End of an Era

Last week, I had the privilege of attending a retirement party. Not just any, but for my dad. It was a roast, more than anything, with people getting up and telling stories about my dad. It was fun to hear, that’s for sure. Mine is below (as written, anyway), but it wasn’t the best:

For all of you who have ever worked with or for my dad, I apologize. Apparently it was my fault. The year was 1981. It was the end of November, mom was pregnant with me, and apparently I had enough. The story goes that when I was born, dad was home for two weeks and said “screw this, I’m taking that job at Nemer Fieger.”  32 years later, they’re finally kicking him out.
 
For me, it’s pretty inspiring that he’s been there for so long. I work with lots of agencies in town, and when I tell them that my dad has been working at the same agency since I was born, it always surprises them. Luckily, dad never got caught up in the revolving door lifestyle of the rest of the agency world.
 
I’ve got lots of great memories of my dad and Nemer Fieger. My first was probably when dad brought me in – I think on a Saturday – to do some newspaper ads. We cut black tape, and set layouts. Old school style. I remember driving around, looking at billboards and analyzing traffic patterns and seeing what kind of reach the particular placement would get. And then there was Ad League Softball. Dad was the pitcher – that way he didn’t have to run around so much. I also remember working down in the basement with the graphics folks, hawking pies for Baker’s Square, freezing my fingers off giving away Blue Bunny ice cream, and sweating like crazy in a ridiculous Car X Bluebird mascot suit, or being Tom Thumb on the back of a pick up truck. Some of that time I actually got paid, too.
 
But my point of all of this is simple. I was lucky enough to grow up in a house where my father always had a job. Always. Looking back on it all now makes me realize how rare and wonderful that is. I’ve only been a father for about five years and I’ve already worked for two different companies. My move to the Foundation though was inspired by my dad’s tenacity and his unending desire to take care of us kids. Having kids, I realized the advantages of working hard during the day….and coming home and having a drink….but most importantly, making my kids feel neither poor, nor rich. Saying no is just as important as saying yes. And for that, I’m grateful. But now I’m actually more excited. I’ve got tons of memories of dad at Nemer Fieger, but I am more excited for the memories that we get to make with more time together. Plus, that’s one more babysitter in my corner, and with three kids, we need all the help we can get.
 
Nemer Fieger folks, thanks for putting up with him for so long, but I’m selfishly happy and have been waiting eagerly for this day.
 
Dad, relax for once. It’ll be fine….

 
The best speech though? Sorry everyone,  a four year old kicked our asses.
 

Grandpa. Um. I love you.

 
Yep. Good job, Lucy. You win.
 
But the biggest surprise? We snuck my brother back home from New York. He brought his tenor, and arranged to have a drummer and bassist with him. It was great to have him home (albeit extremely brief), but it was wonderful to hear him play. It’s been awhile.
 
In the end, dad’s 32 year stint at Nemer Fieger is coming to an end, and we’re all excited for what is next. (And, if anyone wants to hire a 32 year veteran of marketing, I’m sure he’ll get bored shortly.)
 
Best of luck dad, and Lucy is right: we all love you.
 
-Matt

Ousted and Onward

So a gigantic data breach causes another high level executive (in fact, some say the highest level) to get ousted from Target.

I’m not saying that it isn’t the adequate response. I don’t care about that. I also don’t care what his parachute color was. He did his job, he lost it, and he’s probably going to have a hard time finding another job.

What I do care about is moving onward.

Onward is an interesting word for me, as it has some special meaning. If you dare go back three years (almost exactly), you’ll see why with this post.

In that spirit, there’s my other post about JC Penney.

Ron Johnson. Onward. Target. You do the math.

I’m not on the board. I’m not a stockholder. I have no connection with Target whatsoever. But if I could, I’d yell at them to take back Ron Johnson, but this time as CEO. He was hired away from Target long ago to start Apple Retail. He left because he wouldn’t be the CEO of Apple – at least as far as can be assumed. He went on to JC Penney where he was fired because JC Penney had no idea what he was trying to do. JC Penney was (and is) stuck in their old mindset and don’t want to alienate their current customer base, even though their future customer base would be far more valuable. Idiots.

Who knows if Ron even wants a job. But I will tell you this. When at Apple, he provided a great amount of motivation and vision. He made retail feel like Apple employees. And, with a gigantic retailer where you want to make sure that your employees actually give a shit, that’s huge.

Odds of it happening? Probably slim.

As a Target shopper, that’s sad.

 

Round Three of Brew. The Final Chapter?

Well then.

Somedays I wish I didn’t love my job, and also had a half million or so to spare.

