The 1980’s were interesting from a musical standpoint. The 80’s just left the glittery, blurry-eyed and afroed polyester cocaine-addled disco era behind, along with an impressive flareup of actual punk, as opposed to the punk poseurs of today that would no sooner hit someone over the head with a beer bottle than stick a needle in a vein. Not saying either of those things are worthwhile, but they were characteristic of the movement, which is now thoroughly sterilized for the mall and pop culture of later rebellious and angst-ridden youth. The folk and novelty music movement was appropriately put in its place as well and mostly sold on K-Tel records and 8-track tapes on the American-made television, which had yet to embrace MTV and cable box’s offerings, which began a noticeable decline in American culture in nearly every way. But that’s another post.
Which is largely what we get from musical history. If you hear music from the 1980s these days, it’s usually in a Wal-Mart or as a backdrop to some “retro” commercial and is one of a lot of crappy artifacts that somehow have persisted into the 2010’s and beyond. “Girls just want to have fun,” and that bubblegum crap sucked back then, and it still sucks. I don’t know who makes the decisions to keep those songs alive, but they must be a deaf associate of the devil himself. If you blindfoldedly threw a dart at a list of songs from the 80’s you’d likely hit better efforts. The world at large was celebrating Madonna, Bon Jovi, and hairspray, while I was sitting in a dark room in rural Virginia quietly listening to The Smiths and Jesus and Mary Chain.
I present here a Spotify playlist I’ve put together from the 1980’s that I feel represents a pretty unappealing but bubbly and poppy era much better. Better than the brown and rusty, dirty yellow 1970’s for sure, however. What persists in my mind from 1980’s pop culture, which I did my best to remove myself from in every way and did an excellent job of, was neon dayglo colors, jelly shoes, Wayfarers, raggedy girls fashions along with ultra-tight designer jeans, mesh shirts, acid washed denim and really gay and stupid men’s hairstyles. This of course was a time that calling your friends “gay” and “a retard” was a funny, largely innocent slight to them and not a reason for snowflakes to incite riots in the streets as it’s become today. Cultural shifts at work. The Meatmen wouldn’t even be able to record in a studio today, most likely.
What most people think of when they describe the 1980’s music scene is synth, electric drums, glam, and quick little pop hooks, with a visual that quickly sold. The 1980’s were the end of “ugly” bands, with the advent of MTV. If you weren’t TV-friendly and didn’t have ultra-strong musical chops, or really strong connections in the business, you could forget it. Every song had a video to accompany it, and the video sold the song. Marketing took a stranglehold on music in the 1980’s and hasn’t let go since. It’s how people today like Russell Simmons can make so much money selling awful “music.” He’s a great marketer. In my opinion, MTV ruined the interesting, if not exciting, direction music was heading in, despite the company abandoning the video music format that made it so popular. Many, many great artists were left in the dust. Luckily the internet has leveled the playing field once again.
A lot of these songs weren’t part of my library back then although I thought they were commercially catchy and appreciated them on some level. Mostly their B-sides and more obscure songs from the artists, maybe. What I preferred never made it onto the radio, and I didn’t have the resources to compile a comprehensive library of the better music available. Few did, and that doesn’t just mean money. Accessibility was a real problem in the 1980’s before the internet. We quickly forget what it was like to procure Grateful Dead tickets on the morning they went on sale over the phone, or a cassette tape that wasn’t in the Billboard top 10 if you lived in a small town. CD’s weren’t even mainstream at the time, until the late 80’s. A good CD player in the early 80’s would set you back $1000, which is like a billion dollars in today’s money. And no respectable artist would sell out to a point they had the option to release their songs on a compact disc back then anyway. That was for the Debbie Gibsons of the world. That, of course, changed quickly.
Frankie Says Relax
I didn’t listen to many of these songs back in the 1980’s as I did with say, The Smiths or Let’s Active, but they are at least some of the better songs from the 80’s, which should be curated and kept on life support by someone. The way I procured music is unlike any way children will ever have to again in history, which was to order vinyl albums from NYC or LA out of hand-typed underground magazines I got from basically head shops and subculture establishments in college towns and big cities and record them to tapes in my dorm room. I still have my JVC tape player, incredibly.
I didn’t receive any radio stations worth mentioning in boarding school which was in the middle of a huge farm, and at home, in SC we didn’t have any good radio, and we only had two places to buy tapes and albums in my hometown anyway. And they sold whatever was playing on the radio, which was typically pop garbage and heavy metal for stoned teenagers that drove custom vans. I ordered tapes via mail order from Britain and bootlegged tapes. I also managed to have roommates and friends in boarding school with awesome musical taste who I could record from and did often. I still have those tapes floating around somewhere, with the Dead Milkmen and T.S.O.L. well-represented.
The metal scene, which should be mentioned, had some standouts, depending on your definition of “heavy metal.” Back then I didn’t care for any of it, except maybe early Van Halen(Diver Down), AC/DC(Back in Black) and bands with guitar gods at the lead, which was a prelude to my guitar obsession which has since permeated my life. This was around the time I began learning to play the guitar seriously. (I’m still working on it.) But I recognized the virtuosity of Eddie Van Halen and appreciated the simple riffs of Angus Young. Johnny Marr’s guitar work wasn’t lost on me, either.
