Friday Videos - July 3rd, 2015

Hopefully you're having a long weekend like the rest of America (even if you're living outside the US, we should all get a day off, right?). Here's some distracting videos to help your day go smoother: Have a great weekend, no matter what the length of it may be.

Summer Mix Series, now on Reddit

I decided that 2014's Summer Mix Series would be the last. Music consumption habits have turned to Spotify, Rdio and other streaming services. This isn't a wholely bad thing but I felt audiences were dwindling anyway, so why not give it a rest?

But this isn't about the retirement of my Summer Mix Series, this is about the birth of Reddit's Listen To This community starting their version - ListenToThis Summer Mix Series 2015. It has many of the same rules - choose a theme, keep your song selection under 80 minutes and make some cover art. I have high hopes for how well it go as the curators are alumni of SMS and always did a fantastic job.

Long story short, RIP Summer Mix Series, Welcome ListenToThis Summer Mix Series and all it's wonderful results.

Robert Frank, Soundcloud and Confederacy

It's a long weekend! Which means, you'll likely need some long reads to fill your head with thoughtful ponderances and potential conversation starters. Try these on for size:
  • The Man Who Saw America - profile piece on living influential photographer Robert Frank.
  • How Soundcloud Keeps Communication Flowing Across 4 Offices in 4 Time Zones - having been a remote employee, I know it's possible to do effectively but, also having been an in-office employee, I can attest to how much more involved you feel. Interesting to read how Soundcloud pulls it off.
  • Last Battles - not a terribly long LongRead but a good one for anyone in the South that may need to explain just why the Confederate flag is a symbol of hate, not history.

    There's no argument from me that the flag should be retired but can we please stop propagating the idea that this is a problem from Southeners, exclusively? Yes, the trouble began in the South but, at this point, it's a problem shouldered by the ignorant and hateful all over. I see sites like this and get incredibly sad as it shows the level of vitriol aimed at Generic Southerner.

    Hateful people are everywhere, let's work to minimize their voices, not create larger rifts between people based on geographic hateful ignorance.

Shawna X

Absolutely smitten with the works of Portland-native, NYC-resident Shawna X. Her illustration style has an elegant simplicity that really takes on a whole new life based on her color choices. There's nods to tattoo flash styles, neon signs and a fusion of 80's and modernist presentation. Words don't do it justice, go dive in and then follow her in all the places.

Studio Workhorse, Inc

I've long been a fan of Jordan Butcher's work so it was quite exciting to peruse his latest freelance undertaking under the moniker Studio Workhorse, Inc.. His work with Filson outdoor brand is strong but he really shines with the album art and packaging. I can't stop staring at the cover for the JMSN record... unbelievable. With such a strong body of work I am sure he will have no problem garnering new clients willing to push boundaries even further and I, for one, can't wait to see it.

Be sure to cruise around his inspiration page as well - there's no end to wonderful things to see.

Storytelling Insights from Lasseter

Great read from John Lasseter on Technology and the Evolution of Storytelling. The basic gist, the tools don't really matter as long as you have a proper story structure and emotive characters. You may have even read these words before but the insight is worth a regular re-read as it applies across the board of creative undertakings. Gems like this:
Andrew Stanton, my creative partner at Pixar, has this fantastic phrase that I use all the time, "Be wrong as fast as you can."
You don't have to be in moviemaking to take that as good advice.

Semi-related worthwhile read though not quite as inspiring: 6 Reasons Expensive Films end up with Crappy Special Effects

Drip For Drip

I've been enjoying the playfully competitive nature of Drip for Drip, a head-to-head design matchup between Wijtze Valkema (of Bamse Ontwerpt) and his favorite designer / illustrator friends. They design coffee cups, have a quick chat about coffee and share the results. Seeing the creations is a nice study in diversity while still staying on a particular theme.

YK Renovations

Over the weekend I started the first steps toward redesigning yewknee.com. This design has been here for awhile and I'm curious to spruce it up a bit. The first step in that process is to make sure the technology behind the scenes is in a good spot - which, currently, it is not. At the the moment, I'm running a cron job to poll for new posts from Twitter, Soundcloud, Delicious, etc and put them in the sidebar. Occasionally there's a real hiccup in the process and things start to duplicate. It's a real mess.

Enter Zapier, my saving grace from this methodology. Instead of having a script that is constantly looking for new updates, Zapier pushes an update when one exists. The event driven functionality will require less server resources and likely ensure that there's a whole lot less duplication.

The only snafu I've encountered so far is that retrieving "Likes" from YouTube is an enormous pain. Zapier doesn't support such a thing and the Youtube API requires constant authentication to retrieve that insight. It's a huge beast and I can't understand why they make such a high barrier for entry. Whatever happened to RSS feeds?