For Sale By Owner. Asking Price is $575,000.00 Turn key. Including The Top Hop! You will be the only distributor for Bohemia Top Hop CZ, www.hop.cz Czech Saaz and exclusive Saaz SPECIAL in North America. All office furniture, farm equipment, 2 John Deere Tractors. 1 is a 4210 and all implements ($20k) And much, much more! This is selling everything without a Realtor! If not sold by June 1st, it will be listed with a Realtor, and this will be listed property only. If you have ANY interest, please contact us before June 1st so we will put you on an exclusion list before listing it. If growing hops in not your thing, but sustainable agriculture is, or you are not interested in a “Turn Key” Hops operation, (Just interested in the house) we will be happy to negotiate something with you. CHEERS!

For those not familiar with the property, It is 4.5 acres with a 3,961 finished sq. ft home, Custom built by Terry Bergeron (This was HIS house) 5 bedroom, 3 – 1/2 bath, His & hers offices with private entrance, large wrap around deck looking over in-ground swimming pool, Hot tub, sauna, master bath has whirlpool bath, large kitchen w/ new ss appliances, Projection movie theater with Surround Sound on lower level. Exercise room with equipment, 23×24 finished attached garage, 40X50 detached with 25×40 heated section work shop / hops drying room. Unheated has 14′ ceiling with 12′ door. Home built in 1993. New roof in 2008.

Image courtesy of Top Hop Facebook page
Image courtesy of Top Hop Facebook page
aerial
Image courtesy of Top Hop Facebook page
hopfarm
Image courtesy of Top Hop Facebook page

 

Plus, a nice write up over at Growler Mag: http://growlermag.com/wanna-buy-a-hopyard-hippity-hops-is-on-the-block/

Wow. Now, I’d be happy just with the house and the land, but the fact that it’s set up for hops? Huge bonus.

Then again, I also know barely anything about growing hops. Our first rhizomes are going in the ground very shortly, and the more I read, the more I understand that I don’t understand.

But it isn’t just about the hops. To me, it’s an opportunity to build  my co-brew idea, with the added benefit of fresh hops and physical space. I’d want to spend more money on the property though. Build those outbuildings to be home brew spaces with temperature controlled storage. All rentable to those who want to brew there. It’d be a great place for events, workshops, and everything I wrote about two posts ago.

Downside? It’s far enough outside of the Twin Cities to be…well…outside of the Twin Cities. At somewhere between 30-45 minutes away, it isn’t far, but it’s still a trip. The whole idea behind the co-brew space was to make it a convenient place for folks to brew. But is the trade-off worth it?

Plus, there’s that whole “exclusive Saaz hops”. But, even at $25/lb for whole leaf hops, and producing 800lbs, that’s only $20,000 for a whole lot of work. Although, being local and close to my favorite home-brew shop of Northern Brewer, I’m sure there could be some nice business opportunities, custom recipes and exclusive hop offerings.

Now, if someone wants to give me $1,000,000 for a fun little experiment, I might think about it.

For now though, it’s time to Get Back to Work.

Round Two of Brewing Reviewing

Ok, so as long as we’re talking about beer, I’ve got a few more thoughts.

First, someone please make a better home brewing app. In fact, Norther Brewer, you do it.

I’ve tried a few, and the best I can find is called iBrewMaster 2. One of the reasons I like it is because I buy all my kits (yes, I’m still a kit-using panzy) from Northern Brewer, and they preload 90% of the recipes. Smart move by Northern to do so – assuming they know about it.

I also like it because I just input my starting and ending Brix and it does the math for me. It’s a good place to take notes, and the push notifications that remind me to do something are nice as well.

But holy crap is it ugly.

image

 

It has an advantage at being wonderfully convenient for those of us who buy from Northern all the time.

Now how could it be more useful?  For one, maybe hie a designer who understands UX. That’d be a start. But more realistically, Northern has a huge opportunity here. Every time I brew, I use this app. I also use my iPad to have the PDFs provided by Northern for Yeast starters (even though I’ve done it a handful, I still prefer to have the instructions handy. It’d be nice to have more of those things readily available.

It’d also be a great place to revive the old BrewingTV content that is just sitting dormant and rarely updated.

Plus, for the more adventurous who want to do their own recipes, let them build it in the app, and magically create a shopping list for the things they need to buy. More magical would be for it to have the home made kit “ready for pickup” after I create the list and check out via the app.

And just how could I check out from the app you say? Well, link it to the northernbrewing.com account I have where I’ve stored my credit card info  – happy to type in my password and, you know, my CVV or something. But in reality, I’m happy to log in to the app with that same account.

Why would I do that?

Well because if I use the same account, I want Northern to expand their already awesome email campaigns and target me more appropriately. For example, I’m a Belgian guy. Sure I may be German and English, but Belgians are my beers. I am also kind of an email whore and am on my phone all the time. Northern sends out very good deals through their email campaigns, and they got me to buy something I didn’t need once. It was a Belgian ale kit. Now I’m sure it’s not the last time, but it was indeed the first time. Sending me a link to a limited edition Belgian kit is pretty much an easy way to get me to cough up money.

