Monday, March 31, 2014

The Secret Language of "Lorem Ipsum"

In film production, the process of "Greeking" is covering up trademarks and labels to avoid any possibility of treading on someone's copyright.  Sometimes a new label is the cover, one that looks like reality without actually saying anything that might be trademarked or copy-protected. 

Layout artists have their own version of "Greeking", where lines or paragraphs of archaic Latin text are copied and pasted in to give an appearance of the look of actual text. Since what is pasted in is ancient Latin, and a chopped up and rearranged version of that, your ad or magazine page won't confuse a viewer with actual meaning.  The text, commonly known as "Lorem ipsum" is a placeholder that looks reasonable and takes up space until the proper text is finished. But that "Lorem ipsum" text block has a story of its own.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
London Review of Books, the Blog

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Sometimes, when we’re putting together an issue of the LRB, we use Lorem Ipsum, a chunk of phoney Latin dummy text that’s been used by printers and typesetters since the 16th century. We paste it into a layout so we can tell what a page will look like before the copy’s ready. The practice is known as ‘greeking’ because the Latin’s so mixed up it’s all Greek.

Only it isn’t. The text itself has been designed not to communicate, to have the look of text but no meaning – but meaning bubbles up through it nonetheless. The 16th-century printer who came up with it got there by mangling Cicero’s ‘De finibus bonorum et malorum’, an exposition of Stoicism, Epicureanism and the Platonism of Antiochus of Ascalon. Though most of the metaphysical subtlety has been wrung out, sense hasn’t completely: the text is haunted, as Derrida might have put it, by the piece of writing it once was.
It begins:
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam hendrerit nisi sed sollicitudin pellentesque. Nunc posuere purus rhoncus pulvinar aliquam. Ut aliquet tristique nisl vitae volutpat. Nulla aliquet porttitor venenatis. Donec a dui et dui fringilla consectetur id nec massa. Aliquam erat volutpat. Sed ut dui ut lacus dictum fermentum vel tincidunt neque. Sed sed lacinia lectus. Duis sit amet sodales felis. Duis nunc eros, mattis at dui ac, convallis semper risus. In adipiscing ultrices tellus, in suscipit massa vehicula eu.
Try translating it and you get some striking effects. Of course a straightforward translation isn’t possible – for one thing, ‘lorem’ isn’t a word, it’s a chopped off bit of ‘dolorem’ – but Jaspreet Singh Boparai, a postgraduate at Cambridge, has come up with the following:
Rrow itself, let it be sorrow; let him love it; let him pursue it, ishing for its acquisitiendum. Because he will ab hold, unless but through concer, and also of those who resist. Now a pure snore disturbeded sum dust. He ejjnoyes, in order that somewon, also with a severe one, unless of life. May a cusstums offficer somewon nothing of a poison-filled. Until, from a twho, twho chaffinch may also pursue it, not even a lump. But as twho, as a tank; a proverb, yeast; or else they tinscribe nor. Yet yet dewlap bed. Twho may be, let him love fellows of a polecat. Now amour, the, twhose being, drunk, yet twhitch and, an enclosed valley’s always a laugh. In acquisitiendum the Furies are Earth; in (he takes up) a lump vehicles bien.
It’s like extreme Mallarmé, or a Burroughsian cut-up, or a paragraph of Finnegans Wake. Bits of it have surprising power: the desperate insistence on loving and pursuing sorrow, for instance, that is cheated out of its justification – an incomplete object that has been either fished for, or wished for. Some of the new coinages are intriguingly ambiguous: ‘concer’, both cancer and conquer (and conker); ‘somewon’, a prize and a person; ‘tinscribe’, to engrave on tin? The words for two (‘duo’) and who (‘qui’) have been elided to produce the sound of the chaffinch (‘twho, twho’); a later elision produces the inebriated twitcher who’s listening to it."
Sometimes, when we’re putting together an issue of the LRB, we use Lorem Ipsum, a chunk of phoney Latin dummy text that’s been used by printers and typesetters since the 16th century. We paste it into a layout so we can tell what a page will look like before the copy’s ready. The practice is known as ‘greeking’ because the Latin’s so mixed up it’s all Greek.
Only it isn’t. The text itself has been designed not to communicate, to have the look of text but no meaning – but meaning bubbles up through it nonetheless. The 16th-century printer who came up with it got there by mangling Cicero’s ‘De finibus bonorum et malorum’, an exposition of Stoicism, Epicureanism and the Platonism of Antiochus of Ascalon. Though most of the metaphysical subtlety has been wrung out, sense hasn’t completely: the text is haunted, as Derrida might have put it, by the piece of writing it once was.
It begins:
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam hendrerit nisi sed sollicitudin pellentesque. Nunc posuere purus rhoncus pulvinar aliquam. Ut aliquet tristique nisl vitae volutpat. Nulla aliquet porttitor venenatis. Donec a dui et dui fringilla consectetur id nec massa. Aliquam erat volutpat. Sed ut dui ut lacus dictum fermentum vel tincidunt neque. Sed sed lacinia lectus. Duis sit amet sodales felis. Duis nunc eros, mattis at dui ac, convallis semper risus. In adipiscing ultrices tellus, in suscipit massa vehicula eu.
Try translating it and you get some striking effects. Of course a straightforward translation isn’t possible – for one thing, ‘lorem’ isn’t a word, it’s a chopped off bit of ‘dolorem’ – but Jaspreet Singh Boparai, a postgraduate at Cambridge, has come up with the following:
Rrow itself, let it be sorrow; let him love it; let him pursue it, ishing for its acquisitiendum. Because he will ab hold, unless but through concer, and also of those who resist. Now a pure snore disturbeded sum dust. He ejjnoyes, in order that somewon, also with a severe one, unless of life. May a cusstums offficer somewon nothing of a poison-filled. Until, from a twho, twho chaffinch may also pursue it, not even a lump. But as twho, as a tank; a proverb, yeast; or else they tinscribe nor. Yet yet dewlap bed. Twho may be, let him love fellows of a polecat. Now amour, the, twhose being, drunk, yet twhitch and, an enclosed valley’s always a laugh. In acquisitiendum the Furies are Earth; in (he takes up) a lump vehicles bien.
It’s like extreme Mallarmé, or a Burroughsian cut-up, or a paragraph of Finnegans Wake. Bits of it have surprising power: the desperate insistence on loving and pursuing sorrow, for instance, that is cheated out of its justification – an incomplete object that has been either fished for, or wished for. Some of the new coinages are intriguingly ambiguous: ‘concer’, both cancer and conquer (and conker); ‘somewon’, a prize and a person; ‘tinscribe’, to engrave on tin? The words for two (‘duo’) and who (‘qui’) have been elided to produce the sound of the chaffinch (‘twho, twho’); a later elision produces the inebriated twitcher who’s listening to it.
- See more at: http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2014/03/14/nick-richardson/translating-lorem-ipsum/#sthash.Kp226yys.dpuf

