Friday, August 30, 2013

Students Dream Big Plans for LA River

World-famous SWA Group is a renowned leader in the field of landscape architecture and urban planning.  So when they decided to hold this year's summer student program in Los Angeles for the first time, and turn the students loose on coming up with ideas to improve the waterway and banks of the Los Angeles River, something extraordinary was on the way. The seven students accepted into the prestigious program came from around the world, and applied their imaginations and knowledge to some ideas that were both fanciful and practical.  And in the end their proposals may be more than just abstract ideas, since their river solutions were passed on to a council made up of representatives of the city of LA, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, and the Los Angeles River Revitalization program, where they may be incorporated into existing plans or form the seed of new river revitalization projects.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
KCET

Link to article:

Excerpt: "When it comes to complex problems, fresh eyes sometimes bring valuable new perspectives. This year, the Los Angeles chapter of landscape and urban design firm SWA Group hosted seven students from around the country and asked them to reconsider the landscape around the Los Angeles River.

"It was very much a challenge for the students given that we only had four weeks," explained Ying-Yu Hung, principal at SWA, "but the Los Angeles River was very much in our backyard and we couldn't resist the opportunity to study it."

Each summer, SWA Landscape holds its annual summer student program in one of the firm's seven locations around the world. This year is SWA Los Angeles's first turn at hosting the summer program. For four weeks, participants were immersed in river issues and asked to come up with landscape proposals centered on a particular neighborhood of Los Angeles along the river. Students kayaked along the river, spoke with professionals working on the river, and toured the upper watershed as preparation.

What came out of the month-long immersion were a wide variety of solutions, some closer to ambitious projects Angelenos could easily imagine playing out in the city, others pushing the envelope of what's possible in the city. 
 
In the former camp is Ian Mackay, an Ohio State University student double majoring in landscape architecture and city planning. He focused on the Elysian Valley and Cypress Park. (His research also included combing through KCET's StoryShare sessions on the riverfront.) 'What if we could build a bridge that could do more than just encourage people to cross between neighborhoods?' asked Mackay. 'Can a bridge be a site of a lovefest between people, birds and the river?'

He imagined building what he called a 'habitat bridge' that would be able to house birds. Green landscape wedges positioned on the east bank would have perforated spaces that could host bird nests. Behind the wedge's scrim, pedestrians and cyclists would able to view the wildlife beyond while going about their recreational activities."

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cheesecake Factory Brings in Older Diners with Skinnylicious Menu

Cheesecake Factory is consistently among the top restaurants consumers name as their favorites.  Yet the majority of their diners are under 44, so there is still room for growth in attracting baby boomers.  The chain has found that its lower-calorie "Skinnylicious" menu is just the ticket to bring in patrons who have been advised to watch their weight, and those who don't or can't eat the large portions that Cheesecake Factory is best known for.  And Voila!--thanks to skinnylicious, the share of older patrons is increasing!

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Bloomberg Businessweek

Link to article:

Excerpt: "The Cheesecake Factory’s (CAKE) lower-calorie SkinnyLicious menu, introduced in 2011 to offset the chain’s extensive selection of big-portioned dishes, appears to be a hit—especially among the restaurant’s older diners. 'Clearly we’re appealing to a different customer—baby boomers, people that want to eat lighter or are watching their calories,' said Chief Executive Officer David Overton during Wednesday’s earnings call. 'The SkinnyLicious menu appeals to a broad range of guests,' spokeswoman Alethea Rowe echoed in an e-mail. 'However, we are noticing that it has become particularly popular with baby boomers.'

On July 24 the Cheesecake Factory reported a second-quarter same-store sales increase of 0.9 percent. (That figure is 0.8 percent when including the company’s other restaurants, which fell short of analyst’s earlier projections of 1.6 percent.) Chief Financial Officer Doug Benn would not offer specifics on SkinnyLicious sales, but according to Overton, the menu is performing well. 'Many people, especially baby boomers, that still go out to restaurants quite a bit really appreciate it, because they can’t eat the kind of portions they used to,' he said.

Baby boomers have been good for the restaurant industry. Researcher NPD Group found that the number of restaurant visits by boomers and older consumers increased over the past five years, while those by millennials declined. This is possibly because boomers are retiring later and have more disposable income than young adults, who have had a tough time in this economy."
 
(Note: Hunter Communications handles marketing for Sherman Oaks Galleria, home of the Cheesecake Factory )

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Now Cyber Criminals are Offering Social Media Popularity, at a Price

It's definitely a sign of the times.  In addition to all the fake lottery scams, long-lost relative leaving you millions, phishing schemes and virus malware, now cyber hackers and criminals have a new source of income.  New automated software and embedded code in viruses are aimed at piling up thousands of "fans" "followers" and "likes" for social media users who are willing to pay for an artificially raised profile.  This scam is growing so fast and becoming so popular that hacker websites and message boards are advertising Instagram "followers" and "likes" by the thousand, at prices up to five times what they are charging for ill-gotten credit card numbers.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Reuters

Link to article:

 Excerpt: "As social media has become increasingly influential in shaping reputations, hackers have used their computer skills to create and sell false endorsements - such as 'likes' and 'followers' - that purport to come from users of Facebook, its photo-sharing app Instagram, Twitter, Google's YouTube, LinkedIn and other popular websites.

In the latest twist, a computer virus widely used to steal credit card data, known as Zeus, has been modified to create bogus Instagram 'likes' that can be used to generate buzz for a company or individual, according to cyber experts at RSA, the security division of EMC Corp.

