Red Party

This year for Aaron’s birthday he decided he wanted to have a pun filled Communist “Party” as the theme for this year’s celebration. The theme was a huge hit for all who attended. Tons of great costumes.

Happy Birthday @tableforone go forth and conquer! #redpartyWho wants some bread? #redpartyCastro doesn't smile. #redpartyYour papers check out. Now move. #redparty

Last year I used Google hangout to stream the party to itself with multiple iPhones, iPad, and laptops. Basically letting a party goer in one room see and chat with people in another room. It was a lot of fun and throughout the night people joined in with their smartphones.

This year I wanted to do something tech oriented as well, Aaron said he wanted to have some sort of photo booth setup because everyone was going to be in costume. Except he didn’t know how to put it together or where to set it up. Tech question answered.

Instagram #RedParty

I’ve been thinking about and experimenting with Instagram lately. Pulling photos based on a tag or location is primarily been my idea. So when the idea of photo booth came up I thought, “Well everyone is a walking camera… so.”

I built a page to fit on our tv screen and pull Instagram and Twitter for all updates with the hashtag #redparty. The page would refresh every 2 minutes so new photos would appear throughout the night. I’ve deactivated the uploads but check out the Red Party page. One fun element was anyone on Instagram tagging #redparty would show. So from Miami to Pittsburgh we had all kinds of other photos in the feed.

One of the best parts was getting people to signup and create Instagram accounts at the party. I did have to do a lot of hashtag 101 that night but it was worth it.

For the people by the people.

Communist Avenger apprehended. #redparty

Digital Hibernation

It’s like I wrote that last post and then hibernated for the rest of the winter. Sure felt like it to me. After that last post I started two huge jobs that didn’t wrap until the end of February and now I’m finally caught up.

TWEENS

new-itwixie-e
The iTwixie relaunch was probably one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever done. Starting with the database learning in November and ending in PHP development – juggling WordPress plugins and theme wrangling. An extremely rewarding process that has brought on all kinds of skill growth for me. Especially in the MYSQL/WordPress database environment.

Anyway the site is up and check so check it out. As a unregistered member you can checkout the main blog and get a great feel for the site. Or register your daughters and explore the site with them. We are going to be adding tons of exciting features over the next few months.

Print Projects

I enjoyed working on a 152 page booklet in January that was fun because there were no elements of the design process I didn’t understand. Meaning as a master of indesign I didn’t have to research how to make every pixel go where I wanted it. The main challenge there was the tight deadline. I had about two weeks to the first draft done. Printed and delivered now, you can view it on AiP Self Study.com.

Other News

rex-promo
Uploading a Creation Rex archive is on my to do list. I was able to restore the blog but I lost all the pictures from 2010. Due to my WordPress management incompetence at the time. Way back machine does have a copy of the most recent posts but I’m not sure how far it goes back. When I have a free night I’ll pull what I can down and add them back.

fist-trinity-podcastI’m managing a podcast again, sort of, for my church. Getting the weekly sermons online and making sure the website is in order. Podcasting is where I started to really get into web development and I always feel good about serving new audio on the web.

Homebrew! Check out my homebrew blog. Mainly a journal for Brian and I but we like to keep it real with our antics while documenting the homebrew process and our path to master brewers.

 

Shotgun with Woycheck

Last week I had the pleasure of riding shotgun with @woycheck while driving to somewhere Latrobe, PA. It’s always great to get alone with Mike because conversation is lively and we can talk about tech, blogging, and the past, present and future of social media. But if you know Mike you already knew that.

Observations

One item that is worth sharing was our conversation about listening to podcasts and reading blogs in your feed reader. Finding time to read and listen to shows has become a challenge since news is consumed in Twitter size chunks anymore. We both remarked that our Google Reader feeds have woefully become unattended as we turn to social media as our places to share and receive daily information. For Mike this is the chief reason he doesn’t currently maintain a blog. I couldn’t give up my website/blog as easily so I toil on.

Back 2 Work

As we talked about time management. Mike wanted to make sure I know about a workplace productivity show, Back 2 Work by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin. I’m always interested in workplace productivity ideas and theories and I wasn’t aware of this show. After checking out an episode I do like Back 2 Work’s approach and enjoy hearing their view points. I’m worried each episode is a bit long for me, but I’m willing to add it to my list of shows.

Getting back to work seems fitting on this day after Labor Day. One work focusing process I’ve started is contemplating the first hour of my day and using it to get focused. This usually involves planning what I want to carry out and setting realistic expectations for the day. I can easily let my day-to-day grind pull me in a lot of directions but focusing on one direction can really work wonders for my productivity.

Blogging

This is true for a lot of bloggers I know. They spend the first part of their day writing and getting their blog posts written. Usually earlier in the morning that when the world starts to impede on their attention. Mike and I talked about how getting into the habit of blogging is important but getting into the habit at the right time of day is also important to the success of a writer/blogger. Feel free to share your blogging habits in the comments.

Speaking of blogging there is a new(ish) blogging group for Pittsburghers on Facebook. It independent from Pittsburgh Bloggers, a PGH blog directory that has been around since before MySpace and Twitter. The Facebook groups is creating their own directory and sharing tips, news, and opportunities with each other.

So check out the Facebook group and Back 2 Work. Let me know what is working for you as you start your day and get focused.

