Nov 29, 2007

Google: No GPS, No Problem!

Today Google announced the launch of "My Location", a new beta technology that uses cell tower identification to provide you with approximate location information, so it will work on phones without GPS.

Simply fire up Google Maps for mobile, press [0], and the map will indicate your approximate location by centering on a blue circle similar to what you can see at the beginning of this post.

At the same time, if you do have a GPS-enabled device, "My Location" can actually complement it: it kicks in faster than GPS in most cases, so you can access your location even faster on the map; it works reliably indoors (unlike GPS) and doesn't drain your phone battery at the rate that GPS does.

Now, what Beta means for this product? First, that although accuracy and coverage may vary, both will improve over time as more and more people use Google Maps for mobile. Second, that My Location isn't currently supported on all devices (but you can go to their Help Center for more info) and third that they are thirsty for feedback about it.

So if you decide to try it, make sure you give the GoogleGuys your feedbacks, by leaving your comments in their mobile blog.

Dying to try it? Just text "MYLOCATION" to 33669, or head to www.google.com/gmm on your mobile browser.

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A Different Type of Beauty

Under the slogan "Everybody has the right to be beautiful" the Miss Landmine Angola 2008 pageant was launched in close collaboration with the Angolan government (CNIDAH) and supported by the European Union.

The crowning of the world's first Miss Landmine will be taking place in Luanda, Angola on April 4th, 2008, the UN International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.

A simple great idea that at the same time that reminds the world about land mines and what they can do to people, it probably helps really beautiful African women to feel whole again in spite their very close encounter with a land mine.

Know more about this project by visiting their site. You can vote for your favorite candidate and learn more about this problem that affects several countries around the world.

(Thanks Jarek for the info and the links!)

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The Republican Debate: Bananaland Reload

The Republican YouTube "debate" has just finished. It was really sad to see what level of ignorance of 'the world out there' most of the candidates showed; it was more shameful to see how they would spin the truth just to attack their fellow republican.

Romney, McCain and Giuliani being the worst of them, trying to 'debate' with slogans, clearly trying to say what they believe people want to hear.

Two examples: McCain implying that Ron Paul's proposal of avoiding INVADING other countries (whenever is possible) means 'isolationism'. The truth is exactly the contrary, the more of a bully a country becomes (and invading is a big part of being a bully) the more isolated it becomes. But it wasn't about the truth for McCain. It was about trying to make the other look bad.

The other good example was Romney, playing dumb, accusing Huckabee of "wanting to give illegal immigrants better chances than the chances that American kids have". He was referring to Huckabee's support of a Bill (that never made it, btw) that was aiming to allow children of illegal immigrants that have done high school in the US the possibility to apply and receive the same merit based scholarship that any other (american) kid, if at the same time the 'illegal' kid applies for citizenship. The truth? That does not mean "better chances" but "same chances" and as Huckabee explained, the illegal status is not the kids' fault... My answer to Romney's cheap shot would have been that the MORE IMPORTANT FACT is that each time you don't give those kids that possibility you are in fact helping the dumbest over the brightest, just because of their parents' nationality (American) or their parents' sins (being illegal). Therefore you are, as a country, losing a good brain. If the kid is bright enough to be able to get a merit scholarship you SHOULD want to keep him in this country. After all, the country should always be looking for bright people because is brains and not arms what makes any country grow... including this one.

The sad part? Masses seemed to like being feed by those cheap slogans. It seems that the less they have to think, the better. While the "YouTube" part has given the whole thing a new look, it has become less than ever a "debate". You know, in TV time rules. It pushes for a quick slogan not for a real explanation.

Some people think I am too pessimistic about (North)America. I just see the signs. I come from one of those countries that the First World calls "Bananaland". Guess what? Because of that, I know the symptoms. I can recognized them quickly and bad politicians are a huge sign that your country is becoming Bananaland.

But if bad politicians are there as an option for President, is not their fault. Is not even the media's fault. Is OUR fault.

So, think before you act. Go pass the looks and the slogans. Research the facts. Educate yourself. Think by yourself. The US is already in the path to Bananaland. The decadence of the Empire has just begun, thanks to Bush Jr. and his bullying policies. Who is elected in 2008 can change that direction. Or will push this country into being a pure 100% Bananaland and fall in pieces much quicker. The decision is in your hands, act responsibly!

