So it's that time again... No not Christmas time! Time for me to blog and ramble on about nothing important and yet some how very important.  We all rely on technology and for some of us (ie myself) a little too much.  This past week has been trying to me as my iPhone all of a sudden just decided not to receive iMessages.  

For those of you who don't know, iMessages are just text messages that run through Apple's MMS service instead of the phone service providers SMS text service... And what the heck does that mean?! In layman's terms, it's an email that goes to Apple not AT&T or Verizon, etc.  So Apple does some pretty neat stuff with these iMessages.  They sent it to your iPhone, to your iPad, and even to your computer and you can reply from any of these devices and it updates the other devices... I reply on my computer, and it sends my response to my phone and iPad. I read it on my iPad it marks it as read on the others.  Freakin' awesome! Right?!

Well that's great and all, but we start depending on it too much.  We begin using it to form relationships, to do work, and all sorts of other things.  We don't want to inconvenience others with a phone call so we just text and they can respond when they get the chance.  But then we just sit there waiting hours hoping the person sees the message, when a 15-30 second phone call could have solved the issue.  Then you get in an awkward situation when you are running out of time, do I send another text? Do I call?  And in the dating world, did she see and not want to reply? Or did she see it and couldn't reply?  It can really get messy fast. You end up feeling like you're tip toeing through a room full of legos.  Don't step in the wrong spot or your world can come crashing to a painful end.

Anyways, back to the iMessage fail.  So my iPhone last week just up and decided it wasn't going to receive iMessages any more.  Trying to text a friend to meet just left a one sided conversation on my phone... "Hello?", "Did you see my text?", "You mad at me?!", and "I'm sorry please tell me what I did wrong so I don't do it again!".... Okay I didn't really say those things, but I definitely thought them.  I finally picked up the phone and called.  "Voicemail!!! Dang it! She must really be mad at me!"... a little while later, a text came through! So I text back.... no reply.  Dang what is going on.  Finally (and sad to say) Facebook came to the rescue.  We had both been sending text messages that were not being received.  Great! Problem identified!

Now how the heck do I fix this problem... Well first I notified everyone on Facebook and at work that my phone was having issues.  Then my aunt texted me on her iPhone.  Something strange happened.  I got it on my computer (because I was on Facebook so my computer was turned on) but I did not get it on my phone.  We had an entire conversation and not a single message went to the phone.  It hadn't even showed that I had messaged her back.  So now I know there is a problem.  I go to Apple's website and fill out a bug report.  (Which is kind of a joke in the web department as I tend to rant on and on when software breaks because of crappy programming or lack of foresight.)  A few very lonely days pass and frustrations mount.  So I decide to see how many other people are having issues as I knew for a fact my brother-in-law has been having similar issues ever since installing iOS 7 (Apple's new and ugly Window's like operating system).  

I Googled my problem and found an article on Apple's website, stating to restart the phone.  Great! Awesome solution. (Sarcasm in case you missed it.)  Write a bug into your program and then just tell people to restart their phones to fix it.  I had already restarted my phone once in this time period and was still having problems, but I will try it again to test their theory.  Phone restarted. Check! So I text my cousin to see if he gets the message.  Yep.  He replies back and I now get it on my phone and computer.  WHAT THE HECK?!!! I already tried this once and now it just magically works! Grrrrr!  Now I really feel like a Window's user, but at least my problem is solved... for now!

It is absolutely amazing what we as humans have accomplished with technology, but as great as it is, relying on it too much always seems to bring more troubles then it is sometimes worth.  I know there must be millions of stories out there like this.  Maybe you even have one yourself.  Feel free to share your rant if you feel so inclined.  And this concludes my blog for the day... like I said at the beginning I hope you enjoyed reading me ramble on about nothing, and yet somehow important to our daily lives. 

We are not necessarily hungry or voluntold to take part in these games but for some reason the subject continues to come up in our office.  Who would win the office hunger games?  Below is a first hand account of how our simulator predicted the “games”, done Mad Lib style.  No Old Hatters were actually harmed for this simulation. Thanks to Tricia for completing the process. 

