Monday
Feb112013

Why the Moon Never Moons us or Tidal Locking

 

The Moon is odd, right?  No matter where we stand on earth we can never view the "far side" or what more artistic souls have decided to call the "dark side" of the Moon.  Why is that?  You may Google this and read about it, but it's a bit hard to wrap your head around this counter-intuitive notion.  

If indeed the moon rotates around its own axis AND orbits the earth we certainly should be able to see the other side... Well, not quite.  There is a strange gravitational phenomena called "tidal locking" that has -over a very long period of time- locked the moon to the earth.  I'm not going to get into the actual process of locking, but what happens when a smaller heavenly body tidally locks to a larger one.

Here's how it works in layman's (that's me, definitely not an astrophysicist) terms:

The moon rotates around itself one full 360 degrees in about 29.53 days and this is roughly about the same amount of time it takes for it to orbit our planet.  Still doesn't make sense perhaps?

Totally understandable, because one assumes that if the moon rotates around itself at any rate, it must be turning its back to us at some point.

The reality is hard to grasp at first until you play a game yourself:

1.  Put a chair in the middle of a room.  (forget about the earth's rotation for a minute; it has no bearing on understanding the concept)

2.  Stand about a meter, or 3 feet away from the chair while facing it.

3.  Move (as in you're orbiting the chair while always facing the chair) in 45 degree increments and stay on an imaginary circumference line.

4.  Stop when you are across exactly from the spot you have started and observe your position now.

5.  Do you realize that even though now you have rotated 180 degrees and are now seeing the opposite side of the room from when you started, you are still facing the chair?  This is pretty much what the moon does.

6.  Continue, until you end up where you started, while paying attention to how your body rotates to face the chair as you move.

Note that you never end up turning your back to the chair, yet you have now made a complete rotation around your own axis, but you were also orbiting the chair at the same rate.

7.  Once you get back to where you started, it should be clear how the moon manages to never show us its backside (the Moon never moons us).

I hope this was helpful to any students or curious minds alike.  It took me a while to understand this myself, but when you do, you will love showing other peeps how this works!

Monday
Feb112013

Promote Your Infographic

If I’m not willing to to go through all that, but still want to use an infographic to garner interest in my website/products what do I do?

 

The Solution

What you need, is a graphic designer who has already created some infographics and is good at what they do.  If you need medical care, you go the doctor, you don’t go to medical school to perform your own surgery.  

Similar concept, if someone already has gained the skills necessary to create what you need, you are saving time and money by hiring them and the results are much likely to stand out from the crowd.  

Don't forget about collaboration too.  If you love research and don't have an artistic bone in your body, or the opposite, you can team up with someone who is good at what you dislike.

 

How do I promote my infographic for free?

 

1.  While there is no guarantee that your infographic or data visualization will ever reach viral status, if you have a design that is actually answering a popular Google search term you are on the right track. 

 

2.  The next step, as I have been trying to convey throughout the posts, is to have a

clear design that integrates the data, keeps to a theme and works aesthetically.

 

3.  Make sure you have website or blog set up where people can click-through to if they

are interested in your design once you post your design on other sites.

 

4.  Post your design in full size quality on any or many of the infographics directories

available online.  My favourites are visual.ly and visualoop.com.

 

5.  Share with everyone you know.  Post the news to your friends and family.

 

6.  Tweet it, but don’t spam.  Don’t keep posting a link to your website or post every 5

minutes. Instead try and get people there by peaking their interest.

 

7.  Research which hashtags are garnering the attention of your target market and tweet

your design link with tidbits of info and relevant hashtags (#Ilovetelescopes).

 

8.  Try and enrich your website or blog with useful posts and answers to people’s questions in related topics.  Being helpful and open pays off big time.  We see examples of this everywhere online.  It’s actually quite nice to see that people respond so well to honesty and generosity.  It’s a good incentive to share and create friendships, not just business relationships.

 

Good Luck and I hope you have a comfy chair...

