Big Mischief

Founder at Moonbase. Previously UberConference

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The Worst Portfolio Ever

This is the worst portfolio ever. It falls victim to the worst trends in portfolio design today. They are as follows:

The Paragraph “Portfolio”: Oh ok, so there is no work on your website, but this paragraph tells me you’re a maker, a thinker, a writer and a storyteller. Impressive! You must go on so many adventures. Luckily you have 10 social network links so I can spend all day clicking away from your website.

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These glorified Twitter bios I’m sure are meant to come off humble and approachable, but I can’t help but see them as lazy. I couldn’t care less if you’re an avid coffee drinker or that San Francisco is a sunny place. I just want to see your work. Right away. I don’t want to chase it around the internet for half an hour, only to find angled photos of hands holding iPhones in 400px rectangles.

skills.jpg

The Arbitrary “Skills”...

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First Date Location Scouting

alexcornell-firstdate.jpg

While a successful date can be had any number of places, you can improve your chances with proper location scouting. I have prepared the infographic above and outlined the spectrum of difficulty based on various first date scenarios below:

Sports Bar: A novice move. Taking a first date to a crowded sports bar is like using a pencil as a tennis racquet: there’s just no way it will work. While often well-endowed on the alcohol front, Sports Bars are haven to the jackass, and tricky to navigate without losing your date.

The “Original” Idea: A picnic by the beach, a DJ class, laser tag! Yeah you’re clever. Just keep in mind you are walking dangerously close to the “just friends” line. A first date in daylight is only for the highly skilled.

Lounge (Just Before it Gets Crowded): The combination of minimal ambient noise, intimate table size, and a sexy...

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Musical Chairs (Choosing the Right Seat)

alexcornell-musicalchairs.jpg

One of the most complex social situations you will encounter is the 45 seconds that elapse while deciding where to sit for dinner at a restaurant. Your choice should appear natural, unbiased and haphazard if executed properly. Timing is everything.

These 45 seconds determine how enjoyable your next 2 hours will be. Once the pieces start to fall into place and people take their seats, your choices narrow. People sit, seemingly at random, and if you don’t take the appropriate measures, you’re inevitably stuck at the least interesting end of the table.

I have compiled the above infographic to assist you with some of the common configuration patterns:

4 Person Circle: This is the ideal setup. You are safe sitting in any seat. Regardless how interesting everyone is, you pretty much can’t go wrong. Note: as the diameter of the table increases, so too does the importance that...

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Shopping With a Woman

Halfway inside most women’s clothing stores is a couch.

You’ve seen this couch before I’m sure. Rarely populated by any of the store’s target demographic, its purpose seems curious. It just sits there, typically back-less, empty, and seemingly useless to the shoppers pinballing about the store. Not until you find yourself shopping companion to a determined woman does the couch’s true purpose become clear:

It is the only safe place to wait.

Despite the popular notion that the couch “is a trap”, you can’t go wrong waiting on the couch. The novice move is to take-up residence at the door and check your phone. Worse is to suggest you go visit men’s shops in the vicinity. Both will result in accusations of “ruining the togetherness” of the shopping activity. Hovering too close is perhaps an even greater offense as this can...

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I Quit Facebook and Email is Broken

If the title of this article initiates your gag reflex, join the club. Link-baiting froth like this is slowly driving me crazy.

Is there some rite of passage in tech-writing that requires periodic abstinence from random social-networks? The slapdash article with a catchy title is hardly a new tactic, but must it snake its way into every inch of tech journalism? Drenching something in hyperbole only amplifies the flaccidity of the chosen topic. You might as well write an article on ‘How Society has been Changed by Technology’. Fascinating!

I wouldn’t normally concern myself with the dronings of strangers' online travels, but in these particular cases, I can’t escape. Just about every website, periodical and blog I visit has succumbed to this specific malady of content. I find the whole mess to be about as interesting as a post-game interview with an...

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Internal Surge Pricing

A most unwelcome symbol in my life is the Uber Surge icon. It often means it’s raining. That or it’s 6:30pm on a Friday. However unwanted, it’s existence is understandable of course. It represents an increase in price due to an increase in demand.

I have my own internal version of surge pricing when it comes to how much I pay to optimize my time for creative production. It has to do with how creative I feel and thus, how valuable I consider my time to be at a given moment. If I’m feeling particularly effective and capable creatively, I am much more likely to pay to decrease the amount of time needed to accomplish menial tasks. My creativity ebbs and flows throughout the day. I am unable to predict its movements, but when I feel it surging as it were, I take every necessary measure to keep it that way.

This means no distractions. This means no wasting time....

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The Efficacy of Promo Videos

As a follow up to my last post on how to make a promo video with no $$$, here are some thoughts on the efficacy of promo videos in general. I am specifically talking about promotional videos, essentially online ads, and not “explainer” videos. As I stated at the end of my last article, yes promotional videos are helpful, but it depends what you’re after.

To quality my position, I am drawing on my experience with these videos. The most successful of which have been the Nosh 404 and Jotly videos. Time Magazine referred to the former as the “best 404 in the history of the internet”, and the latter ended up on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. I will use my experiences with these and others to make the points below.

Views (kinda) Count

An effective promotional video means eyes on your product. The more eyes the better. View count is obviously how...

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Anything but CLEAR

Flying home to DC, I encountered the CLEAR podium once again at SFO. I was once a member, but canceled almost immediately, overcome by the awkwardness of the process.

If you haven’t heard of CLEAR, it’s a service that prescreens you and allows you to “skip the line” at airport security. The point of the prescreening is unclear, as the membership only affects your placement in the security line. You still pass through all the same security checks as the unscreened masses, but you skip the line.

What they don’t mention is that you don’t really skip the line, you cut it. There is a difference between skipping and cutting. Skipping means bypassing. Cutting involves being placed in front of already wary and annoyed travelers – most of whom have no idea what CLEAR is, let alone any respect for its rules.

The process is annoying for everyone....

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How to Make a Promo Video without any $$$

I’ve seen a few topics on Quora recently, asking how expensive it is to make a promo video. The answers vary, but all involve using an outsourced shop and range between $10-$150K.

Crazy.

One skill I have developed while working at Firespotter is making promo videos really fast, cheap, and effective, without the help of an outsourced shop, usually with a crew of 1-5 people. Cost varies, but is always between $0-$2K. The most successful ones having been the cheapest.

Having just burnt the jets to get this video done in a weekend, the process is fresh in my head. Here are some tips for executing a solid video on a short timeframe, without spending a lot of money:

Concept First

If you don’t have a concept to shoot around, you’re dead in the water. I never start working on a video unless the general outline has solidified in my head. Most of these tips will assume...

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Launch Videos

Today we’re launching our iPhone and Android apps for ÜberConference. I think you’ll enjoy them, they both make conference calling easier than it has ever been.

We also made the video above to promote the launch. I’ve gotten a little burnt out on the typical app walkthrough style: shallow depth of field, over-the-shoulder app shots, precious indie music, happy hipsters hanging in Dolores Park, etc. We wanted to try something completely different.

I like our QVC-spoof because it’s weird as hell for an app launch video. Who knows if it will “succeed” in getting the word out, but it sure was fun to make.

A weekend well spent.

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