What is referred to as Carpal Tunnel injuries is usually a collection of different injuries that are better known as repetitive stress injuries (RSI). They are serious problems that I’ve struggled with to vary degrees for the last 10 years or so. One of the other anarchists has had it longer and had to work through a severe version of it.
And I am pretty much the poster child for what happens if you ignore the possibility of RSI. Back when I first started working in software, I worked with a programmer who had to have someone hired to do his typing. The company had people come in and speak about ergonomics and how to avoid RSI. I ignored all of it. Clearly these people were just weak, and I, being invincible, would never suffer such things . Not so much. Age and too many 16 hour days hunched over a keyboard/mouse tend to take their toll. The whole growing older thing is really a pain in the neck (literally).
People usually associate RSI with wrists, but in fact it can affect your arms, shoulders, neck, and back. If you’re on a computer a lot (and if you’re reading this most likely you make your living using a computer) it’s critically important that you pay attention to it. It’ll seriously affect your ability to use a computer and, if you’re a photographer, your ability to hold a camera for long periods.
Continue reading Carpal Tunnel Injuries
Truly the best part of working at Digital Anarchy is you, our customer. While doing technical support can sometimes be difficult, it is incredibly rewarding to work through an issue and get praise from the person we have helped. It’s even better when that praise is sprinkled with funny accolades, like this recent email from Jeff Dean (condensed to show the good stuff).
Continue reading Beauty Box Photo & ‘freaking geniuses’.
Here at Digital Anarchy we are the middle of redesigning our website — stay tuned for a new look very soon! — and in our search for interesting ideas, we came upon these summaries of gorgeous and FREE icon sets; 40+ Extremely Beautiful Icon Sets Hand-picked from deviantART and 40+ Beautiful Icon Sets Hand-picked from deviantART – Part 2.
Here are my favorite two:
Continue reading Styled Icons
Yesterday Digital Anarchy did a photoshoot for our Beauty Box product for video skin retouching. Well actually for our Beauty Box PRODUCTS, since we have related product coming out really soon. (Stay tuned for that exciting news!)
We had two terrific models participating in the shoot, which took place at Jim’s apartment. Towards the end of the day, his fluffy cat got curious and investigated the scene. I don’t think that cats need skin retouching but maybe we will come out with a fur smoothing product.
Molotov Cupcake got a little indignant when we booted her from the ‘set’. The model got a little mock indignant when Jim proclaimed that the cutest shot all day was of the cat!
Continue reading Skin smoothing for kittens?
While I find captchas as annoying as, well, everyone else does, I also enjoy the beauty of their randomness. Our company Digital Anarchy builds some of its products around that idea, like our Texture Anarchy pattern generator for Photoshop textures. Texture Anarchy harnesses fractal noise, algorithms and other techy chaos into really pretty textures.
A few days ago, I posted an ad in the Talent section of Craigslist. The captcha that I had to fill out, ‘discontented bacon’, was geekiness to its max. More on what this talent ad was for in a few days… we’re excited.
Continue reading The beauty of randomness: Captchas.
Every so often, I get an email from a customer (or potential customer) that makes me smile, laugh, or do both aloud. This morning was a great example. The first email was titled ‘HELP’ and said:
I had a chuckle over this letter but before I could write back, I noticed a second email sent 20 minutes later by Tom. The title was ‘After careful review and strong black coffee’.
Thanks Tom! You get one of our cool Anarchist tshirts as ‘thank you’ schwagg for making me smile before MY coffee kicked in.
By the way, turns out that Tom hadn’t unwrapped the 3D Invigorator plugin from its ZIP file, which is kinda like a tupperware container. You can read about how to install for Windows on this page and Mac installation on this page. Try out our 3D Inivgorator plugin, which is a Photoshop 3D plugin for making 3D logos, by going to the Demos page.
Having worked with Digital Anarchy for many years, I am often asked how decisions are made. We are pretty small staff and everyone is always running around trying to make their own tasks happen. How do we take the time to focus on monthly goals, development priorities and the like?
It’s simple: We order Chinese food for lunch.
Continue reading How anarchists make decisions.
On the heels of a wonderful customer email from 2009, I’d like to show you my favorite email from 2010. Never mind that the year is only two days old. This email will quickly become a classic around our office.
Michael Maller emailed us regarding his recent purchase of Beauty Box. This is our new skin retouching software for video footage in After Effects and Final Cut Pro. Michael had some great things to say about the subtle effect that Beauty Box provides when smoothing away wrinkles, blemishes and other skin issues.
Continue reading 2010 is already a ‘beauty”.
I had a very nice email exchange with customer John Gunmann a few months ago. Meant to blog immediately about the talk but other conversations kept piling on top. Figure this topic will be a wonderful final post of 2009. Especially since John was so pleased that he told me to buy a top shelf drink on the Digital Anarchy tab, which perhaps I will do tonight for New Years Eve.
