10 Questions with Andrew Kaufmann.

Andrew Kaufmann have been mucking around in web development ever since getting on the Internet around 1994. He was a staff member on the Unofficial Squaresoft Homepage (a website devoted to video games from the company Square), and a founding member of the site the Unofficial Squaresoft Homepage evolved into (it focused on role-playing video games). After leaving RPGamer, he co-founded the Gaming Intelligence Agency (now defunct) in 1998. Another video game site, the GIA was a Web 2.0 type company (a blog before there were things called "blogs") before the advent of Google Adsense to help monetize sites. The site was a critical success and a success as far as pure traffic numbers, but ad sales struggled. They ended up shutting down the site due to burnout in 2002. He then founded GameForms, another videogame site, which didn't have the success of its predecessors, and is also now defunct, which take fully responsibility of the sloppy leadership in the lack of success there.

During the run of those sites, he did freelance writing at magazines The Official Dreamcast Magazine and Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM). He also did freelance writing online at the Imagine Games Network (IGN). During that, he was also studying computer science and English at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

Now a contractor at Texas Instruments in corporate communications, doing marketing, market research, and web development, while also having a small start-up online media thing getting rolling on the side. At night, you can see him try to get crowds riled up at Dallas Mavericks NBA home games, he's the guy throwing all those tshirts!

[1] Paul: First, describe to us Andrew Kaufmann in 5 words.
Andrew: Innovation and creation meets nerd. At least, that's the way I like to look at myself; whether or not I'm successful at any of the above is up for debate. I look at things optimistically -- each experience helps build toward success at the next opportunity.

[2] Paul: We read reading this story at NPR you have to tell us the truth! Are you an Army major recently returned from Iraq?
Andrew: I'm afraid that's not me! Though that is an interesting story, eh? I do have the utmost respect for the soldiers overseas, however. I consider adventure a day at the gym playing basketbal, though.

[3] Paul: We managed to a certain Andrew Kaufmann at Biomedware is he a twin brother? =p
Andrew: Another case of mistaken identity... sorry! Making this interview tough, eh?

[4] Paul: What make you finally decided to cut your hair?
Andrew: I went to a Texas Rangers basebal game, in the middle of the day on a 100+ degree Texas summer day. You try sitting in the sun for 3 hours under a giant black mop that collects heat, and you'd cut it, too!

[5] Paul: Any favorite site or hang-outs?
Andrew: Too many to list! Lately, I've been all into the ABC show Lost. I float from Lost web forum to Lost web forum, reading every cockamamie theory out there. More regularly, I love reading Mark Cuban's blog -- even though I don't always agree with him. D Magazine has a great blog for Dallas residents, I also love Dave Barry, and he's one of my favorite authors -- so I always read his blog. I like browsing various sites at www.9rules.com, and am enjoying Scott Adams' new blog. I'm just finished reading "Fluke -- Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings" and am currently reading "Lamb -- the Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal" both by Christopher Moore. And I'm wasting far too much time playing
Civilization IV.

[6] Paul: What are you working as in Texas Instruments? It must be some top position, especially when you are guarded by a lady assassin at your front desk. Tell us a little more.
Andrew: Absolutely! About a year ago, I missed a few days of work to get a tooth removed that I broke playing basketbal. During those few days, the stock price dropped. Coincidence? I don't think so.

I'm essentially a jack of all trades in the worldwide communication services department. I do a little bit of everything, since I'm a young buck -- web development, a little writing, some marketing and market research, and a little project management. Essentially, whatever is overflowing on someone else's desk, I go after it.

Leslie is a very nice lady at the desk, you'd never guess she was a ninja. But you should see her pounce when someone tries to get into the building without their security badge.

[7] Paul: You are 26 years old and already have bachelors degrees in English (with a specialization in creative writing) and Computer Science from Southern Methodist University. Why not be a writer? Did you get both degrees at the same time at Southern Methodist University?
Andrew: I did get both degrees at the same time, doing some summer school along the way to stay on schedule. I do fancy myself a writer, and I've done magazine writing in the past, as well as being a columnist at SMU's school newspaper. Right now, I'm focusing mostly on web design and development, and watching this whole revitalization of the web page as a viable business prospect. I do plan on doing some more writing at some point in the future, I'm just not sure in what capacity. The novel interests me, but my first attempt during college was a bit of a flop. I've had more success with the shroter essay that's more suited for magazines and newspapers, and I hope to get back into that as a freelancer in the near future.

[8] Paul: Why lunar adventures? It's kinda of an interesting name.
Andrew: Thanks! I thought long and hard for 10 minutes on it. (Though I am struggling with coming up with a new for my web design / web media project... any suggestions out there?) My name is Andrew Kaufmann, my friends call me Andy. Andy Kaufman is the "Man on the Moon" -- the song about him written by REM, and the movie about him named that as well. REM is also my favorite band. So the whole "moon" theme fits. The site is me talking about my adventures through life, which mostly consists of deciding what type of dressing to get on my sandwich from Subway, but
makes for a cool title anyway.

[9] Paul: What makes you join the Mavericks Dr Pepper Hoop Troop? We gathered that you really love the Dallas Mavericks.
Andrew: I do indeed love the Mavericks! The opportunity came up to join the Hoop Troop, a group of glorified male cheerleaders, and I jumped on it. I love the idea of unity behind a sports team, and I've always wanted to be a part of that (I let a few opportunities slip in high school and college).

The Hoop Troop gives me that opportunity. It's not every day you get the chance to goof off and be silly in front of 20,000 people. I love watching the crowd get into a frenzy over the game, over the tshirts we might throw to them, over the dancers, whatever. It's a real thrill to be a part of the Mavericks team. I can't be a player, since I'm short and not that good at basketball. But I've been given the opportunity to be a part of the team in a different way, and it's been a marvelous experience so far. Except when people get upset that I didn't throw them
personally a tshirt. But it's still all good.

[10] Paul: Last question, you got to share with a short lesson on creative writing, we haven't had too many of these writers around.
Andrew: Any writer will tell you the only way to get better is to write, write, and write. The more, the better. And don't just write, but also read your writing a bit after you've written it -- wait long enough that you can look at the work objectively, and critique yourself. I always look back at things I wrote and think about how I could have improved it -- once it's published, you can't change it, but you can make your next work better.