Naturally, Northern is already trying to gather all my sales info from my online and in store purchases anyway and I’m totally fine with that. But wouldn’t it also be nice to cross reference what I purchase against what I’m brewing? How many batches did I buy elsewhere? Did you notice I made the jump to all-grain? Did I buy that gear upgrade from you? Do you want to start sending me emails about all-grain kits or things to make me brew better?

These all may seem like itty bitty things. But Northern already has their hooks in me (love their staff, their stores, their products and honestly their brand).  Harvard Business Review just had an article last issue about selling to those who are super consumers. Not just heavy users, but crazy passionate about the category (i.e. home brewing). We’re not talking the Pareto principle (80/20 rule), but 10% representing between 30-70% of sales.  The trick is that they say it’s about CPG – I’m not sure I’d categorize home brewing gear as classic CPG, but hey, why not.

Anyway, all of this (and the last post) set up the framework for building an ecosystem for home brew.

But, the next step of an ecosystem is to make sure there are beings to interact with. Even plants can’t live in a vacuum (ok, maybe they can, I’m no biologist). That’s where Northern can really push things forward. Not for them, not for the brand, but in reality for the cause and love of home brewing. The economics follow good behavior. Build a community of brewers. Build what all home brewing associations want to do, but never have the time or talent to execute it well. A place to share, compare, and get advice on how to do things. I want to be a good brewer. Right now, I have no idea if I am because I have no feedback loop (wife’s pregnant again….), and even those who drink my beer can’t always tell me how it could be better.

And yes, it always can be better. Better is what we all and always want. That’s why I wrote these last two posts. I may not know any better than anyone else, but maybe someone will agree and make it happen. I’d like to see that.

And to buy beer on Sundays.

Brewing Better Ideas

Crazy ideas. That’s what drives me.

And beer. Particularly brewing beer.

Oh and the intersection where retail meets technology.

And my family.

Ok a lot of things.

Hence this post.

Last Father’s Day, my wife retained her throne as “best wife”. She took me to a home brew class, and we bought a kit. It’s one of those things that you think is a cheap hobby, and then you realize how much better you could do it with XYZ. But it’s ok, because it’s “cheaper” than buying a case of craft beer. It was an awesome experience that did exactly what it was supposed to do – make me buy stuff.

And that’s where it started.

I could talk about brewing for awhile, but that’s not what this post is about. The only tip I have for you when it comes to brewing, is don’t try to tell your wife you sanitized the bottles when you know you forgot to….

At any rate, Northern Brewer is poised for an excellent opportunity for growth, and some fun ways to do so.

Right now, they have three locations: two in the Twin Cities, and one in Milwaukee. Not a bad start, but craft beer is exploding right now all across the US. Brewing at home is a nice little tag-along for those of us who want to be better beer snobs, too. Northern also has a pretty good web presence, and I imagine their distribution does well out of their Roseville warehouse.

My guess is that the next step by default is to move to new markets. Chicago, Kansas City, Portland, Seattle, somewhere in Vermont, Boulder, Austin, and then probably the big cities like New York and LA. Big cities are hard though, but I’ve got an idea about that in a bit. With the expanded location base, some math should be done about if having a higher level of inventory at the retail locations is worth it. Why? Because each one could also be a mini distribution center for the online sales.

Plus, now a days, everyone is getting on the “order online and pick up in store” bandwagon. And why not? Multichannel sales is the next step for retail. Just look at Apple – they changed with their most recent head of retail hire, but it went mostly unnoticed. Angela Ahrendts left being CEO of Burberry to be Vice President of Retail and Online Stores. Notice that last little bit? She’s in charge of every place you can buy an Apple product – online or in person. Time to make them work together.

And with this fun expansion, how on earth do you control the growth? For a “grocery” store, the technology part is always the most challenging. Which is why you make it a store-in-a-box. Build the standard network (yet independent of connectivity type), hardware and software, box it all up, and send an installer to get the work done. Make the systems cloud based (and remain PCI compliant, of course), so that the reliance on internal systems are minimal. iPads as POS systems work great. Why? Because if/when one breaks, I bet you’re close to an Apple Store that can swap it out, or have a spare ready. It’s still cheaper than a standard NCR or other traditional POS system, and expanding the number of terminals is drastically cheaper than the traditional model. You skip out on all the fun wired networking, gain flexibility on physical location choices, and the hardware spend is less.

