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From The Desk of . . .

Glitter and Glamour

Fashion and Fame

are not words I would use to describe me.

Holiday Gift Guide 2014 - Part 1

Aaron Clay

Sure, I'm giving ideas about what to get the geek in your life for the holidays but it's also my own personal wishlist!


Hue Lighting System/Bulbs

I was very fortunate to recieve the Philips Hue System an four bulbs last year. I installed them in my office and love them. The first time you install them you use the most saturated colors you can use but after time you have the ability to find what works best for you.

This year I want to install four bulbs in the bedroom and one in the lampshade. I'll be the cool kid at the party.

Bonus check out these IFTTT recipes using Hue lights.

Alright, check back soon for more ideas!

The Why

Aaron Clay

I was brainstorming my next blog topic today and I realized that I haven’t created my, “why,” yet. Watch this TED Talk (beautiful site redesign by the way) on the power of WHY from Simon Sinek. I knew that I needed to create my why for this blog. So here is draft 1:

I blog because I want to share my passion for technology, food, communication and collaboration.

  • Technology: Being able to do anything quickly and with a simple tool, in a small way makes me happy.
  • Food: I love to eat it and I love try new things why not write about it?
  • Communication: I do this everyday. It’s my “day job”, and there are so many ways of contributing meaningful dialogue to the world. I would love to talk about that.
  • Collaboration: The way we work as humans to achieve a shared goal is mesmerizing. I want to talk about ways that I collaborate and the tools and techniques I use. A lot of it stems back from when I was in theater. Theater is a center for great collaboration.

Working with Mac Apps

Aaron Clay

Screenshot 2014-06-13 22.25.10.png

For the next 30 days I’m going to be working mostly with Mac Apps instead of doing everything inside of Chrome. Here are the apps I’m arming myself with:

  • Postbox for email
  • OmniFocus for task management
  • iCal for calendar management
  • Safari for my web browsing and online work
  • iTunes for music. (I’m not going to use Pandora, Spotify or Songza.)
  • MindNode Pro for brainstorming
  • Ulysses for draft writing
  • Apple Pages for document creation
  • 1Password for password management

Web Apps

  • For document collaboration I’ll still use Google Drive. (I am going to try and use Pages for more beautiful docs.)
  • Podio. I love Podio and it’s a great project management app that I have to use in the browser.

There are a ton of other apps that I can try to use like Mail Designer Pro that I can use instead of I also want to keep this as simple as possible and only buy new software if I can see my self using it for a long time.

I am going to do this on my work computer, my Macbook Pro and my home computer. Let’s see how it goes. Now time to export this document and get it to Square Space.

Creating a new writing workflow.

Aaron Clay

I wanted to create a new writing workflow so that I could spend 15 minutes a day doing some creative/business writing without the disctractions of life.

Here is what I came up with:
1. iTunes Radio: Chill Out Station
2. Alinof Timer set to 15 minutes
3. Byword in full screen mode
4. Write
5. Publish Draft to Square Space

This is where I got stuck.

After I write how do I revise? Should I revise? How do I edit and how do I do version two?

Where does brainstorming come into this process? As I keep writing I'll refine this process and update you on it! Now I'm going to go and create an image to go with this post!

Enter MacBook Air

Aaron Clay

Yes, I get it now. I too find the MacBook Air (MBA) to be quite thrilling. It's lightness and sleek design make you want to work. I think it's the combonation of the track pad and the software. Full screen apps.

A Short Hike At Lost Maples

Aaron Clay

Just wanted to share some photos from a very short hike in Lost Maples State Park!

Here we go! 

Here we go! 

What a view! 

What a view! 

Look familiar? They carved your face out of rock. Monkey Rock.

Look familiar? They carved your face out of rock. Monkey Rock.


This is my Sunday funday!

Aaron Clay

While you were off watching honey boo boo I was doing this...

My desktop on Sunday evening.

Here are the windows I have open

Google Chrome:

  • Gmail
  • Google Drive
  • Songza
  • Google Calendar

Evernote (my filing and note taking cabinate)

OmniFocus 2 - Beta. Beta. Beta.


Allinof Timer

Style Drawer in Pages

Aaron Clay

Of course this post is now out of date because iWork for 2013 was published. It borked a bunch of things so I should rewrite this stuff soon...November 24, 2013

Here’s a little tip that I use on the daily basis. It’s one of those “set it and forget it” tips. Use the style drawer in Pages.

If you’re like me then you are going to format a fair share of documents. Many of those documents are going to use the same style guide. The style drawer allows you to define paragraph, character and bullet styles so that with one click (or function keyboard shortcut) you can apply a style to your document.

