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handsome things

Handsome Things chatted to young Interior designer Shara-Lee Mordt about Design. Mate, her new line of wallpaper designs.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Shara-Lee Mordt, I’m 23 years of age.

I qualified as an Interior designer in 2009 at the University of Johannesburg. After my studies, I was lucky enough to get an internship at Elle Decoration magazine, where I learnt a great deal about design and specifically all the great designers that SA has to offer.

How did you get started?

So, after working at Elle Decoration, I worked at various design companies but then decided that I was going to take my studies further. I started studying Chemical Engineering at Wits (I really don’t know why and how I thought this would be for me) where I was not happy at all:)

My uncle who is in the printing business let me use one of his older printers, so…

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Daydreaming Can Be Good for Your Brain

Daydreaming gentleman in 1912

Letting your mind wander from time to time can actually help your brain process information, and can serve as a workout for your “working memory,” or your mental capacity for handling multiple thoughts and dealing with competing issues simultaneously. In fact, a new study published in the journal Psychological Sciencesuggests that if you frequently catch yourself daydreaming, you may have a strong working memory—meaning you can focus on multiple things and daydream without forgetting the things you have to work on.

Granted, the study draws the line between people who daydream because they’re bored and subsequently forget everything they were doing before they started daydreaming, and people who daydream because the things they’re working on simply doesn’t require their full attention. “Working memory” is that ability to process multiple things in your head at once—or in other words, what you’re using on the long commute home when you’re thinking about what you’ll make for dinner when you get home, whether you’ll have time to play a few video games or fire up a movie, when you should check in with the office again, if you have any chores to do when you get home, all while you’re trying to safely drive through rush-hour traffic.

To support the conclusion that daydreaming may be actually mental exercise for your working memory, researchers asked groups of people from 18 to 65 to do simple tasks—so simple their full attention wasn’t required—and then followed up with some light cognitive tests to have participants remember letters while doing simple math equations. In almost all cases, the individuals who admitted to their mind wandering during the simple tasks did better on the cognitive tests. The researchers concluded that while everyone did well on the tests, those people with more working memory are likely to use it to do more mentally even when they’re supposed to be doing something else—effectively daydreaming.

This isn’t the first research to indicate that daydreaming can be good for your brain. So if your attention tends to wander a bit while you work on other things, don’t feel too bad about it. As long as it doesn’t make you less creative and productive, you could actually be getting more done with the brainpower you have.

Do you catch yourself daydreaming from time to time? Do you feel like it helps or hurts your productivity? For more information on the study—which was published in the March 14th edition of Psychological Science, hit the link below, and let us know what you think in the comments.

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17 Tips for Designers on Starting a Freelance Business – DesignM.ag

17 Tips for Designers on Starting a Freelance Business – DesignM.ag.

As I interact with readers of my blogs, I continually encounter designers who are just getting started in the world of freelancing. In some cases they are very experienced designers/developers who are going out on their own for the first time. Others are trying freelancing part-time to see how it will work for them, and some are planning for a transition process but have not yet started to freelance. Since a large number of readers are facing issues that go along with getting started as a freelancer, I thought it would be helpful to share some tips from my own experience.

The tips in this post will cover all aspects of freelancing and the lifestyle that comes with it. In many cases unexpected issues and adjustments are what new freelancers struggle with, so hopefully this article will help to prepare new freelancers to meet the challenges that will be presented.

1. Make Sure You Have Some Experience

It’s very easy to get started as a freelance designer. There’s no need to have a particular education (although it can certainly be helpful) and there is no governing body or licensing that requires freelancers to be experienced. For these reasons there are a lot of freelancers out there, so you will need to be good at what you do in order to be successful.

If you have several years of experience working for a design studio or in-house somewhere, most likely you have many of the skills that you need to be successful as a freelancer. However, if you are just getting started as a designer there is a need to gain valuable experience. Getting experience doesn’t mean that you have to land work with high paying clients. You can gain a considerable amount of experience by working on personal projects or by taking some work for a non-profit organization that may be looking for a lower-priced alternative. Look for opportunities to take on work where you can stretch your skills and make yourself as valuable as possible to future clients.

