Over A Year

It’s been over a year since I’ve updated this blog, which is really making me look bad to the whole 2 people who ever read this thing. Sorry, guys.

There are several reasons why I haven’t posted in awhile and some of them are legitimate (some, on the other hand, consist of my desire to goof off and procrastinate). The blog has always been a creative outlet or at least an attempt to be one. There’s just one big catch – it didn’t FEEL like one to me very often.

I really do desperately want to be this amazingly talented person who just oozes awesome ideas but most of the time I think my ideas stink. Or I’m far too picky. Or I’m afraid of being scrutinized. So one of my response is often to simply avoid. Hence my avoiding updating the blog.

Shifting Internet Sands

The changes to how I generally use the internet hasn’t helped make me want to update this blog either. It really is quite a lot of work to update this thing regularly (at least for me) and if one of the main motivations is to simply share photos, thoughts, designs, and tidbits I find strewn across the web then I now use Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Dribbble, and Instagram for all those things.

My phone and iPad have usurped my computer as the dominant way I experience the web when I’m not working. Work is still very much rooted on traditional computers but even that has shifted slightly. I take pictures just as much with my phone as I do with my DSLR with the added benefit of immediately being able to share them with all my friends. Sure, the pictures aren’t as nice and I don’t get to edit them in post in the same way to make them pixel perfect but at least I get to share right away. Share-ability seems to have trumped quality lately.

If I find some great video on Youtube, I used to share it on here but now that’s on Facebook and Twitter. Interesting article about web design? Twitter. Fun times with friends and family? Usually Facebook. Random thought or amusing observations (amusing to me at least)? Twitter and Facebook. Want to share a design I’ve been working on? Dribbble.

I’m also not pleased with how this blog looks or functions. It’s not up to par with the quality of work I can produce and it bothers me. I’d like to have a single column responsive design that gives me the option for larger photos and smaller columns for text but I’ve been far too pre-occupied or lazy to do anything about it.

I Miss the Curated

Even though my internet usage has shifted it seems that something has fallen through the cracks and that’s what I’m doing right now – writing. I never get to elaborate on anything anymore. Here’s a picture with a short caption! …And that’s the end of it. I don’t get to go into details about what was going on at the time. No chance to delve into my thoughts or excitement. I can’t recount in detail how the situation affected me. And I miss it.

Maybe I’m just a blow hard with too many words in his head but I want a curated experience, dang it. I still want to be able to explain myself once in awhile. Or show how thoroughly ill-informed I really am to the entire world.

Too Many Options

So what do I do now? Do I restart this blog as something entirely different? Do I pick up, dust off, and carry on as if I was here all along? Is there even an audience for my ramblings?

I’ve considered a lot of options for Taglines. It could evolve into a web comic. Or be more of a journal. Do I just share what I’m already sharing elsewhere but with a bit more explanation? I’ve considered doing journal entries in comic form (drawn on my iPad and then cleaned up on my computer and posted here). Heck, I’ve even considered doing reviews for the random things I use (mobile apps, computer programs, gadgets, video games, and so on). What do you think, wayward reader? If you’ve made it this far in the post then I think it only fair that you get a say on future posts. Tell me what you’d like to see here and I’ll up my game. Let’s do this thing.

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Halloween with Friends

Not much to explain on this group of pictures. There was a Halloween party. Some people wore costumes, others did not. Some pumpkins were carved. Fun was had by all.

Enjoy the pictures!

The look of the night
No dress but still a princess
The costume was the hat... oh wait...
A nice table spread
Casual Russian Boat Enthusiast
Continuing the tradition of mass pumpkin genocide
Cowboys like to hurt pumpkins
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Navigating the World of Craigslist – Job Hunting

Be a Job Hunting Expert

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’m a freelance web designer/developer (sometimes I describe as a graphic and web designer) and as such I find myself checking Craigslist all the time. The suggestions I make below can, for the most part, really be applied to anyone looking for a job through Craigslist, not just web related jobs.

