Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How to Live in a Green Building

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Curbed (Chicago)

Link to article:
Living in a Green Building 101

Finding and moving into a building that is certified "green" for its energy sustainability is just the first step.  Living in that space requires a bit of knowledge on how the sustainable green systems impact your ingrained habits and everyday life. You can make changes even in your existing space if you know what is wise and cost-effective.

Excerpt: "Moving into a green home or adding features that make your existing space eco-friendlier shouldn't require too much of an adjustment, but it is important to know how to live with the fixtures and equipment you may be unfamiliar with.

'Owners, contractors and architects can all design and build the greenest home in the world,' green home consultant Jason LaFleur of Eco Achievers, says, 'but if the occupants of that space don't understand how to maintain and live in it there are some problems.' For example, not using the fan in a green ventilation system properly may result in pollutants and other contaminants being trapped in the house or apartment's stale air.

To curb these kinds of problems, most green home certification processes require an educational element of the renter or homeowner. LEED for Homes Illinois provides its prerequisite manual on its website, along with a host of other resources. Other sites, like lifestyle blog Green Living Bees offer maintenance tips (in this case a handy dandy list) as well. Locally, the Chicago Center for Green Technology, operated by the city's Department of Transportation, teaches seminars on topics like Low-Impact Living, as well as more technical greening subjects.

Going Even Greener

Renters or homeowners looking to up their property's environmental scorecard (studies have shown green-certified homes sell for more…green) are advised not to do anything drastic until they've had a professional take a look at places where they might benefit most from such upgrades.

'Don't shoot blindly and replace your windows because your home is drafty. Get an energy audit, much like you go to the doctor to get a health diagnosis, to find out exactly what the problems are and fix those,' LaFleur says. 'The windows themselves may be okay but the gaps around them can be sealed with a $4.00 tube of low-VOC caulk instead of replacing the window itself for $400.00.'

Weiss recommends finding such an auditor through the Building Performance Institute as they have the necessary background in building science and can point you in the direction of good contractors or builders who are experienced in similar fields.

Smaller scale projects like swapping traditional light bulbs with LEDs or replacing faucets or toilets with low-flow or dual-flow models shouldn't require the same level of scrutiny, but that doesn't mean they're not important. Every little bit helps."

Monday, April 29, 2013

Hikers Walkway around Lake Hollywood Reopens After 8-Year Closure

View of the Hollywood Sign from the reopened path | Zach Behrens/KCET
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
KCET

Link to article:
Lake Hollywood Path Finally Reopens

One of the favored walk paths in Los Angeles for locals and tourists has long been the paved road around the Lake Hollywood reservoir nestled in the Hollywood Hills near Mulholland.  But after torrential rains in 2005, mudslides washed out and destroyed the path, which just now has been completely rebuilt and reopened to the public.

Excerpt: "Today's opening marks years of work by the city. In 2005 when Southern California was drenched by a number of winter storms, nine significant mudslides occurred around the reservoir, closing the entire popular path. While the eastern portion opened in 2009, it took longer to repair the western side. 'The road was wiped out,' explained Marty Adams, LADWP's director of water operations. 'It looked like a torrent of muddy water dropping off in a waterfall.'

But fixing the road was not just an issue for the LADWP and city: The project involved Senator Dianne Feinstein, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and neighbors. 'It really is an enlightening story of the community itself,' said Dr. Craig Davis, LADWP's geotechnical engineering manager.

'It's major engineering story, too,' Davis noted, explaining that equipment, sometimes larger than the homes surrounding the lake, had to be transported through private property. And add to that the lawyers: 'I think no less than 14 lawyers had to all sign the same agreement... It was really and truly a community effort.'

And thanks to all that work, walkers, joggers, and cyclists were already taking advantage the moment the ceremonial ribbon was cut."

Friday, April 26, 2013

Two Mysteries Solved: Why 1943 film "The Desert Song" Disappeared for 60 Years and Why It's Now Screening at TCM Film Festival

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:

Yesterday we mentioned the upcoming rare screening of 1943's "The Desert Song" at Hollywood's TCM Classic Film Festival this weekend.  As it turns out we aren't the only ones excited about the possibility.  Today's LA Times mentions the film as a rare gem that has been out of circulation for more than half a century.  That's the good news.  The bad news is that all this attention virtually guarantees that festival passholders will attend the screening in droves so there will be no tickets available to the general public.

But the other good news is that another great Technicolor musical featuring Hunter Communications' principal Matt Hunter's longtime stepmother Irene Manning (along with a young unknown called James Cagney in the lead role), Michael Curtiz' great 1942 "Yankee Doodle Dandy", will screen Sunday morning, April 28th, at 10 am. The same warning applies as we mentioned in our earlier post: Festival passholders get preferential admission so the only way to get in is to line up at th Chinese Multiplex box office for waiting list tickets.