These fake 'likes' are sold in batches of 1,000 on Internet hacker forums, where cyber criminals also flog credit card numbers and other information stolen from PCs. According to RSA, 1,000 Instagram 'followers' can be bought for $15 and 1,000 Instagram 'likes' go for $30, whereas 1,000 credit card numbers cost as little as $6.

It may seem odd that fake social media accounts would be worth more than real credit card numbers, but online marketing experts say some people are willing to spend heavily to make a splash on the Internet, seeking buzz for its own sake or for a business purpose, such as making a new product seem popular."

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Starbucks ups the ante with more and faster Wifi

Now that smaller independent coffee places have had to reserve "laptop-free" tables and take other precautions to limit wifi leechers who come in and turn their establishments into mobile offices, Starbucks has stepped into the breach and offered MORE to entice all those writers, actors, bloggers and telecommuters that want a nice social place to settle in for work.  

In addition to offering outlets to charge laptops, tablets and mobile phones, now the coffee giant has ended its long wifi partnership with AT&T in favor of a faster, more state-of-the-art connection with Google.  They even promise that in areas served by Google Fiber fiber optic internet, Starbucks will offer free wifi at speeds 100x that of their old DSL.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The Atlantic

Link to article:

Excerpt: "The war between coffee shop squatters and coffee shop owners has been brewing (if you will) for two decades. The battle lines are pretty clear: the squatters want to sit with their laptops; the owners want traffic moving through their coffee shops.

The latest dispatches from this brutal war of attrition is being reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. In that city, the Coffee Bar has implemented time-metered seats for coffee-drinking patrons and banned anyone armed with a laptop from sitting there—all of which is music to Evil Empire's Starbucks's ears...

Obviously, people who love slurping down free WiFi and have the endurance to spend hours upon hours in a coffee shop are going to be most offended by this movement. Conversely, people who go to coffee shops just to briefly scan the paper, eat lunch, or chit chat with friends are going to love this innovation.

But you know who else loves this escalation? Starbucks. The coffee conglomerate has been quietly been making moves to take advantage of miffed WiFi moochers. Late last month, the coffee giant announced that its stores in Silicon Valley will begin a wireless charging technology. 'Customers are using mobile devices more and more. Keeping your devices powered is a problem,' a spokesperson told ABC News. Clever. Charging your phone is convenient but it takes time; Starbucks wants that time spent in its coffee shops.

And that news came right before Starbucks announced it was dumping AT&T and upgrading its WiFi connections by partnering with Google. 'When your local Starbucks WiFi network goes Google, you’ll be able to surf the web at speeds up to 10x faster than before. If you’re in a Google Fiber city, we’re hoping to get you a connection that’s up to 100x faster,' Google wrote on its blog. Faster WiFi in addition to a phone charge kinda makes it seem like Starbucks wants you to make yourself at home. What reason would you have to leave?

What has coffee locavores scared is that all these upgrades, along with the mounting aggression against WiFi users from mom and pop shops, will eventually put smaller shops without WiFi out of business. In other words, mom-and-pop stores could win the WiFi battle but lose the coffee war."

Monday, August 26, 2013

Secret hack allows wacky fonts in Twitter

It's been around since 2009, but "unusual projects" guy Isaac Hepworth at Twitter let the cat out of the bag this week.  Via a unicode converter text box page you can access here, anything you enter into the text box and hit "enter" is displayed in a couple dozen different fonts and text effects.  Copy and paste the results into twitter and you have text weirdness that you either a)didn't know was possible or b)saw once and wondered how they did that.  Some of them are purely annoying, like the upside down, backwards-letter, and fake Thai and Cyrillic alphabets.  But you never know when you might want to tweet in square boxed letters, italic script, or Gothic-styled Fraktur.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Digital Trends

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Before today, we had to take a page from of the Kanye West School of Capitalizing Everything if we wanted to emphasize something on Twitter. Or do *this* which is almost more annoying THAN THIS. Although Twitter let users tweet emojis, it didn’t offer options for switching up font size or underlining our most important tweets.

But no longer. Isaac Hepworth, who works on special projects at Twitter, unveiled the secret to spicing up your tweets with special characters.
Hepworth linked to a Unicode text converter, and it makes putting tweets into special characters extremely easy. Just type the tweet into the converter and it will show all of the options, which include basics like bold, italics, and script, as well as more unusual choices like Faux Cyrillic and upside-down text. You then just copy and paste the sentence or phrase into your Twitter text box, and there you have it: fancy tweets."

Friday, August 23, 2013

China Goes Green With Plans for New 200-Story Shanghai Tower

The second-tallest building in the world does not sound much like a showplace for public parkland, sustainability and green technology.  But the new 200-story Shanghai Tower will be a public space like you've never seen, with vast, airy 14 story public atriums, indoor parks featuring landscaping themes from tropical to grassland, and a full third of the building's interior devoted to green space. In the West, financial and economic considerations preclude this kind of construction, since so much of the space will not be available for rental income, but China is looking to define the arrival of Shanghai as a financial center and herald the emergence of China as a major world power.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Fast | Co.Exist

Link to article:
The New Second Tallest Building In The World Is An Urban Green Space Wonderland

Excerpt: "The second tallest building in the world is more like a vertical city than a building. Think of it like this: the 632-meter tall Shanghai Tower is a bustling mixed-use metropolis with more green space (and even more people) than many cities on the ground can boast of having.

The statistics on the building, which ranks only behind Dubai’s Burj Khalifa in height, are staggering: 521,000 meters squared of floor space, 106 elevators, a weight of 1,200 metric tons, the ability to hold 30,000 people (it really is like a small city), and the kicker--one-third of the building is dedicated entirely to green space.