Friday, March 28, 2014

LA's Tiny, Original Open-Air Shopping Street

One hundred and ten years ago, before there was any idea of The Grove or The Promenade, or even Santee Alley, a private property was bisected by a custom built block-long "street" to more than double the parcel's street frontage for businesses. Downtown's Mercantile Place set the standard for future open-air shopping streets for twenty years, until a subsequent owner repurposed it into a glassed-over shopping arcade.

Hunter Communications Original News Source
KCET

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Long before the Grove, Third Street, or even Universal CityWalk, Angelenos flocked to another open-air shopping promenade: Mercantile Place -- a tiny, private street that stretched between Spring and Broadway from 1904 to 1923. At only 22 feet wide and embraced on each side by identical, two-story brick buildings, Mercantile Place created an intimate setting that stood in contrast to the rest of booming, bustling downtown Los Angeles.

Though it looked like a public street with its concrete sidewalks and paved motorway, Mercantile Place actually cut through a parcel of private property, owned by the Los Angeles Board of Education since 1883 and leased to real estate developer C. Wesley Roberts in 1904. The shopping street was the Roberts' answer to a vexing problem: though the long, rectangular parcel abutted two of the city's busiest streets, the land in the center would be virtually useless. No shopkeeper would rent a space 160 feet from the sidewalk. In a stroke of genius, Roberts built a street through the middle of the property, thus more than doubling the available frontage from 240 to nearly 600 feet.

When Mercantile Place first opened to the public on October 29, 1904, shoppers found a mix of independent businesses and branch locations of downtown's larger retailers. Shops included Citron-Favell's Women's Wardrobe, the Yamato Japanese art bazaar, and the Pe-co dance academy. Upstairs, members of the Woodmen of the World fraternal society congregated in their temple. Though the street was usually open to traffic (and became a favorite "secret" parking place among motorists), the board of education occasionally closed it to vehicles and posted signs proclaiming it a 'private thoroughfare' to maintain title to the land.

In later years, retailers would complain of the chaotic street scene. Farmers' trucks sold fresh produce from the roadway, while flower vendors paraded down the sidewalks and newsstands often blocked traffic on either end. Shoppers, however, continued to visit Mercantile Place for a change of pace from the wide and more impersonal retail corridors along Broadway and Seventh Street.

It was the very success of Mercantile Place that convinced its new owners, a San Francisco-based syndicate of investors, to convert the open-air street into a $6-million enclosed arcade. Demolition began on May 1, 1923. In just eight and a half months, Mercantile Place had become the Mercantile Arcade complex -- a long promenade anchored by two twelve-story office buildings -- that still stands ninety years later. Angelenos continue to stroll under the arcade's glass skylight, tracing the path of downtown's long-lost shopping street."

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Facebook's Latest Change is Scaring and Angering Businesses

On its way to becoming completely ubiquitous in the lives of  21st-century inhabitants, Facebook convinced businesses that it was easy to put up a Facebook page and get their posts seen by everyone who "liked" them.  Now they pulled the rug out from that scenario. 

Citing user's dislike of commercial clutter messing up their timelines, the social media giant has throttled down the number of posts that a liked company will see delivered to users' pages.  Some big companies will see their posts to users' timelines reduced to one or two percent. The solution? Big shock--companies can pay to assure that all their posts appear.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Slate

Link to article:

Excerpt: " Facebook is ending the free ride, wrote Valleywag’s Sam Biddle in a post that has been greeted with widespread alarm. No, it’s not forcing ordinary users to pay for its service or to share pictures of their babies. Rather, the claim is that it’s deliberately bringing an end to the era of free advertising for businesses via their Facebook pages.


Citing an anonymous source, Biddle reports that Facebook is in the process of slashing brands’ “organic page reach” to just 1 or 2 percent. That means only a tiny fraction of the people who have liked a business on Facebook will see each of its posts in their news feed, unless that company pays Facebook for wider promotion. The organic-reach squeeze would affect 'all brands,' Biddle writes, from corporate behemoths like Nike to local merchants like New York’s Pies ‘n’ Thighs restaurant. He casts this as a cruel bait-and-switch on Facebook’s part:

Facebook pulled the best practical joke of the Internet age: the company convinced countless celebrities, bands, and "brands" that its service was the best way to reach people with eyeballs and money. Maybe it is! But now that companies have taken the bait, Facebook is holding the whole operation hostage.

That’s one way of looking at it.

Here’s another one: People don’t really like seeing a bunch of ads in their news feed. They like seeing updates from friends and family, funny YouTube videos, and maybe some news stories about topics they’re interested in. So Facebook has decided to show them fewer self-promotional posts from businesses and more of all the other stuff. Doesn’t sound quite so nefarious when you think of it that way, does it?"

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Choose Your Fashion Label Font in 1 Lazy Step

Gucci's emblem is wildly creative compared to most.
PASTE magazine notes an article from SLAMxHYPE showing how most all of the major fashion houses select from the same tiny group of fonts for their primary and secondary logos. About the only nod to actual creativity is choosing which weight of Hevetica, Futura, Arial or Avant-Garde to use.  

Even the few fashion logos that choose a serif font to be different generally stick to the classic, stock, off-the-shelf fonts found on most everyone's computer. So if you come up with a new fashion line and want it to look rich, classic, and established, you already have your logo's typography narrowed-down by 99%.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Paste Magazine

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Online magazine SLAMXHYPE recently conducted an investigation into the fonts and color schemes used in the logos of well-known streetwear labels and high-end fashion houses. The results of their research? All designers use pretty much the same font families.