Excerpt:  "TCM host Robert Osborne has fond memories of the Technicolor romance, which has been out of circulation for 60 years.
 
The original operetta dealt with a French general sent to Morocco to stop a group of Arab rebels lead by the mysterious Red Shadow. In the updated 1943 version, the rebels are now fighting a Nazi-backed plan to build a railroad in the desert. Morgan plays a U.S. soldier of fortune working as a meek pianist in a nightclub who leads the group against the Nazis.

'He’s been hounding me to get it for TCM,' Tabesh said.

The film and a 1929 movie version of 'Desert Song' were embroiled in legal issues. 'A new agreement had to be struck with the rights holders of the stage work,' said George Feltenstein, senior vice president of catalog marketing for Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, who overseas the studio's vintage catalog of titles."

Short Film Celebrates the Typography and Art of Film Titles

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
The Atlantic

Link to Article:
Typography Porn: 100 years of Title Design in Film

Film titles began as crude markings on the film to differetiate the contents of the identical film reels. But as film became a media celebrated for its artistic achievement, the title sequence became more ambitious and artistic, as laid out in a new film short from Berlin art school BTK.

Excerpt: "From the highly stylized introductions of the James Bond franchise to Woody Allen’s minimalist black-and-white template, opening credits in movies have a curious history.

This sleek short from digital media institute Berliner Technische Kunsthochschule (BTK) recounts the fascinating evolution of title design in film. Opening credits have always served a kind of gatekeeping function for the film industry, and continue to set the tone for the films themselves (i.e. Alfred Hitchcock movies). With the invention of television, however, families preferred to stay home rather than go to the cinema, resulting in fancier opening sequences as filmmakers struggled to capture viewers’ attention from the start."


THE FILM before THE FILM from ntsdpz on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Rare Warner Bros. Film "The Desert Song" (1943) Screens at TCM Film Festival in Hollywood

"The Desert Song" screening this Saturday, April 27, at the Chinese Multiplex in Hollywood stars Irene Manning, stepmother of Hunter Communications' principal Matt Hunter. 
This weekend, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) presents, as part of their fourth annual Classic Film Festival at Hollywood's legendary Chinese and Egyptian theatres, a rare screening of the almost unknown 1943 version of famed operetta "The Desert Song," starring Irene Manning and Dennis Morgan.  Overshadowed by the later 1953 Kathryn Grayson version, the film is noteworthy for a few reasons.  First, actress Irene Manning was the stepmother of Hunter Communications' principal Matt Hunter, having been married to Matt's father, Maxwell Hunter, for 37 years. Second, wartime considerations necessitated a few plot changes, such as changing the villains from French to German Nazis, and changing the name of the bandit to avoid any Communist associations. 

The film screens Saturday, April 27th at the Chinese Multiplex 6 at 6:15pm, and because of the film festival's subscription ticket structure, anyone without a subscription must line up before the showing at the Chinese to purchase individual tickets.

Expo Phase 2 Station Art Chosen

New art for the Sepulveda and Colorado/4th stations
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
KCET

Link to article:
Station Art Revealed for Phase 2 of Metro Expo Line

Part of the commitment of LA Metro construction to the communities its trains traverse is station artwork that refers or connects to the stations' neighborhoods.  Recently the artwork that will adorn the new stations from Culver City to Santa Monica along the second stretch of the new Expo Line was revealed.  According to many who have seen the plans for the 94 panels, they reflect the growing sophistication of public art in LA.

Excerpt: "The next list of artists commissioned by Metro was recently introduced, and from that selection of eight artists -- selected from 400 applicants -- is a varied list of proposals and concepts for public art that will be installed on Phase 2 of the Expo Line as part of a provision to commit .5 percent of its construction budget to make the rail system a visual engagement between people and place.

Not unlike Phase 1, the concepts are designed to make station platforms engaging to pedestrians, rail commuters, and passengers and drivers in vehicles, says Zipporah Yamamoto, Creative Services Manager for Metro. Phase 2 of the Expo Line will feature a total of ninety-four art panels, with the installations ranging from 8 to 24 art panels per station, using glass mosaic, ceramic mosaic, and porcelain tiles fabricated for durability. The Colorado and 4th Street terminus station will host a sculpture by artist Walter Hood.

They don't have the theatrical scale of some Gold Line markers, like the basket-as-artifact symbolism in the Gold Line Bridge by Andrew Leicester, or Mariachi Plaza Station's 'El Nino Perdido' by Alejandro de la Loza, or even most of stations along the Red and Purple lines, making the new pieces seem diminutive in comparison. 'It's not budget cuts as much as limited room. It's about limited real estate,' said Yamamoto. 'There isn't space for large scale works at most of the Expo Line stations.'

The works are designed to be aesthetic links to the immediate neighborhoods that have a platform station. The ink on the artist's contracts isn't dry, but the proposals will be soon be introduced.

