Monday, July 17, 2006

Carnegie Hall Contest

I'm personally and professionaly one of the NO!SPEC rebels. I believe that professionals should not hand out creatives (work, sketches, anything that takes substantial time or could be stolen and produced by any kid with an art program) for any client's job without being under contract to be paid for the work, deposits or down payments optional. This extends to contest work, where dozens of designers are invited to submit finished works in the hope that they will be picked out as the one good enough for the reward.

I've been reading and commenting on NO!SPEC articles for a couple months, and now I come across an interesting post on Craigslist:

Date: 2006-07-12

Carnegie Hall Seeks Original Art for Its Playbill Covers!

THEME “Music as a fundamental expression of the human spirit”--using Carnegie Hall’s 2006-2007 season as inspiration. Please visit for complete season details.

ELIGIBILITY Open to all enrolled students (valid identification required)

STYLE AND MEDIUM Any style and any medium, including painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, and computer-generated art

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS jpeg, tiff, or pdf digital format only; file size not to exceed 2 mb; e-mail to

PRIZES Each of 10 selected entrants will receive $500 and 2 tickets to a performance at Carnegie Hall.

Deadline: August 31, 2006

Selected artists must be living, reside in the United States, provide their Social Security numbers, and sign a release for the use of their work.Winning works will appear on the covers of Carnegie Hall’s concert program books throughout the 2006-2007 season. Please note that while we encourage all forms of artistic expression, some controversial subject matter may not be suitable for publication. Submissions should not be literal representations of musicians appearing at Carnegie Hall. Also note that while artists will retain ownership of their original works, the photographic representation of each winning work will be considered a work made for hire for The Carnegie Hall Corporation (CHC), and CHC will own all copyrights and other rights in it, including, without limitation, the exclusive right to adapt it and to use it for any purpose and in any medium now known or devised in the future, perpetually and throughout the world.

no -- it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
Compensation: $500 and 2 tickets to a performance at Carnegie Hall

This contest is of course a contest. Carnegie Hall is looking for dozens of people to pour their time into a project, and looking to reward someone and use their work. Only this time there are some key differences. It's open to students only; not many speculative work contests are only open to valid students. There are 10 prizes -- that certainly increases the chances of winning, and means that it's less likely that there will have been ties for first place and the winner chosen by the flip of a coin. Knowing PlayBills, it's possible there will be 10 covers printed, and all the winners' pieces distributed to a very mixed audience (and making a terrific portfolio piece). The prize is pretty fair -- they're giving out a total of $5000 to 10 students -- and how many students couldn't use $500?

Other interesting things to note: It's mixed media, and there aren't many chances for students to get that type of money for a media of their choice. It's not a venue where the student would be needed for branding advice, or future support, unlike logo or website design contests -- they need 10 single photos/pictures to print for the program book covers. The work produced by the entrants would be able to be generic and useful for other purposes (unlike a logo or web design).

I'm not saying it's a good contest; I find it difficult to judge this one. What I am saying is that of the contests I've seen, this one is different, more fair, unlikely to hurt Carnegie Hall in the way that most speculative contests I have seen are eventually going to bite the company holding the contest.

Would anyone care to comment on it?

[tags]activism, spec work, competition, rant, time[/tags]

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Clean-Room-Gestapo

You were there. You remember.

The humiliation, the pain, the sheer overwhelming bulk of it. Your room.

Your room was a mess. Years of accumulated junk and toys, half-eaten crackers, cups and plates. It doesn't matter if you were 2 or 20. You had done it: you made a big big mess.

There were your parents. Whether you were 2 or 20, their hulking bulk filled the sky as they glared down at you, tiny lightning bolts flashing in their eyes, and the Commandment came down like thunder, "CLEAN YOUR ROOM!"

As they stormed from the room, you surveyed the cluttered landfill, wondering whether you should start at the lump you think is your bed, or whether maybe it would be better to start from the top and work your way down, after all a lot of towers will be crumbling anyway. Overwhelmed, baffled at the Commandment, and with no good way to tackle the chaos, eyes moist with frustration and helplessness, you wonder why your parents have suddenly abandoned you, and made this unreasonable and surely irrational declaration. After an hour of helplessly transferring items from one pile to another, you turn your eyes upwards, ready to pray for salvation, but instead you swear a solemn oath on your favorite teddy, or maybe your iPod, Never EVER to do this to your children. Your children's room will be their own, safe from worries about parents and cleaning. They can do whatever they want with their room. You don't care how dirty it gets.

Years Go By...

You have your bundle of joy now. You watch your child learn to crawl, to walk. At 9 months you laugh when your child experiments with gravity, but then your child is in the high chair and decides to experiment with the oatmeal. A little less amused the 10th time, now that you've reinforced the behavior by being jovial and putting on a housecleaning show in front of your toddler, you finally frown at your child, and sternly say "NO!"

Fast-forward. Now your child is 2 -- or 20. You walk into the room to trip on a toy car, or to be admonished for stepping on their favorite Teddy. Maybe you step on their iPod. It's ok this time, you make it to the bed, tuck your bundle of joy in, realize the covers are in a huge knot, try to unravel them for the 100th time. You turn out the light, and narrowly escape the room with your life.

You do this over and over. It doesn't matter if you do it 20 or 200 times. There's going to be the one time you don't make it out unscathed.