The evidence shows that Helvetica and Futura are favored typefaces in both streetwear and high fashion logos, although the outlier brand 40 Oz NYC went rogue with Olde English.

The preference for Helvetica and Futura is all over the ad industry, and with good reason—they’re clean, readable, and versatile. Saint Laurent’s logo in Helvetica Neue Bold, for example, looks as sophisticated stitched on the side of a purse as it does on a jacket label. Nike’s oblique Futura logo validates the quality of a pair of running shoes and authenticates a basic hoodie as a classic.

While the minimal Chanel emblem makes as much sense on the perfume bottle in your grandma’s bathroom as it does the backpack of a brand-obsessed tween, the 40 Oz NYC logo is stylistically limited to streetwear, and wouldn’t translate far beyond snapbacks and sweatshirts."

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hackers Use Internet Appliances to Steal

What has your Fitbit been doing behind your back?
It sounds like a nightmare that is equally terrifying and ridiculous.  While you go on vacation, thieves hack into your internet-connected appliances to order a bunch of online stuff and have it delivered to your home address (while you are away) then pick it up from your house and abscond. When you come home you have no idea what is going t shock you when you read next month's credit card statement.

But it is becoming a much more common occurrence.  Now that everything from routers to refrigerators is connected to the internet, it is that much easier to get into your home network and computer information, and use that information against you.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:
Excerpt: "For decades, hackers have used the Internet to break into network routers, personal computers and advanced industrial devices.

But now, a whole new generation of often mundane, household devices is being connected to the Internet — and hackers are having a field day.

Thanks to smaller, cheaper processors, speedier wireless connections and the explosion of smartphones and tablets, it's becoming easier and more affordable to digitally link just about any object — sports equipment, watches, light bulbs, washing machines, thermostats.

If you can think of it, someone has probably stuck a sensor on it and connected it to the Internet.

Like a PC, the devices have operating systems and processors. And when they are connected to the Internet, hackers can break in and seize control.

Manufacturers and consumers haven't taken the same security precautions as they would with a PC, however, enabling hackers to turn seemingly innocuous gadgets into drones that can be used to spread malicious spam or launch a massive cyberattack — disrupting services or shutting down entire networks.

Even more frightening for many security experts is the prospect that the hackers could cause physical harm to people by shutting off thermostats, cars or even medical devices.

Such fears led doctors to turn off the wireless functionality of a heart implant in former Vice President Dick Cheney, out of concern that someone might hack it and attempt to kill him."

Monday, March 24, 2014

How Mispronunciations Make Language Evolve

We all have THAT friend who is quick to get persnickety about every little dropped consonant or wrongly stressed syllable in our speech.  Normally precision is an admirable thing, but it turns out that the development of spoken language is rife with trends and examples that prove that what once were mistakes are now part of standard English.  And the mistakes we make today are pushing the spoken language into a new future, as we speak.  So maybe Dubya WAS right, and future generations will freely discourse about the limits of "newkewlar" energy.

The moral of this story is, if enough people start making the same mistakes in pronunciation that you do, it stops being a mistake and becomes part of this rich and complex being that we know as the English language.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The Guardian US

Link to article:

Excerpt: "We've all been there. I still lapse into mis-CHEE-vous if I'm not concentrating. This week some PR whizzes working for a railway station with an unusual name unveiled the results of a survey into frequently garbled words. The station itself is routinely confused with an endocrine gland about the size of a carrot (you can see why they hired PRs). Researchers also found that 340 of the 1000 surveyed said ex-cetera instead of etcetera, while 260 ordered ex-pressos instead of espressos. Prescription came out as perscription or proscription 20% of the time.

The point is malapropisms and mispronunciations are fairly common. The 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary lists 171,476 words as being in common use. But the average person's vocabulary is tens of thousands smaller, and the number of words they use every day smaller still. There are bound to be things we've read or are vaguely familiar with, but not able to pronounce as we are supposed to.
The term "supposed" opens up a whole different debate, of course. Error is the engine of language change, and today's mistake could be tomorrow's vigorously defended norm. There are lots of wonderful examples of alternative pronunciations or missteps that have become standard usage. Here are some of my favourites, complete with fancy technical names.

Words that used to begin with 'n'

Adder, apron and umpire all used to start with an 'n'. Constructions like 'A nadder' or 'Mine napron' were so common the first letter was assumed to be part of the preceding word. Linguists call this kind of thing reanalysis or rebracketing.

When sounds swap around

Wasp used to be waps; bird used to be brid and horse used to be hros. Remember this when the next time you hear someone complaining about aks for ask or nucular for nuclear, or even perscription. It's called metathesis, and it's a very common, perfectly natural process.

When sounds disappear

English spelling can be a pain, but it's also a repository of information about the history of pronunciation. Are we being lazy when we say the name of the third day of the working week? Our ancestors might have thought so. Given that it was once "Woden's day" (named after the Norse god), the 'd' isn't just for decoration, and was pronounced up until relatively recently. Who now says the 't' in Christmas? It must have been there at one point, as the messiah wasn't actually called Chris. These are examples of syncope.

When sounds intrude

Our anatomy can make some changes more likely than others. The simple mechanics of moving from a nasal sound ('m' or 'n') to a non-nasal one can make a consonant pop up in-between. Thunder used to be 'thuner', and empty 'emty'. You can see the same process happening now with words like hamster, which often gets pronounced with an intruding 'p'. This is a type of epenthesis."

Friday, March 21, 2014

Hate Switching to Daylight Saving? Maybe You Should

Humans, like most other animals, are wedded to their routines.  So when our usual schedules are disrupted twice a year by the "spring-forward, fall-back" of our adaptation to Daylight Saving Time we get confused, sleepy, unproductive, and grumpy.  No, it's not just you.

Evidence shows numerous ill effects of the time change, from auto accidents, increased heart attacks, sleep disturbances, lower productivity, and even a spike in suicides the week after the clocks "spring forward". And it even makes us dumber--students where there is no switching to DST have higher scores on their SATs.  One possible reaction would be to adopt year-round Daylight Saving Time, though an experiment with that in the 1970s was halted when school children had to walk to school in the early-morning darkness.

