Web design update

So last Thursday Andrea Phillips pinged me on Skype and asked if I was interested in helping her out with a project she was working on. It was very short notice, and I had some packing to do for a weekend of camping that started the next day, but I said sure. Out of that came the design for My Super First Day, a fun little website that pulls together blog posts about people’s first day with a super power. Elements of the design have been picked up and ported over to a Ning community as well, though I had no hand in that other then passing on a PSD to Andrea. Looks pretty good, and it’s nice to see it translated over to Ning fairly smoothly.

My previous post today documents my submission to the site, and I thought I should include the design side in my folio, since I’m tickled by the silly colours and the whole idea. Check it out if you get a chance, and contribute if you are so inclined.
The design itself is pretty simple, and the whole concept of the site was and is very straight forward, basically a blog deal built out on TypePad. For those that care to know, design side took about two hours, building the CSS and div structure took about an hour, and getting all the templates to play nice took about an hour and a half. There are about half an hour to an hour of tweeks and adjustments as well. All told, the project was about six hours of work, including consultations with Andrea. A total blast, I love a good silly idea.

My Super First Day
My Super First Day

My Super First Day ( #mysuperfirstday )

A Pain in the Choas

Most people just do not understand what it is like to have someone else give you your super power. I had no choice in the matter, I made a simple slip of the tongue, a small typo on my blog and before I knew it I had the full power of the Choas. I am told the Choas has the diversity of ‘The Force’ and the destructive power of the ‘Kamayamaya.’ I thought it was a simple typo, but I guess it has imbued me with untold powers that I have yet to fully discover.
It was an early spring day in Calgary, Alberta when the Choas was forced upon me. I was in the process of hunting down contract work, and was shaking my network of gamer, geek and artist friends to drum up something to help pay the bills. It was then that ‘The Jessica’ pointed out a short-coming on a blog post I had made nearly a year ago. A typo. A simple slip of the fingers that transformed C-H-A-O-S into C-H-O-A-S. A small, minor issue I thought at the time. Just go back and change the title of the blog post, and fix any spelling errors in the copy. No big. No worries… until HE discovered it. Known only to me as ‘The Fernandes’ he came at me over my Skype chats like an old testament prophet. No amount of banning could prevent his messages. He followed me through user name changes, across the gulf of chat applications to MSN and iChat. There was no escaping ‘The Fernandes’ or his prophetic ranting and raving.
It is he that forced the power of the Choas upon me, it is he who turned my life from that of a simple sub-urban technophile into that of a super-powered being of unknown abilities… Do you have any idea with it is like to make a pot of coffee with the power of the Choas? The first time I tried my coffee maker exploded, sending coffee grounds and scalding water all over the kitchen. Clean-up was no simple matter, I turned to grab a mop and the back door to my house changed into A Flock of Seagulls, Mike and Ali Score right there in the space between my house and the back yard, and both of them wanting something to eat and asking if I had any extra hair gel. My whole first day with the Choas was like this, a never ending nightmare of Lokian proportions.
I would go to cut a slice of bread, and my knife would turn into a chainsaw. I’d sit on the couch and a dozen mice would run out and start doing the Can-Can at my feet. I’d go for a walk and behind me in, my footprints, would appear all manner of things: lost car keys, small children, apples, oranges, a potted bonsai tree. In the time it took me to walk to the convenience store and back I got 5 tickets for littering, and 2 for having pets off-leash! On the up side I had enough houseplants to redecorate my living room, but what good is that when the mice are starting to build a miniature replica of the Globe Theatre out of your wood laminate flooring?
That first day was a nightmare.
And then, like nothing had happened, it all vanished. The weird things stopped happening around me, the mice abandoned their attempts to rebuild Victorian London, and my life returned to some semblance of normalcy. I know not when or if the Choas will return, I hope that it won’t… but I dread that it will. So a word of warning to all you authors out there, professional and amateur alike, be wary of your typos lest you find yourself facing ‘The Fernandes’ and the Choas.

Tell us about your Super First Day!

Cover Letter Number 1

So, I have been looking for full time work since the end of March. ( I also do freelancing graphic design, web design, logo design, wedding invitation design, design design, illustration, project management, community management, and will mop and fetch coffee. If you happen to, like, be looking… ) As part of this blitz on resume sending I have been on a blitz of cover letter writing. Cover letters are important, and I have always had the best results job hunting with witty cover letters. So, as part of my job hunting, I am going to start blogging my cover letters.

Please feel free to comment!

