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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Update: This is now

BrainBlog is changing its address!
I've been blogging a long time.
The official archives go back to 2002, but at least a year of earlier files have been lost in the ether(net) as I've updated over the years.

When I started, Blogger was the best thing going. Firstly, it was one of the ONLY things going -- and beyond that, it's easy to use and appeal to my cheap-bastard side -- it was free. The fact that it was housed on their domain (http://dontheideaguy.blogspot.com/) didn't make a difference to me at the time. My primary domain (http://www.dontheideaguy.com/) was where most people entered my website -- the blog was secondary.

But a funny thing happened.
As more people started linking to ME -- they weren't linking through my primary domain, they were linking through my BLOG. As I watched traffic stats grow, I found more and more people were finding me through my blog because the blog was updated more frequently that my "official" website.

By the time I realized what happened, more people knew (and linked) me through my blog than my website and I now had a 'yucky' domain name (dontheideaguy.blogspot.com). Ewww.

The longer I keep it, the harder it will be to change. The more people that link me, the harder it will be to reach them and ask them to update to a new address. If I ever decide to change blogging software (Typepad, Moveable Type, WordPress, Radio Userland, etc.) my address will change anyway -- and it would be a rush to switch links overnight. So I'm starting early.

The new official new address for the BrainBlog is now www.MyBrainBlog.com -- I own it, and now I can point it to whichever blogging software I decide to use in the future. It's a permanent address that I own and control.

Learn from my mistake -- always start with your own domain. Find one you like and hold onto it. No matter which webhost you use, email program, blogging site, etc. that you use -- you can redirect your personal domain to your new address without having to alert the world to the change -- it's like having a permanent forwarding service -- no matter where you've moved, your address and email can stay the same.

Please update your links to my new blog address --

Friday, April 29, 2005

Free Your Mind.
Open-source program makes

it easy to try mindmap software.

While I commonly use mindmapping as a creative tool, it's usually restricted to handwritten form on an eraserboard during brainstorm sessions, or in one of my notebooks for development of my own projects -- but, my buddy Stephen Nipper (an incredible Intellectual Property attorney and author of the super-helpful InventBlog) uses mindmap software on a regular basis.

Stephen says he uses it during phone conversations to record notes, then emails a PDF of the mindmap to his client. Stephen says "they are blown away."

Impressing the hell outta your clients?
Sounds like a damn good reason to give it a shot!

During a quick search for mindmapping software, I ran across FreeMind. It's a free tool that works on a variety of platforms and appears to be compatible with the most popular mindmap software, MindManager.

The search sparked another mindmap-type tool I used several years ago. I found helpful and will have to revisit it -- it's called TreePad.

Although it's been a long time since I last used it, a quick trip to their website let me know that they had not stopped developing the tool. TreePad appears to be available in a variety of formats (maybe too many), but the closest I found to the original is called TreePad Lite. There's even a knock-version available for your PDA.

It's basically a vertical mindmap -- a sort of expanding outline format. After looking at it again, I wish they'd run it horizontally with the branches extending down from a master bar running across the top. It seems to make more sense in my head to drill down thru different levels via additional columns -- but that's just the way my brain works. Your mileage may vary.

In the end, the whole point is to make innovation easier -- use whatever tools you find the most useful for recording and developing your ideas. Why do you think I still keep a big box of Crayola Crayons on my desk?

Sometimes nothing but crayons will do when you're interested in Coloring Outside The Lines.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Just Missed The Mark
Clever Concept That Didn't Go Quite Far Enough
One of the worst things you can do when brainstorming is to stop too soon -- to be content with the "first right answer" when a bigger breakthrough is just another suggestion or two away.

I feel this is the case with the Powerseed.
Powerseed is a diet-aid that is self-described as a "discreet" egg-shaped monitor that flashes a tiny green light every 30 seconds to help you pace your bites during meals. A tone sounds every five minutes, telling you to stop and assess your overall satisfaction. These indicators remind you to savor each forkful and could save you hundreds of mindless calories.

The core concept has merit, but I don't think it's "done" yet.
They say it's discreet, but a tone every five minutes and a blinking light? Sure, you can use it at home and no one would care, but it's bound to be noticed at a restaurant, and why not design it to be used in public without drawing attention?
By simply adding a "vibrate" setting it could be kept in a pocket or under your leg while seated on the chair as a little 'pulse' to nudge you for that 5 minute pause. Change the design a little more substantially, and it could become a sleeve that fits over the handle of your eating utensil and actually buzz your feeding hand.