But, don’t be stupid. You’re relying on good connectivity as the backbone, so don’t fuck it up. Build in back ups. There are perfect branch routers that have the ability to provide 3G/4G failover for when the main connectivity goes down. Cheap. Effective. And, a requirement if you ask me. Also? Backup power, a good app developer and a management platform that gives you the ability to remotely support your end users easily. Wait. Check that. An excellent app developer who is truly your partner.

Sidebar – I went to a great liquor store (apparently my world does revolve around beer) that has a ton of craft stuff, and a build your own six pack that is beyond compare. But, they lost their internet connection while I was shopping, so it was a cash-only moment. I can’t remember the last time I had cash on me. So, I put my bottles back and was quite bummed. The store lost my $20, along with at least three other customers that I saw walk out.

But beyond mere physical expansion to “craft beer cities”, there are some other ways to more fully develop the home brew culture.

I’m pretty lucky to work with some amazingly interesting folks, and it helps keep me thinking about solutions and how randomness sometimes aligns.

When I started brewing at home, my wife happily participated. She still does. But, my two little kids want to help too. And my basement isn’t exactly temperature controlled. And my sink isn’t the best for the massive amounts of use it gets on brew days. And time without disturbing it is hard in our small house.

What’s amazing is we live in a nice little suburb, in a decent house, not unlike most other home brewers.

But then there’s my brother. He started brewing years before I did, but he lives in what I assume is a typical New York City place. There isn’t the luxury of our yards, storage space, but they have their (far superior) mass transit.

So what the hell am I talking about? A recent trend in small business and the startup community is working cooperative spaces. CoCo is a great example of it in the Minneapolis area. They have hundreds of members – some are individuals, some are teams, but they get to use shared resources like internet, printing, physical office space, and the ever important power of collaboration through happenstance.

Now take that idea, apply it to brewing, and put it in a densely populated area. Imagine a warehouse where you could rent space to brew, and rent controlled storage. For you brewers out there, how sweet would it be to have a lager room? It’d also potentially lower the cost of entry for folks to try brewing. You have your brew session, move it into the fermenting room(s), come back for second fermenting, or take advantage of a shared bottling line. Northern could also have “emergency supplies” vended at the location, so if you’re an idiot like me and constantly forget priming sugar, then you pay a premium, but you can get the job done without a trip elsewhere. Plus, shared cleaning locations, high powered gas burners, shared wort chillers, kettles, and anything that you’d need. Sure you can bring your own, or you can rent what you’d like.

Lets not forget the community part, too. My wife and I chat with my brother about brewing, but it’d be awesome if we could talk to someone who was also brewing at the same time and get their ideas. And part of that community is the responsibility for not being idiots and cleaning the crap out of everything. It’d also provide an excellent venue for more workshops, home brew tasting competitions, and who knows what else.  Staff it daily from 10-7, and provide extended hours for those who want to pay for premium access.

There are probably a thousand ways to do it, but a cooperative home brew location would be something I’d love to see.

Oh, and one more thing. Why aren’t home brew carboys made out of brown glass? Light = bad, right?

Then again, Minnesotans can’t even buy beer on Sundays.

 

Foursquare For Some Reason

It’s 6:45am on a Sunday, and as my kids play, I wander the internet in search for something that I should know more about. This morning, I found something, but it isn’t entirely pertinent to me, so I offer it up to you.

Foursquare advertising.

Boring, I know. But my thoughts were more about how to not make it boring, and potentially interesting. My team is mostly field staff, and our physical presence has very little to do with who we are or what we do. Our headquarters in the North Loop of Minneapolis, a few blocks from Target Field. But my idea here is more applicable in an office tower or dense office space.

The land of downtown is an amazing, skyway connected labyrinth that only “downtowners” really get. Being the land of corporate headquarters (and not necessarily places that people need to come visit – like retail), then how could you use Foursquare ads to your advantage?

Now, before we think about doing a Foursquare ad just for the hell of it, let’s see if it’s actually valuable. Naturally, the answer is it always depends. There’s no reason for Target Headquarters to have a check-in special. I guess they could, but the people visiting HQ are already committed – they’re the employees, contractors and vendors. Plus, what is the benefit for me if I’m walking by and see an ad for Target HQ? Am I just going to randomly drop in and say hi to the receptionist and security guards? Uh. No. Thanks, though.

An important thing to note is that the ads do not show to people who are checked in to the location.

And here in lies my idea.

Have you ever driven by an apartment complex that has a gigantic and gawdy banner that exclaims that “IF YOU LIVED HERE, YOU’D BE HOME ALREADY”? Yeah, I hate them too, but they have a point, and answer an interesting challenge that we all have with commuting and the unending banality that is rush hour traffic. I’d argue that was a good old world example of location based advertising. So let’s explore something similar in a digital vein.