Continue reading Final customer love of 2009
Sometimes my workday, like yours, starts before my coffee kicks in.
Here at Digital Anarchy, we are always available to find your old serial number or resend you an installer. Our records are quite good and typically we can go back seven years, to the company’s beginnings, to find your information. This customer service is especially important since we don’t ship our products on disk but instead provide digital download.
This week, I received an email from a customer who had purchased our Backdrop Designer product — a cool Adobe Photoshop plugin that makes muslin-esque textures for digital backgrounds — in 2005 and needed to reinstall. I located the customer in our Backdrop Designer database, updated his serial number through our new system, and sent off the info. I was extremely delighted to get this positive email back from Ron. Continue reading Helping the Top Dog.
Last week, we received an order for our Backdrop Designer plugin. On that same day, we received a request to resend a previous purchase of the Backdrop Designer plugin. Since I am Digital Anarchy’s customer service person and our order fulfillment department — as well as blogger extraordinaire — I recognized the name in both emails. The customer already owned Backdrop Designer but was purchasing it again.
This is one of the reasons we hand fill orders. It’s not uncommon for someone to forget he already owns a product. It’s also not uncommon for someone to think she bought the product when really she only downloaded the demo. This was the basis of two different support calls last week.
(By the way, I feel this theory should extend to cheesecake. I should be able taste its sweetness just thinking about eating cake, and therefore save myself the calories.)
Royalty-free cheesecake served up from www.freefoto.com. Cool stuff on that site.
Continue reading Filling orders is like eating cheesecake.
I always enjoy reading a breakdown of how the design process happens or where inspiration comes from. Some interesting sources are the Creative section of Communication Arts’ website; the Creativity blog on How magazine’s website; ideas from Moo.com‘s business card customers; and the illustration blogsite Drawn.ca.
Recently I designed a logo for our new CarToonIt! Bundle, which gives a discount on the purchase of ToonIt! Photo. This product bundle is our Adobe Photoshop cartooning software that now also works in Apple’s Aperture.
The CarToonIt! logo was pretty easy to make because I based it off our existing ToonIt! logo. But that short design process made me think about my design revisions for the ToonIt! logo, which happened over a few weeks’ time, and I thought it would be fun to post some of the iterations here. Enjoy!
My original concept sketch:
Continue reading Creating the ToonIt! logo.
I’m doing some product development for our ToonIt! Photo plugin, and wound up playing with some personal photos as source material. Looking at my cat is typically more interesting than iStock and this is a great photo to cartoon. The subjects’ faces are aimed at the viewer and their facial details are very clear. I also like that the background is blurred out in the original. We were photographed in my kitchen and those kinds of environments often don’t look all that interesting, even as a cartoon.
Here’s the result with the ToonIt! defaults rendered out of Photoshop:
Continue reading Toon the cat! (if she’ll stand still)
Typically I try to blog about stuff related to photography, Photoshop, and all things graphical. But photography and graphics are all about workflow, and workflow is all about saving time and effort, so this article on Wired.com has peaked my interest. It’s called ‘Diary of a Self-Help Dropout: Flirting With the 4-Hour Workweek‘.
(above, image from the article) Written in a very humorous style, this article is about a freelance writer who has difficulty and some mild schizophrenia about managing all of his jobs and tasks. Sounds like…all of us.
Continue reading 4-Hour Workweek via Wired.com
Sadly, the one major casualty of moving our blog over to WordPress — and the server maelstrom that followed — has been losing all of the wonderful comments that people made. In particular, I remember seeing someone post a photo of himself wearing a Digital Anarchy t-shirt shortly before the blog went down, and I am very sad to have lost that photograph.
We still do want to hear your thoughts and see you in our Digital Anarchy tshirts. Enjoy our blog’s new look and let me know what you think.
It was a challenging week at Digital Anarchy before the Thanksgiving holiday. Sometimes you take one step forward only to get bapped back about five steps.
A month ago we set out to change this AnarchyJim blog. It was hosted by our website host using their proprietary software. While the blog was functional, it really wasn’t more than that.
We had our web host move our website to a new server so we could support the implementation of a new cool WordPress blog. That migration broke our website and our store — whoops — and the vendor was able to fix the website but couldn’t manage to fix the store — whoops again.
We have wanted to make some changes to our Create store for a long time now. There have been some difficulties with processing non-USA addresses, and sometimes our store would ‘forget’ to notify us of a purchase. Our web vendor started off as a wonderful company but five years later, they seem pretty apathetic about fixing things and worse, they won’t give their customers any real information. But business affiliations are often like relationships: Sometimes you need to hit a really bad spot to realize that it’s time for a change and a clean break.
So we made our escape from a relationship gone bad. It took many long hours and a couple of frantic business days, but we have a new site/store vendor. So far, their support service has been excellent though I am, of course, comparing that to our old host. And here you and I are, reading this post on our new WordPress blog.