As the tributes stand _wiggly______ and  __proudly______ gaze at their competition as the announcer speaks about the  _______peaceful__________ challenge that lies ahead.  Tricia ____dances_______ before she _____sneaks___________ into action, much to the _____surprise________ of Deb who is just _____tripping over a fireplace____________.  

Dustin starts rambling about something being “good enough for __cats__________” but quickly trails off as Stevie cuts him down with _____a video cable_________.  As Stevie stands there ___laughing_________ Deb reminds her about her task list.  Only to distract her long enough to __lasso her _____________ .  Deb screams in triumph about being the only person left who knows how to work a ____margarita machine_________ but her victory is short lived as a malfunctioning video camera falls from the ______rainbow________ and quickly ends her victory dance. 

Meanwhile, Tanner and Richard are arguing about how to pronounce animated GIF.  Little did they know that Geoff was using his ___speedy__________ GIFFing skills to create a ___dancing duck_________ that takes them both out.   In a ___flash__________ Geoff disappears into the ____secret cave_______.   

On the other side of the stadium Ashley, Jessica, and Luke ___light sabor_______ at each other trying to ______fake________ what is going on.  Luke’s evil beard possesses him causing him to _jump______ directly at Ashley.  Jessica, realizing this is her opportunity to be the only _____human___ that does not work in Norman starts _____speed reading_______ RFPs at Ashley.  Luke’s beard _____grows at____ the interference and _____wraps around him____________ in Jessica’s direction.  All three end up in a ___furball____________ ball of hair, RFPs, and ____slime___________ that is _____rolled_________ up by a ___golden_______ gnome.   

Traci immediately goes for Robert with a ____ruler_________.  Distracted by his hair and a ____picture of Tom Selleck ________ he never sees her coming from _____a dog house_______, missing his chance to escape.  With Robert down, Traci turns to Zac in an attempt to ____play darts___________.  This ultimately fails as Zac asks her to _find him a new house___ and takes his opportunity  to ___electrocute________ while she ponders the question.  Zac, upon realizing what he has done, drinks a ___lemonade_______, says the Boy Scout code_________, and runs around in a  ____toga__________.   Confused by what Zac is doing, Justin runs into Zac causing them both to fall in a ___bear trap________, immediately _______taken to the center of the earth_________.  

Kelby, standing in the center of it all trying to communicate to everyone fails to notice the giant ____snowman_________ quickly approaching her.  At the last second Hannah ____does a handstand______ to get Kelby’s attention.  This only causes Kelby to ____laugh___________ and greet the giant ______snowman__________ with open arms in an attempt to diffuse the situation.  This fails miserably.   

Hannah, distraught with __the melted snowman___________ starts performing crossfit ___punches__________ for no apparent reason.  Bethany sees this and takes the opportunity to ____fly_________ up three stairs, power clean a _____bucket________, and then tosses the ___water________ directly onto Hannah.  

Kevin, realizing he has to narrate this in the third person stands gazing __lovingly_________ into the _____field of dreams_________.  Jared, wanting to be the only Texan left turns on  _____Kenny G_____________ music that scares Kevin so much he ___prances________ while ____picking flowers_______ only to meet his demise by ______picking a poison flower__________.  

Bethany, Tricia, and Jared believe they are the only __sane ones___________ left and begin to ___bake______ in celebration.  Tricia thinks wobbling(well, her version of it) is _____beautiful________ which quickly causes her to wobble off a _____stage__________ doing her best impression of Ron Prince air ______victory_________ as she falls to her demise.  

At this point in time Lil Duey, the Game Maker ____turns________ up a ____texas sized_______ chocolate chocolate donut, directly between Jared and Bethany.  They both ___jump___________ quickly and ___swim_________ at a full sprint towards the donut.  At the last second Lil Duey  ____evaporates _________ confusing both and causing them to ___trip____________ to meet an untimely end.  

All this time ___calm____________ Geoff has been  ____rapping__________ with the tracker jackers.  He has managed to become their ___bestie_____________ and they ______carry___ him to the center of the ________donut hole______________.   He ____celebrates________, saying this was all one big animated Geoff.  

 

If you would like to play our Mad Lib, check out the link below and show your results. 