'Our client essentially is the government,' says Dan Winey, who leads Gensler’s Asia region (Gensler designed the building, which just held its topping-out ceremony this month). ' The government is looking for a symbol of the emergence of China, the development of Shanghai as a major financial center. If you look at the history of Shanghai, it’s a city of parks.'

Shanghai Tower is also a city of parks. Winey explains: 'When you come into the building, on the first couple floors are gardens and green walls, and every 14 floors there’s what I would consider to be a city park. There are also three 14-story atrium spaces.' Sky gardens line the perimeter of the building, which is carved up into nine 12-to-15 story high vertical zones (hotels, offices, retail space, an observation tower, etc.).

Each park is different, both in shape and landscaping. As the building rises higher, it tapers and twists, and the parks are adjusted accordingly. At the lower levels, the parks are close to 50,000 square feet.

They’re also designed to have different themes--one is more tropical, for example, and another showcases native grasses (landscape design was completed by SWA). According to Winey, the parks will contain cafes, food service, cultural events, and even art fairs. 'The idea is to bring people into the building, to go into public spaces to experience events,' he says."

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Google Tests Balloon-Borne Wifi Signals

Latest from the innovative Google X Lab is a Central Valley test over Fresno, as the internet giant tries out the possibilities for delivering wifi internet via overhead balloons carrying the digital equipment.  As it turns out, the test, part of what is called Project Loon, had a few problems in a busy urban area of Fresno.  The multitude of stray radio signals passing overhead forced Google to use a great deal of redundant transmission to get through the miasma. For now, that used up a lot of valuable bandwidth and created new challenges to make the balloon wifi work.

Hunter Communication Original News Source:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Google's latest unconventional project, balloon-borne Wi-Fi service, is being tested in the skies above California's Central Valley.

The Web giant said on Google+ that it has been conducting research flights over parts of its home state to fine tune what it called Project Loon.

That project is an effort by Google to bring Internet access to parts of the world where the necessary infrastructure, such as cell towers, is lacking. Project Loon comes from the Google X lab, which is also responsible for self-driving cars and Google Glass eyewear.

Most recently, Google said Thursday, Project Loon flew over Fresno to test how well the Wi-Fi balloons relayed signals in busy city areas. The project, which was introduced in June, encountered problems during the research flight.

'It turns out that providing Internet access to a busy city is hard because there are already many other radio signals around, and the balloons’ antennas pick up a lot of that extra noise,' the company said."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Yahoo Tries Out 30 Days of New Logos

After years of fading into obscurity behind upstart Google, former search engine giant Yahoo! is undergoing a corporate upgrade.  A few months ago we saw their Flickr get a new facelift and offer users a terabyte of storage.  Now the parent company itself is getting the renovation. Through August and up to September 4th, Yahoo! will be trying out a new logo each day, with the winning candidate unveiled at the end of the test period.  Businessweek wonders if they are treading into dangerous waters, since logos have recently led to as much mishap as positive attention.

Hunter Communications Official News Source:
Bloomberg Businessweek

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Over the next 30 days, tweaked versions of the Yahoo logo will be rolled out on a daily basis, culminating in a revealing of the new logo on Sept. 4. Savitt has also confirmed in a blog post that the logo will remain purple, either as way to maintain brand consistency or, possibly, out of respect to Prince. (I’m hoping it’s the latter.)

Logo changes are a tricky business. Just ask the Gap (GPS), J.C. Penney (JCP), and Tropicana (PEP), which had to backtrack after customers recoiled at their new, updated looks. Then there’s the problem of perception. Sure, unveiling a new logo brings a certain amount of media attention (like this post here), but saying you’re changing your look can also smack of a certain amount of institutional insecurity. As famous philosopher (and former power forward for the New York Knicks), Charles Oakley, once said: “If it ain’t broke, don’t break it.”

Still, Yahoo’s current logo does look a little … hokey? And Yahoo’s had some issues with its corporate graphics lately. The company’s updated weather app was well received, but people hated the icon. Yahoo changed it, and people hated that, too, so now it’s back to the original version. At least until the company’s logo changes, and, presumably, the weather icon changes for a third time."


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sci Fi Movies Predicted Many of Today's Tech Innovations

In a "chicken or the egg" scenario, many of today's most dazzling technological innovations were seen in the science fiction movies of 20 or 30 years ago. Smartphones, touch screens, tablet computing, gesture control a la Kinect, and more--all appeared in the futuristic gadgets of yesterday's science fiction.  But were the creators of those films clairvoyant, or were today's innovators inspired by the cool gadgets they saw onscreen?

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
USA Today

Link to article:

Excerpt: "A woman slides into what resembles a tanning bed for a quick health diagnosis and instant treatment. Traces of cancer are found — and removed immediately.

On another planet, in a galaxy far, far away, people communicate faster than the speed of light with a device called an Ansible.

Both futuristic scenarios are delivered to you courtesy of Hollywood in the science-fiction film Elysium, which premieres in cinemas across the nation today. But if the past few decades of film are any indication, the fiction seen on the screen this weekend might become fact 10 or 20 years down the road.

Before you scoff at this notion and hop on your iPad to watch a live feed from across the planet — remember when that would have seemed far-fetched? — consider how science-fiction films from the recent past have accurately predicted how we live and work today.

Google Glass, the driverless car and robots all had roots in films such as Blade Runner (1982), Back to the Future (1989) and Total Recall (1990). Indeed, engineers and designers at Google, Apple and elsewhere will tell you that these far-out-there films fed their imaginations and helped — at least in part — fuel the technology explosion of the past generation.