Monday
Feb112013

Is it Hard to make an Infographic?

The short answer is yes... and here is the longer answer:


Gathering Information

First you need to find a subject that your target market will be interested in and that will also tie in with whatever the subject matter of your blog/website/store is.  I start by looking for common Google search terms and questions and identify a subject and a particular question to answer.

Then there is research to find the answer to this question and probably wrapping your head around a whole lot of things you hadn't even considered before.  Once you have the information, you need to come up with a design principle that will unify the findings of your research in a visual and clear way.

Next, you will draft out the infographic and type out your text.  Summarize everything as much as possible.

Finally and most time-consumingly, you will open up your graphic application and make this into a cohesive and beautiful design.

Have you ever been frustrated by instructions in a manual to assemble something?  Perhaps re-imagine how you, as a person who is not a HVAC technician would have liked those Air Conditioner installation instructions to have looked so that you could have understood them without having to Google HVAC terms.

When gathering images for any graphics project, remember it’s not only unethical, but also just cheap (nobody likes to buy from a vendor who appears cheap) to copy other people’s photos and designs without their permission/proper credit (to create your own design).  You must either buy stock photos and vectors or make your images yourself.  

I make every little vector item on my graphics myself or use symbols and brushes from the Adobe Illustrator toolbox, which brings me to what we vector illustrators use to create useful and scalable vector art.

 

Adobe Creative Suite (Now CS6)

Adobe Creative Suite is the standard for graphic design industry professionals and there is good reason for it.  It’s intuitive and effective.  That being said, when I first saw the menus and the tools I wanted to run for the hills. It can take years to master the capabilities of Adobe Illustrator and that’s what one should expect if they’ve never used vector design software.  

There are other tools to create designs, but again you will need to put together elements that either you purchased or created, so in the end you have to able to use a vector software or at least Photoshop.

Online tools can be useful for layout such as Visual.ly, as with other tools, you will still need to gather content to use these tools effectively.

 

Working Knowledge of Graphic Design Principles

In the end, being able to make something in Illustrator isn’t enough either.  One needs to learn about file formats, pixel counts, geometry, composition, colour theory, preparing files properly for print or web, etc. etc.  

 

Talent

Like with any skill, talent too will help with making graphics that stand out.

Infographics, as mentioned before require research too.  In fact the Periodic Circle alone was at least 16 hours of research and development before attempting to fill in the elements.  Then to my surprise I had to do a whole lot of math (my high school math teacher would be so pleased) to figure out how to slice and dice the circle and centre the text while rotating it. Oh my, there wasn’t an easy button for any of this.  It was all hard work.

So, that being said; infographics are hard work, but, if you have an artistic inclination and and lots of dedication, there's no reason you couldn't put together a decent infographic design.

 

What if you don't have any artistic inclination or the time to put towards making your own infographics?

Coming tomorrow:

 


Who will help me make infographics to add valuable content to my own website?

How do I promote my design once I have it to maximize impact?

 

The Solution...


 

 

 

Monday
Feb112013

What the Heck are Infographics?

They are not graphs, they are not charts, the good ones are almost like art.  Web surfers everywhere right now are experiencing an influx of infographics good and bad and I've noticed that even though there are many sources on how to use infographics or how they are effecting e-commerce, traffic, etc., there are hardly any good posts about how one goes about making an infographic that actually may go viral if they put their back into it.


Why do I keep seeing infographics everywhere?

The Hype -  A Viral Infection of the Infographical Type

 

As I launched my designs into the world of infographics a few months ago, I noticed something that seemed to be a blessing at first - perhaps a sign from the universe: Infographics were extremely fashionable at this moment in time.  I’m a graphic designer with a knack for transforming information into art while preserving the usefulness, hence I can create infographics that will tickle your aesthetic bone (no it’s not a naughty part).  The fashionability of this communication tool therefore should be a great way to gain some exposure online and convert to business, right? 