In the long run it saves you time from selecting and going through the tools window getting each section like you want. BONUS: if you make a change to one of the styles you can right click and select, “Redifine style from Selection” and it changes the style document wide. Neat feature.

Example style drawer in Apple's Pages 09.

My life...

Aaron Clay

My life revolves around television shows featuring strong female characters, drag queens, and cartoons.

There isn't anything wrong with that, is there?

Launch Center Pro - Contacts On The Go

Aaron Clay

Great app launched a while back, Launch Center Pro. It enables you to use it to streamline the taps it takes to get various things done on your iPhone.

It has a lot of power. For you and I the best part is creating shortcuts to call, text or email your important contacts. Think about. You need to call your boss. You exit the app you’re in, go to the phone app, open the contacts tab, search your bosses name, 3 contacts come up, select one and go. Oy, that’s a lot of tapping.

Launch Center Pro’s app changes the scenario.
* Step 1: Exit the app your in.
* Step 2: Tap to open Launch Center Pro
* Step 3: Tap the Contact or Group and slide to your contact

Bam. You are on the phone with your boss, sister, friend or an important press contact.

I have 400 contacts in my iPhone address book and scrolling and search take to long. Now two taps I am texting, emailing or calling a VIP.

Watch their intro video to get a better idea how I contact my most important folks with a couple of taps.

Launch Center Pro from App Cubby on Vimeo.

In iOS 7 there may be ...

Aaron Clay

Share menus leaves originals.

I often imagine what I would do for iOS’s next big software development for iOS 7. I am not the first person to think of these ideas. Perhaps this is more of a wish list.

Managed Document Storage In iCloud.

Imagine a simplified version of dropbox. A place where you the user could say, “I want this document available to me in all applications,” and when you open up Pages the file is accessible IF it can open that file type.

The user shouldn’t see the files on iCloud folder structure but instead choose the application to best use the file. This shared file could then be accessed using a host of differnt apps. Power users should still stick with Drop Box. Their are many issues with this implentation but what I’m looking for is simple. I want to create a mind-map. Turn that into an outline. Open that outline and flesh it out and turn that into a pages document. Print. Done.

I want to see Drop Box but simplier and more robust on the iOS platform. This may take a lot longer than just 1 iOS iteration.

Application Pipes

If I can’t have my shared document storage because applications would be stepping on each others toes on one document then I want another solution.

I want to send a file through application pipes or as I see them in my head, slides. Water slides.

Imagine you open a photo file in iPhoto then “slide” it to Instagram for publishing and futher alterations, then onto pages for addition into a document.

The orginal file was scooted along the entire change leaving only a copy of it’s current itteration. A copy would only be left if the user chooses to do so.

This way a document can go back and forth between applications without the cruft of a pile of orginals being left between applications. There are more uses for Application Water Slides like data transportation that can be sent safely between applications. The biggest hurddle, keeping the OS safe.

These are only wishes and I hope to have them or something better in time. I look back to where we were in 2007 and 2009 and things are drastically different in a wonderfully productive way.

Tools? What Tools?

Aaron Clay

Filed in the "You really don't need much more" file.

This clip is a teaser I've created using iMovie and Keynote. We shot the footage at Amy's Trick Olympics last year (2011). I've received a few request for the editor. It's me.

The biggest draw back is my lack of experience editing and creating a story-line that is cohesive and fun. I'm not going into video editing anytime soon. Instead, I'm just having fun with the fact that you don't need fancy tools to get your message out.

Check out the 2012 Trick Olympics Teaser.

So, how can I get better?

Henry Blodget: "Television; Disruption Inevitable"

Aaron Clay

Reading Henry Blodget for Business Insider I've come to imagine we are a ways off from total disruption. I'm so interested in helping both artists distribute their work digital and find funding for their work and bridging the gap between the companies and artists (content creators) without the use of commercials.

We still consume some TV content, but we consume it when and where we want it, and we consume it deliberately: In other words, we don't settle down in front of the TV and watch "what's on." And, again with the exception of live sports, we've gotten so used to watching shows and series without ads that ads now seem extraordinarily intrusive and annoying. Our kids see TV ads so rarely that they're actually curious about and confused by them: "What is that? A commercial?"

Read the rest of the story: Henry Blodget on Business Insider's "Don't Mean To Be Alarmist, But The TV Business May Be Starting To Collapse"

The future looks interesting, no?

iPad Video Test in Austin

Aaron Clay

The video embedded below is one I took on Saturday, March 24, 2012 at Muller Lake Park. I was really working on my skills to shoot, edit and publish a video all from the new iPad.

It's not as easy as it looks. Web writing is hard in the SquareSpace app and I'm probably going to try again using the ByWord app. Also the SquareSpace app isn't retina ready and I'm surprised they have no video embed process for writing.