'You see so many dreamers today because there are so many ideas floating on social media. It's bred a much faster cycle of what-ifs?" says Justin Maguire, lead designer for Frog Design, which helped create the look for Apple Macintosh computers and the Sony Trinitron TV set. "There's almost nothing we can't build today.'An evolution in the way tech companies now develop products — with an emphasis on bold design, simplicity and ease of use — has been sparked, in part, by sci-fi films of yesteryear. Who knows? An onslaught of forthcoming films such as Elysium, Ender's Game, Riddick and Gravity might offer a peek into the next few decades, according to experts in tech and sci-fi.

'I grew up obsessed with Star Trek, so naturally when I bought my first smartphone I immediately set the background to look like a tricorder (a handheld device used for sensor scanning and data analysis),' says Matt Carver, 30, senior technologist at Big Spaceship, a creative-design agency in Brooklyn, N.Y. 'Watching (Star Trek character) Geordi LaForge effortlessly swipe and tap his touch-screen computers is still the inspiration for a lot of how I want users to feel when they interact with a site I've built.' "

Monday, August 19, 2013

Buffalo Wild Wings Aims for $1 Million to Boys and Girls Clubs

In cooperation with Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Buffalo Wild Wings will donate up to $1 million toward sports programs for boys and girls through its Team up for Kids program.  Diners at Buffalo Wild Wings can purchase $1 pinups whose proceeds will be donated to the Boys and Girls Clubs sports program, now through September 1st. Sports program funds will be used for football jerseys, cheerleading uniforms, and access to coaching education.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Marketwatch of Wall Street Journal

Link to article:

Excerpt: " 'We are excited to partner with Boys & Girls Clubs of America on the pinup promotion and All Stars grant program to achieve our vision of helping build communities where all kids can thrive, compete and belong to a team,' said Mary Twinem, chief financial officer at Buffalo Wild Wings. 'Team sports help teach valuable life lessons and keep kids engaged with their local Clubs. The pinup promotion allows our Guests to join our efforts to reach as many children as possible and provide much needed funding.'

The goal is to raise more than $1 million by Sept. 1. Guests can buy a pinup (minimum $1) at their local Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant beginning Aug. 5. Guests can also donate at www.buffalowildwings.com/giving and BGCA online.

Buffalo Wild Wings has committed a minimum of $650,000 to Boys & Girls Clubs of America in 2013. The proceeds from the sale of pinups will be used to fund more sports teams. 'The All Stars grant partnership and pinup sales with Buffalo Wild Wings are excellent ways for us to reach our goal of helping as many children as possible to become part of a team and build confidence and social skills,' said Wayne B. Moss, senior director of Healthy Lifestyles, Boys & Girls Clubs of America. 'Both of these programs offer tremendous support for Clubs to help facilitate sports programs that impact our youth with organized physical activity, lessons on sportsmanship and building teamwork skills that last a lifetime.' "

Friday, August 16, 2013

IKEA's New App Lets You See Their Furniture in Your Rooms

Remember the scene in "Fight Club" where Edward Norton's character fills his apartment piece-by-piece with IKEA furniture, complete with names and descriptions floating eerily overhead?  A new mobile app from the home furnishings giant will allow you to recreate that scene in your own home, as your mobile-camera view contains a pasted-in IKEA piece that allows you to see exactly how it will appear in your living space. The app is a step away from the IKEA catalog as we know it (though it uses descriptions and images in the catalog as the starting point), and moves retailing technology steadily forward into the 21st Century.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Forbes

Link to article:
Excerpt: "The 2014 catalog, containing some 12,000 products spread over more than 300 pages goes out to over 200 million recipients. With a print run that rivaled the Bible last year, this captive audience is invited to thumb through pages of inspired Scandinavian designs that maximize tight spaces while minimizing wallet impact. Now, on pages marked with an unobtrusive + symbol, they can scan those items, place the actual catalog in the spot they’d love to see that coffee table or cabinet, look through their tablet or phone viewer, and voila. The furniture 'appears' in their room with the help of interactive augmented reality –no QR codes or torn pages required. Not to mention that no one has to actually head to the store, only to fall in love with that KIVIK chaise that, once installed, just doesn’t work with their existing decor.

The augmented reality app builds on a 3-D function the 2013 catalog that effectively allowed shoppers to see certain furnishings in action. A table with a drop leaf gets bigger, for example, or cabinet doors open and close.

IKEA started working with 3-D back in 2005 and eventually integrated the technology to replace some of the actual sets it used to photograph new products. Switching to computer generated graphics served up savings for the privately-held company which typically spends more than two-thirds of its marketing budget building and furnishing those irresistibly cozy spaces. This new ability to plop bigger ticket items right into a room blasts through the traditional, tiny-screened mobile shopping experience. It combines the innate comfort of shopping at home, the tactile pleasure of turning printed pages, and the instant gratification of 'seeing'the living space revamped."

(Note: Hunter Communications handles marketing for Burbank Town Center , home of IKEA Burbank)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Crash Course in Typography in a Five-Minute Clip

Typography is the craze of our times, and the thousands of typefaces in dozens of styles and weights can make the whole subject pretty daunting.  Now along comes Ben Barrett-Forrest to clarify it all for us. His five-minute video clip, "The History of Typography" is a bright, fun little lesson presented through the wonders of stop-motion animation, and lays out the names, eras and main classes of typefaces that have popped up and taken hold over the last four centuries. Watching it won't make you an expert in typography, but you won't glaze over the next time someone starts debating the relative qualities of slab versus sans-serif.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The Atlantic

Link to article:
Excerpt: "Let’s face it, fonts and typefaces have officially become a mainstream obsession. In our current design-centric culture, terms like sans-serif, Helvetica, and — heaven forbid — Comic Sans have breached the cultural consciousness. Fortunately, for those of you who still can’t tell your Futura from your Papyrus, Yukon-based designer Ben Barrett-Forrest has crafted this charming stop-motion history lesson to help you get up to speed.

