Armadillo Studios Inc.

Stampede Wallpapers 2010: Real Pancakes Edition

Being that Team Armadillo is unapologetically proud to be Calgarian, we thought it was time to do something a little special for Stampede. So what better way to celebrate the greatest outdoor show on earth, then to create a new set of Desktop Wallpapers.

So for everyone’s enjoyment here is the 2010 Edition of our Calgary Stampede wallpaper collection. (By the way these new wallpapers predominantly feature “Veer’s custom Calgary Font”:http://www.veer.com/products/typedetail.aspx?image=UMT0000326 and “GoMedia’s Western Vector Pack”:http://gomedia.us/arsenal/#set9.)

Real Pancakes contain Bacon

Download: Zip File with 1920×1200 & 1600×1200 formats
Download: 1600 x 1200
Download: 1920 x 1200

Mini Donuts… Sugary Carny Crack

Download: Zip File with 1920×1200 & 1600×1200 formats
Download: 1600 x 1200
Download: 1920 x 1200

If you have any other _slogan_ suggestions, feel free to leave a message in the comments. If they’re funny enough, we’ll make another batch of wallpapers.

*Happy Stampede Everyone*

DCWEEK2010: 140 Conference

To conclude our time at DCWeek, Team Armadillo had the privilege of taking in the D.C. edition of the “140 Conference”:http://dc.140conf.com/.

Started last year, by Jeff Pulver, the 140 Conference is a platform for the worldwide twitter community to come together and discuss the impact of Twitter, and to an extent the larger Social Connectivity of our culture. It’s a quick single day event, where speakers and panelists are give less than 20 minutes to cover their desired topic. The added bonus of last week’s event in Washington, was that it corresponded with “Digital Capital Week”:http://www.digitalcapitalweek.org.

The D.C. 140 Conference was filled with an “impressive line-up of thinkers and speakers”:http://dc.140conf.com/schedule. To detail each talk would probably fill three or four blog posts. So for the sake of brevity, I am going to detail three of the most interesting talks from the day.

The Salty Campaign

One of the more interesting talks revolved around Eric Weaver, an Agency executive with Vancouver based DDB. In his talk, Eric described the success of the “Salty Campaign for Knorr Sidekicks”:http://adweek.blogs.com/adfreak/2010/01/knorrs-salty-salt-shaker-cant-catch-a-break.html.

And while many people are familiar with the T.V. spots which infiltrated Canadian Networks last year, how many of you are familiar with the accompanying Social Media campaigns?

Probably not many of you, but the campaigns were a huge success. In conjunction with the T.V. commercial, DBB also launched campaigns on Facebook and Twitter. On one hand user were able “to purchase Salty and Pepper shakers”:http://www.sidekicks.ca/arden.aspx and once people received their shakers. they were encouraged to promote pictures of their Salty in everyday life on Twitter. The second part of this aspect of the campaign allowed users who befriended Salty on Twitter and Facebook access to two hilarious video clips to expand the Salty story.

Here is one of the extra videos below.

Eric spent his time talking about the success of the campaign, but one of the key points he made was – _to have a successful campaign in this market, you have to have a corresponding relationship between Traditional Media and Social Media. Each tool has to compliment the other and it has to be geared to drive users towards the target campaign_.

*Sidenote*: Eric, although not a full-fledged Canadian, was one of the three Canadians at the conference. Of course the other two Canadians were “TEAM ARMADILLO”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/drbeachvacation/4710974738/!

Blake Hall & TroopSwap

Blake Hall is a one of the three founding members of “TroopSwap”:https://www.troopswap.com/pages/about, an online tool designed to help soldiers who are constantly moving and transferring. His talk revolved around the concept of Enterprise 2.0 and how it can help communication issues within the Military.

Hall talked about implementing Enterprise 2.0 concepts and the ideals behind shared social networks to help communications between forces in combat zones. Hall’s visions revolved around the use of a massive discussion board or a secure Twitter like client (similar to “Yammer”:https://www.yammer.com/), where troops and commanding officers can safely pass on information in real-time to Platoon leaders. The goal of Hall’s vision is to ensure that information is available to all levels of a combat force in real-time.

Hall’s philosophy was that with so much collaboration and information being spread through these Social Networks, the concept of the Twitter and Enterprise 2.0 is something that could be leveraged to save lives in combat zones.

In a world where so much rhetoric is focused on brand development, ROI, and trends; Hall’s talk was an astonishing breath of fresh air.

The Browncoats: Redemption Project

One of the most interesting talks came from Mike Dougherty and Steven Fisher, who detailed their experience with leveraging the Twitter community to fund “The Browncoats: Redemption”:http://browncoatsmovie.com/.

The Browncoats: Redemption is a new film based in the Joss Whedon developed universe of Serenity and Firefly. But unlike the short-lived show Firefly and the movie Serenity, Browncoats is a completely fan-funded continuation of the mythos. It is the brain child of Mike and Steven and during the 140 conference, the two discussed the project and how they have used Twitter and Facebook to spread the word to the ravenous Firefly community to help fund their vision.

The 140 Conference

The 140 conference was an exceptional day of thoughts and discussion. As mentioned, I could go on about each of the 50 speakers, but it would probably be a bit of an overload of information.

If you do get a chance to attend a 140 Conference, please to take advantage of the opportunity. You won’t regret it.

DCWEEK2010: Media 2.0 Day & The Probono Lounger

For the past two days, Team Armadillo has venture into the heart of D.C. for two separate “Digital Capital Week Events”:http://www.digitalcapitalweek.org.