 

Cleaner, Better, Faster, Stronger

It’s that time of year again for me. Website facelift. Usually every 9 months I get bored with my theme and go looking for something that feels a little more today. Then I take about 3 months to actually get it done.

I was interested in my previous theme for its “portfolio” qualities. However I’ve realized that isn’t the kind of website I want or need. I also don’t need a magazine style theme just a good old-fashioned blog theme. I chose this one for its clean and simple focus on the blog. Tumbler style themes were something I gave a good hard look, but in the end I thought that just wasn’t for me.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be updating my web site/portfolio page. I’ve got a lot of good stuff to add.

Weekend in Indianapolis

This past weekend I took a quick trip to Indianapolis with some friends to play in a Magic: the Gathering Tournament. I haven’t been out of Pittsburgh since the holidays so it was a nice break from my day-to-day.

Thoughts about Indy

I’ve only been there once before and then I didn’t venture too fare outside of the hotel/convention center area. This time our hotel was on the opposite side of downtown from the event space. So I got to walk downtown a lot, it was great. Someone once told me that they don’t feel they know a city until they can walk it. So true.

To me downtown Indianapolis felt like a mix of long New York blocks and squeaky clean D.C. There are tons of chain restaurants including my new favorite the Ram. A brew pub with fantastic burgers. I just wanted to camp out at this restaurant.

Coincidentally the Big 10 end of season tournament was happening in Indy the same weekend. It was funny to run into the basketball players and cheerleaders in our hotel. Usually I’m all over the sporting events of the moment but since we were playing magic the two interests are polar opposites. I don’t even know who won the basketball event. I could go on in great detail about the deck that won the grand prix I was playing in, but I’ll spare you those gory details.

New Music, Interesting conversations about beards and other randoms

What road trip is complete without discovering some new music. New to me is LCD Soundsystem and Toro y moi. I’ve been playing them back to back on Spotify.

The best part of the trip was hands down entertaining conversations; inventing crazy magic cards that would never actually get made, to beard growing philosophy, to philosophic thoughts on why it’s good not to objectify women in fantasy art. The group I traveled with is a very eclectic mix of white boys. Some Pittsburgh born and raised and others from outside the state we make up a good group that can make a six hour drive not take so long.

Didn’t Tweet Once

It’s true. I did upload some Instagram photos and Facebook. I guess I’m just sparing all my followers from magical times.

Joomla and New Theme

This week is pretty packed for me. Full schedule as well as learning how to use Joomla, or rather delving deeper. I took out more Joomla books from the library this week and now I can browse through them and actually understand what I’m reading. So I this week I consider myself graduated from Joomla newb to intermediate level. Bleep Bloop. The point is it’s had my head in the sand and left little time for blogging and other things I need to do.

On a separate note I’m really ready to refresh my theme. Anyone have style suggestions? I’m considering a tumbler style theme.

Hello 2012

After I completed my Goodbye 2011 post I didn’t feel as though I completed my thought. Especially after I realized I said the best thing that happened to me that year was having my computer replaced. A major highlight yes but kind of shallow.

To All My Peeps

So really the best thing about 2011 was how it brought me closer to a lot of people. I was forced to expand my network and get out of my comfort zone. On many levels. This post isn’t about naming names but me realizing that I am surrounded by many amazing and talented people who all should have been outraged by the fact I thought a computer is more important than getting coffee, drinks, or waving terrible towels together. You guys inspire me and keep me motivated and let me know if I’m procrastinating too much on a project. Keep it up.

And if you are reading this, extra awesome to you because I know I’m not always blogger of the month on this site.

What Else

BOOKS I’ve been reading more in the past few months than I have recently. Fast Company and Ad Age have become regular items and I sorely miss reading the New York Times on a daily basis, but there is only so much time in the day. I’ve always got a book I’m working on and currently have a few in the que. Now I’m reading the final book in the Otherland series by Tad Williams. Which is an excellent story about people in a future where the internet is a more realistic Second Life. On deck is the first Game of Thrones book and Brandon Sanderson’s Alloy of Law. Later this year is the final book in the Wheel of Time series, my favorite story and 14 books long.

GAMES Somehow I’ve found time to play a lot of Skyrim. One of the best games I’ve played in recent memory. The fun thing about Skyrim is how flexible the game is to you. I’m not going to write a review but if you haven’t played it I think that even “non-gamers” would have some fun.

I’ve played magic on and off this year. In November I started thinking about seriously blogging about magic again. Blogging about the game was an incredibly rewarding experience. I’m just worried about the time it takes. I’m planning on going to Indiana this year for a tournament, let the good times roll.

TV I got caught up on The Office (up to the beginning of the current season).  I’m not a big tv watcher but I’ve fallen in love with those characters and their story. For me it is rewarding to see what happens to them as well as enjoy the comedy. I know it’s good because I have to keep reminding myself it’s just a show and real people aren’t so ridiculous.

Also through the magic of Netflix I watched a few anime series. I loved how crazy and unique those stories can get.

MUSIC I wrote about Bandcamp recently which has reminded me how much I enjoy discovering new music that is a little left of center. Having a new computer has enabled me to digitize all my cds and rediscover some of the gems that previously just sat in a box. I know welcome to 2012 right.

In Summery

All of these things add up to me finding myself after a year of inconsistency. This post started and a quick reminder to myself about how the people around you are the most important element of your life, and turned into a what else I appreciated about 2011 in more detail. Next up I’ll need to review the projects that I want to accomplish this year.