I see creative works as having essentially 3 main facets -- the plot, the descriptions, and the characters. Good works of fiction have a balance between the three. A work with bad characters? Boring. Bad plot? Boring. Scenes you can't imagine because of weak descriptions? Boring. You have to have all three to have a successful work -- no matter what your medium. The novel, the short story, the play, the screenplay -- they're all different in their specializations and their implementation, but at the core, it all comes down to the same three basic facets. Shakespearean plays never had fancy descriptions of the environs, but characters left clues in their speech that brought their world alive to the viewer.

The next time you get bored while reading a book, try to identify where its shortcoming is, to you. Too much description, leading to a boring plot? A story that's all plot plot plot and cardboard characters? That can help you identify where your own shortcomings might be. For example, I get bored when I read books with what I deem is too much description. At the same time, description is the weakest part of my writing -- I'm better at plot than character. My personal sensibility gives description less weight as I write, but that doesn't mean I can ignore it.

Thanks so much for for the interview! Just want to add a Thanks to my parents for paying for the crazy tuition costs when I was at Southern Methodist University.


10 Questions with Flexo.

Flexo is a 29-year-old musician and thinker behind the Consumerism Commentary website.

[1] Paul: Describe to us Flexo in 5 words.
Paul: Creative, intelligent, emotional, musical, optimistic.

[2] Paul: By the way, what is your real name? Care to share more about yourself with us?
Paul: I would rather not share my real name explicitly, but these days it can be easily found through Consumerism Commentary for those who care to look. I'm a little protective of my identity as I'd rather not have people I know in real life discover the intimate details of my finances, as they are plastered throughout the website.

I'm a single guy almost 30, living in a rented apartment with my cat near Princeton, New Jersey. I enjoy traveling but I often find excuses to stay put; however, some of my family moved out to the west coast, and I try to visit them several times a year.

I've lived in this area of New Jersey for most of my life. Since I was very young I've had an interest in computers. Before the Internet became easily accessible by millions of people, I ran a bulletin board system (BBS) that many people from New Jersey would access by dialing with a modem connected to their own computer. That is when I discovered I enjoyed creating online communities.I shut the BBS down when I left for college, the University of Delaware, to study music education.

[3] Paul: You actually studied music education while an undergraduate in college? For real? What instruments can you really play?
Paul: For real. I play clarinet, saxophones, piano/keyboard, guitar, trumpet, other brass instruments, percussion, and samplers. I teach music and instruct different high school musical groups on occasion.

[4] Paul: Now we are abit confused, where and what do you actually work as in real life?
Paul: My day job is at a large financial company headquartered in Newark, NJ. That should be enough for the most astute readers to determine the company with a little research. I am currently an accounting associate in the corporate division.

[5] Paul: You actually been to Princeton when I was about 12? Tell us more about it.
Paul: My mother was a researcher working for the cognitive psychology department at the time. She got to work with some amazing people, like George A. Miller who is famous for his book, The Magic Number: Seven Plus or Minus Two. When she was assisting PhD students with their dissertation research, they often needed subjects to participate in cognition experiments. They always made a big deal about how I performed better than most of the undergrads they usually used for the experiments. :> Plus, they paid me $10 each time.

[6] Paul: What's with the Balance Sheet and Income Statement?
Paul: Well, simply, the balance sheet and income statement are two tools organizations use to evaluate their financial situation. Every individual needs to be aware of his or her situation as well, and this is a perfect way to do that. By posting my financial information online, I'm holding myself accountable to myself as well as my readers and fans. It's similar to how a public company must file its financial statements – the S.E.C. holds companies accountable.

[7] Paul: You have a long term retirement goal of a whopping $10 million? Why so much?
Paul: Why not? Actually, the $10 million goal was sort of a stab in the dark. But look at it this way: $10 million in future dollars will have the spending power of $2 to $3 million in 2005 dollars, due to expected inflation. If I were retiring right now and planning to live another 25-35 years, I would need that much money in order to maintain a certain (low) level of lifestyle for the remainder of my life. The estimate is probably pretty accurate for the time I'd like to retire.

[8] Paul: You are still abit off from your target of $50k by FY06. Now wat?
Paul: Well, I still have more than a year until the end of 2006. I think $50,000 is a reasonable goal. I may exceed the amount if I'm able to put in place some projects to generate additional passive income.

[9] Paul: Hm... If you are to give 3 advice to other out there on money matters, what would you tell us?
Paul: My first piece of advice is to seek a financial advisor for financial advice and not to trust bloggers - not even me. There are a lot of great blogs on the internet, and some are written by qualified financial planners and advisors, while some or not, though they pretend to be. People everywhere are looking to make money. If you look around the internet room and you don't see the sucker, chances are you're the sucker.

The second piece of advice for those who are serious about getting their personal finances in order is to start tracking all spending with software like Intuit Quicken or Microsoft Money. Both products have their shortcomings, but are still both better than anything else out there. Just getting into the habit of looking at your finances will make you aware of your own situation and you'll start to be able to pick things to improve easily.

Lastly, remember that money isn't the be-all, end-all to life. Rather than worshipping capitalism and materials, worship yourself, your friends and family, and whatever deeper beliefs you might have.

[10] Paul: Last question, any must read websites you can recommend to our readers?
Paul: Besides my own, of course, I would suggest several personal finance related blogs run by some of the great people I have met online, including MyMoneyBlog, Frugal For Life, savvy saver, and Blueprint for Financial Prosperity. There are so many others and I wish I could name them all. Beyond blogs, I suggest CNN/Money and The Kiplinger. Outside the world of personal finance, I would suggest BoingBoing, and MetaFilter.


10 Questions with Jeremy Wright.

Jeremy Wright is a serial entrepreneur, some have even said a blogpreneur for his focus on communications-oriented ventures. He has been involved in IT, programming and the business side of IT for nearly a decade. Jeremy is the President of b5media, a prominent blog network. He is the author of Blog Marketing, a business book on blogging and writes Ensight, a popular business and technology blog. Jeremy consults on blogging, communication, IT and time management. He is the father of two boys, Evan and Alex, and a semi decent husband to Shannon.