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Intellectual Theft The Great Brain Robbery

AkzoNobel
(Houston unit, Dutch paint company)
Qinggui Zeng, formulation chemist. Came from China on student visa in 1996, hired in 2005.

AkzoNobel

Image via Wikipedia

Pleaded guilty in 2008 to stealing formula for an industrial epoxy-based, fireproof coating. Prosecutors said he was planning to return to China and had solicited investors for a Chinese venture to make and sell the coating as his own. Trade secrets found under insulation in attic space at his home. Sentenced May 16, 2008, to one year in prison, three years’ probation, deportation afterward.

Apple (AAPL)
Paul Shin Devine, Apple global supply manager from 2005 to 2010, sent drawings, pricing information, and projected sales figures on various Apple devices to suppliers in China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore. Suppliers paid kickbacks, which Apple said totaled more than $1 million. Pleaded guilty 2011.

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Boeing (BA)/Rockwell Intl.
Dongfan “Greg” Chung, first person tried under Economic Espionage Act of 1996. Chinese native, U.S. citizen, engineer. Worked from 1964 to 2002 mostly as stress analyst on fuselage of U.S. space shuttle, and from 2003 to 2006 as contractor investigating Columbia space shuttle crash. In 2006, FBI found 300,000 pages at his home, including technical info on space shuttle, Delta IV rocket, F-15 fighter, B-52 bomber, Chinook helicopter. Earlier case turned up letter to Chung from Chinese official thanking him for previous work and asking for info on shuttle. Arrested 2008; convicted 2009 of violating Economic Espionage Act and acting as foreign agent. Sentenced 2010 to 15 years and 8 months, followed by three years of supervised release.

CME Group (CME)
Chunlai Yang, Chinese national, came to U.S. for Ph.D., became senior software engineer at CME, operator of Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Indicted on charges he stole trade secrets from exchange from December 2010 to June 2011 to improve electronic trading in China. Accused of downloading thousands of files of source code and algorithms onto thumb drive while forming partnership with two others in China aimed at increasing trading volume for Zhangjiagang chemical electronic trading market, among others. Pleaded not guilty October.

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Clock runs out on film version of 24

Production postponed after 20th Century Fox and the film’s producers couldn’t agree on a budget and Kiefer Sutherland didn’t have enough time

Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer in 24.

Sorry, just busy with something … Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer in 24

The long-gestating big-screen version of the hit TV series 24 has been put on hold, according to Deadline.

The production had been scheduled to begin in a few weeks’ time, when Kiefer Sutherland had a break in the filming of his current TV show, Touch. But budget concerns appear to have led 20th Century Fox to postpone.

According to Deadline, producers wanted to make the film for between $45m and $60m, while Fox’s planned budget was a more cautious $30m. The studio’s previous experience on another TV-related feature, The X Files, prompted its position. Sutherland’s limited window of opportunity to make the film meant that, in the absence of an agreement, time was too short to fully prepare.

Sutherland was set to reprise his role as FBI agent Jack Bauer, with Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) on board as director, and a script from State of Play writer Billy Ray. The likelihood was that 24’s celebrated “real time” narrative device would be abandoned for a feature, after Sutherland told Entertainment Weekly in 2010: “In a two-hour (movie) representation of the 24 world … you are not required to go scene-by-scene in real time. That’s something I can say I am very excited about.”

Deadline also suggests the script has set up 24: The Movie as a possible trilogy.

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Do We Live in 1984 or a Brave New World? – GalleyCat

Do We Live in 1984 or a Brave New World? – GalleyCat.

In 1932, Aldous Huxley published Brave New World, a novel about an ominous future where the government keeps the population under control with drugs and entertainment. In 1949, George Orwell published Nineteen Eighty-Four, a novel about an ominous future where the government keeps the population under control with oppressive surveillance.