Hunter Communiations Original News Source:
Slate

Link to article:

Excerpt: "The impacts of DST are likely related to our body's internal circadian rhythm, the still-slightly-mysterious molecular cycles that regulate when we feel awake and when we feel sleepy, as well as our hunger and hormone production schedules.

Light dictates how much melatonin our bodies produce. When it's bright out, we make less. When it's dark, our body ramps up synthesis of this sleep-inducing substance. Just like how jet lag makes you feel all out of whack, daylight saving time is similar to scooting one time zone over for a few months.

The problems with DST are the worst in the spring, when we've all just lost one hour of sleep. The sun rises later, making it more difficult to wake in the morning. This is because we reset our natural clocks using the light. When out of nowhere (at least to our bodies) these cues change, it causes major confusion.

Like anytime you lose sleep, springing forward causes decreases in performance, concentration, and memory common to sleep-deprived individuals, as well as fatigue and daytime sleepiness.

Night owls are more bothered by the time changes than morning people. For some, it can take up to three weeks to recover from the sleep schedule changes, according to a 2009 study in the journal Sleep Medicine. For others, it may only take a day to adjust to this new schedule.

That's Not All
All of these impacts have economic costs too. An index from Chmura Economics & Analytics, released in 2013, suggests that the cost could be up to $434 million in the U.S. alone. That's an estimated total of all of the health effects and lost productivity mentioned above. Other calculations suggest this cost could be up to $2 billion—just from the 10 minutes twice a year that it takes for every person in the U.S. to change their clocks. (If you calculate 10 minutes per household instead of per person this "opportunity cost" is only $1 billion.)"

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Google Search Testing New Reader-Friendly Layout

Screen capture of the new results page
Most of us visit the Google Search page every day, and the look of the results page is so iconic as to be indelible. So when news starts filtering through Facebook and Twitter from users who noticed Google testing a much different look for its pages, we don't know whether to worry or cheer.  

The changes that the internet mega-giant is testing are intended to give a cleaner, uncluttered look and improve readability. Gone are the underlines marking links, replaced by simple blue link text that sometimes is set off from other text by a slightly larger font size. Text in general is larger, and search results are set apart with a bit more white space between to clarify the page.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Search Engine Land

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Over the past few months, Google has been testing many, many layouts that made the search results look a bit easier to read by increasing the font size and removing some of the underlines for the hyperlinked content.

It seems Google has increased those tests, as we are seeing more and more searchers post about seeing these updates on Twitter, Facebook and other areas. Both Danny Sullivan, Matt McGeee and myself are able to replicate the new design either using our native browsers or via incognito mode in Chrome.

Here is a side by side image of the old and new user interface for Google’s search results:
google-new-serp-design
You can click on it and notice the side by side comparison showing the larger font, more white space, no underlines for hyperlinked content and more."

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Branding Mistakes to Avoid

The Coca-Cola logo, still similar after a century
Branding is about messaging and storytelling.  Presenting a clear, concise message that is not muddled with distractions or complications is the difference between a brand that works for you and an amateurish attempt that just confuses or loses your target audience. With that over-arching goal, here are the mistakes you can avoid when creating and building your company's brand.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Entrepreneur

Link to article:

Excerpt: "When you think about great branding, Coca Cola’s distinctive red and white lettering, Nike’s swoosh and Adidas’s three stripes likely come to mind.  But as a small business, imagining the level of investment that’s gone into these iconic images can make the thought of undertaking your own branding initiative seem overwhelming.
It’s actually easier to do than most imagine. Just make sure to avoid some common pitfalls and branding mistakes.
1. Not understanding the power of a brand. From a customer-relationship perspective, having a strong brand is obviously advantageous.  For instance, when people think of online shoe purchases, they think of Zappos. You want to have that kind of immediate, definitive relationship with your buyers as well.
Defining your brand is also valuable from an SEO perspective.  It’s something of an open secret that Google likes to prioritize branded listings in its organic search results, since visitors are more likely to click on them.  More clicks tends to equal happier customers, which means that focusing on brand building could lead to unexpected website traffic and awareness benefits.
2. Forgetting to establish defined brand guidelines. So you know that your company may to develop a brand, but what exactly does that mean?  When creating a brand identity, you’ll want to establish defined guidelines that cover all of the following elements (as well as any others that are relevant to your field). Here are a few points to consider.
  • Logo (both an overarching logo and any logo lockups your company uses for individual product lines)
  • Brand colors
  • Taglines
  • Fonts and typography
  • The “voice” used in your branded materials
  • Imagery
  • Mascots and spokespeople
Clearly, this list isn’t comprehensive.  If there’s some other branding characteristic you feel is necessary to define your business, go ahead and add it to your brand guidelines documentation.  The worst thing you could do is to avoid creating these important documents altogether.  Without them, your branding efforts will lack the consistency and direction needed for success.
3. Overcomplicating your brand. Take a look at how Coca Cola’s classic script logo has changed since its first usage in 1887.  While the fonts used have varied slightly, the original look is still largely intact after more than 127 years of service.
Small businesses can learn a lesson from this beverage industry giant.  When initiating the branding process, it can be tempting to add more variables than you truly need.  But your logo doesn’t need to involve six different colors, and it doesn’t need to have six individual graphic elements to represent the different arms of your company.  Clean, simple elements are more likely to be recognized and remembered by consumers, so steer clear of overcomplicating your company’s branded elements."

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Phasing Out Windows XP Creates Panic in China

It's been seven years since Microsoft replaced its sturdy Windows XP operating system  with Vista, Windows 7, and the current Windows 8.  So here in the US it doesn't seem THAT unreasonable that Microsoft has announced that they will no longer support the old OS with security updates and technical support. But in China, 49 percent of computers still use the twelve-year-old operating system, and the announcement is crating a panic atmosphere.  

