All Articles by Alma

I'm currently harmonizing in a career in higher education, where I expose students to digital media software and equipment, and developing my production company LilMarauder Productions. Both pursuits are entirely fulfilling because I share knowledge and joy as well as rekindling memories and reaching out internationally with new media endeavors. Where I can always be viewed as "a creative" when I'm developing logos, graphics, editing audio or video, I view creativity as having started when two words are put together...in that way we are all master creators.

49 Articles

Don’t Call Kids ‘Smart’

People labeled “smart” at a young age don’t deal well with being wrong. Life grows stagnant. At whatever age smart people develop the idea that they are smart, they also tend to develop vulnerability around relinquishing that label.

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I’m happy I came across this article. I read one similar to it several years ago, but hadn’t bookmarked or saved it anywhere, so I was just left with the core take-aways and whatever else clung to them in my grey-matter. Children are left with a fear of a less than stellar end game because they don’t want to disappoint those who previously praised them.

The crux of the headline is intrinsically linguistic. A child develops all of these connotations surrounding the word “smart”, from those involving intelligence and insight, to parental pride. The latter is more crucial to setting up the situation discussed in the article, but we can’t overlook the fact that society doesn’t use the word “smart” in the face of failure and perseverance. 

Still, “smart” shouldn’t be a dirty word, but it’s probably worth using it more descriptively. 

The 51 Coolest Side Projects We’ve Ever Seen

We talk a lot about inspiring careers here. But what often gets neglected as we’re talking about all the cool things people are doing during their day jobs is all the cool things they’re doing outside of the 9-to-5. So today, we’re fixing that in a big way.

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I was pretty excited to read this article, and there are a lot of blogs I have bookmarked to read later. But before this post got any further out of date, I wanted to share it here– on one of my side projects! Much like these enterprising people, I found some satisfaction in sharing what I do outside of my office…namely during my commute and lunch hour. 

7 Tips for Using Social Media During Conferences

So, you’re attending a conference. You’ve paid the entrance fee, put on the best outfit ever, grabbed a big stack of business cards and made sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date. The one piece of the conference puzzle I can almost guarantee you’re missing? Social media.

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As summer rolls in, conference season enters full tilt. This was a great article, and as an occasional conference attendee, I’m happy that I’ve been rocking social media (mostly) correctly. I’m a huge fan of event hashtags for twitter and I’ve used them to give shoutouts to companies I know that are at conferences with me, I’ve used them to send notices about changes in session locations, and I’m always on board with sending out the compelling quote from panels or keynotes.

At events where I tweeted, I found it helped me to network. I could continue conversations with people I just met, I could reach out to people in the same session, and I could even touch base with conference organizers (VIP rooms really are all they should be).

The Science-Backed Benefits of Being Bored

One morning during my commute, I found myself without my usual literary distractions. Instead, I had the rare opportunity to observe my fellow New Yorkers in their most natural and probably most frequented habitat: the subway.

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Another article that touches on the connection between boredom and creativity (they use “genius” here) and not turning “not busy” into a shameful thing. There are historical records of boredom, words that we don’t use anymore that describe that mindset of not really being interested in what’s around you, but still taking in the distraction. My favorite: doldrums. It reminds me of The Phantom Tollbooth, by Jules Verne.

This article, from Greatist, also focuses on the health ramifications of boredom. That said, being bored until the moment strikes isn’t the best way to coax some creativity forth, but there’s nothing bad about indulging in some mental wandering every now and then.

Watch Kermit the Frog Explain How to Tap Into Everyday Creativity

We often assume that creativity is something only artists need. However, as notable artist, producer, and amphibian Kermit the Frog explains, keeping your mind open to accept and play with different ideas can improve anyone’s work.

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This is the third post in the last few months that has focused on creativity. What they all have in common is the premise that everyone has the capacity to be creative. The first, on the myths surrounding creativity, visits the all-too-celebrated image of the lone creative genius. The second, on the connections between distraction and creative genius expands on the benefits of productive distraction.

This TEDx talk by Kermit the Frog includes a lot of the same refrains, that creativity is within everyone’s grasp. And most of us who don’t profess a creative side, still have one. Within the first five minutes, Kermit cites a ‘conspiracy of craziness’ that enables a theater of people (and many more online) to sit and listen to a frog talk about creativity. What is suspension of disbelief, other than an extension of creativity?

Watch the whole 25 minute video, and if you have more time after that, do some research about Jim Henson and the development of the Muppets.

EdX, Udemy, Duolingo, online learning!

Hello!! It’s a great day to learn something new.

In this showcase post, I’m going to talk about some online learning services I have been using over the past five(ish) months. If you’ve never heard of these three services, the summer is a great time to pick up a new skill or now.

EdX (www.edx.org)

  • Free (more for ID Verified Certificates)
  • Topics include biology, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, finance, electronics, engineering, food and nutrition, history, humanities, law, literature, math, medicine, music, philosophy, physics, science, statistics and more.
  • Self-Paced or with Set Open/Close Dates.
  • Honor Code Certificates, ID Verified Certificates
  • iPhone, Android apps support video downloads for offline viewing

EdX is one of the large-scale providers of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). Aside from being founded by MIT and Harvard, they have partnerships with a huge sampling of international schools. Most courses fall within Humanities, Math and Computer Science, but there is a delightful sampling of other courses. Some are timed (with specific open and close dates), others are completely self-paced, so you can pick what fits for you.

