For all you beer guzzlin’ PHP fans…
Archive for March, 2007
James is a 6-year old kid in grade 1. Like many other kids he likes to play his Gameboy, ride his bike, and goes to karate.
But James has asthma, a lung condition that makes it hard for him to breathe when he’s having an “attack”.
Last Friday I stayed home with my son James during one of his attacks. I spent most of the day giving him medicine with a nebulizer (like a small humidifier). To cheer him up, I opened my laptop and asked, “How does asthma make you feel?” Taking off his nebulizer mask, he said, “Like a bird that can’t fly”.
I typed his words into a Zazzle, and together James and I made his first “Asthma Shirt“. James was tickled to see his words on a shirt! It was a huge pick-me-up for an otherwise challenging day.
Using only Zazzle’s fonts – especially the picture fonts – we created a series of shirts for kids with Asthma. Making these shirts helped James creatively express his feelings about his health condition. At the end of the day, looking at the nice array of colorful shirts with lighthearted asthma phrases on them made us both feel a lot better.
We really like using picture fonts, and all the shirts in the asthmatic gallery are “text only”. I hope Zazzle adds more picture fonts in the future. They are easy for kids to use – even kids in bed with asthma!
So April 1 is coming, and for those that are of the mischievous type I know what you’re thinking… it’s time to cook up a scheme to trick those coworkers or loved ones into believing you have SARS or something like that. But for those of you who are running into a practical joke dry spell I’ve got a helpful link for you, to the 100 greatest practical jokes of all time.
My favorite from the list….
#4: The Taco Liberty Bell
In 1996 the Taco Bell Corporation announced that it had bought the Liberty Bell from the federal government and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Hundreds of outraged citizens called up the National Historic Park in Philadelphia where the bell is housed to express their anger. Their nerves were only calmed when Taco Bell revealed that it was all a practical joke a few hours later. The best line inspired by the affair came when White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the sale, and he responded that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold, though to a different corporation, and would now be known as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.
Check it out and get into the Foolin’ mode. Also, here is a link to my fav April 1 product on Zazzle… So topical!
After being at the new Zazzle HQ for some time now, we have come to appreciate that one of the perks is the proximity to DreamWorks PDI. How close are we? Well, their building is right across the sidewalk from ours… so close that our lobbies are practically touching (they have an Oscar in theirs, it’s sweet… they won’t let us touch it though).
But, when we first moved in we weren’t sure what to think of these renowned animation folk… are they a little “off”? Are they friendly or do they only live in a world of illustrations and vector art? Do they walk around and talk in Shrek-Speak? Does Mike Myers hang around the cubes telling jokes all day? Does Cameron Diaz use Proactiv? Well, any fears we previously had of these unknown creatures fizzled on the day we noticed this sign in a DreamWorks window, right across from us:
Text: Hello, Who R U?
Perplexed and excited we quickly posted a response explaining who were in simple terms: “Zazzle.com.” To our message they posted this sign…
Text: Welcome to the Hood!
After that we knew that DreamWorkers were our kind of neighbors… so we HAD to post this sign:
Text: Fo’ Shazzle Mah Zazzle!!
It escalated from there… a few days later they actually set up a treasure hunt for us with GPS coordinates and all. Of course, the treasure is now hanging proudly by our CEO’s desk in the HQ. Here is a shot of the prize (a movie poster with signatures from the actual creators of Shrek, Princess Fiona, and Donkey!!):
(the sheer beauty of it brings a tear to my eye…)
But this tale is not over yet, oh no, far from it. We had to match what they had done for us, so we recreated the game “Warmer & Colder” – over walkie talkies – to give DreamWorks a little present from us (as we watched from above). Here are the pictures of some of the DreamWorks staff on the journey that changed their lives forever (er, we like to think it did).
Are they getting warmer or colder?
w00t they found it! They are so awesome.
Anyway, that’s all for now. They’re kinda busy wrapping up Shrek the Third and… little do they know, our next crazy antic is to beat them to the punch on developing Shrek the Fourth!… heh, not really. Anyway, I’ll keep you updated on the shenanigans between our buildings. Who knows, maybe they’ll even let me hold the Oscar.
