Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Life Hacks - Clever Solutions For Daily Life

Sometimes it is nice to just see something and think, "Hey, I could easily do that" and in doing so your life can improve in some way.  This is where Life Hacks come in.  Whether it's trying to improve your home, social life, or just looking for a creative solution, Life Hacks are there to make you think.  Below are a few of my favorites, but are by no means an all-inclusive.

There are so many more, but this is a small sample of things that you can do to improve your life!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Correlating Work and Pleasure

It has been far too long since I've sat down and written a blog post (nearly 4 months). Things are pretty calm today so I had some time to sit and read some articles.  Normally, I find myself reading BBC News, but nothing really stood out to me, so I took to Twitter. One of the newer tweets was from @JohnnFour a blogger for which is a Dungeons and Dragons Game Master Tips and Role-Playing Advice blog.

I hadn't read many posts for a while, but one specific one caught my eye. It was a SlideShare presentation by Ian Lurie, Internet Marketer at Portent, Inc. describing how Dungeons and Dragons can be correlated to internet marketing and SEO. Internet marketing and SEO are two things that I really am passionate about because it feels like the trade secrets and the underground info behind websites that allow you to strategize about how to ensure that your target market is being reached and pulled in. Being able to take a look at how people are getting to your site and where they go on the site is great because you can see trends and then plot out how to best hook the audience to stay on your site and learn more.

Just like a good DnD campaign, the GM should know what will tug at the heartstrings of the players to make them have to make some decisions. The GM can look at the situation and assess what needs to be done in the storyline/quest/campaign to keep the players hooked and interacting. The last thing a GM wants is to have to force the story onto the players and them to not be connected to the story.

Below is the presentation from Ian Lurie titled Everything I Needed to Know About Marketing I Learned Playing Dungeons and Dragons

I take a lot of pride in my work as a Website Designer and after reading through this presentation, it really opened my eyes into how much I can use my relaxation/fun time of Dungeons and Dragons and correlate it to my work life. When I started working for the company I'm at now, they had us work through a process to determine what our unique ability is, this was something that should not be specifically work related and I was able to immediately take the resources that we collected during the process to create my unique ability (and no, it isn't entirely about creating run-on sentences).

My Unique Ability Statement is:
My unique ability is to Analyze and Design experiences to provide new perspective to elicit emotion. 

This statement is concise, but it sums up what I do all the time during work and free time. During work, my job is to design landing pages, banners, and imagery that entice people to want to book a vacation at a location or book a promotion with certain carrier. To do this I have to analyze the images and information to best design something that expresses the company as well as creating something that will make someone consider a destination based on an image. The same can be said for my free time playing Dungeons and Dragons. As a GM my job is to create environments, situations, and experiences for the players that will keep them coming back for more and keeping them hooked week-to-week. While it isn't directly the same, the skills remain the same. In both situations, I have to get inside the mind of the recipient and determine what they would want to see to keep them hooked or to try to influence them in some manner to make them act in a different way.

Yes this sounds a little manipulative, but it is how the world of marketing works. We want you to buy a product you didn't know you needed because something we said or showed struck a chord with you. The best way to hone this skill is to continue using it and I feel that using this skill in Dungeons and Dragons will keep my skills sharp.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Big Wheel Keeps on Turning

What a crazy couple of weeks.  As to not going into much detail, the company I work for got bought out by one of the 2 owning companies setting my career path into a spiral of unknowns.  Luckily as of Monday that tailspin has finally stopped and things are returning back to normal again, but not without any changes. 

This change while it was stressful, has brought around a lot of good opportunities such as a promotion, an opportunity to move closer to work (hopefully no more hour plus one-way commutes) and the opportunity to move forward again and not having to worry about re-entering a job market right as all the new college graduates are entering it too.

Altogether, I am very grateful for all the opportunities that I have gotten and really hope that everything continues to go smoothly.  One of my college mentors posted a picture today that really sums up well how my time since graduation has gone

Most people assume that many big events are crossroads in life and that the path you take will lead you to definite success or definite failure.  In this case I don't mean definite as "you will fail or succeed regardless", but rather I mean that the final outcome will be judged as success or failure.  The hard part to envision is that you will probably never reach that final outcome because your life doesn't just stop because of a failure, you will continue down a path regardless of success or failure.  Yes it takes many failures to reach a success and it can be hard to bounce back from those failures, but when it comes down to it, you really will keep going down the path with some successes and some failures along the way.

