Thursday, September 27, 2007

AmazonMP3 -- Great Service,
But Beware the Bitrate


Amazon launched their AmazonMP3 service yesterday. I tried it and I like it. Easy to use and great prices. There are currently 2 million songs in their library (there are 6,000,000 in the iTunes Store.) Best of all, every song in their store is DRM-free. In other words, there are no digitally-managed rights. You can place you music on as many computers, iPods and cell phones as you want.

There's one important note regarding the quality of the music: your iPod's battery will drain much faster when using these 256kbps bitrate MP3s. Because of the higher bitrate, the device playing the music works harder to play it.

Don't get me wrong, I love the higher (though nearly imperceptibly better) sound quality, but this drain on the battery is something every iPod owner should be keenly aware of. This goes for every kind of iPod: Shuffle, Classic, Touch and iPhone.

In fact, an Apple Store Genius said that the company suggests using songs on an iPod with bit rates in the 128-160kbps range. So, beware the bitrate and battery combination.
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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Job Interviews (from the other side of the table)

Job Interview

Visual Goodness is looking for an Interactive Art Director. And, as most good interview candidates do, people Google my name to get an edge in the interview. So, if that's what you're doing, here's your inside information. Otherwise, consider the following a bit of insight into my interview process at Visual Goodness.

Getting the Interview
To increase your chances of securing an interview for a creative position at VG, be sure to supply two key elements: a well-written introduction about yourself and an online portfolio of work you've done. Good writing skills are a huge advantage. It shows a broader ability to communicate.

Your introduction should reflect your personality, strengths and your present career goals. Your personality will give us an idea of how you'd fit in with the team. The interview will definitively determine the personality match.

Your career goals should convey your deepest professional desires--if you had a choice, what is that one thing you'd love to do for a living right now? Ideally, those goals should match the position you're applying for. If they don't match, that's not the end of the world. If you're an excellent talent, sure of what you want to do and we realize we could use said talent and desire, we'll make room for you in a different capacity.

The most important thing is to be forthcoming and transparent about yourself as possible. It makes for a more comfortable interview and eventual employment.

The Interview
I start my interviews with a simple question: Would you like to talk about yourself first or for me to talk about Visual Goodness? There is no wrong answer to this question. Really, it's to set an informal tone for the interview. The best interviews are those that flow like a regular conversation. With that in mind...

Be yourself. That means talk the way you normally talk. Dress comfortably and professionally. Answer from the gut, not the answer you think we want to hear. Don't be afraid to discuss your creative interests outside of work. Most of, if not all of the creatives at VG have very active creative lives outside of work. It's good to know if you're a well-rounded artist. It's usually an indicator of someone who thinks "outside the box" (I hate that phrase.)

Present your work in context. Answer the following questions: Who was the work done for? How was the project challenge handed to you? Did you receive initial concepts and/or designs? Did you concept and/or design the project? How large was the team? What role did you play? How long did it take to finish the job? Were there any peculiar aspects of the project?

There are no guidelines in terms of what order to show your work. Generally, show the work that's most pertinent to the position you're applying for. Mix in and be able to identify your favorite project and your most challenging project. For some people the answer might be the same project.

Asking questions about VG is not required, so don't feel obliged to do so.

Finally, be prepared to talk about your availability and rate -- both hourly and day rate.

While these guidelines may not apply to all job interviews, I believe the basic ideas of self-awareness and honesty about yourself will not only help you find the right job, but also help you weed out the wrong jobs. If the employer doesn't like you for who you are, then you wouldn't have been happy there anyway.

Good luck and I hope to see you across the table soon.
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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

One of my new favorite sites: Put together by Khoi Vinh and Liz Danzico. I posted a comment on their most recent article written by Steven Heller.

Here was my comment regarding "the death of print":

Many forms of print are dying, but it's the quick-information forms of print -- newspapers, greeting cards and yes, love letters.

But the real question is whether or not digital is ready to take the lead. Sadly, the answer is no.

Oh sure, technologically, digital is omni-present and finally financially-backed. But the craftmanship is missing on a disproportionately large scale. Most animation is shlocked together without regard to character, grace or fluidity. Usability is yet an unknown subject for most interactive designers. Grid layouts exist only in the best CSS/HTML sites. Rarely is it used properly in Flash sites.

And then there's the type. Oh, dear Lord, save the type. Type is print's last stand, its immovable cornerstone. Interactive designs rarely make use of the best of type. Here, technology breeds ignorance. Set a print designer next to an interactive designer and ask each one to identify Arial vs. Helvetica. The print designer will win 9 out of 10 times. Yet I would estimate that close to 90% of web content is text.

So, print may be dying. That's not the problem. It's that digital design isn't ready.
Best of luck to you Khoi and Liz. You have a new fan.
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