Category Archives: blog

“Cider Jam! Cider Jam! Does whatever a…”

To say that the Land of O’s is one of my favorite clients would be the understatement of the year. They have been producing excellent jams and jellies and other goods for the local Madison Farmer’s Market for the past couple of decades, and recently engaged me to help them improve their online presence.

One of the neat things they did was give me some raw materials to work with for their newsletter. This particular image is a sign on the property of their farm:

This isn’t just any old sign, mind you – it was painted by beloved local artist and sculptor Sid Boyum, whose whimsical works dot the Madison landscape and who happened to be a neighbor of the Oosterwyks. I definitely wanted to keep the feeling of the sign even in a digital medium as we created their newsletter.

With the help of Photoshop’s “Perspective Crop Tool”, some clone-stamping (a little-known Jedi image trick) and a few curve adjustments, we came up with a nice header image:It’s lovely to be able to take some of the old and bring it into the new, retaining the hand-crafted skills in a digital medium.

You can find Land of O’s at the Madison Holiday Market on Saturdays this winter, and also sign up for their (upcoming) newsletter for more pics from the family farm, the down-low on Aronia, and a spicy recipe for their cranberry-horseradish relish!



Troubleshoot Your Tech with 5 Core Principles

We’ve all been there at some point. It may have been a blue screen, an endless rainbow pinwheel, or the repeated pressing of the return key – harder and harder, as if you somehow weren’t quite doing it right the first time. There comes that urge to throw the offending tech out the window as you scream “Why are you doing this to me?!?

Here’s the thing: it’s not. It’s not doing it to you. In fact, here’s a secret that I’ve learned since I began my techie journey putting together little printed circuit boards from Tandy: technology wants to work.

Really. It’s made to work, designed to function, in fact usually with a very simple function in comparison to, say, our bodies. Unlike our bodies, there’s no question or debate as to whether technological devices were created via intelligent design (the debate as to the level of intelligence, though, that’s the subject of many a thread…).

You can leverage the fact that technology wants to work with these five simple rules. Why use them? Well, let me put it this way: I have a reputation, both personal and professional, of being someone who can get things to work. Projectors, presentations, databases, sound mixers – at some point I’ve been asked to “fix” something. It’s not a bad reputation to have, to be honest; it’s put food on my table more than once, and even led to a really nice date now and then.

At an imprecise but nonetheless probably accurate estimate, 90% of the “skill” I have at getting tech to work comes from following these five rules. I’m not saying they’ll solve all your problems – but I feel safe to say that if you follow these principles first you’ll save yourself a lot of time and gain your own reputation of having the “magic hands” that just get things to work.

You and I will know that it’s not magic; the things want to work anyway. But don’t tell the rest of them.

Gray’s 5 Rules of Technology

  1. It works better if it’s plugged in.
  2. It works better if it’s turned on.
  3. It sounds better if it’s turned up.
  4. Remember: somebody, somewhere, thought this was intuitive.
  5. When all else fails, trace the cables & restart.

That’s it. In that order it will solve most the problems you have with all sorts of technology, from plumbing to home theaters to that great pitch deck that you’re hoping gets you funding. Print out the rules and post them near your trouble-spots, and I promise a reduction in the median blood pressure of your staff.

Also, stop swearing at the poor machines. They want to work.