The relatively high price of upgrading to a modern OS puts off many Chinese consumers and companies.  And the rampant software piracy market could kick back into high gear if millions need to upgrade to Windows 7 or 8.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The New York Times

Link to article:
China Warns of Risks in Plan to Retire Windows XP

Excerpt: "Microsoft says it will no longer be offering technical support or security patches for Windows XP after April 8, and it is encouraging users to upgrade to newer operating systems, such as Windows 8.

Although the percentage of computers running Windows XP in China is declining ahead of Microsoft’s deadline, it’s still quite high. As of January, 49 percent of Chinese computers were using the 12-year-old operating system, according to StatCounter, an analysis firm. That compares with less than 18 percent worldwide and less than 11 percent in the United States.

Experts say the pervasiveness of software piracy in China, though it has tapered off in recent years, means that computer users are unenthusiastic about shelling out for upgrades.

In China, the official retail price for Windows 8 is 988 renminbi, or about $160, for the basic version and 1,988 renminbi, or about $325, for the professional version, though discounted prices are widely available.

China’s efforts nearly a decade ago to promote the use of legitimate software were a boon to the fortunes of Microsoft, which had struggled with widespread copying of its products. The government took steps to ensure that its own computers were not using pirated software and introduced rules that new machines had to have pre-installed, licensed operating systems.

Beijing argues that Microsoft’s push to wean users off Windows XP and onto newer operating systems could harm its antipiracy efforts. In December, Yan Xiaohong, the deputy director of the National Copyright Administration, told a representative of BSA: The Software Alliance, an industry trade group, that Microsoft’s decision to end support for Windows XP meant that Chinese consumers were facing grave security risks and that efforts to reduce software piracy would be undermined, because users would balk at the cost of upgrading their operating systems, according to a report in Legal Daily, a newspaper run by the Chinese Ministry of Justice."

Monday, March 17, 2014

Retail Trends for 2014

Fitness centers are coveted tenants in shopping centers.
In the 1960s and 70s, the paradigm for shopping changed from downtown main streets to suburban shopping malls, and downtowns took a blow that they are only half a century later beginning to recover from.  Since the beginning of the millennium, that retail paradigm has begun to change to online shopping, and the massive inventory of shopping centers around the country now faces the challenge of how to stay relevant. 

There are certain things about real live brick and mortar shopping that cannot easily be co-opted by online ordering, and here are some of those trends that keep your local shopping center in the mix.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The Washington Post

Link to article:

Excerpt: "More than 2,000 local retailers, developers and franchisees gathered at the Gaylord National last week to discuss the changing retail industry as part of the International Council of Shopping Centers’ annual Mid-Atlantic Conference. Here are five trends to watch in the coming year.
 1.
Outlet malls
Outlet malls have expanded rapidly in recent years, making them the fastest-growing segment in retail, and that’s not about to change, according to Jay Klug, principal of the JBG Cos., a Chevy Chase-based real estate developer.
'Outlets clearly are the darlings of retail right now,' Klug said.
There are currently more than 225 outlet centers in the United States, with at least 40 new openings since 2006, according to ICSC.
Long built on the outskirts of town, outlet centers are moving closer to major cities.
Tanger Outlets opened in National Harbor — just four miles from downtown Alexandria — in November. Simon Property Group, the largest outlet mall developer, is in the process of building an outlet mall in upper Montgomery County. Clarksburg Premium Outlets at Cabin Branch is scheduled to open as early as 2015.
2.
More fitness centers as retail anchors
Big-box retailers and grocery stores have long been among the most sought-after anchors for shopping centers. But that is quickly changing, as developers look to large gyms and fitness centers to help draw a stream of regular customers.
'It used to be that [fitness centers] were thought to be an ugly use of space,' Klug said. But now 'fitness is a huge category.'
Gyms such as Equinox, which has locations in Tysons Corner and Bethesda, and L.A. Fitness have become coveted mainstays. As more and more consumers shop online for clothing and other household needs, fitness centers are one of the last remaining businesses that can draw regular crowds on a daily — or perhaps, weekly — basis, industry insiders said.
3.
Mobile capabilities being used in new ways, not just by retailers, but also by entire shopping centers
A number of brands, from Aston Martin to Zara, have their own apps. Now shopping centers and malls are joining the fray.
'This is the year of the mobile phone,' said Michael Kercheval, president and chief executive officer of the International Council of Shopping Centers. 'It is the new gatekeeper.'
A mobile app by Simon Property Group, for example, reminds customers where their cars are parked, provides a mall directory and alerts them to discounts at nearby stores. Westfield’s app, meanwhile, directs shoppers to the closest bathroom or food court.
'Shopping center managers now have the opportunity to speak directly to shoppers as they walk in,' Kercheval said, adding that smaller developments should create similar apps to help guide customers."

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Rise and Fall Of Palm Trees in LA

Planted in the early years of the 20th Century, the familiar tall Mexican fan palms that form a romantic part of the city's skyline were never intended to loom so tall over the spreading city.  They were planted during a 1920s beautification boom in advance of the Olympics, and chosen because they were cheap and hardy.  Now almost a century later, the trees are all approaching the end of their natural lifespans, and will mostly not be replaced.  Palms don't really serve any purpose, since they provide almost none of the shade or air filtering that other trees might.  

But the rise and fall of the palm in Southern California is a story that is repeated over and over again, as each generation falls in love with a tree than decades later falls from favor. The most fabled tree stories of California are those of redwoods, eucalyptus, orange trees and palms, and these four are the subject of a new book, "Trees in Paradise: A California History,"about how trees have been brought to California by waves of immigrants, and how the trees shaped the communities they graced.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
KCET

Link to article:

Excerpt: "How did Los Angeles become an evergreen city? Aqueducts mean these trees won't soon thirst for water in the Southland's semiarid climate. But the region's urban forest also owes its existence to a generation of agricultural innovators, amateur gardeners, nursery operators, and others who brought trees from exotic locales like Australia or the Andes to improve -- to 'emparadise' -- a landscape they found lacking.
In his magnificent new book, 'Trees in Paradise: A California History,' environmental historian Jared Farmer tells the story of this landscape revolution -- among many others. For example: California's vegetable giants inspired awe around the world, but the state nearly reduced the entirety of its vast coast redwood forest to stumps. Also: immigrant labor sustained Southern California's Orange Belt, yet it was rarely acknowledged in the idyllic scenes created for picture postcards and citrus crate labels.
I asked Farmer to elaborate on some of the themes he raises in his book...