Last week, I made a post highlighting some of the more innovative galleries on Zazzle. The second set of galleries are listed below and please leave a shout out to your favorites in the comments below. The diversity of gallery styles and designs continues to amaze us … keep up the great work!
These contributors are from a number of locations including …
- Dallas, Texas
- Scotch Plains, NJ
- HangZhou, China
- Spokane Valley, WA
- LA, USA
- San Diego, CA
- San Mateo, CA
- Portland, ME
- Chicago, IL
Recently NPR ran a story about the pending ban on plastic bags in SF. The story has started debates and controversy all over the Bay Area, and now it has even sparked a contributor gallery! BYOBshop is a Zazzle gallery that has been created to support the use of our awesome cloth, reusable and durable bag lines that are of course, completely customizable from Zazzle! Check out the BYOB (bring your own bag) gallery, or if you’ve got a great idea, create your own and post a link to it in the comments, cause I haven’t decide which bag I will use for shopping now…
Here is one I am leaning toward….But I really want to see your’s
The Portable Network Graphics format (PNG) is a relatively new beast on the web. It’s been around since 1995, but has only recently been gaining popularity amongst web designers now that the major browsers all support it to some degree.
One thing the PNG format is good at is full alpha transparency. Sure, the tried and true GIF image format can set one of its colors to be transparent, but with PNG, you get virtually unlimited levels of transparency! That means you can design an image that fades to whatever background happens to be behind it.
The sample image to the left shows what is possible when saving an image using PNG24 (The 24 refers to 24-bit images. That’s 16.8 million colors! GIF, on the other hand, only supports 256 colors). Notice the peace sign is semi-transparent and shows the alien underneath it at various levels of transparency. Let’s see GIF try to do THAT!
(NOTE: The image sample above is NOT an actual PNG, but rather a JPG. Microsoft Internet Explorer versions 6 and under do not properly handle PNG transparency, and for the purpose of this demonstration, a JPG image was simply more practical. Don’t worry, Internet Explorer version 7 has fixed PNG transparency, so we recommend upgrading. Firefox and Safari users need not worry.)
So how does this help me on Zazzle?
Ok, so this is all well and good, but how can you, as a designer of products for the Zazzle marketplace, take advantage of this? Simple! Always upload PNG24 images! When Zazzle receives an image file for printing, it actually converts the file for display in browsers, but uses the full truecolor, transparent 24-bit PNG file for printing. So if your image fades out, it will fade to the color of the material behind it (red t-shirt, white mug, another image…)
How do I make PNG24 files?
The steps below are for users of Adobe Photoshop. Other image editing programs may differ.
- Open up Photoshop and create a design as you normally would
- If your design has transparent areas make sure you turn off any background layers
- When done with the design, choose File->Save For Web… (or hit ALT-SHIFT-CTRL-S)
- This opens a big save dialog. On the right, under preset, select PNG-24
- Make sure the Transparency checkbox is checked
- Click the Save button, enter a filename, then click Save
Tada! You now have a truecolor transparent PNG! Now upload it to Zazzle and create, create, create!
So I’ve been asked to contribute to the Zazzle blog and at first I was reluctant since I had no clue what to write about. Besides, I suck at blogging, that’s why I have a ‘photo blog’ so I don’t have to bother with words. I was trying to think of a way to get out of writing posts, but then I realized that I could have some fun with this blogging thing… I decided to interview our Zazzle contributors to find out what was going on inside their heads. Totally cool. Maybe I can get some inspiration on how to pimp out my own Zazzle gallery. We have some great contributors here at Zazzle and I plan on interviewing my favorites, one by one.
The PotatoCrisps Interview
For my first interview I decided to speak with PotatoCrisps, a 22 year old certified Rock and Roll Scientist and pretty cool Zazzle Contributor.
Me: Tell us a little about yourself and where you are from.
Potatocrisps: I’m from the San Francisco Bay Area. Affectionately known as the “Yay Urrea”.
