The Inflatable House started life as a micro blog on Tumblr, hosting YouTube videos of music I’d come across and wanted to share. Then along came This Is My Jam, which pretty much did the exact same thing - only a little more socially.
I didn’t just want to abandon my Tumblr blog, so set about integrating my own This Is My Jam updates in amongst the YouTube videos I was still adding to the blog. I needed a way of getting my This Is My Jam updates into my Tumblr automagically â€” if I had to do it myself it would quickly becomeÂ hassle, duplicating the same updates in two different places â€” so I used IFTTT (If This Then That), creating a task that detects the auto tweet from This Is My Jam (it as a hashtag #thisismyjam) from my timeline to create a new Tumblr link post. IFTTT is quite clever, it first detects the tweet using the hashtag, then use the first link within that tweet acts as the link on the post, then the description (or copy) for the blog post is the tweet minus the hashtag. So I end up getting this;
So then I wondered what else I could add to the blog - to fill it out a little more. LastFM and SoundCloud are two music services I use for discovery, and they both have channels on IFTTT, and they both have ways ofÂ likingÂ / bookmarking tracks. So I set up a couple more tasks on IFTTT to automatically create Tumblr posts as and when I did anything on LastFM and SoundCloud.
A LastFM track gets a â¤’d, IFTTT detects this and creates a new Tumblr post with the song title, artist name and link to the track. I could also add in the album artwork as well, but I tried it and the first track I loved on LastFM didn’t have any artwork, so it placed a blank holding image into the post instead - not great - so here are the results of my task;
Meanwhile, over on SoundCloud I find a new track and add it to my favourites, IFTTT detects this and sends the link to the track, the name of the SoundCloud user who uploaded it and the track name, and creates a new post. And here’s the result of this one;
Now, you may notice the different logos to the side of each post, I’ve had to use different post types within Tumblr to create a home for each of the different services and style those post types accordingly / uniquely; YouTube gets a video post (obviously), LastFM gets a text post, This Is My Jam gets a link post and SoundCloud gets a quote post â€” at this point I was running out of different post types, only photo and chat post left - and audio post, but as you can’t ‘grab’ the source of the audio file for any of the services I’m using, which is a shameÂ I would also love to be able to grab the embed code for SoundCloud for the file I’m linking to so it is playable within my blog, instead of having to send the user off to SoundCloud by way of a bit.ly link, it would also be great to extract the YouTube video from the This Is My Jam post and have that displayed on the page, but these are either a little way off or just not possible using the methods that I’m using here.
The only other music service that I use is Spotify, and as soon as IFTTT get it integrated into their channels, I’ll be adding a task to post my favourites from that service to my little Inflatable House too!
If you’re a freelancer who’s taking on too much work, then I highly recommend you read this book; "So Few Of Me" by Peter H. Reynolds.
OK, so it’s a children’s book. I just read it to Finley at bedtime and it really struct a chord with me. I think Finley enjoyed it too, but for different reasons. It’s about a boy called Leo who has far too much to do and not enough time in the day to complete his list of jobs, so he creates another Leo, and another, and another, until there are 10 of him beavering away. Every time Leo created another one of himself, the new Leo would find more jobs to do - so Leo’s list was never getting completed, it was just being added to with every new, extra pair of hands. Finally Leo gives up on the cloning — or just wakes up from his dream world — makes all his duplicates disappear and realises he needs a fresh approach to his work load.
The last line in the book reads “What if I do less, but do my best.”
I’ve already started planning the type of work I’ll be doing — or at least trying to do — in 2012, and that quote pretty much sums it all up. More on that in about 5 weeks time.
I’ve been busy this weekend compiling a website launch list, a set of tasks that I can append to all of my website builds and work through once the site is finished and signed off by the client. The contents of the list has been sourced from a few examples I’ve found and bookmarked, such as this one and this one and this one, as well as a few ideas of my own.