There cannot be a full review of public art until its installed, but based on the Phase 1 installation, the city is growing a sophisticated transportation ethos. Public art in stations is not the destination. The smaller works become markers along a journey that extends to a series of destinations to other city neighborhoods. During the first few impressions, there may be curiosity to the meaning of the works, and that can have locals and visitors feel like they are discovering a brand new city."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rents Rise in US Shopping Centers as Vacancy Rate Falls

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Bloomberg

Link to article:
U.S. Shopping-Center Rents Climb As Less Space is Added

After the economic slowdown in 2008, construction of new shopping centers slowed in the US.  Now the result is that the fewer vacancies in exxisting centers has allowed owners to raise rents for the scarce spaces. Regional malls saw vacant space fall to 8.3 percent in 2013's first quarter, down from 9 a year earlier.

Excerpt: "'It’s a slow but consistent recovery,' Ryan Severino, a Reis senior economist, said in a telephone interview. 'There’s nothing being built, so as long as there’s any semblance of demand, it’s pushing vacancies down slightly and rents up slightly.'

Retail landlords are benefiting from a slowly improving labor market and little competition from new shopping centers. The jobless rate dropped to 7.7 percent in February, the lowest since December 2008, from 7.9 percent the previous month, the Labor Department said. In the first quarter, 873,000 square feet (81,000 square meters) of new shopping centers became available, down 57 percent from a year earlier, according to Reis.

Occupied shopping-center space rose by a net 2.73 million square feet in the third quarter, compared with 2.68 million square feet in the previous three months and 3.51 million square feet a year earlier, Reis said."

Monday, April 22, 2013

Rethinking Trash Cans on City Streets

The "bomb-proof" bin
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
The Atlantic / Cities

Link to article:
A World Without Trash Cans?

The recent events in Boston, where explosives were deposited into a metal trash can in the viewing area of the Marathon, has more people questioning the security risk that trash receptacles on city streets present.  Is the solution to do away with streetside trash cans, or redesign them for the new security concerns?

Excerpt: "In the modern terror era, major cities are all too aware of the ways attackers can use a piece of existing infrastructure to hide a weapon. Given this reality, what does a safe city look like now?

Some cities have already started to grapple with this question head-on. London, for example, began removing rubbish bins from its public spaces years ago. As our own Sarah Goodyear reported:
Bins were yanked from stations and many other locations in the central city years ago because the Irish Republican Army used them as bomb drop locations. Metal cans were especially attractive to terrorists because they could create deadly shrapnel when the bombs went off. Now the few cans they do have in the Tube are plastic bags suspended from hoops, carefully monitored by security.


This was not, obviously, a fool-proof solution. Residents complained that they had nowhere to put trash; critics said it led to an uptick in littering.

Around the 2012 Olympics, London began testing a new solution: "bomb-proof bins." The can was designed in 2007 by two entrepreneurs, and about 100 have been installed so far, with plans to bring similar designs to Singapore, Tokyo, and New York.

According to Gizmodo, the bin's design reduces 'the shockwave of an explosion.' And because the bin is made of steel, it prevents heat and shrapnel from generating out in the event of an explosion. The technology 'reduces the peak pressure of an explosion and extinguishes the fireball.'

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fortune 500 Companies Offering Courses for College Credit

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
CNNmoney

Link to article:
Starbucks, Wal-Mart offer classes- for college credit

Businesses have for years offered training courses and seminars for skills and team-building.  But a new wave of rigorous training for company employees has been approved for full college credit toward associate's or bachelor's degree programs. Starbucks barista training and McDonald's famed Hamburger U are two top examples of this trend.

Excerpt: "A growing number of Fortune 500 companies, like Walmart, have grown tired of waiting for colleges and universities to produce the skilled workers they need and have started offering their own classes instead. And as an added bonus for employees: Many of these courses -- from Starbucks' Barista Basics to Jiffy Lube's finance fundamentals -- are eligible for college credit.

'What companies like is just-in-time learning that gives somebody a skill they need at the time they need it,' says Mark Allen, a Pepperdine University business professor and author of The Next Generation of Corporate Universities. 'What traditional universities do to a large extent is just-in-case learning.'

In Seattle, Starbucks workers take courses called Barista Basics and Barista 101. They can earn one and a half credits from City University of Seattle for each of the company's two barista classes, and three credits apiece for higher-level management courses.

Other colleges also recognize the Starbucks training for academic credit through the American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service, an organization that reviews and puts its stamp of approval on workplace courses. It's up to colleges and universities whether to accept the credits, but Mary Beth Lakin, director of ACE's college and university partnerships, says 2,000 institutions did so last year.

Every year, 5,000 McDonald's managers and prospective managers spend a week at the chain's Hamburger University at its Oak Brook, Ill., headquarters learning not how to flip hamburgers but how to sharpen their business and leadership skills.

