A podcast for Saskatchewan music talent

September 18th, 2014

… that’s what I want to start.

Let me explain. I have a history in radio. Ever since my dad let me hang out in the studio he was working at in his spare time, I slowly got addicted to music. There’s not a single day where I don’t listen to music and I have a need for finding new music. When I got older, I still came to the studio with my dad, and I slowly got introduced to the tech behind the radio shows, filling in for audio techs when they couldn’t make it for their show, gradually moving towards the microphone.

I had to give that up when I move to Canada, and it sucked, because I enjoyed spending time in the studio, experimenting with loops, beds and seamless crossfades etc. Dad and I even created a few radio ads!

Katy_Perry_at_TV_Week_Logie_Awards_2011_-_1After the move to Canada, I started looking around to see if I could get a gig that had something to do with music/radio that I could do next to my growing web design business, but all positions were either full time, too far away or for a crappy radio station, so I looked into DJing parties etc. Although fun, I didn’t feel like playing Katy Perry over and over.

In comes my next genius idea. This will be the closest thing to radio I can get, I believe. As mentioned before, I have a need for finding new music and especially new talent, so my idea is to create a podcast, monthly at first, that is dedicated to new music from Saskatchewan artists. From there, the sky is the limit. I would like to see the podcast go to a weekly format with talent from all over Canada, but I have to start somewhere..

Now, in the beginning, things will sound amateur-ish, because I’m rusty and I don’t have the equipment for decent audio recording yet, but if the podcast picks up, I’m willing to invest into things like a microphone, professional editing software and things like that to build a small studio.

I have a few formats in my head, and I need help deciding, either by trial and error, or democracy.

  • A 1-hour show.
  • An estimated 10 songs.
  • Event calendar where local talent is playing. Small barn-gigs welcome.
  • Some background on some newly discovered artists.
  • Occasional interview.
  • Music democracy. I will post the music I play in a poll on my website, and listeners can vote for which song(s) they want to hear again in the next podcast.

I understand that there are a lot of genres that I’d be touching here, but I’m hoping to evolve the format so that I will still enjoy what I’m doing and listeners will keep tuning in.

I’m going to need your support. Help me find local talent (from Saskatchewan for now), or, if you think you are local talent and you want your music featured in my podcast, send me a message and I’ll be in touch. Please make sure that I get your written consent (writing a statement in an email should be enough) that I can use your music in my podcast, so that my podcast abides this law.

TL;DR: I miss making radio shows, I want to start a podcast, and I need your help.

Beware of this scam

August 7th, 2014

car-kijiji-scamTime to dust off my blog, because I feel the need to write a post about this.

In my area, I’m known as “the computer guy”, so I help out people here and there with their computer issues. Even though web designers can’t fix computers, I do this as a service to my community and it’s some money on the side.

Anyway. Today I was helping someone that has a vehicle for sale on Kijiji, and unfortunately became target of a scam. Instead of gutting their situation, I’ll explain the do’s and don’ts for posting an ad on Kijiji.

Posting your vehicle on the Canadian classifieds like Kijiji is totally safe and legit. Kijiji is owned by Marktplaats.nl, the Dutch variant of Kijiji, which in turn is headed by eBay. Giving your money for advertising your stuff to Kijiji is totally ok.
What’s not ok is when “companies” randomly call you saying that they have a solid lead/buyer for your product. All you need to do is sign this document and give them your credit card info. NEVER give your credit card info to these types of people.

As a rule: It’s generally ok to give your credit card info over the phone if YOU are calling THEM, and you’ve checked them out to be legitimate. NEVER give people your credit card info when they call you.

Hi, my name is Craig, from supremecarmarkets.com. I saw your vehicle on Kijiji, and I have someone very interested in that vehicle. We’re a brokerage company making it easy for you to sell your vehicle through our website. The buyer is willing to pick up the vehicle tomorrow, if that works for you.

I’ll send you all the information you need to make the deal happen. If you could send us a few pictures of the vehicle, like the VIN number, all the sides of the vehicle and the interior, including a picture of the odometer.

All I need from you is a painless, one time fee that will guarantee the possible sale of the vehicle. Whenever you’re ready, I’ll take the numbers, please.