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Nov 22, 2007

Keyboards, Keybaords and Keyboards

Sometimes you learn some things about yourself through very unexpected ways.

For example: I realized about my love for garlic and onions when I left my parents home and I went to live with my best friend. I was already 22 years old; I should have known better my taste in food but I didn't.

While living with my parents, I did have strong no-no's related to food (fish or anything from the sea was one) but anything else was 'ok' for me.

So I never fully realized how much I liked things seasoned with onion and garlic until I was for the first time on my own. For starters I went into cooking, something that I seldom did while living with my parents. But I also shared the flat with someone who didn't really like garlic, or better said, she liked it but garlic specifically upset her stomach. One day during dinner she simply asked me: "Do you really need to put garlic and onion to EVERYTHING you cook?". That is how I realized of my love for those two things.

All this long story is just the intro to another 'realization'.

It wasn't until I started with this blog that to admit that I just realized through my blogging, how much I like keyboards. I have already talked about the washable keyboard; I also make a comment about the 'typewriter' one (still my favorite). The only I never write about the virtual keyboard is just because when I started my blog it was already old news (but the little gadget is still very desirable, I have to admit).

And here I am writing about ANOTHER keyboard...! It has become pretty obvious I do have a thing for keyboards.

So, what is special about this keyboard named 'Optimus Maximus'?

Simple: that every 'key' that you see is not really a key but a stand-alone display showing the function it is currently associated with. That you can 'program' any key to be what you want them to be and that each key can show what it has been programmed for.

How you can have one? If you are willing to pay more or less $1500 for a keyboard, it will be available on February 2008. How did I find it? Read the next post, From Russia with Love.


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Nov 21, 2007

From Russia With Love: Cool Design

If you are looking for creative design one place you should put in your list is without any doubt, Russia. Like most "under development" countries, they seem to be one of those places where creativity seems to be always present, for good and for bad.
In this case is for good. I am talking about the Art. Lebedev Studio a not-so-small studio that works on industrial, graphic and web design, as well as interface engineering.

What really attracts me from their work is that their range goes from pretty sophisticated stuff (like the Optimus Maximus Keyboard that will have its own post) to very simple stuff (the type that makes you wonder how i possible that no one had that idea before).

Here you can see some of their work, in fact my favorites products from their studio. At the top, the Matryoshkus, a type of matrioshka that could be used to teach kids about bytes and terabytes and gigabytes.

Below, one of those ideas you can't believe no one had before... in this case a mouse with the shape of a cursor.




And last but not least, one of those not so fashionable products (cloth-pegs) that with a twist of creativity have been converted in a cool product, Halloween ready.





Want to see more? Just browse the ArtLebedevStudio (for being such good designers, their site is not so easy to navigate so make sure you visit all their subsections and you can find interesting stuff hiding there.

La Nacion-->ElOjoDeIberoamerica-->NoBordersCampaign-->Blog-->ArtLebedev Studio

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Nov 19, 2007

Battling With Slogans

This Saturday, during my last visit to the bookstore, I came across a little nice book called: Unfortunate English: The Gloomy Truth Behind the Words You Use

So far, a very interesting reading as it uncovers the true meaning (or best said, the original meaning) of some words that we use daily. Going through its pages I was having some fun (in the modern sense of the term) when I found the original definition of SLOGANS.

I wrote slogans for more than 10 years and I taught others all I know about them. I love them and I hate them and I can still be amazed of how powerful a good slogan could be. Yes, slogans can be powerful and if they are good you will remember them...

Powerful I said? Oddly enough that word IS in some way related to slogans. Believe it or not, I never even thought about the origin of the word... Now, do you remember the "Wallace! Wallace" in Braveheart? Those were slogans.

Slogans turned out to be "the shouts of blood-lusting warriors... Sixteenth-century Scottish Highlanders and Irishmen shouting a place or a name related to them before rushing in to skewer your skull not with facile words but with decapitating weapons (...) A slogorne could also be a watchword."

