Sunday, February 26, 2012

What is your favorite social-media website or app? Tell Wallwisher!

When you wish upon a wall, makes no difference who y'all.

Wallwisher is another fun site - an online notice-board maker that allows users to create a virtual wall for brainstorming and feedback, get a custom URL, and share it with others to get a response.

Its intent: to allow users to collaborate, share ideas, and thoughts on a specific topic. Let's get started, shall we?

Who is your least-favorite CBC personality? Tell AnswerGarden!

What's the meaning of life?

More importantly: who is your least-favorite CBC personality? There are so many to choose from! (Update: I'm talking about Rex Murphy, Strombo, and Doyle - the local people are all lovely, right? Right!)

Here's AnswerGarden: a great Web tool I ran across researching instructional multimedia. Using AnswerGarden, you simply post a question, share it, embed it, sit back and await the answers, which are displayed in a lovely word cloud.

I await your answer. 

Update: I never worked at CBC, but thanks for voting for me!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

How to pump up the writing '12

Every year, I'm wont to write a manifesto on how to write good. Well. Gooder. Goodly. Whatever.

As a guy who reads and marks thousands of college papers a year, I get a rare glimpse into the places that grade- and high-school grammar classes are too scared to go: a world of complicated "rules" governing the way we write and speak. 

The trouble is that troubled teens don't listen to grammar lessons anymore, because they're too busy downloading porn, sexting, and - coming soon! - watching TV on the inside of their Google glasses. Can you blame them?

I'll let the Limousines explain the rest:

Eight ways to improve your writing right now:

1. Know the difference between active and passive sentences. 

Dick Cheney speaks in passive sentences, so you know they're evil.
  • Example: "Mistakes were made."
Passive sentences suck, because it means that no one is taking responsibility for the action. When clients read passive sentences, it makes them crazy, because they think that you're telling them to do the action.
  • Example: "Posters will be hung. Social media will be launched. Ice sculptures will be carved."
Active sentences are better. They tell you who is doing what and are much more interesting to read.
  • Example: "I made mistakes." "We will hang posters." "You will launch the social media." "I will carve the ice sculptures." 
If you don't know who is performing the action, figure it out, then rewrite the sentence.

2. Run a spell check, then manually check any word you're not sure about. 

This year's winners for most misspelled: Guerrilla and YouTube.

3. Follow CP Style for consistency. 

What's the difference between 11:00 AM 23rd February and 11 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22?

The first one is some dude's idea of "what looks good" and the second one is CP Style's rule.

The problem with choosing "what looks good" is that it's never consistent, and you end up getting into fights with your clients because they have their own ideas about "what looks good."

When you follow CP Style, you can tell your client, "That's not correct. Here is how CP Style says to do it." Done.

CP Style is also helpful for letting you know whether it's "toward" or "towards." (Hint: if you're OK with "towards," you should also be OK with grandma calling it "Safeway's.")

The one exception: never use Canadian spellings when you're writing for a non-Canadian audience. In the U.S., the word "colour" looks like witchcraft. 

4. Eliminate unnecessary fat.
  • Example: "Mike and Mary are both going to jump off a bridge." 
 Eliminate the word "both." Yep, the sentence still works.
  •  Example: "We will all go to church on Sunday." 
Eliminate the word "all." Same deal.
  • Example: "We like Twinkies, Ding Dongs, as well as Ho Hos." 
Change "as well as" to "and." Same deal.

Good writers say the most with the fewest number of words.

5. Care about design. 

Make your writing easy on your readers. Write in short paragraphs, avoid hyphenating words at the end of sentences, and don't end or begin a page in the middle of a thought.

6. Know the difference between "that" and "who." 
  • Example: "Those are the girls who beat up old people."
People are "who."
  • Example: "Those are the houses that fell down."
Inanimate objects are "that."

Don't mix and match.

7. Know when you're using a word that might be misunderstood.
  • Example: "Candace and Amy went to the Hamptons and met some random guys at a random bar, and it was, like, all so totally random!" 
The word "random" has other meanings in advertising, PR, and research: a scientifically selected sample from a larger subset of individuals.

A good article on our obsession with the word random.

Of course, "random" is but one of these words. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for the next one, and use it sparingly or not at all.

8. Avoid making big leaps in logic. 
  • Example: "We will hang posters, and people will come to see our event.", exactly does this work?

