Archive for ‘Going Geek’

April 16, 2013

Armor- Security App for Android

armor

This month, I would like to recommend a security app for Android.

There are many apps we download on to our smart devices and by doing this we give the possibility to an outsider to have total access to the core system in our smartphone.

Androids are flooding the market nowadays and unfortunately, it’s just this kind of popularity which attracts the makers of malicious softwares. Previous predictions of smartphone threats, for operating systems such as Symbian, proved to be empty-handed; but Android users have been plagued by a range of malicious apps already. These range from dialers that send premium-rate text messages without your knowledge, to spyware designed to steal your passwords when you use your phone for internet banking.

Armor for Android is probably the best anti-virus software at the moment available. Apart from protecting you from virus by scanning your apps before you download them, it has many other features, like giving you the possibility of locating, resetting and sounding an alarm if stolen, all this via your computer. Another plus is that it costs only 1 chf in Switzerland and there are no monthly fees.

Let me know if you download it  maite2.0@swisslinked.com !

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February 26, 2013

Evernote-an App to make life easy

Evernote

I would like to recommend an App this month that is slowly changing my life. It took me a while to fall in love with Evernote but now I couldn’t live without.

I call it ”my wonder box” and keep everything in it.

Can be the bill from something I just bought, a map of a place, a business card, a recipe, a cv, pictures, a quick audio note I made whilst driving in the car, pdf bank statements, invoices, files. You catch my drift; practically anything and everything. So now it is all in one place and in the cloud. Apart from connecting it to your devices, you have it backed up and can use it remotely on any device you wish.

You have a program that can store and sort those clippings and files,  index them for easy search and retrieval, and allow you to add your preferred organizational structure as well, whether it be  to group similar kinds of information into collections, or add metadata such as tags and categories.

The best news is that Evernote is free up to 60MB per month. If you need more than that, it is still very reasonably priced at 10$ per month for business users, or 45$ yearly for very advanced features.

If you try it please drop me a line and let me know what you think: maite2.0@swisslinked.com

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February 9, 2013

Popcorn Hour

The ultimate networked media Jukebox

Popcorn HourWhat can you do more with this gadget than with the old box you have under your TV set? As I discovered: plenty!

You can upload all sort of files; photos, music, films etc, which is basic function of it’s kind. The interface is very user friendly, no need for additional software setup and the Networked Media Jukebox Navigator App for iOS or Android, transforms any mobile device into remote controller. How cool is that?

An even better feature of this magic box is the possiblity of accessing its content anywhere in the world with a simple wifi connection. Are you travelling and would like to see the next episode of your favorite series? The most promising match of the season? Listen to your music or show pictures of your family? Go online with any device, type in your code and enjoy the content of Popcorn Hour you left at home connected to your home wifi.

Can it get better than this? Apprently, it could. You can accessorize your box with 80+ free Apps: watch golbal news, listen to Internet radio, use Twiter, YouTube, play games with family…you name it!

When I thought I knew everything about Popcorn Hour I discovered that I could download files directly into the box without turning on my computer. Not only films, music etc but even subtitles in 20 languages. After this point it seemed almost meaningless that this box can write CDs and DVDs in perfect quality…

If you are looking for a new multimedia box- no need to look any further.

February 6, 2013

SwissLinked.com is finally live! Everything we have learnt during the process…

We really had a hard time to get our website up and running. We made a few mistakes, read this post to avoid them if you ever plan to build a website!

url-2

Have you ever heard a webiste-building horror story?

I’m sure you have. As I have learnt, they are pretty common. I’m also sure that your story is not even close to ours!

 

 

Consider only 2 facts, 2 very objective dates, nobody can question:

-The deadline for the website was June 2012

-We went online on the 4th of February 2013

Add to this picture the little detail that we are running an on- and offline business networking platform…can you imagine doing this without a website? For more than a year? There you go.

We had the best guys ever for the design, in their portfolio of references they have National Geographic, Ebay..the big ones. How complicated it can be for those guys a simple forum site??? I can tell you: VERY complicated. The designing part proceeded as planned and the designers had a programmer team they usually work with.

This is where our story went wrong. The site is based on vBulletin forum program, which turned out to be the nightmare of programmers. Apparently it is very user-friendly and the users love it, but only very few experts are willing to program it. This first team of ours accepted to job, as we later (much later) realised without knowing this program. Weeks were passing by at first, then weeks became months. We still did not have a website. In June they promised July, in July September. In September October and so on.url-1

Starting from October I was looking for another programmer. I first contacted vBulletin but they do not give out contact of programmers. When I gave up every hope I couldn’t think of any other solution, I simply googled “programming crowdsourcing”. This is how I landed on elance.com. What did I have to loose at that point?

I posted a job “vBulletin developer” and out of thousands of programmers who work through Elance 2 (two) said they were willing to give it a try. That gives you a good idea about the popularity of vBulletin amongst programmers.