[1] Paul: First, describe to us Jeremy Wright in 5 words.
Jeremy : Blogger, author, consultant, father, drummer.

[2] Paul: We first read about you auctioning your blogging services at eBay, but the rest of your intro on 'being controversial on the Google IPO' and 'being accosted by US border guards' we did not manage to hear about it, care to share with us more about it?
Jeremy : Haha. It's funny. I find that people know me for one or two things, but very few folk (besides friends and blog readers) know about all of my misadventures. Some might say I'm blessed, others might say cursed, in that I've been involved in a number of controversies that have garnered various degrees of media attention.

About a year before the Google happened, back when it was still very much a rumor, I wrote a post which basically said that the current downturn would be violently turned around by the Google IPO. To such an extent that new mergers and acquisitions would happen at a dramatic pace, new venture finances would go into small and silly businesses and effectively we'd have a new bubble all over again.

While I was technically right, so far the bubble hasn't been all that negative - it's largely remained fairly healthy. However, for about 6 months, about half of the newspaper stories that ran a bit about the Google IPO included a byline that I was firmly against it happening due to fears of a new bubble.

The US border guards story isn't one I talk about much anymore (in fact, I should remove it from the sidebar). The long and short of it was that there was a major misunderstanding at the US border, where I was threatened and treated unfairly. It's over now, but it got more press than anything I'd done until then or anything I've done since.

[3] Paul: You even wrote a book 'Blog Marketing', what got you started on this?
Jeremy : In May of 2004, I (off the cuff) said that there needed to be a book for businesses on why blogging mattered. At the time, everyone thought it was a stupid idea. 6 months later, though, the entire climate had changed. I'd become more prominent, and many more bloggers began to realize that businesses could in fact use blogs in really great ways.

I pitched the book, with my agent, got a deal with McGraw-Hill and the book is coming out December 1st, at booksellers across North America.

The book is really about helping businesses understand blogging, helping them get into the right mindset and helping them develop an effect strategy for using blogs.

[4] Paul: You are the President of b5media, for those who are not familiar with b5media, want to tell us more about what b5media does?
Jeremy : b5media is a blogging network. In many ways it's similar to the large networks like Weblogs, Inc. and Gawker Media. However, where those networks focus on creating massive amounts of content, we prefer to focus on empowering our bloggers to express their passions. We don't really set out to start blogs, we just set out to find great bloggers with lots of passion who want a solid platform to talk to a larger audience.

We launched in September with 15 blogs, merged with About Weblogs in October and we now have about 60 blogs under the b5media banner, with the intent of growing to between 80-100 blogs by the end of the year.

[5] Paul: You have quite a number of weblogs under your name, which are the most famous few?
Jeremy : Beyond a doubt, Ensight is the most famous, because it's the one referred to in most stories. I also received a fair amount of press this summer when I sold WealthyBlogger. And earlier in 2005 when I started InsideBlogging, the world's first blog consulting company. I've also been involved in a number of other projects from b5media to running a hosting company to helping numerous tech companies get off the ground... I try and stay busy!

[6] Paul: For those of us, who wants to start a blogging network, any advice you would give to them?
Jeremy : My best advice is to reconsider. Doing a blogging network is a crazy amount of work. More than I imagined, and more than any of the 5 founders of b5 imagined. Even with all of us working our butts off, there is still too much to do.

But, if you're really set on doing a blogging network, make it niche. Very niche. The more the better. And produce the best content in blogging on your subject matter - don't just repost other people's stuff.

Beyond that, be passionate, care about people, don't be afraid to make mistakes (or admit to them when you make them) and be in it for the long haul. Blogging networks aren't get-rich-quick schemes, nor are they for the lazy.

[7] Paul: We haven't really been a President of any company before, do you mind sharing with us a day in the life of a President? =p
Jeremy : I get up later than I want, because the alarm clock isn't anywhere near annoying enough. I catch up on emails, any outstanding b5media issues (all the partners are in Australia, while I'm in Canada, so early morning and late evening are the only times we connect), read blogs and have breakfast. Then I 'get ready for work' and I typically start my real work at about 10am (having been up for 2-3 hours).

My morning is typically filled with doing whatever work the Aussies couldn't take care of, while my afternoon is spent talking, talking and talking. I talk to new bloggers, I talk to the press, I talk to advertisers and I talk to myself (when nobody else wants to talk to me).

I swear my jaw is the only part of my body burning any real calories.

I'll also go to conferences, talk to a variety of current and potential partners, spend time evaluating the network, be talking (there I go again!) to current bloggers about issues, thoughts they have, help they need, etc.

It isn't very glorious, but it fits my personality and experience!

[8] Paul: Any exciting projects we can expect from you in the coming months?
Jeremy : Besides Blog Marketing, b5media and another book? Maybe, but maybe not. If b5media continues to grow, I'll likely begin devoting myself to it full-time, which could be very interesting.

[9] Paul: On a lighter note, we read about ProBlogger bought a house from money made from blogging, what have you got yourself?
Jeremy : A puppy. Truth be told, blogging pays all my bills. So blogging has bought me and my family our livelihood. Oh, and our car.

[10] Paul: Last question, any favourite websites you particular like? Why?
Jeremy : Oooh. http://tech.memeorandum.com, because anything my feeds don't catch it does and http://www.scobleizer.com, because Robert's a good friend that I enjoy telling off.

Beyond that, I read about 200 blogs a day, some of which I'm sure I enjoy more than others (like the comics). I'm not sure I visit many other 'websites', that don't show up in my feeds, very often.


10 Questions with Frederico Oliveira.

Frederico Oliveira born 16 dec 1982 in Coimbra, Portugal. Previously extremely active in Open Source Initiative and computer security communities. Since he has been working on information systems, web design and consulting for some years now. He is the guy behind design for TechCrunch. He also work with a limited number of clients in creating better websites and user-centered web applications at WeBreakStuff.

[1] Paul: First, describe to us Frederico Oliveira in 5 words.
Frederico: Information Obsessed Web Design Advocate.