Led Zeppelin, Rush, the Grateful Dead, Eric Clapton and a handful of other legendary bands were indeed awesome in their own right, and still are, but just didn’t appeal to my state of mind and demographic at the time, which is why I’m not talking about them much. But there was some good stuff here and there during the decade, and I did attend quite a few of their concerts during that time. The Rolling Stones, the Who and even Paul McCartney before becoming a knight put out some good work. And don’t forget Michael Jackson and the Quincy Jones and Motown empires. I’m coming mostly from an “alternative” background, however. And although I did own their albums, they weren’t played nearly like the bands mentioned here.
The journey of good, alternative music in the 1980’s went something like this:
College radio stations would play local bands that were on their way to becoming regionally and even nationally known and played at fraternity parties and campus parties that were regional. Even some well-to-do boarding schools landed some big names. My own high school had REM booked until the school feared it would draw undesirables from nearby Charlottesville/Univerity of Virginia and got another band at the last minute. Think The Replacements, Husker Du, Violent Femmes, B-52s, the White Animals, etc… College prep students would pick up on these groups and music from hanging out on colleges, as we were able to do with a great deal of relative independence, and have older siblings in college that were among the musically privvy. The prep school kids took that music home with them, and it filtered into local private schools, and from there into the “alternative” kids of public school several years later. I had almost graduated from high school in 1988 before the Violent Femmes or Psychedelic Furs hit my hometown’s alternative scene, for example, and that was mostly because of their songs appearing in John Hughes pop films, like Pretty in Pink.
We’ve finally reached a point in time that I fantasized about as an adolescent: when I can pull up any song I want at any time. That’s a luxury that only people from my generation and prior know exists. I recall well lying in bed as a teenager and imagining the future when something called YouTube and Spotify existed.
So time to check in with results since my last post. I’m doing pretty well, actually. I’m growing my Twitter base in a hockey stick fashion and getting a lot more eyeballs on my LinkedIn profile, Facebook pages and groups and my numbers on my marketing blog and here are starting an upward trend. The key is consistency. Finding a sweet spot as far as types of content that resonate with my audience and discovering what times of the day is best to send it out. My biggest challenge is having a toddler to watch after, which I cherish and comes as my top priority, so at that expense go my marketing efforts. I can’t stay consistent just yet because I have other priorities.
In addition to marketing that site, I’ve also burdened myself with hosting a Product Hunt Hackathon here in Louisville, and I’ll be building a product myself, which will be an audible desktop penpal setup, and down the line have it work with Alexa and iOS software. It’s for the blind or illiterate who would like to have a pen pal but would rather speak their message to their pen pal instead of writing it and mail it and wait. It’s just a side project to mess around with. I’ll have it hosted at penpals.fun. So I’m putting that on my plate along with looking for a full-time job and taking care of a 2-year-old, a 16-year-old dog and a cat. And sometimes, apparently, a very well-fed possum.
What’s the biggest benefit of this marketing effort is that I’m learning a TON of digital marketing tips and techniques and staying on top of the bleeding edge marketing stuff. Machine Learning and AI and VR marketing, for example. I’m able to stay on top of the latest marketing trends and automation tools and am trying out a bunch of them to see what works best for what type of work. A lot of what’s out there is the same version of a product, with small iterations changed and a different feature here and there. I’m finding a lot of money doesn’t need t be spent to access some pretty powerful tools, and for a usually reasonable fee, you can get your hands on some really powerful gear. Google is especially generous with their software.
So I’m still forging ahead, and making gains, which are humble but what’s to be expected in the embryonic stages of such an endeavor. I’ve done this enough to know that it takes time. Tha’s the biggest power the internet has: the effect of time.
If you’re in the marketing business, you surely are familiar with what the marketing landscape looks like online: it’s packed with tools, tips, articles, software, and “pros” offering advice and products to help you learn more about, boost and help you and companies with all types of marketing. Sounds great, right?
Problem is, there are a lot of different types of marketing. Inbound, content, SEO, SEM, digital, automation, branding, product, email, affiliate, and over a hundred more at least. And then subcategories of those. It gets to be messy fast, and marketers being marketers, many of them are in it to make a buck or two. Or a lot more. And the range of knowledge and experience and authenticity of those marketers that want to help you is all over the place. People with no marketing experience at all, who’ve gotten their “skills” from reading other people’s articles, to marketing professors who are into academic marketing, to legitimate digital marketers, to hobbyists, to…. You get the point. A lot of what you see online is about affiliate marketing, which personally I’d put near the bottom of the list of legitimacy, to more academic and B2B marketing/digital that incorporates a bundle of skills which includes SEO, content, SEM, display, and a pretty big marketing mix. That may or may not include developing one or more sales funnels that rely on inbound marketing using platforms like HubSpot and Salesforce. I’d place that somewhere near the top, alongside “academic” marketing, although academia is woefully outdated and out of touch with the realities of practical marketing in the modern world. It’s where much research and marketing studies are generated, alongside consulting firms that release complex case studies like McKinsey.
What you tend to learn in school is purely theoretical, with possibly a few case studies and maybe some real-world experience comprised of teamwork, working on an actual marketing problem that a business is willing to let students work on for free/experience. That’s typically found in graduate-level work at the better schools, and even then, it doesn’t teach you much of anything about real digital marketing whatsoever and what the skills and tools are you need to know to get a job doing it. You have to teach yourself or learn on the job, which is more and more unlikely that you’ll find an employer willing to pay to train you in 2017 when there are a lot of people that already are trained. My tenured professor wife knows nothing about business itself and wouldn’t know what she was even looking at if you showed her a Google Analytics or Infusionsoft dashboard, or anything about SEO at all, for example. It’s the same with law school; it doesn’t teach you lawyering or how to practice law, just the dry research and academic aspects. It’s also why we’re seeing people like Steve Wozniak and organizations/companies like Google funding and setting up schools and other training programs that simply leapfrog underperforming, overpriced colleges that aren’t preparing students for actual work whatsoever.
