Years ago I was looking for a name for a website. I didn't want to use my name or make up a ficticious design group. I was looking for something else. At the time I was listening to a lot of New Order and the song "Thieves Like Us" was stuck in my head. Somebody was already sitting on that URL so I moved on to the hook:
It's Called Love
And this site was born.
It's been the home for my wedding website, honeymoon blog, random musings, and countless other fun projects and half baked ideas.
Now I'd like to use it to share some of my favorite projects in the hopes of inspiring others and reminding myself of past creativity.
I currently work for NHS Inc, one of the most celebrated manufacturers and distributors of skateboards.
I have the privilege of heading up the Web Department. Working for a skateboard company, there is no shortage of excitement and challenges. However, this fast paced and volatile environment has pushed me to be flexible and nimble. The requests can be odd, the timelines can be short and the payoffs can be immensely satisfying.
Here are some of my favorite projects:
Custom CMS Site
Maintaining a site is tough. Maintaining 14 is ridiculous. I quickly realized that, in order to efficiently maintain a large number of popular sites, I needed to figure out a way to share like content and resources among them. The first steps were to create libraries of team riders, brand information and a liaison to all our product information.
From there our CMS expanded, incorporating all our video data and campaign information. What was once a side project quickly became the backbone of the NHS marketing strategy.
The latest twist has been deploying campaigns via the CMS site. Each brand advertises on anywhere from three to six websites per month. Each of those campaigns has multiple pieces of collateral, tagged with it’s own Google Campaign. Previously the process of sending out these campaigns could take up to two hours; using the CMS site I developed this process now takes two minutes.
All skateboard distributors want to see kids cruising around exclusively on parts that you’ve designed, made and sold. It’s a bit of a buzzkill to see one of your amazing graphics being ridden with a competitors trucks or wheels. Perhaps that’s a bit catty but hey... nobody’s perfect.
What did we to to rectify this situation? Offered a tool that allows kids to build boards with only our fine products.
We researched other board builders, made mockups and talked with our customer service people to see what kind of questions kids were asking about building completes. The result has been fantastic: a board builder that is as fun as it is helpful. The real gold star seal of approval was when an competitor called me to ask “how did you do that?”
When the words "Radvent Calendar" were brought up in a meeting I knew it was just so silly that it had to be done. Luckily we’d just hired an incredible illustrator who created an amazing drawing in a couple of days.
From there it was up to me and my newly hired developer to put our CSS and jQuery to the test. We both stayed up late for a couple of nights, but in the end we had a fully animated and interactive calendar that unlocked one deal a day for the holiday season.
Twenty five holiday promotions later we swore we’d never do it again. However, I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t a blast. Radvent!
Raspberry Pi Instagram Feed
In 2013 NHS celebrated it’s 40th anniversary by building a skateboard museum. Of course when you build a skateboard museum you need to throw a big ol’ party and invite some industry heavies to come check it out. The result was a surreal evening, drinking beer and eating tacos with pretty much anyone I’ve ever cared about in skateboarding.
Some time before the party, a colleague came back from a Giants game excited about a system where people could hash-tag Instagram images and have them beam straight to a jumbotron. He asked if I could do this on a smaller scale. Why not?
We dug into the Instagram API, beefed up our jQuery skills and brought in a Raspberry Pi computer to create a super lightweight yet fully functional small scale version of the Giant’s jumbotron.
During the party I would nervously glance to the monitor to make sure it had the latest Christian Hosoi image or random skate artifact. Thankfully it always did…
I couldn't be successful at work if I didn't maintain a healthy set of extracurricular activities. My passions include bicycling, woodwork, sewing, electronics and generally figuring out how things work. If I can combine a couple of those things at once, even better!
Here are a couple of my favorites.
A Bicycle Built For Three
I was very fortunate to be given an Xtracycle kit that turns any normal bike frame into a "long tail" cargo bike. From there I began researching how to make this platform safe enough to carry two rambunctious little boys. Several cardboard mockups later, I got to work.
I’m always happy when I come out of a store to find people gathered around the bike, but not as happy as I am transporting my sons to the farmers market every Saturday.
I've built many things but I'm the proudest of this one. I’ve been stopped on the street, asked to build others and photographed from moving cars, and all I was trying to do was make sure that I’d still get to ride my bike after having two kids!
"Keep Shopping" came out of the opportunity to create a piece for small art show at NHS, which had neither theme nor restrictions. I’d bought an Arduino some months back and, until then, had only stared at it. Waiting at the butcher counter one evening I saw the ubiquitous “Now Serving” sign behind the counter. I was inspired to build a display that would reflect, in real time, purchases made on our online store.
Out came the Arduino and the soldering iron. After many late nights, a dozen tutorials and too many trips to Santa Cruz Electronics, I had something that worked. I dressed it up in a fine plywood box, hung it on the wall and watched as people pulled out their phones in order to add items to a shopping cart throughout the reception.