Built with 2454 photographs, 291 letters, and 140 hours of his life, Barrett-Forrest’s animated short is a delight . As he guides us from the lowly beginnings of Guttenberg’s printing press, all the way to the computer age, it becomes apparent that the art of type is a corollary for history. Like architecture and fashion, typography is a reflection of the world in which it’s created. Barrett-Forrest explains his interest in type and the genesis of the project in an interview below.

The Atlantic: How did the project come to be? Have you always been knowledgeable about typography?

Ben Barrett-Forrest: I have always been a type nerd, but it was about two years ago that I really caught typography fever. I was taking a design class for my multimedia degree at McMaster University and it was recommended that I read a book called Thinking With Type by Ellen Lupton. This brilliant book showed me that typography has huge diversity and a long history, and I was quickly hooked.

What made you decide to go with hand-cut characters and a stop-motion approach?

There are hundreds of beautiful kinetic typography videos on the internet, with their shiny graphics and smooth movements. I wanted to create something that allowed people to experience typography on a tactile, unrefined level. My hand-cut style brings the faces off of the computer screen and onto a more physical level that can be pushed around, manipulated, and imbued with extra personality.

It seems that collectively as a culture we have become more knowledgeable about type and fonts. What do you think has spawned this interest?

One of the catalysts for the recent interest in typography is the availability of font-making software such as Fontlab, which allows anyone to make their own digital typeface. There are now tens of thousands of excellent (and not so excellent) typefaces available for download. This allows people to move away from the familiarity of Helvetica and Times New Roman, and to become aware of the different kinds of typefaces that are out there."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Apple changes fonts in new iOS7

The brand new Iphone operating system that Apple is currently testing in beta, iOS7, has undergone a bit of change in appearance.  In an uncharacteristic act of beta-testing regret for the Cupertino giant, the latest version of the new operating system swaps out Helvetica Neue Light for a sturdier, less-stylish, but perhaps more readable standard weight of Helvetica Neue.  Apple fans are alternately dreading and anxiously awaiting the new OS, especially after the messy loose ends that marked iOS6 at release (the new Apple Maps application included as default was widely mocked and derided).

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
C|Net UK

Link to article:
iOS 7 swaps skinny font for thicker one in typographic U-turn
Excerpt: "Out with the old, in with the Neue! The Helvetica Neue that is, because in an uncharacteristic change of heart, Apple has swapped the font used in iOS 7, the upcoming revamp of its mobile operating system.

While the beta version of iOS 7 made its debut using a font called Helvetica Neue Light, an update to that early offering has now switched that font to bog-standard Helvetica Neue, Business Insider reports.

The new font -- as you can see in the site's example paragraphs below -- has much thicker lines, and should show up better against the bright colours and glassy transparencies that iOS 7 employs heavily. A bold change you might say, eh? Eh? Oh.

While the change is a minor one, choosing a font is an important decision, especially for a smart phone or tablet you're going to be staring at for hours on end. Apple also isn't known to tinker too extensively with its software, or change its mind on design, so the switch could indicate the company is prepared to make other alterations too."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

New Architecture Exhibit Showcases "Never Built LA"

Los Angeles gets a bad rap, some of it deserved. The sprawl, the traffic, and above all the endless monotony, make for a dull, SUBurban experience of the US' second metropolis. Take away the mountains and the beach and most any neighborhood in Southern California could be mistaken for another. But a new gallery exhibition at the Architecture and Design Museum on Wilshire Boulevard celebrates the gorgeous ghosts of proposals and unrealized plans that would have made LA into a far different, and incredibly distinctive space. What if LAX were one terminal under a gigantic dome, or if Santa Monica Bay were hemmed in by a superhighway perched on artificial offshore islands? See the LA that never was at "Never Built Los Angeles" until October 13th.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article: 
Review: A city's unrealized ambitions in 'Never Built Los Angeles'

Excerpt: "In architecture, when we do look back, we usually focus more on mistakes of action than inaction. We mourn the landmarks we've knocked down rather than the ones we failed to build in the first place.

But how do you catalog a history of mistimed, misguided or ill-fated ambition? What about a preservation movement for the ideas and designs that almost made it?

'Never Built Los Angeles,' a revelatory new exhibition at the Architecture and Design Museum on Wilshire Boulevard, is a first step in that direction, an attempt to corral the city's most beautiful architectural ghosts and put them on public view.

Curated by architectural journalists Sam Lubell and Greg Goldin, the show offers a rich parade of proposals for civic projects in Los Angeles and Southern California — by architects including Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, Paul Williams, Rem Koolhaas, Steven Holl, Frank Gehry and Jean Nouvel — that for a variety of reasons never got off the drawing board.

The range of work is vast. The show includes parks, monorail systems, movie theaters and churches that appeared, as the curators put it, "on paper and nowhere else." There are doomed master plans here, stillborn office towers and DOA museum wings.

Between 1920 and 1930 alone, Los Angeles considered a plan for an extensive subway and elevated-train system, a series of City Beautiful arches and fountains along the length of Wilshire Boulevard and a county-wide proposal (by the Olmsted Brothers firm, led by sons of the Central Park designer) for new parks and open space.

Had even one of those three projects been completed, the character of Los Angeles would be strikingly different. It would be a more public-minded, greener and perhaps a more equitable city than it is now.

You could probably put together a show like this on any big American city. In Los Angeles, though, the distance between what's offered up to the public and what gets built has been unusually wide.

Our paper architecture is less about theory and more about the drive to change a city that has always seemed singularly full of possibility. Our planning process has focused — and continues to focus — on one-off, big-ticket mega-projects at the expense of a more patient and comprehensive approach, giving architects and developers incentive to swing for the fences while leaving the score card littered with strikeouts.

