A not really geeky request and 2 helpful applications

Starting a second geek-centric post with a request:[please, no one take this personal, so many do it:]

FOR THE LOVE OF GODput your name in the file name of your bio. Seriously. Don’t send anyone a file named “bio.doc” or “newbio.docx”

With only going to level 1 of this: “Zimmer-bio-2012.rtf”

I use dashes or hyphens cause in the olden days files couldn’t handle spaces, and it’s still better for the inter web.

Same for applications:: “MFA application final.doc” is fine for me as the applicant - but do you want to be the person sorting through 100 of those? Trying to match them with the appropriate “My resumeNEW.doc”?

The next step is putting the date in the file or agreeing on file name protocols with collaborators - all Antigone Dead People files should include “ADP” in the fine name. This means if I need to search for something on my computer that is for the show, I just spotlight: “ADP” and I can (ideally) see everything related, no matter where on my computer it is. I still really like nested folders as a way to file things, but that doesn’t mean I want to dig through and try to remember where I put it.

File naming is an act of compassion for others and your future self.

2 little geeky applications:

Text Expander

Link
I don’t use this to maximum capacity by any measure,
but as someone who likes shows and companies with long names (see: Small Wooden Shoe Reads Difficult Plays and Sings Simple Songs) and spends a lot of time writing about them - Text Expander is a blessing.

Very basically - you set up shortcuts and TE expands them so:
“ssws” = Small Wooden Shoe
“swsorg” = http://www.smallwoodenshoe.org
“hhome” = my home address
“swsrpd” = Small Wooden Shoe Reads Difficult Plays and Sings Simple Songs

when writing a play, this can get helpful for character names:
“G$” = Galileo

It can also do email signatures and things that change - so
“ddate” = todays date : 12-09-04
“wddate” = todays date “wide” : September 4, 2012

It cost money, but I think is worth it.

Alfred:

Alfred uses the butler metaphor well and is basically a way to launch applications and files (and do much much more if you want to.)
Link
Computers are much better at certain things than I am, including remembering where files are and opening them. I’m trying to find ways to let them do those things so I can do the other things (like writing blog posts, grant applications, production schedules and sometimes directing theatre.)

Let me know if this stuff interests you or if there's anything specific and geeky you'd like to know about. All this stuff can get really fiddly - but also is helpful.

Attention and behaviour

Some recent (slightly cranky) thoughts on attention and good audience behaviour:

Be interesting enough to take photos of and record

If the person next to me taking photo is more interesting or too distracting compared to what is on stage – that’s the performances problem not the audience members.

That person is a fan - or potential fan. A fan who is so excited by what they’re seeing that they want to share.

Choir!Choir!Choir has been successful mostly because it’s a great idea, led well (a lesson for theatre in there too.) ALSO, it’s a great idea that has been documented well and shared - allowing it to spread.

Anyone here have a serious current issue with bootleg images and recordings ruining their business plan?
Anyone here have a serious problem with too many fans who care about what you’re doing?
I hate to speak for others, but I’m going to wager the answers are no.

Yes, yes of course – “But my show’s that’s not a like that, it’s quiet and delicate flower and requires full attention” – sure you can still try to arrest with quiet quality - I love those shows too. The show I can barely imagine breathing in, let alone take a picture.[1]

I believe that coming together in quiet reflection and solidarity is needed in this world – especially for us secular folks who don’t have the space provided by religious practice.

I think there are people who really want and need that, and that it’s a service that theatre can provide some of the time.

None of these beliefs are going to change what the audience walks in the door with. That’s my work as an artist.

It seems likely that the focused perfect submission in the dark room is no longer going to be the norm. The brief period between the integration of electricity and middle class decorum through to the invention of the ubiquitous computer/camera/connection device may have been the heyday for our quiet shows[2]. But, with the rate of theatre’s adaptation, we’ve still got time - as long as we don’t need new people to come.

Take our attention

If you have to harangue us with volunteers and pleading from the stage to pay attention you are: a) doing it wrong. b) doing it at the wrong time c) doing it in the wrong place d)all of the above. - Taylor Mac taught me that in a heartbeat.

We’re so busy threatening to charge people with transgressing, we’ve forgotten our job is to arrest and encourage them.

We’re supposed to lead, not plead for a return to yesteryear.


  1. I don’t take pictures or tweet during shows. I have enough trouble paying attention, and besides they often don’t turn out. But that’s me and this stuff is not native to me.[?]
  2. No way that Beckett writes Godot in the same production conditions that Shakespeare writes Henry IV.[?]

Future Present Shock 1

I just did a little survey that Eventbrite asked me to, and there were a couple interesting things for theatre:

… over the next 12 months, how important do you think information from social networks will become in identifying the best attendees for events you plan to organize?” [emphasis mine]

Not any attendee, not “new” or “returning” but “best.” “Best” – despite what the world might have us believe – does not have to mean richest, or most powerful or most cool – to me, it means the people who care the most and the people who find (or might find in the future) some solidarity and help in the work I’m part of. They are the people who stand in line, who sign up and unfortunately, the people we tend know very little about.

Chatting with the great young makers at S.L.I.P. – I was the internet guy, pushing for basic uses of web analytics to help identify who cares about us. That might tell us how best to let them know about what we’re doing.