NM: How did palms become such a potent symbol of L.A.? And when you look into the future, do you see their iconic status eroding away, much as pepper trees lost theirs?
JF: You're right: A century ago, the iconic street tree of Los Angeles was not any kind of palm, but the pepper tree (Schinus molle), a species of sumac native to the arid zone of South America, with its distinctive feathery foliage and scarlet berries. This tree served as Southern California's answer to the weeping willow. On my book's Facebook page, I've posted vintage postcards and greeting cards that just show just how emblematic pepper trees used to be. Today, I bet most Angelenos wouldn't be able to pick one out from a line-up of trees. (If you want to get a sense of what the L.A. treescape once looked like, drive around Rancho Palos Verdes and Rolling Hills Estates, which still have splendid peppers.)

Palms replaced peppers in the built environment and the psychic landscape of L.A. for a few reasons. First, many of the pioneer pepper trees were torn out in the early twentieth century because they acted as a reservoir for black scale, an insect that damaged citrus groves. In 1930 Los Angeles followed the example of the citrus colonies and banned further street planting of the species.

Meanwhile, in the 1920s and 1930s, L.A. was busy building its modern grid of automobile boulevards, and the city's newly established Division of Forestry was looking for standardized street trees. In advance of hosting the Tenth Olympiad in 1932, City Hall announced a 10-year plan -- a Depression-relief works project -- to set thousands of trees along major boulevards. Metropolitan foresters chose not to reproduce the familiar street trees from the pioneer era -- acacias, eucalypts, and peppers. In the age of streetside parking, sidewalks, sewers, and utility poles, these leafy, rooty growers acquired bad reputations. In contrast, palms held out the promise of symbiotic infrastructure: they could provide beautification without dropping fruit, buckling concrete, or breaking pipes and wires.

The species planted most prevalently by city crews was Mexican fan palm (Washingtonia robusta), native to Sonora and Baja. City officials probably had no inkling these seedlings would grow so tall. The species wasn't singled out for aesthetics. Rather, it was hardy and it was cheap.

Prior to the mid twentieth century, when these uniform rows of Mexican fan palms reached maturity, fronds were not a leading feature of the urban landscape, despite the fact that tourism boosters had incessantly advertised the palminess of Greater Los Angeles. The most visible species was Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis), which wealthy homeowners habitually planted in pairs along their front walkways. Although San Diego, Santa Barbara, Redlands -- and even Sacramento -- were decades ahead of Los Angeles in cultivating a palmy landscape, L.A. had better boosters."

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Cheesecake Factory Scores a Sports Celebrity Endorsement

Successful dining chain The Cheesecake Factory doesn't advertise, but relies on word-of-mouth and social media to spread the word from its happy customers.  But when the chain found out that one of those customers was Polish tennis star Agnieszka Radwanska, currently ranked third in the world, they decided to do more than allow her to cut the line when she visits (which is all her management representative was seeking when he contacted the company). 

Radwanska, who is known for tweeting her love for dining at The Cheesecake Factory during her travels to tennis tournaments, will now wear the restaurant chain's logo on her visor when she plays, and becomes a celebrity spokesperson for the well-liked restaurants.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Sports Business Journal

Link to article:

Excerpt: "'We hope it spurs conversation about, "What is that restaurant doing on her visor,’” said Donald Evans, the company’s chief marketing officer. 'The answer is, she is one of our biggest fans.'

The endorsement grew from social media, which will play a major role in promoting the ties between the Polish star and the American outlet. For years, Radwanska, now the third-ranked player in the world and who reached the 2012 Wimbledon final, has tweeted her enthusiasm for The Cheesecake Factory when touring in the United States. (Outside of the brand’s 181 U.S. locations, there are three Middle Eastern outlets owned by franchisees.)

Six months ago, one of her representatives at Lagardère Unlimited, Drew LeMesurier, cold-called the company — but not for a deal.

'Initially, I wanted to get her VIP treatment at one of the restaurants,' said LeMesurier, director of talent marketing for Lagardère. That meant cutting the waiting lines the restaurants frequently boast, and maybe some gift cards.

It’s not an uncommon request; just ask Evans. Celebrities ranging from Justin Bieber to David Spade, and past and present NBA players such as Shaquille O’Neal and James Harden, are well known acolytes of the menu’s 250 offerings. 'We help them out when they go to our restaurants,' Evans said.

So why did Radwanska land an endorsement deal with the company — a multiyear pact totaling six figures — when there are so many other celebrity customers? Indeed, the Celebrity DBI, which measures potential endorser popularity for corporate customers, does not rank Radwanska. 'We have data on 1,100 athletes,' said Kathy Gardner, a spokesperson for DBI, a unit of Repucom. 'These are determined primarily by client request, and no one has asked for her yet.'

Part of the answer draws from a long tradition in golf and tennis endorsements: the marketing people like the sport. Evans, who handled the deal himself, admits he is a tennis fan who played the sport competitively in high school, so when LeMesurier’s call came, he took it."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

City Logos Become the Modern Response to Coats of Arms' Emblems

Since the Middle Ages, towns and cities have been identified with official emblems put together from the elements of heraldry: shields, crosses, stars, lions, dragons, birds, and other battlefield symbols. Armies and warriors would carry flags and shields emblazoned with the emblems of the places they held close to their hearts.

In the last few decades, even those cities that have an official emblem have found them shunted aside by marketing professionals who have designed logos and slogans to prepare them for a different kind of battle, of the economic kind.  The colors, fonts and messages of a city's official logo present the image that local boosters want to send to the world, especially to business and tourists. But sometimes the results are not what city officials have intended.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The New Yorker

Link to article:

Excerpt: " City emblems can be traced to twelfth-century Europe, D’Arcy Boulton, a professor of medieval studies at the University of Notre Dame, told me. This period saw the development of heraldry, a profession that oversees the creation and regulation of coats of arms, which were displayed on the flags and shields of nobles to distinguish themselves from their opponents during chivalric competitions and on the battlefield. Much as an N.B.A. player wears a jersey on the basketball court, the practice was one part pragmatism, one part pageantry. Over the next hundred years or so, guilds, churches, and towns, which had been using monochromatic seals as their mark of authority, began adopting their own coats of arms. Think of London’s white shield with a red cross flanked by two dragons. The emblems sometimes meant different things to different people. Still, coats of arms were a useful way of identifying various groups at a time when the peasantry was largely illiterate, relying on the Church’s stained-glass images to teach them theology.

