Tuesday, September 28, 2010

CreCommedy Nights coming to the King's Head in October

CreCommedy Nights are going to be so hilarious this year, we've added an extra "M!"

And if you think that's hilarious, you've gotta check out Red River College's finest Creative Communications/Comedy Writing students performing stand-up comedy for the first time on Monday, Oct. 18 and 25 at the King's Head Pub.
Our Oct. 18 headliner is Dan Verville, CreComm grad and Rumor's host; Oct. 25 headliner is Cara Lytwyn, the only former CreComm student to major in Comedy Writing (it's true!), and the only female winner of Rumor's Winnipeg's Funniest Person With a Day Job contest.

Hosts will be Alexa Lacroix on Oct. 18 and Jeremy Giacomin on Oct. 25.

Each night features 11 first-time comedians doing three-to-five minutes each. Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Famous comedy judges will include past CreComm comedy writing students and grads, audience members, and maybe even some famous local comics; tickets will be available at the door on the night of the events, or in advance from the advertising major of your choice.

Remember: the extra M stands for "more" hilarious comedy than ever. Or something.

Thor Blondal entertains the crowd at last year's show:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Classroom size: the less the merrier!

 The perfect class: four students, 40 computers, one teacher with camera.

I remember the first time I walked into my philosophy of ethics class at the U of M.

I was taken aback when I realized that the class was actually just a teacher and four, nerdy losers sitting around a small, boardroom table - and I was one of them!

I felt like the guy who pays good money to see a "movie" at the Towne Cinema, only to find that his TV is actually bigger than the screen in theatre #3: "Money back, please!"

I was especially piqued, because I was just 19 and used to treating my larger classes like spectator sports. I'd chuckle at the professors' jokes (Nielsen: "I would give my eyetooth to be svelte!"), but I didn't feel that I had anything to contribute, so I didn't.

Hell, just a couple of years earlier, I was delivering newspapers for a living - so what useful experience did I have to bring to the table?

In the larger classes, there were some students who clearly considered the classroom to be a giant soapbox for their views on pretty much everything. They'd speak, the rest of us would roll our eyes, rinse, wash, repeat.

Some days, I didn't feel like listening to the same people say the same things, so I didn't go to class. Nobody noticed, as far as I knew. They probably didn't.

Talk or the sheriff gets it

But in my tiny philosophy class, we'd go around the table and talk until everyone had a chance to share. I was forced - at gunpoint, I tell you! - to attend class and have opinions, or at least pretend to have them.

It was good for me.

My first outwardly expressed thought in the class came up during a discussion about the ethics of animal testing: "Who's to say that an animal's sense perception is worth less than a human being's ability to think about thinking?" I asked, surprising even myself.

"Does anyone know what he's talking about?" asked the professor to the other three geeks, giving me props for saying something smart. Who knew I had it in me?

I heard a bell ring, and Clarence got his wings.

How many students is the right number?

I sometimes think about this experience when I teach my classes. At any one time, each Red River College instructor has around 100 students on his or her watch. In general, each class consists of about 25 students.

Is there enough time to give everyone a chance to speak or the one-on-one attention they all deserve? "I wish!" I thought, as I remembered the poor student who waited 25 minutes to see me earlier this week. Ugh.

There have already been some amazing discussions in this year's larger classes, but I've noticed that we do have some "phantom students" in the room. In Friday's class, I saw one of them checking messages on a cell phone.

I didn't say anything, because there's nothing like ending the week on a big downer. But I wondered whether this would happen in a smaller class. Probably not.

But I think that this rule holds true: the smaller the class = the greater the engagement, and feeling of responsibility, on the part of its participants.

Classroom or boardroom?

This year I've got 16 students in the advertising major. The cool thing about having numbers in the mid-to-high teens is that the classroom becomes a boardroom, not unlike my philosophy class.

Last week, the majors and I made mood boards together - the perfect exercise for a class this size (it would have been even more perfect if I wouldn't have accidentally whacked a student in the face with a mood board. Thanks for not suing me!).

In a class of 16, there's nowhere to hide or sink into the background. So, swim it is!

What is school?

In my experience, a smaller class size - or number of students per instructor - leads to a greater depth of sharing, creating, learning, collaboration, exploration, inquiry, demonstration, passion, reflection, discussion, and opinion formation.

When you consider that all of the information you could ever want is available online, the idea that school is a spectator sport, where an instructor provides a one-way flow of information to his or her "public" is a joke.

