Another Reason I Like The Hype Machine

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Hype Machine has a nice ‘spy’ feature that shows you what’s going down with the kids. And you can cut it by location. So you can see what’s hot in different bits of the US / Canada / The World. I love the fact that they’ve put ‘Mystery Island’ in there.

I don’t know why I like it so. I think it’s because I feel like someone enjoyed putting it in there. And I want whoever it was who put that in there to know that I’m glad they did :-)

Visa Queue Type Joy

I like the type on the queue number ticket at the Indian Visa place. It feels kind of retro / dynamic. A bit like being in a massive queue of people moving towards a visa counter…

Was Our Store Free Of Clutter?

This is truly great.

I was at the checkout at the Co-Op in Seven Dials in Brighton and noticed that the card reader was asking me a question. A question with a simple yes / no answer. The overhead of me answering was almost zero.

Just to be clear, this wasn’t part of the transaction process. I was paying by cash. It just sits there asking questions when it’s in idle mode.

A bloody brilliant way of using a bit of technology that’s already there to do something useful.

Has anyone seen this in action elsewhere?

BTW, there were cardboard boxes on the floor that shouldn’t have been there…

Retro Gaming, Ant Attack and Hey Hey 16k

We’ve been having a big old nostalgia jam on the Poke mailing list, people nerding out about their first computer games / online experiences. It’s getting deep-geek.


So I was looking for stuff about Ant Attack (one of the most influential games ever?)

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It featured.

  • 3D isometric views
  • Equal opportunities (play as boy or girl)
  • Smart(?) ants

Anyway I found this tribute page by Sandy White, the guy who wrote the game in the first place. It includes an online emulator for the game so you can play it in all it’s 8bit glory. He says:

Well, I know I’m probably a bit of a sad git, putting together a page about a game I wrote myself! But I don’t care! Who better to do it? Plus, I thought I’d better get on with it before some other sad git did it… come to think of it… I wouldn’t at all mind if they did…

Sandy, you could never be a sad git to me!

On Sandy’s page I also found this fantastic 16k tribute from the B3ta guys:

So many memories…

Urban Play Amsterdam – Moving Forest

I was in Amsterdam at the weekend and was lucky enough to pass through a bunch of things that were going on as part of the Urban Play festival.

I particularly liked the mobile forest.

Trees In Trolleys - Urban Play Amsterdam

Trees In Trolleys - Urban Play Amsterdam

Urban Play Amsterdam - Moving Forest

I’m not sure it was supposed to be this mobile…

Trees In Trolleys - Urban Play Amsterdam

But when I spotted this lone tree in a courtyard it all seemed to make sense for a brief moment…

Trees In Trolleys - Urban Play Amsterdam

Also liked the Cycle Recycle Cycle thing where you could pimp your old bike Bollywood style…

Cycle Recycle - Urban Play Amsterdam

Cycle Recycle - Urban Play Amsterdam

And then there’s the sad story of Sagmeister’s coins…

Urban Play Amsterdam - Sagmeister Was Here

If you want to see the whole story you can check out this video…

7 Tips For Getting A Job At A Creative Company


I’m sure that lots of people have written lots of things like this lots of times before. But it’s a bunch of thoughts I’ve been having as Poke have been looking to recruit ‘creative strategy types’ (there’s a hint in there somewhere for anyone who’s looking)…

I’m not talking about hiring ‘creatives’ (I’m never going enjoy calling certain people ‘creatives’ – the ‘sneer quotes’ will have to remain for now). I’m talking more generally about hiring smart people to work in a creative business. Bear in mind that these are just personal thoughts and not everyone will agree. In fact if you’re a hirer of any description and you don’t agree please say so in the comments – it’d be really useful to help complete the picture.

So here’s some things I’d recommend that you consider if you’re looking to get hired into a creative company:

Get yourself a portfolio

‘Creatives’ have a portfolio of work. Portfolios are nice to look at. They’ve got pictures in them. They give you a sense of the work. Everyone else just has a CV / Resume. They’re boring. They don’t show anything, and most of the time they don’t say much either.