I picked the guy with 100% positive feedback and off we started. This boy (26 years old, South Korean, living in China, loving classical music and wine) finished the job in 3 weeks. The same job what an entire team of Russian programmers didn’t manage in 9 months.

This is our happy ending, or rather the real beginning of an adventure. With a good website we’ll be able to give more spotlight to the events we organize, to not mention the safe online networking part.

 

urlThe key points I have learnt are:

Do not trust the programmer when he says that he can do the job. Check his references and make sure that he had already worked with the program you need.

-Delay can happen. ONCE. When he misses the second deadline you need to be firm and change programmer. No matter who recommends this first one.

Crowdsource. Elance.com is not the only crowdsourcing platform, there are many others. Most of them are safe, there is a rating system of contractors, you can check the progress and pay AFTER the work is done. To not mention the prices, which are a fraction of Swiss or European prices. You can crwodsource basically anything; logo or other design, editing, programming.

Share your experience. There are others out there who are in your situation!

January 31, 2013

How to separate fact and fiction online, and avoid viruses.

One question that I get asked very often is how do I manage to filter the facts from the fiction online?
I guess the quickest answer would be, that as in real life or offline, you never take anything at face value. You must check and double check the sources, specially before you re-post the information yourself.
Very often on FB ( Facebook) I see in my newsfeed, people posting information that doesn’t make sense. A few examples following:
Facebook virus warning
Horses needing homes with a phone number enclosed
Prize offers, share to win a pair of ray-bans
Baby with cancer asking for donations
etc…the list is indeed long….
When in doubt please check some of the following pages to see if it is a hoax:
http://www.hoax-slayer.com/
http://www.hoaxbusters.org/
http://www.f-secure.com/virus-info/hoax/

On twitter, I have had a message from someone stating that this other person was saying bad things about me with a Twitter handle, this is quite common and if you get it, please do not let your curiosity get the best out of you, and just ignore it.
Whenever you get a message, email or tweet from somebody you know with a generic title, that could be a simple as ”look at the picture I took of you” or ”this is for you”, ”look what they are saying about you”, etc…please resist the temptation and do not click on it.
Emails are the best way to spread a virus really fast, so please keep your anti virus software up to date, and read following advice..
http://www.wikihow.com/Avoid-Getting-a-Virus-Through-Email
Stay alert, it’s a jungle out there, and just because you feel comfortable at home behind the screen, it doesn’t mean that you should let your guard down.
When you get to know the online world well, you do develop a sixth sense, as you do with people in the offline world. It’s a question of practice. If something sounds or looks strange, it probably is, and when in doubt ..don’t click!

January 22, 2013

Brand Yourself Right

Screen shot 2013-01-22 at 07.00.53

The Spirit of the Lion

Brand yourself right

 Ilan Dray exposes and reveals his vision, tricks and secrets about design.

 

After years of experience in the advertising and internet business, I finally decided to set up my own studio. This is the story of my brand.

I. The lion is born

Creating a personal visual identity based on your own story and your dreams will make it unique.

I already had over 10 years of experience when I created INKOD back in 2004.

I remember the first day; it felt for me like I’m a new born who wanted to walk on his own (a classic Ilan Dray sentence).

So let’s be creative … Don’t do the obvious instead surprise yourself first!

One thing for sure is that I did not want to call the studio: “Studio Ilan Dray” or “ID Studio”

(Even if the first letters of my name are “I” & “D” = ID = Idea 🙂

One of the original sketches, shown below, was definitively too obvious …

Screen shot 2013-01-22 at 07.03.46

If you aspire to be the king of the Jungle, think outside the box when branding yourself.

The motif of the lion came to me very quickly as my zodiac sign is Leo.

Also my experience with my mentor, Publicis Group, which uses the symbol of lion in a shape of sun, also inspired me to use this powerful symbol as my golden crest.

Screen shot 2013-01-22 at 07.05.18

II. The long history of lion imagery

Screen shot 2013-01-22 at 07.06.34

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lion_%28heraldry%29

Used for centuries, the lion reign as symbol of power, loyalty and respect but also as an authority icon with calm and coolness.

The different interpretations of this symbol from different cultures make it one of the most popular symbols of all the time. From the lion of Judah holding the bible until nowadays with brands such Peugeot, L&M and also the symbol of Jerusalem itself…

As a trend, this icon is timeless.

Screen shot 2013-01-22 at 07.07.46

All these qualities emphasize my own story strengthening my feelings to use the lion as part of my logo.

III. Change the Matrix

Déjà vu provides a plot point in The Matrix, a 1999 science fiction-action film written and directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski. The protagonist, Neo, glances at a black cat and comments that he has just experienced déjà vu. Those with a knowledge of ‘The Matrix’ and its internal workings state that déjà vu means something within the Matrix was altered from its prior state and is referred to as a “glitch”.