Old_Hat_Mad_Lib.pdf

 

Here at Old Hat, there are times when our designers, developers, etc. don't have a lot on their plates.  Rather than spending that time posting photos of their lunch on facebook or tweeting about what they're thankful for, we ask that they spend that time working on Toy Cannon projects.  I could bore you with the story behind why it's called a Toy Cannon project but that would require that I remember why it's called that.  Something about how there was an old baseball player the called the Toy Cannon because he was small but hit a lot of homeruns.  

I feel like it's important to encourage our staff to challenge themselves with projects outside their daily routine.  We want them to learn new techniques, new skills and have as much professional development as possible.  It makes them better at their jobs and hopefully more fulfilled as well.  For the past year, our development team has been working on a side project to develop their skills in iPhone app development.  Set to launch this week, the Due You Know Sports app (which Kevin will talk about more tomorrow) not only offers Old Hat exposure as an application development firm and provides an additional revenue stream, should people decide to download this app, it ALSO has given our development team that ability to grow in their skill set.  Tanner led the programming charge and spent hours and hours and hours on this app.  Richard helped with programming at times, Dustin offered design assistance and Kevin oversaw the project and tested it.  Four members of our team now have valuable experience they would not otherwise have gotten.  And it was all done in between other projects so it didn't cost Old Hat anything.

Many companies do similar things to the Toy Cannon, challenging their teams to come up with new products while at the same time giving those employees the ability to learn new skills.  It's been something I've really enjoyed seeing our staff participate in as it gives us the chance to see what they can do if they have no limitations.  

Nellie Logsdon was my grandmother.  She passed away when I was 18.  But one of her many philosophies was this one.  Now, by no means did she intend to say that you shouldn't apologize when you screw up.  What she was really saying was, "Don't screw up."  She knew how badly it sucks to have to admit when you've failed someone.  Looking them in the eye and admitting that you made a mistake and then apologizing for it is really hard sometimes.  And she knew that the only way to avoid it was to not make mistakes.

Well, we all make mistakes.  And she knew that too.  I think that a subliminal part of her message was to say that when you screw up, you MUST apologize.  Some people say, "Failure is not an option."  But I think she'd say, "Not admitting failure is not an option."  And that's the philosophy we have at Old Hat.  I cannot tell you how many times we have dealt with vendors that simply will not admit with they've screwed up.  And further, they won't try to fix the mistake.  Nothing could be more counterproductive to building a loyal client base in my opinion.  

Old Hat turns out an absurd amount of projects in a given month.  Hundreds of videos/animations, numerous websites and thousands (yes, thousands) of print projects every year.  And the amount of times we just completely screw up is nearly 0%.  We have many systems in place to prevent such failure.  The problem is, we're human and we mess up.  Not often, but we mess up.  Sometimes we make the most boneheaded, inexcusable mistakes.  So what do we do when that happens?

I'm sure all of you have watched a basketball game at some point and seen a player commit a foul.  Most of the time, the player (like most vendors) acts like he did nothing wrong.  He/she look at the ref as if to say, "Are you crazy?!  That was NOT my fault."  But sometimes, you'll see the player just nod his head in agreement, point at himself and take responsibility for the mistake.  That's Old Hat.  

When you fail, you have two choices.  You can either embrace it or act innocent.  Either way though, the person looking at you knows you failed.  Embracing that mistake shows that you are taking responsibility for it and while you may end up looking like you failed, you certainly don't look like a failure.

How to Apologize

We screwed up recently.  A couple of times, actually.  First step to take when you realize you've screwed up is to do anything and everything you can do to fix it.  If we make a typo on a print piece, WE call the printer to see if it's too late to send a new file.  We volunteer to go back to the office at 9p on a Friday to revise the file.  And if it can't be fixed, just apologize.  If you can't fix the problem, at least take responsibility for it.  It won't change anything but it'll sure as heck make your client feel better to know you accept responsibility.  And don't be afraid to accept responsibility even when it's NOT your fault.  "Yes, we just copied and pasted the information you sent us but we should have caught that."  Chances are at this point that tempers are high and you should just be seeking to calm things down.  The client will remember that rather than being a tool about it, you admitted fault.  And it's likely that 24 hours later they'll realize that it really wasn't your fault and they'll respect you even more.

