Web Pages the Misfit Way

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Why would any self-proclaimed website designer like myself use a WordPress blog template? The answer is easy. Because they do a pretty darn good job of designing their blog sites and that frees me up to concentrate on content. Besides, the type of website “design” I do is not really pure. By that I mean that I don’t usually start with a blank page, lay it all out, write the code and attach a CSS file, etc. I usually start with a template in Adobe Dreamweaver , choose a color scheme (COLURlovers monitors and influences color trends), choose an appropriate font and start plugging in content. Choosing fonts for web use is easy. There are only about seven fonts that really work in all browsers, so I use one of them (Arial, Comic Sans MS, Georgia, Courier New, Tahoma, Times New Roman and Verdana). This is hotly debated among font nerds but trust me, these are best if you want everybody to be able to view your pages in all browsers. Remember, computers can only display the fonts that are installed on that computer. The average internet user does not have all of your fancy fonts installed on their computer.

Once I find appropriate places to put content, I go to town. Making graphics, finding and linking pages, writing, taking and optimizing photos, making animations, video editing and music are the fun things I like to do. It is usually pretty easy to insert these things into an html page.

When I run into any trouble with the inner workings of a page (often), I call upon my trusty sidekick, Robin (after all, I am Batman). She tidys up my mess and makes it all work. If my design isn’t working then it is easy to plug the content into a new design. This is also what having a WordPress blog site does for me. I can concentrate on content and leave the real design to the pros. I have designed a couple of pretty cool looking websites by slicing up a Photoshop document and importing it into Dreamweaver. There are many perils accociated with this method, so I warn against it. I will write about that in a future post.

Until I can get my hands on a copy of Adobe Thermo, or until someone throws a big pile of money my way, that’s how I roll, dog.

Multimedia Review, Test and Delivery- part 1

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I am taking a course right now at Portland Community College that is called Multimedia Review, Test and Delivery.  It is a two day, 1 credit course that I need for my MM degree.  I must admit, I was not looking forward to it.  My weekends are precious to me and this is on a Friday and Saturday.  However, I have changed my mind after attending the first day.  The instructor, Mark Dustan, works for Jupiter Systems, who supply…”visualization solutions that help customers respond to the complex operational demands of security, defense, transportation, public utilities, education, and business communications”.  They are “The Display Wall Company”.  Without filling this post with Mr. Dustan’s entire history, I will say that he has worked for Sarif, Smart Technologies, Planar, and other multimedia companies and is a very informed expert on all things multimedia.

In the course we are going to test and deliver our Adobe Director projects from an earlier course.  One of the main ideas about this course is that you can re-purpose content for other applications.  To show us a little example of this, Beth Fitzgerald demonstrated how we can make our .dir files and convert them into .dcr (Shockwave) files that can be used on the internet.  I was familiar with how to do this, but the point about re-purposing content was well taken.  A good example of this is that more and more content is being used and produced for mobile phones and devices.  It makes sense for me to learn to make some of my web related projects useful on these devices also.

In this evening’s class, we learned who is using multimedia.  The list of multimedia applications and the spaces they occupy is staggering and continues to grow every day.  Airports, banks, news channels, casinos, briefing rooms, corporations, visitor experience centers, lobbies, conventions, grocery stores and gas stations are only a few of the places we are likely to see multimedia.

We were also reminded of a couple of important tips for anyone in a creative field like multimedia.  I will write more about these tips in later posts because they deserve their own attention.

It is important to note that multimedia and technology is always changing and we need to keep up those changes.  Mr. Dustan turned us on to the IEEE Video Blog, a video blog especially for the multimedia community.  I urge everyone to check out these videos made by experts who are on the bleeding edge of multimedia and technology.