Here is one I am sending out today:

To Whom It May Concern,

Are you looking for over-educated tech-sector refugees? Want to bring
on board an employee who’s worked in start-up companies for the last
four years and is tired of the long hours and poor pay? Do you want
someone content to excel at his job, what ever it is, and to grow with
a company? If so look no further, for I am your newest hire!

Currently I am working as a freelance graphic designer and consultant.
My primary client is Shared Books Ltd, where I am working as a
technology consultant and project manager on their children’s e-book
publishing website www.sharing-books.com. The focus of my work on the
Sharing Books project has been website development, managing outsource
contractors, and marketing efforts. I have worked closely with the
management of the company and the growing community of users on the
Sharing Books website to build new feature specs, quotes, and guide
development of the website. My other clients include various web and
graphic design contracts, as well as volunteer work for various
community groups in Alberta.

Prior to working for Shared Books Ltd. I helped found a small video
game and website development company, Verse Studios, where I was in
charge of creative direction and hands-on branding and graphics
creation. Starting a company was a hands-on experience that taught me a
lot about myself and the nature of keeping a company running. It also
pushed my creative and technical boundaries as I pushed into areas of
design and project management that were new to me. Early in 2008, after
two years of hard work, I left Verse Studios as the company changed
directions and moved into a holding pattern.

In August of 2008 my wife and I moved back to Calgary, the city where
we were both raised, from Vancouver. Since then I have been working as
a freelance designer, and looking for a more stable work situation. I
am interested in finding out more about what you are looking for with
this position to see if I would be a potential fit. Though I have a lot
of experience in the design world I am not afraid of starting at an
introductory level in a company and growing over time. I absolutely
love working, and I hope to hear from you soon.


Marcus Riedner

Animal Farm

So I finally read Animal Farm, unlike a lot of other school programs my public schooling did not include this Orwell classic. I bought it at a used book store on Wednesday after going out for sushi with people at Chaordix/Cambrian House. It is smaller then I expected, I’ve gotten used to the monolithic sized books that are common place these days, and a 115 page book seems so small. There are chapters in a Robert Jordan book that long. There is much to be said for a shorter book, about being succinct and to-the-point.

Unlike 1984 I did not come a way with such a bleak feeling, just a sort of ironic sense of the inevitable. Clearly I am most like Benjamin, so let it be written, I am an ass. Animal Farm was neat, I can see why it is such an important book for grade school classrooms. It points people to think about the world around them, though it does seem to have a certain defeatism to it. A notion that people will always end up in the same sort of bondage that they have always existed in, just under a different guise.

It certainly was a fitting book to read in these economic and political times, where we are bombarded with the ceaseless failures of the multinational corporations, and the steady shortfalls of open-ended capitalism and globalization. An age where our leadership hands out money like water to people who have shown they are not worthy of our trust. An age, in Canada at least, where our political leaders are incredibly weak and petty. One can see why Orwell’s vision of dictatorships and despotism as an inevitability rings true.

I do know that Orwell intended this as a commentary on Communism, particularly the brands of Leninism and Stalinism that ruled in his day. But one can certainly begin to see the parallels with certain events in contemporary Democracy…

Anyhow, neat book, I’ll have to read it again…

Music right now: Sinnerman – Felix da Housecat’s Heavenly House Remix. Oh sinnerman, where you gonna run too?

New design work

Andrea Phillips, one of the people I hang out with in the Neogence technology syndicate, mentioned needing some new business cards, so I took a bit of time to crank out the designs below. I have changed all contact information except her website so all the lunatics who follow me around don’t start stalking her as well.

The two tone green of the samples on the site do not fully capture the design, the scroll work is actually a spot varnish coat and should look uber snappy and subtle. Samples also on my design page.

Andrea Phillips business card
Andrea Phillips business card

trips to saskatchewan

On Saturday Sarah prompted, and I accepted. After a wedding reception brunch we gassed up the car and started driving. We drove east of Calgary, and sort of kept going. We got to Medicine Hat and decided to keep on driving, crossing over into Saskatchewan, where the roads are crappy and covered in road kill. A couple hours later we rolled into Swift Current on fumes, got a hotel for the night, grabbed a meal. The next morning we turned around and started driving home.

On the way back we stopped in Maple Creek, which is a totally neat small town just off the Trans-Canada Highway. We took a bit of a detour through the town, and then hunted down the Cypress Hills Winery. Which is a shocker, a vineyard on the prairies! With grape vines and everything! Sure, they were pretty small, having been beat down by hail last year, but very cool to see.

Drove back home by the end of Sunday. I can now say I’ve been to Saskatchewan!