I think the concept is novel, but think they could have gone a few steps further to make the device virtually invisible in the environment where it will be used most.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Don't Write A Book!
Until you read this...
If the guy who sold all those Chicken Soup For the Soul books told you the secret to producing a #1 bestselling book -- not just once, but many times -- you'd be wise to listen, right?

"If you want to become master of your publicity fate, listen to Arielle Ford. She has taken our Chicken Soup For The Soul series repeatedly to #1."
~ Mark Victor Hansen

If you're an aspiring author, there's someone you should know.
America's #1 book publicist, Arielle Ford, has just released "Everything You Should Know About Publishing, Publicity, Promotion & Building a Platform: A Step-By-Step Guide For Authors."

People like Deepak Chopra, Mark Victor Hansen, Jack Canfield, Neale Donald Walsch, Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson, Dean Ornish, Gary Zukav and many other authors consider her one of America's most successful book publicists. She's sold more than 15 million books and helped launch the careers of hundreds of authors, including eleven who made it to #1 on the NY Times Bestseller List.

Her new course gives you all the know-how you need to succeed:

  • Exactly what publishers want, and how you can deliver it. And if you don't do this right, you'll get stuck in the "slush pile" for months.
  • Insider secrets to promoting your book including the same strategies Arielle used to help sell more than 15 million books.
  • How to launch yourself in the media including the techniques Arielle used to get authors on "Oprah", "Good Morning America" and "Larry King Live".
  • The truth behind building a "platform"... Including fascinating details and instructions on how famous authors really make their money - and it's not from book royalties.
  • An entire reference guide that's packed with samples you can copy and use including letters, press material, bios and Q&A.
  • A rolodex of contacts that took Arielle 15 painstaking years to build.

Arielle also launched a newsletter that every writer (whether you're published or not) should receive. Take a second to sign-up for Arielle's free newsletter and review the course details -- Just click HERE.

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Espressovator
Contest yields winning coffee shop imaginings

Illy Cafe teamed up with
Domus magazine in April 2004
, asking students and designers under the age of 35 to create new ways of enjoying coffee ("create a place for meeting, discovery and encounter"). Over the course of 10 months, 704 entries were received, roughly half coming from outside Italy. The best 14 projects were exhibited in Milan this month.

The winning concept is an escalator which functions both as a coffee machine and an art show. Coffee is served at the bottom of an escalator. On the way up, customers sip their coffee and enjoy a brief art exhibition. At the top of the escalator, they throw their plastic cup into a recycling machine that instantly molds it into a ticket for an art exhibition or show.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

BUT -- my favorite is the "Illyvator" by designer Bryan Boyer. He's a truly elevated coffee to a whole new level (wokka-wokka!)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Necessity Is The
Mother of Invention --

And like any other Mom, she has to cut

the crusts off li'l Invention's sandwiches.
Found this gizmo online this morning and it made perfect sense for a BrainBlog entry. Creative, useful, and just a little bizarre. I suppose you could just use a knife -- but where's the fun in that?

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

The Good Bites Crustless Sandwich Cutter was created by Mom Inventors, Inc. and is available from Pallets Kids Surplus Store.

After seeing this product was invented by Mom Inventors, Inc. -- I had to check out their website. It's a really great idea! They help Moms with new product ideas submit them for evaluation and get them to market.

They've even started the world's first Mom-invented eBay store. I'll certainly be sending the link to MY Mom today.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Get Off My (Jewel) Case
JewelBoxing.com offers creative disc packaging options
Tired of those boring plastic vinyl cases? Fed-up with the fragile plastic jewel cases? Give the new product from JewelBox.com a try!

JewelBoxing.com is an ideal site for learning about this product, as they provide not just a means of ordering -- but a complete section on ideas and inspiration on how to use this brand new presentation tool. They even offer design templates for most any computer program, which makes switching to JewelBoxes a painless transition.