Which reminds me of the stand-up bit I used to do about my university education:
"I was a terrible philosophy student. On the first test, I proved I didn't exist. Then for the rest of the year, I did f-all."
It's not funny, because it's true.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ten things that crossed my mind at the Flaming Lips' Winnipeg show

1. Trippy.

2. Can Flaming Lips start an Arcade Fire?

3. Confetti? Laser beams? Balloons? Giant hands? A bear mascot? It's like advertising class in here.

4. I really hope that the Situation picks it up on the next episode of Dancing or Bristol might beat him in the finals.

5. Maybe if we shout out song titles, they'll play Psychiatric Explorations of the Fetus with Needles and A Hallucination of the Christmas Skeleton Pleading with a Suicide Bomber!

6. Sometimes it feels like we're all living in large, plastic bubbles. Am I right, people?

7. Bald, nerdy guys with glasses sure love the Flaming Lips. Wait a sec...noooooooo!

8. I was thinking about getting LASIK eye surgery, and this laser beam searing into my retina clinches it.

9. If a bomb dropped on this place tonight, how would Winnipeg replenish its hipster deficit?

10. Mmmm....jelly!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bored? Moody? I give you: the mood board!

Tools o' the ad trade.

The secret to a great class? Magazines, glue sticks, Blu-Tak, and X-Acto Knives.

(Tip: if you teach preschool or in the 'hood, scratch the X-Acto Knives.)

It never fails. One of the best classes of the year, even better than our visit to the Pancake House, is the one we had today, in which the advertising majors and I return to a place we thought we'd left behind forever: the land of grade three arts and crafts!

I give you: the mood board

The occasion: creating mood boards for this semester's advertising client, Berns and Black Salon on Main Street.

Like this:

I know, it sounds flakier than a flaky box of flakes, but a mood board plays a useful role in advertising by functioning as a visual representation of a brand. It can be the creative springboard on which your campaign is based, or you can use it to present and sell your ideas to your client.

And clients love mood boards, because they secretly wish they were back in grade three art class too.

The mood board is a collage on a foam core board - mmmmm, foam core! It encompasses symbols, feelings, moods, relationships, textures, ideas, colors, palettes, words, brands, logos, design, architecture, celebrities, style, and whatever.

But a mood board is more than the sum of its parts.

The process of cutting, sorting, sticking, and pasting takes the creative mind on a little journey down a path of discovery that may not be apparent until the mood board is actually complete and hanging on a wall.

Then, you take a step back, let the visuals wash over you, discuss what you see with loved ones and/or co-workers, and - voila! - the ad-campaign concept, theme, and color palette all begin to gel in your head.

Or, even better, the mood board gives you the flash of creative inspiration that will ultimately become your campaign's big idea.

In today's class, we did five mood boards from five groups of students, which we formed into a giant mood board of mood boards at the front of the classroom - a giant mashup of the images you see depicted here.

As you can clearly see, they represent...wait - what do you think they represent?

Next week: it's all about the Play-Doh.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Eyepatch? Check. Parrot? Check. It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

May the Devil shiver me timbers if I ever talk like a pirate on Sept. 19, International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Pirates? Not a fan.

As an advertising instructor, I know that when I ask my students to write their first ad for a seafood restaurant, I'm going to be in for a lot of "Arrrrrr, mateys!" unless I institute the famous, annual "No pirates" rule.

"Can I use sailors in my ad instead?" No.

Nonetheless, I love International Talk Like a Pirate Day, because it takes the piss out of every other "special" day, week, and month, which, according to the great book Ad Nauseam, are good PR and news hooks for lazy journalists:
"Not only does a holiday help rally the troops, it's a clever way of getting the media on your side."

"A random story about peanut butter isn't all that appealing to your average assignment editor, but a weekly list of recipes all throughout National Peanut Butter Month: hey, that's news!"
Among the hundreds more "holidays" listed in the book are these:
  • National Senior Health and Fitness Day
  • National Milk Week
  • Clear Off Your Desk Day
  • National STDs Awareness Month
  • International Pickle Week
Who can forget that, during Bill Norrie and Susan Thompson's tenures as Winnipeg mayor, we had hundreds of these commercially sponsored special days foisted upon our fine city, but not Gay & Lesbian Pride Week or Pink Triangle Day for some strange reason?

I'll never forget covering the vote on the day when one city councillor actually crawled out of chambers on his hands and knees, so he'd be "missing" when the vote happened. A proud day for One Great City, eh?

So, it's great that John Baur (Ol' Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap'n Slappy) invented ITLAPD as a paro-day of all of the other bullshit days, using the same tried and true method: publicity.

All it took was a single letter to syndicated columnist Dave Barry, and - voila - pretty soon the day became international. Removing restrictions on trademark and copyright made it go viral.