The Jazz Cup

You've likely seen this making the rounds at some point but News-Leader took it upon themselves to find out who designed the Jazz Cup, originally. The cup itself is a pretty classic design and it seems like more credit is due than just "Solo Cup Company." The article itself is an entertaining read through the chase of information, dead-ends and various inquiries to find out who was ultimately responsible for the design. The end result is enjoyable and feel good, particularly given that designer never had full credit before now.

Blood Bakery

Blood Bakery is part blog, part portfolio, part store. The blog part contains loads of interesting art projects and designs. The portfolio and shop are sparse but enjoyably cute, particularly these two ghost pins. Downright adorable and some very simple, clever, packaging.

Friday Videos - June 26th, 2015

My week was ultra short thanks to a VHX retreat upstate. So, my browsing and finding distracting video hasn't been at an all time how. That being said, I think you'll feel plenty distracted and ready to embrace your Summer Friday. That's it! Have a great weekend.

We Own This Town - Volume 68

Despite living in New York now, I still enjoy keeping an eye on the Nashville scene of music (largely through browsing the latest Bandcamp offerings). This latest edition of the We Own This Town podcast came together rather quickly as there seems to be no shortage of great, diverse, music coming from there.
[ Stream It | Download MP3 ]
It's a quick listen but enjoyable from start to finish and has already made its way into my heavy rotation. The repeat repeat may be my favorite of the bunch but I, honestly, enjoy them all greatly.

  • Wildfront - Love is Not Eternal
  • repeat repeat - mostly
  • R Stevie Moore - Found a Job
  • Charlie Shea - BLOO
  • Also This - Girls Don't Speak Bro Code
  • JAWWS - Livingston
  • BecomingTheDevourer - The Fever Dream of a Dying Go
Continue Reading...

Pursuing Imperfection

The ODEN blog recently posted about the Japanese aesthetic ideal of Wabi-sabi, the pursuit of accepting transience and imperfection. It's a Buddhist teaching but applied to the world of art and creation it can be liberating as it helps to understand that your mark on the world isn't necessarily the most perfect brush stroke, it's the somewhat imperfect one.

The article cites the work of Rachel Briggs - specifically her label work for Wiseacre Brewing in Memphis. The work has a serious elegance to it but also doesn't shy away from being "imperfect" as it gives it a personality otherwise unreachable.

Dan Carlin, Hardcore History

I don't know that I have the attention span for it but multiple people have recommended I checked out Dan Carlin's Hardcore History Podcast, a series of very in-depth looks at various moments in history. You know, like World War I. Episodes usually fall in the 3-4 hour range and each topic is covered for a number of episodes. It's probably appropriate to have the episodes go for so long because the topics require that level of explanation but it is a commitment. Regardless, I've heard great things. Going to give it a try.

Evil Corporation Vinyl

I have previously mentioned my enjoyment of the works of A Large Evil Corporation but I'd be remiss if I didn't point out some of their more recent creations - specifically these Vinyl Toy Designs. Lots of great film and TV characters represented so it's hard to pick a favorite. It's certainly good to see the many permutations of Bill Murray, some secondary IT Crowd folk and that each piece is clearly coming from a place of total fandom. The Evil Corp style means there's some awkward stances and offputting eyeballs but it works, real well.

Catastrophe: Amazon Original

If you have not tuned in to the Rob Delaney / Sharon Horgan BBC comedy, Catastrophe, I would not be surprised as it's not something that's likely to have come across your radar too frequently. Fortunately, Amazon has snatched up the rights to it and now you can watch it instantly through the power of Video On Demand. It's a phenomenal series. it's got all the basic elements of a Rom Com (cute meet, unexpected turn of events) but then throws them all out the window by showing the two deal with the situation realistically, albeit lovingly. I'm not giving anything away but it's a refreshing take on how relationships are portrayed and they're both hilarious. Do watch.

Friday Videos - June 19th, 2015

The days just fly by, huh? Or maybe I'm having a short work week followed by another short work week and I'm just feeling the crunch time a little more intensely. Who can say. Enjoy these distractions: Have a great weekend. If you need more distraction how about reading up on Matilda, the cat with a rare eye disease that makes it look like a 100% alien? It will haunt your dreams, you've been warned.

More? I suggest spending the rest of your afternoon refreshing the Snack Database for new, fun, random Snack Facts.

Google Inceptions, Neural Networks. AKA The Dog-Fish

This Google Research blog post is a remarkable look at the work they been doing in training Artificial Neural Networks to recognize images (aka Google Images). That feat in and of itself is rather stunning but this article goes on to explain some of the mishaps and complexities of how a network can see things that aren't there. It's not unlike how we mistake clouds for particular shapes, except with a computer envisioning those things you actually get to see inside what it's seeing. It's basically the equivalent of visualized imagination.

If you're not into reading, just check out this gallery and marvel at the Acid Trip style creations the networks make when asked to describe an image multiple times.

via Chad