Don't believe me?
Checkout the examples page and just TRY not to picture your next project presented in this ideal new format. Even more innovative is their "Start Me Up" blog -- it shares user ideas, advice, and instruction for the product.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Too True.
This was created by my buddy Drew, at ToothpasteForDinner.com
Funny/weird stuff daily.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Friday, April 15, 2005

Happy Biiirthday Daaay
Dear Lee-O-Nardoo...
Light the candles for one
of the original Idea Guys

Answers.com certainly has DaVinci defined -- check it out.

Something else you may want to check out is How To Think Like Leonardo DaVinci. Excellent book that does it's best to outline DaVinci's seven guiding principles of discovery:
Curiosita: Seek the truth
Dimostrazione: Take responsibility
Sensazione: Cultivate awareness
Sfumato: Engage the shadow
Arte/Scienza: Balance the masculine and feminine principles
Corporalita: Integrate body and spirit
Connessione: Practice love

Inspiring stuff!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

What Would
Scooby Doo?

...It's Old Man Smithers!
Ive always been a fan of mystery movies and novels. I look upon them as a creative exercise, and a way to flex my mental muscles.

I'm a big fan of Sherlock Holmes (Jeremy Brett rules!), Monk, and Nick Velvet. I had much fun through all the twists and turns of Deathtrap (Superman flicks aside, this is some of Christopher Reeve's best stuff) -- so naturally, this looks pretty cool to me!

Sleuth is an open-ended, detective role playing game (RPG) where you solve mysteries by searching for clues, questioning suspects and interviewing witnesses. Every mystery is unique with different victims, suspects and clues. All mysteries are solvable, in fact there are always two ways to solve any single mystery, but player skill and a small amount of luck are necessary to nab the guilty suspect. Visit the Sleuth website.

Ooh! Don't forget the movie Sleuth itself!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Von Oech's
Ancient Whacks

More Creativity Cards from
My Favorite Creative Whack-O
Another discussion about favorite creativity tools with my buddy Peter Lloyd. This time we talk about Roger Von Oech's book, Expect the Unexpected or You Won't Find It: A Creativity Tool Based on the Ancient Wisdom of Heraclitus.

We both love it, and I mention that I am almost never without my "Whack On The Side of the Head"-inspired Creative Whack Pack. Peter asks how I liked the Ancient Whacks of Heraclitus card deck.


I didn't even know it existed.
Peter generously agrees to send me an extra review copy in his possession. Flash-forward a few days and I am eagerly shuffling through my new deck of creative cards!

Although this 32-card deck is much slimmer than the deck of 64-cards in the original Whack Pack, after reviewing each one, I believe that the Ancient Whacks deck provides much more food for thought.

Each card in the Ancient Whacks deck is based on epigrams from Heraclitus (the world's first creativity consultant, circa 500 BC). An epigram is very much like a Zen "koan" -- ambiguous and sometimes paradoxical statements that are intended to make one reflect on their meaning.

For instance, Heraclitus' statement "A wonderful harmony arises from joining together the seemingly unconnected." is a perfect reminder to try a technique I use all the time -- one in which I use metaphor to create a new approach to my creative challenge.

If you're promoting the opening of a new coffee shop, you might start to compare coffee to other things. How is coffee like flowers? Well... you pick beans, they both use "ground", they both need water, they both have a wonderful aroma -- that's a good one. Perhaps we could create a coffee bouquet? A dozen lattes? etc...

This card deck is not just a source of creativity - it's a source of inspiration.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Schroedinger's Decaf
A thinking person's coffee
I had a whole other entry planned for today, but then I saw this and had to share it. How could I not move something that combines creative thinking with caffeine (or decaf, as the case may be)? The artist is a Columbus resident, and his quirky cartoon site toothpastefordinner.com is a daily visit for me.

Speaking of coffee (and Columbus), if you want a creative cup of coffee without all the corporate logos and piglatin cup sizes (veni, vidi, venti: I came, I saw, I bought the large), AND you're in Columbus, Ohio -- you should visit Kafe Kerouac at 2250 N. High.

Great place and great atmosphere. I'm convinced that Mike (the owner) opened the shop so he'd have a fun place to work on his writing. Kafe Kerouac has a chess night and open-mic spoken word nights. They also do a fantastic job of sponsoring local artists by using their shop as a gallery. My brother has displayed his work there in the past, and this month the Kafe features works by Jack Stover, III.

