Friday, November 29, 2013

LA Auto Show Brings a Parade of "Cool Cars"

The Los Angeles Auto Show isn't the first stop on the US auto show tour, and is not necessarily as influential as New York's or Detroit's.  But with the media and resources here, it definitely gets as much coverage as anywhere else, served with a thick layer of bright LA pop and Hollywood glamour. 

This year's edition opened to the public Friday the 22nd, and runs through December 1 at the LA Convention Center at the popular prices of $10 to $12 admission.  The tech and auto design experts at the LA Times give us a shorthand view of the coolest cars to expect and seek out at the show.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:
Editors' Picks: The Top 5 Cars on the show floor

Excerpt: "Of the scores of cars on display at the Los Angeles Auto Show, we’ve culled the herd down to five you definitely need to check out. The show, at the L.A. Convention Center, opened to the media on Tuesday and opens to the public on Friday.


Here are our five favorites (and one total loser):

Mercedes-Benz Vision Gran Turismo. Wow. Just … wow. Jaws dropped in unison as this over-the-top supercar concept rolled through a haze of smoke onto the Mercedes-Benz stage. You will never own this car, and it’s not because you are not super-rich. Mercedes will never build another one or sell it. The automaker knew that going in. It simply wanted to give its top designers free reign to dream big – no limits. And we can respect that. Some of the radical design language will make its way into production cars later. (And you can drive a version, but only in the Gran Turismo video game.) Surely, the designers learned a thing or two about pushing limits in the process. Just look at this thing – it’s hard to look away.

Porsche Macan. Porsche has been on a serious hot streak for many years now. The Macan, a smart play in the exploding compact crossover segment, could put the automaker over the top. Even in this awkward category – what is a crossover, anyway? – the Macan manages to look both aggressive and refined. It deftly mixes utility, luxury, breakneck speed and, almost assuredly, Porsche-like handling. The 400-horsepower turbo model turns zero-to-60 mph in 4.4 seconds, a truly ludicrous figure for a grocery-getter. The base model, starting at $50,895, isn’t much slower. Expect waiting lists when the Macan hits dealers lots.

Chevy Colorado. The Chevrolet Colorado has huge potential. Here’s an honest–to-goodness Chevy truck that won’t kill you on gas but has plenty of utility and towing power. Think of it as the Goldilocks pickup – not too big but not too small. General Motors is packing the interior with the technology and amenities today’s truck buyers demand and offering a smart selection of engine choices. We figure the four-cylinder will be gobbled up by businesses that need trucks but want to skimp on gas (and prefer their employees don’t drive anywhere fast). The six-cylinder will be the choice for towing, or for buyers who just enjoy a beefier engine. The promised diesel engine could be a home run, offering the combination of power, torque and fuel economy lacking in many trucks now."

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Designers Use Tongue-in-Cheek Appropriation of Logos

Visual branding and giant logos emblazoned across items of clothing reached their height, or nadir, in the go-go 80s and corporate 90s.  Consumers looked like walking billboards for soft drinks, sports teams, auto brands, and fashion designers.  Then came the anti-corporate grunge style, and flannel, t-shirts, cords and beat-up jeans took the place of billboard logo clothing. 

Now a new wave of cheeky young artists and designers have taken the p*ss out of  logo fashion, piling logos helter-skelter across jackets, sweatshirts and jerseys, hand-painting iconic logos on one-of-a-kind signature pieces, or even celebrating the Asian designer knockoff counterfeit market by buying and reselling pirated Asian copies of their own designs.  Welcome to the meta-meta world of cutting-edge logo fashion.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The New York Times

Link to article:
The Return of Logo Culture

Excerpt: "There are 17 logos on Heron Preston’s signature long-sleeve T-shirt: M&Ms and Trix; Google and Remington; Home Depot, huge, on the back; Nascar, upside down, on the front.

Looked at one way, these are 17 advertisements, 17 declarations of loyalty. The function of a logo is to advertise, and these are established images, familiar and eye-catching and effective.

And yet Mr. Preston’s shirt has the air of anti-promotion to it. The logos compete with one another for attention, ultimately privileging none. They become denatured.

But can a logo ever truly be subverted? In fashion, logos are the simplest way to turn a consumer into a billboard, and we are all inexorably branded now. With each passing year, it becomes more difficult to live out of the reach of corporate influence, and each successive generation has less of an idea of what life was like back when opting out was more of a possibility.

So maybe it’s not a shock that this time is also seeing the arrival of the logo as a forward-looking fashion staple, a William Gibson and Milton Glaser fantasy come to life.

This is happening in the hands of a group of young designers who accept the ubiquity of logos and who work within that framework to turn their purpose and effect on their head. The logo becomes the canvas, whether it’s their placement on a garment, the juxtaposition of several of them together or a rendering with an unconventional treatment. In all cases, the logo becomes a graphic element that can be mined for its familiarity, but is at least in part stripped of its corporate purpose.

'I think about the logos, but not so much,' said Mr. Preston, whose T-shirt was one of this year’s signature downtown fashion items. You see a similar energy in the work of Wil Fry, who works with grayscale prints made from scanned labels from 20 or so high-end designers, or Peggy Noland, who uses puff paint to create logo mash-ups on one-of-a-kind pieces."