So, now you can listen to Lambchop's song about the awesome day (here!) and, every Sept. 19, hang out with your buddies, drink Captain Morgan and say cool stuff to each other, like, "Have I lived this many years, and a son of a rum puncheon cock his hat athwart my hawse at the latter end of it?"

Which reminds me: get your presents and carols ready - we're just a couple days away from International Kenton Larsen Day!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I've got the fear of all sums

I'm with Math Barbie.

Who says a writer can't do math?

I says!

I know from what I speak, not only because I teach in the Creative Communications program, where the easiest way to turn off a class is to hand out calculators or even utter the word "math," but because my high school report cards tell a sad tale about how nature and nurture work together to predestine you to become an electrical engineer or joke writer, but never both.

I'm in good company. Why is Stephen King a bestselling author? Why, because he flunked high school math, of course. Oscar Wilde? Not Wilde about numbers. Dr. Seuss? Not a doctor of math.

In Dr. Bumford's grade 11 physics class, I looked around the room and wondered why my good friend, Jeff Carrie, could already build bridges in his sleep while I struggled to calculate the change I'd get back from $20 after buying 50 cents' worth of gum. Uh...twelve fiddy, right?

Very reminiscent of the Chris Rock math bit, where the kid says, "two plus two equals...JELL-O!"

What's the difference between 00 and 01? Who knows!

In grad 12, I realized that the jig was up, so I took Math 301 instead of Math 300.

In Math 300, you'd spend your time bisecting equilateral triangles to find out how fast you'd have to pummel an object into the Earth to reach its core, assuming that its density got thicker as you went along.

In Math 301, you'd spend your time coloring triangles with the prettiest colors you could find in your box of Crayola Glow Explosions.

Needless to say, I took to Math 301 like a duck to water, coloring those triangles like they'd never been colored before. I'd get papers back, and they'd have an A+ on them. I started thinking that maybe I was not only a good mathematician but a mathematical genius, smarter than the math teacher.

"Let me carry that ruler, teach. I wouldn't want you to poke your eye out."

Awarded for my genius

The joke was on me. I knew I'd done well in Math 301, but I didn't realize I'd done so well that they'd call my name at grad as...the winner of the Math 301 award! As far as I know, it's still the only non-University level award given out at Shaftesbury High.

I shamefully walked onto the stage to get my math award while my friends laughed and clapped in the front row, knowing that my name and math being uttered in the same breath was equivalent to Mel Gibson's name being bandied about with "dignity" and "self-respect."

Which was weird, because graduated in 1985, which is ummm, like, eight years ago!

Receiving my 301 award, in front of God and everyone.

I accepted the award and gave a speech befitting of winning an Oscar when you didn't even know you were nominated. I don't remember the words, but the theme was clearly "I...am the king of the dipshits!"

Cue laughter and applause - "He's saying what we're thinking!" - but not so much as a raised eyebrow from Dr. Bumford, who knew that I was destined to go on to a life of crime, imprisonment, and the electric chair, in that order.

Speaking of, Jeff Carrie now designs electrical antennae for RIM in Ottawa - or somethin' - and now I color triangles for a living. In school. Which pays me to teach others how to color them.

Dr. Bumford would be proud.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Eleven new words with which to pepper your speech

Eleven new words, no more promises.

Props to my peeps, word to my homies.

Here are 11, new words I've invented or stolen from other people. I've given credit for the words where I can remember who said them, and taken full credit for the words where I can't.

If I've somehow not given you credit, and you deserve it, send me an email for extra credit. I'll give you extra credit alright. With my fists!! Wah, wah, wah.

Eleven new words:
  • Coordinhater - one who hates project managers, or a nasty project manager.
  • Gratifaction - pure enjoyment: satisfaction meets gratifying. I believe this was invented by my friend, Tom Sawyer, who sang a song by the same name in the musical with Jodie Foster.
  • iPadvertising - the name for the Ad major this year, or: advertising on the iPad.
  • Irresistibullshit - stories that are too good to be true, but you believe them anyway.
  • Near-fetched - believable, as in the opposite of far-fetched.
  • Not-for-loss business - the other side of "not for profit." Duncan McMonagle: "Just because a business is not for profit doesn't mean it's for loss."
  • PRty - a PR party.
  • Shittaker - a bad Roger Whittaker concert or song. My former boss: "That Roger Whittaker concert last night was awful. It was Shittaker!"
  • Supermovie - an incredible movie, like the Water Horse. Invented by the Water Horse kid (at :44):

  • Tanterior - the inside of a cheap SUV, for instance. I thought that Michelle in class three said it during her presentation the other day, but no one else, including her, seemed to hear it. I give her credit nonetheless!
  • Trutal - the brutal truth. Example: "You're a skanky ho who needs to lose weight!!"