In recent decades, heraldry has been losing ground to modern graphics, as cities borrow from the logos of the corporate world. While many cities still have a coat of arms—Toronto’s, for example, displays a blue 'T' on a yellow shield held upright by a beaver and bear—councils have largely let them fall by the wayside, especially as more cities have turned to a relatively new trend called destination branding, which aims to package cities, regions, and countries as marketable products to lure potential tourists and investors.

'Heraldists like myself have a deep dislike of institutions that abandon their coat of arms in favor of a logo,' Boulton said, about the recent shift. 'While we don’t mind logos, we tend to feel that the traditional forms are more dignified and have a certain character that would be sad to lose. There is also a beauty in the design of arms, partially because of the rules that constrain the combinations of colors, figures, and spacing to make the design as clear and recognizable as possible, even from a distance.'

Perhaps the most famous modern city logo is the iconic 'I ♥ NY' emblem, created in 1977 by the graphic designer Milton Glaser on behalf of New York State. With New York City having nearly filed for bankruptcy two years earlier, the logo was part of a strategy to revive both the state and the city’s image and, in turn, their economies, according to Miriam Greenberg, an associate professor of sociology at the University of California at Santa Cruz and the author of 'Branding New York: How a City in Crisis Was Sold to the World.' The juxtaposition of stark letters with a soft heart captured both the toughness and vulnerability people loved about New York City, she said—and their deep affection for a place on the verge of collapse. 'It is possible for an artist or designer to tap into the zeitgeist and create an image that resonates at a particular moment,' Greenberg said, 'but they have to be knowledgeable about what the underlying fears and issues are.' A new logo probably won’t transform a city, in other words, unless it’s part of a package of initiatives to address a city’s challenges."

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Typography-Inspired Cubicles Liven Up Office Space

The cliche of the open-space office is a warren of little matching square spaces. It sucks the life out of a workspace and doubtless is a mind-numbing place to work. So any  attempt to bring in a little variety and even whimsy has got to be appreciated.  

Benoit Challand's pilot project design for Fold Yard is clever and looks fun and useful as well.  The French designer uses the letters of the company's name to inspire the shape of the various cubicles in the space.  Although they're best appreciated from above, when you can easily "read" the shapes as letters, the spaces also work as creative office space solutions.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Co. Design

Link to article:

Excerpt: "The open office has come under fire of late. Research says it’s bad for productivity and it might even make us sick. And monotonous, boxy cubicles don’t do much by way of visual inspiration.

But a design by French creative Benoit Challand might make you think different. In his concept for Fold Yard, every desk in an open office is shaped as a different letter of the alphabet. This typography turned into functional furniture celebrates the beauty of the large-scale letterform. The letters’ shapes are abstracted unless viewed from above, when they spell out words or phrases.

Challand specializes in CGI design, digital art, and art direction, and has worked for Nike, Cartier, and Ogilvy. This isn’t his first foray into sculptural, large-scale typography: in another project, he built letters from conglomerations of kitchen appliances, laptops, speakers, and washing machines."



Monday, March 10, 2014

Photo of the Week: Marathon Dawn in LA


The weather report of Los Angeles on LA Marathon Sunday, March 9, called for partial sunshine and warm weather in the 70s.  It's not the ideal environment for running, but the morning sunrise at 6am PST (7am PDT on the first day of Daylight Saving Time) provided a dramatic backdrop over East Hollywood just beofre the wave of marathoners took the streets.
Two hours later, the same view was a bit more prosaic, but livened up by the sight of the first wave of the Marathon runners coming down the straightaway of Hollywood Boulevard.




Thursday, March 6, 2014

Digital Payments War Already Won by Starbucks Mobile App

Everyone from Apple to Google to Paypal are designing digital wallets that eliminate the need for cash or credit cards to make quick, simple payments.  But while they are all competing to come up with the killer app that corners the mobile payments market, there is one company who has quietly taken up the challenge and run away with it.  Starbucks is the biggest payment app in the US, with 10 million users making about 5 million transactions a week. And the secret that Starbucks has learned well and applied is how to make users keep coming back.

Hunter Communicatons Original News Source:
Forbes

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Tech companies are making moves to control the flow of bits and cash across a billion smart phones and at millions of online and physical locations. Ebay’s PayPal division has refreshed its entire technology platform, launched a new mobile payment app and is pushing to place its Beacon sensors in millions of shops to power hands-free digital payments.

PayPal’s got company. Google has launched a wallet product for its nearly billion Android and Apple has been able to use its retail stores as laboratories. It thinks it can convert its nearly 600 million iTunes customers to use the service offline and has slapped thumbprint readers on its iPhone 5s, with the idea of replacing credit card signatures. Amazon just announced that its developing a Kindle-based payment system to allow its 230 million customers to send money to each other and check out in stores.

But to see what this future mobile wallet world will look like, don’t turn to Apple, visit your neighborhood Starbucks.

Starbucks’ mobile app is the most used digital payment app in America. About 10 million customers pay for their lattes with the app, making more than 5 million transactions per week. 'Not only is it making it easy,' says Starbucks Chief Digital Officer, Adam Brotman. 'It’s enhancing the experience and the relationship with the customer.'

Digital payments have little to do with actual payments. Credit cards and cash are easy and reliable. Replacing a card swipe with a phone tap isn’t an improvement—as PayPal president David Marcus says 'that’s just technology for technology sake.' For mobile money to truly take off, it must offer more. 'It has to be the experience you have online today,' says Marcus. 'You’ll get what you want really fast, pay really fast and get out. And the merchant will know more stuff about you, and that will make your experience better.'

Starbucks has discovered how to make the experience better, at least for its coffee customers. Yes, the app let’s you pay with your iPhone, but it also enables customers to refill their Starbucks loyalty accounts with a few finger taps, offers instant discounts for free coffee or food and links to directly to Starbucks’ hot reward program in real time.