At the same time, we've always been hamstrung, our ambition stunted, by deep disagreements about what kind of city we want to be: horizontal or vertical, respectable or happily idiosyncratic, extending the traditions of East Coast and European capitals or eager to break from them.

Not all of the projects in the show provoke regret. More than a few qualify as bullets mercifully dodged, including a 1965 plan for an offshore freeway, called the Causeway, running through Santa Monica Bay.

What emerges is a nuanced portrait of this city's tendency to flirt with and then give up on major civic initiatives. Caution cuts both ways. If we'd been a bolder city in terms of public architecture in the 1960s, today we might have a county museum on Wilshire Boulevard designed by Mies van der Rohe. But we might have the Causeway too, or a freeway through Laurel Canyon."

Monday, August 12, 2013

ArcLight Cinemas Moves to Paid VIP Membership Cards

ArcLight Cinemas Sherman Oaks: Hunter Communications photo
After 11 years of offering patrons a free ArcLight membership card to provide perks, discounts, and free tickets, the upscale cinema chain has moved to a paid VIP program that boosts the rewards but costs members $15 a year.  The final tally won't be apparent for a while, but ArcLight spokespeople claim that the early response was ten times higher than they had expected.  It remains to be seen if other entertainment and shopping affinity cards will follow suit and begin assessing an annual fee for their programs.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:
ArcLight Cinemas Begins Charging Fee for Membership

Excerpt: "ArcLight Cinemas memberships are no longer free.

The upscale movie theater chain began charging new members $15 a year on Tuesday. Current members can continue without paying until Oct. 14, when they can either agree to the fee or opt out of the program.

The company, which lets members earn points toward buying tickets and concessions, is adding new benefits, including a free ticket for members' birthdays and a 10% discount at theater cafes. For those who sign up early, the company is offering a $5 discount at its cafes, gift shops and concessions stands.

'We wanted a more engaged program,' said Gretchen McCourt, the executive vice president of cinema programming. “We wanted to add benefits for our loyal customers.'

The membership program has been free for more than 11 years. McCourt said it was time for a change because members wanted more.

McCourt could not provide an estimate of how many members the cinemas expect to retain but said that the number of people who signed up for the new program Tuesday was '10 times' what the chain expected."
(Note: Hunter Communications handles marketing for Sherman Oaks Galleria, home of ArcLight Cinemas)



Friday, August 9, 2013

For National Cheesecake Day, "Thrillist" ranks all 34 Cheesecake Factory flavors

What better way could there be for a blog about what is new and trendy to comemmorate National Cheesecake Day than to send a local correspondent out with $400 to order, taste and rate every one of the 34 flavors of Cheesecae Factory's namesake dessert?  From the bottom of the list's Splenda-sweetened low carb offering to the taste-sensational Chris' Outrageous Cheesecake at the coveted #1, here is the list from 34th to 1st place.  (The full article has all the pictures and splendiferous commentary.) Where does your favorite place?  Should you try tasting and ranking them all on your own?

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Thrillist

Link to article: 

Excerpt: "In honor of today being National Cheesecake Day (it's a thing! Look it up!) and us very much enjoying hurting ourselves via food, we asked one our local correspondents to hit up The Cheesecake Factory and try every single cheesecake they make. Almost $400 later, he had tasting notes on all 34 flavors (including a s'mores one that comes out today!) and a definitive ranking you can feast your eyes on below:
No. 34: Low Carb Cheesecake w/ Strawberries
No. 33: White Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut
No. 32: Pineapple Upside-Down Cheesecake
No. 31: Adam's Peanut Butter Cup Fudge RippleNo. 30: Key Lime
No. 29: The Original w/ Cherry Preserves
No. 28: Mango Key Lime
No. 27: Dutch Apple Caramel Streusel
No. 26: Craig's Crazy Carrot Cake Cheesecake
No. 25: Fresh Banana Cream Cheesecake
No. 24: The Original
No. 23: Snickers Bar Chunks and Cheesecake
No. 22: Pina Colada Cake
No. 21: Dulce de Leche Caramel Cheesecake
No. 20: Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
No. 19: Wild Blueberry White Chocolate Cheesecake
No. 18: White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle
No. 17: Chocolate Raspberry Truffle
No. 16: Caramel Pecan Turtle Cheesecake
No. 15: Chocolate Mousse
No. 14: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
No. 13: Toasted Marshmallow S'mores Galore
No. 12: Ultimate Red Velvet Cake
No. 11: Kahlua Cocoa Coffee Cheesecake
No. 10: Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake
No. 9: 30th Anniversary Chocolate Cake
No. 8: Lemon Raspberry Cream
No. 7: Chocolate Tuxedo Cream
No. 6: OREO Dream Extreme
No. 5: Hershey's Chocolate Bar Cheesecake
No. 4: The Original w/ Fresh Stawberries
No. 3: Tiramisu
No. 2: Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake
and finally,


No. 1: Chris' Outrageous Cheesecake.
It has layers of chocolate cake, chewy brownie, toasted coconut-pecan frosting & chocolate chip coconut cheesecake, tastes a little like German chocolate cake and a lot like the last bite of cheesecake a certain Thrillist correspondent will ever have... until journalistic integrity requires we make him do it again next year."
 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

View a Slideshow of the History of McDonald's Logos

When McDonald's first appeared in San Bernardino in 1940, it tried to distinguish itself from other drive-in restaurants with images of speed and modernity.  These concepts guided the procession of company logos that followed, from 1948's hamburger-headed "Speedee McDonald" to the many generations of Golden Arches that defined the increasingly worldwide fast food company.