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Angry Birds hate our freedom

Hooray for...Angry Birds. Da-da-da-da-da-da-da Angry Birds...

"Mommy, why are the birdies so angry?"

"Because they hate our freedom, son."

Like millions of other iPhone/iPad users, I'm addicted to the Angry Birds game.

The story: Green pigs eat the birds' eggs. This makes the birds understandably angry. So, you commandeer the birds to take revenge by launching them from a slingshot into the pigs and their dwellings, made of stone, wood, steel, and ice. Mmmm....chilled ham!

You only advance after you kill all of the pigs - the more creatively the better. Some birds dive bomb, some split into three, some blow themselves up, and some just bonk their heads against a piece of steel, fall to their deaths, and exact no damage at all.

For the low, low price of 99 cents, you get over 100 levels of mayhem with a locked level that promises even more bloodshed "coming soon."

What's not to love?

I was enjoying slaughtering the pigs - bacon for everyone! - but when I reached the city level, I realized that the game had tricked me into joining a terrorist cell of feathery suicide bombers intent on destroying the pigs' hard-fought and -won freedoms.

In this scene, you can't help but notice that I'm lobbing bombs at defenseless piggie children - Babe: Pig in the City, is that you? Is it wrong to hold them responsible for the sins of their fathers, who were only looking after the well-being of their little piggies by putting a few omelets on their plates?

I don't know how the pigs constructed a Tower of London made out of ice, but it seems like an overreaction on the part of the birds to lob bombs at it. I mean, the pigs just took your eggs! Destroying their meticulously constructed ice tower in return is kind of like bringing a bazooka to a knife fight.

Now, I understand that the Angry Birds are talking about building a nest just blocks from the downed ice tower, making some pigs pig-biting mad. Birds say the nest will be open to everyone, pigs and birds alike, it will encourage discourse between all species, and house a daycare, theatre, track, pool, and gym.

Is it too soon for an Angry Pigs app?

Ad majors meet their major client: Berns and Black salon

The ad majors and Kitty Bernes (right), owner of Berns and Black Salon.

A little off the top of the semester.

The advertising majors and I met their major client today: Kitty Bernes of Berns and Black Salon on Main Street - Winnipeg's fresh, modern, eco-friendly, avant-garde salon.

The majors have about two months to put together individual ad campaigns and promotional recommendations for the salon, which includes creating the ads, writing and assembling campaign books, and presenting the recommendations in a boardroom-style pitch.

Located just a short walk away from Red River College's downtown campus in the beautifully renovated Birt Saddlery building, the salon has a service specifically for RRC students: its apprenticeship program, which allows "future professionals" to book haircuts and color with apprenticeship stylists for reduced prices.

I'll be posting some of the students' campaign and ad samples on this blog toward the end of the semester. Until I do, please enjoy their hip, new hairstyles, smooth skin, and fresh scents.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

"Take me, hurt me, smoke me:" Newport

Newport: there's a fine line between lover and hostage.

Is this a good ad or a bad ad? Or can we just agree that it's a perverted ad?

Another year, another Good Ad/Bad Ad assignment in which students find two magazine ads, a good one and a bad one, and write about what makes them that way.

Brutal simplicity and simple brutality!

The assignment has been a mainstay in Creative Communications for over 20 years, not only because it makes for a great icebreaker at the beginning of the year, but because it reveals the subjective nature of advertising, art, and everything.

Alive with misogyny

But if one thing holds true every year, it's that one person will present the famous "Alive with Pleasure" lifestyle ads for Newport cigarettes, a campaign that started in the mid-70s and continues to this day.

What makes the Newport campaign notable is that the ads feature young, fun-loving couples engaged in wholesome, clean fun...wait a sec, make that enraged psychopaths descending into "absolutely perverse, dark misogynist themes."

Every year, seeing another of these ads makes me think of John Leo's 1988 article in (the now defunct) Spy Magazine, which chronicled and critiqued the fun - or is that mayhem? - going on in the campaign.

I finally tracked down the article, thanks to Spy releasing an awesome history/anthology called The Funny Years. There on pages 63 and 64 is Leo's famous advertising case study (click photos to enlarge).

Take off, you hoser.

Says Leo:
"Why are the ads so successful? Post-feminist resentment.

"About half of the photos depict women who seem to be off-balance or menaced, or at least the target of berserk male energy.

