The short list of my favorite tools & apps this year. Some of these I'm late to the party, but they still hold up.
Amazon Alexa + DOT - Omg. Just unwrapped this last night as a gift for Christmas and I'm pretty amazed really. I felt like I stepped into the future. For $50 you get a futuristic personal assistant, so ya, it's cool. In 1 hour it went to the top of my list.
iPad Pro - I finally updated. It's hard to describe the space iPads live in, they are not phones, they are not computers. I guess I'm ready to not be carrying my computer everywhere with me.
Pencil - Of course I got this to go with the iPad.
Wacom - I never learned to use a Wacom tablet before this year, I had no interest in relearning how to scroll around from screen to screen. The beginning of this year I started showing symptoms of carpool tunnel. It seemed like it want from somewhat bothersome to actual pain pretty quickly. Another designer felt bad for me and is letting me use hers, In any case this is my new mouse.
EXTENSIONS & PLUGINS
GuideGuide - A photoshop and illustrator extension for web designers. It used to be free. But when adobe added art boards to photoshop it got jangled and I think they just had to start charging to justify the time in the updates it needed to support it. $10 though for lightening fast grids + sanity.
CSSHat 2 - Want to be friends with your dev team?
InVision - If your a web designer and want an easy way to impress people, check this out. Giant leaps forward that streamline your workflow with dev. Better communication, no more excuses why staging doesn't look like what you passed off. They have 3 or 4 extensions and plugins to make everything extra easy.
TimePage - Just started getting into this. Same creators of moleskin it's the most beautiful, clean design and has a interesting user experience. It's the un boring answer to the i Cal.
Evernote - I multitask like a boss with this app. If you would like to organize the information you hoard, this gets my highest recommendation. Ohhh. So satisfying to check things off your lists. LISTS people. Multiple lists, notebooks, everything, synced on all devices is a game changer. Brain storming, voice notes, images, spreadsheets, did I say brainstorming, I've even done presentations for work with the premium version when I needed it.
Dropbox Business - I finally bit the big one. I've had a few bad experiences relying on computer hard drives as well as portable hard drives, including my phd actually calling it quits as I was transferring files to drop box during a free month trial. If anything it just reassured me that I made the right choice.
If This Then That - A application that streamlines and scales your social media presence for max exposure by syncing other apps to work together. Helping you work smarter not harder. For example, install one applet that will repost your Instagram photos you make, on twitter, on Facebook, on Tumblr, even on Pinterest if that's your thing. You can even auto back up everything to Dropbox. I'm actually really excited to make my own custom applets.
Feedly - I used to be really into blogs, way back when blogs were fresh, I subscribed to everything and my google blog reader got a little overwhelming as I wasn't very selective. When google pulled the plug on the rss reader, I took a sabbatical as well ... until now I just discovered Feedly this year.
VSCO - the best filter presets for your photos.
Anything you guys can't live without?
George Lyle Wiseman.
Most of the men in my family actually served, but my mothers father is the only one I never met. After his service in the Army Air Corps he spent the rest of his career in managing wildlife refuge sanctuaries, more often than not living in the middle of a park living off the land with out basic comforts like electricity or indoor restrooms. I found his book on minerals, that he and my mom shared a passion in geology as they witnessed some of the most diverse terrain in the U.S.
Thursday evening Ben and I flew out for a long weekend in Alaska to visit family. Although a short stay we were able to squeeze a few adventures in. It only took about 10 minutes to get out of Anchorage and into the deeper areas.
The first day was stormy. We drove down and around the Turnagain Arm, I'm glad someone else was driving so I could just take it all in. As a PNW native that's been surrounded by mountains her entire life, I've never seen mountains like these. They took my breath away. Waterfalls about every one to two hundred feet, we even stopped and drank some glacier water (not something I would normally do).
Easily the most scenic stretch of road I've ever seen.
On our way to Prince William Sound, we passed through the Portage Glacier Tunnel a 2.6 subterranean one way route also shared with the trains. LOL. If felt like we were entering the scenes of a horror movie, you wouldn't believe how erriely beautiful this place is in the spring. As the town was mostly empty, one of the most notable buildings is the abandoned army barracks or something, perched on the mountain side hugging the bay, it clearly looks like it's from Chernobyl. I wanted to go inside but you know theres gotta be a bear in there.
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." T.R.