Know this, intrepid job hunter – you WILL find a lot of job duds on Craigslist. Hopefully, with a few tips and a keen eye, you can weed out as many duds as possible and land some awesome gigs.  Keep in mind that some of my tips are simply basic suggestions, not strict rules, so take them with a grain of salt. For a much more thorough and detailed description of a web developer trying to effectively find work via Craigslist then I’d suggest checking out this.

If you’re applying to a job posted on Craigslist here are some things to keep an eye out for:

Avoid Applying to any positions that:

  1. Mentions or requests students.

    This essentially translates to them not wanting to pay someone what they are actually worth for their services. They are trying to get the work done on the cheap. Unless you are absolutely starving, then I would avoid this option like the plague.

  2. States there is a very limited budget.

    Everyone has a limited budget. Even Bill Gates can’t spend too many billions before he has to call it quits. Limits vary from project to project but if someone specifically states in a job that the work involved has a very limited budget then the part that is limited is what goes your way (most likely). These are the clients or employers that will nickel and dime you every step of the way. I’m all for wanting to get the most for your money but I also know that professional services are worth money and that micro-managing is rarely helpful for anyone, which leads me to my next point.

  3. Request you show the manager, director, etc EXACTLY how to replicate what you are doing

    This is either them wanting to use you to exploit your knowledge and then quickly ditch you or someone want to micromanage.

You wouldn’t stand over a car mechanic and stop them every step of the way would you to offer your opinion on something? Wait, maybe that’s not the best analogy. How about this one – you wouldn’t constantly interrupt a private chef who charged by the hour would you? How about that? Subjective work done to solve a problem. The professional is hired to solve that problem and is an expert in his or her field. That professional will take information you provide to fit your needs and tastes. They may even be able to quickly modify the thing they are producing with feedback from you. However, you wouldn’t have the gall to walk into a professional chefs kitchen (private or not) and stick your finger right in the middle of their quiche. Okay, enough of that line of ranting.

On a different note, one of my biggest pet peeves when looking at potential job/employers via Craigslist is when said employer doesn’t list who they are. Why would you not clearly state your company name or link to your company’s website? It seems downright deceptive. On top of that, it is even worse since so many scammers will use this method to try and coax important personal information out of job hunters.



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Navigating the World of Craigslist

Whenever I am bored, I have the unfortunate habit (since I’m always at a computer while I’m working) to go to a few websites without much thought.  Some of these sites include Facebook.com, Digg.com, Amazon.com, sometimes Cnet.com if I’m researching some gadget, and most often – Craigslist.org (henceforth referred to simply as Craigslist for simplicity’s sake).

What is it

Craigslist is a tightwad, job-hunter, apartment finder dream come true. If you’ve never heard of it (which would be shocking to me) then I’ll let Wikipedia describe it: Craigslist is a centralized network of online communities, featuring free online classified advertisements – with sections devoted to jobs, housing, personals, for sale, services, community, gigs,résumés, and discussion forums (source).

I’m fairly certain that Craigslist is helping to make newspapers (in their current form) obsolete – namely by taking away any need for the relatively profitable classified ads section. I don’t have any real proof for that assertion but it seems completely logical. Why would I pay for a newspaper and go to the very limited classified section to look for a job or buy a used sofa when something like Craigslist exists?

My Experience with Craigslist

My experience with the site revolves around a few specific items or sections. As a freelance web designer/developer, I routinely check jobs postings in the ‘art/media/design’ and ‘web/info design’ sections of my city and nearby cities.  As a side note, a friend of mine used Craigslist as an example of why you don’t need fancy design for a website to be successful, which is worthy of a whole other article, I think (and a smack).

I’m also a big gadget and video game nerd but don’t like to spend every last penny on these pursuits. While I am conflicted about the purchase of used video games (again worthy of an entirely new article), I’m not below partaking in it. Gadgets, on the other hand, are a “buy at your own risk”, though I’ve never had a bad experience.

The ‘apt/housing’ section has also been tread regularly in my hunt for the perfect home I’ve never moved to – more on that soon.

Of course, the other thing I’ve used Craigslist for has been to sell off items I didn’t want anymore but this is actually the LEAST used section (for me) of the four things I’ve listed.