There’s also a wide range of quality when it comes to marketing programs in Universities as well. Top-tier schools, of course, will offer that in spades, but 80% of marketing degrees come from schools most people have never heard of, in accelerated 1-year programs that aren’t really worth much all. And even if they do offer a respectable opportunity to learn marketing, that’s not to say the students will take advantage of it. I cite my own experience of teaching marketing management at a local University to 35 students as an adjunct professor. The top students were motivated and walked out with some good tools and knowledge. The bottom never bothered to even learn the definition of marketing, even though I told them repeatedly if they only learned one thing in that class, the definition of marketing should be it. And the last question on my final exam was: “What is the definition of marketing?” Guess what? People still got it totally wrong.
So the point is, it’s like wading through an ocean of misinformation and an overabundance of barely-relevant information and tools and advice, much of which contradicts or is poorly-communicated to the point of being utterly confusing. I know this because I’ve spent the past 6+ years online plowing through it all on almost a daily basis. I also have an MBA with a concentration in marketing strategy. I’ve also taught marketing management at the University level, as I mentioned And if that wasn’t enough immersion, I’ve been married to a marketing professor who I traveled alongside with through her Ph.D. program and all which that life entailed. Marketing has been the world I’ve inhabited for nearly a decade. And I’m presently on the hunt for a digital marketing job now myself and am preparing myself for such a role so when I get one, which hopefully is soon, I can hit the ground running in every way.
What I’ve decided to do is create a website that will be the headquarters for a digital marketing hub, with a Facebook page and a Facebook group to supplement it, and grow a community around it for relevant discussion and ideas. It’ll take time to grow organically which I realize — I don’t plan on advertising to grow it or worry about monetizing it or anything, and I’ve built some decent sized communities online before for various concerns like web development and design, so I know what it takes and what to expect. And that’s fine; what that strategy eventually yields is high-quality and manageable, which are among the most important criteria.
Plus I think it’ll not only be fun but will serve as a great resource for my new digital marketing job. If I get the one that I really want and think I have a great shot at, it’ll be perfect. And it’ll be something rewarding I can share and work on as a highly productive side project as well.
So if you’re into digital marketing or any type of “legitimate” marketing, come take a look, join and participate! And let me know what you think; criticism and ideas are the driving force behind its growth and quality standards. There will be tools, tips, strategy, discussion and marketing resources galore.
I don’t post much personal stuff on this blog, ironically, because there are better places to record those types of things, and I know no one cares about it anyway. “Ask not what you can do for the internet, but what the internet can do for you” is most people’s attitude, so I’d rather provide informational posts of value rather than useless personal blather. I’ve managed a personal blog since 2010, so I’ve learned what sells and what doesn’t. Which is a good lead-in to this post.
Today was one of those days that I’ll remember for a long time, for two reasons.
When I first moved to Louisville back in 2011/2012 – I can’t even remember off the top of my head anymore because I don’t generally spend a lot of time looking in the rear-view mirror, I set out to find who the movers and shakers are in the tech and business scene here. Louisville isn’t a massive city, so it wasn’t too hard to pinpoint a few dozen names who were making things happen here. Who’s been having successful exits, who’s in the 40 under 40, etc… And one of those people kept popping up, all the time on my radar. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and even work with quite a few of those impressive people, but never that one guy who really impressed me among the top few. But I’ve followed his work this whole time, in a professional-stalker manner (I’m intentionally not mentioning his name because that doesn’t seem polite or appropriate).
And today I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to him for an hour or so about working with him, just sort of randomly. I’m in the job market now, looking for digital marketing work, and it just so happens he’s in the market for a digital marketer. He’s the Managing Director and was a co-founder of the business, which has been on the Inc. 5000 six times and has won many awards and is simply a great tech firm with some of the biggest brains in Louisville, with operations overseas that employ around 1,200. But that I was in that room telling him how I could help him was a strange experience, after following his body of impressive work for so long. Which brings me to the second reason.
I realized I know a lot more about digital marketing and marketing in general than I thought I did after that meeting. Sort of like reverse-imposter syndrome. While I thought the meeting might be a humbling experience(the man has been described to me as a “genius” by others), it proved the opposite and was more encouraging than intimidating. I’m sure that has a lot to do with his obvious humility and character. But it shouldn’t be such a surprise, since I have an MBA in marketing strategy, have taught marketing management, and for years now have lived and breathed the exact work they’re having pain points and problems with, if not decades when talking about writing compelling copy and following bleeding-edge tech. And it’s not exactly a crackerjack operation. So the same strange meeting also yielded the realization I’ve been selling myself pretty short. Which is a nice sensation-don’t get me wrong.
My little business operates at a $95/hour rate, which I haven’t had a problem getting, once qualified clients are located. That’s the hardest part, which is the same issue many businesses have, including the one I was exploring today. But it may be time to reevaluate some avenues I’ve been feeling out because I think my capabilities and skills are above where I’ve been punching. Which is a great epiphany to have, but makes your mind spin with new opportunities. It’s exciting to think about what the future may hold. We’ll see what doors today open.
SO. Here’s what happened. This is my email to the Managing Director of the firm.
