SmallReflection Portfolio Launch

Done for a class requirement, SmallReflection.com is live. More content to come. Why not drop by?

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Filed under Art, Design, Personal

The Return

Another summer down. It went so fast, it’s mindblowing. A lot of that I attribute to having a lot more fun than in summers past, because I got to do something I usually love doing for my day job. So the days raced by, and most days I got to tackle something new and fresh. But for now I dive back into school, and fortunately most of my classes this semester will also be more stuff I love. Driving back onto campus, I see lots of people I know and we’re meeting up, and I just go where they tell me to drop my stuff, and I feel like I’m really getting used to this moving back and forth thing. But soon the work really begins.

So aside from an occasional update, the blog goes on the backburner till break. Peace out.

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Bears and Bird Feathers

Just returned yesterday from an amazing little getaway to the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. The drive from central North Carolina up to Cherokee is a beautiful one. I love Cherokee. On entering and leaving the reservation, you’re greeted by old hotels and run-down businesses, and more than a few dozen groups of Harley riders who seem to flock to the mountain retreats. You can be in and out of the reservation in no time, but take the time to stop and explore a bit and you can’t help but love the history and culture that reeks from the place. We went to the recently updated drama Unto These Hills, which, while not the greatest as far as acting goes, was well worth the time and money for an inspiring glimpse into the past and present of the Cherokee. Stop and browse through a dimly lit store filled with dream catchers and Indian pottery, and leave greeted by a kindly old Cherokee shopkeeper; stop in the Qualla Arts and Crafts center (my favorite spot, incidentally) and look at the masks and the woven baskets, and you can’t help but want to go back.

The Great Smoky Mountains hold some of the most breathtaking spots in North America. We stopped in crowded tourist trap that is Gatlinburg, TN, but it wasn’t long before I wanted to run back to the national park. We spent a day at Cade’s Cove, which was way more satisfying that sampling Gatlinburg’s entertainments. Got some amazing pictures right under a couple mama bears and the cubs in the trees as they munched on some cherries. And what’s better than that?

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Odosketch

So today I found an amazing little online flash application—Odosketch. Aspiring artists, pick up your Wacom tablet and experiment away. I’m already a little too addicted to this thing. It feels like real-world drawing, and the outcome can be pretty interesting. Especially when you can go back and watch your drawing come together in fast motion!

Check out a bit of my handiwork. Hello! More to come.

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A Health Care Smackdown

So President Obama makes a desperate push to see his vision for nationalized healthcare realized. More and more people are waking up to the reality of what this means. This will be one more, large and intimidating step, building on many smaller steps before it, to allow the government a firmer hold on your life. Before, it sounded like a whacked-out conspiracy theory. No longer. It means people who may begin in the national plan or seek to switch from an old provider will be locked into it, unable to decide for themselves if they want higher quality coverage. It hasn’t worked in Europe. England knows it. People hate it. It means, as is being much hyped, the old man afflicted with cancer may just be handed a pain pill because the government—not you—will have the right to say, “You’re old, and we don’t feel like spending our limited funds to keep you alive. Have a nice day.” Isn’t it nice to know how much your government loves protecting your rights? Obama is getting hasty, he’s noticing his polls are dropping, and even some democrats are fidgeting over jumping on the bandwagon. More and more, Americans are making their voices heard. If we don’t speak up and make an attempt to save our rights, what will we say to the next generation?

Visit Sean Hannity’s site to download lists of representatives and senators. It’s time for a health “care” smackdown.

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Filed under News, Politics

Think Before You Speak

“I am the master of my unspoken words, and the slave to those which should’ve remained unsaid.”

—James MacDonald, “The Foolish Family, 2

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Filed under Words of Wisdom

Review: Do You Matter?

Robert Brunner and Stewart Emery’s book Do You Matter? How Great Design Will Make People Love Your Company shouts its message loud and clear: design matters, it must be all-encompassing, and authentic emotional connections and fulfilling customer experiences are vital to the heartbeat of a successful business. My reaction? “Duh, that’s obvious.” Despite the fact that this beautiful orange volume could’ve been cut down by at least 50 pages, I think it’s great for more business-minded individuals who need to be torn away from penny-pinching in Excel and be plopped in the shoes of the consumer who wants to be treated to a design experience that puts them first, from beginning to end.

The oft-repeated emphasis throughout is on crafting that beginning-to-end experience, dubbed the “customer experience supply chain.” The most helpful parts of the book, the parts that make trudging through the filler worth it, are the case studies of businesses who win or fail. Author Robert Brunner having formerly served as Director of Industrial Design for Apple, you’ll see the Mac, the iPod, and the iPhone come up more than you can count, but not without reason. “We know we are beating the Apple example to death, but it drives home the point” (p. 192). Yes, they do. But Apple does provide a great example of a company who emphasizes making products that are easy to use and memorable, while making them a gateway to a fuller customer experience (think iPod+iTunes). When the authors can break away from the Apple obsession, they’re probably talking about BMW or IKEA, but they also delve into other examples like Jones Soda, Virgin Airlines, Samsung, and OXO cookware. They also spend some time ripping design failures by the likes of Motorola, Home Depot, Walmart, and others. The problem is that while there are many insightful examples, there obviously isn’t a clear answer, as crafting a good design experience and building good emotions with customers isn’t a clear-cut path to be trod. Like any design issue, it must be embraced by the whole team and solved by putting yourself in the customer’s shoes.

Sometimes the tone came across disturbingly materialistic, lauding the magic of companies like BMW or W Hotels that cater to customers seeking a hi-end, pampered, ego-boosting experience. I’m torn between acknowledging that the modern world begs crafting a great experience for survival, while remembering the truth in the words of Jesus: “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15, ESV). The pursuit of ultimate luxury, walking home with the shiniest new toy after being catered to like a king during a perfectly tailored shopping experience, results in an empty, wasted life. And it seems incredibly foolish when we remember Jesus’ call to sell what we have and give to the poor, and watch the plight of those who would just like to have clean water. I think far too many designers don’t recognize that they fail in social responsibility by promoting materialism. Remembering the importance of design and customer experience is important, but let’s be careful to remember it isn’t the key to a life well-lived.

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Filed under Books, Business, Design