This experience makes me think about how service has changed since technology lost its borders and how maybe it should change again in view of this faltering global economy. If our previous host had been more honest with us or willing to work hard to fix their mistakes, then we would most likely have stayed with them. Old habits die hard in relationships. But their service was poor and we left.
This is exactly why here at Digital Anarchy, we strive for excellent and quick support service. We don’t always succeed at first, but we admit our mistakes and fix the problem.
Well, we must be starting to take our random, anarchistic thoughts seriously here at Digital Anarchy because we have migrated to a new blog system.
Excuse me, to a REAL blog system. Until now, we’ve been stumbling along with the blog capabilities provided by the hosting company for our website. The UI was obviously designed by a programmer and overall it was just impossible to customize. So here I am, typing into a pretty interface and id’ing all of old posts. It’s fun and exciting and inspires me to write more, like spending more time in your family room once it’s been space cleared. Please enjoy!
We created what I think is a stellar company t-shirt some time ago. The shirt speaks a little more to our former After Effects video line than our current Adobe Photoshop plugins. But we’re almost out of them so the next line will be photo-centeric.
Sometimes our ‘anarchist’ t-shirts take matters into their own hands, er, arm holes and wind up in the most interesting locations.
Just recently in August 2008, at the Burning Man arts event in Reno, Nevada, USA.
Continue reading Where Has Your DA T-shirt Traveled To?
As some of you know we have sold off our film/video plugins to Red Giant Software to focus on the Photoshop side of our business. For the details you can read the press release here.
We’re pretty excited about this as we’ve got some great ideas for Photoshop and think Red Giant will do a great job of taking care of those of you who’ve been our customers on the video side of things. We feel passionately about all our products and it was a difficult decision to make changes. However, we felt we were stretched too thin trying to handle both film/video and Photoshop. I’ve been talking to Andrew over at Red Giant for some time about doing ’something’ together, so when the decision was made to focus on one side of the company or the other, they were naturally first people to talk to. I’ve known Andrew and Sean over there for quite awhile and they’ve got a great team put together. So I’m confident they’ll be able to support and upgrade the products moving forward. They have some big ideas for many of the products, so I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by many of the changes and updates they’ll be making over the next few months.
Continue reading Digital Anarchy Sells Video Plugins (a letter from Jim)
In doing the redesign for our digitalanarchy.com website, I found a terrific website for free, distressed fonts. It’s called www.dafont.com, which I love that much more because around the office, we refer to Digital Anarchy as ‘DA’.
Here’s the section I’ve been paying attention to:
Continue reading Fonts In Distress
Well, the earth shook a little and in celebration of Memorial Day, we have posted a new version of our www.digitalanarchy.com website. It’s only been two years in planning; the challenges of a small company. Here is a fun design exercise that I would like to share.
I had the opportunity to design all of the banner graphics for our website. For the non-product sections, I wanted to have a little fun, so I conceptualized the Support Section banner by starting with two images. One is a banner graphic that I’ve always liked for the website www.inhouseticketing.com, which is a company that services tickets for many fun events in the Bay Area. The other is a photo a friend wearing her kool kid Digital Anarchy t-shirts after a bike ride.
Continue reading Designing Our Support Banner
Over the past few months, Digital Anarchy has migrated to using formal Support Forms for each product. (Well, as formal as ‘anarchists’ are going to get, anyways.) There are a few reasons for this.
One, often folks forget to give us important details, like their last name or the name of the DA product they need help with. To date, we support 16 products. If I have to do a search in our database to tie in someone’s first name with an email address, then counter-search that with the product(s) he may own… Well, I’m more likely to tackle the questions that are easier to answer first.
Two, we get a LOT of email every day. When people don’t fill out a proper title for their emailed request, that email will often go to a Spam folder. We check our Spam folders a few times a day, but they are chock full o’love. If your email is simply titled ‘Help!’ or ‘Purchase’ or worse yet, if it doesn’t have a title, that email is going to get lost in the shuffle of 250 other emails marked as **SPAM** Continue reading It’s Good To “Choose a Topic”
Something that is interesting about doing our customer support is seeing the purchasing patterns. Each week seems to have a different theme in terms of products that are bought and requests that are sent
For instance, two weeks ago, the big sellers were 3D Assistants and Psunami Water. It was water, water, water all week long and everyone needed it yesterday, as if they were gasping for liquid. I have a feeling that the two factors working here were a writeup in Layers magazine about 3D Assistants, and a tutorial on the fabulous Digital Media Net by Kevin P McAuliffe.
Kevin has been a friend of Digital Anarchy for awhile and we always enjoy his articles, even when they’re not about us. :-) You can read the Psunami tutorials here on Audioproducer.com I’m trying to locate the Layers magazine article by Rod Harlan. That’s one of our favorite publications and I know it’s _somewhere_ around the office.
Continue reading Patterns in Anarchy