I will be sure to write a full post about what I learned when the course is complete.  Stay tuned

Hill Pig Video

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Hill Pig was the band I was in the last couple of years. Hill Pig was the greatest band that nobody every really saw or heard. The song is in this video is called “Carnivor” and was written by Jon Reinemann and the late Dave ‘Death’ Bjorkland. Jon Reinemann is on the drums and vocals, Kelly Brown on rhythm guitar, Lance Denny on lead guitar and myself on bass. I have some footage of a few live shows but not much good live audio. What you hear is camera sound recorded at Outlaws Bar and Grill. What you see is footage from about three shows there plus some ripped-off footage of a Slipknot crowd at the beginning. Outlaws was on East Burnside in Portland, next door to Doug Fir Lounge. Not too bad of a place to play. Three stories tall, the top story was a strip club. They had a pretty decent stage, decent sound and great lights. The building is still there but is some other dive bar or something. We played a couple of mostly forgettable shows there, playing with Dirty Little Fingers,  AK47, Crazy Train and some others I can’t remember. Come to think of it, I’m not sure we got paid for the last gig we did there.

Someday I will render the footage of Hill Pig (then called Mean Visage) at SummerSlam 2006 and post it.  Read the Crave Magazine review and see our name on the cover of the mag, right below Zack Wylde (get out your magnifying glass!).  The video tape is Hi-8 and I don’t have a machine (or the camera) that I can render it with. SummerSlam was our first real gig together and it was a crazy outdoor festival with free camping, food and yes, free beer!! The footage of that is particularily cool because the background of the huge stage were the mountains of the Pacific Coast Range. Other video footage froma show at the Roseland is still missing, which sucks because it was probably our best live show, our best venue and our best crowd.  Brian Harrison from Dirty Little Fingers and who manages Clackamas Guitar Center asked us to play his wife’s 40th birthy bash at the Roseland.

Jono and I are still jamming together. This time I am playing drums and he is playing guitar and singing. I will keep you posted on that because it might yield some cool songs. We are recording some things now. I might also post some of the long-lost Hill Pig studio recordings. There is some really great stuff there. I may not have full permission yet, so we’ll see.

Why Have A Blog?

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I never really gave blogging much thought until a few months ago when I was asked about setting one up for a school’s trades and industry program.  The director of the program obviously understood the power of the blog.  I had to decline the offer because I knew virtually nothing about blogging, but it got me interested in how blogs and other social media can help businesses and education.  Meanwhile, I was busy with other projects and sort of put that on a back burner.  But I kept hearing about social media’s importance to business and education.  I also began reading a lot of blogs.  A couple of my favorites are boingboing.net and technorati.com.  Blogs are a great way to display your portfolio and there are some pretty good ones out there.  I was beginning to get the picture.  But then last week I had the opportunity to see Jim Turner speak at WebVisions in Portland, Oregon.

Jim Turner is an inspiration to me.  Jim is a well-respected professional blogger, mentoring others to become professional bloggers and leading companies through successful online campaigns. Jim is a leader in the new industry of social media and business blogging, and is well connected in advertising, public relations, marketing and other business circles.  He told us he began blogging about four years ago as a “daddy blogger”, writing about issues related to the stay at home father.  He also told us that he made a very comfortable living blogging and that many of us could too.  His best advise to get started was simply to have a blog (duh!), and so here I am!  I love to write and I love the internet, so this makes perfect sense to me.  Check out Jim’s website:  http://www.bloggersforhire.com/ .  Here is the introduction for his presentation at Webvisions 2008:

“Blogging For a Living:  Taking your skills to the Next Level-

Blogging has been a new phenomena and companies and businesses are now looking to make this a part of their marketing, advertising and public relations plans. Bloggers are now taking their newly learned skills and translating that into a career. The skills of a blogger, like basic knowledge of blog design and development, analytics, copywriting and other facets are making it possible to earn a living as a professional blogger.”  *Webvisions 2008 Program

There are other reasons I want to blog.  It will give me an opportunity to do some of the things I love to do.  I will use this place to display my portfolio of various multimedia projects.  I will try my hand at posting my own tutorials of cool things I know how to do.  I am going to interview some of the smart, interesting people I have met in school and around the Portland multimedia scene.  I plan to report on geek conferences, presentations and club meetings.  I also want somewhere to post podcasts of these things.  This will also be a place to house some of the best sites, blogs and news stories I have found on the internet as well as other things I like.  Stay tuned.