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New Short Shows Typography "From Paper to Screen"

Typography and the way words and language are written are a big part of what we think of as visual style. Colors, fonts, and animations give the written word a design life, and can make the message cool, lively, businesslike, staid or boring. This short by French graphic designer Thibault de Fournas shows how written communication has evolved with typography, just as the title describes, "From Paper to Screen".

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
First Showing

Link to article: 
Excerpt: "Take a quick lesson in typography from French graphic designer Thibault de Fournas in a short titled From Paper to Screen. Created as his Graduation Project, the animated short shows 'typography evolution from paper to screen,' including a fun lesson in how it evolved in cinema. Of course the biggest reference is Saul Bass, who 'changed everything' with the way he presented title screens. Ever since then we've been inundated with every kind of different title possible, but there are people like Woody Allen who still use the classic style-less B&W text. I've also got a soft spot for anything that uses "Clair de Lune" perfectly...

As described on Vimeo by de Fournas as his 'Graduation Project': 'Animation which shows typography evolution from paper to screen. The animation is divided in two parts. The first deals with the basic rules of typesetting. The second, is about the evolution of typography in cinema. Used mainly for Opening and Closing title.' The short film was directed by French graphic designer/filmmaker Thibault de Fournas."

Monday, November 25, 2013

Brands Creating Goodwill By Doing Good Deeds

It's a novel concept.  Don't just fake it by scripting a happy, smiley-faced commercial that makes the viewer look more kindly toward your company.  Actually make it point to do good works, then make sure the public knows about it.  

Companies like Honda, Coke, Dove, and even Citibank have started high-profile projects that benefit individuals, organizations or the public at large.  They can then create a public relations campaign around the project, or even lie back and let the news media report on them as legitimately newsworthy deeds.  Either way, a small or large investment can pay off in a company's branding, image, and goodwill.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Forbes

Link to article:

Excerpt: "I’m talking about brands who stage very active and public displays of good from the brand and make it their marketing. The kind of good that is tied intimately to the brand’s truth, that truly affects the people it touches, and that makes on-lookers feel good just to witness the acts.

Well, I have noticed, and it’s got me thinking about what a brand can be today, particularly during these emotionally down times. Because this kind of branding a far cry from any old-school definition. Today, brands are experimenting with very public displays of affection, and to great effect.

Honda has a recent history of good-karma marketing. Look no further than its 'Project Drive-in' campaign, where Honda is saving the automobile’s ' playground,' the drive-in movie theater, by providing much-needed and very expensieve digital projectors to those who can’t afford them. Smart. Or look at Honda’s more recent 'Start something special' campaign. Their TV spots focus on a Honda model and its driver and, more to the point, focus on something special the driver is 'starting' in his or her life through they eyes of their Honda. Suddenly, the Honda is not a car at all, but a catalyst for, and witness to, life’s progress. Nice, but it gets better.

Honda has taken this concept of 'Start something special' to the real world with filmed live stunts, where the brand itself actually 'starts something special' for someone. Here’s an example, where a woman asked a local Honda dealer if she could borrow three Honda CR-Vs to transport her wedding party, and this is what she got:"

Friday, November 22, 2013

Bilingual Skills Might Delay Dementia and Alzheimer's

Learning one skill often has an unintended side benefit.  It has often been noted that music education leads to higher math scores, as the patterns and concepts of reding and performing music stimulate the regions of the brain responsible for mathematics learning. 

Now another, even greater side benefit of learning has been revealed by medical researchers.  In India, a country of many languages and an extremely wide range of social and economic strata, researchers have noticed that dementia occurs later in patients who speak more than one language.

And two studies in Ontario add to that with evidence that bilingual speakers show a typically later onset of Alzheimer's symptoms.  So far it is unclear if the progression of these brain afflictions is slower in bilingual speakers once symptoms do appear.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
USA Today

Link to article:
Speaking More Than One Language May Delay Dementia

Excerpt: "The latest evidence that speaking more than one language is a very good thing for our brains comes from a study finding dementia develops years later in bilingual people than in people who speak just one language.

The study, conducted in India and published Wednesday in the journal Neurology, is not the first to reach this conclusion. But it is the largest and comes with an intriguing new detail: The finding held up even in illiterate people — meaning that the possible effect is not explained by formal education.

Instead, the researchers say, there's something special about switching from one language to another in the course of routine communication — something that helps explain why bilingual people in the study developed dementia five years later than other people did. When illiterate people were compared with other illiterate people, those who could speak more than one language developed dementia six years later.

'We know from other studies that mental activity has a certain protective effect,' says co-author Thomas Bak, a neurologist at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. 'Bilingualism combines a lot of different mental activities. You have to switch sounds, concepts, grammatical structures, cultural concepts. It stimulates your brain all the time.'

For the study, Bak and colleagues in India reviewed medical records of 648 people with dementia who were seen in a clinic in the city of Hyderabad.

The location was key, because residents of the city, like many people in India, often speak two or three languages — typically some combination of the official language, Telugu, the Urdu dialect Dakkhini and the English increasingly used in schools, workplaces and the media, the authors write. People may speak in one language or combination at home and in neighborhoods and another at work or school, all in the course of a normal day, says co-author Suvarna Alladi, a neurologist at Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences, Hyderabad.

'Since bilingualism is more of a norm in India, bilingualism is not a characteristic of any particular socioeconomic, geographic or religious group,' she says."