The week-long training at Hamburger U is the capstone of months of study online and in-store with McDonald's trainers. During this time, employees can earn up to 23 credits toward associate or bachelor degrees. Higher-ups can earn as many as 27 credits."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Half the World's Languages will Disappear by 2100

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Toronto Star

Link to article:
Dying Languages: Scientists Fret as One Disappears Every 14 Days

One of the casualties of the tech explosion and the spread of mass communications is a sort of evening-out effect.  As global communications center on English, with Spanish and Mandarin Chinese widely used in their parts of the world, the smaller languages specific to small areas and isolated tribes slowly die out among the young.  Once the only native speakers of a language are the oldest generation, it is doomed to become extinct when those elders die out. Now there are efforts to record, document and teach the young the languages of their forefathers to keep them alive.

Excerpt: "Endangered languages, much like endangered species of plants or animals, are on the brink of extinction. According to UNESCO, a language is endangered when parents are no longer teaching it to their children and it is no longer being used in everyday life.

'There are ways to recover, say tomato seeds, but language is an oral medium . . . it is gone if direct speakers are dead and nothing has been done to document it.'--Keren Rice, linguistics professor 

A language is considered nearly extinct when it is spoken by only a few elderly native speakers.

It is a huge loss every time a language dies, says Ewa Czaykowska-Higgins, a professor in linguistics at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.

A language defines a people, a culture.

'Languages hold a world of knowledge,' she says. 'We lose knowledge and history and lose connection to a land (when a language is lost).'

Songs, stories, words and expressions — developed over many generations — are also lost. Each language is a unique way of talking to the world, about the world.

Some of the 7,000 languages in the world today have hundreds of millions of speakers — English, Mandarin, Spanish and Arabic, for example — while others have barely a handful left. UNESCO lists a total of 577 languages as critically endangered. And these dying languages are in every corner of the world — Asia, Africa, North America, Australia and South America. Countries with the greatest linguistic diversity are usually also the ones with the most endangered languages."

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dropbox Rebranding Shows New Focus on Large Businesses

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Tech Crunch

Link to article:
Dropbox for Teams Gets Dropped in Rebranding

Dropbox has become one of the biggest names in individual and group cloud storage models.  Users can access files in the dropbox folder on their own computers, and any saved changes automatically sync to save the changes on the computers of all users. The company's Dropbox for Teams has just been dropped in favor of a more robust Dropbox for Business that abandons username/password verification to use corporations' preferred Active Directory system of verification and individual permissions. This reflects a change in focus to allow Dropbox to seek out larger organizations and corporations for group sharing.

Excerpt: "Dropbox is renaming Dropbox Teams to better reflect its change in business focus. The move comes in tandem with Dropbox’s new support for single sign on (SSO) and partnerships with Okta and other identity providers.

Dropbox for Business will replace the old name, reflecting the company’s change in focus to be more on larger business customers than teams within organizations.

In particular, this means support for Active Directory (AD), the traditional mechanism companies use to authenticate and manage an employee’s corporate identity. Businesses of any size demand built-in security, and AD has historically served as the standard as it eliminates the user name and password model for SSO.

Dropbox customers will get all the capabilities that come with AD, including setting permissions, revoking access or adding people from the IT admin panel."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Three SoCal Malls that Defined the Development of Shopping Centers

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
KCET

Link to article: 
Retail California: Shopping Centers, Malls, and Creating a New Consumerism 

Nothing is new under the retail sun.  Three shopping centers built in the halcyon Southern California of the 1940s: the Broadway-Crenshaw Center, North Hollywood's Valley Plaza, and San Diego's Linda Vista Shopping Center,  became the models for the anchor tenant mall, the strip mall shopping center, and the outdoor courtyard center (like today's the Grove), respectively.  Though none survive in their original incarnation, their influence lives on everywhere in the world of retail shopping.

Excerpt: "Site selection for Broadway-Crenshaw depended on innovative number crunching. Researchers poured over the 1940 Census, pulling housing data -- the number of dwelling units, the age and condition of stock, monthly rents -- to calculate household incomes and their regional distribution. Market analysts figured out their spending patterns by constructing what we know today as 'a time distance study' -- tracking where consumers lived and the time it took to get from point A to point B. Supermarkets like Ralphs had long gathered data for site selection through newspaper circulation, utilities, and building permits; the architects of the Broadway-Crenshaw project took this process one step further.

Broadway-Crenshaw's design -- a department store anchored integrated retail complex -- was not new. Market Square in Lake Forest, Illinois, anchored by a Marshall Field's, had opened in 1928, nearly two decades earlier. Contemporaneous examples included Ridgeway Shopping Center (1945-1947) in Stamford, Connecticut, and Bellevue Shopping Square (1945-1946) near Seattle, Washington, both of which employed the department store model as well. But neither had done so on a scale equal to Broadway-Crenshaw. The square footage of Bellevue and Ridgeway combined amounted to less than Broadway's largest store. Over half million square feet of enclosed space were served by thirteen acres of parking made to accommodate 2,500 cars.