For professional reasons I just wanted to document what transpired regarding my consulting engagement offer with GlowTouch Technologies, so hopefully, the situation doesn’t reoccur, to record it for my reference, and make sure the event doesn’t just vanish into the ether.
On October 17 you verbally extended an offer for a three-month engagement after interviewing and gathering information with you and Paul Kuamoo to identify areas for optimization via data collection, analysis, and marketing strategy implementation and techniques for your customer support division, including writing SEO optimized blog posts. I was to increase conversion rates for your sales department by identifying and executing marketing methods and was allowed three months before reviewing the measurable results and effects of my efforts. For my work, we agreed compensation would be $5000 per month, and I was to begin on October 23 at 1:00 pm to provide time for you to prepare your marketing team for my complementary insertion and due to the fact I had prior commitments before that date and time. After the three month engagement, we would review the outcome and situation to see if my continued efforts would be of utility in a full-time capacity or not.
On October 20, after I appropriated some necessary software and developed preliminary strategies to hit the ground running with as little friction as possible on October 23, and declined two other procured but scarce consulting offers to focus intently on the quarterly GlowTouch Technology engagement, we discussed the agreement once again. You informed me you had alerted GlowTouch Technology’s marketing team that I would be helping them in a consulting capacity, and their reaction to your presentation was revolt. Your solution was to immediately remove me from the verbally agreed upon engagement and put your staff on a type of notice, with the mention that my services may or may not be needed at some undefined point in the future.
I’m still currently available and willing to assist GlowTouch Technologies with marketing issues. However, my experience causes me to suspect the misalignment within your marketing department may be a result of using an agile methodology which tends to separate duties over time within operational sectors, resulting in inefficiencies. There may also be managerial issues at play, but I have no way of pinpointing them without assigning myself to research and inspecting where the business problems may lie.
In any case, I wish you the best of luck in your efforts and pursuits and hope you find the solutions and results you’re seeking. It was a pleasure to finally meet you, and I truly hope our paths cross again.
Siri has been a tool that has been out for a long time, relatively, and in the beginning was little more than a buggy gimmick. Which is why I never really bothered to use it and subsequently trained myself to ignore it. But during that time, Apple has improved it immensely, and there are a ton of very good practical use-cases that are worth training oneself to use, whether for productivity, ease of life, organization or even to save a life. I’ve been using apps to perform several of these tricks, but Siri can easily replace them with a better system, and she works with other apps, appliances, and your iPhone or Mac to become a powerful assistant, which most people have on them at all times.
So, in no particular order, here are
11 great and practical uses for Siri:
1. Do basic math. Tips at restaurants, splitting tabs, double-checking receipts, and other quick mathematical questions can be asked, and immediately answered.
2. Estimate your time of arrival. If you use Apple Maps, which I sometimes do but must admit I’m loyal to Google Maps, you can simply ask Siri “What is my ETA?” and she will tell you your approximate time. Pretty handy.
3. Tell Siri to call you a nickname. This one is more for fun, but if you ask Siri a question, she’ll answer with your nickname. In my case that would be The Big Daddy. But be careful because this new name will show up in your contact card, so if you share your contact card with a job prospect, for example, they may start calling you by your cute nickname. Just a warning.
4. Open your apps. If your apps are a mess or you’re lazy, you can just say to Siri “Siri, launch ___” and it will open automatically. Pretty handy, especially if you’re like me and have hundreds and hundreds of apps, even if you only use a fraction of them at any time. It stinks when you’re trying to find an app quickly and fumbling around with screens.
5. Location-based reminders. This is a good one for when you’re on the move and can’t write down a note or reminder, like when you’re driving. For example, if you’re cruising along and suddenly remember that you left a load of wet clothes in the washer, you can tell Siri “Siri, remind me when I get home to change the laundry.” And via GPS and detecting your home network, she will pop up a message reminding you to do so. Or, if you need to get gas the next time you leave home or wherever, just say “Siri, when I leave here, remind me to get gas.” Just be sure to clear these reminders, or she will nag you about it every time.
6. Set and delete Alarms. Many people use Siri to set an alarm, but you can also use her to delete all your alarms, which are automatically saved when you create one. They aren’t all active, of course. But in addition to telling Siri “Siri, set an alarm for 30 minutes from now,” you can also tell Siri “Siri, delete all my alarms,” which will erase the endless list of alarms you’ve accumulated for all those naps.
7. Call Emergency Services. This is good for the infirmed, elderly, or klutzes who might find themselves trapped under something heavy. But here’s an important part you have to remember. This works with iPhone 6 and above which can activate Siri by simply saying “Hey Siri.” Tha’s one part. But if your phone is across the room and you’ve been immobilized, learn to say “Hey Siri, call 911 ON SPEAKER.” You have to say “On Speaker” or else you won’t be able to use it. Very important!
8. Email, text, and voicemail. I have shied away from using voice-to-text because it hasn’t been successful for my accent in the past. But after living away from the South for a while and Apple improving voice recognition, this isn’t an issue any longer, so it’s something I intend to use more often. Typing long messages on a tiny keyboard is, frankly, a frustrating pain. And texting and driving is a death wish. For texts, you can simply say “send a text message to Hank and tell him I want to eat lunch with him later.” and Siri will do it. Of course, you can also use Siri to place calls, place calls using the speakerphone, make emails and all that.
9. Weather Updates. The weather here in Louisville isn’t as unpredictable as it is in other places I’ve lived in coastal areas, but this can still be helpful when needed. All you say is “Siri, what’s the weather going to be like this weekend?” or whenever you’re interested in, and she’ll tell you.