Getting The YouTube Embed Code

Once I published the video to YouTube I had an awful time trying to find the embed code. However a quick search lead me to this video which explained how I could go to Tools 4 Noobs and use their Embed Code Generator and be done with the entire thing.

It's a bit ridiculous but it's a fast work around.

The Apple II In The Closet

Aaron Clay

This is how I found out. I suppose I'm a little sad that Steve Jobs has passed away. I think I'm still in a bit of shock. I've read and heard people eulogize his legacy, his work and his unique operating style. I have nothing to add to their wonderful memories.

I am, however, extremly greatful that I got to witness his keen eye, and artistic business savy, and of course for the Mac and iOs. You see, I'm proud that we are here today with the tools that we have. Steve brought us (with many others) the digital revolution. He put technology in our hands that gave us laymen the power to create.

The first time I saw a computer I was only about 7 or 8 years old. It was an Apple ][. Even at such a young age I could almost grasp the power of the personal computer revolution. It was there in Green and Black. The Apple ][ would later find it's way to my closet where it would sit always reminding me of the future that was to be.

There is still power here. Pundints mention that there won't be another "Steve Jobs" in our lifetime. I like to think that he not only gave us the tools to be the next "Jobs" he also gave us the the vision.

Thank you Steve for your vision and your leadership. As a sign of my gratitude I'm going to go out and create. You should too.


The Longhorn Network's New Business Model

Aaron Clay

ESPN isn't a sports network. It's an advertising network and the one thing ESPN needs for growth is greater niche coverage of sports. The high school + Texas sports coverage could have been very very lucrative. Enter The Longhorn Network.

Starting a new media company creates a few issues to solve. Most importantly to me TLN needs to...

Find a viable revenue stream by streaming online.

Get partners like Apple TV, Boxee and Amazon. We pay for MLB At Bat so we can watch games on the iPad, iPhone and Apple TV. I'm ready to pay. Leave those cable & satellite partners behind and explore the world of online partnerships. Tailgating fans are buying 2 year satellite agreements worth over $1000 just to watch a game or two. You can capture some of that market.

Team up with an internet provider like Clear.

Easier said than done but the results could be extraordinary. I'm enjoying watching the network so far and very excited about pitching stories around Amy's Ice Creams. We are a 27 year Longhorn tradition, after all.

Marketing Advice from Tabitha’s Salon Takeover: West End Salon

Aaron Clay

It’s true I enjoy the guilty pleasure of Bravo’s Tabitha’s Salon Takeover. Having a history of salon marketing I’m especially interested in the owners and staff’s perspective. Having a transformation experience like that is a golden opportunity and often times wasted because the change in behaviors are unknown.

If I had my way, I’d join Tabitha and spend that time educating the management about open book finance, best practices management and reframing their prespective of their business.

Everyone in the salon industry must view their craft and business and an intersection of artistry, commerce and service. All three of those engines must be constantly maintained & running as efficiently as possible.

Marketing Lessons You Can Learn From West End Salon.

1. Don’t Cheapen Your Experience with Cheap Schtick
The salon owner, Dougie, has one problem and it’s not finding clientele. It’s providing a memorable experience from the first interaction to the time they rebook and leave.

The gimmicks, the games and the wild behavior should be directionally funnelled into the sales & leads channel. If you want to be known as unique and spontaneous host events outside the of the salon like a Henna Tatoo Show or perhaps a Drag Fashion show.

Bottom Line: Don’t mix the promotional activities outside the store with the in-store experience.

2. Start Attracting The Right Customers Segmentation. Segmentation. Segmentation. Dougie needs to take every service that he has and wittle them down to the best his staff can offer. Then find out the customers segments most interested in those services. Finally create marketing communications to target that segement.

Why do salon owners feel that they need the biggest net possible to attract customers? Segmentation can help you decide to not chase after certain customers. You’ll be able to focus all that engergy on getting the “right” customers. “Right” is defined by customers who will keep you in business and help you grow. There is no one “Right” for every single business.

Dougie seems to have reverted to his old ways and he hasn’t received a meaningful positive review on Yelp or Google Place. Don’t make the same mistakes West End Salon is going through. Start attracting the right customers through segmentation and find the proper time and place to market your salon or business always keeping it out of the paying customer’s experience.

Imagine a cloudy world..

Aaron Clay

Thinking about the future of media creation.

I'm hoping that with iOS 5 you'll be able to snap a picture with your iPhone and have it upload to the cloud and come back down to the iPad. Then as you report on the news or whatnot you can add those images inline.

Workflow probably wouldn't be any easier than a computer but it would be that much more mobile. Before designing your communication strategy ask yourself

Do I (or my team) need to be mobile?