Writing is hard work; it sometimes means explaining something that's very hard to explain, like how posters work at attracting our attention, and what can be done to turn that attention into action.

Resist the urge from jumping from Point A to Point B, and your clients will love you more for your ability to explain things that other writers cannot. 


Reminds me of the time that this random person told me this random story about this random event that randomly unfolded at the International House of Random. But that's another story...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lessons learned: No poseurs at the fishing derby

Can we keep him, dad?

Give a kid a fish, and you'll feed him for a day. Teach the kid how to fish, and he'll starve to death.

When I was a kid, I went to Lockport on a fishing trip with my friend Richard and his dad.

None of us was much of a fisherman, but Richard's family was fresh off the boat from England and eager to experience Canada. So: off we went.

Richard and I spent the better part of the day standing at the side of the river, fishing rods in hand, waiting for a fish to bite. Behind us, Richard's dad - in a frock coat and deerstalker - paced back and forth, smoking a pipe and saying nothing.

Finally, at the end of the day, a big, dead fish came floating by, and Richard was ecstatic.

"Dad - we could pull the fish out of the water, and tell mom that we caught him. Can we do it dad?"

Richard's dad stopped pacing, carefully considered the request, and proclaimed, "There will be no pretension!"

He continued pacing behind us, as the sun set and our stomachs growled. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Click on the Twitter Gif of laughter

Click the image for the Gif experience of your life.

Twitter is for the birds. 

Here's the latest masterwork in my oeuvre, created and designed for the education-tech class I'm taking at Central Michigan University.

Aside from animating Gifs, I've learned how hard it is to find a service that allows you to upload, embed, and display one's Gifs in any kind of user-friendly way, hence the clickable thumbnail from Photobucket (above), which embeds my Gif at the expense of giving away its hilarious punchline. 

Cheep, cheep.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mind-mapping Obama's life on Louis Riel Day

When you're a Canadian studying at an American university, how do you celebrate Louis Riel Day?

By mind-mapping Barack Obama's life, of course.

My assignment: 
"Select a person of color who made significant contributions to the culture of the United States. Include appropriate images for the concepts and include the relationship between two concepts when linked. You also need to include links to appropriate pages on the Internet that serve as resources about the person you choose."
I started by downloading Inspiration (available for a free 30-day trial - just click on the link), a cheap mapping software package. Then, I got to work.

Here are the results, in PDF format. Unfortunately, you can't click on the links, listen to the audio, or watch the video, but you get the point.

If you're inspired, someone still needs to do this for Louis Riel. We're waiting!

Barack Obama Background

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ten new words to shout-out to your peeps

See number 4.  

1. Appsmanship - Fairness and respect for one's competing apps.
2. Appservescence - Showing high spirits or animated excitement around your app updates.  

3. Beerstorming - Coming up with creative ideas and insights when you're loaded.

4. Censor-round - The low-frequency bodily sensations caused by the tension arising from threats of online censorship.

5. Gameathong - The undergarment you wear - whether you want to or not - after playing Xbox for longer than 14 hours.

6. Kentonsick - How my home feels when I'm in another city.

7. Notney - Every Republican's favorite nominee: "Not Romney."

8. Sellabration - A "party" designed to sell you stuff. See: Tupperware party. 

9. Valentimes - Remember all of those dates with all of those women where you spent all of that money - and it didn't work out? Those were the Valentimes!

10. Valentinization - Cake-ology's great word for improving the resiliency of your business in February.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Glogging and blogging the next wave of apps

These are a few of my favorite, new apps.

I built this interactive poster using Glogster - a cool website that lets you mix up images, copy, video, links, and audio into one, kick-ass glog.

(As of today, we found out that Path was accidentally stealing our data, so you might want to hold off on that one.)

Download away!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Announcing Indie Game: the Sequel, starring me

I'm ready for my close-up.

If you thought that Indie Game: the Movie was awesome, you won't want to miss Indie Game: The Sequel, starring me.

Here's a short clip of the action; the full-length movie is exactly the same, except it runs for two hours and has a surprise ending where I wake up and it was all a dream.

The film comes out this summer and is rated A - for being slightly less than Awesome.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How to persuade people - the PR way!

The iMovie experimentation continues.

This week's video is a topic near and dear to my and any of my students' hearts - the four principles of PR persuasion that you can use to win friends and influence everybody.

The bald man won't shut up, while the Star Wars cameos abound...