Immediately after signing up on their website, I attempted two timed courses (and failed after being distracted). I tried a timed course again with a course in Winemaking and completed it (with a 94%, I might add). I’m now in a course by the Smithsonian about the Comic Book SuperHero through History.

Overall, EdX is great for its options and for the prestige of its contributors. I can foresee employers viewing this site as a source for professional development.

Udemy (www.udemy.com)

  • Varies (free to $200+, but sales are frequent)
  • Development, Test Prep, Business, Marketing, Lifestyle, Photography, Music, Academics, Language, Design, Productivity, IT & Software, Health & Fitness
  • Self-Paced, no open/close dates
  • Certificates at the completion of each course
  • iPhone, Android apps support video downloads for offline viewing

Udemy is a good point of entry for most people who are interested in some online learning. The courses are more lifestyle-based or skill-centric, and there are no limits to the start or end dates, you can repeat lessons or jump around as you want. There are no assessments for these courses, which makes sense given some of the topics. Still, there are a great number of instructors who are highly available to their students, encouraging use of discussion boards, or connection through other networks for engagement.

I’ve gone through a lot of these classes, on a wide array of topics. From baking artisanal breads, to animating text in After Effects, to tips to establishing a daily yoga practice. While there was a range in quality for video and audio (from good to exemplary), all of the instructors were engaging and clear and I walked away with a skillset I didn’t have before.

Udemy also has a program to make it easy for people to create and instruct their own courses. So you can participate in both sides of the online learning experience.

Duolingo (www.duolingo.com)

  • Free (English Certificates are an extra cost)
  • Spanish, French, Italian, German, Dutch, Portuguese, Irish, Swedish, Danish, Ukranian, Esperanto, Klingon (and more) for English speakers. More languages (and English) for other language speakers.
  • Lessons involve picture matching, word selection, transcription and translation
  • You can complete levels of languages, earning “Lingots” along the way to unlock other features. English certification is available for a nominal price.
  • iPhone, Android apps support all functions

Duolingo is all about language learning. You get to start with very basic sentences, then as you progress through activities, you build more complex constructions. Low-key activities take minutes to complete.

I’m using Duolingo to brush up on French (untouched since high school) and learn Spanish. The activities are not to pedantic for either of these goals. I even have a set goal per day for practice. It’s an excellent diversion during my commute (which does not involve driving). The one shortcoming is possibly on the part of cultural interactions with languages, situations where words technically mean one thing, but a culture of speakers have given it a colloquial meaning which isn’t accounted for.

While there isn’t offline support, the Duolingo app is seamless across devices and the web interface.

Trick photography – how to take multiplicity photos

This is a great trick photography technique – multiplicity photos. You make your subject (usually a person) appear more than once in a photo. It’s easy to do, trust me! First off, if you don’t know what a multiplicity photo is, have a look at the example below.

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Everyone likes trick photography! There are some great tips for doing multiplicity panorama photos in an earlier blog post here.

Endlessly Distracted? Blame Your Own Creative Genius

Creativity is linked to an inability to filter out sensory information, a new study says. Endlessly distracted by the sounds of your open office? Blame your own creative genius.

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This is a great article and I enjoy the tie in to the common misconception of creatives as reclusive people (something I posted about last month). That was totally inadvertent though! It might be worth it for aspiring creatives to take some time and get distracted.

If you’d like to get a jump start on distraction, I wrote a post last year just about distracting websites! Another completely inadvertent tie-in…and since I limit myself to two of those, I’m going to post this and look at pictures from corgi beach day.

LA’s Proposed Parking Signs Are Brilliantly Simple

Ken Husting was circling downtown Los Angeles one day in 2013 trying to find parking when, all of a sudden—Hallelujah!— he found a spot. Then he looked up to see six signs attached to pole telling him that he maybe, possibly could park there.

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There’s no arguing that a lot of municipal signage could use a dose of additional clarity. The adage a picture’s worth a thousand words must never have occurred to the original sign designers – or maybe it wasn’t as important as simplicity, visibility, or cost. Still the current signs are not clear and are usually compounded with additional signs that are in effect at other times. The proposed sign removes a lot of ambiguity and introduces a more universal set of symbols. It uses a lot of design sense, and in a world that’s becoming more aesthetic, design sense is good sense.

10 Kinds of Content to Keep Your Blog Posts Funky Fresh

Sometimes it’s tough to get fresh content up on your blog week after week. Even the most inspired writers will hit a wall every now and again. But not all your blog posts have to be brilliant, lengthy essays. You can be an effective blogger and spend less than 15 minutes writing each post!

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There are times when I’ve neglected this blog…I won’t get anywhere by hiding this. I’ve also had times when I just haven’t read many articles to post…

The mission of 6th Floor Studios is still fluid, so there will hopefully be opportunities to grow this blog in to something other than a collection of Reading Lists, showcases. Of course, I’m still the sole member of the cast-of-authors, so things will get much more interesting as more brains come together.

Goals: By the end of 2015!!!!

  • Add two additional regular authors with Reading Lists
  • Post at least two original posts for “Showcase” each month