Finally, and most importantly, after a few days have passed, the person responsible for the mistake (designer, client rep, etc.) will send a handwritten note to the client further apologizing for the mistake.  By this time, the client is probably totally over it.  Which is the perfect time for you to apologize again.  Don't just tell them you're sorry.  It's imperative that you also outline the steps you will take to make sure that same mistake never happens again.  They care that you're sorry... but they care even more that you're not going to let it happen again.  They need to be reassured that this isn't going to be a reoccurring thing.  

Nellie was right

Your best bet is to follow Nellie's advice and just never screw up.  But when you do, nod your head and point at yourself.  

A former supervisor of mine used to say "I don't mean to brag but I'm terrific" when asked how he was doing. That's kinda what I'm doing here. Though I'm coming up on my six-month anniversary here at Old Hat, I'm still the new guy - someone who is still learning things and picking up new skills. Even before I got here, I knew this place turned out an amazing amount of quality projects in a variety of areas. You saw several of the great intro videos in yesterday's blog, so here are a few pieces I grabbed from the print realm. With the recent start of hoops season, I'll limit these to some of our most recent basketball schedule posters.

 

North Carolina Tar Heels

 

Michigan Wolvervines



Notre Dame Fighting Irish

 



Rice Owls





Arizona Wildcats




North Texas Mean Green



Utah Utes
 



SMU Mustangs
 



Florida State Seminoles
 



James Madison Dukes




Duke Blue Devils
 



Appalachian State Mountaineers
 

As a graphic designer I'm always on the look out for creative inspiration and reasons to quit having a bad attitude. Most of the time the inspiration comes visually, like this package design for a box of golfballs or this graphic from Sunday Night Football.

 

 

 

 

But other times the inspiration comes in the form of music. For me, music is just as important to the design process as the visual inspiration. It's my secret weapon. It's what gets my creative juices flowing.  Below is my official "Design Jamz" (with a Z cause that's cool) Spotify Playlist. Chance are, if I designed your poster and it was awesome, I was listening to one of these songs… if it wasn't awesome, I was probably listening to NPR. Sorry about that. I'll be sure to listen to one of these songs next time. I promise. 

 

 

I don't have a ton of memories from spending time with my father growing up.  He was in a car accident when I was 6 that nearly killed him and for a couple of years, he was incapable of doing much in the way of the typical father-son things.  And even after he had fully recovered, he was never the type of father to sit down on the floor with me and play a game.  He worked hard all week and then on the weekends he worked harder (I grew up on a farm).  This is not to say that my father failed in any way.  I think he still spent more time with me and my siblings than a lot of fathers do.  And he was a great dad.  I'm just saying that due there wasn't just a ton of one-on-one time.  Therefore, the memories I do have of time with my father are held very precious to me.  Three to four times per year, he would drive me the hour-long trek from Guthrie, OK to Norman to see the Sooners play football.  It was the Switzer era and there was no bigger fan of Brian Bosworth than I was.  I was equally as excited to go to the 2-3 OU men's hoops games each season.  Wayman Tisdale, Mookie Blaylock, Tim McAlester...  All my heroes.  But I don't think anything was better than when he'd take me to Stillwater to see OU play Oklahoma State in basketball.  Gallagher-Iba Arena held all of about 37 people back then and there were typically 4 OU fans in the entire crowd.  I was one of them for about 8 years in a row.  I'll never forget those times and because of those moments, I have passed that along to my own sons.  I want them to have those same memories I have.  

Years after I started Old Hat, I finally decided to sit down and figure out our mission.  What is our purpose?  Why do we do what we do?  I had pondered that many, many times and for some reason it was never obvious to me.  But all at once it became very clear why we are here and why I started Old Hat to begin with.  Almost every person I speak to, whether they are sports fans or not, have some memory of a sporting event that they will never forget.  Whether it's just driving to track meets with their dad, attending the World Series or simply playing little league, I've never met a person that didn't have a great sports memory that nearly brings tears to their eyes thinking about.  And those people ALWAYS remember exactly who they were with.  