One of the big challenges with the land of corporate headquarters is recruiting, and keeping, good talent. If I were at Target HQ and I had just posted a job (on the massive and insane to control job board) for a marketing person for example, how would I get it to the people who might be interested? Well, if you want to hire someone who understands mobility, they generally participate in it. If you want someone who understands corporate culture, they’re probably living in the labyrinth already. So why not? Post a Foursquare ad not with some American Express special for buying the latest doohicky, but how ’bout “IF YOU WORKED HERE, WELL, YOU’D BE HERE”. Obviously the wording needs some help, but you get the idea. In a dense urban area with lots of HQ’s, it could be an interesting opportunity for folks who want to hire in the fields of marketing, advertising, IT, and well probably a lot of other areas.

But who knows. Maybe I’m crazy.

Well, yeah, I probably am. But at the same time, the ads are free unless a user takes action. Why not give it a shot?

 

The Impossibe and Unplausible

I was merely a spectator in this sad story, but even as such, find it nearly impossible to believe.

My wife and I met Sam and Jason awhile ago. They were acquaintances from the Twitter and Instagram worlds first, but OMG we met IRL and became BFFs at a BYOB BBQ. (Yes, that was as horrid to write, as much as it was horrid for you to read.) They’re transplants from Vermont, and most of their families are still there. They don’t have a connection to Minnesota, other than their newer friends, and Jason’s job.

They’re wonderful folks, and Mary (my wife) and I were thrilled when we heard they were pregnant. We have two little girls – a three year old and a one year old, so the more of our friends who are having kids, the more they understand how little of a life we have right now. Having kids is an absolute blessing that I wouldn’t trade for anything, but folks without kids don’t always realize the craziness that ensues. We were excited, because Sam and Jason were ready for that chaos – regardless if they knew it themselves or not. (Pro tip: you never think you’re ready, just get over it.)

They were kind enough to stop by a few weeks ago and help us prepare for our youngest’s first birthday party. Twisting craft paper, and making little gift bags was the task, and everyone was happy to be doing it. That’s cause they’re awesome. Jason spent time watching the girls (no easy task), while Sam put her craftiness to work – at about 8 months pregnant.

As with everyone around that time of a pregnancy, they seemed nervously excited at the prospect of their little girl being born very soon. It was an exciting time.

That was about a week and a half ago now.

But last week, I got a phone call that I never wanted to get.

Now, my job is such that I tend to ignore my wife as I’m invariably busy. I know she’s reading this, so I know I’m in the doghouse, but it is what it is. That’s why on the rare occasion when she calls, I know something is up.

I was at CoCo Minneapolis giving a tour to one of our vendors of their amazing space. My phone rang, and like I said, my wife knows not to call unless it’s an emergency, so I answered.

I couldn’t understand. There was too much crying. Too much sadness. Too much. After a short bit, it finally came through that Sam and Jason were at the hospital, because at 8 1/2 months, little Alice had lost her heart beat.

My heart sunk.

Those around me stared, as they knew something horrible had just been reported.

Now whether it be good or bad, my chaos management went into effect. Although my wife could hardly really be understood, we decided that it was time to call my parents and see if they could watch the girls so Mary could do what she does best – be there. Naturally, my parents are awesome and had no hesitation to do their part.

The things that followed were incredibly difficult to comprehend – including no real understanding behind why such a travesty occurred. No more than a day later, Alice was still-born, and the grieving went beyond comprehension.

I’m not going to share much more, but know that there are two things you can do. A collective of friends (and strangers) have put together a website where you can shop various goods that were donated, and all the proceeds go to Sam and Jason’s unexpected costs – including travel to and from Vermont for them, and their parents. Anything that is raised above and beyond the expenses will be donated to an organization that I wish didn’t have to exist. They’re called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, and they do the unthinkable. They photograph the children of these tragedies and help document their memories.

We’ve been chugging along on the site: http://alice-was-here.org and it should be up in full swing Monday (hopefully), with more vendors donating all the time. Interested in donating your goods/services to raise money for Sam and Jason? Shoot a note to info@alice-was-here.org

Most of all, send them love and prayers, and once the site is up, do some shopping. You know you want to.

Koken in the Wild

Last week, a new platform was released for photographers, videographers, and artists. It’s called Koken.

Being the perennial tinkerer that I am, I thought I’d give it a whirl. To be fair, I wouldn’t call myself a developer. Not even a quasi-developer. I’d categorize myself as knowledgeably dangerous and obviously unknowledgable. Ok, so I’m a bit wiser than some on the web, but I’m not quitting my day job.

My voyage for these types of projects (like developing a new WordPress site) generally begins with developing locally so that I don’t need to invest in a big development environment. So, I headed to the Koken site and found the tech specs. At first glance, I thought “hot damn, I’m in.”  Mainly because I saw the need for PHP and MySQL and ignored the rest.

Herein lies the rub.