Thursday, November 21, 2013

No More "Thumbs Up" for Facebook Like Buttons

The new "Like" button (below)
The iconic, simple blue line drawing of a hand forming the "thumbs up" of approval has made the Facebook "like" button into one of the world's most recognizable icons.  But now the social media giant has scrapped and redesigned its "like" and "share" button icons, opting for a bigger, brighter icon in familiar Facebook blue, featuring the company's lowercase "f" logo. 

The icons are ubiquitous, viewed by 22 billion pairs of eyes a day.  So the stakes are enormous, and a successful redesign that encourages viewer clicks translates into money in the bank for Facebook.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
SF Gate

Link to article:
Facebook Axes the Iconic "Thumbs Up" from its Like Button

Excerpt: "Ever since Facebook first introduced its Like button in 2010, it has stuck to the same logo: that blue-and-white thumbs up next to the word "Like."

Of course, the number of websites promoting their content with that old button has increased astronomically—the Like and Share buttons are viewed over 22 billion times per day—and Facebook has finally decided that it's time to try something new.

Feast your eyes on the new logos, which Facebook will start rolling out in the next few weeks. The logos ditch the thumbs up of yore in favor of more bright blue and the company's signature F.

Facebook has also made it easier for websites to include the Like and Share buttons side-by-side and says that it has seen an increase in the number of Likes and Shares throughout its testing of the redesign.

Didn't know that Like and Share were technically different?

Facebook's blog post clears up the confusion: Like lets you post to Facebook with one click, while Share lets you add your own message first and decide who gets to see the post. "

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

New Strategist at Cadillac Says Branding Is Key to Regaining Sales Position

Uwe Ellinghaus comes to Cadillac after 14 years at BMW, including a final stint as the band strategist for the German luxury marque.  He says that Cadillac's quality, styling and distinctive place in the market should put it near the top of US luxury auto brands.  With a decade of intensive branding efforts, he thinks that GM's crown jewel can overtake its German rivals in the US market.

But Kelley Blue Book thinks the plan is more ambitious than it sounds.  Luxury car owners are more brand loyal than most other consumers, and it will take a lot to convince them to give up the keys to their Mercedes, BMWs and Lexus and drive off in a new CTS or Escalade.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Auto News

Link to article: 
Cadillac Needs Better Branding, New Marketing Chief Says

Excerpt: "Cadillac's newly hired marketing chief says the brand can reclaim leadership of the U.S. luxury market if it backs a rejuvenated vehicle lineup with a stronger brand identity.

'There's already a good start with all of the awards and praise of Cadillac quality,' Uwe Ellinghaus told Automotive News today, citing the 2014 CTS sedan landing Motor Trend's car of the year award this week.

'But this won't be sufficient to win customers over,' said Ellinghaus, a former BMW marketing executive hired this week as Cadillac's global chief marketing officer. 'If you don't find the brand relevant, you won't even go into the dealership.'

Ellinghaus, 44, will start the job on Jan. 1, reporting to global Cadillac chief Bob Ferguson.

Ellinghaus said he wants to sharpen Cadillac's brand identity around the distinctive design of its vehicles. He believes Cadillac marketing has been too amorphous and narrowly focused on specific products to connect with consumers.

'The biggest opportunity is building on the iconic design and the distinctive presence that Cadillac has,' he said.' That's the best lever, the biggest competitive advantage, because the other premium manufacturers are far more mainstream and can't be as unique.'

Cadillac buyers already put a bigger premium on styling than those of other luxury makes, according to survey data from San Diego research firm Strategic Vision. Last year, 71 percent of Cadillac buyers cited exterior styling as an 'extremely important' factor in their decision, compared with 50 percent for BMW buyers and 47 percent for Mercedes buyers.

Cadillac faces a big challenge in persuading drivers of Germany luxury brands to switch, says Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst at research firm Kelley Blue Book.

'Cadillac has been doing the right thing product-wise,' Gutierrez said. 'But luxury import buyers are fairly well entrenched. Even if they switch brands, they're more than likely to stick with a German brand.'

Ellinghaus held several marketing positions during a 14-year stint at BMW, mostly based at its headquarters in Munich. He was head of brand strategy from 2010 to 2012 and also did work for the company's Mini and Rolls-Royce brands.

He said that it is 'doable' for Cadillac to overtake its bigger rivals in the U.S. market within 'five or 10 years.' Cadillac sold 148,206 vehicles in the United States over the first 10 months of the year, up 27 percent from a year earlier, but a distant No. 4 among luxury brands, behind Mercedes-Benz (245,125 units), BMW (240,139) and Lexus (213,479)."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Have Internet Black Monday and Thanksgiving Sales Hurt Black Friday?

Black Friday used to be the big day of the holiday shopping season, and it still is.  Named for the concept that huge sales on the day after Thanksgiving could put a store into the black for the holiday season, Black Friday was traditionally more of an event than just another busy day at the mall.

But now that e-sales has taken off, and stores have jumped the gun on Black Friday so much that it starts the afternoon or evening before (shortly after the family finishes the pumpkin pie and coffee of their grand Thanksgiving holiday spread), the concept of Black Friday has taken a beating. Far from being the only big sale event of the holiday shopping season, it is now just the highest profile of many shopping occasions that stretch from October till the end of the year sales that bleed into the new year.