Sports brings people together.  It provides opportunities for fathers to create lifelong memories with their sons.  It allows people to share great moments with their brothers, sisters, mothers, friends, etc.  And we get so wrapped up in it that the emotion often turns into embraces and tears of joy.  And all of the stresses of life are temporarily invisible.  

THAT is why we do what we do.  At Old Hat we have the opportunity to be a part of that.  We can amplify that experience for people.  Whether it's helping get people in the seats to begin with or making they experience better once they arrive, we are a part of creating memories for literally millions of people every year.  I take great satisfaction in that.

As a guy who designs posters for a living, I can't help but notice them everywhere I go. I see them in restaurants, on the street corner and even my kid's school (comic sans anyone?). Most of the time I hardly pay any attention to them because they all look like this.

   

 But when I go to the movies, I always make a point to stand outside the theater and look at all the posters for the movies showing inside. In the past, movie posters were vibrant, unique pieces of art. Each one had the potential to become as memorable as the movie itself. Posters designed by Saul Bass (Vertigo) and Greg and Tim Hilderbrandt (Star Wars) are now considered classics of cinema. 

      

However, these days the folks that design movie posters have gotten lazy. Instead of creating an imaginative, engaging poster to advertise the movie, these designers re-hash the same old poster over and over again. For every type of movie there is, it gets the standard Hollywood poster design to go along with it. 

 

What's that? You need a poster for a super hero movie? Ok, how about the hero standing on a ledge? Maybe over looking the city he's sworn to protect? Not moody enough for you? Ok, how about rain? Yeah! Lots of rain!

 

Oh, your movie is a "buddy comedy"? Ok, how about the stars standing back-to-back with goofy looks on their faces? Because nothing screams "We're in this together" like that!

 

Hmm. You’re making a quirky, independent movie? Ok, that's easy. Those are supposed to be yellow.

 

These are just a few examples. There are tons more here http://www.buzzfeed.com/pauljamez/15-common-movie-poster-themes-2kjh

I know how hard it can be to design a memorable poster. It's not as easy as it looks. It takes a lot of creativity, talent and work. Movie posters today seem to lack even the slightest bit of creativity. They're boring and unimaginative and rely too heavily on cliché design motifs and templates. However, there is a small movement among artist and graphic designers to re-imagine the movie poster, to give them new life. The folks over at Alternative Movie Posters http://www.alternativemovieposters.com/ are artist in the true sense of the word (not just some dufus playing around in Photoshop, like me and probably most of the movie poster designers). These artists are able to distill the essence of a movie into just a few iconic images. They're fun, creative and interesting to look at. It's a far cry from the same poster you've seen over and over again at your local movie theater.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My life literally revolves around websites, well at least my work life.  Everything we do is working towards our next project.  The processes we have built are setup to make us better at our job.  The funny thing to me is we established the processes based on websites we have built for everyone but Old Hat Creative.  Now it is time to build a site for Old Hat…

Project Initiation:
To me this was the most interesting aspect of building our new site.  The last Old Hat site was completed before I worked for the company, before a lot of the people who now work here were here.  Everyone who has any stake in the site, had an opinion about what it needed or did not.  Features that were important (Random Animal Noises) and those that were not (I know he is disappointed but we did remove the Date with Geoff from our store).  My job going into this is to be able to listen to what everyone wants and turn it into what everyone needs.  Each division needs the website for a different reason and all of Old Hat needs it for the same reason.  

Information Gathering:
At this point we have heard a generalized description of what everyone wants.  We know what is most important as a whole but need to drill down to why.  Why does our CMO want to be able to send people directly to a page with our entire on site photo shoots?  Why does my developer want to change the way we input and organize our client list?  Why does Zac love those animal noises?  

Within each change there is a goal that someone has in mind.   My developer wants to change how clients are organized.  Our CMO wants to be able to market easier.  She wants to have a list of products we have easily accessible with quality images that explains why YOU might need that product.  She wants us to be able to sort everything we do, quickly and easily. Zac really just likes animals… I guess.  

