JJ Abrams Is Giving Away A Walk-On Role In The New Star Wars Movie

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J.J. Abrams took a few minutes to shoot a video while on set of Star Wars: Episode VII to announce a new initiative called Star Wars: Force for Change. Disney’s Star Wars is partnering with UNICEF Innovation Labs to help fund its projects benefitting children in need around the world. It is great to see J.J. Abrams and his team do something awesome for those who could use some help in addition to giving the world a new sci-fi classic. Continue reading “JJ Abrams Is Giving Away A Walk-On Role In The New Star Wars Movie”

Google Shows Support for Gay Olympic Athletes

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Google is currently showcasing a new doodle on it’s homepage in support of all of the Olympic athletes participating in the Sochi 2014 Games. A quote from the Olympic Charter also accompanies the new doodle:

“The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

You can follow the games online at the official site: Sochi2014.com

Is Your Job Killing You? [infographic]

We may accuse each other of exaggerating when we say our jobs are killing us, but it might not be that much of an exaggeration. Dozens of studies over the years have linked job stress to increased incidences of disease and death. With this infographic, discover who is most at risk, what causes workplace stress, what the likely consequences are and how both employers and employees can reduce the problem.

What do you think?

Is your job killing you?

What are you going to do about? 

Is Job Stress Killng You?
Infographic Credit: HumanResourcesMBA.org

 

A ‘Five Iron Frenzy’ Story


Bringing a Dead Band Back to Life

Two weeks ago today, Five Iron Frenzy announced that they were coming back to the music scene. After months of waiting to see what the band’s website countdown was about, weeks of teasing social media posts, and a scavenger hunt that was more hype than substance, the two words that fans had been waiting years for hit the web “We’re Back!” There was a Kickstarter campaign launched to raise $30,000 for a new album, which was funded in 54 minutes. That number reached $160,000+ in just two weeks. Since the band released their first new song in eight years (for free), it was downloaded over 17,000 times from the band’s website and social media profiles (not including iTunes, Amazon, etc.) in first ten days after the announcement. Facebook and Twitter had thousands of fans talking about the band being back. It had been a long 8 years without them. The funny thing is, just six months ago, no one in the band was seriously considering a comeback, seeing as they said it would be at leas ten years until a reunion. Everything started one afternoon when two unlikely events happened almost simultaneously…

The Back Story
After almost 9 years of touring and record label deadlines, Five Iron Frenzy did one final tour. They called it Winners Never Quit, to thank their fans. The band said goodbye via one last concert at the Fillmore Auditorium in their native Denver, CO in front of a sold out crowd in November of 2003. The following year a a live album was recorded from the farewell tour and was released and the band parted ways. Eventually the website was abandoned as well. The domain name held by the band for years as an official source of news and promotion, FiveIronFrenzy.com, eventually expired.

As a long time Five Iron Frenzy fan and general web geek I had been watching the domain name’s registration expiration date and wanted to save it from the fate of other band’s abandoned domain names. Just look at the domains Bleach and Supertones lost as examples. I didn’t want the band’s music and legacy to be forgotten or tossed aside. I also didn’t want spammers or domain name squatters to get the site. Over the years I’d been to countless FIF shows in several states. I’d grown-up with great memories associated with those shows and even took a road trip to Denver from Chicago to see my favorite band one last time.

In early 2008 the domain name dropped and I was able to enter an auction for the domain name. After several days of bidding and waiting and bidding again I won ownership to the domain name. A few days later a fan site was up and fan-based updates happened regularly with photos, interviews and links to the bands music online. In 2010 the band produced a documentary called “The Rise and Fall of Five Iron Frenzy” that covered the bands often troubled existence with all of its ups, downs and what ifs. There was some talk of the band’s history and music on the web after that, but it wasn’t time for a comeback. There was no real prospect or hope of a return for several years, if ever, based on the documentary’s view of things. As a fan I was sad, but I remained hopeful. Anything was possible. Right?