Hunter Communications Original News Source: 
USA Today

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Macy's, J.C. Penney and Kohl's are the latest retailers to hop on the Thanksgiving bandwagon to stay competitive in an increasingly promotional retail landscape. E-commerce deals are starting earlier, too, with Wal-Mart Stores kicking off its online promotions Friday, a month earlier than usual.

Black Friday, which in the past has kicked off the holiday shopping season, got its name for being the day retailers hope will turn them from unprofitable (in the red) to profitable (in the black).

'Black Friday has reached unplanned obsolescence, and (on) Black Saturday and Sunday the stores get more and more deserted,' said Burt P. Flickinger, managing director at SRG Insight, a retail consulting firm. 'By moving sales to Thursday, Black Friday loses its retail relevance.'

The creep from Friday to Thursday began in 2010, when Sears opened on Thanksgiving. Wal-Mart moved Black Friday to the holiday in 2011, and Target followed last year.

As this trend amplifies, Black Friday is quickly becoming 'a relic of years gone by,' said Brian Sozzi, CEO and chief equities strategist at Belus Capital Advisors.

The transition also pressures retailers to have stores open and generating sales in an increasingly competitive market, he added.

'That's why I think you're going to see more retailers announce they'll be open,' Sozzi said. 'You have to capture the traffic in the mall because you don't know when it will return. It's a cascading effect.'

Cyber Monday—increasingly popular with time-pressed, crowd-wary shoppers—is also squeezing Black Friday. For the first time, an American Express survey found that more shoppers plan to participate in the former than the latter.

Bill Martin, founder and executive vice president of ShopperTrak, said that the 'lines are beginning to blur' for the holiday season.

'We're seeing more and more promotions earlier in November out of fear of the consumer's running out of money,' he said. 'They're trying to get to that wallet as soon as possible.'"

Monday, November 18, 2013

Burbank Rail Line Became the Current Orange Line Pathway

All over Los Angeles, there are ghosts of the past even in the latest innovations.  The Los Angeles Metro Orange Line is one such case.  Although it has been forbidden by state law from building a railway on the old right of way (opting for a high-tech articulated bus to streak along its dedicated roadway), the transit authority chose the former Burbank Branch railway for its Valley express transit route.

The old Burbank Branch ran the familiar route from Lankershim to Owensmouth (now Canoga Park) since 1893.  A lot has changed in the intervening century, but the route still connects the most populous and important Valley neighborhoods on its 18-mile pathway.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
KCET

Link to article:
Photos:  When the Metro Orange Line Was Rail

Excerpt: " The Metro Orange Line: it's named like a rail line and looks like one on system maps, but you won't find tracks along this 18-mile transit corridor through the San Fernando Valley. In fact, state law has forbidden aboveground rail transit along this route since 1991 -- the legacy of local homeowners who fought against surface rail in favor of a much more expensive subway. Instead, since 2005 super-long articulated buses have rolled down the Orange Line's dedicated, paved roadway, which now stretches from North Hollywood to Chatsworth.

But change may be arriving soon. On Oct. 29, the Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution introduced by council member Tom LaBonge calling on the state legislature to repeal the 1991 ban -- a first step toward upgrading the Orange Line's bus rapid transit with the sort of light rail technology used on the Metro Blue, Green, Gold, and Expo lines.

If LaBonge's plan succeeds, the Orange Line will be returning to its historical roots. As seen in historical images from the region's photographic archives, for nearly 100 years rail vehicles of one kind or another -- steam locomotives, electric trolleys, diesel trains -- rolled down the Orange Line right-of-way.

It began in 1893 as the Southern Pacific's Burbank Branch, a double-tracked rail line that meandered through wheat fields and open ranchland. In its early years, the Toluca Flyer steamed along the route, serving passengers at Owensmouth (now Canoga Park) and Lankershim (now North Hollywood) stations, among other stops. In 1911 the fabled red cars of the the Pacific Electric Railway began sharing part of the route, and in later years diesel-powered freight trains rumbled down the line. By the time a cash-strapped Southern Pacific sold its Burbank Branch to L.A. County's transportation agency in 1991, the wheat fields had given way to residential neighborhoods and transportation planners looked to the route as the best possible transit corridor for a maturing San Fernando Valley."
The Toluca Flyer, seen here at the Lankershim (North Hollywood) station in 1900

Friday, November 15, 2013

What Font Should you Use on Your Resume?

The resume you present to prospective employers is a careful combination of form and function.  Of course the content of the resume is the most important consideration, but what good is a great impressive list of achievements and skills if you never catch the eye of the person who needs to read it?  It's a balancing act between style and showiness, where you should vie for attention without ever looking like you are vying for attention.

Business News Daily lays out the top seven fonts for business resumes, with the attributes and potential pitfalls you face in choosing the right one for your CV (spoiler alert:  Comic Sans, sadly, failed to snag a top spot on the list).

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Business News Daily

Link to article:

Excerpt: " While job seekers want to make sure their resume stands out from the crowd, giving it an outrageous style or look can make it happen for all the wrong reasons.

Even though choosing the right resume font probably won't make a difference in a job candidate getting the job, picking wrong the one just might.

In general, job candidates have the choice between a serif or sans serif font. Serif fonts, such as Times New Roman and Century, are more stylized and have decorative markings on them. The more straightforward fonts are sans serif, which are free of any added curves, hooks or other markings. Examples include Arial and Verdana.