Apparently I can’t read. I missed the part about needing ImageMagick installed. I’d never heard of it before, so naturally, I hit up the Googles. (One thing I have learned is that I am a professional Googler.)

The documentation for ImageMagick seemed pretty straightforward. “Use MacPorts, it’ll be easiest*.” So I did. Then I realized I hadn’t had MacPorts installed on my laptop which I was working on. So I started that process:

• Download installer

• Run installer

• Realize I need Xcode installed

• Install Xcode

• Install Command Line Tools (In Xcode, Preferences->Downloads)

• Realize I need X11

• Headed over to XQuartz for an X11 download and install

• Log out and back in from my user to start the service

Ok. So by getting Xcode and X11 taken care of, now I had MacPorts installed (which, in the end is unnecessary). Sweet. So, I go back to the ImageMagick installation guide and read through it one more time. I had downloaded the zip file already, then I realized I didn’t need it (yet). In Terminal, I entered the following:

$ sudo port install ImageMagick

Ok. Then Terminal (which is a scary place for me) started doing a bunch of stuff. Then eventually it looked like it had completed. ImageMagick had some test code to see if it installed correctly:

$ convert logo: logo.gif

$ identify logo.gif

$ display logo.gif

Sweet. All of those commands worked!  I had succesfully gotten ImageMagick installed!

So, I fired up MAMP and then went back to the Koken install instructions which are awesomely simple:

• Download file and extract it

• Place the file in the root directory of your site

• Go to the site and watch the magic happen

So I did. The way MAMP works is it takes your Mac and turns it into a web server running Apache, MySQL and PHP (hence MAMP). When it’s running, you can go to localhost:8888 in a web browser, and that’s the root of your domain for your local environment. So, naturally, I went to localhost:8888/koken

What happened was awesome. It did this fantastic self-check to see if it would work on my “server”.

And then it fucking failed. About 15 times. The error that caused me the problems (which I was grateful it actually let me know WHAT was failing) was ImageMagick.

So, I went back and tried installing it all again.

Failed.

Eventually, after some more professional Googling, I found a great site that explained not how to get ImageMagick installed, but ImageMagick installed in a MAMP environment.

Those fucking /bin files, man.

Here’s the article that helped save my butt: http://www.maratz.com/blog/archives/2010/05/11/imagemagick-with-mamp/

Now, to note, there is something that had to be changed. In the instructions (borrowed below), there is a change based on the version of ImageMagick that is now current:

• Download the ImageMagick package and unarchive it in /Applications/MAMP/bin/ImageMagick     <—- you may need to create the file ImageMagick

• In Terminal, type the following three commands:

$ export  MAGICK_HOME="/Applications/MAMP/bin/ImageMagick/ImageMagick-6.8.3" 

$ export PATH="$MAGICK_HOME/bin:$PATH"

$ export DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH="$MAGICK_HOME/lib"

• And then, we can run those same test from previous, but from the right directory:

$ cd /Applications/MAMP/bin/ImageMagick/ImageMagick-6.8.3

$ convert logo: logo.gif

$ identify logo.gif

$ display logo.gif

• Lastly, you need to edit the envars file located in /Applications/MAMP/Library/bin

• In the two uncommented lines, change them to:

DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH="/Applications/MAMP/bin/ImageMagick/ImageMagick-6.8.3/lib:/Applications/MAMP/Library/lib:$DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH" export DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH

• Bask in your glory, as now ImageMagick is installed in the right damned place.

Ok, then back to localhost:8888/koken and it should work!

Then it fails.

The last change is to make sure that the directory that Koken is looking at is correct. In the box that Koken has, type: /Applications/MAMP/bin/ImageMagick/ImageMagick-6.8.3/

And THEN IT WORKS.

Until you get through the next screen and realize that you didn’t actually create a new database in MySQL yet. Head over to localhost:8888 and the MAMP start page should have a phpMyAdmin link on the top where you can log in, create a new database and go from there.

Now. It’s time for the fun part. Using Koken.  I was going to do this post with screenshots and then realized that I’d have to go through the process again. Needless to say, I’m going to pass on that for now and actually start working. Hopefully this will help you get to that point too!

I am an idiot.


I am an idiot.

That’s the best I can explain it.

 

I say I’m an idiot because I have no idea what the hell is going on anymore. Granted, it’s not like I was a genius previously, but Friday helped me realize that I have no idea how certain things happen.

 

I don’t mean physics. I get that.

 

I don’t mean computers. I get those.

 

I don’t mean how to survive (and be happy) with two crazy little girls under three years old. Because believe it or not, I get that.

 

What I don’t get is how someone can do such ultimate horror that happened in Connecticut. I have a few questions, but I don’t think any of us have answers.