Who do you think had a more prophetic vision of the 21st Century? Today Letters of Note featured a long letter that Huxley wrote to Orwell explaining why he thought future rulers would follow Brave New World more than Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Check it out: “Within the next generation I believe that the world’s rulers will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience. In other words, I feel that the nightmare of Nineteen Eighty-Four is destined to modulate into the nightmare of a world having more resemblance to that which I imagined in Brave New World. The change will be brought about as a result of a felt need for increased efficiency.” (Via Reddit)

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Using Great Storytelling To Grow Your Business | Fast Company

Using Great Storytelling To Grow Your Business | Fast Company.

Every two months, I pull together a community of innovators. We meet somewhere in New York City, usually a boardroom overlooking a park or cityscape. But last month we all found our way into an acting studio operated by The TAI Group to learn about storytelling.

The members of this group certainly already know something about the topic. They are senior executives at some of the largest corporations, partners in some of the most prestigious consulting and private equity firms, and several cutting-edge entrepreneurs. But the more you know, the more you realize there is to learn, and this group wanted to learn more about how to use effective storytelling to drive change in and grow their organizations.

The experience shocked me, to be honest. I considered myself an expert and snobbishly thought there was little more to learn. How wrong I was. Here are my two key takeaways from this session. Apply them today at your next meeting or phone call and I am willing to bet you will have a better result.

1) Use lots of LOTS. Our facilitator, Gary Lyons, senior coach at The TAI Group, told us a story and had us dissect what we remembered. Do this, and you will realize your audience is often checked out, comatose, or unable to hear or remember what you are saying. The key to engage them is to use lots of “language of the senses,” or LOTS. When telling a story, share with us what you see, smell, feel, taste, and hear. When you trigger a sense in someone, you bring them into the story with you.

2) Build on your story spine. At McKinsey, I was taught to open presentations with a standard structure: situation, complication, question, answer. TAI suggests you use a five-step structure and do so not just to open your presentation, but throughout your talk. They call it the “story spine”: reality is introduced, conflict arrives, there is a struggle, the conflict is resolved, a new reality exists. These two tools caused a profound shift in our abilities to tell effective stories.

Not convinced? Let me try the story spine with lots of LOTS then:

Reality introduced: A dark room is filled with 20 executives and entrepreneurs resting on chairs in rows facing two director chairs. The door closes, snuffing out the faint sound of New York traffic.

Conflict introduced: Our facilitator, Gary, begins scratching markers on flip charts. He is there to teach us about storytelling. But all I can think about is, “This is a highly accomplished group; they know all of this already. Will we learn anything new?”

Struggle: Gary tells us to use “language of the senses,” but someone complains, “You can’t talk like that at a board meeting,” to which Gary points out that if you talk differently than people expect you to, they are more likely to listen and remember.

Conflict resolved: Gary gently bats back every concern this Type A group lobs at him, patiently walking us through the journey. By the end he has us on the edge of our seats.

New reality: We close with a “before and after” exercise. One of our members gets up to practice a pitch; he is raising money for an energy tech venture. He starts speaking, but I just can’t follow. When he finishes, I realize I have not heard a word. Gary coaches him–lots of LOTS, story spine, look us in the eye, take us in–and the speaker tries again. Now it is all waterfalls of electricity pouring down the mountain, the opportunity to create something and break through with passion. I heard every word, and so much more.

That is the impact that two tools can have in your ability to tell stories–about the company you are building, the project you are leading, the life you live. You can enroll people more completely and emotionally in your mission. Here is how you can put it to use now:

1) Think of a presentation or pitch you will be giving in the next seven days.

2) Write out your presentation as a story, longhand, on paper, using the story spine.

3) Brainstorm a list of LOTS (language of the senses) you want to embed into your story.

[Image: Flickr user saipal]

 

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