[2] Paul: Considering the excellent web design works you have done so far, we know very little about you, care to share with us more about yourself? Anything will do really, e.g. studies, skills, etc.
Frederico: Sure. One of the first things people approach me as is a designer, which is something I don't consider myself as. I'm finishing my Computer Science degree at the moment, and the one thing I could assert as a fact is that I love to deal with information, either visually through web-design or experimental interactive pieces (that up until now I didn't allow that many people to see), or textually through programming and web development. A lot of my work goes around that concept of information handling.

Despite the fact that I don't consider myself a designer per se though, I do practice web design and information architecture consulting, because both interconnect to the things I love to do and research on. I happen to be fortunate enough to be able to produce what people see as good work in those fields. It's good to get positive feedback from something I love to do. It keeps me from stopping.

Besides the fact that this is what I do for a living, I do a lot of other things like music production, illustration and writing. A lot of things I do and did are still unknown to most people, but that's part of all the fun.

[3] Paul: Where are you located really? Portugal? What is it like there?
Frederico: Right now I'm back in Portugal after two great months in California, dealing with some of the brightest people I know, and working on pretty exciting stuff. The reason I decided to come back plays into the second part of your question: it's great out here, and I hope to take a stance in changing this country. Let me explain why:

Portugal is a great, peaceful place to live. Great weather and great people. The thing we lack though, is people who actually have the courage to try and push the boundaries and limitations of a people who is still waking up to IT world. That's what I plan to change to the extent of my personal strength. I know we have the right people and the right skills, we just don't have the entrepreneurship. Yet.

So, the quick answer would be: Its great out here and I'm trying to do my part in making it even better.

[4] Paul: A lot of your web work revolves around a user-centered approach, why do you think it is important?
Frederico: If not to serve people, why does the web exist? Most of my work is thinking about what makes sense to the user, how and when. Design that thinks about the user is better design; programming that things about the user is better programming. It's a matter of methodology, but I believe it produces far better work.

If something - let's say a website, for the sake of simplicity - is as easy to use and thought of as possible, users will be happier using the system and feel like they're accomplishing something. This means, in marketing lingo, a high return of investment (ROI). Users make the world and the web go around - it should never be the other way around.

[5] Paul: Tell us what exactly is Web 2.0?
Frederico: Web 2.0 is about allowing people to use, reuse and create content, whether on blogs, photo sharing sites, or by developing the next cool app on top of web services. Web 2.0 (which is really wearing out as a definition) is about allowing people to 'do' and 'act' instead of 'reading' and 'assimilating' exclusively. On top of all that, it's an undeniable new world of innovation in several fields.

[6] Paul: Your latest work has to be TechCrunch, how did you came up with this layout and design? It's excellent!
Frederico: First of all, thank you. TechCrunch is a long story. To put it short, a site like TechCrunch needs three things: a proper layout to get people to 'use it', a structure that makes sense for it's kind of content and the right content itself. I had a role in all three of those. I don't have a specific answer to how it came about because my design process is organic - it just happens. I could show you screenshots I take automatically during my development and you'd see the site went through several iterations before the one you can now see live on the web.

Ultimately I stop when I feel it is both appealing visually and makes sense from an information organization point of view. Techcrunch is not brilliant work from a 'webdesign' perspective - I still feel and hope that my best piece of information design and web-development is to come - but it does get it's job done, which is what's ultimately important. I am happy about it and from the website numbers, I know users are too. It's gratifying to see it's worked out so well.

[7] Paul: Any advice for inspiring designers out there?
Frederico: My best piece of advice would be to think as a user first, designer later. Ultimately a site can have big bells and whistles and still be lousy if it doesn't fulfill it's purpose. Information first, visuals later. Repeat it with me.

[8] Paul: Anything we can expect from you in the coming months?
Frederico: A few things, to be honest. We will be launching Edgeio very soon, which promises to be a success given the feedback we're getting from the right people in the right places. It's a really good idea with a very good execution - which is the great thing about working with a great team. That's the big "web 2.0" service I'm building right now.

Apart from Edgeio, I'm working on some new web-based products that have been on the back-burner for a while, and am seriously thinking about expanding WeBreakStuff to a full team doing work on web development, design and consulting - it may not even happen with the same name, but the idea is out there.

[9] Paul: Just wondering how did you come up with the url WeBreakStuff?
Frederico: I get asked that so many times you wouldn't believe. WeBreakStuff is a reminder that experimenting with things (and eventually breaking them) is what makes us learn and evolve. Breaking things and reacting to mistakes and errors is what produces genious work and products. Were you expecting something more drastic? That's all there is to it :-)

[10] Paul: Last questions, any favorite websites you absolutely adored?
Frederico: Any website that inspires or that is brilliantly executed. I could name a few but that would mean I'd have favorites, which I personally don't. There's a lot of great stuff out there in a lot of different areas, you just need to find it. Usually if something ends up in my bookmarks, its because it has something I deeply love.


10 Questions with Todd Dominey.

Todd Dominey is the founder and creative honcho of the Atlanta based new media design and development studio Dominey Design, which has provided a variety of web related services for clients such as Turner Sports Interactive, Blogger, The Washington Post, Budweiser, etc.

[1] Paul: First, describe to us Todd Dominey in 5 words.
Todd: Tall, tenacious, obsessive, creative, entrepreneur.

[2] Paul: You are the creative behind Atlanta based new media design and development studio Dominey Design, exactly what can Dominey Design offer customers?
Todd: A deliverable that exceeds expectations, and the one-on-one level of communication that only comes with a sole proprietor (as opposed to a large agency). That's one of the motivating things about using your last name as the name of your business, for the two are inextricably linked. Do good work, and you bolster not only your business but your own visibility and name recognition. Do poor work, and the inverse is true. I've never 'lost' a client to someone else, so I guess I'm doing something right.