Definitely worth a look!

Saturday, April 09, 2005

New Music in
the Wimpy Player

Sales is the theme this week
Updated the tunes to the BrainBlog Jukebox this week -- all with a sales/money musical twist. The BrainBlog is ultimately about the commercial value of ideas, so it seemed a natural theme to explore.

Here's the new playlist:
(in no particular order, since player is set to random)
Money - Paul Hardcastle
It's Money That Matters - Randy Newman
Bright Future In Sales - Fountains of Wayne
Everyone's Selling Something - The Argument
Commercial Whore - Sara Patterson

If you've got ideas for a future playlist theme, add a comment to this post or send me an email. I'd love a chance to play creative DJ.

Would you like an audio jukebox like the one on this site?
Visit WimpyPlayer and get one for a one-time cost of less than $25 (cheap!) It's so simple, even I can use it! ;)

Friday, April 08, 2005

Whole New
Frame of Mind

I told ya so!
Not since The Brand Called You article by Tom Peters have I been this excited about a concept finally tipping. Back before Mr. Peters gave it a cool and catchy name within the pages of Fast Company magazine, I had been packaging and presenting myself as a personal brand (only I didn't have a name for it) -- I just saw it as self-marketing and promotion. Five years later, enter "Brand You" and I got a little self-vindication for all my past efforts and ideas.

The same thing just happened within the pages of Dan Pink's latest book "A Whole New Mind". Dan has intelligently presented the concept of ideas being the new "product" of this century, where we manufacture not with machinery, but with our imagination and the gears grinding in our heads.

Complaints and anxiety abound with every job that is sent overseas -- "Woe is us" we scream and whine and stomp up and down in the puddle of spilled milk at our feet. Few seem to recognize the opportunity and obvious strategy that will carry us back to the top -- it's the IDEAS, stupid.

I had the opportunity this week to dial in to a live presentation given by Mr. Pink, and he gets it. And he puts it into terms that not only help everyone to understand the true paradigm shift (sorry for the buzzword, but I don't use it lightly) happening all around us, but will get you EXCITED about it. The presentation has been archived so that you can enjoy (and profit from!) it too.

Go forth and think big thoughts!
Whole New Mind presentation by Dan Pink

After you're done with the presentation -- go buy the book!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

A Logo in Need
of Life Support

Genius. Puuure genius.
With a logo like this, I suppose we should be happy the Pediatric Center is located in Arlington, VA and not Jackson Hole, WY.

Although the tagline on the official Jackson Hole website ("Get Further Away"), would have been good advice for the graphic designer behind this masterpiece.

Linked from Rich...! at the Hello_World blog.
BTW, Rich...! has a ChangeThis proposal up for nomination, and I'm certain he'd appreciate an extra vote or two. (or three.)

A Hand For Hans
Happy birthday to one of the
world's greatest storytellers

April 2nd marked the bicentennial of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen, arguably one of the most prolific writers of fairy tales in history.

I've been a fan since my youth after seeing the movie starring Danny Kaye, and realizing this was a story about the guy who wrote all those stories I was so familiar with as a child.

There's a great article on the NPR website about the event, along with an audio file that includes a retelling of two Andersen tales.

Creative thinking at its best.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Announcing the RedBirdBlog
Some of you know that when I'm not donning the Idea Guy cape to use my creative powers to battle evil, I have a not-so-mild-mannered secret identity as a purveyor of printing and promotional products.

RedBirdPromo.com is my personal "Daily Planet", and the new issue went online yesterday. I share the scoop on one of the most successful business card designs I've ever created -- people constantly ask my client for additional copies of his business card so they can show their friends. When was the last time someone showed YOUR card to a bunch of their friends?

I've also unveiled the new RedBirdBlog -- a daily dose of ideas for building your business using print and promotional strategies. The RedBirdBlog is RSS enabled, so you can have the ideas delivered directly to your news reader.

The Spring Edition of RedBirdPromo.com also features four spring-themed advertising speciality ideas, and a completely searchable online database containing thousands-and-thousands of additional promotional product ideas.

Finally, if you'd like first-alert of RedBirdPromo's case study updates, promotional specials, and access to a new "IdeaFile" card collection that I've begun building, you can join the RedBirdPromo Yahoo Group.