Over the next few days I think I’ll post a few articles about the first three items I mentioned about how I use Craigslist – jobs, buying used items, and finding a decent home. I’ll toss out a few tips but most likely will go on many tangents about my own life so be prepared, dear reader!

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Shifting from the Peripheral to the Center of Geekdom

Since becoming an adult (or at least voting age), I’ve become increasingly interested in things that I wish I had the opportunity to be involved in as a kid. Growing up, I loved science fiction films, video games, comic books, and so on but had no money to partake in these things to the degree that most of my school friends could. I’m not saying I was completely deprived but I definitely had limited options.

Half stories, big worlds

My only true unadulterated experience to comics as a kid were a handful of comics from the random corner store (I probably owned a total of about 12 comics throughout my entire childhood). Much more than actual comics, I got to partake in the world through a handful of comic-based 90’s cartoons like X-Men, Spiderman, and Iron Man. I LOVED those cartoons.  I wanted so much to be a part of the world I knew existed in the pages of comics, but we just didn’t have the money. I never got to finish a comic story arch. I never saw the beginning or ending of a series.

As far as video games went, I inherited an old NES and a handful of games from a deceased relative (not really the optimum way to obtain a video game system, I think).  I loved video games every bit as much as those comic-based Saturday morning cartoons.  But I was always a bit jealous of being so far behind the curve of most of my friends. When I got my NES, most of my school friends had had SNES and Sega Genesis for years and many were getting Playstations. In fact, that often worked out of my advantage since many friends thought of the NES as “that cool old system” and would trade me their Sega Genesis for my NES for the odd weekend.

My exposure to Sci-Fi films, like video games, was usually out-dated and generally involved films that had been out for years or two star or less movies broadcast on television on the weekends. I didn’t care, I loved them anyway. I loved the stories and ideas so much that the bad acting and cheesy effects didn’t matter at all. The Last Starfighter was wish fulfillment, Star Trek was a refuge, Star Wars a fantastic adventure.  It was a chance to think of something so much bigger than myself and be a part of a world that I could only see a glimpse of.

Come on an adventure with me

I think that’s what I loved most as a child about all these things – comics, video games, films – there were worlds both on the paper and on the screen that I could be a part of as well as a whole world of other people just like me that really existed on this planet that I could commiserate with while sitting there watching Saturday morning cartoons. The idea of being a part of a community, even if it was based around something possibly completely ridiculous, has always appealed to me. The concept of Trekkers is not surprising to me, even if I’ve never found myself dressed as a Klingon. The existence of rabid Star Wars fans is no shock. They all just love being a part of a world that instantly gives them connection to others and to something beyond the mundane of everyday life.

Too cool for school

It wasn’t until late high school or early college that I even learned about Comic Conventions or the idea of cosplay (where people will dress up at these conventions as their favorite geek world characters from films, games, etc.). I thought it was silly. At first, I probably scoffed. But inside I thought that was probably one of the coolest things I’d ever heard of. It wasn’t cool to be a nerd or geek when I grew up the way it seems to be now and I desperately wanted to fit in for most of my childhood so dressing up as a video game character definitely wasn’t on the agenda. It’s funny how things can flip around though. At this point in my life now, I simply don’t care to fit in. Fitting in is so boring. I haven’t had the chance to attend a Comic Convention yet but if I did I wouldn’t be opposed to dressing up. I just realistically wouldn’t dress up because I’m lazy, not because of fear of being “uncool”.

Life is too short

Much of my childhood was spent being jealous of what others had or what I didn’t but looking back I had a lot. I might not have had the latest gadgets or coolest toys, but I did get to see into these giant worlds of imagination. I was forced to fill in the details myself, to make the most of what I had and run with it. Didn’t get to see the ending? Oh well, make up your own. Can’t get that new game? Too bad. Go draw what you think the story might be. Some of my all time best friends were met because we struck up a conversation about video games we didn’t have or films we had never seen (but really wanted to).

Life is far too short to be concerned with what everyone else has or is doing. My love of art and drawing grew out of the need, the compelling, to be a part of these fanciful worlds that I only peripherally got to experience and for that I am eternally grateful. Go and partake, and if you can’t partake then make it yourself. There are never too many good stories in this world.

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