[3] Paul: Your award winning design of the original Dominey Design is an interactive and innovative experience for users. Can you share with us the process you went through to come up with this idea of representing Dominey Design and which are the awards that it won?
Todd: I went through about 3 different designs for Dominey Design back in 2000, and none of them felt right. They were all either too cliche, stale, or flat. The 'a-ha!' moment came after seeing the work of Future Farmers. I realized that, hey - here's a successful business with solid clientele and their web site is anything but business. It was playful, vibrant, and challenging.

So I tossed everything and decided I wasn't going to think about it anymore. I was going to get silly, design whatever came to mind. If some of it was usable, great. If not, so what? I was unemployed, working freelance, and with dot-bombs dropping all around I had nothing but time. I made some retro motel signage, played around with
type, added some foothills underneath for them to stand on, and...hey!...what's this?

I pushed it out there and the response was phenomenal. The site received a variety of 'web site of the day' awards from various Flash scene sites, and was linked to from some very notable web developers (some that I consider friends today).

The site was never finished, but that's okay. It was a huge learning experience for me, and played a big role in where I am today.

[4] Paul: By the way, we absolutely love your SlideShowPro product too, can we expect something similar from you anytime in the near future?
Todd: Absolutely! There will be a SlideShowPro 2 down the road, but whether
I'll have time to develop a totally-new component remains to be seen. I can only develop something if I know I'm going to take it all the way. In other words, not just a good component, but a well-written user guide, good branding, solid design, all those things that are so easy to overlook when your head is wrapped around code.

[5] Paul: SlideShowPro cost just a mere $20, are you joking us? Isn't too cheap for you to turn a profit?
Todd: Well, that would depend on how many you sell! If you're talking a few hundred, then yes. But 5,000? 20,000? Pretty soon you're talking real money. I purposely priced it lower than a lot of Flash components out there because, frankly, I think a lot of them are too expensive for what they do. I mean, I use desktop applications that are far more complex than any Flash component and they're less expensive. So I
used that as my benchmark for SlideShowPro -- high enough to earn a profit, but low enough so that just about anyone with a copy of Flash could buy it.

[6] Paul: SlideShowPro is one fine product, any specific product/applications out there catches your eyes? Why?
Todd: I use Backpack from 37 Signals every day, and am also a big fan of Blinksale, the online invoice application. I use it for all my billing now instead of desktop apps, which are usually too complex for their own good. As far as non-browser-based apps, I'm a big fan of Linotype FontExplorer X (which is absolutely going to kill Extensis Suitcase), TextMate for ActionScript development, and the new OmniGraffle Professional 4.0 for workflow diagrams. All those are for OS X, which I use 99% of the time for all my work.

[7] Paul: Other than writing the book 'Professional CSS', is there any other articles out there that's written by you? Also which do you prefer, writing or web design?
Todd: Pretty much everything I've written is at What Do I Know . I've been posting content there pretty regularly for over four years now, and I'm still not bored with it. As for which I prefer -- design or writing -- writing is more therapeutic and less stressful than design, but design provides a greater depth of satisfaction. I'm usually in a good mood when writing, but the inverse is true for design. I can be a miserable bastard when something isn't 'snapping' creatively the way it should be. Sometimes it takes days to get a feeling for what it is you're tasked to do, but then when it all falls into place and you feel that current -- like someone just turned on the lights in the room -- the last thing you want to do is unplug or go to sleep. Those multi-hour design marathons where everything is just flowing are so wonderful. If only every day were like that.

[8] Paul: Your designs are all fair neat and clean, are you really that way
in person too? =p

Todd: These days, yes, but I wasn't always that way. I used to be pretty messy, with bad eating habits and an insatiable craving for cigarettes, and my living space reflected that. I always purchased the cheapest versions of anything whenever I spent money, which was partially because I didn't have a lot of expendable income, but also
because I didn't know better. And of course all those objects either broke or grew very unpleasant to look at. So I learned over time to temper consumption, save money, and spend it on fewer items of a much higher quality. Less clutter, better stuff.

[9] Paul: Tell us something that we don't know about Todd Dominey.
Todd: I own chickenbicuit.com. Someday it will make me rich.

[10] Paul: Last question, if we were to find you online, where can we go? Any
favorite hunt?

Todd: Well, if you're looking for a little pain, you could fire up Unreal Tournament 2004 and look around for player named "GoldChains." That's my handle, which is borrowed from the hip-hop artist of the same name.


10 Questions with John.

We only know John is the guy behind the original, popular and uber famous FUCKTARD Bush Head Tee at strk3.com.

[1] Paul: First, describe to us John in 5 words.
John: Common F*cking Sense Uber Alles.

Paul: Ok, but we hardly know you still, care to describe to us John in more than 5 words?
John: I don't like to pigeonhole my views, since it's an easy way to strawman oneself right out of the gate, but if I had to self-describe with a label, I suppose I would be a Secular-Progressive-Constitutionalist.

[2] Paul: Which is your best design at strk3.com? Why?
John: Best design? I guess that begs the meaning of the word 'Best'. I think the best artwork is on the 'Comrade Stalin' shirt. The best humor would be on the Lenin designs, where he's dressed up like a pimp, or placed alongside the palm trees and the muscle car. I think those are really in the spirit of Warhol or Lichtenstein. The best current-events shirt would be the 'Viva La Evolucion' shirt - it makes a statement about the whole Intelligent Design discussion, but it's also a kick-ass Planet of the Apes reference.

[3] Paul: Which is your best selling design so far?
John: Surprisingly, the best-selling design right now is the Bush head cutaway with the tiny brain. People love getting that on a totebag. The Federal Reserve shirt sells quite a bit too. Mostly on the organic cotton tees.

Funny enough, this store in my neighborhood has recently started carrying a version of the 'Bush & Crossbones' shirt. I usually don't get too bent if I see someone using the same ideas that I have - If there's one thing I've learned in art, no matter how original you think you are, there's always some other person out there with the same ideas.

[4] Paul: We are starting to get the feeling that you do not really like President Bush here? Is it true? Why?
John: With most political figures, you really need to separate the person from the policy. As anyone with a modicum of common sense can see, Bush has terrible policy. He's not fiscally conservative. His foreign policy is completely grab-ass. Separation of church and state under his administration is a farce. The portions of his policy that aren't hastily thrown together, or drawn up with the help of Jesus, are handed to him pre-written by large corporate interests.