10. Create and manage lists. I love lists, and use them a ton for my poor memory/crazy life. Organization is important to efficiency, which is important to saving time, and time=life. And often money as well. I use Notebook a ton, which is a great integrated app, which now works with Siri. Just say “Siri, add ___ to Notebook.” You have to be sure to say “To Notebook.”But for Apple’s Reminders app you’ll need to go into the Reminders App that Apple provides, and create a list, such a “To Do” or “Groceries.” Then you simply say “Siri, add “potatoes to my Groceries list” or “Siri, add pay my cable bill to my To-Do list.” And boom- she does it. There are a lot of creative ways to use this feature, in conjunction with lists eve. If you enter the address of your hardware store, you can use geofencing to tell Siri, ” Siri, when I go to the hardware store, remind me to buy a hammer,” and she’ll add it to your list. And you can keep adding items, and when you arrive at the hardware store next time, you’ll get a ping with your list of reminders.
11. Home Automation. You can buy smart lightbulbs now that connect to your iPhone. Philips Hue and LIFX are the big dogs in this space, but the LIFX bulbs have been deemed brighter and have more features than the Philips Hue. And you don’t need a hub to use them like the Philips Hue; you only use your HomeKit app. And like everything on this list, you can control them using nothing more than Siri.Here are some other appliances you can use with Siri around the house:Thermostats: Nest: http://amzn.to/2ps9WTu ; Ecobee2: http://amzn.to/2q2YiAA ; Honeywell (least expensive) http://amzn.to/2qnBChrWall outlets: KooGeek (works with Homekit as well) http://amzn.to/2ps2Xdp. WeMo also will do this but you need to be using Amazon’s Alexa/Echo for that. These allow you to plug in any kind of appliance and then be able to control it remotely. Make sure to set the device into the “on” position so that it can be controlled via the smart plug.
BONUS TIP! A TON of people uses PayPal these days to transfer money. And you can use Siri to make it even easier. Simply say “Siri, send $20 to mom using PayPal,” and confirm your payment with Touch ID or log in to the app with username and password and voila! Mom is $20 richer.Plus much more can now be controlled by using nothing more than your voice with Siri. It’s very cool, easy and affordable if not free. Why wouldn’t you?
You may have a lot of unnecessary emails in your Gmail inbox, or have an old Gmail account that’s been idle for some time accruing emails that are now just old junk like I just had. I hate setting up new email accounts if I don’t need them because I already have more to my name than necessary. And I also hate to have a bunch of old junk taking up memory and creating visual clutter.
Repurposing the Gmail accounts seems like a better idea since generally, you already have them customized and set up to your liking and can remember the address and login better since you’ve already used them at some point, plus the available names you’d probably want to even use with a new Gmail address are long-taken. And even if you do set up a new Gmail account, Google hounds you to create a new Google+ persona, and on and on. Not worth it, usually.
Problem is, when you go to your inbox and check the box to highlight all the emails in your inbox for deletion, it only checks 50 of them at a time–the ones that are on the screen before you. That can be adjusted to a degree by going into settings and expanding that number, but if you have thousands and thousands like you probably do, that’s inefficient plus an unnecessary waste of time and energy.
So, what’s the solution? It’s surprisingly simple.
In the mail search bar above everything, type “before:_____” with the space representing the date you want to delete all your email prior to, in this format: YYYY/MM/DD. Most likely that would be today’s date. Then hit the Search icon/magnifying glass, or hit Enter.
This will bring up all emails before that date. Click the box above all the selection boxes to select all:
An almost unnoticeable message will appear above your inbox asking if you want to select all messages that meet that criteria. Yes, you do:
Then simply click the delete/trash can icon:
Depending on how many emails you’re deleting, this may take a while. There will be a small “loading” message at the top indicating that it’s at work:
You may need to refresh your page or inbox, but all your emails will now be deleted from your Gmail inbox. Clean and ready to use anew:
It’s very common for images to be the biggest weight for websites when they’re loading. They slow down page speed dramatically if not prepared for the browser correctly. Fortunately, it isn’t hard to optimize your images before uploading and posting them, but it does require some diligence and discipline. It’s important enough that it’s worth making a habit to practice each and every time, however.
Image optimization comes down to 2 criteria:
Optimizing the # of bytes to encode each image pixel
Optimizing the total # of pixels
The filesize is simply the total # of pixels multiplied by the # bytes used to encode each pixel. Therefore, posting images with no more pixels than needed to display the asset at its intended size in the browser is optimal. Don’t make the browser rescale them because it uses CPU resources and displays at a lower resolution.
SEO – Google and other search engine providers take page load speed into account in their ranking algorithms. If you want to be competitive and rank highly consistently, then making your site as light as possible must be a priority. That means, you guessed it, optimizing your images.
User experience – Your users expect your page to load as fast as possible. As in under a second. If it doesn’t, it causes them anxiety and they may very well leave your site. Obviously that’s something you don’t want. There have been studies showing how much revenue large retailers lose due to sites being fractionally slower, and while that may not be the nature of your site, it’s illustrative of the impatience users have these days.
The Basics of Imagery on the Web
There are several ways to display graphics online, for our concerns. And there are several formats we typically use these days. Some are more well-known and common, like .jpeg/.jpg and .pngs. But .gifs are making a comeback and the best way to really handle many graphics is none of these, but .svg, or scalable vector graphics, which is just code. As is CSS which, if you’re good enough, you can create animated graphics with as well pretty easily. But CSS3 can also be easily used to produce gradients and shadows that not only generate a lighter footprint, they’re easier to change on the fly if needed as well. Buttons and such UI elements are easy to make via CSS and much lighter, look better, perform better and can be edited more easily than using linked or embedded images. Web fonts are also a good choice to improve usability and performance.