"Newport women tend to suck on icicles, drink from hoses whenever they can, and open their mouths as tiny white snowflakes, water spray or feathers drift their way."
And don't get me started on the gumballs!

"In Newport's sexual wars, men get pushed around, too. During a miniature golf game, a giggling woman tees up her ball on the mouth of a supine male."
And what could this "odd phallic demibranch" mean?

Is that you, honey?

And what guy doesn't like to spend a lazy, Sunday afternoon getting stomped on his privates?

Newport presents: the Nutcracker.

In the article's close, Leo tracks down the guy who took the photos for Newport, and it turns out to be none other than Joel Meyerowitz, the famous street photographer.

Meyerowitz has since gone on to publishing a photo archive of the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center, as the only photographer allowed onto the scene at Ground Zero immediately following the attack.
"(Meyerowitz) seemed more embarrassed about being caught doing commercial work than about being tagged as the perpetrator of softcore sex and violence...(he) implied that the campaign had been intended solely to depict rollicking, wholesome activities of fun-loving couples."
And what, I ask you, could be more wholesome than a good, old-fashioned pumpkin plunge?

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

1,000 blog posts make the man!

Welcome to blog post #1,000.

It's taken writing at least five days a week for three years to get to this milestone - or is it a crossroads? Who cares: I'm pretty sure I'm now entitled to a free Steve Jobs T-shirt at the Apple Store, a dozen floppy disks, and a discount at participating Red Lobsters.

I also hope and pray that Creative Arts chair Larry Partap has a new Red River College mug for me. I chipped my tooth on the last one and would really like to replace it and the frightening memories of the incident, which continue to haunt my dreams.

As always, thanks for reading this blog, my peeps. You're welcome to stop by, sleep over, and eat as many fudge brownies as you like whenever you're in the neighborhood.

Here's to another 1,000!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufread

The Great-West Centre of Proofreading Excellence.

Me teach students to write good.

My whip-smart, first-year ad/PR class and I had a rollicking conversation about readin', writin', and proofreadin' today.

Translation: I got on my bully pulpit and shot my mouth off for 45 minutes about a wide range of hot-button issues spanning commas and depths of analysis to active sentences and spelling.

Along the way, I kicked the classic, boring university essay in the arse while it was down, and spun salty sea yarns about some of my favorite ad and PR clients. Names were changed to protect the innocent. Oops - that was a passive sentence!

The occasion for the discussion was the students' first assignment.

Of course, any "first assignment" needs more proofreading than you think - you're trying to feel out what this crazy new class is, understand what the blowhard at the front of the room is talking about, wondering if you can bullshit your way through it, like you did in university, and just get acclimatized to having to get up early in the morning.

And that's just the instructors. Am I right, people?

Great-Waste Not Want Not

Everything I learned about proofreading, I learned working in the Communication Services department at Great-West Life.

There, we would proofread everything by printing it out twice and reading it aloud while some poor bastard - uh, "coworker!" - followed along.

Seems like a nice way to spend an hour, until you consider that we rarely spent just one hour doing it. Those insurance manuals can get pretty thick, so there were times we'd sit there for three days' straight, breaking only for lunch.

On the third day, the lancers started to resemble the platelets and the mind wandered to more interesting things - like the squirrel jumping from branch to branch outside the window. So, despite the hard proofreading work of two people over the better part of a week, you'd get the manual back from the printer and there - on the cover - you'd see a typo. Nooooooo!

Dine and dash: $60,000

You'll note that there's a dash between "Great" and "West" in the company's name.

Legend has it that the dash was a mistake on the part of the typesetter who prepared the company's legal documents; but what was done was done, so the company ran with it, and it became an important part of its graphic identity.

Flash forward 100 years. My coworker, in his first couple of weeks on the job, edited the corporate magazine for the first time and inadvertently left the dash out of the company name.

No one noticed the gaffe until the company had printed thousands of the magazines. Instead of "distributing them anyway," Great-West elected to re-insert the dashes at the cost of $60,000 - more than my friend's annual salary. Yelp!

Believe it or not: he didn't get fired.

Orange you going to change the sign?

Around the same time, another of my coworkers lived at Evergreen Towers in Osborne Village, and he could see the glowing, orange Great-West Life sign from his balcony.

Late one evening he noticed that - gasp! - the dash had gone missing from the corporate name. He called up the building's operations department and expressed his concern.

The operations department was equally concerned. So, minutes later, my friend watched from his balcony as the dash sprang to life with new life and light bulbs - a beacon of hope to lovers of proofreading and good grammar everywhere.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The intersection of William and King is thick with danger and irony

Look both ways before you cross the...thud.