His 'energy policy' which allows you a 100% tax write-off if you buy a HUMMER (or similar-size SUV), while only allowing a $3,000 tax credit for a hybrid vehicle, was mostly put together by energy-industry insiders. He wants to open up the Alaskan Wilderness for irrevocable damage and destruction so we can extract a paltry 30-months worth of oil. (Annual US consumption is 7 billion bbl., the Alaskan Wilderness holds a maimum of 18 billion bbl.)

His judgement of personal ability isn't much better. While I accept the winning candidate may reward certain key players in his campaign with cushy jobs, Bush goes far beyond that. His administration as a whole can be described in two words: rampant cronyism. It's one thing to appoint an incompetent as, say, ambassador to Luxembourg - or maybe as deputy assistant to the secretary of the interior. It's another thing entirely to be appointing these imbeciles to the Supreme Court (Harriet Miers), or placing them in charge of FEMA (Mike Brown).

I think it's really sad that you see working-class Americans voting against their interests in support of Bush/Cheney because they feel like he's their friend when they see him on TV wearing a cowboy hat. Or voting against their interests because they want to 'teach those libruls a lesson.' You know what? When gas is $3.20 a gallon, your kids are dying in Iraq for no reason, the country is falling apart, your uncle is dying of Parkinson's because we can't properly research stem cells, and your elderly parents have their nest egg legally stolen out from under them, I don't think 'teaching those libruls a lesson' should really be your top priority. Hell, even if you have a mental block against voting Democrat, at least pick a Republican that actually wants to be President, like McCain. If McCain were president, we'd be in a far better place as a nation.

When it really comes down to it, a President's role as steward of the nation is best judged by the experience of the little guy. And at every turn in the road, Bush has allowed (or encouraged) the little guy to get screwed. Enron wasn't a one-time occurrence. There's Worldcom. There's Delta and Northwest ditching their pension obligations (you'll see a lot more of that coming up-- note the fiscal condition of the PBGC). These people lost their retirement. They lost what they've worked for their entire lives. He'd completely gut Social Security if he could. I think Bush said it best himself when speaking to a room full of wealthy 'haves and have mores.' He said 'some call you the elite, i call you my base.'

I mentioned before a separation of the person from the policy when discussing political figures. I'd like to say that I really don't dislike Bush as a person; that I just disagree with his policy. I really would. I'd like to say that if he were a regular joe co-worker, he and I could get along. But then, when you look at what he does privately, you realize he's kind of a dick as a regular person.

Bush has no respect for the law (ref: his 1976 DUI). He's a man that has no respect for personal property rights (ref: the eminent domain seizure of the Mathes family land in Texas for personal profit). He's a man that will dress up in a flight suit at a staged media event, making a complete mockery of the brave servicemembers who have died in Iraq. He's a man that covets Saddam's pistol as a personal trophy-- as if he went over there and got it himself.

Bush as President is maladroit at best. Bush the person is the dictionary-definition example of a sociopath. That pretty much sums it up.

[5] Paul: Alright enough about President Bush, now where else can we go to buy your design?
John: They're on spreadshirt.com, and on cafepress. I'm working on getting a screenprinter set up, possibly something like Cinderblock.

[6] Paul: Your illustrations are quite unique really, where did you pick your illustration skills?
John: There's plenty of people that really blow me away. Jenn Borton's stuff for example is really good.

I've always drawn stuff, or enjoyed making things with my hands. I picked up a copy of Illustrator about 13 years ago, and started tinkering with that. I picked up Photoshop around the same time ('92-'93). I used to run Photoshop on a 486dx with 16 megs of RAM. With the new Adobe CS2, I now do about 90% of my work in Illustrator. I can't recommend a class or a book really, since I've learned everything piecemeal as I went along. The trick with learning anything is to do it every day, and you'll constantly improve.

[7] Paul: So what do you really do for a living?
John: I work in an undisclosed capacity in the Marketing Group for an undisclosed company. Kind of a non-answer, isn't it? What matters is that I get to mess around in Illustrator and Photoshop all day, and they pay me for it. Getting paid to do what you like to do is the best kind of job to have.

[8] Paul: Do you really make money from online stores selling tees? Which online stores do you recommend us if we are to start a online store?
John: Well, the main bulk of the money on the CafePressshirts goes to CafePress. Markup is only a couple dollars or so per item. I make enough to cover the CafePress store fee, hosting, and bandwidth costs, which add up because I'm pretty lax about allowing people to hotlink the images on the site. If someone likes my designs enough to post them places, or use them in their sig on a forum, I think that's great. It gets the ideas out there, and the humorous ones make people laugh. My main goal for this is that it's a personal playground for ideas, since I don't get to explore these types of ideas and imagery at work.

If I sat down and set up a site with CC processing, shopping cart, and had a screenprinter print up batches of shirts, the volume of shirts at $19 would be an okay amount compared to the overhead. The thing is, with my day-job obligations, I don't think it would work on the customer-side of things. I travel a lot for what I do, so if I have to be out of the state for a month to work on a project, that's a month where I wouldn't be able to take orders and mail shirts.

I've been shopping online enough to know that when people order something, they want it as quickly as possible, with as little hassle as possible. That's why I stick with services like Spreadshirt.

[9] Paul: Any new designs we can expect from you in the coming weeks?
John: I've got a few things in the works. I have to finish up a Bruce Lee shirt, and a Mr. T. Shirt. There's also a lot of stuff going up on Spreadshirt. They've got great product, and really kickass customer service. Further than that, I'll be doing a lot more posters and stickers on both Spreadshirt and Cafepress.

[10] Paul: Finally, any favorite websites of yours?
John: I've read boingboing.net since its inception. I also read Slashdot on a daily basis, Penny Arcade is a kickass online comic, I read Fark, and AnandTech. Pretty much your standard techie website list.


10 Questions with JD Hodges.

JD Hodges together with my friends Ronnie and Murali are the folks behind the very successful Weblogs.us website. The goal with Weblogs.us is to do the setup and hosting for people that want a powerful blog but need some help. So far Weblogs.us hosts over a thousand free blogs.