Maybe it was a wooden block, an ice skate, a pencil point, a 4-sided-die. Whatever it was, you stepped directly on it and the stabbing pain went right up your leg. With the pain came a moment of clarity -- or was that insanity? The room is a hazard! The room has gone untouched for far too long, you've put up with it for far too long, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!! There is no way to resist the onrushing waves tossed about by years of neglect and insult. You pay for the house, you pay for their things, you have cleaned up after them, dressed them, bathed them, dedicated endless hours for years and years to keeping them neat, tidy, and healthy. And THIS is how they repay you? Tossing all your labors out the door, carelessly strewing items around the room, inviting vermin with dirty plates and half eaten vittles, and not even trying to make an inviting path to allow you in?!

you. Have. HAD. IT.

Like a Valkyrie or Odin himself, shaking a spear and shouting out a war-cry you denounce your naive youthful oath, and crash down like the very wrath of the gods has filled you, screaming like a banshee, and you make every declaration under the sun swearing that "IF you don't CLEAN THIS ROOM...." and ending it with whatever spills out of your wraith-strewn maw. You can't even remember. It doesn't really matter.

After the one fell incident, you become a police officer, keeping law and order -- your law and your order -- with regard to the tidiness of the room. With every foot your child drags, your threats and declarations escalate into a shrill madness that causes even your own inner child to flee in wild panic. Every speck of dust or item out of place induces threats and limitations: no dessert, no tv, no computer, no movies, no car, no iPod, no GameBoy, no going out, no phone calls, no No NO.

And it doesn't matter if your kid is 2 or 20. In the face of your irrational exhibition, the child will sulk away and make an oath to a long forgotten deity that they will never, ever, tell their child to clean their room...


Wednesday, July 12, 2006


There was a sudden loud knocking at the kitchen door. I rushed over to answer. A FedEx man handed me a box I wasn't really expecting, delivering my fixed LaCie backup drive. I thanked him and signed for it, only barely noticing the thick pallor that enshrouded the land and the smell that said the air was thick with moisture.

I tore open the box in haste, gloating over LaCie having entirely replaced my drive -- I hadn't had to return the power cords or gadgets with the drive for repair, and now I had duplicates for everything. With no emotion but relief for a minor ordeal being tidied up, I plunked the new drive down on a cluttered wire shelf next to my crochet work and back-up CDs, and sat in my seat, ready to check email and RSS feeds -- my day of working-as-usual.

There was a large boom, somewhere nearby, and entirely out of the blue. Could that be thunder? I had gotten no storm warnings in my RSS feeds from the National Weather Service, but that gloom outside wafted back to my consciousness -- it certainly COULD be thunder. A louder crackle-boom, far too close with no distant warnings. My hand automatically reached out and yanked the power cord from my laptop, and my other hand reached out for my desktop mouse -- time to Shut Down.

Doorstop, my moody desktop, doesn't shut down properly. In spite of a recent re-install. I've replaced every component in the case except for the video card and motherboard, and it absolutely refuses to shut down properly. I even have the boot-up and shut-down in "verbose" mode, so I can read all the system messages on the screen to see if I can figure out what's wrong. The machine spits "continuing" onto the screen then waits for what seems like forever. I push the moody power switch and wait for the machine to shut off.

Cable goes out. It's enough of a problem to be so dependent on my laptop battery -- now I have no Internet. It's definitely not a good sign. Chris, my partner, starts unplugging equipment wholesale, so I reach down, yank Doorstop out of the way, and grope blindly behind my desk, pulling the two plugs from the wall socket, saving Doorstop and my servers.

With a shrug, I grab my crochet work and move to a more comfortable chair.

What ensued was a violent (and sudden) thunderstorm in our area. We lost power for about a half hour. I can't say if we would have gotten a surge sufficient to take our computers out, but I've witnessed lightning strikes that have done extensive damage throughout home networks, taking out every ethernet card on the network, and any motherboard with built-in ethernet. Note that all my Macs have built-in ethernet. In other words, a power strike could kill my computers. A power strike on my cable line through to my ethernet network will kill my computers absolutely dead with no hope of return. My laptop is joyfully wireless, so it's not under that risk.

It took at least an hour for our Internet to come back up. I got a lot of crochet work done.

Last winter, we had a storm that took out our power for almost 24 hours, starting on a Friday.

In the case of power loss, I have no Internet connection and about 1-3 hours of laptop battery before I can't work at all anymore. Hopefully people can understand this problem. It's not like I live in the boondocks, either; I'm on the edge of Middletown, a pretty sizable city. Regardless of power loss, I need to take my computers offline, and work solely off my laptop, for the duration of any electrical storms. Any backup battery is insufficient to protect my computers from a direct electrical hit on the (overhead) power lines, and my laptop isn't on the backup battery, since it technically doesn't NEED a backup battery.

Not every admin is this paranoid, but then again not every admin has seen the effect of direct hits the way I have.

These storms will affect my ability to work. I pad my deadlines partially because of problems like these, but should power go out, I may have to move my deadlines, with profuse apologies.

I can crochet you a hat to make up for it though! Just ask! :)

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Pricing Revisions

My Services page has been updated with some lower, and more explicit, pricing.

I had made a mistake when putting up the pricing for flat html design, and made it sound like it was $400 per page -- now it specifically says that I am changing $250 and up per page design. So if you want a design for the homepage, and a separate design for "inside pages" it would be $500+ and a per-page fee for the inside page content.

I also corrected the costs for putting pre-designed designs into web applications, a few web applications are easier to template than others and their fees are listed separately.

I'm sorry if that caused anyone to panic and run :)