With hundreds of different fonts available, picking the right font when writing a resume can sometimes be a difficult process. The keys are ensuring that it is easy on the eyes and shows up well in both print and on a computer monitor. Here are the fonts that resume and hiring experts recommend job seekers should consider.

Calibri 
It's important that any font chosen is pleasing to readers, which is why Calibri is considered one of the best fonts for a resume.

Professional resume writer Donna Svei said there are a number of reasons why job seekers should use Calibri on their resume, including that past research has shown that readers associate the font with stability.

'Employers like stability in an employee,' Svei wrote in her blog.

In addition, she said that since Calibri is Microsoft's default font, it shows up well on a computer monitor.

'Calibri was made to be read on a computer screen, which is where most people read resumes,' Svei wrote. 'It renders beautifully.'"

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Motorola Applies for Patent on Mic Tattoo

Microphone that users would have tattooed onto their throats
New tech ideas come and go so quickly that they are almost the definition of "planned obsolescence".  Yet tattoos are relatively forever.  You can't just move on to the next thing and expect your old tattoo to disappear, or wither away from lack of attention. So you would have to cast a wary eye at the latest invention from Motorola, now a part of the Google empire.

Motorola is applying for a patent that would tattoo a working microphone onto a user's throat, just to the side of the larynx.  This mic would carry ultra-clear sound from the user's voice box directly to a mobile device.  As a commenter noted, when the ITat2 is released and makes your shiny first-generation ITat obsolete, do you need to visit a laser tattoo removal clinic to upgrade?

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:
Would you get a microphone tattooed on your throat?

Excerpt: "Developing wearable tech devices is all the rage these days. Think Google Glass eyewear, Samsung's smartwatch. Now comes an idea that may beat them all.

Motorola, the Google-owned phone maker, has applied for a patent for a technology that would allow users to have microphones embedded in their throats.

The mic tattoos would connect with users' mobile devices wirelessly, and, by being positioned close to a user's larynx, could pick up clearer audio than the regular microphones that we use today, Motorola says.

Besides humans, Motorola's patent document says the technology could also be used for animals. We're not sure why Motorola would want to tattoo microphones onto animals, but PETA probably wouldn't be too happy about that."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"Huh?" is the Word Everyone Understands

Linguists have for years studied certain concepts like "mama" that have given rise to similar words across continents of vastly different languages.  Now a group representing psycho-linguistics organizations has published a study that puts forth what might be the most universal word of all.  But is it even a word?  

"Huh?" is a syllable that is basically a guttural grunt with a rising inflection at the end, and indicates questioning.  As the study sees (or hears) "Huh?", it elicits "clarification during conversation, a function that linguists refer to as 'other-initiated repair.'" In other words, confusion or frustration that indicates that the person you are speaking to should do something to solve your conundrum.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The New York Times

Link to article:

Excerpt: "In a paper published on Friday in the journal PLOS One, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands announced that they had found strikingly similar versions in languages scattered across five continents, suggesting that 'Huh?' is a universal word.

The study, conducted by Mark Dingemanse, Francisco Torreira and Nick Enfield, closely examined variations of the word — defined as 'a simple syllable with a low-front central vowel, glottal onset consonant, if any, and questioning intonation' — in 10 languages, including Dutch, Icelandic, Mandarin Chinese, the West African Siwu and the Australian aboriginal Murrinh-Patha.

The researchers also looked at other words and expressions used to elicit clarification during conversation, a function that linguists refer to as 'other-initiated repair.' But only 'Huh?,' they write, occurs across languages whose phonetic patterns otherwise vary greatly.

It might seem trivial to carry out research on 'Huh?,' which some linguists argue isn’t really a word at all. But the study, Dr. Enfield said, is part of a broader effort to challenge the dominant view that language is primarily a matter of inborn grammatical structure, as Noam Chomsky has argued. Instead, some researchers suggest, language is primarily grounded in social interaction.

'We think of this as the core of language: managing common understanding as we talk,' Dr. Enfield said in an interview. Confirming and checking with other people, he added, 'are really fundamental to the use of language.' "

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Apple Forbids Using Colorful Iphones in App Marketing

With the introduction of the new gold Iphone 5S and the array of candy-colored 5Cs, you would expect to see a rainbow of the devices everywhere, even in the marketing of IOS apps, right?  Well the corporate masters in Cupertino are making sure that isn't the case. A newly published set of marketing guidelines for the App Store specifies that apps can use any color they like in their marketing materials, as long as those colors are gray, silver or blue.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Ad Week

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Given the slick and supple advertising Apple has cranked out for its new iPhone models, specifically the gold 5S and brightly colored 5C, you'd assume the tech giant is proud of its new palette. So why aren't iPhone app developers allowed to show off these vibrant new looks?

In its newly updated App Store Marketing Guidelines, Apple lays out the following rule for which types of iPhones and iPads can be featured by developers marketing an iOS app:
Feature only the most current Apple products in the following finishes or colors: iPhone 5s in silver or space gray, iPhone 5c in white or blue, iPad Air in silver or space gray, and iPad mini in silver or space gray.
Curiously omitted, as noted by MacRumors, are the gold iPhone 5S and the 5C versions in green, yellow and pink. None of these color schemes will be allowed in any marketing, since these rules apply whether you're using Apple's official product images or shooting custom photography and video to promote an app."