I’ve met a few people who have really nice ‘planner’ portfolios. That have some pictures of what the work ended up like. As well as some info about the brief, how the problem got solved, and so on. But it’s not just for planners. Project managers, tech guys, account people, everyone who works on projects can have some kind of portfolio.

Oh, and don’t be afraid to portfolio-ize things that you make and do outside of work. Those things can say a helluva lot too…

It doesn’t have to be much more than a couple of charts about each project (or thing) – in fact any more might be overkill. But it gives people something to look at. Things to react to. And something to talk around when you meet them.

And perhaps most importantly of all it shows that you can tell a story. About yourself. Blogs can do a similar thing. They can demonstrate you think about stuff and that you’re not afraid to put yourself ‘out there’. But a more direct portfolio shows you take your work seriously and have some pride in it.

Spend a bit of time making your portfolio nice / neat / test it / proof it

It doesn’t need to be over designed. It just needs to be neat and tidy. If you’re not confident in your own design skills get someone whose eye you respect to take a look. It might be as simple as making the text bigger or smaller, or spacing things out a little differently. Or you could just take inspiration and borrow layout / style from a book or a magazine you like.

If you happen to be doing your portfolio digitally (which is a good idea if you ask me) make sure that all the links work. And if you’re linking to online work make sure that the links stay live and up to date (there’s no point linking to a site that you were involved with that’s gone through 8 iterations and is now a totally different beast from the thing you worked on).

And whilst you’re getting other people involved get someone to proof read what you’ve written. It’s incredible how many portfolios and CVs have glaring typos and grammatical errors in them. They’re unacceptable. I know everyone makes mistakes. But don’t let an error ridden document be you’re (sic) calling card.

Be clear and upfront about your role in projects you’ve worked on

The world is complex. Peoples’ roles in projects are complex. But try and be as honest and clear as possible about what you actually did on a project.

And don’t be scared to big-up other people you worked with. It’s a really nice trait to demonstrate: “I worked with a brilliant team on this…”, “The idea actually came from the client”, and so on. I’d much rather work with a team player than someone who tries to claim everything is ‘theirs’.

Have an opinion on aesthetics / design / interaction / type / sound design / whatever…

Even if your role seemingly has nothing to do with any of these things. If you’re working in a creative agency it’s really bloody important that you have an opinion about them. At some point you’ll have to defend work. Or argue with a stroppy ‘creative’ about why you think something isn’t right.

It also shows that you care about creative output. Which can only be a good thing.

Brand yourself

I’m not talking about stupid hats, or wearing women’s clothes (if you’re a man), or even having a big moustache. I’m taking about knowing what you stand for. It’s all part of what feels like a recurring theme; you ought to be doing for yourself what you’re claiming to be able to do for others.

Do some light detective work

Find out a bit about the company and about the best person to send your stuff to. It’s not that hard to figure out.

Once you’ve got their name see what you can learn about them, see if they’ve written anything that you agree or disagree with. Again, it’s always good to have a point of view.

And at the very least know about some of the work that the company’s done. Which things do you like? Which things don’t you like? And why? It’s quite common to be asked if there’s anything you don’t like – be gentle, spare their egos, but don’t be scared to answer the question. I always think highly of someone who puts up a good answer to this and can back up how they would have made it better.

Put your plan into action

Once you know all about your target, and where they live and work you can really build up a campaign to get yourself employed. Start following them home. Watch through their windows from the street (during work time and leisure time). Become totally obsessed with everything they do. Start dressing like them. Or their partner. Or their children. Send them things in the post. Things that will frighten the living shit out of them work really really well, and they’ll get you noticed.

Actually don’t do any of that last stuff. Of course there’s lots of stories of people doing outrageous things to land a job. And sometimes they’ll work. But for every one that does there’ll be 100s that are just plain embarrassing (and a little weird).

Normal things like email / telephone calls are good ways to start, but be respectful of peoples’ time and the fact that they might be really busy on the day you get in touch. Persistence is good. But there is a line…

Good luck. Whoever you may be applying to…