Vector and Raster Images
Vector images are created with a series of points and lines, code really, that are ideal when dealing with geometric shapes because they’re zoom and resolution-independent, and look sharp and crisp at any size on any screen. They also can be a considerably smaller file size than a raster counterpart.
Raster images are created by encoding the values of each pixel within a grid, and at small or large sizes can look very choppy and jagged. Pixelated, in fact. They take the formats of jpeg, png, gif, tiff and jpeg-xr and WebP, which are newer.
Generally, vectors are great for logos, text, icons, etc… and raster is better for intricate images like a photo of a landscape, for example. Often, you’ll need to save several versions of raster images at different resolutions to deliver the best user experience.
Note: When we double the resolution of the physical screen the total number of pixels increases by a factor of four (double the # of horizontal pixels times double the # of vertical pixels) So a “2x” screen doesn’t just double, but quadruples the number of needed pixels.
Uncompressed file size (4 bytes/pixel)
100 x 100 = 10,000
100 x 100 x 4 = 40,000
100 x 100 x 9 = 90,000
Optimizing Vector Images
This is something that I, as your designer/developer will handle and worry about more than you but it’s good to be knowledgeable about what’s going on, and the usage of svg is becoming more widespread, so you’re more likely to cross its path than in the past. So I won’t go into major depth here, because it’s a large, complex subject, but you should at least be able to recognize it when you see it in the wild.
SVG is an XML-based image format. They should be minified to keep their size as small as possible, and they should be compressed with GZIP. All modern browsers support svg files, and they’re created using vector software like Adobe Illustrator, or you could code it up by hand if you wanted in a text editor. Illustrator is easier. There’s a lot of unnecessary metadata that’s created however, that can be cleaned up by running it through a tool like SVGO. There’s a plugin for Illustrator as well that I personally use.
Optimizing Raster Images
A raster image is a grid of pixels, and each pixel encodes color and transparency info in RGBA form (red, green, blue and alpha, which is transparency).
You’ll see “Lossless” and “Lossy” used a lot when trying to decide how to optimize raster images, but what do they mean? They look made up (and probably were, like “performant” and “canonicalization” and other words developers just dream up).
Lossless – describes an image that’s processed with a filter that compresses the pixel data.
Lossy – Processing an image with a filter that eliminates pixel data.
Any image can go through a Lossy compression process to reduce its file size. But there is no “optimal” configuration for all images. It depends on the contents of the unique image and your own criteria.
You’ll usually see lossy methods being applied with jpeg images in Photoshop, for example, when you’re saving the image for the web, and are given the option to customize the “quality” setting with a slider or set of numbers. The best way to determine this is really to just experiment and see what looks best with the largest file size savings, which in Photoshop may be seen in the bottom left corner of the screen.
This is as good a place as any to mention that when you upload an image in WordPress, it automatically is saved at 80% quality and at various sizes, which can be controlled in the admin panel. Out of the box, WordPress saves three other versions for you at a thumbnail size (150×150), Medium (300×300), and a large (1024×1024). But that can be changed to be anything and number you like of course, as can the 80% quality setting. Image file size is but one easy way to speed up your WordPress site. If you’re looking for other ways, here’s a very good pdf guide on ways to speed up your WP site:
OK, this is what I believe what most people are intereested in. In addition to Lossy and Lossless considerations, different image formats support different features like transparency and animation, increasingly important things for the web. So the “right format” depends on the desired visual results and functionality.
TIFFs are very heavy files and very high-res. Unless you’re doing some professional work or have a one-off, very good reason, you’re not going to need to use a .TIFF file.
GIFs are very trendy right now for short clips of animation on the web. However, they are limited to a maximum 256 colors, and a PNG-8 delivers better compression for small color palettes. Only use GIFs when animation is required. For longer animations, consider using HTML5
There are a few things I do to WordPress websites to help lighten the load as far as images are concerned. Images account for so much weight on websites, every little bit/byte counts. But the web is a visual medium, and the use of graphics is crucial for so many reasons. A better user experience, SEO reasons, shareability, and images just make websites so much more dynamic.
For SEO and accessibility reasons ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS be mindful of your ALT tags! Bots can’t see images, so they rely on what you tell them the image is of to decide what to do with it. Make sure you complete them.
WordPress plugins that help optimize load time by compressing, lazy loading and other tricks are widely available. I’ve settled on using WPMU’s Smush.it Pro to compress images, which is a premium plugin, and I put it on clients’ sites as a courtesy because it’s so good and what it does is so important. I have had some issues with it from time to time, but the headaches that arise are worth the savings in file size, to me. (The plugin is high quality from some reputable WP developers; what it does is just complex and it gets snagged sometimes. I can live with it.)
Use vector formats when available and appropriate. They’re future-friendly, light, easy to manipulate and change and look awesome on retina screens.
Minify & compress your assets. SVGs, PNGs, JPGs and GIFs can easily be shrunk significantly and doing so should become part of your workflow.
Don’t be afraid to dial down the quality settings on raster images; the quality remains high but you reduce the number of bytes significantly. Human eyes just aren’t all that great, unfortunately. Even though our screens are getting to be insanely high-res.
