Berryville-header

The Ruralist

The older I get, the more I miss the small barely two stoplight town I grew up in. It’s only 60 miles west of me. It’s a place where my father still can’t get land-based broadband internet. It’s where I grew up without cable TV because the cables stopped at the end of my road. And there weren’t enough people to justify running them back to the few houses that sat on acres of land.

J.D. Bentley writes in The Ruralist

The most redeeming quality of big cities is that their people choose to congregate in small, dense areas, leaving the bulk of the earth to the rest of us.

As I’ve entered my third decade on this earth, that line resonates deeply with me. I grew up with cows and deer for neighbors. I grew up without a working knowledge of the Nickelodeon schedule. I grew up in a quiet place. Where I could sit outside and barely hear another sign of humanity. I’d walk in the woods and take long bike rides past apple orchards and corn fields. I relished the silence. The wind in my ears as I raced down hills and pedaled like a maniac up the next.

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to move out of the little town. I could not wait to spread my wings in a bigger city. I escaped to Richmond, VA for college and lived there for a several years afterwards. Then I returned home to the outskirts of Washington, DC. First living in Northern Virginia across the river from it, and now in Maryland to its north.

I like the area where I am now. It’s quiet enough it could almost be mistaken for rural. There are deer and rabbits nearby. I pass geese, ducks and the occasional heron (I think?) on my walk to the Metro.

That’s where the illusion ends. When I cross the barrier from wildlife to concrete and board a train descending underneath DC and into the heart of the city.

By day, I am city dweller, though at least I am close enough to the National Mall and Capitol Reflecting Pool I can still enjoy the ducks, green spaces and people-watching.

But I miss the quiet nights. I miss falling asleep to the wind whipping through trees and across open fields. I miss the cows and occasional rooster.

I miss hearing a world not powered by motors and processors.

despotic-clown

The Despotic Clown

Now that I have given you nightmares… Taco Bell has launched a propaganda campaign against the Routine Republic.

In the three-minute centerpiece ad below, McDonald’s affable but intrinsically creepy mascot is reimagined as a sunken-eyed Stalinist clown (though perhaps bearing closer resemblance to Mao). He rules over a small army of look-alikes and an oppressed proletariat in a decrepit, cloistered city with a beefy security apparatus. Run-of-the-mill breakfast sandwiches are his preferred method of subjugation.

The three-minute video is worth watching, even if it is just an ad for Taco Bell.

The print work for this campaign is marvelous and I want to print and mount the entire set. Here’s a taste.

Same Breakfast

To see the rest of the print work head on over to Adweek.
Ad of the Day: Taco Bell Launches Cold War Against McDonald’s With Propaganda Imagery

Banana gun via http://gratisography.com/

MacBook Perspectives

I enjoy reading different views on the same thing. I like hearing diverse viewpoints from intelligent people. As much as I’ve avoided the Apple chatter, I like hearing what people I follow online think about it. Those who aren’t tech journalists. They’re not getting paid to churn out 500 words on The Next Apple Thing™.

Recently Conor wrote about his dislike in the direction Apple is going. He wants more power in a portable. He wants a Pro Portable.

conormcclure.net: Thoughts on the new MacBook(s)

I myself am a college student, but am also an “adult computer” user—I want power, speed, and possibilities. Last week’s updates to the MacBook Pro line were indeed “modest”, if not “half-assed.” I’m not eager to upgrade my computer given Apple’s latest advancements. They’re focus on portability and other silly features (Force Touch?) have neglected the other spectrum of MacBook power users who want massive speed and battery. (I’m not even talking about the Thunderbolt vs. USB-C fiasco. Make up your minds, for our sake.)

And Rob wants just the opposite. He’s enamored by the new, gold iPad Plus. He wants an iPad with the full power of the Mac OS behind it.

The new MacBook — RM

The iPad is what I need in a mobile computer. The new MacBook is the first computer that made me even consider changing that. It’s super thin and light — two things I love about the iPad. It has the high resolution screen that would be easy on my eyes. And it has the full power of OS X behind it.

Like Conor, I have a 2010 MacBook Pro. It’s served me well and I don’t know what my next machine will be. When I think about what I want, it’s a powerful portable with an integrated graphics card. But when I think about what I actually use my machine for, it’s a writing tablet. It’s a place to browse the web and like Rob, I need more power than an iPad, or at least a full operating system. I don’t think I need a Mac Pro Portable.

I don’t work with video. I take a pile of photos (and struggle to do anything with them). There’s a lot of lust over new hardware, but I am also very wary of the first rendition of anything Apple makes. As a current owner of the first iPad and former original MacBook buyer I’ve seen the slew of issues with the new devices. Or the major gains in the second version of the device. And I don’t have the money to throw at Apple. I’m content to sit and wait. I’m happy to pickup someone’s used machine once they’re ready to move on to something new.

via Gratisography.com

Be Personable

When you work in tech support, you often don’t know who you are talking to. You don’t know if they’re high-powered or the new intern. You don’t know their level of technical ability or their patience.

But one thing you do know is they are human. So talk to them like it.

So many times, I get an email back from a tech and all it says is “This account has been deactivated.”

That’s nice, computer. I am happy you processed my request in an efficient and timely manner. But it would have been even nice if I knew you were a person too.

Now let’s compare that to:

Good Morning Monica,

I’ve deactivated the account for John Morris effective immediately.

Is there anything else I can do for you today?
Thank you,
Carl T. Holscher

  • I address Monica by her name.
    She is a person. I am a person. There’s no reason I can’t address her by her name. It’s add a little humanity to our interaction.
  • I told her exactly what I had done.
    That way, she knows immediately what this request is about. It doesn’t rely on her to remember what she had asked me for. She’s busy. She doesn’t have time to sit around and wait for me to get the work done. She is doing other things, so don’t make her guess.
    It also verifies to me that I have made the correct change. It’s easy to make a mistake, especially when dealing with a large number of requests. Repeating back the action I took helps me to double-check myself.

  • I used my name.
    I am not a team. I am not a group. I am an individual and I did this work for her.

Whenever I am about to send an email to someone, I ask myself if this is the email I would like to receive.

If it is, I hit send. If not, I take a moment to improve upon it. Spending those extra seconds can make a big difference in how you come across to your customers.

It’s hard to be as warm and friendly over text. But it is easy to impart some humanity in your words. Use them.