’ll never ever be as good as him. I take comfort in the fact that all my friends that illustrate, draw or doodle, certainly won’t either.

Damn, it’s cold.

Don on FloridayI just got back from Florida for Thanksgiving and I’d have to say that I’m not happy. It’s 31┬║ outside right now. Twelve hours ago, I was in a jucuzzi sipping a Heineken with Iggie and now I’ve got my (electric = costly) heat running at full blast and my poor cat is burying himself under the covers of my bed (which is a good thing because otherwise, he’d be mangling my Christmas Tree).

While I was in Florida on holiday, or Floriday as I like to call it (don’t bother looking it up, it doesn’t exist), I got the opportunity to spend sometime with family. I traditionally say that “Friends are God’s way of making up for Family,” but this isn’t the case with mine.

On the flip-side of things, I also got to see Grandmere and Grandpere and spend some QT with my Mom’s side of the family, whom I absolutely adore.

Either way, things have been going extremely well, lately, on both the personal side of things and with my business. I just sent a 40-page designer booklet to bed for The Australian Trade Commission, as they’re having their first annual Australian Designers Collections here in New York. The event features 16 designers from down-under, parading the hottest new trends from the exact opposite side of the globe as me. And while it was frustrating to work with people who don’t understand the time difference (read: 2am phone calls on Sunday evening), it really got me excited to learn more about their culture and eventually tour the perimeters of their island/continent/country. You know their money is actually plastic, since they do so much swimming and water sports? That should tell you something about their culture.

We’ve got a number of other projects in the works and about a dozen agreements/proposals in the air for the first quarter of 2006. I actually am turning away more work now than I did when I begged Mike to come aboard a few years back. And the cool thing is that a lot of it is print work; which I somehow find more gratifying than web design. Either way, I certainly feel blessed.

By the way, if you haven’t yet tattoo’d the pickel barrel, you really should.

A Brazilian In NYC

Marceu Filho at The West SideMost of my clients and network of freelancers I’ve never met. Every so often, however, one decides to hop him- or herself onto a plane destined for JFK and visit our little burg of NYC. Marceu Filho (PHP Programmer formerly of Seem) joined us for a few weeks while he was working for a development start-up here in the city. In the short amount of time that he was here, we sutured the untidy national relations between Brazil and the USA over a couple (hundred) beers.

Or, rather, I should say, that I had a few, and he rounded off the hundred in record-breaking time and still was able to conduct himself in a professional manner. I have a newfound respect for the Brazilian populace and their alcohol-intake abilities, and have as such reranked my personal list of countries that can handle their booze.

Brazil, which had formerly not made my top five, has landed nicely at number two, right behind Ireland, and preceeding Russia, Italy and France in that order. Interesting note: In the four or so years that I’ve known Marceu, I’ve never seen him without a beer in his hand. I feel unequipped.

We Feel Fine

ifeelfine.gif Sep Kamvar, the technical lead of personalization at Google and a Consulting Professor of Computational Mathematics at Stanford University, and his artist friend, Jonathan Harris, designed a pretty cool Java Applet that searches blogs for the phrase “I Feel” and adds the remaining context to a catalogued database. With Harris’s design, the result of We Feel Fine is a trippy visualization of how the world’s bloggers are feeling at any given time. Sub-sort by genre, gender, location, and narrow results to see specific sub-sets of the blogging demographic.

I’ve decided that for the next few posts (or at least until I get bored of it) all my blog postings will incorporate the phrase “I feel” just so I can skew their statistics. The more likely result, however, is that I’m doing exactly what they want and simply contributing to their way-cool site.
Click here to see We Feel Fine.

Kudos, guys. I feel impressed.

The Movies Without You

Julian VelardJulian Velard has a new CD out called “The Movies Without You” and, while we weren’t mentioned on the liner notes for designing his site, I still encourage you to give it a listen. The tracks “Joni” and “Jimmy Dean and Steve McQueen” are my favorites, but the others a pretty hot too. My personal favorite of the disk is that, in the lyrics of Joni, JV tries to lure a girl back to his apartment by pleading “I got cable! I got caabbbbllleeeee!!!”

By the way, in reading the fine print in this disk’s ┬ęCopyright, I’ve learned “Unauthorized Duplication is Completely Encouraged.” So grab the contents of this directory and share it amongst your friends.

(I feel somewhat non-plussed about duping music with the artist’s permisson.)

Google BlogSearch

Google never ceases to amaze me. Sean told me last night over a few drinks at Soho House that Google now has a BlogSearch…which his diabolical mind is trying to fit into some upcoming projects. When I woke up this morning, I had to run to the computer to see if it was true, or just Captain Morgan talking. Well, he’s right…and they’re already sniffing donline. Thanks Google, your talents a making my job of an organic SEO’er have saved me yet again. Bless you guys…

Geotag (with Picasa2 & Google Earth)

GeotagWhen I was a kid, I had a dream that when you die, you’re taken to a room in heaven where a red line traces your existance on the world, darting in and out of streets, houses, colleges, towns, states, countries, etc. This way, even if your work didn’t leave an indelible line on society, your steps surely would. In the dream, I saw the lines intersect with my family and then split off again. The lines tangoed with lovers (and glowed more vividly when they crossed), meandered with friends, sped down highways on roadtrips and caromed off near misses with soul mates, only to intertwine again. The pulsing line, so full of activity, only ended when you were laid to rest for good. It’s a stupid dream, but, hey, I was a kid.

Click here to see the whole tutorial.