Remove unnecessary metadata like geo information, camera information, etc… there are tools to do this which I’ll provide in a resources addendum.
Serve scaled images, and automate as much as you can. There are lots of great optimization tools around, many for free, and many built right into editing software, waiting to be used.
A guide to choosing which format:
Compressr.io – A web app I use all the time to smush images before uploading. It works great.
Adobe Illustrator is considered the standard tool for creating vector artwork, and although it’s been challenged a number of times over the years, it remains on the top of the heap. That’s for many reasons, but being the simplest to use certainly isn’t one of them. It’s easier than Photoshop to learn, but both represent a considerable investment in time and learning to use with any efficiency and skill. Years, in many cases.
I’ve used Illustrator (actually all the Adobe tools in the Creative Cloud suite, and that’s a LOT) for years, and am a huge fan. I’m the owner of a Google Plus Adobe Illustrator community that has around 6400 members and counting, in fact. It’s easy for me to use because I’ve used it so much for so long, as is the case with anyone with anything. So when someone has that much invested, it’s sort of uncommon for people to jump ship to another program for no good reason.
The biggest complaint I hear about Illustrator, Photoshop and the rest of the Adobe products is their pricing model, which is a subscription. And it’s not exactly cheap. They used to sell individual licenses up to CS6 like most other products, but switched when they added a Cloud feature to sell storage alongside the tools. The other complaint would probably be, besides intermittent bugs, the time and effort it takes to learn if you’re just beginning. That’s where competing products try to get their feet in the door. I’ve lost count of all the products out there that you can use for vector design, but Google Web Designer is one, Macaw is another that was hugely-hyped and originally cost more than Sketch(it’s now free, incidentally), and there are others. I’ve played around with many/most all of them, and they’re all basically the same: a knockoff of Illustrator, but far less powerful, and with a learning curve to boot.
Sketch came along, and took the best of Illustrator and kept it, and took the worst, and reworked it. And they made it lighweight and fast. And also very easy to install plugins, and even develop them yourself if you’re so inclined. There are some great plugins available for free that increase productivity and workflows. That’s probably the biggest feature that makes Sketch so popular: it’s fast and easy. And comparatively cheap. Sketch is only available for Mac, however. As someone who uses both Windows and Macs, that strikes me as strange, because they’re missing out on a HUGE market. Of course, that’s their (Bohemian Coding- the developers) decision.
I’ve had Sketch installed for maybe 2 years and have never bothered to use it, so recently I decided to see how fast I could pick it up. A lot of designers use it, and it’s popularity has been sustained unlike other vector programs such as previously mentioned so it seemed worth some time and trouble. I’ve tinkered around with the interface a few times, and it’s laid out a lot like Illustrator, so I wasn’t expecting too much trouble. The wheel hasn’t been reinvented or anything. And, as expected, I didn’t have much. A large reason for that is also the excellent instructions and support Sketch has available, plus it’s pretty intuitive. If you contrast that with Adobe Illustrator, I’ve never been impressed with Adobe’s support for their products. (For a long time, they simply relied on Lynda.com for instruction, which is how I learned, along with trial and error.) That’s not because there’s a lack of them. To the contrary; there are too many. I don’t find it user-friendly, and I don’t think I’m alone because there are a gazillion third-party tutorials and help articles and videos for their products. An over-abundance which adds to the confusion since some are good and some are awful, and some are totally outdated, going back to CS2. And if you try to use the help menu IN Adobe’s applications, they divert you to your browser and take you out of the program completely to Adobe’s community forum which I’ve never found to be a pleasant UX at all. Users can go to the web themselves and do a search. And even then, you usually don’t find the specific help you need. Sketch has a menu on the app’s site that walks you through it, and that’s plenty, I found. Of course there are YouTube videos for any topic you may have as well, but I found them unnecessary. But there are some good ones.
I’ve picked Sketch up quickly, and that makes my workfkow speedy already. When I add the plugins that are meant to boost productivity for the activities I need them for, it’s really a great product. I especially like how lightweight and fast it is compared to Adobe’s products, which weigh in at about 1GB each. That adds up fast if You’re doing some serious creating with Illustrator, Photoshop, Bridge, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Animator, and so on. Premiere Pro is a monster. However Adobe has addressed that the best way they know how I suppose, byt being able to install an uninstall the apps via the Creative Cloud interface.
I still feel like Illustrator is a more robust application, for some reason, although I can’t justify that feeling. I can do anything with Sketch I can with AI, and in fact possibly more if you look at the new symbol libraries and export options and some other features I’m sure I haven’t stumbled upon yet. Sketch iterates pretty often, especially compared to past AI competitors. Sketch also has cloud storage built into their pricing, plus a free iOS app for mirroring your workspace. And the plugin ecosystem takes it to an entirely different level. Illustrator has plugins as well, but they aren’t maintained and you definitely won’t find them being consistently actively developed on GitHub, as with Sketch.
To that end, I’m posting here some of the better resources I’ve found for Sketch so far for my personal reference and anyone interested. They’re all free, and Sketch itself is a relative bargain at $99, with the option of a generous student/educator discount available (Adobe offers a discount as well-most software companies do). And it’s just a one-time fee, as opposed to Adobe’s Creative Cloud, which is an ongoing cost that’s also tiered. However, for that price you get quite a bit more. But whether those extra features, such as cloud storage and a TON of programs for creating anything you can possibly imagine is dependant upon the user, of course. So, am I switching to Sketch for good? Time will have to tell.