“Basic” because I don’t think any of us have the numbers to do the hard-core stuff. But please, check your stats on open rates, click rates, platform (mobile or computer), software (browser), search terms, page interest and on and on.1

The other issue it raised was a clear focus on mobile. As in an assumption that mobile will play a large role in events and ticketing in the future. 56% of Small Wooden Shoes emails are first opened on a phone. If you are in a major wealthy city, and your email or website doesn’t work easily on a phone, it’s broken. And a bit embarrassing. Simple. Because its not that hard to fix. Services like Wordpress and Squarespace have pretty clear ways to make mobile versions - the branding and design won’t necessarily stay the same, but when I’m on your site on my phone I’m not looking for fancy and pretty - I’m probably looking for information. Make it easy. It’s insane to try and predict the future of this stuff. But I’ll go out on a limb and say, we won’t see less mobility.

All this can make me feel like I’m wandering away from the work - except of course, that dealing with the world and the people in it is my work.


  1. If you don’t get this information from you website, contact database and email distribution (I use Mail Chimp - there are others) – you need to change them. Sunk costs are no reason to stay with software or processes that are difficult to use and don’t provide the information you need.  ?

Jacob's nerd omnibus #1

Something completely different for the day of finishing grants.

In case you didn’t know - I’m a bit of a geek - Mac and iOS specifically. And I am always, perhaps obsessively, trying to figure out best ways of working in this world of dispersed working and laptops, tablets and phones.

We’re also trying to share this info better, so others can play along and help us improve. I sometimes get asked about the programs I'm using and so thought I’d make a catalogue post. This is cribbed from a document I’m making for collaborators. Questions and recommendations welcome.

Word processing preferences

.RTF

For files with basic formatting or less, please SAVE AS RTF (rich text format.)
My favourite text editor at the moment is Byword.
We are currently in a boom of different text editors which is pretty great, if overwhelming.

For more formatted documents, ideally I’d use use Pages. It’s just lighter weight and easier to use than Word, but .RTF is fine.

Microsoft Word is the last option and only gets used when change tracking is important and not everyone involved uses Pages.

Budgets / Spread sheets

Excel

Excel is the default and I don’t fight that. Though for less complicated things, I prefer Numbers- just easier to work with and less features that I don’t need.

Graphic Design:

Adobe Creative Suite 6

Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, Dreamweaver - pricey but as a charity Small Wooden Shoe gets discounted access through Tech Soup.
Thinking about switching to cheaper solutions from App Store.

Mind mapping:

Freemind

My old favourite. Easy idea dumping. Cross platform but not Mac native, and doesn’t export great. So I’ve been experimenting with: Mindnode 
More and more I’m using text files or outlining programs.

Presentation:

Keynote
For slides.

Freemind
For my longer presentations.

Internet:

Minigroup
A light weight online team collaboration tool. It’s a bit like a working social network with posts, links and the ability to comment. We can also create events and tasks (and assign them to other team members) Best of all we can largely use it out of your normal email inbox if you want. best for: - Posting links you find that the group should know about - Works well on smart phones - New program, developers are responsive to feedback. We’re still in progress of developing the systems for this.

Google Docs
For:

  • Files (documents and spreadsheets) under heavy collaborative revision.
  • Once a more stable version is arrived at, an RTF or XLS file should be made in Dropbox
  • Also used for running or quick reference documents:
    • cashflow
    • contact sheets

Dropbox
For:

  • sharing files that are pretty stable
  • Great for reference material and things everyone needs access to.
  • Please inform via Minigroup if there is a change in a dropbox file you need responses to.

Google Calendar and Doodle
Used for scheduling.

Small Wooden Shoe web stuff:

Wordpress
The Small Wooden Shoe website and blog are both Word Press builds with modified templates.

Vimeo
Small Wooden Shoe has a channel and use it to upload videos.

Mailchimp
For Small Wooden Shoe email list.

Eventbrite
For online ticketing. Right now nothing seems to compete. HINT: Charities can get reduced fees.

Skype
For meetings from afar. For meetings of more than 2 people, I prefer instant message chat to voice or video when possible. I just get frustrated easily. 

Skype works best if your computer is wired into the internet. But when does that happen. It also works better with just voice.

Other instant messaging
I like IM, using Adium. I wish there were easy ways to set up an affordable customized messaging with a team that didn’t mean people were also online for chat or Facebook. 37signals has stuff that does that, but are too expensive for us. If anyone has a good solution, I’d love to hear about it.

Other specific things

Scrivener
A great writing tool created by a novelist. Especially for big projects that involve research or reference. Right now I’m finding it an amazing tool for doing script breakdowns as a director. Can export and can import .RTF.

Omnioutliner
Outlining software. Imports and exports RTF and to Scrivener.

Omnifocus
I use this as my task manager. Sadly it doesn’t do my tasks and I’m not perfect at using it, but I’m trying.

Taskpaper
A very light weight task / list app. Great for quick lists and crossing things off. I also use it as an outliner.

MarsEdit
Desktop blog editor, so I don’t need to be online or in-browser while working on a post.

Markdown
I’m trying out writing in Markdown these days it's a keyboard focused way of formatting plain text documents (again avoiding Word.) A fair number of applications support Markdown, especially those aimed at people who write on the internet. For easy reference: 1 Asterix = italic 2 Asterix = bold
# = Header ##= Header level two etc…

ok - that’s it for now. Again, questions and recommendations welcome.