Monday, November 11, 2013

Photo of the Week: Smalltown Hollywood Visits its Sunday Market

They say that Los Angeles is a hundred suburbs in search of a city.  But sometimes it is a collection of small towns.  On Sunday mornings, the celebrated little town of Hollywood packs up its bags and carts and heads for Ivar Avenue and Selma, in the heart of Hollywood, for the weekly Farmers' Market.

The main drag on Ivar has certified produce, flowers, plants, and farm products like honey.  The cross street at Fountain is lined with food booths and some vendors that defy description, like the "poem store".  On any bright morning or sunny afternoon, you'll see a cross section of all the fair citizens of this little town within a great city.

Morning shoppers share the day with a fine selection of plants, flowers and produce at the weekly Farmers' Market.

Watch the Flickr slideshow of the Market and its fare:

Friday, November 8, 2013

See your text in a new typeface with Google Fonts' new tool

Google Fonts has been a fantastic resource that allows designers and website builders to customize their projects using Google's extensive library of free fonts.  You can direct a webpage to load a font from Google as an alternative to the meager selection of universal fonts pre-loaded in all browsers.  But it has been a trial and error process, as choosing a typeface from a long list that shows an alphabet or "The quick brown fox..." rendered in various versions doesn't necessarily translate to a great-looking finished product.

Now Google has partnered with font giant Monotype to offer a lightweight version of that firm's Typecast application to free Google font users.  With it, you can render pages of text in your desired font, adjust sizes, colors, weights, and line spacing, and even see side-by-side comparisons of the same page in different fonts.  If you are suitably impressed with the tool, you can then upgrade to the premium subscription version of Typecast and unleash a huge library of fonts and options.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Engadget

Link to article:

Excerpt: " 'Great design starts with exceptional typography, and easy access to type is essential for creative expression,' said Chris Roberts, vice president and general manager of Monotype's e-commerce group. 'Our goal is to make designing with Web fonts more accessible to everyone. So we've partnered with Google to reach out to more designers. Those who currently rely on Google's library of free typefaces to bring more varied typography to the Web will now be able to work with those typefaces more easily and create stunning, readable compositions in a fraction of the time.'

'Choosing a typeface in isolation, without the context of content or other text, is a difficult task,' said Filip Zembowicz, product manager at Google. 'The Typecast design tool makes it easy to try out and experiment with font pairings from the Google Fonts directory.'

The award-winning, premium version of the Typecast application enables typographic experimentation without the need to hand code or use expensive design can software. In this new public version, users are able to select any font on the Google Fonts website and then follow the link to the Typecast application. From there, designers can work with that font (and the complete Google Fonts library) on text of any length and use a wide range of type controls to build clear, readable type systems through adjustments such as font size, weight and line spacing. Designers can also work with Web fonts side-by-side to quickly see at a glance what's working and what's not. Users are able to create more realistic compositions with floats, clears, margins, and padding controls, and a number of effects are available such as background colors, borders and text shadows. In this free version of the Typecast application, a user's work can be exported as production-ready HTML and CSS, or PNG files, to share with others or merge with comps.

'I'm delighted that fans of Google Fonts are now able to use this new, free version of the Typecast application,' said Paul McKeever, director of Typecast. 'Google's service is incredibly popular, and many designers' first experience with Web fonts is made possible through their free library. In our drive to encourage more use of Web fonts online and offer a new way to access the Typecast application, Google Fonts is the ideal partner. We hope that our free public version will foster more type lovers and over time cultivate more typography advocates. We think that's good for the Web, clients, readers and designers everywhere.' "

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Aim Your Business Writing for a 6th-Grader's Vocabulary and Attention Span?

The age-old acronym of KISS, "Keep it simple, stupid!" is almost the universal mantra of clean, intelligible business writing.  Today, when readers have an internet full of choices a click away, it's all the more important to communicate in a clear, concise, simple manner.  Don't condescend to your readers as though they are a bunch of adolescents, but use words, writing structure, and concepts that are as clear to a 12-year-old as to an MBA.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The Huffington Post

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Universally, the biggest gasp I get when I meet people new to marketing, PR, or advertising is that most ad copy is restricted to a 6th grade reading level. I am going to use this blog post to reassure everyone that writing simply should mean writing elegantly and not writing simplistically, resulting in young adult fiction. While the reading ease is kept simple, we're generally not writing to appeal to 12-year-olds. One of the biggest challenges that writers have across all disciplines is with interpretation. While ambiguity and nuance is favored by poets and novelists, creating copy that isn't concise, clear, and succinct is a disservice to my clients.

What is required, at least online and when engaging bloggers, is messaging that endures the obligatory game of telephone that always happens when sharing between people. If you've never heard of telephone, I thought I would share this from Wikipedia:
The first player whispers a phrase or sentence to the next player. Each player successively whispers what that player believes he or she heard to the next. The last player announces the statement to the entire group. Errors typically accumulate in the retellings, so the statement announced by the last player differs significantly, and often amusingly, from the one uttered by the first.

Social media is essentially a game of telephone, so it is critical to make sure the last player receives as intact a message as possible, no matter who is in the chain. No matter their background, native tongue, education, gender, cultural heritage, age, or disposition, our most important job is creating messaging that both injects a durable copy into the mind and consciousness of the consumer while also making it past the client's review.