"Now I know, now I know - red means stop, green means go!"

I used to chant this little ditty with my classmates in grade one, never realizing that I'd eventually have to cross the intersection of William and King on foot every day to teach at Red River College.

It's the one intersection in town where it's safer to take your chances by crossing the street against the light rather than with it, and it's located for maximum ironic impact on the south end of the Public Safety Building, the headquarters of the Winnipeg Police Service.

The intersection reminds me a little of Piccadilly Circus in London, minus all of the people, stores, and accents. Otherwise: exactly the same!

It was in Piccadilly Circus that I once almost got mowed down by 20 motorcycles racing around a blind corner at 200 miles per hour. True, I was looking in the wrong direction at the time, but I think you'll agree that it was the motorcyclists' fault for being "culturally insensitive."

If there are two things I can't stand, it's cultural insensitivity and the Brits. See what I did there? Aww, forget it.

The same thing that happened to me in England happens at the intersection of William and King - "King William!?" Told you: British conspiracy.

When the the international symbol for "walk" flashes on, the vehicles on William make a speeding left turn onto King from not one but two lanes, sending pedestrians crossing the street scrambling like the eggs in that "don't do drugs" commercial.


I'm walkin' here!

This begs a few questions:
  • What is it about this intersection that causes drivers to ignore pedestrians?
  • Shouldn't the police be tossing down those spiked belts from the windows of the PSB onto the streets below?
  • People are rushing away from downtown to get to...Henderson Highway?!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How to share an iPad: with great difficulty

Two hands good, four hands bad.

The iPad is meant to be used by ONE person.

I discovered this late Monday night when I started researching how the ad majors would share iPads in class this semester - two students per iPad.

Four hours later, I came up with the answer: with great difficulty!

If I discovered anything, it's that the iPad needs an app or a software upgrade that allows two people to easily sign in and out of the device from email, iTunes, and the iPad itself.

(There's an app in development called MultiPad, but there are danger signs: the website is full of typos and the sign-up page seems to suggest that you need a "jailbroken" iPad to run the app. Wah, wah, wah.)

Yeah, the iPad is a "personal" device, but it seems pretty likely that partners, spouses, families, and students would want to share one, especially given that the cheapest one goes for $549.

So I put my mind to the problem until I could set fire to objects with my mind, just like Drew Barrymore did. Handy!

Barring the aforementioned iPad app or software upgrade, here's my best guess at how to share an iPad, as I described it to my students:

Option 1:

Both people have an iTunes Store account. If you don’t already have one, you download iTunes from http://www.apple.com/itunes/ onto your computer, launch it, click on “iTunes Store” in the left margin, and select “account” on the top, right corner of the screen.

You can also set up an iTunes account on a school computer, but you’ll need to attach it to a credit card, even if you only want to download free apps. Make sure you sign out when you’re done!

Option 2:

One person has an iTunes Store account - the iPad administrator. If you go for this option, and the other person wants to download an app, he or she needs the “administrator” to do it using his or her’s iTunes account. You want a paid app? You pay the administrator in advance to download it.

Either way, do NOT share your iTunes Store password with anyone, including the person with whom you share a device. An iTunes account is set up to your credit card, so sharing it is ALWAYS a bad idea.

Other stuff:
  • The person who takes it home for the first time needs to sync it to a computer with iTunes to make it active. This will be the iPad’s “home computer.” It’s OK to use an existing Apple ID from another device, like an iPhone.
  • After this initialization, you never need to sync an iPad to a computer again – you can simply make purchases from the app store through the iPad and plug it into the wall to charge it.
  • The second person can sync the iPad with his or her own computer if he or she wants to, but doesn’t have to; if two people wish to sync their iPads with two computers, BOTH computers have to be either Mac or PC, you can’t switch back and forth.
  • To charge your iPad, just plug it into the wall; you don’t need a computer to access iTunes or charge it after the first time.
  • To purchase an app, you simply visit the App Store by pressing the App Store icon at the bottom of the iPad screen, typing in your password, and – presto – you’ve got an app.
  • We will be switching iPads from one person to the other every Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. Showing up late, or not at all, or without the iPad, will result in a suspension of iPad privileges. Who gets the iPad over the holidays and work-placement period? To be determined!
  • To switch the iPad to your iTunes account, click on the iPad’s Settings icon, select “Store” in the left-hand margin, and “Sign Out.” Then you can sign in with your iTunes Store account and password.
  • You can enter email addresses, transfer music, and photos, but remember: what one person sees, both people see. You may not wish to set up email for that very reason!
  • Many great apps are free, some are not. If you wish to buy an app, you can choose to share the cost between both people; however, no one is under any obligation to pay for anything that their partner downloads.
  • At the end of the year, you hand back the iPad to me. You can delete every app you purchased off the iPad, so no one else will benefit from your purchases. iTunes stores your purchases for all time, so if you buy a new iPad, you can download everything again for free.
What did I miss?