Hunter Communications Original News Source
The Daily Meal

Link to article:
Excerpt: "McDonalds is one of the most famous brands in the world, and those golden arches that have come to be synonymous with the company are instantly recognizable all across the planet. But did you know that they once adorned the midsection of an early mascot named Archy? And before Archy, the logo included a mascot named Speedee with a hamburger for a head? The McDonald’s logo has evolved in a major way over the years, and we’ve managed to track down just about every one they’ve ever had.

The first McDonald’s opened in 1940 in San Bernardino, Calif., but it looked mighty different from today’s sleek drive-throughs and specialized in barbecue as well as burgers. In 1948 founders Dick and Mac McDonald established what they called a 'Speedee Service System' to hurry along the process of serving their burgers, shakes, and fries (the barbecue was cut out of the menu in order to speed up service time) and they introduced Speedee to help spread the word. But Alka-Seltzer’s much more famous mascot was also named Speedy, and he was soon retired. 

After Ray Kroc bought the business from the McDonald’s brothers in 1961 (he began franchising them for the brothers in 1955), the hunt was on for a new logo. The restaurants were framed by two golden arches and a slanted roof, so that design was incorporated into the new logo, and these two interlocking arches weren’t too far off from what we see today, even though it’s certainly been streamlined a bit (after a stint plastering the midsection of that other long-forgotten mascot, Archy). By the time the 1970s rolled around, that instantly recognizable 'M' had all but been set in stone, but even that’s been tweaked over the years."

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Josef Alber's "Interaction of Color" Becomes an Ipad App

A modern-day Bible of color theory, Josef Alber's 1963 "The Interaction of Color" has stepped down off the bookshelf and found new life as an app for the Ipad.  The original tome was a coffee table book that encouraged readers to touch, manipulate and appreciate the way the colored geometric shapes react to each other, vibrating receding and popping out as the colors react.  All this complemented the lessons of Alber's text, and was a missing element in recent edtions of the book that were released as a paperback.  Now as a tablet application, viewers can once more interact with the title's subject.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Gizmodo

Link to article:
Excerpt: "If you are at all interested in design or art, enlighten yourself with one of the most important books on color ever written. It's called The Interaction of Color, and now you can experience it on your iPad.

The book was created by painter and Bauhaus teacher Josef Albers in 1963. Albers spent his life obsessing over how we perceive and manipulate color. You've probably seen one or two of his dozens of studies made up of vibrant geometric forms.

Albers' masterwork was originally intended to be a visual experience, with folios of swatches and shapes to be manipulated by students in concert with the text.

Paperback versions of the book lacked this original dynamism. But the iPad app, released by Yale University Press, adds layers of interactivity to bring the experience closer to what Albers had envisioned. Download it here."


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Name the City by a Map of its Starbucks Locations

Sometimes, especially here in Los Angeles, it seems that there is a Starbucks on every block.  Figuring out by the topographical contours and the areas of dense and sparse population, can you guess which cities these are by a map of Starbucks locations in the city limits?  New York, Vegas and Chicago are the easy ones, and from there it gets harder. (Frankly, I think they cheated on LA by not considering all the areas of the Valley and Harbor that are still part of Los Angeles proper and would have clearly drawn a recognizable city map...)

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Slate

Link to article:
Excerpt: "First World problem: There are four Starbucks locations around my house, and I never know which one to go to because the coffee-deprived slog to each is the same half-mile length. If you get the sense, like I do, that Starbucks is everywhere, it’s because there are 13,279 of them in the U.S. alone, and they’re so crammed into highly trafficked areas that sometimes, as Lewis Black famously bemoaned, there’s a Starbucks directly across the street from a Starbucks. You can recognize a city by its streets or population patterns. Can you recognize it by its Starbucks locations?


Let’s find out. The above quiz shows all of the Starbucks locations within the city boundaries of 20 domestic or foreign cities, and for each you must name the city depicted from four choices. Note the number of locations and the shape of their pattern; watch for peripheral clusters that may indicate airports; and if you haven’t had your caffeine yet, get it now—this will tease your brain more than the Slate Friday News Quiz. At last, all you world travelers will have more to show for it than your city-specific Starbucks mugs."

Monday, August 5, 2013

New Device adds Gesture Control to PCs

A new generation raised on the Wii remote and the Kinect for Xbox will certainly not stay happy for long using keyboard and mouse, or even a touch screen monitor. No worries!  A new device called the Leap Motion Controller interprets the gestures your hand makes into corresponding motions one might usually make via mouse or touch pad. It sounds great, but does it work? According to the New York Times, there is nothing wrong with the device and its interface, but the software that currently can be used via the technology leaves a great deal to be desired.

Hunter Communications Official News Source:
New York Times

Link to article: 
No Keyboard, and Now No Touch Screen Either
Excerpt: "The Internet has been buzzing about the much-delayed Leap Motion Controller ($80) since its first public demonstrations over a year ago. Imagine controlling on-screen objects just by reaching into empty space, just like Tom Cruise! Imagine gesture recognition just like Microsoft’s Kinect game controller, but on a much smaller, more precise scale! Imagine the future, plugged into a USB jack on the Mac or Windows PC you own today!

The Leap Motion sensor is beautiful, tiny and self-contained. If Wrigley’s ever comes out with a Juicy Fruit Designer Pack, it might look like this: a sleek, glass-and-aluminum slab (1.2 by 3 by 0.5 inches), with nonskid rubber on the bottom. A single USB cable (both a long one and a short one come in the box) stretches away to your computer; a light comes on when it’s working.

(Please note that Leap Motion has nothing to do with Leap Pad, the children’s toy. That gadget is educational in a completely different way.)