Two Events That Only Meant Something When Together
At the Cornerstone Music Festival on June 29, 2011 Leanor Ortega-Till (the band’s ex-saxophonist) was misquoted as saying that Five Iron Frenzy was getting back together. On that same day, before the reports of Leanor’s misquote came out, I setup a countdown timer to Five Iron Frenzy Day of 2011. Five Iron Frenzy day happens every year on November 22 in remembrance of the day that Five Iron Frenzy quit the music business in 2003. My plan was simply to post a new website design and content because nothing newsworthy had happened related to Five Iron Frenzy since the release of the FIF DVD in 2010. With both things happening in the same day, a slew of online posts and articles began speculating that FIF’s return would soon follow.

A few days later Leanor clarified her statements as “hopes” of the band getting back together, but that they were not even in discussions about it. This post was published on Leanor’s Jeff the Girl fan page on Facebook and the then fan based FIF website on July 5.

This is Leanor. I agree it is a long shot–call me the optimist, but I do hope it happens. I did not CONFIRM that we will play Cornerstone or any show in fact. In conversation I said to a person, I hope so, we have talked about it, and if it were to happen (us play shows again) it would not be until after 2013.

 

I still do hope we do all play together again someday. I do hope we write new songs and release them. Will it happen? I can’t say, and I am only one member. But I do agree, it will take a TON of work, and a TON of communication and vision. In the future–please do not post conversations as interviews. Words are so strong and my wanting to convey hope came off as fact—-I apologize for any confusion I may have caused.

 

-Leanor Ortega Til

On July 6, 2011 I drafted a clarification letter “from the band” and sent it out to the FIF members to be OK’ed before posting it online. While I was hoping for a comeback, I realized that this was probably not the time because the band wasn’t talking about it yet.

Hey Kids,

 

There has been a lot of buzz about Five Iron Frenzy going around the internets in the last few days: countdowns, technical difficulties, rumors of a reunion tour happening, and so on. The record needs to be set straight. Some of you folks have been with us for a very long time. You deserve only the truth. As of right now none of us (the members of FIF) have agreed to a reunion in 2013.

 

We tried to pull it together for a new record and a tour about a year ago but it sort of fizzled out. That doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t happen, but it certainly is NOT confirmed. We all have families of our own now and are spread all over the country; we can’t just leave our jobs and go meandering all over the country to play shows.

 

Leanor did not confirm that we would play Cornerstone or any future show as fact. In conversation she mentions hopes, ideas and view of a future with Five Iron after 2013. That is the 10-year mark we as a band agreed to before we broke up. If we do any thing new in the future it will take a TON of work, and a TON of communication and vision. In the future kids, please do not post conversations as interviews.

 

Words are powerful. Hopes were viewed as fact and that caused confusion. Please receive our apologies for any misguided hope or despair that was caused this week.

 

We all agree that a tour it is a long shot, but many of us hope it happens one day. For now? Buy our dvd or some of our music. Again if you already own it.

 

-Five Iron Frenzy

An important conversation started online that day. Instead of everyone giving the go ahead to post the letter and move on with their lives free of FIF, Reese Roper (the lead singer) suggested actually doing a reunion tour in 2013. Band members started to chime in—everyone had jobs, families, and more responsibilities than before. Not to mention the amount of debt some band members still had from years of touring with very little pay. Why couldn’t they do a reunion tour of some kind? Maybe it wouldn’t be 4 months of straight touring, but some long weekends out on the road, a few festivals, or a two-week tour. In the following three days, a playlist, the new song release idea, and practice dates were setup.

Everything was starting to happen, a Five Iron Frenzy reunion was going to take place. Woot!

Fast forward a few months…

Social Media Buzz
In order to get the word out as best as possible I came up with the idea of a scavenger hunt to precede the band’s comeback announcement. Everyone in the band seemed to agree that it was a good idea as well. Many fans were already following the countdown, but a scavenger hunt would help to get more people involved. There were three main parts to it:

Day #1: 
A simple, yet maddeningly complex (if you didn’t use “view source”), Find the Blue Comb game was posted. Very web 1.0.

 

Day #2:
Leanor Ortega-Till launched a personal website via a clue given on the URL Day #1 led to. There was a page selling her poetry book online and a page with clues on what to do next… Post the Fire Extinguisher image (based off of an old FIF sticker) all over the web.

