Boston   |   Silicon Valley

Blog

Meetings: Define the Problem, Don't Solve It

Posted by Dave Tufts on August 30, 2006.

Last week, I attended a fairly large meeting with Nils, Rob, the client, the client's team, and the client's consultants. This three and a half hour meeting was probably semi-productive for some of the people in the room.

Wait, did I say three and half hour meeting? Since there were 10 of us in the room, that really makes it a 35-hour meeting.

Thirty minutes (or 5 man-hours) into the meeting we were still vigorously debating the project's first feature. There was lots of brainstorming and whiteboard note taking, but we were still on point number one of a ten-point agenda. That's when the heavens opened, a non-florescent light of hope shone down through the suspended fiberglass ceiling and our client professed the following:

"If this is a good start, then maybe that's where we should stop."

Pure Genius!

Everyone who's ever designed, programmed, built, or authored anything should consider that advise. Write some ideas down, get off to a good start, and move on to the next thing.

Even if we spent 2 hours completely solving feature number one, features two through ten would have some impact requiring us to circle back to the beginning.

Unfortunately the client's brilliant advice was largely ignored. Instead of stopping, and moving on to another feature, we felt compelled to fully "solve" the first issue. With ten people that would prove nearly impossible.

Short meetings that present problems, not solve problems, are the most productive. In 5 minutes, the problem could have been presented to all 10 people in the room. All 10 of us would have heard, first hand, exactly what needed solving. On our own time, we all would have thought about solutions. Then, through quick emails, mock-ups, a Wiki page, or in smaller sub-committees, we could have solved the problem.

The final solution will most likely be better and more innovative if one or two people come up with the idea on their own. With a large group bickering about the final product, the lowest common denominator probably wins.

The key to a successful large meeting is that all the people involved hear and agree on exactly what the problem is. Solve the problem later. That's what attending a meeting should be about.

The cognitive origins of The Grid

Posted by Robert Mohns on August 25, 2006.

The grid is more than a theory of design. It is a way of thinking.

A (perhaps the) fundamental trait of the human mind is to identify, categorize and analyze: We identify elements of our environment; then We categorize them according to our previous experience, or create new categories; then We analyze them according to past experience, known relationships, and anticipated future experiences, finding patterns and identifying the greater context.

Which neatly brings us back around to step 1: identify. The cycle repeats in ever-widening circles.

The grid method of design facilitates understanding by creating a framework that aids in identification and categorization of content. Each item exists in a self-documenting, self-reinforcing structure which becomes an aid to rapid identification, categorization and analysis of additional content. The reader's comprehension improves geometrically. Thus: the grid is a human-centric design methodology.

The grid is a concept, of course, not a methodology. The grid doesn't have to be designed from squares or columns; it can be just as effectively based on hexagonal tiles, isometric overviews — any pattern which we can recognize and use to organize information. (See also: Grid Systems in Graphic Design)

iMarc Launches Five Sites In August

Posted by Nils Menten on August 25, 2006.

It's officially the busy season. iMarc launched five sites in the past few weeks: WallStreetPrep.com - a global full-service financial training firm; GastonScout.com - a flat-fee acquisition and divestiture ("A&D") firm; MatSysInc.com - a developer and manufacturer of sub-systems, components, and advanced materials; Dexsil.com - a manufacturer of portable test kits and instruments; and NEVOG.com - a veterinary oncology facility.

Wall Street Prep

http://www.wallstreetprep.com/

The new Wall Street Prep site was updated to provide a more secure, extendable infrastructure that can support more programs and options. Wall Street Prep administrators can add and edit training courses and materials, post news updates, manage their members, and track their site usage easier, safer and more reliably than ever.

Gaston Scout

http://www.gastonscout.com/

Gaston Scout is a private company creating a new process and market for middle-market mergers and acquisitions. The firm needed a web presence to market it's self to investors, buyers, and sellers. iMarc created a clean site that allows Gaston Scout to manage their firm news and publicity, and attract clients.

Materials Systems Inc.

www.matsysinc.com

Materials Systems Incorporated manufactures advanced materials for defense and commercial systems customers. iMarc updated MSI's site to reflect their current identity and business strategy, and express more compelling calls to action for visitors. Through the iMarc SiteManager, MSI can author, maintain and publish product documentation, post employment opportunities, manage news items, and offer the latest information on their tradeshow and expo participation.

Dexsil

www.dexsil.com

Dexsil is a manufacturer of portable test kits and instruments for the detection and quantification of contaminants in soil, water and oil. iMarc updated their site with valid XHTML and CSS, and created a new design to replace their outdated web presence. Dexsil needed a way to make their expansive product documentation easily accessible to their customers, reducing some of the load on their customer service department. Through dynamic tools created by iMarc, Dexsil can now manage an extensive database of FAQs, MSDS information and product manuals all through a single, online tool. Shopping cart functionality drives the commercial site, where Dexsil now offers it's full line of products online.