If you have a desktop computer, you put the sensor between your screen and keyboard. If it’s a laptop, you park it on the desk just in front of the keyboard. Soon, Leap says, you’ll be able to buy a PC from H.P. or Asus that has the sensor built right in.You download the Leap software, and presto: a somewhat buggy tutorial instructs you to insert your hands into the space — an invisible two-foot cube — that’s monitored by the Leap’s cameras and infrared sensors.

This device is like the Kinect in that it recognizes body parts in space. But not only is the Leap far smaller and less expensive, it’s also far more precise. According to the company, it can detect the precise positions of all 10 of your fingers simultaneously, with a spatial accuracy to a 100th of a millimeter — 200 times as accurate as the Kinect.

And remember, the Leap adds gesture recognition not to your TV, but to your computer. A machine that can run millions of different programs for all different purposes. Games, sure, but also office work. Creative work. Communication. Entertainment. Surely this little wonder is a very big deal.

Unfortunately, it’s not. The Leap’s hardware may be simple, attractive and coherent — but its software is scattershot, inconsistent and frustrating.

The first crushing disappointment is that no software recognizes your hand motions unless it’s been specially written, or adapted, for use by the Leap.

There are 75 such apps already on the Leap’s app store, Airspace; some are free, some cost a few dollars. Not all work on both Mac and Windows.

Most are games. In the best of them, you control the action in 3-D space, just as with the Kinect but without having to stand up. For example, Boom Ball ($5) is the classic Breakout game, where you try to knock out bricks by bouncing a ball against them — but your paddle is attached to your finger in vertical space."

Friday, August 2, 2013

Smartphone and Tablet Apps Aid Foreign Language Study

One of the perfect applications for the unique qualities of smartphones and tablets is learning a foreign language or finding translation assistance while traveling.  The Los Angeles Times collected the best of the apps available for iOS and Android, including dictionaries, games that teach language, live translators available for online chats, and even an avatar-based app that translates your sentences into sign language.  Having what is essentially a small handheld computer in your hands or pocket makes communicating in another language a lot easier than flipping through a dogeared pocket dictionary and vainly trying to pronounce the words on a page.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:
Excerpt: "If learning a new language is on your summer to-do list, how about starting with your smartphone or tablet? Sure audio CDs and workbooks help—but they're so old school.

With so many foreign language apps on the market and readily at your fingertips, it's easy to learn a new language at your own pace, wherever and whenever you have the time.

The latest language apps incorporate voice-recognition software, games, vocabulary and other interactive features.

If you have a trip coming up — or just want to brush up on your foreign language skills — we recommend you try out some of these 5 apps: everything from Japanese to sign language! A few of the apps come in multiple language variations so if you find one you like in a given language, keep reading to see if there are other versions.

Busuu (free): If you’re looking to learn Arabic, Polish, Turkish, Russian or German, Busuu is a free iOS and Android app available in 12 different languages. What is unique about this app is that it directly connects learners with native speakers online.

After you’ve spent time sifting through the 3,000 words and key phrases, you can interact with users to practice what you’ve learned via its video-chat feature and peer-to-peer text corrections. The app also uses audio-visual techniques, with high-quality stock photography that does a good job of creating a clear visual context for the words. The basic version is free, with options to upgrade to the full app...

Mind Snacks (free): Hola, Campeones de Aplicación! Or, hey, app champs! If you’re looking for a fun and free way to learn a new language, the MindSnacks app uses games to help teach people of all ages. The app consists of different language levels, that are in fact mini-games designed to get you through each learning journey. Each game is designed with a personalized learning algorithm that helps users maximize memorization, retention and contextual usage at their own individualized pace.

Through its interactive play, MindSnacks will teach you essential vocabulary and conversation skills. The app is available in a 13 languages, including Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Italian and German. The app is free to download, but you will need to upgrade to a paid account in order to access the entire set of features and lessons."

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Buffalo Wild Wings Introduces "Game Changer" Draft Beer

Buffalo Wild Wings, recently named as the US restaurant industry's 4th fastest-growing chain, has introduced a new innovation at all of its 925 locations.  In cooperation with Redhook Brewery, the restaurant chain commissioned a new craft ale called "Game Changer", specifically tailored to the needs and tastes of its customers. The clever move is expected to lead other large chains to follow in BWW's footsteps and introduce their own custom-designed beers and ales.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
CNBC

Link to article:
Excerpt: "Buffalo Wild Wings, which serves more draft beer than any other chain restaurant in America, has collaborated with Redhook Brewery to create a new brew designed exclusively for the sports bar environment called, appropriately enough, Game Changer.

'We've always talked about creating a Buffalo Wild Wings beer, and as we pursued it, we realized we needed someone to work with,' said Patrick Kirk, director of beverage innovations for Buffalo Wild Wings.

'We found out Redhook was working on a sports bar-friendly brew, and knew we could help them realize which beers work best with sports and food,' Kirk told TODAY.com.

Having a local brewery create a beer in collaboration with an independent restaurant is nothing new, but this is the first time it's happened on a national scale.

'The rules weren't written on how to do this, because it's never been done before,' said Andy Thomas, president of commercial operations for Craft Brew Alliance, the parent company of Redhook.

'It turned out to be a lot of fun, because there was a good working chemistry from the beginning—we just clicked,' Thomas added.

Both Redhook and Buffalo Wild Wings had the same priorities for the beer: It had to taste great on its own, pair well with spicy foods and it had to have a reasonably low alcohol content so a sports fan could responsibly enjoy a couple over the course of a ballgame." 
(Note: Hunter Communications handles marketing for Sherman Oaks Galleria, soon-to-be home of Buffalo Wild Wings)