[1] Paul: First, care to share with us, what does JD in your initial JD Hodges stands for?
JD: Jay Donaldson. =)

[2] Paul: You together with Ronnie and Murali actually set up blogs for non-commercial bloggers and do not even charge a nickel for what you do, are you guys for real? Why even bother?
JD: Yeah, we're for real :-) We do it because we can... I started by hosting ONE blog for my girlfriend Brandy then it just snowballed from there.

[3] Paul: Do you have any ideas the number of users you have on weblogs.us? Seems like you have quite a handful of people there.
JD: Over the years we've setup about 2000 blogs. I would guess right now there are a couple hundred active users. We've had users from all over the world, as a matter of fact MOST of the people that have signed up are from outside the US.

[4] Paul: Do you know that weblogs.us is worth $222,471,586.41 by blogshares.com and the price is going up by the minute? I guess that make you a billionaire, tell us how does it feel to be a billionaire?
JD: Wow, I haven't been to blogshares.com in a while! Thanks for letting me know about my billionaire status; it feels good but I think I'll cash in my shares now ;-)

[5] Paul: From the grades we saw for your law degree, you are doing quite well in this law thingy, any big plans for the future to be next Alan Shore or Denny Crane?
JD: Thanks for the compliment! And to be honest I don't know either of those names, but my big plans are all internet related... When I started law school it was kind of a plan B, just in case my internet plans didn't pan out (i.e. if I couldn't survive via the web, a law degree would be handy.) Now the law degree has turned into a real asset because of all the legal issues in being online (copyright/trademark/P2P/intellectual property etc.) My websites (not weblogs.us!) have paid for my education and my savings. NOTE: If I could (ideally) be like somebody in the legal field, it would probably be Laurence Lessig.

[6] Paul: Other than weblogs.us, are you working on anything right now? Anything we can expect from you in the near future?
JD: Ohh, I'm always working on things. Here's a sample, http://www.searchbuild.com/10-questions.blogspot.com That website will automatically track the number of webpages Google and MSN have indexed for any particular domain. http://www.searchbuild.com/www.jdhodges.com As you can tell, it's rather rough and ugly at the moment, but it will be better soon? NOTE: I had a goal of 1,000,000 of my webpages indexed by Google, then Google indexed TOO many of my pages (even the one's I had set as 'noindex') so now I am purposely reducing the number of pages that I have in their index.)

I have another more exciting project that is similar to DigitalPoint.com's keyword tracker, but my project is more an INDUSTRY tracker. For instance you could track the 'interview' field and see you (and other websites) rank over time for keywords like 'interesting interviews' or 'top 10 interview questions' etc.

Paul: I guess I will have to work on indexing for 10 Questions now. =( Haha.

[7] Paul: Describe to us JD Hodges in 5 words.
JD: Happy. Busy. Interested. Excited. Thankful.

[8] Paul: We all love to gossip, so you have to share with us, how did you meet a certain Brandy woman?
JD: We met at my college apartment in undergrad. I bough her some beer and kept the change. She tracked me down and demanded her change back. The next day we happened to go on a film trip together, after that trip I knew she was a cool girl! Since then we've had fun traveling and just being around each other. She is a wonderful person!

[9] Paul: Last two questions, if we were to find you, where can we go to find you? Any favorite hunt?
JD: You can find me at El Torro, it is a cheap (but good) Mexican restaurant about two miles from my apartment. I ride my bike there a lot. NOTE: once I'm out of school, you'll find me someplace in the country (away from the city.) Ohh, you might also find me at CompUSA here in Tulsa. I LOVE looking at all the tech goodies they have there (plus there is a good sushi place nearby.)

[10] Paul: Finally, any thing you want to tell our readers out there, we never knew about you.
JD: Here are three things: I am #1 in the world for swimsuit photography on Google. #2 Though born and raised in Oklahoma/Missouri I have spent 24 of my 25 summers in Colorado (the Rocky Mountaints). Thank you for having me as a guest on your website and I wish you the best of luck!


10 Questions with Keith Robinson.

D. Keith Robinson is a writer, designer, artist, publisher, etc. with a background in user-centered Web design, Web standards-based development and Web content. He live in Seattle, Washington, and have been a working Web professional for going on 10 years now. He is currently a Principle and the Creative Director for Blue Flavor, an experience and Web design consultancy in Seattle. His interests include online publishing and community, photography, fiction, information architecture, music and design. You'll find discussions on all of those things and more here at Asterisk*

[1] Paul: First of all, what's with the Dr in front of your name? You are really a professor or something?
Keith: Hehe. Actually it's just a simple 'D'. It is my first initial, for 'David.'

[2] Paul: Beside being a writer, designer, artist, publisher and creative director for Blue Flavor, what else have you tried that we don't know? Singing, dancing maybe.
Keith: Oh yeah, lots of things. I'm trying something new all the time. I used to be a DJ back in the late 80's and early 90's. I've still got my decks and a whole bunch of records. I've tried, several times, to write a novel. I think I need a bit more maturity and a bit less of an attention span problem. Maybe, once I've tired (or retired?) from the ever growing distraction that is the Web I'll try my hand at being a serious novelist.

[3] Paul: How did you ever manage to get the job as an associate editor with Lifehacker? That's like the dream job for me, you have to got to tell me how to get that job!
Keith: Well, I think it was because of To-Done. I'd been writing there for awhile, on similar topics, and Gina, Lifehacker's editor, became a fan of my writing. She asked me to fill in a few times and Lockhart, Gawker Media's Editor in Chief, thought I did a good job.

[4] Paul: You are also the owner of To-Done & iPodarmy, what's up with these websites? Tell us more about them.
Keith: HehE. Well iPodarmy was a music podcast I was doing. I've since killed that project as it took up too much of my time. It was fun while it lasted and I may revisit the idea in the future. To-Done is a publication I run that focuses on productivity and work/life balance. It was started on a whim but it covers subject matter I've got lots of thoughts about.