The IdeaCard Collection is a brand new resource created exclusively for the members of the RedBirdPromo Yahoo Group. Each card is designed to either be viewed online, or printed out and stored in a index card file box. A new card will be uploaded to the Yahoo Groups 'files' page on a regular basis, along with or valuable print and promo planning tools (project checklists, fool-proof printing tips, etc.)

Consider yourself invited to join!

Monday, April 04, 2005

MindTrap Monday
Cleaning up a bit this weekend and ran across an annoyingly favorite game of mine -- MindTrap. The pencil is missing and only a few score sheets remain, but all the cards are still there in full aggravating glory.

MindTrap drove me NUTS.
The game was like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had decided to abandon writing his tales of Sherlock Holmes and concentrate on math story problems instead.

Given the way my brain works, I thought I'd be good at the game.
I wanted to be good at the game.
I was not good at the game.

Here's what I mean -- read sample question below:

Professor Bumble was going on a lecture circuit for several
months and he asked his friend, Hardy Pyle, to watch for a certain letter he was expecting.

The problem Hardy faced was that Bumble had a mailslot and forgot to leave him a house key. Hardy sent Bumble a letter to inform him of his dilemma. Bumble immediately sent a key to his house by return mail.

This being the case, why wouldn't Hardy be able to honour Bumble's request?

Think on that moment and then highlight the text below for the answer. I colored it white so it wouldn't be revealed, but if you select it with your mouse it will become visible.

The key would have been delivered though Bumble's mailslot and Hardy would have the same problem as before.
Do you see any flaw in the answer?
More than one?
Here's my problem with their "answer" (highlight for the reveal):

---- start ---

1. The clue says Bumble sent it to "his" house. Given the context, couldn't we interpret "his" to mean Hardy's house?

2. If Bumble knew the situation (and didn't have Hardy's address to send the key to "his" house) wouldn't the next idea be to send the key in a package too large for the mailslot? Mailing it in a box would allow Bumble to send the key to his own home address and still avoid it being deposited in the mailslot.

3. Hardy isn't so smart either -- why not block the slot so no additional letters could be deposited? How about leaving a note for the postal carrier or something?

---- end ---

The answers caused more arguments than the questions

Now you know why I stuck that cursed box in the bottom of the closet to begin with! It's the devil's game I tell you!

I don't think they even sell MindTrap as a game anymore (at least I couldn't find it on Amazon) -- probably caused too many fights! However, for the masochists among you, the puzzles ARE available in a couple books:

Tricky Mindtrap Puzzles: Challenge the Way You Think & See

Lateral Mindtrap Puzzles: Challenge the Way You Think & See

Both are written by a guy calling himself Detective Shadow. Yeah, you better hide your identity you aggravating sonofa...

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Sales Blog
Thinks Pink

My new buddy S. Anthony Iannarino has a scoop at The Sales Blog -- an exclusive interview with Dan Pink, author of the corporation-shaking Free Agent Nation, and his latest/greatest A Whole New Mind.

I've been helping with the online rally to get votes for Anthony's brother Jake in the Next Great Comic contest (BTW: today is your last day to vote!), so I guilted Anthony into letting me ask Dan Pink two quick questions of my own...

With less expensive labor and technology available, and the importance on developing the NEW technologies and products (which will inevitably be outsourced as well.) Do you think larger companies will open their doors a little wider to take in ideas from outside their corporate walls?

Yes. I don’t think they’re going to have any choice. As you’ve mentioned, there are legal issues here. But those can get worked out. And the best source of new ideas is customers.


Like the hired-guns of the old west, what do you think about hiring “Creative Cowboys” to ride into corporate ghost towns and round-up new ideas on behalf of the hiring company? This would allow for outside ideas, but from a limited number of participants from whom they could acquire contracted protection from future litigation.


Cool idea. Very cool. That might be one of the Conceptual Age jobs that I could envision!

For the full interview with Dan Pink and S. Anthony Iannarino, click over to The Sales Blog.

Whole New Mind Presentation (FREE!)
On April 7 at Noon, US Eastern time, Dan Pink will be giving a live web presentation about the key ideas in A Whole New Mind. The web conference is free, thanks to the people at Microsoft Live Meeting. All you need is a web browser, a phone, and an open mind. Sign up here!

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