The reward program is a big draw. The app has gamified your morning coffee run. Each time you grab a grande you earn a digital star. Five stars get you to the green level, which is good for free refills and coupons. Collect 30 stars and you’re eligible for a free drink for every 12, plus more bonus offers. Like airlines, once you achieve VIP status, you’ll give your business to Starbucks any chance you get. The app makes the loyalty program even stickier."

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Pantone Releases Ten Top Colors for Fall 2014

The color experts at the Pantone Color Institute have released their color forecast for this fall's fashions, and they seem to be in a very good mood.  Rather than any dark, subdued tones for fall, Pantone is pronouncing this season as one for bold, bright colors.  The reason?  Designers and buyers alike are seeing fashion as works of art, and so they want them to be noticed and appreciated. And consumers are tired of being perceived as too serious, and want to have a little fun and creativity in their looks.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The Huffington Post

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Do you look good in Aurora Red? You better hope so.
Pantone announced its top 10 fall 2014 colors Thursday morning, and they are equally as bold for men as they are for women. It looks like designers are breaking away from gender specific colors more than ever and having a bit more fun with their collections.
The reason behind this playful shift could be the fact that designers want their clothing to be perceived more like pieces of art. In an interview with Women's Wear Daily, executive director of Pantone's Color Institute Leatrice Eiseman explains:
'Designers are trying to establish wardrobes that have more of an artful presence. They understand that, unlike before, customers want to get a little fun and creative with their wardrobes. It's as if they’re saying, "Let's not be quite as serious."'
We've already mastered using the color of the year in our makeup routine, so we can get on board with anything that allows us to have even more fun with fashion. We'll be on the lookout to see which of our favorite designers uses these colors during Fashion Week."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Death of Helvetica "Godfather" Brings Font Back into the News

Mike Parker, designer best known as the "Godfather" of Helvetica, died Sunday February 23 at the age of 84. A typographer who was responsible for the 1000 fonts that made up the Linotype library, he is best known for popularizing "Neue Haas Grotesk", which gained fame after its origin at the Basel School of Design and its subsequent rechristening as "Helvetica", the Latin name for Switzerland. 

In the documentary film "Helvetica", about the ubiquity of the typeface in public communications and corporate logos, Parker praised the "firm" quality of the clean, modern font and the way that the spaces between characters "just hold the letters." "It is not a letter that's bent to shape; it's a letter that lives in a powerful matrix of surrounding space," he said. "It's -- oh, it's brilliant when it's done well."

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
BBC News

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Mike Parker who helped popularise Helvetica died this week. You won't find a graphic designer who isn't familiar with the typeface (released in 1957 under its original name Neue Haas Grotesk). But Helvetica is one of the most well known typefaces among non-designers, too. Why is that asks graphic designer David Airey.

Many people attribute its popularity to Apple, and Steve Jobs' decision to incorporate Helvetica into the Apple operating system. But the typeface had already joined the halls of design classics long before computers were on the scene.

Swiss designers Emil Ruder (1914-1970) and Armin Hofmann (born 1920) were on the faculty at the Basel School of Design, and it was their teachings that gave rise to the Swiss Style of design during the 1950s and 60s. Ruder was the typography instructor, placing great importance on the use of sans-serif typefaces. He taught that type loses its purpose when it loses its communicative meaning; therefore, legibility and readability are main concerns. 'Typography has one plain duty before it and that is to convey information in writing,' he said. The even and almost homogenous form of Helvetica (Latin for Swiss) aligned well with the school's typographical philosophy.

Not long after Helvetica's release, students from the Basel School of Design spread the typeface's merits to the US when they returned to Yale and other American schools (Mike Parker graduated from Yale with a Masters in design).

It might now have a love/hate relationship among graphic designers, but that's generally more to do with its misuse, placed in the wrong surroundings, rather than any fault with the typographical design. For example, choosing Helvetica for a logo in order to distinguish a company within its marketplace isn't going to work given the ubiquity of the typeface. With a clean, professional, and what can today be called 'safe' appearance, it's easy to understand why committees in large companies have previously reached consensus on Helvetica's use. International brands from BMW and American Airlines to Lufthansa and Panasonic have adopted the design in their logos."

Monday, March 3, 2014

Hipster Logos Reimagined as Corporate Giants

Dogfish Head Ale turns into its arch-enemy Miller Lite
Earlier this year, we pointed out an artistic exercise that reimagined the logos of NFL teams in the style of European soccer clubs.  The same spirit animated another design group that imagined those same teams as hipster icons.  Nowthe shoe is on the other foot, and a Kentucky design firm has taken boutique brands of beer, clothing, coffee and eyewear that are beloved by hipsters, and redesigned their logos to resembel their evil corporate competition's.

The immediate impact is jarring, and even if it takes a second to place the competitor whose log has been appropriated, there's no denying that you have the image seared in your brain somewhere. Check out the linked article to see all 19 reinventions.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Co. Design

Link to article:

Excerpt: "What would the brands most popular among hipsters look like if they were recreated in the style of their corporate counterparts? What if Intelligentsia Coffee's logo looked like Starbucks's, or Best Made's like Home Depot's? These cleverly redesigned logos by Kentucky marketing and design firm Cornett imagine what the branding landscape would look like in an alternate world, where skinny jeans, thick frames, and microbrews are the mainstream.

According to Cornett's Whit Hiler, the project was originally inspired by artist David Rappoccio's illustrations of NFL logos as hipsters, as well as this guide to creating your own hipster logo. Cornett thought it would be a fun exercise to do the opposite: redesign hipster logos in the soulless, mainstream style of the analogous corporations they consider antichrists.

To do that, Cornett's nine designers settled on about 19 logos they thought reflect hipster aesthetics, and reimagined them as the logos of their most obvious mainstream counterpart. The Dollar Shave Club becomes styled after Gillette, Fab takes on the look of the Target logo, bottles of Dogfish Head start looking an awful lot like Miller Lite, and so on. 'It was really funny and kind of painful to see them transformed into these corporate giants,' Hiler says."