[5] Paul: From all the articles you have written so far, you are quite an excellent writer, which is your best article so far? Why?
Keith: First of all, thanks for the kind words, I really appreciate it. So which is my best so far? I don't know. You've read some, you tell me! Seriously though, it's really hard for me to try and put a finger on which one I've liked the best. The main reason being I write on so many different topics to so many different audiences that it's hard to gauge.

Awhile back I wrote an article on Search Engine Optimization for Marketing News and I think that one was kind of a high point. It was providing good, honest information about SEO to an audience that really needed it. Oh, and it was in print, which is a huge plus for a Web guy.

[6] Paul: Blue Flavor is something that's started recently? Whose idea is it? Why start it only now?
Keith: We started very recently. The idea was a combined one. I began talking to my partners Nick Finck and Brian Fling separately about teaming up on some freelance gigs and we began to explore the idea of doing something a bit bigger. I pulled those two in and we really got going on it.

We added a fourth guy, Matt May and decided to make it official. We all have a passion for the Web, we love our work and want to do provided what we think is a special blend of services. So far it's going well, but we're still pretty new and I expect lots more to come.

[7] Paul: What does a creative director in Blue Flavor does in a day?
Keith: Well, I don't know yet really as we're still getting started. I spend a good portion of my day right now doing business development. This means writing proposals, going to meetings and making sales calls. I've also got a fair amount of client work that I'm working on. I've been doing everything from hands-on design to higher-level consulting. Then, of course, there is my writing and taking take of all the little business things that come up. I'm hoping, at some point, to be able to focus more on client work and maybe bring on some help to take some of the business aspects off my plate. But we'll see how it goes.

[8] Paul: In your job, you must have seen quite a handful of websites, any particular websites catches your eyes recently?
Keith: Let's see. I assume you're talking design eh? Well, to be honest nothing jumps to mind. There's lots of great design out there and I'm kind of a content first person when it comes to the sites I'm really into. I really loved Derek Powazek's redesign. It's very content focused yet has lots of style also. A List Apart's latest design was quite nice also. When I want a laugh I've been hitting Girlspoke. I'm quite sure I'm really in their 'target audience' but who cares, they make me laugh.

[9] Paul: Last two questions, any exciting new projects we can expect from you in the near future?
Keith: Of course. I've had to put most of my personal stuff on hold, but Blue Flavor is busy. We're doing a bit of work with Geffen Records that has been pretty interesting and we've got several larger projects looming. I wish I could fill you in on the details, but we're not far enough along on anything yet. Lots of potential out there for good work, though, that's for sure.

[10] Paul: Finally, describe to us Keith Robinson in 5 words.
Keith: A Fun Loving Web Guy.


10 Questions with Edvard Scott.

Edvard Scott operates his little one-man-studio from the usually cold country of Sweden (slightly larger than California). Scott started doing illustrations and design back in 2004 and has since then been involved in numerous projects; both as a freelance designer and with Stockholm Design Lab, where he's currently employed. The projects have reached thru many different categories; Scott has worked with everything from basic illustrations to major corporate identities, as well as motion graphics and magazine layouts. Scott is always trying to break new ground with projects in all forms, shapes and sizes.

[1] Paul: First, describe to us Edvard Scott in 5 words?
Edvard: Relaxed. Learning. Positive. Interested. Tall.

[2] Paul: For those of us who have never been to Sweden, tell us a little more
about the country.

Edvard: Temperate in south with cold, cloudy winters and cool, partly cloudy summers; sub arctic in north. Estimated population of 9,001,774. It's a pretty nice country.

[3] Paul: Care to share with our readers, an average day in the life of Edvard

Edvard: Let's see. I wake up sometime around 7.00 eat some breakfast and shower. Get dressed, put my headphones on and start a tune on my iPod Nano. Then I walk to work (Stockholm Design Lab) in the morning cold, it takes about 33 minutes. Then it's time for 'designing', which I do all day long, from nine-o-clock till six. I also have some lunch and a couple of coffee breaks. Then I walk home, takes a little longer. Then I eat dinner, read my thousands of fan mails (Yeah right!) and then I work on my personal projects (those shown on edvardscott.com). And then I go to bed. And wake up and then it's the same story all over. I also squeeze in a couple of friends between my working hours.

[4] Paul: You done quite a fair bit of illustration works, how did you get started doing illustrations and design back in 2004?
Edvard: I'm not completely sure, I think I just started to draw/design and I haven't stopped yet. I find it entertaining/educating and therefore I keep on doing it.

[5] Paul: To date, you have completed numerous projects, which is your best work so far? Why?
Edvard: My best work? That's a hard one. I love a lot of the stuff I've done but I'm especially proud of the Black Day to freedom piece I did. Why? You'll have to figure that out for yourselves. Check out blackdaytofreedom.org.

[6] Paul: Any exciting new projects we can expect from you in the near future?
Edvard: Oh yes. I'm working with 'fashion' now. You'll see the result in a near future. The only thing I can say is Japan and Italy. Hopefully everything will turn out really good.

[7] Paul: Side topic here, if we were to visit Sweden, any places of interest you recommend we must
definitely go?

Edvard: To be honest I haven't travelled that much in Sweden but I know my Stockholm pretty good. I both hate and love Stockholm; in one way it's a lovely place (it just is) and in many other is blows. I have a close friend that tells me very often that Stockholm is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and you know what, he's right about that. Some more skyscrapers and I'll be satisfied.

[8] Paul: Just wondering, have you ever heard of Singapore? Ever been there before?
Edvard: I visited Singapore for a couple of days not to long ago. In many ways it was truly interesting. I can't really say too much about it, I wasn't there more than a few days. I did party at this mad place tough, I think it was called Zouk.

[9] Paul: Any favourite websites?
Edvard: I'll cite a few: joshuadavis.com, presstube.com, universaleverything.com,

[10] Paul: Finally, any designers out there you particular admired? Why?
Edvard: There are a lot of designers I admire. Right now I've been checking the work of former employees of The Designers Republic, guys like Michael C Place, Bob Sanderson and Matt Pyke. Also let's never forget the work of the brilliant oldies, Paul Rand, Hans Rudolf Bosshard, Armin Hoffman. I also really like the work of Peter Saville and Nick Knight (photographer). I can go on for hours about this so let's leave it at this.