Well... This apparently also happens is a curse in disguise as well as being a blessing. A double edged-sword, so-to-speak. There are just way too many people attempting create what they call infographics and the internet is jam-packed with meaningless and-not well-designed debaucheries, which makes it hard for the good ones to stand out as easily.

The problem is that there seems to be a mystery about how great infographics are created among crowds outside the graphic design world. Many people are attempting their own projects or using online tools, when in fact if one doesn’t already own professional vector software or have access to it as a student, they probably should save their time as their infographic is as likely to get viral as I’m to become an Olympic athlete by using the elliptical twice a week.  


What are infographics anyway?

 

Infographics are exactly what they are called.  They are informational graphics that take data and represent it in away that conveys meaning, emotion and aesthetic pleasure.  They are graphics and therefore people who are experts graphic design and the software used in that industry are the ones who would have the best resources to create these designs, but it doesn’t end at that.  One also need to be (or have) a good researcher, being able to effectively find information on the internet and must be able fuse that information into a design that flows and remains clear.

3 great infographics from the online data visualization directory Visual.ly:


Pulp Fiction in Chronological Order by Noah Smith

 

 

Should I Date This Guy? by Joanna Chao



Storytelling One Frame at a Time by M Booth

 

Well designed information is easy to follow and fun to look at, if it's just a haphazard collection of images and data without theme, composition, flow and focus, that's just a page layout. 

One can always collaborate with people with different skills than their own: 

Don't like design, but love data? Partner in with a designer. 

You're a designer who hates doing research?  Get your data compiled by someone who enjoys research (and preferably excels at it).

 

Coming tomorrow:

How does one go about making infographics?

Monday
Feb042013

The Gadgets of My Geeky Dreams

If you lived through the 80s perhaps your vision of the future included some bad-ass jetpacks, but since those have proved to be a way-too-dangerous ambition to pursue I'm going to talk about the 3 most amazing projects that have been revealed to the public within he last few months and two of them were crowd-funded via Indiegogo.com.

3.  Olive ONE: Wireless, touch-screen and damn good looking music player

Olive ONE is a music player for your home or office with Olive's own audiophile technology and a customizable interface.  The cool thing is that it brings together your music library from other sources on your home network and allows you to access all your media at once.  

The company introduced the product to the world through a very successful fundraiser on indiegogo.com and also promised to upgrade the units with their own hardrives for streaming media directly.

The cool looking touch-screen gadget is now in production (in the US) and should be available this summer for us to drop our paycheques on.

For more details click here.

 

2.  CubeX:  Affordable 3D printer!

You gotta agree that it's pretty amazing that we can now own 3D printers and make the objects in our dreams into reality without having to be millionnaires.  The CubeX comes in 3 different configurations and the one in the picture is the CubeX Trio, which can print up to 3 colours in one project.  The CubeX prices range from $2499-$3999. That is well within the reaches of a small business owner who wants to make some extra cash building 3D models or create some unique items.

I havent tried the software and don't know how user friendly it is, but I would say that if you are not familiar with computers and have never used any computer operated machinery this model wouldn't be your first choice.  They also make a version called the Cube, a smaller desktop device for beginners or hobbyists. That one starts at $1299 and this is what it looks like.

I haven't yet seen many reviews online from actual users.  I wish I could get a closer look at one and enlighten those around the world who must have similar questions regarding the use and operation.  Heh.  My monsters would really come to life with this machine. 

 

 

3. The Muse: Finally the Force will be with us...

The Muse headband introduced via another Indiegogo fundraising campaign are number one because it blows my mind and I can't wait to get my hands on one and see what people do with this amazing new technology.

Imagine being able to change songs on your tablet with your mind.  Imagine playing a game where you control a physical object with your mind.  Imagine being a Jedi, a teenage wizard or just plain magical.  It will all be possible.  Very very soon.

The device works by analyzing and interpreting brainwaves via corresponding software and will be a peripheral for app developers to go completely insane over.  The possibilities are endless...

Click here to find out more about the Muse.

* All images belong to the respective companies, used only for reviewing, discussion purposes.