It isn't easy, to be sure. If I choose a word that someone isn't familiar with, they generally won't take the time to explore the OED -- not because of intellect but because people are busy, people have limited time and attention, and we don't have them on salary. The time we have with them is generally limited to five minutes from opening an email pitch to when a blogger clicks on [Post] on their blog.

Gustave Flaubert was fastidious in his devotion to finding the right word, le mot juste, and so should we be because when you're able to spend a little time distilling your message, the client's message, or your company's mission, then you'll probably learn quite a lot about yourself as well as how you're perceived."

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

CBRE Shakes Up Office Concept With Untethered Workspace

CBRE's open office space
When you enter a company's downtown office headquarters, you usually enter a reception area, and then are ushered into a warren of offices, partitioned cubicles and desks.  Recently many tech companies have broken this mold with office space that looks more like a high-end hotel lobby, with wide-open neighborhoods of chairs, tables, and only an occasional streamlined, modern work desk.  Offices are few, and booked for specific tasks.

For a company in a traditionally behind-the-curve industry like commercial real estate, this kind of revolutionary approach to the work environment would be heresy.  Until now.  CBRE is shaking things up by effecting a sudden shift in the office paradigm.  None of the employees occupy their own enclosed office space, but freely roam and inhabit the company's communal space, taking their personal tools and possessions out of their locker each day.

It's a new look and idea, and one that tailors the idea of workspace to a generation weaned on technology and social media.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:

Excerpt: "In the airy complex on the top two floors of a Bunker Hill tower, there are no assigned desks or offices. Workers doing similar tasks can join their peers in a 'neighborhood' or plop down on a modernist couch. Even Chief Executive Robert Sulentic books an office by the day and shed many of his possessions as part of the big move last month.

'No family pictures, no tokens, no nothing that is mine,' he said.

Improvements in technology have made framed photos outmoded. 'I have lots of family pictures on my iPhone,' Sulentic said. 'Five years ago we didn't have that.'

When the boss leaves the office at night, he takes everything to an assigned locker or home in a briefcase.

The firm's goal was to reduce rent costs by using its office space more efficiently and to create a template for other CBRE offices around the world.

If it worked, company officials figured, the downtown L.A. office would also be an example for other conservative white-collar firms pondering how to reorganize their workplaces to make them more efficient and appealing to young employees weaned on wireless technology.

Corporations have experimented for years with office-sharing concepts such as 'hoteling,' where workers such as accountants who travel frequently 'check in' to a desk when they are in the office. But examples of conventional white-collar offices where no one has an assigned desk are rare enough in the U.S. that CBRE had to look to its outposts in Europe for ideas.

After touring CBRE offices in Amsterdam, the company's head of operations in Los Angeles and Orange counties, Lew Horne, decided to make what workplace consultants call a 'free address' office in downtown L.A."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

New Startup Aims to be the Apple of 3D Printers and Software

The Buccaneer printer from Pirate 3D has a familiar look
Everyone thinks they know, or at least can bluff their way through a cocktail party conversation and pretend they know, about the upcoming tech wave of 3D printing. Now Pirate 3D, a Kickstartered project from Singapore, is simplifying the concept, product, and process with the aim of being the Apple of 3D printing.  

Their new printer will soon be available online and in retail stores of a few tech-heavy US cities, and bears a familiar "Cupertino-style" look of white, silver, clean lines and utter simplicity.  And the company's bundled hardware brings users simple templates of various types of objects that can be easy starting points to customize into an array of projects.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The New York Times

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Pirate3D gained a lot of notice in June when it raised a lot of money on Kickstarter. The company is making an inexpensive 3-D printer for the consumer market; early models will probably ship in December, executives say.

Although the product was initially expected to sell only online, Roger Chang, the company’s co-founder, said versions would also be available in a few retail outlets, probably in two or three United States cities, early next year. Pirate3D will also show the printer at CES, the big consumer electronics show in Las Vegas this January.

'It’s important that people see it,' said Mr. Chang, who is also the company’s chief executive. The long-term goal, he said, is to be 'the Apple of 3-D printers,' with a tightly coupled hardware and software business.

In both line and color, the latest versions of the machine do look like something from Cupertino — heavy on the 'look,' no saying yet how it works.

Initially priced at $347, the printer is likely to cost as much as $700 in stores this winter, and about $500 online. Mr. Chang, who has recently been in the United States for discussions with retailers, wouldn’t say which retailer would carry the product, but said the retail sales will be limited to a couple of large American cities with a big tech presence.

The higher prices for the machines are associated with delivering printed objects with a resolution as fine as 85 microns, about one three-hundredths of an inch. That is better than current printers on the market for more money.

Pirate3D also hopes to profit by creating ways for independent developers to sell designs and related software for 3-D printing. The company is working on a series of templates, like a generic bottle shape, that a person can download to a touch-enabled smartphone or tablet, where the image can be stretched or compressed to suit an individual. The phone can then send that personalized design to the printer. The designs will be free, as part of a campaign to inspire a bigger business, and the company hopes to initially offer a hundred of them.