As chain stores proliferated within Broadway-Crenshaw, real estate and retail experts took note of the economic gains that came from the paring of a large department store with national chains. The complex succeeded in unexpected ways as well. When May Company opened its own Crenshaw store anchoring a much smaller, less integrated retail complex across the street, relations between it and Broadway soured. At the time, placing two department store rivals in such proximity to each other was unimaginable. Yet, both businesses thrived as Broadway-Crenshaw's commerce expanded so rapidly that it soon emerged as its own unofficial business district, bisected by Santa Barbara Avenue -- a veritable Mason-Dixon separating May Company and Broadway Crenshaw."

Monday, April 15, 2013

Font of the Month: DK Au Revoir

The subtle charms of DK Au Revoir
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
PC World

Link to article:
Review: DK Au Revoir font will make you bid frumpy fonts "adieu"
 
There are text fonts and display fonts. Some are good for a headline or a sign. But a new handwritten font called DK Au Revoir (free for personal use) is an understated typeface with just enough charm and individuality to use on a casual note. The full commercial version adds such niceties as kerning pairs and ligatures, and extensive language support. 
 
Excerpt: "DK Au Revoir is a handwritten font that has style and flair, with subliminal don't-mess-with-me undertones. Designer David Kerkhoff created a lowercase o that caught my eye: It's almost a heart, but not quite.

Even though they are regular (400) weight, Au Revoir's glyphs are quite petite. As a comparison, the cap height of some of the uppercase letters (L for example) are equivalent to the same point size Times New Roman font, other letters (B, E, R) are only two thirds the size. All of the lowercase letters reach the full cap height, but have an x-height way below the median. However, the extra tall ascenders in Au Revoir add to the font's refined nature, and the diminutive size shouldn't distract from the detail that's gone into this font: Au Revoir is very well-executed, and includes more than 9,000 kerning pairs to ensure whatever your copy, it's going to look perfect.

Au Revoir contains all upper and lowercase glyphs, numbers, common punctuation, accented characters, and some special characters like the Euros symbol. However, again run this through the suitability filter: Au Revoir will look beautiful for occasional use at sizes larger than 24 point. It will add class to any brochure, flier, or newsletter; but is an understated font that doesn't demand attention. Don't send an audit announcement with Au Revoir or Comic Sans"

Friday, April 12, 2013

The New "Facebook Phone" is not a Phone at All

Hunter Communications recommended reading from: 
Slate

Link to article:
The Facebook Phone is Not as Dumb as I Thought it Was Going to Be

Tech bloggers and reporters have been waiting for the new "Facebook phone" for years. Now that it has actually arrived, it is not a phone at all. Or an operating system. What it IS is Facebook Home, a new lock screen and home screen replacement that can take over an Android phone and become a de facto user interface. Users who download the new interface are getting a new phone system on their old device, where Facebook becomes the king of all apps.

Excerpt: "If Facebook built its own phone, the company could expect to sell, at most, a few million of them a year—not that many, considering that its social network already claims a billion members. Also, who wants a Facebook phone? What would that even mean? Anybody who wants Facebook on his phone can already get it—the company’s apps and mobile site are hugely popular, and buttons to share stuff on Facebook are built into most mobile phones, including the iPhone. Why should Facebook go to the trouble of building its own phones when phone makers have already done that hard work for them?

That appears to be the thinking behind Facebook Home, the big thing Facebook unveiled on Thursday morning. I choose that term—'thing'—very carefully. Facebook Home isn’t a phone, it isn’t an operating system, and it isn’t an app. Instead, it’s a free-to-download lock- and home-screen replacement for Android phones. If most people’s phones are already Facebook phones, Facebook Home makes them Facebookier, bringing the social-network’s content (including, at some point, ads), to your phone’s foremost screen. By riding in on Google’s Android app store, Facebook Home is a brilliant bit of jujitsu—it uses Android’s 'openness,' Google’s chief selling point for its phone OS, to turn Google phones into Facebook phones. But if Facebook’s strategy works—that is, if millions of people install it and Facebook-ified home screens become a selling point for Android—the move might be even worse news for Apple.

To understand Facebook Home, go to your smartphone and turn it on. You’ll see a screen that displays a clock, some alerts from your apps, and an unlock slider. That’s known as the 'lock screen.' Then, when you unlock your phone, you’re presented with the 'home screen'—the interface that shows off all your apps. If you install Facebook Home, both those screens will immediately be replaced by Facebook’s new interface. After that, every time you turn on your phone you’ll see a feed of photos and updates from your friends."