So, my dear creative, the next time that you find yourself battling with slogans think about this and be grateful to know that even if you lose the battle, you will keep your head. The battle, if some centuries ago could have been much much worse!

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Nov 16, 2007

Is Your Wife a Real Bitch?

I know, I know... This blog should not be about my addiction for all the "Odd News" that are out there but about creativity, its mechanisms and results, creativity applied to advertising, new products, etc. etc. All sprinkled here and there with dogs and puppies, just because I love dogs and is my blog and I can do as I want.

So, lets all pretend that this post as "about dogs" and we forget the fact that I found it in the Yahoo Odd News.... here we go:

A GUY ACTUALLY MARRIED A BITCH -
(And he is just paying for his sins!)


According to Yahoo Odd News, an Indian farmer has married a dog to overcome what he believes is a curse caused by him having stoned to death two mating dogs in his rice field.

I personally feel bad for the dog. After the ceremony, she attempted to make a run for it -- apparently due to the large crowds -- but was eventually tracked down and returned to her new 'husband'.

I don't think she was running because of the crowd. I think she knew what her new hubby has done to the other dogs and she was trying to avoid becoming a "beaten spouse".

What is worst is that while she is clearly the victim, people would still say that he married "a bitch". Not fair, not fair at all...

Read the original article at YON

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Nov 15, 2007

Good Dog

Another myth is that babies and puppies in advertising 'sells'. As I said before when talking about how "sex sells" there are not such things as easy formulas, ladies and gentlemen.

It is true though that a good looking baby or a great puppy may help in making your ad more memorable (what does not translates in more sales necessary but is a step towards that --if the ad also makes the product and the brand memorable).

All this long introduction to confess that yes, this ad caught my eye because of the doggie in it, BUT I am not sharing it just because of that. It is still a pretty decent ad: I don't speak Thai and I understood the idea perfectly as well as which is the product that is trying to sell.

On the creative side it may seem a bit flat but the ad is very well produced and the 'acting' of the dog as well as some other details of the movie makes up for what is not there in creativity.



I guess you too don't speak Thai but you understood what the ad was about, right? ;)

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Nov 14, 2007

Another Skull in the Closet

One day I will write the complete story about how with my father we tried to 'get back' his grand- grand- grand mother's skull from the cementery. Is a long story but a funny one.

Meanwhile I can tell you that we didn't succeed but I hope that just that fact shows that my fascination with skulls may be 'genetic' :)) as it was my father's idea to try to get the skull.

Nevertheless, genes or not, I love skulls. If you have been reading this blog often, you know that already. I also like jewelry and recycling and lately I have been playing with some vintage silver as I want to start 'recycling' old jewelry and made with old pieces new stuff.

So, when I saw this "geek skull bracelet" I thought it was a great idea. Is jewelry, is recycled material and is a skull.. what else can we ask for, right?




I don't do this type of recycled jewelry (I am still using silver and stones) but I find the idea pretty cool. If you want one of these, you can go to StupidFingers and buy one. They are just $20 bucks and if nothing else..., they should be great conversation starters!

Google search skull --> Wired --> Makezine--> Livejournal --> StupidFingers

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Nov 10, 2007

When Is All About Sex

While there is a common perception that "sex sells" (is not so easy, folks, as a former creative, I wish it was!) sometimes sex SHOULD be the focus on an advertising campaign. Sometimes sex is exactly what a campaign should talk about, especially when we are talking prevention.

Prevention against HIV/AIDS or against unwanted pregnancies are both delicate issues and to find a good way to talk about them on TV spots is never an easy task.

That is why I am so proud of the new Argentinean campaign "Sin Triki Triki, no hay Bang Bang" (that could be translated as "Without 'Treekee Treekee', there is no Bang Bang", being 'treekee treekee' the onomatopoeia for the condom usage).

Simply put an excellent campaign (HIV Prevention) from my good friends from Dialogo Publicidad. The client? The National Health Department and the strategy as you will see, is upfront, with an 'in your face' type of message as it has to be for something like this.