R: Do you always wear that thing on your head?
P: What thing..
R: Um… Never mind. Where do you get your inspiration from?
P: I find inspiration from most everything. Take my username for example; I stole that sucker off a can of Pringles. As for my artwork, I am inspired by office supplies, people in animal costumes, anthropomorphic food items, moustaches, beef items, exploded diagrams, and whatever else I happen to come across that day.
R: How is your personality reflected in your art/characters?
P: Well that’s kind of a strange question. How would it not be reflected? I wouldn’t have made my “Jesus Apus” t-shirt, unless there’s a little Jesus Apus in me.
R: How long does it take you to create one of your pieces?
P: It all depends. A few months ago I switched from designing in Photoshop, to Illustrator. That has made things a lot quicker to create. But quality, mind you, is always key in my designs. Please note my attention to detail in each hand crafted cookie crumb in my piece entitled “Crummy”.
R: What other interests do you have besides art?
P: I enjoy laughing at the misfortune of small children, listening to Hall and Oates in my car obnoxiously loud, and thinking about how much better my iTunes library is than anyone I know. I also like old Casio keyboards, yelling at my television, and Fran Drescher.
R: Where do you design your work? Spare Room, Garage, Outside?
P: Mostly at home. In front of the television. I’m a modern day Michelangelo.
R: Who are some of your favorite Zazzle contributors?
R: What advice do you have to new Zazzle Contributors?
P: Don’t watch MTV, then go online and create a t-shirt. I beg you.
R: What can we expect from you in the future?
P: To rule incredibly hard. Almost furiously.
R: PC or Mac?
P: Both. I’m all about the love.
R: What’s your favorite dance move.
P: It’s a combination of The Robot, and The Sprinkler. It’s pretty hot right now..
R: What holds more comical value, cheese or bananas? And Why?
P: I think cheese holds a lot more comic value than bananas, because they can easily take out bananas with a one-two punch. Cheese can be yellow and slippery like a banana, but the stench of cheese is unrivalled. Also, I’d much rather see a man wearing a hat of cheese, than a hat of bananas.
R: Are you fearful of asteroids or other space-like projectiles?
P: Always. Most projectiles make me fearful at night.
R: What’s the coolest place you’ve ever gone?
P: Any place but southern America.
R: What do you do when you’re bored?
P: I’ll usually see what’s on the Tivo, or stare at the same websites online and hit refresh until something better happens.
R: What’s your price?
P: A shiny quarter.
R: Well, that’s about does it. Did you have any final thoughts?
P: Yeah. I challenge everybody to a design off! Someone think they’ve got a sweeter gallery than me? Leave me a comment! Let me know! BRING IT!
R: You heard it hear first folks, stay tuned.
To see PotatoCrisps gallery check out:
I’ve always thought of Zazzle as a great place to buy gifts. With all the user generated products in our marketplace (more being added every single second by awesome designers from around the world!) you’re sure to find something that will even delight those hard-to-shop-for type of people like my dad who pretty much returns everything I buy for him. And if you can’t find something in the marketplace, why not use our design tools and create something from scratch instead?
Ahhh, so many more gift giving possibilities than ever before – don’t you just love the magic of The Long Tail and the democratization of the tools of production.
Since so many people use Zazzle to buy gifts for others, we’re always looking for ways to improve the gift giving experience. Now when you check “My cart contains a gift item” during checkout, we’ll include a gift packing sheet in the box. You’ll definitely earn some brownie points with your friends and family since they’ll know you just bought them a one-of-a-kind product that you helped make.
Here’s a preview of the packing sheet that we’re going to include in every gift shipment. It’s going to be in color too!
The Future Begins on March 30. And I can’t wait! I’m going to opening night for Disney’s latest movie Meet the Robinsons which opens on March 30. The early review from Ain’t It Cool News sounds pretty darn good too.
I’m wearing this shirt to the premiere:
Get your Meet the Robinsons gear!
P.S. If you don’t believe that I’m just that into Disney, you should know that I spent 13 hrs at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure just last weekend…