See how easy that is?

ALWAYS tell them that you want to think about it if they ask you for your payment information, no matter how small the fee is. Let them email you more information, and Google that information to make sure it’s not a scam.

So you fell for it anyway? There are things you can do. Depending on your location, please go talk to your lawyer. In the mean time, contact your credit card issuer and tell them to reverse the payment, and report the recipient as a scam.

I genuinely feel bad for my client, because they had no idea.

Standup desk 2.0

January 21st, 2013

Last year I experimented with the idea of the standup desk, and I gave up on the idea. I stuck with me ever since, and recently, I started investigating the standup desk again. I found several great options. One of them is UpDesk. A great solution. Slick looks, smooth up and down and the lowest price I could find. However, $650 for the crank-up version + $300 shipping made it still a fairly expensive option.

I also realized my laziness. I know I will get lazy after a while and just leave the desk in “sitting position” 90% of the time, which defeats the purpose. So, I started thinking backwards.

Why not have a permanent standing desk with a height adjustable stool. The stool doesn’t really have to be comfortable, because it’s just for the relief of the feet and back for a few minutes a day. That way, I wouldn’t sit all day, forces me to stand up and improve my overall health.

So, based on this article, I built my own, permanent standup desk for CA$61.10. I need to make a few tweaks after the first day of standing, but I can see this working!

Why is my desk triple the price of the one in the article? Well, I used a coffee table instead of a square side table, We don’t have an IKEA in the area, so I had to go with a slightly more expensive RONA version, and I bought screws ;)

Here’s the result!

standupdesk

I’m also going to invest in a stool like this and an anti fatigue mat. I tried my running shoes, but the sole is so thick that I’d have to raise the whole desk.

Also; Here’s the receipt of the stuff I bought:

Rona-Receipt

Burning bridges

May 24th, 2012

One of the worst things you can do in your design (or any) business is burn bridges. Let me tell you about 2 short stories when I didn’t burn bridges that helped my business.

This first project was for a company that just started their business. They needed a website, and we provided this project for them. They were happy with the process and the end result. A few months later, they wanted to make changes to the site, and someone in the family said could do these updates. They were graphic updates to the site. Normally, the client would need to buy the copyrights to the files, but this person could do without the Photoshop file, so they got hacking away at the design of the site.
I felt kinda weird about this, because I thought I did something wrong. They assured me, I didn’t. They enjoyed working with me, but said they would like to keep work in the family if possible.
Today (actually, last week), over 2 years later, I get a phone call from someone that took over the business of the previous owner, asking if I could help them update their website, since we were the ones that had designed the original site. The original owner was serious when he said he enjoyed working with us and referred us to the new owner.

The second project was about a year and a half ago, where I was asked to design a logo for someone who was just starting a new business. There was no budget for a website yet, they just needed a logo. I over-reached and under estimated the project. I couldn’t make it work on time, and I couldn’t quite get them the logo that they wanted.
Instead of burning the bridge by sending them an invoice for the work I’ve done (and an unfinished logo), I took my loss, and we agreed that we would part ways, to maybe meet again in the future.
Right now, I’m in the process of planning their new website…

Moral of the story: Sometimes you have to just suck it up (either pride or money) for Karma to be nice on you. Don’t burn bridges. Your client might want to cross them in the future.

Project standup desk

May 7th, 2012

Lately, I’ve been staring at my monitor being non-productive at all. As a business owner, that’s abad thing. Also, I know for a fact that my posture is not the greatest when I’m sitting.

At first I was looking into a new desk chair (like a nice Aaron chair), but I got the feeling that would make me just more lazy. I started researching alternative ways of working, and I saw a few tweets about people standing up while working. This seemed compelling to me. I’ve had experience with work standing up. I used to work in a telecommunications store, where we had work stations at standing level, but with my height (close to 6’5”), the workstations were always too low.
I came across Geekdesk.com, but I wasn’t willing to spend $1000+ on a desk that I might not even like, so, I came up with a solution: Search the house for items that are the right height to make a standup desk.

Read the rest of this entry »

Playlist week 16 2011

April 21st, 2011

I’m a music-nut, and I thought it was time for me to start sharing my playlists. If you like them, please comment. Maybe you’d like me to create a new playlist on a weekly basis?