Using a type of music that appeals more to certain groups (like hip hop or rap in the US) and filmed with the look and feel of what we can call the "Argentinian projects" (ghetto style projects) the song is a very catchy 'cumbia' and conveys a clear message: that if they know what is good for their own sake, without condoms they will not have sex. What is even better, it gives teenagers girls a nice, funny, almost 'light' way to remind their partners that "without treekee treekee..., there is no bang bang".

Probably this ad is not the cup of tea of the middle or upper class in Argentina but they are not the main target of the campaign. As it is, the TV spot is right on target and with the collaboration of public figures that are all scattered through the spot, it will probably achieve more than those campaigns that work based on boring studies or on fear.

Here is the ad: (you don't need to understand Spanish to understand the idea)


video

Meanwhile, here in the US, the government is trying to promote sexual abstinence with a campaign that of course is not working (as it tends to happen with ideas that go against nature).

“Tell your kids you want them to wait ’til they’re married to have sex" says the ad. "Success comes to kids that wait to have sex" is the slogan of the right wing half ass campaign that the Bush Administration is running here in the US (they should be sued for lying! as it is clearly not the timing but the necessary knowledge to have safe sex what can make the difference when it comes to sucess).

The difference between both campaigns make me think about an interesting point: in Argentina, State and Church are NOT separated. The 'official' religion is catholicism and catholics' views have an important say (sadly) in some of our policies... but 'thanks God' ;) the government and the Health Department have the balls to run anyway with a campaign like "Bang Bang". They understand that this is about health and that sometimes you need to face the facts and deal with them.

Here in the US on the other hand, State and Church are (supposedly) separated but the campaign run by the goverment seems to be more on the moral/religious/private side of the equation. If it was about HEALTH they’d be promoting the practice of safe sex but they are instead promoting abstinence what is in fact a personal choice more related to religious views.

What can I say? Hypocrisy does not sit well with me so I am totally inlove with the Bang Bang campaign and I totally hate the Bush approach to a similar issue.

(Sigh) So easy to remember... "Sin Triki Triki, no hay Bang Bang" :)

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Nov 8, 2007

And the Winner Is...

Tonight the winners of the Weblogs Awards will be finally announced.

No, UglyDoggy wasn't a contender (yet.. be prepared for next year!) but I am happy to see that so far the Blog most voted for "Best Blog" is PostSecret.

PostSecret is one of my favorites blogs since I saw their first book at Borders and not just because I want to know what horrible secrets people need to share but because of the idea. I like the idea. It was original, bright, new. And of course I DO want to know all the horrible secrets that people need to share!

I personally didn't vote for any blog this year..., yesterday was the last day to vote and coincidentally was my sabbatical day from the computer. I spent almost 90% of the day AWAY from the computer (can you believe it??)

I didn't like so much seeing so many blogs nominated that are part of what have become big blog media groups. Less I like the fact that under some categories you have competing blogs from the same media group or the fact that there is no category for media, marketing, creativity or advertising all the areas this blog is involved in! And I don't think our category is "culture" even if CoolHunter is in that one!

It doesn´t matter. You know me. I will be bothering the organizers until we got at least one category. I am not the only one blogging on those topics!

Meanwhile, go to this year Weblogs Awards' site and have fun visiting each of the nominated blogs. A bit of everything but some new nice material to go through :)

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Nov 5, 2007

Answers @ Your Fingertips

Some of you may have noticed already a new small banner in the left right column of my blog (*). Is a widget from Answers.com and the idea is that if you don't know a term in this blog (and English term), you can simple double-click on it and Answers will help with... ehem, well, some answers.

Is not a translation tool like Babylon, nor 100% a dictionary but I hope it will be helpful anyway for all my friends that complain about the fact I write in English and not in Spanish... (Paulita? Would you use it?).

One VERY cool detail is that when it brings back the definition of the word, also brings back an option to hear how that word shoul be pronounced.

Now, because it is not a translation tool, sometimes when you double click on a very common term, Answers come back with the most unusual answer.. that is the case if you double click "much more": a music album is the first answer so if you want to know the meaning of much, you have to click on "others" at the top of the answer.

...Uglydoggy now has all the answers!... :)

(*)See comments below. UglyDoggy may have all the answers but still is "space challenged" :))

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