As I mentioned before each request has an end goal.  We may not always be able to give them exactly what they want but we can give them what they need.  Maybe we do not give each product a page but give each page a sorting option.  Allow people to pick and choose how they want to sort things so they can easily find the examples of products they need.   Change the way we input content and clients so it is easier to build the database to hold all of that information. 

Presentation of Concepts:
Now that I have listened to everyone, it is time to start building this out.  Dustin is incredibly important in all of this.  He is THE web designer and had the opportunity to listen to what everyone wanted as well.  He now has to turn all of these requests into something pretty.  

This is where decisions start to get made and requests start to get culled.  Some things are over kill. Why do we need to link to twitter four times and have a feed on the home page?  Dustin is great at visualizing the site as we have these conversations and always produces something amazing.  Unfortunately, his amazing design is not the end of the road because regardless of what he designs it still has to function.  After he completes every design we sit down with our developers and walk them through how we envision the functionality.  

This is the part of the process where there is the most give and take.  We want it to look this way but it will hurt the functionality.  Developers think in terms of programming and functionality, not always design.  Development is always a chore and we want to make sure the design we use makes sense to the users, while functioning like everyone needs it to.  In the end however, this is a project that we all get excited about.  Rarely do we get the opportunity where our developers can do fun things.  If you are reading this blog, you know Old Hat and you know that we have fun but a site like this is fun because it challenges our team.  It gives them the opportunity to do something they never get to do and if there is a new programming technique that most website budgets cannot afford; they might get the chance to do it.  Our developers always want to do something awesome but some times they have to be realistic.

Every website is different.  No matter what, there is some different aspect that will change with each site. This is a big reason why we use Drupal.  It is an open source CMS and allows our developers to build custom modules or take existing ones to make changes. 

After the brainstorming, the planning, and debating it is time to present the first drafts of the site to everyone involved. 

Revisions:
I have a love/hate relationship with this step in the process.  We talked with the stakeholders about what they wanted and planned for their requests.  In a perfect world, we nail it, and there are no revisions.  Pigs also fly, there are never tornados in Oklahoma, and Robert’s hair looks like that as soon as he wakes up.   

Back to reality, there are always revisions, usually, about two rounds of revisions. Everyone has a vision of what their requests will look like and those visions may not match Dustin’s.   Sitting down with the stakeholders at this point is good for everyone.  We will walk them through the design, explain the functionality, and make sure we have included the important elements.   Once we go over it, we take their revisions and go back to Photoshop.

Production of Deliverables:
After we have concluded the revisions stage and have received the design approval, it is time to start programming.  Before we start programming we usually sit down with the developers to map out how we will program the site.  Talk about what aspects are most important and look at the time frame we have.  

Programming for most websites is a four-week process.  Programming for the new Old Hat site has been a seven-week process.  Typically other projects come up in the middle and our developers have to bounce around but big projects always mean someone may be working on the same site for the next two months.  

Once we finish the initial build it is time to start testing.  There are entirely too many web browsers available.  Of course there are the major players; IE, FF, and Chrome but then there are many other obscure browsers out there.  We only test the two most recent versions of the major browsers.  Fonts render differently in each browser.  There are a few standards but you never know what IE is going to present you with.  There is a reason you will NEVER catch a developer using IE.  We still have to look at the site on different computers, browsers, and devices to make sure it looks good.  We also have to go through the entire site on those other browsers to make sure the important content is available no matter how you look at the site.  

Once the testing is done and we have checked for other errors we send the link to the client and have them go through the site.  This usually causes us to go into another testing phase as we try to recreate any issues the client is seeing on their end.  

Delivery (TODAY!!):
Old Hat Interactive mostly delivers its products to the web.  Launch day can be both exciting and nerve racking.  Typically, I wake up at least once in the middle of the night before launch day, worried about some aspect of the site I forgot or we did not build.  It is always a challenge to keep myself from calling a developer.  That is part of the excitement of launch day.  We get to help our clients display a new website to the world.  Something we built will be visited by 100’s of people that day and our work will be tested throughout that time.  We work with our clients to determine a time for the launch and make sure everything is setup properly. 

Today we launch the new Old Hat site.  It has definitely been a process.  In the end we created something that should help everyone on our staff as well as our clients.   Take a look around, see what you can find, and let us know what you think. 

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