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Tru Blooms Bottles the Scent of Downtown Chicago

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Ad Week

Link to article:
Wear the True Scent of Downtown
To compete with the mass-marketing of celebrity fragrances, a new startup perfumer is releasing a limited edition perfume. Their release, Tru Blooms 2013, started out as the scent of the flowers that grow in the city parks of Chicago. The best part is that at $38, a bottle of this year's vintage won't cost as much as most of the celebrity brands at your local Sephora.

Excerpt: " 'Tru Blooms is limited edition,' said Debbie Roever, director of marketing for the brand. 'Similar to wine reserves, once this batch is sold out, we cannot replace it.'

So what's a waft of Wabash Avenue in a bottle smell like, exactly? Like last year’s inaugural edition of the perfume, this year’s version is a hearty blend of just about everything that’ll bloom downtown—roses, violets, lavender and the like. Tru Fragrance (a company that designs and sells about 70 other perfumes as well) then adds other ingredients to "round out" the scent and make it competitive with the mainline brands.

But the real allure of this juice isn't just that it smells nice, it gives the wearer a story to tell, and that’s a marketing hook that even Chanel can’t top. 'Clearly, the back story helps us sell units,' Roever said. Given the relative paucity of posies in the Windy City, the brand obviously can’t be a high-volume machine. Last year’s harvest produced about 2,150 bottles. Each bottle receives a numbered and then sold in local stores and online. Prices start at $38 for the 3.4 oz cologne spray—a good deal, considering that these days it’ll cost you $49 to smell like Justin Bieber’s Girlfriend. Yeah, uh, we’ll take Chicago."

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pantone's Leatrice Eiseman is the World's Powerbroker in Color Marketing

Hunter Communications recommended reading from;
Business Insider

Link to article:
Meet The Secret Powerbroker Who Decides The Color Of The Year

Every season, the expert colorists at the Pantone Institute release the ten top colors for fashion, home decor, and industrial design. And then every winter they decide on the official Color of the Year. If you ever wondered how and why, and WHO has the power to make such a near-papal pronouncement, meet Leatrice Eiseman, and find out how zeitgeist comes to life in living color.

Excerpt: "So why does Eiseman get to make this decision?

She's recognized by those in the fashion and marketing communities as an American color specialist, and has authored eight books on the subject of color and consumerism. After graduating from Antioch University and UCLA with degrees in psychology and counseling, Eiseman put her skills as a color consultant to work for major brands like IKEA, Best Buy, and Microsoft.

Eiseman doesn't make the Color of the Year decision alone: Pantone has a committee of color experts searching for the next big thing year-round, and hosts international 'colorists' biannually in a pre-planned European city to discuss dominant hues for each season.

Even so, she's the most influential person in the room.

She gave us a little insight into how she helps make the decision.

'It's hard to explain to anyone how you really arrive at the specific color,' Eiseman explains. 'But it's picking up nuggets of information wherever you travel — and I travel all over the world. If I see that a color is coming into prominence (for instance, if I'm in Asia and I see the same color in Italy and Germany), then I would say that color is on the rise and starts to have a collective impulse.'

She and her team also do research on trends in related industries, like high-end jewelry and show business.

'We knew that greens have been big in the last few years, and people are still very much attracted to green and the message that it gives: the whole idea of being connected to the environment, unity, elegance, rejuvenation, and clarity. The color green stands for all of these things, and is universally appealing.'

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Gehry, Zuckerberg, and Menlo Park Agree on Building Facebook West Offices

"Toned-down" Facebook West design by Frank Gehry
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Fast Co.Design

Link to article:
Why Frank Gehry is the Perfect Architect for Facebook

When Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg asked architect-superstar Frank Gehry to "tone it down" when designing the new Facebook HQ in Menlo Park, the world was ready for a royal rumble between the two headstrong figures. But now a new design that is less about Gehry's famous flourishes and more about the building inside seems to have pleased both of them and won over the Menlo Park authorities as well. If you look behind the outward elements, maybe Zuckerberg and Gehry were never so far apart.

Excerpt: "Facebook’s future Menlo Park outpost is one step closer to reality this week, after Frank Gehry’s 'toned down' design was unanimously approved by the city council. What exactly does toned down mean, you ask? According to Gehry partner Craig Webb, Mark Zuckerberg was a little put off by Gehry’s original design. 'Facebook told us they wanted a building that’s very anonymous, a building that blends into the neighborhood, that doesn’t call a lot of attention to themselves,' Webb reported. The revised plan is a series of white boxes that house one of the largest open-plan offices ever created--all topped by a flowing roof garden.

So why hire a champion of expressivity and iconic design, if you want something generic? The answer lies both in the general misperception of Gehry and Facebook’s hacker culture. Frank Gehry is America’s best-known architect at the moment, largely thanks to photographs of his gleaming, frenetic facades. The majority of us, though, haven’t even stepped foot inside one of his buildings, which are almost entirely nondescript, boxy, and white inside. Gehry has a reputation as a wild man--but once you get past the bombastic facade, it’s pretty vanilla stuff.