Hours before getting ready to go to a show at The Paramount Theater to see my favorite artist City & Colour, we started getting news alerts about the attacks in Paris ... I read about the events that day that told the story of a woman attending to concert had to lay silent and still pretending to be dead amongst the bodies for over an hour. She listened to the dying around her. She listened to the couple knowingly saying there last words to each other ... Usually a newshound reading my NYT morning briefing, I've giving the news a break. What else is there? This is just too much. It was a sad day for us all. Yet we came from all corners that night, in from the autumn rain storm and maybe make sense of it all.
If you know Dallas' recently released album If I Should Go Before You already, you know he explores dark themes of death and loss. To be there listening to that It was like we were all meant to be there that night
That last post wasn't melodramatic or anything. Moving on.
Last week I left a meditation with an interesting perspective. The teacher explained how new students often feel overwhelmed when they start because it's the first time they have ever mindfully sat down, shut up, and listen to just the thoughts in their heads. He went on to say that this is normal and we each have about 30-40 thousand thoughts through out the day. But he wanted us to focus on the unique moment in between each thought in our meditation. It is inside that moment of stillness where possibility lies what's in store for the next thought, it could be anything. It in truth is emptiness. It has made space for the next possibility. Much like brainstorming a mind map, pay attention to your thoughts for 1 minute with one arbitrary thought and see how far it goes and where it goes... How many small jumps, large jumps?
Something to think about as we head into a stormy end of summer weekend in the PNW.
Depending on my perspective that day I can either say I am a scholar of the arts, that it's about the learning and creating. More than likely though I've been viewing myself a jack of trades, expert of none.
I searched for a craft my entire life it seems and nothing really sang to me. Nope. I am not an artist. Let us list things I've tried and ultimately abandoned. No particular order. Knitting. Weaving. Lettering. Calligraphy. Watercolor. Painting. In high school and middle school I took every art class, a few of the highlights. Batik. Ceramics. Art 101, Art 102, Art 103, Photography, Block Printing, Screen Printing, Drawing, Advanced Drawing. In Elementary school I was surprisingly athletically outgoing and did gymnastics, tap dance, ballet, jazz on top of athletics including baseball, basketball and soccer. I played the flute, taught myself the piano. My brother handed me his guitar one day and without knowing any notes I was decided to make a song. And I did. Something simple of course. Not that it was amazing for someone experienced but it was still impressive for a someone that didn't know what they were doing. I was actually quite good at a few of these things.
And that song, much like every thing else I just listed is something I have done then I move along to the next one ... This is a pretty general but spot the eff on statement for my entire life.
Oh. Did I mention my last 6 years I spent bouncing around as a freelancer. You know what is even more hilarious. I have even had a blog before, well couple humble posts from my previous portfolio site, but it wasn't terrible it was thoughtful and considered; dare I say good even. I'm painfully introverted, which doesn't help. It might be the creating, and not so much about the glory for me.
I think I would be happier if I didn't expect myself to be an artist of something at some point. I think could resign myself to it if I didn't feel an expectation that I be one eventually ... I'm I alone in this feeling.
Some iPhone shoots from a shoot a few months ago. We had three days cram studio and onsite editorial shots. I always forget or don't care, sensible shoe wear. My tootsies were throbbing by the end of day one.
The more interesting part of the shoot we featured onsite in a historical industrial building in Seattle's Sodo Disctrict. The building itself had so much character and history alone, seemingly untouched by the current residents of the building which happened to be a woodworking reclamation and heirlooms business. I commended their restraint leaving well enough alone. But even more it appeared that each previous tenant had simply left their belongings, and each new tenant simply picked up the industrial sized brooms and pushed these bits of americana to the dark corners and set up their curated items in the middle a huge warehouse room. In the owners office you could see the floor decades old remnants of where a previous tenant waxed something and hung as there was thick rows of wax on the floor.
Smaller unlit rooms in the back that couldn't even beens stepped in without moving the junk aside with your foot, while we made our way closer to tiny windows that beams in beautiful light. Piles of americana everywhere. Fax machines, building plans, a nudie calendar from the 80s and old disposable coke cups. I had this really curious feeling like we arrived uninvited into someones unclean house, and saw the way things really where, not tidied up at all.
And this was all the public facing areas, there was an upstairs too. If I was a betting woman I'd say it's floor to ceiling with this stuff.