Screen shot 2013-01-22 at 07.09.40

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_KmNZNT5xw

Related to Inkod branding, my vision was definitively to create something unique, different from any other digital agencies.

I was new in the jungle but wanted to create a “déjà vu” effect. When you look at the lion logo, it makes you feel secure and respectful towards my work experience as a company and not regard me as just another freelance studio.

The similarity of this popular icon and the use of gold from day one (it cost me my last penny 🙂 made the logo very unique and full of contrast for a digital studio and also very respectful as a corporate international company even when we were only a team of two and considered newbies.

IV. Eye catcher

My daring vision was to create something disturbing and catchy by using this old traditional gold lion symbol with a contrast edgy name: INKOD.

Do not try to understand its meaning … that’s the point, there is no meaning … It’s open for interpretation by your imagination …. The name was based on my first initial and that of my partner Nir. That gave us I + N = IN 🙂

“In” is definitively not “Out”… but all the domain names starting with this prefix were not available but “KOD” just came naturally and gave it the dramatic tone. It sounds like “Code” and at that time movies like “The Secret” and “The Da-Vinci Code” really inspired me. The fact I wrote it with a “K” like a hacker’s term for it makes it even cooler 🙂

That’s how the name “INKOD” was born.

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Screen shot 2013-01-22 at 07.20.53

I personally love to catch the attention of my public and play with it.

I call this technique “The small hair in my soup” and it is definitively one of my best tricks. If you want to focus someone’s attention at a specific area … like a magician, create a diversion 🙂 Just the fact it catches your eye makes your subconscious remember it.

This small point will be discussed further in a future post along with case studies to show you exactly how to use it wisely in when designing UX / GUI. The secret is to not make everything perfect on purpose 🙂

Do not forget, perfection does not exist in nature … except maybe in wine.

V. The lion maturities

As a wine lover, I really recommend a great Israeli boutique vineyard called Ella Valley.

Screen shot 2013-01-22 at 07.22.46

A long time ago I had the privilege to work on the Ella Valley brand with Yoni from “Armoni Bates” advertising agency that created their amazing visual identity.

Yoni explained to me about the challenges and his vision when he created the label and inspired the way I branded myself.

Ella Valley vineyard effectively combined the best wines experts with high-end technology process but one point was problematic … they were new in the market.

Yoni’s solution was smart and impressed me as he succeeded in balancing an old-school style with digital and daring graphics. He used black and gold with a classic serif font in addition to a sexy shape for the label. The iconography was used to explain the values of the process and to top it all he each bottle had its own unique URL on the back to complete the ultimate effect of a classic yet edgy wine.

This challenge was exactly what I felt when I created INKOD’s brand and that’s why I used the most royal and traditional of symbols, the gold lion, and combined it with a classic serif font for the company’s name.

The contrast it creates was unexpected, daring, unique but also classic and with this ensured the feeling of “déjà vu”.

VI. INKOD meets HYPERA

Roni Nizri Geva joined me after less than 3 months and has since successfully managed and marketed INKOD with our sharp vision and common purpose of doing business and fun 🙂

After 2 years, we wanted to add a technological aspect to INKOD so we could provide a one stop shop solution to our clients. We thought we could better understand and control the whole process of development as well as get better budgeting.

We met HYPERA which was managed by Assaf Priel, and had a team of experts focused on achieving the same result.

The evolution of the logo came to its second step as the name changed to INKOD HYPERA.

The vision of the company was sharpened and I decided that it’s time to get rid of all the excess ornamentation of the lion and have something that’s more up to date.

Screen shot 2013-01-22 at 07.25.39

This version of the logo combined the two brands with their separate slogans to explain each department’s values: INKOD – Exclusive Designs and HYPERA -Innovative Technology.

The merging of the two companies was successful and formed a team with the methodology needed to develop and work in synergy.

The technology revolution in the digital world was really quick and from a business standpoint we realized that the competition was getting stiff with the time. Roni is very talented when it comes to self-assessment and pretty soon he and Assaf understood that the real need of the market was User Interfaces Expertise and not just technology at a better price.

INKOD HYPERA. It’s all about the concept.

Screen shot 2013-01-22 at 07.27.05

This version of the logo shows the evolution of the lion into something more mature and stylish, the combination of our two names created something even stronger and more powerful as one identity and our final new slogan: “It’s all about the concept”.

Screen shot 2013-01-22 at 07.28.11

VII. INKOD HYPERA 2012 

Leading the market in Israel with our expertise as a UX & GUI Design Company for Web, Mobile and Tablet products, we finally matured enough to get our own personality and explore a new concept showing the process and team work values.

In the presentation below you get a full introduction to the new brand concept.

I’m proud and happy to introduce it to the world.

Coming soon – our new website

www.inkod.com

My first lion sketch

Origami

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