Which is exactly what Facebook needs. Zuckerberg is known for his 'hacker ethic,' which he’s described as 'extremely open and meritocratic.' Hackers, goes the Facebook mantra, 'believe that the best idea and implementation should always win.' Those ideas extend to Facebook’s offices, where employees are free to hack their spaces as they see fit. In a way, Gehry’s white boxes are the perfect framework to house 3,400 employees who are encouraged to hack the spaces around them. As Ryan Tate intelligently noted in Wired, the design is a bit like Zuck’s shower sandals-and-hoodie combo, 'an unassuming wrapper around a remarkably capable entity.' "

Monday, April 8, 2013

Language Learning Becoming Worldwide Growth Industry

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
TechCrunch

Link to article:
Language Learning Startup Busuu Hits 30M Users

You wouldn't know it from the American education system, but language learning is becoming an essential tool for ambitious students around the world. And now it is becoming really hot as a business, as well. Rosetta Stone just acquired online language learning company Livemocha, while across the pond, new startup Busuu has reached 30 million users worldwide, and is launching a series of English and Spanish Ipad lessons for children 4 - 7.

Excerpt: "Just this week Rosetta Stone acquired Seattle-based online language-learning community Livemocha for $8.5 million in cash. At exit Livemocha had a 16 million member online language-learning community. It had also raised $19 million over six years. But today Busuu, a competing language-learning community based out of London, announces that it has reached 30 million users and its launched a dedicated iPad app for kids to learn Spanish.

It now reaches into 200 countries, and could lay justifiable claim to being the largest language learning community in the world. They also say they are growing at 40,000 new users a day with growth mainly coming from emerging markets like Brazil, Russia and Turkey, where clearly learning a language can help you get on."

Friday, April 5, 2013

Cursive Handwriting Tied to Higher Essay Scores

Proponents claim cursive handwriting aids intelligence
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:
Students Would Do Well to Learn Cursive

But what will happen to the signature?! California is one of a handful of states resisting the national trend of doing away with teaching elementary school students cursive handwriting. And now an analysis of SAT scores has shown that students who write their essays in cursive tend to receive higher scores.  It remains to be seen whether that is a case of cursive handwriting leading to greater intelligence, a bias on the part of essay graders, or merely that students who are already smarter have cursive skills as part of their arsenal of tools.

Excerpt: "For many, cursive handwriting is a thing of the past, an archaic method taught in the days before keyboards and touch screens. But some argue that writing longhand could help in placement exams.

National core standards don't require cursive to be taught to students, but some states, including California, Alabama and Georgia, have included cursive handwriting in their state requirements in early elementary grades, something supporters say should be more widespread.

'Cursive is about connections, not the slant. It's not calligraphy. It's functional,' said Suzanne Asherson, a national presenter for Handwriting Without Tears, a handwriting program for teachers. 'Cursive is faster and more efficient than print. When a child knows the mechanics of forming letters in cursive, they can better focus on their content.'

Asherson argues that the swirled letters and connected tails are beneficial to students even beyond the third- and fourth-grade state standard and well into high school. She recently led a workshop in North Hollywood for elementary school teachers instructing them on the basics of teaching cursive."

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Starbucks Again Stands up for Same-Sex Marriage Support

Starbucks stands up for a rainbow of diversity
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
TIME

Link to article:
Starbucks CEO Defends Gay-Marriage Support

At a recent shareholder meeting, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz defended his company's support for legalization of same-sex marriage.  In the face of right-wing calls for boycott, and a shareholder blaming the company's lackluster stock performance on its controversial position on social issues, Schultz advised investors who don't like the company's stance to sell their shares.  He cited diversity and support for the substantial number of Starbucks 200,000 employees who are gay.

Excerpt: "Schultz shot back that Starbucks’ endorsement of marriage equality wasn’t bad for business:

'If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38% you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much,' Schultz said, to applause from the audience.

But Schultz was quick to underscore that it wasn’t even an economic decision to support gay rights. It was simply right for its people. 'The lens in which we are making that decision is through the lens of our people. We employ over 200,000 people in this company, and we want to embrace diversity,' he retorted.

The heated exchange between Schultz and Strobhar came shortly after shareholders voted for the company’s board to make political contributions. Board members said they wanted the flexibility to promote the company’s policy agenda, the Daily Mail noted.

Starbucks, which last year boasted nearly 18,000 retail stores in 60 countries with plans to continue growing, endorsed the Washington state bill to legalize gay marriage, and released a statement at the time saying it was 'deeply dedicated to embracing diversity,' the Huffington Post reported. The bill later became law."

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Apostrophe Crisis Averted in Mid-Devon

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Salon.com

Link to article:
Not Without Our Apostrophes!