'People don’t realize that we’re only 50 percent a hardware company,' Mr. Chang said. 'We keep coming back to the early days of PCs. It starts with a basic machine like the Altair, and eventually there is a Mac. When there are enough machines out there, developers will come out with enough things to make it a tool, not a toy.' "

Monday, November 4, 2013

"Tweet-a-Coffee" to a Friend With Starbucks' New Social Media Program

Granted it isn't all that hard to send a Starbucks gift card to a friend.  If you have an account you can log in, enter the friend's email address, add a note, specify the amount, and let Starbucks take care of the rest.  

But that takes a few steps too many.  If it were a lot more effortless, and the amount sent a bit more trivial, people would send each other a tiny gift more often.  That is the philosophy behind the coffee giant's new social media experiment.  The "Tweet-a-Coffee" program, once you are registered, only takes a simple tweet to give a $5 e-gift to anyone whose twitter name you know.  This should encourage people to buy a friend, acquaintance, or even someone you don't yet know a coffee on the spur of the moment.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Wall Street Journal

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Building upon Starbucks digital gifting and engagement offerings, tweet-a-coffee (launching today in beta form) will be an ongoing platform that will allow customers to engage with one another online to gift a Starbucks beverage spontaneously and respond proactively with gestures of encouragement, kindness on and 'just because.' Starbucks first launched its eGifting platform in 2011 on Starbucks.com and has extended that offering to Facebook, its iPhone mobile app and now through Twitter.

Starting today through Nov. 6, the first 100,000 customers who tweet a coffee using a Visa card will also receive a $5 Starbucks Card e-gift for themselves, courtesy of Visa and Starbucks.

'What's so exciting about extending our eGifting platform to Twitter is the open and real time nature of the platform. Tweet-a-coffee allows us to do something quite different in eGifting in that people can now give the gift of Starbucks to anyone on Twitter in the moment. This can be between the closest of friends, the most distant of colleagues, or even between people who have not even had the chance to meet yet in person, but have connected in some way on Twitter,' said Adam Brotman, chief digital officer, Starbucks. 'We love the possibilities that the Twitter community can unlock to share acts of kindness with one another. Tweet-a-coffee is a key next step as we innovate our social digital gifting offering.'

'Starbucks is really breaking ground here,' said Joel Lunenfeld, vice president of brand strategy at Twitter. 'Shared experiences, such as a television show, a sporting event, or someone sharing a gift, are at the heart of the Twitter experience. It's also central to what it means to be a modern brand.' "

Friday, November 1, 2013

After the Great Mancession, Manfluencers Do the Family Shopping

The Great Recession of 2008 hit men a lot more strongly than women (hence the "mancession" label), and reovery has created more jobs for the woman of the house.  So there are a lot more guys these days wandering the aisles of supermarkets to do the family shopping. Now marketers are starting to seize on that fact as a marketing opportunity, and new product lines are designed, packaged, and advertised with a male-oriented appeal. 

Companies call these male shoppers "manfluencers", and though objective surveys show that their buying habits are not at all different from the women they have replaced in the checkout line, you can still expect to see coffee drinks in long-necked amber beer-style bottles and high-protein "pro-yo" yogurt in tough black packages.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Wall Street Journal

Link to article:
Groceries Become a Guy Thing

Excerpt: "Food company executives hope more men shopping means new opportunities for foods some men have traditionally shied away from in this country, including yogurt and hard cider. The changes are often cosmetic: larger portions or darker color schemes instead of recipes on the backs of packages.

Lots of products on food shelves are big no-nos to men, says Lu Ann Williams, head of research for Netherlands-based Innova Market Insights. Others help men feel more, well, manly. 'A beer or soda in a long-necked, brown bottle makes a man feel like a man. Drinking out of a straw does not—puckered lips and sunken cheeks are not a good guy look.'

Which helps explain Powerful Yogurt, a Greek yogurt launched in March featuring a bull's head symbol on red-and-black packaging and an image of stomach muscles next to the slogan 'Find Your Inner Abs.'

A single-serving yogurt cup is a hefty eight ounces, compared with the more typical five to six ounces, and features 20 to 25 grams of protein. The yogurt shelf 'is light blue, light pink, white, and everyone's talking to women and their digestive health,' says Carlos Ramirez, chief executive of the Miami-based company. 'The amount of protein is what guys are looking for.'

Men also shy away from frozen yogurt, says Nathan Carey, founder of Twin Cups LLC, which makes Pro Yo, a frozen yogurt geared specifically for men that launched in August. Mr. Carey ran a frozen-yogurt kiosk in Santa Barbara, Calif., and marveled at how the vast majority of his frozen-yogurt customers were women. The men who came with them would just have coffee.

He decided to instruct his employees on using different sales pitches on men. 'If it's a male, we'd say, "This product tastes like a premium ice cream, it's high in protein and has live active cultures," and we'd get immediate buy-in. But if you told a guy it was low fat before he knew it tasted like premium ice cream, he'd never buy it,' Mr. Carey recalled.

Using what he learned, he came up with a frozen yogurt meant to have macho appeal without turning off potential female customers. A black box with 'Pro Yo' in boldface contains three tubes of frozen yogurt in flavors such as Vanilla Bean and Blueberry Pomegranate. 'On the box, the first thing it says isn't "frozen yogurt," ' he says. 'It's "high protein." '  In the end, about half his customers are male, he says. The product, introduced two months ago, is sold in California supermarkets and gyms; Mr. Carey says he is in discussions with supermarkets in other regions of the country."