So without further hesitance…
- Create 404 page
- Create favicon
- Logo should link to home page
- Check typography, text styling (headers, paragraph, lists)
- Spelling and grammar
- Consistency of copy - tense and style
- Recurring text (click here for this, etc)
- Variations in copy (websites vs web sites / wireframe wire-frame)
- Check phone numbers, emails and addresses
- Make sure no test or temporary content remains on site
- Alt tags on images / title tags on links
- HTML & CSS validation check
- Check page titles
- Metadata and keywords for each page
- Set up Google Analytics
- Set up XML Sitemaps
- Check internal links (make sure they’re not to test domain pages)
- Check external links
- Submit comment and email forms - test validation
- Test search functionality
- Check on browsers / Platforms (IE7, 8 & 9, Safari, Opera, Chrome and FireFox / OS X & Windows)
- Check screen resolutions and devices (large & small screen, iPad & iPhone)
- Configure backup solution
- Check loading times (Google page speed)
- Image optimisation via ImageOptim
- Check social links (Twitter etc)
- Set up webmasters on Google, Bing and Yahoo!
and as I often work in WordPress, I’ve added a few tasks specific to my favourite CMS.
- Make sure plugins are up to date
- Install WP Dropbox Backup (or an alternative backup solution)
- Set up caching plugin (if needed)
- Set up and distribute user accounts
- Remove unused themes
Finally, here’s a handy PDF of the list above - minus the WordPress tasks, so it’s a little more generic.
David Airey recently posted a response to an application he received for a piece of speculative work from DJ Rusko. The opportunity is dressed up as a competition with a prize of $1,000, all you need to do is design a logo.
Over the last few months the web / graphic design community has taken a stand against spec work, including posts by Paul Boag of BoagWorld / Headscape and a template style letter from Paul Annett. I completely agree with their points and the reasons we should turn away speculative jobs â€”Â I’ve turned away speculative work myself in the past, but after reading David Airey’s response I realised that I had a different perspective to call on, I’m a DJ that has played for free many of times in the past, and would do again in the future.
I’ve DJ’ed for promoters who are friends to help them out, and I’ve played at bars and clubs as a speculative demo to hopefully get regular gigs in the future. It’s something I love doing so why wouldn’t I want to do it for free? I’ve only ever DJ’ed as a hobby and because of this I’ve never needed to earn money from it â€”Â it’s never been my job. The designers that are refusing spec work want and need to get paid for their work, as their work is their income.
But there are designers out there that are in a similar position to me and my DJ â€” for lack of better words â€” career. So is it ever acceptable to take on spec work? I believe so.
- You’re just starting out and you want to gain experience, spec work can give you experience in working to a brief and to deadlines, as well as creating something tangible for your portfolio.
- You’re not relying on the income from this work. But remember â€” if you’re working on this job for free, you’re not spending time working on work that you could be getting paid for.
- Spare time, maybe you have a couple of hours - or even days, to spare, or maybe the specific project takes your fancy. It could be an opportunity to try out some new techniques, or practice a skill you’ve not used for a while.
Let’s go back to the original project that started the ball rolling. A relatively well known DJ / Producer has sent out a brief asking for a logo to be designed, the selected designer will be paid and their work used on an international stage. What if you’re a recently graduated student and a DJ Rusko fan, you want to improve your portfolio and skills - and there’s a chance of winning some money and exposure at the end.
Depending on your own circumstances and what you’re being asked to do, I don’t think speculative work can be written off 100% of the time.
So, I had an idea and I’m not sure what to do with it. I’m not sure I have the time to learn how to make an iPhone app, let alone build it and the market it properly when it’s finished. So I thought I’d turn my idea into a blog post, and if anyone reading this thinks it’s a good idea - then maybe you can take up the project. So, the idea is that you take photos of clouds, ones you think look like an animal or piece of fruit, you know the ones - then you’ll be able to draw around the cloud with a pen (your finger) to outline the cloud - making it more obvious to people what the cloud is supposed to look like. You would then be able to save your finished sketched photo to your iPhone’s camera roll or share it on your Facebook, Flickr or on Twitter. Quite a simple idea involving the iPhone’s camera, there are other applications that allow you to draw on a photo you’ve taken, goSnapFree being one - so this would have to be marketed as something extra. This brings in the website, you could run a monthly competition to find the best / most realistic cloud photo and give away a prize, similar to what Hipstamatic does, and hopefully making a community of cloud snappers who are always looking up at the clouds to find a cloud that looks like a rabbit. It’s not a groundbreaking application - but something fun, and something I think people would download and use.
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