In a sign that our written language is being taken over and irreversibly damaged by the Internet, the Mid-Devon district in England recently proposed doing away with all those pesky punctuation marks in traffic signs, including the apostrophe (punctuation marks being troublesome in web addresses, they are probably heading for a long, slow oblivion).  Fortunately, there are enough old-school grammar police around to make a fuss, and the brouhaha forced Mid-Devon to reconsider...

Excerpt: "After a lengthy era of superfluous punctuation running wild through our shop signs and tattoos, who’d have thought we’d ever come to the day when the apostrophe might become an endangered species? But over the past month, a ferocious battle has been going on over in the U.K., with nothing short of the fate of the possessive mark at stake.

It began with local officials in southwestern England’s Mid Devon District moving to streamline street signs to avoid 'potential confusion.' Chillingly, the council went so far as to propose, 'All punctuation, including apostrophes, shall be avoided.' So incendiary was the plan that it made outraged headlines around the globe, culminating Thursday in the issue being put to a vote. Picture it: A King’s Road rechristened 'Kings Road.' And as you hold that image in your mind, you will begin to understand that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who don’t see what the big deal is, and those who are currently making strangled, gasping cries from the backs of their throats. How many of these 'Kings' are we talking about here? The people demand answers!

Members of the Mid Devon District’s local council must have assumed most people fall into the former category — especially when the world is becoming an increasingly hostile environment for apostrophes. Four years ago, Birmingham banished them from its street signs to achieve a 'consistent' standard and 'help emergency services who rely on computerized databases and satellite navigation to find addresses quicker.' Apostrophes do not suit themselves to URLs, which is why Papa John’s and Friendly’s and Arby’s and Wendy’s and Mrs. Butterworth’s don’t have them on their Web addresses. There’s a reason that 'Monty Python’s Flying Circus' is known on the Internet as just pythonline.com and 'Pee Wee’s Playhouse' is just peewee.com. Last year, the venerable British bookseller Waterstone’s dropped its apostrophe for the new sleek moniker Waterstones. At the time, its managing director called it, 'in a digital world of URLs and email addresses, a more versatile and practical spelling.' And if you don’t think there’s any distinction to be made between the possessive and the plural, THAT’S JUST GREAT, WHATEVER."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

"Star Trek Into Darkness" Logo Blazes in London Darkness at Earth Hour

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Mashable

Link to article:
Star Trek Logo Appears Over London Sky for Earth Hour

As marketing, it was either brilliant or ham-handed.  The annual Earth Hour, where lights are extinguished for an hour to draw attention to the plight of Earth's environment, was rather rudely punctuated with a nifty light show in the pitch-black London sky to promote the new "Star Trek Into Darkness" film opening this summer.  30 quadrocopter drones equipped with LED lights took on the shape of the Star Trek communicator in a 300 foot tall display. We imagine fans were delighted and non-fans were appalled.

Excerpt: "As the hype for the upcoming movie 'Star Trek Into Darkness' grows, Paramount Pictures decided to heat things up even more by displaying a huge, glowing Star Trek logo over London.

Displayed during Earth Hour, the rotating logo was set up with 30 LED-bearing quadrocopter drones.

The logo, created by Ars Electronica Futurelab & Ascending Technologies, was approximately 308 feet tall, and it hovered 118 feet above the ground, with the highest point being some 426 feet above ground."


Monday, April 1, 2013

Adobe Introduces new "Blank" Font

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Tech Crunch

Link to article:
Adobe Launches Blank, An OpenSource Fallback Font You Can't See

Repeat after me, "This Is Not An April Fool's Joke!" It sounds almost insane, but the latest product from the good folks at Adobe is an invisible font for web designers.  There actually IS a method to their madness.  More and more web designers are embedding custom fonts in their pages, and those fonts don't always load immediately.  So a visitor is treated to the jarring spectacle of their browser temporarily loading a default font, which is then replaced by the intended font once it is downloaded.  "Blank" is an open source font that is tiny and will load immediately before any default font gets any idea of appearing on the page. After a short period of seeing a blank "Blank" page, the correct font appears and you see the page the web designer intended.

Excerpt: "Adobe today launched Adobe Blank, a new open-source OpenType font that, at first glance, does absolutely nothing. Indeed, the whole point of the font, as its creator Ken Lunde writes today, is to render every Unicode character as a 'non-spacing and non-marking glyph.'

This may sound like a lame and early April Fool’s joke and even managed to inspire the only pun-thread on HackerNews in recent memory that wasn’t immediately downvoted into oblivion, but this is actually a pretty useful tool for web developers...

The idea here is to use Blank to avoid seeing your operating system’s or browser’s default font before the actual web-font has rendered. As more designers now use non-standard fonts on their sites to differentiate them from all the other sites that also use Helvetica, it’s become increasingly common for users to see this rather jarring switch between different fonts. As the Blank font is extremely small, it loads instantly and the user never sees the default font."