  

Day #3:
There was a word hunt across several Five Iron Frenzy related domain names. Lyrics of variuos FIF songs were posted with some letters bolded, italicised and so on. Images on those posts has hidden alt tags that equaled parts of a password. All of this put together correctly led to the below “badge” and yet another teaser about the Nov. 22 announcement.

The final announcement of a new song and reunion of the band via letter from the band and videos from Reese Roper and Andy Verdecchio (the drummer) were posted online. The band’s official site and social media outlets all mirrored this in an effort to get the word out as quickly as possible. That’s when everything in the last two weeks started to happen. Band members and fans alike were overwhelmed with thankfulness that Five Iron Frenzy was back and its project was funded.

The events that make up the reunion story of a band loved by many are all to blame on the combination of events one day in June 2011: a band’s hope to play again, a misquoted saxophone player, and an inspired web designer.

The iPhone 4S and Apple’s Lost “Wow” Factor

Apple announced the iPhone 4S today. The highlights include 8 Megapixel Camera, new camera lens setup, 1080p 30fps video, dual-core A5 chip, and Siri™, “an intelligent assistant that helps you get things done just by asking.” The iPhone 4S video does a great job at showing this stuff. Yes, some nice improvements have been made over the iPhone 4, with the new iPhone4S but it seems that the “Wow” factor has been misplaced at Apple recently.

The iPod, iPhone and iPad were all incredible products when launched. They were all amazing devices. Then the evolution of those products have been slow and not nearly as exciting. The iPad should have had a camera built in the first time around. The iPad 2 should have had the Retina display. The original iPhone launched without cut and paste. The iPhone 4 should have never had the death grip issue. And on and on. Apple is not perfect, but that have been known to be innovative.

Steve Jobs once said “…people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” In many ways I want Apple to show me the next thing that I want or need in my life. Don’t get me wrong. I know some of the things I want. An iPhone with NCF and full 4G support would be nice. I know that I want an Apple Television set, but have no idea why or how I’d pay for one. I just know that Apple can make a freaking amazing television set.

Lets hope that the wow factor at Apple has indeed only been misplaced for now and not lost. Here is to hoping that the Sprint announcement this week has something cool in-store. Or at the very least Apple has some “Wow” stored up for a 2012 release (or two).

Full 10/04/11 Apple Press Release:
http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2011/10/04Apple-Launches-iPhone-4S-iOS-5-iCloud.html

Apple’s Oct. 4 iPhone Event: Live-Coverage Options

 

Waiting for official new on today’s Apple announcement?

Here are a few places live-blogging the event for your enjoyment:

Mashable: http://joelg.us/17l
Engadget: http://joelg.us/17m
Gizmodo: http://joelg.us/17n
MacRumors: http://joelg.us/17o
New York Times:  http://joelg.us/17p
Mac|Life: http://joelg.us/17q
MacWorld: http://joelg.us/17r
PC Mag: http://joelg.us/17s 
Wired:  http://joelg.us/17t
Ars Technica: http://joelg.us/17u
Washington Post: http://joelg.us/17v
gdgt: http://joelg.us/17x
CNET: http://joelg.us/17y
All Things D: http://joelg.us/17z
CNBC: http://joelg.us/17-

Have more links to coverage worth watching? Leave them in the comments below.

UPDATE: Now that the event is over you can watch the presentation video at
http://www.apple.com/apple-events/october-2011/

Add Photos to your Google+ Profile Page Scrapbook

If you want to add photos to your Google+ Profile page’s Scrapbook section:

1.) Login to Google Plus. Click the “Profile” button.

2.) On the top right of the page you will see a button that says “Edit Profile.” Click it.

3.) Click on the section that says “Add some photos here” and then on “Add Photos”.

4.) Choose “Choose File” under the Upload tab if you want to add photos that are not already uploaded to a Google+. Choose the “Your Albums” tab if you want to add photos that are already uploaded to a Google+ in an album.

5.) Repeat this process as often as you want to upload/add photos!