Did I miss something obvious? Did I miss something not-so-obvious? Do you know another way to share an iPad? Do tell!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

You can't spell iPad without ad

So that's what happy students look like. Who knew?

Bring hither the iPads!

I got to play Santa and Scrooge today:
  • Scrooge, because I also gave out an assignment to go with it. I guess you gotta take the good with the bad, though, eh?
The ad majors will be working in conjunction with Diane Livingston's second-year Graphic Design students to conceive of and write, design, and publish an e-book as a download for the iBooks app, among others.

This semester, the ad majors will conceive of and write the e-book in teams of two, incorporating ads for its client this semester, Berns and Black Salon. Next semester, the Graphic Design students will design and publish the e-book using CS5.

Then maybe we'll have a fancy schmancy launch party. Errr...your invitation is in the snail mail.

I love you, PIF

I applied for the PIF grant last summer after I found out it existed to do the very things that I exist to do: to support technological innovation and continuous improvements in academic programming at RRC.

I also figured that it wouldn't hurt to show the world that RRC, Creative Communications, and Graphic Design aren't interested in spinning their wheels in the bygone days of the communications biz, but continue to "Keep reaching for the stars!"

Next year? I've got an awesome idea...stay tuned!

Monday, September 6, 2010

A kiss may be grand, but apps are a blogger's best friend

Feeddler RSS Feed: Blogaway, blogaway - I will follow!

Appy blogging!

These are apps (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) that I recommend to bloggers everywhere, especially novice bloggers like, say, the ones operating the new blogs on the CreComm Blog Network (click through the link and look for "Class of 2012" in the column on the right side of the page).

My colleague Melanie Lee Lockhart does the same here and here.

My picks:
  • BlogPress – $2.99 - mobile blogging from your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch.
  • WordPress – Free! - same deal, but for WordPress blogs.
  • FeeddlerRSS or any RSS feed app – $1.99 - you sign in with your Google account, and it becomes easier to read all of the blogs you follow whenever they get updated. It’s how I can read 150 students' blog posts a week.
  • Box.net or Dropbox –Free! - to help you store information and files for later.
  • Instapaper – Free! - syncs stuff you see on the Web to your mobile device, where you can “read it later.” The digital scissors for your online newspapers.
  • Evernote – Free! - a great notetaking and ideas app.
  • Echofon, Twitter, TweetDeck, Twitterrific – and more! – Free! - to publicize your blog and post messages on Twitter. All of the first-year CreComm students will be up and running on Twitter by the end of next week. You really only need one of these apps, but Twitterholics might want all of them.
  • LinkedIn – Free! - Facebook for professionals. You can sync it to Twitter and your blog.
  • AudioBoo – Free! - post podcasts and audio messages to Twitter, and embed them on your blog. Perfect for radio junkies.
  • Facebook – Free! - you’re on the website, right? I'm not - "it's complicated." Why not download the app to make it easier to post and follow updates?
  • Apps related to your blog topic – just do a search of the app store to see who else is talking about your topic. Download the apps and follow them to become an expert on the topic.
Did I miss any? If so, post 'em in comments.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Steve Jobs, my Visa, and me

"And this is a photo of planet Earth taken from my spacecraft..."

Every credit card bill tells a story.

Just ask American Express spokesman Tiger Woods, whose expenses include golf clubs, fishing poles, and (INSERT HILARIOUS JOKE HERE).

My September credit card bill tells a gripping story about how the iPad, iPhone, and Apple TV have changed my entertainment consumption, especially over the summer: 500 Days of iPad!

In August, I went to see zero movies in the theatre, downloaded two books on Kindle, and bought 10 or 12 CDs from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, and Borders in Chicago.

The rest was all iTunes all the time: movies and TV shows I downloaded on Apple TV and books and magazines I downloaded on their iPad and iPhone apps or through consolidation apps, like Zinio.

I've also started paying for apps, a slippery slope that starts at 99 cents and ends somewhere around $15.99, which is what I paid for the Chaos Rings iPhone app, based on this rave review in the New York Times, or $19.99, which I paid for the Phaidon Design Classics iPad app.

Just yesterday, I downloaded the Babies documentary on Apple TV and bought the Aug. 30 issue (the CreComm edition!) of the Winnipeg Free Press for 99 cents through the PressReader app - a handy way to organize and maintain your own digital newspaper archive.