So, without any further ado, here are some awesome Sketch resources:
If you blog you’re familiar with WordPress and most likely Medium. WordPress has been around for over 10 years and is a mature platform. Medium is younger and was launched by Ev Williams of Twitter and has become a publishing platform for both amateur and professional writers. There are, of course, other platforms like Wix, Weebly, Blogger, Drupal, Squarespace, and Joomla, which are different variations of basically the same thing.
I’ve been using WordPress for over 7 years and follow its development closely. I use it nearly exclusively for client’s websites and consider myself an expert at it. “WordPress” as an entity is sort of a mess, in my opinion, which I’ve written about in depth before. I’ve also talked about how, back when Medium was a different product, is WordPress’ main competitor, and not Drupal and Joomla as most people believed a few years ago. With the unveiling of WordPress’ new editor Gutenberg, it’s now evident that Matt Mullenweg et al. agree.
Ev Williams keeps changing the interface of Medium, and most users seem to applaud his efforts. That’s a play on words since the latest Medium update includes “claps” to show love and appreciation for writers’ work instead of thumbs-ups and downs. Basic gamification strategy.
Matt and WordPress do things a little differently. They make huge changes despite what the core users and customers think, and those are two very different and large groups of people. In my opinion, he’s not only risking having people defect but start up competing CMS/blogging platforms(WP can’t decide what it is). There’s a HUGE market out there which WordPress is trying to fully dominate, despite not ever putting forth a material plan for doing so. Iterate and pray seem to be the daily plan, and let other developers work on it for free as open-source software is the long-term plan. The profitable markets that have spun off in the form of plugin and theme shops, WordPress developers, and other niche businesses are what keep it propped up more than anything, and is what Medium and other competitors are missing. Medium has a payout scheme for popular writers, but that’s a small market comparatively. WordPress’ model isn’t unlike Apple’s app store, which is responsible for Apple’s astounding rise to financial and market dominance.
I have a feeling someone soon will create a platform that will take a large chunk of market share from Medium and WordPress. Ghost had the potential and still does to an extent, but it needs to become much more user-friendly and be marketed much more aggressively. I’m a big fan of Ghost and hope John and Hannah, the founders, succeed. Bootstrap could even come to be in the CMS/blogging space one day, although I don’t think that’s what Mark Otto and the Bootstrap community are aiming for, or is it the core competency. Bootstrap as a development framework is awesome and has a really big, and growing, development base. It’s the biggest repo on Github and has been for a long time. I’ve even published a lengthy book on developing with it, back when it was “Twitter Bootstrap.”
WordPress enjoys being a first-mover, although they weren’t really the “first” to offer an open-source blogging platform. They just emerged as the most popular back in the days of blogging infancy and took some bloggers and newbie developers along for the ride to make them pretty wealthy along the way. That’s given WordPress/Automattic/Matt a lot of wiggle-room and revenue to make mistakes without getting crushed, which is a good thing considering the noticeable lack of leadership at the top. There may be a vision but it isn’t made very clear to anyone, and the heaviest users of WP like to know what the roadmap contains beyond the next update or two because they come fast. And WP needs to be backward-compatible and is legacy software.
Gutenberg is all the WordPress world can talk about, which as I predicted years ago, is a response to Medium. Here’s a white paper by Human Made, and Medium is mentioned on the second page of the thing. It’s sort of a disingenuine piece. The author asks why did they decide to build Gutenberg, and then never answers the question. He calls it an “experiment” which of course it isn’t. It’s a strategy. You don’t experiment with something as crucial as the essence of the core product at this scale and Matt knows it. Ironically, the “blocks” direction which is the core concept of the new editor, keeps making me think of the Thesis theme, which very well may have just been ahead of its; time. The story of Thesis is rich. Not as Rich as Matt, unfortunately for Chris Pearson.
Louisville, KY has scant options when it comes to ISPs, just as with most places in America. How this came to be is a long story (telecoms & politicians) but there’s just not much competition, so the service is government-grade.
Luckily, Google Fiber is coming to town soon, which Louisville is abuzz about. For good reason, mentioned above. They’ll be up and running fairly soon, and I’ve even sent them a resume to do some marketing for them. I’m switching first thing.
But in the meantime, I’m relegated to Spectrum. They used to Be Comcast. Who was Charter before that. Who was originally AOL/Time Warner. Who now owns Spectrum. I think another acquisition was in there somewhere as well. That was all just over the past 5 years or so I’ve been in Louisville.
Ever since Spectrum became the name on my bills I’ve had service problems with a few agonizing stories I won’t go into. This isn’t about how they stink like everyone else enjoys complaining about.
I had service set up last week and had a tech come out to install it, despite it already being installed. And Spectrum was nice enough to waive that fee. But while the tech was setting up the modem and checking signals, which weren’t there, we were able to talk. A lot.
Spectrum sells a few internet packages. One offers 60Mps d/l speed. Too slow for my needs, but he promises the 60MBps crowd gets every last meg. They also sell what they seem to think is a premium service which is 300MBps. Every time I mention I have that service, the rep or tech acts like I’m Elon Musk and no one has that installed.
But the tech told me they only guarantee up to 100MBps and are unable to even deliver much over that, on the best of days. Nowhere NEAR 300. Can’t even do it. So really what they’re selling is 100MBps at 300MBps rates. Is that legal? I don’t see how, but apparently so. I have a Mercedes I want to sell, but it’s really a Toyota. And I can legally hold you to pay Mercedes prices. Totally legit?