IE6 Upgrade notification

March 4th, 2011

I’ve quit designing around IE6 a long time ago. I have a contract that states that if my client needs me to design the site to work in IE6, they pay extra. For the other sites, when I suspect the target audience might use IE6, I wrote a little piece of code. It’s validated in 4.01 Strict HTML and stays out of the way of Google search results (because it’s at the bottom of the page).

Let me know if you’re using it or if you made improvements to it.

Here it is. Put the html right before the </body> tag, and the css at the bottom of your .css file.

<!–[if lt IE 7]>
<div id=”upgrade”>You are using an outdated browser. For a faster, safer surfing experience, please <a href=”http://www.microsoft.com/windows/internet-explorer/default.aspx”>upgrade for free</a>.</div>
<![endif]–>

/*-- IE6 --*/
#upgrade {
	position: absolute;
	top: 0;
	left: 0;
	width: 100%;
	background-color: #ff0;
	}

Shopify and me

February 17th, 2011

At the end of last year, I discovered Shopify, after and intensive search for a decent e-commerce solution. I tried several self-hosted solutions, like WP-Commerce, OpenCart, Magento and Interspire, and they boil down to 1 thing: they’re a pain. One is not flexible enough, one’s theming is horrific, another one is too expensive (for clients), or the support sucks and to top all of it: some stores got hacked. In short: I was fed up. I was done updating a site because there was a security hole, or because a theme broke. I’m a designer. I want to design stuff, not fix broken software.

I found Shopify, a hassle-free solution, based on Ruby, a solid platform for apps like these. All I had to do for this was understanding the themes, and Shopify would take care of the rest for me. Sure, it might not be the cheapest to run and it’s not for every business, but I’m convinced it’s so user friendly, pretty much anyone can use it and it’s fairly complete.
Another thing that won me over was the fact that the head office is in Canada. Although Ottawa is about 3000km from here, I still like supporting “local” :)

I finished my first design for a client’s Shopify store* a few days ago. The structure is based on the ripen theme, and I’d like to create my own theme framework eventually. My client is still filling in the blanks, but you get the idea.

My first "live" Shopify theme

* = Just because I made the theme doesn’t mean I endorse the product. Before you start calling me names: I’m a vegetarian.. :)

Redesigning this blog and Dribbble

December 1st, 2010

Yes, I’m redesigning this blog. It’s like I’ve had a jolt of inspiration over the weekend, and the past few days I’ve done nothing but designing stuff. I love it!

What does that have to do with Dribbble? Well, not that much, but let me explain how I felt and now feel about Dribbble.
At first, I was skeptical. To me, Dribbble was just another website where you can dump your stuff, and you’ll move on in a few months, like every other website. The invite only system didn’t help me like it either. If I can’t get in, I’ll use something else.
Let me say, since @meredithmarsh hooked me up with an invite and started exploring the site, it all made sense to me.
Because you’re only allowed 24 “shots” per month, you’ll have to be selective with what you post, so you’ll make sure you post only your best shots. Because it’s invite only, there are no spammers. Only “worthy” designers get in, although, I think “worthy” is a big word, and I don’t think I can compare my work with someone like Jason Santamaria or Veerle Pieters, but I did manage to get in.

Keep track of the redesign on Dribbble here: http://dribbble.com/shots/84615-The-redesign-of-my-personal-blog

DFF: Birth announcement card

November 22nd, 2010

To clarify, DFF stands for “Design for fun”. That said, I also have to confess I cheated a little on this. I designed this card before my post about designing for fun, but whatever. I liked doing it, and it wasn’t a business thing.

My cousin Kim and her hubby Gerr had a design for a card in mind, and found a very small image of a card that they liked online. They asked me if I could make something like it and make it so that the printer could print a good quality card out of it. I based this design on the image they sent me, and sent them the .PSD, to forward to the printer, so they could edit the final text on the card (like name, weight, length and of course, date).

They were kind enough to send the finished card over the big pond to announce the birth of their second girl: Isis. Congratulations!

Here’s the result of my design.

image of a birth announcement card