 

Here’s what I do know though:

 

1. Today’s journalists (in general) suck.

 

“THIS HAPPENED AND I TOLD YOU FIRST! HAHAHAHAH! I WIN!!”

 

No no. That’s not how it should work. I agree with a good Op-Ed piece at Mashable posted yesterday night: http://mashable.com/2012/12/14/ct-shootings-media-judgement-and-the-public-trust/ Instead of news, we get showboats who want to be on TV, but have to find something to talk about. Too much time is spent with hair and makeup, and not enough on ethics and, you know, reporting.

 

As some of you know though, you can call bullshit on me. I haven’t had TV service for about two years – maybe things have changed in that time. Maybe. Plus, I don’t know anything about journalism. My B.A. from the U of M came from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Totally different.

 

Television, and some online journalism has failed us as of late. Sensationalism breeds more thoughts about how to be sensational, but we’re focusing on the wrong end of the spectrum. There need to be more shows like Extreme Makeover Home Edition (save some of the sponsors), and less variations of CSI Nowhereville.

 

2. Healthcare in America needs reform.

 

I don’t mean about how batshit crazy everything costs (although, that’s a different conversation). What I mean is how we have historically seen mental healthcare and counseling. Seriously people, you need help. Not just a few of you. Every one of you. We all do. There should be no reason why we can’t all be OK with getting some help, guidance, and counseling. We look to professionals about law, physical medicine, technology, our hair style, damn near everything. Why are we so scared to get help for the most important part of our life- our Self?

 

Again, feel free to call bullshit. But alas, I have gotten help, and I’m 100% ok talking about it. As Zoey Bartlett once said, “The help helps”.

 

3. Education needs a much bigger investment.

 

If for one second you read that as “we need to buy our teachers Kevlar and outfit the schools with metal detectors”, then you are missing my point. What I’m talking about isn’t investing in our schools – but Education. We need to spend more time being smarter, and making our kids smarter than us. My biggest accomplishment in life will be the moment (and I know there will be two) where my girls look at me, and I realize that they’re smarter than I am. I’m sure they’ll be stronger, faster, and better at sports, too (not a big challenge on that front), but I am looking forward to them being smarter. That starts with what we teach them – in school, and at home.

 

4. Guns are neither an answer, or a question.

 

And if anyone says they’re the solution, I disagree.

 

Personally, I’d like to take half of our defense spending budget and move it to healthcare and education. Take half our troops, or the National Guard or Reserves, and make them more akin to civil servants than weekend warriors. Take their immense talent and let them build things. They become some of the best potential employees, but often aren’t given the chance due to lacking equivalent civil schooling. Someone can be an Army medic, but upon return, they are qualified on paper to be a school nurse, or if they’re lucky, an EMT. These people do amazing things, and the systems in place prove to be hindering transitions. By altering their duties to be more balanced with more civilian jobs, hopefully we’ll not only gain their talents at home, but also help them transition if their tours end.

 

So yes. Cut the military in half. All of it. It will save (and cost) us greatly. But we need change. WHAT ABOUT NATIONAL SECURITY? What about it? We should be a nation that other nations love, not others fear. Take those jobs “lost”, and build a government-sponsored set of programs to actually DO things. Build better roads, parks, arts programs, medical practices and….schools. If we get attacked by another country, well, I guarantee we’ll have an Army of volunteers the next day.

 

But think of this: What if we were the nation that did not NEED a military?

 

As for the wonderful little Second Amendment, I’ll say something that hopefully others feel, but don’t necessarily want to say. I really don’t care about it. I think the founding fathers were geniuses of their time. I’m tired of people being more concerned with being popular politicians, always eying the next chair, instead of doing their job – being geniuses. Figure it out. That’s why you got the job. I think private citizens owning guns isn’t a big deal. But I’ll tell you this. I never want one. I want the protection that it instills, but fuck if I ever have to fire one. My closest encounter was paintball, and as fun as it was, it was a game. I’m not a hunter, but I can understand why people do it. I’m not a range-shooter, but I understand why people do it. I am not trained for it, and I firmly believe that there are very few people who should own guns. If someone does, then it’s training – both physical, and emotional. I may be physically capable of firing a gun, but I am not emotionally able to take someones life – even in defense. Even in defense of my two girls. I would beg, and plead, that it be me instead of them, but even if I killed someone defending my angels, I’m not sure how I’d be able to live with myself.

 

5. Stop hurrying.

 

Everything I’ve talked about above takes time. Answers take time to get to the public about what happened. Healthcare is (almost) worse than taxes when it comes to full-fledged reform, but the mindset of being help-able will take even longer. The investment we make in education won’t be seen by our kids, but maybe our grandkids. But in turn, maybe those grandkids will be the ones big enough to stand up and say that we don’t need a military, we need a country.