You could easily hybridize these two graphs together by showing that there can be many victories along a path that can still end up as a failure or vice versa and that once you hit that success or failure, you really have to move forward onto the next branch of success or failure.

While it is easier said than done to move on from a failure, it does get easier to do the more it happens.  If you want people to join a cause you really believe in, you will find people that will straight up say "no" to supporting your cause. Because you are so gung-ho about  this idea/concept you feel defeated a little when people reject your idea, but as you keep talking with people and they keep expressing their opinions, you start to get used to it and you can easily move on to the next person.  Maybe on the first day, or the first week, or the first month of trying to get people to join a group, trying to find a job, trying to design/build something, etc., you may not have any luck, but after some time you start to overcome those failures and get back to the drawing board faster and faster and set yourself up to reach that success faster.

I know this is getting redundant, but when we live in a world where people judge each other based on success, it is relatively important that you view yourself as successful and not to care about what the world views you as.  If you see your life as successful it doesn't matter what others see your life as because success is based on how you feel and not about what others feel.

Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. ~Winston Churchill

Have a great day!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

NFL Season: Preseason

Today the NFL released the 2014-15 season preseason schedule and at first I was disappointed because the Bears had a Thursday night game because I would not get to watch it.  Then I felt a little better because they were playing the Jaguars and that it would be fine if I missed that because the Jaguars have been better.

Click for the full NFL Press Release with the preseason schedule.

Needless to say, as a football fan, seeing this brings me some joy as that means that soon Football will be back on for the weekends!

On Twitter @FauxJohnMadden posted a wonderful t-shirt design that should really exist because I know a few people would buy one. (Heck I might even get one).

It's even better that its one for the Lions, who always show well in preseason, but that's because they don't have to play the NFC North all the time.  The countdown begins, games start in Canton, OH on August 3rd at 8PM Eastern!

Have a great day!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Where is the line?

A relative of mine posted a link today about PETA and a tweet they made about Michael Vick and when I read it I ran through and entire gamut of emotions.  This tweet was:

While I thought that this was a pretty rough statement, Vick's brother responded with:

While I don't condone Michael Vick's actions that lead to his conviciton and jail term, I had a few sets of emotions that stemmed from this discussion.

1. When will people stop making Vick the villain and consider forgiveness?

Like I said before, I don't condone what Vick did, I love dogs, but there has to come a time when you look at the situation that he has done the time for the crime he has committed and has (as far as we know) made efforts to reintegrate into society and the NFL.  Yes that stigma still lingers around him, but it is time to let him be and appreciate him for the quality football player that he is and continues to be.  Forgiveness isn't always an easy thing to do, but think about if you were in his situation, would you want people to continue judging you on your past and not looking at the person you've become?

2. Is this considered Libel and therefore could have legal ramifications for PETA
Libel is defined by the Legal Information Institute of Cornell University as:
"Libel is a method of defamation expressed by print, writing, pictures, signs, effigies, or any communication embodied in physical form that is injurious to a person's reputation, exposes a person to public hatred, contempt or ridicule, or injures a person in his/her business or profession."
By definition, PETA has committed the act of Libel against Michael Vick and civil action could be taken as a result.   This simple tweet has been published and has been retweeted and spread across the internet as a statement of defamation against Vick.

3. Does this count as Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is a relatively new thing that people are concerned about more and more.  The act of cyberbullying generally is viewed as child-to-child, but in this situation I would say that this is a blatant cheap shot at Vick and could have mental ramifications on him.  Even if he is thick-skinned about it, it still is a mean and degrading statement that has been addressed at Vick.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has defined Cyberbullying as

"Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology."
"Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles."

While I believe that everyone entitled to their freedom of speech, I tend to agree with the statement from the Declaration of the Rights of Man that: 
"The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law." -- Article 11
Basically, you are entitled to say what you will about anyone, but if this right is abused, legal ramifications can be taken.

The gist of this post is really just to explain what my thoughts are on this topic, but really what it comes down to is that I want to see people make an effort to try and forgive people for what they have done in the past.  Life is too short to go through it with ill will towards other people and while Vick did commit a crime against "man's best friend", I feel that he has made an effort to change and while it is hard to do it, I don't hold any ill will against him anymore and I think that in my heart I have forgiven him for his actions.  I don't agree with what he did, but I see that he's trying to get past his past and that is not always an easy road to travel.

Have a great day!