So, this is what the bill looks like:
  • ITUNES $1.99
  • ITUNES $5.99
  • ITUNES $4.99
  • ITUNES $4.99
  • ROGERS $39.20 (iPad 3G charge)
  • ITUNES $4.47
  • ITUNES $11.19
  • ITUNES $5.59
  • ITUNES $5.99
  • ITUNES $1.99
  • ITUNES $15.92
  • ITUNES $4.47
  • ITUNES $4.99
  • ITUNES $1.99
(For the purposes of this blog, I've left out the Star Wars figures, funky shirts, and my Franklin Mint QE II Heirloom Doll Collectibles. How I love me the QE II collectibles!).

It's complicated

You can see why Facebook isn't thrilled with the new iTunes 10 update, which is notable for introducing us to Ping - the new social networking part of iTunes that allows you to follow your friends and see what they've been buying on the site lately, so you can buy it too.

Facebook isn't just mad that Apple is launching its own Facebook, it's mad that Apple attempted to let its users invite their Facebook friends to join in on the fun without Facebook's permission. So Facebook defriended Apple and its relationship status changed to "single."

As iTunes dominates my entertainment dollar more and more, it's sobering to consider that there are 160 million iTunes users on the planet.

What if every one of them buys just one song a month? Or what if, like me, they don't just buy one song, but multiple apps, movies, magazines, books, and TV shows?

The cost of 160 million friends? About $100 billion a month.

The memories? Priceless.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The first of the first-year CreComm blogs are up and running

Post or perish!

The first of the first-year Creative Communications blogs are up and running on the CreComm Blog Network. Click through the link and look for "Class of 2012" in the column on the right side of the page.

Looks like an exciting bunch o' topics from an interesting and smart group of people - watch for 50 more blogs that will be added to this list next week...then follow, follow, follow, comment, comment, comment, rinse, wash, repeat.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Who needs print production when you've got Moving Tales?

Hug me!

iPad therefore iAm.

With this week's wacky mobile-technology media blitz almost behind us - just one more article in the Uniter, a mention in a Telegraph UK blog, and a follow-up in the Projector to go - next week becomes all about the iPad.

This year's advertising majors in the Creative Communications program will be sharing iPads thanks to Red River College's Program Innovation Fund.

I applied and was approved for a grant from the fund during the summer. So, starting next week, the Creative Communications ad majors will be working with second-year Graphic Design students to conceive of and write, design, and publish an e-book in CS5 as a download for the iBooks app, Zinio, and as a PDF, viewable online at Issuu.com and through its (forthcoming) Issuu app.

In a perfect world, we'd also be designing a Creative Arts app, but as Bill Murray said in What About Bob: "Baby steps."

What's a magazine?

Really, this is a pilot project to see if we can work across programs to create a digital magazine. One day it could replace the famous magazine assignment in which first-year CreComm students write, design, and produce (get this!) a paper magazine.

There are good arguments for CreComm students continuing to understand the prepress and print-production processes, but I maintain that you can do that with something small, like a brochure or fact sheet and leave the heavy lifting in other capable hands.

When I was a fresh CreComm grad making my way in a communications industry I didn't understand, I knew nothing of print production. I learned very quickly that when you're dealing with any print job at any print shop, a great print-production planner is your best friend.

A great planner just smiles when you hold up a million-dollar Nike brochure and say, "Make my brochure look just like this one for $2 and deliver it yesterday."

He or she calmly talks you down and makes you understand that when you balance speed, quality, and cost, you shouldn't be sad - 'cos two out of three ain't bad.

Of course, things still need to be printed. Lots of things! But when you've got a kick-ass graphic designer on prepress and an awesome print-production manager on the case, your mind starts to wander away from paper and toward motion graphics.

I recently downloaded Moving Tales' Pedlar Lady iPad app... magazine... book.... story... movie... or whatever it is. It really feels like the future of all of these things and maybe something else.

Words tumble onto the screen and a narrator reads them. The pedlar lady walks into frame in insanely smooth HD motion graphics. You can read the book yourself, or switch it to "automatic" and watch it like a film. It's a steal at $4.99.

The YouTube promo video makes it look like it's for kids, but this app is really for anyone interested in the evolution of storytelling:

I feel an attachment to magazines - I wrote about being a magazine junkie here - but more and more I find myself asking, "What is a magazine?" Maybe it isn't what I thought. Is Dateline NBC a magazine? Is Slate's website a magazine? Is it a WIRED app? A PDF?

Less and less is the answer "ink and paper."