 

We all want things to change rapidly. I’d love it if that were possible, but this is a long game, and we’re merely pawns moving one tile our entire life. Make it a good move, but set up the next player.

 

 Maybe someday I’ll stop being an idiot, but honestly, I just hope my kids are smarter.

That Awkward Feeling

Have you ever had to tell your wife that “Yes, in fact that outfit does look horrendous.”?

That’s how I’ve felt the last few days, and I do not mean to say my wife needs a new wardrobe.

Oddly, we’re one of the 3.3%* of Americans without a television. (Actually, we have one, but it’s in the unfinished basement doing nothing.) There are certain times that we are frustrated by that fact, but in general, life has been fine thanks to Hulu, Netflix and iTunes. It used to be that sports and news were our concern. With Twitter and various other online or app venues, news has been pretty much forgotten about when we relive our concerns. Sports on the other hand is one thing that we both miss. I miss my pathetic Twins, and she misses the Olympics.

This year, during the opening ceremonies broadcast (pushed to prime time by NBC, which should get its own post, but I digress), I was at home working on a project, while Mary was doing a photoshoot for a friend. The television was on in the background for her, and I of course, had my Twitter stream up.

I’m not sure whether I was the chicken or the egg, but I started to see some interesting things pop up in my Twitter stream, and my wife recalls her confusion as well.

Let’s step back a moment. For those who don’t know me, I’m what you call a “fanboy.”  Look at my résumé and you’ll see that I dedicated just shy of seven years of my professional career to working for Apple. Why? Because it’s Apple. You can’t resist the allure of working for a brand that you so admire. While there, I met some of the smartest people, and best teams ever. (Unrelated to this post, go read Forbes: http://onforb.es/NBsJr5 .) While with Apple, I spent a good chunk of my time focusing on visual merchandising of the stores – making sure that they all looked, felt, and spewed the Apple brand. Not an easy task when you have thousands of people walking in and out on a daily basis. We got what it was to be the brand, and we knew the importance of protecting it.

So during the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics and Apple spent a few million on air time, I was a wee bit confused. Not necessarily at the fact that they bought the time, but the reactions that were surfacing across the web.

Me not having a TV, I relied on Twitter for an explanation of what was going on. The first Tweet that really got my attention came from another former Apple employee who now works for one of the best ad agencies in town:

 

 

From there, the conversation continued, and I found an online recording of the commercials. (Now available from Apple at: http://www.apple.com/mac/videos/#tv-ads-mayday )

Well that was interesting.

Another former Apple employee joined in our Twitter conversation and pointed out that they seem more like Best Buy commercials than Apple. Spot on comment in my opinion.

Now that it has been a few days, the internet has spoken up, and the majority of folks think that they missed the mark – with a few specific exceptions.

To me, this points out a few very important things.

1. People actually pay attention to Apple’s advertising. What I mean is that if it truly were a Best Buy commercial, no one would have said anything or cared. It would just be normal for that situation. Apple just has a history with the ad world. It not only provides the tools for most of the ad world to survive on, but also provides great and inspirational ads. 1984 changed the Super Bowl. Think Different brought emotion to a box of plastic and metal. Silhouettes on billboards made us want to dance. Justin Long and John Hodgman had characters that made points worth listening to.

2. The category of people who thought they were cute, or good, were (in my audience at least) current Apple employees. There’s nothing wrong with this. They were fine ads – they weren’t horrible, they were questionable, and seemed un-Apple. But their defendants where those who are still drinking the Kool-Aid, as we say. Ironically, they also were first to point out how incorrect the ads were. The character shouldn’t necessarily have been a Genius – a Creative would be a better choice, or potentially a Specialist. But they made a concession and chose to go with the most widely known in the cast of Apple retail characters.

And that’s what I saw. Concessions being made. So here is where I tell my wife she’s got some ugly clothes on.  Apple fights the status quo in everything it does. In products, in retail, in culture. The same has held true for advertising. It seems as the times have changed lately, and not just in relation to this batch, either. If you look at their most recent iPhone commercials, you’ll see big celebrities being big celebrities. That hasn’t happened in the past. We didn’t need proof that the products were cool since Sam Jackson was using them. They were cool because they were cool. Apple had it’s own street cred and didn’t need anyone else to hold it’s hand.

Don’t get me wrong though. I have complete faith in Apple. But, I struggle with who at their roster of ad agencies came up with (and will admit) to this campaign.

Go ahead and rip me apart in the comments – I can take it.

****Update: Check out Ken Segall’s take. If you don’t know Ken, you know his work. From the Apple campaigns prior to this one….: http://kensegall.com/2012/07/new-mac-ads-landing-with-a-serious-thud/ ****

*Stat from Nielsen report in March of 2011 stating that 96.7% of households have a television, which actually dropped since their last survey where 98.9% had one.