NEVOG

www.nevog.com

NEVOG (the New England Veterinary Oncology Group, LLP) is the only private referral veterinary oncology care center in New England. Their state-of-the-art facility was designed exclusively to serve the needs of veterinary oncology patients.

Lunchroom Banter (Volume IV)

Posted by Dave Tufts on August 11, 2006.

Three quick things:




  1. Christian: What's that smell?
  2. Dave: Lamb stew.
  3. Christian: Mmmmmm.... It doesn't smell baaaaaaaaaaaaad.



Say hello to our new Director of Sales and Marketing, Karin Klapak.




A couple of days ago Fred sent around a link to the best song ever. I can't get it out of my head and, quite frankly, I'm glad.


iMarc welcomes Karin Klapak

Posted by Nils Menten on July 24, 2006.

NEWBURYPORT -- iMarc L.L.C. is pleased to announce the addition of Karin Klapak to the staff. Karin will be working with the sales and business development team to help grow iMarc's business. Karin was a Palm Ambassador at Palm Inc, developing grass roots buzz and working in all aspects of the company's marketing efforts. Karin later joined Amesbury, Masschusetts-based startup MAGPiX, bringing innovative new digital imaging products to market. We're excited to welcome her to the team! iMarc is a full-service web development and hosting firm in Newburyport, MA. iMarc takes a user-focused multidisciplinary approach to web and online application design. iMarc's applications and web sites provide high levels of interactivity and engagement for the user, with more functionality and ease of maintenance for the administrator. iMarc's customers include Cubist Pharmaceuticals, EMC, Starwood Hotels, Springfield Museums, Upromise, and PCNomad, among others. For more information, contact iMarc at 978-462-8848 or visit www.imarc.net and view our portfolio.

PS Quickie! Your Own Crazy Movie Poster

Posted by Craig Henry on July 12, 2006. Tagged: creative, design

Hooooo!

So anyone who knows me knows that I love movies. That said, I recently was overcome with inspiration when I saw the new Pirates of the Caribbean Posters. They are pretty sick.

When you look at the POTC Posters (That will be Pirates of the Caribbean and NOT Passion of the Christ from here forth....you know you were thinking it!) they all follow a general theme: A collage of imagery along the bottom, a bunch of enormously large heads along the top, and the classic parchment paper logo with a title slapped across it. Oh and some hot chick but we wont be using one of those for this. Boo.

Pirates of The Caribbean PosterPirates of The Caribbean Poster
After staring at the posters a few minutes, I decided to see if the movie poster could be achieved with normal everyday photos you'd find out on the "internets".



OK! Let's begin....

Here's what you'll need:

Head, Explosion, Water, Wave

OH and a willing participant that can make "The Evil Face".

Christian:

Christian Keyes

I think we're set. Watch closely now, this will go fast!

Start with your open ocean.

Make the desired color adjustments.

Ocean photo

Add a vignette and the boat.

I did a choppy cutout and tilted it to prepare for the wave of DOOM.

Ocean and Boat

Add your creature.

I drew inspiration from the recent POTC poster, and added a large tentacle. Afterwards I inserted and blended the wave. Do your color adjustment accordingly.

Ocean, Boat, Tentacle

Add some sheens.

I added some light sheens to the tentacle for the "wet look". I also threw in some color tints that will be used later on.

Ocean, Boat, Tentacle

Add noise and overlay tones.

I used a dark green/olive overlay later. After that I added a black and white noise layer, blurred it just slightly and set it to Soft Light over the poster.

Ocean, Boat, Tentacle

Add some grit.

Next I added some grit, dirt, and of course - an explosion!

Ocean, Boat, Tentacle

More texture.

I added yet more GRIT and then used a parchment texture for the top. I did some adjustments to make the parchment more green and contrasted - then blended it in.

Ocean, Boat, Tentacle

Add your head. Modify at will.

I took that photo i shot of Christian and adjusted the contrast and shadow/highlights. I then went in and manually burned the outlines of his face and color dodged some highlights. Lastly, I added a fantastic mustache and some eyeliner. Oh and I extended his eyebrows. Christian, such a saucy minx.

Christian Keyes, Ocean, Boat, Tentacle

Almost done!

I next added some messy hair above his eyes add gave his chin some stubble. Also, I started implementing some background shadows.

Christian Keyes, Ocean, Boat, Tentacle

Add some sparkle.

Next, add some orange overlay lights wherever you choose. When you are done - add palm trees on the sides!

Christian Keyes, Ocean, Boat, Tentacle

And we're done!

Throw in some tonal lighting and shadows. When you're happy, toss ina mutilated logo and some casting credits. Done!

Christian Keyes, Ocean, Boat, Tentacle

I hope you enjoyed this little photoshop quickie. It's not perfect and it certianly could get more in-depth, but I had fun making it. That said, let me see yours!

Pirates of The Caribbean

Ok that's it! Until next time....

Digg It.



Also,
Meteor Invasion!!!
Make me a dirty old woman! (In 11 Steps)
Make Jessica Alba Hot in 11 Steps!
Create A Freakish Zombie in 11 Steps!
A Quick Tsunami Photoshop Tutorial