Media 2.0

On Tuesday, Armadillo descended on to the headquarters of National Geographic for a full day discussion on “Media and it’s role in the Web 2.0 World”:http://www.bivingsreport.com/2010/dcweek-media-2-0-day/. With a heavy hitting list of speakers from NPR, USAToday, National Geographic and the Pew Institute it was a wonderful day chalk-full of information.

Some of the most interesting tid-bits of information from the day came from the round table discussion in the morning on Social and Traditional Media.

Yes, this topic has been dissected ad nauseam at many other conferences and events, but this panel provided some interesting insight into the evolution of Social Media by some of the giants of Traditional Media. From the NPR’s usage of crowd-sourcing to provide geo-locational information in advance of Hurricane Gustov to The National Geographic’s implementation of a powerful members site to allow a more immersible social experience with their product, it was a refreshing site to hear the supposed _dinosaurs of traditional media_ embracing and championing Social Media.

But one of the most interesting concepts came from USAToday’s Brian Dresher who revealed a new spin on a frequently discussed topic – *ROIII – Return on Interaction, Influence and Investment*.

This concept is one of the key factors that USAToday leverages to analyze and evaluate their implementation of Social Media. It essentially expands upon the typical monetary value placed on Social Media and instead looks at how much interaction and influence USAToday is able to grow with the latest upcoming technology.

Probono Consulting Lounger

On Wednesday, Armadillo Studios had the pleasure of partaking in a special DCweek event called – “The Probono Lounge”:http://digitalcapitalweek.org/2010/06/dcweek-goes-probono/.

Essentially, this 4 hour brainstorming/work session was designed to pair Designers, Strategists and Developers with local D.C. area non-profits and help them tweak their online presence.

Armadillo Studios was lucky to team up with an excellent group of WordPress specialists and developers to help two local organizations – “DC Food For All”:http://dcfoodforall.com/ and “Bread For The City”:http://www.breadforthecity.org/. And while some technical difficulties limited everyone’s ability to really pour into the code, the event was a great success with the seeds of future collaboration planted.

Up Next…

Thursday is another big day at DCWeek with the ever popular “140 Conference”:http://dc.140conf.com/ set to take place.

Facebook Fan Page Fan-tastic

It is with great pleasure that Armadillo Studios announces our new “Facebook Fan Page”:http://www.facebook.com/armadillostudios.

As you can see our new Facebook Fan Page is a fully customized site, which aims to show the *playful* side of Armadillo Studios and to also demonstrate the potential power of the *Facebook Fan Page*. We built all the elements of the Armadillo Studios landing page using FBML (Facebook Meta Language), a new cannon of design code which allows page owners to dramatically enhance the Facebook experience for their fans.

But Why Launch a Fan Page Now?

Some of you may be asking, _why is a Web Design and Social Media outfit only jumping on the Facebook Fan Page bandwagon now_?

To answer that, let’s look quickly at the Facebook platform.

When Facebook first started gaining some traction with the college crowd, it created a unique subsection for people to organize called *Groups*. As everyone now knows, Groups allow up to 5,000 users to band together to show their admiration for a wealth of topics. But the major flaw, with Groups, is that it was quite difficult to connect with your followers. Without a constant level of interaction between groups and their followers, most groups faded into the distance.

Now fast forward to the beginning of 2009 and Facebook is set to launch a new system called “Fan Pages”:http://www.insidefacebook.com/2009/02/16/facebook-to-launch-redesigned-pages-for-businesses-tour-first-impressions/.

*Fan Pages are Group pages on steroids* – no limits on membership, the ability to post new content directly into your fan’s activity stream and the ability to customize the layout. When they first launched many organizations made the switch instantaneously, but one of the hidden elements of the new customizable elements was the ability to create new pages using *FBML* (Facebook Meta Language).

In recent months, FMBL has undergone a series of dramatic enhancements to the point where those who are familiar with the language, can now utilize this new tool to fully customize the Fan Page experience.

FMBL and The Future of Fan Pages

It’s because of the evolution of FBML that we felt it was time to create a new identity for the company on Facebook.

With FBML, organizations can now build a unique identity on Facebook which is akin to their own goals – something that will standout from the competition. These tools now allow users to create their own mini-web sites within Facebook. And with the unprecedented growth of Facebook in certain demographics, it is now more important than ever to make a great first impression.

Because of these developments, we believe that *Facebook Fan Pages are going to be a powerful new tool for companies and community organizations*. And while we think our own page is pretty darn fan-tastic, here are some examples of what can be done with Facebook Fan Pages:

* “The New England Patriots”:http://www.facebook.com/newenglandpatriots
* “Bullfrog Power’s – Pay More For Energy Campaign”:http://www.facebook.com/BullfrogPower
* “Gerry Loves Records – An indie record label out of Edinburgh”:http://www.facebook.com/gerrylovesrecords
* “Victoria Secret”:http://www.facebook.com/victoriassecret

So don’t just take our word on it, some of the biggest players in the internet industry are already taking note.

Fan Pages & Your Company

The beauty of Facebook fan pages is that they can built for a fraction of the cost of a regular web site and they also allow you a direct connection to your fans (via streaming your updates directly in to your fan’s stream). So if you like what you see with our own “Facebook Fan Page”:http://www.facebook.com/armadillostudios, send us a note at *info@armadillostudios.ca*.

If you get in contact with us to develop a Fan Page by July 15th, we’ll give you an introductory discount of 20% on our development rate.

The Music-Critic Podcast

If you’re a lover of new music, one of our long-standing clients “Music-critic.ca”:http://www.music-critic.ca/wp/, is probably one of the best places to find out the latest bands. Over the past five years, Armadillo Studios has been constantly working with Nathan Atnikov (the owner and editor) to improve the web site and help spread the word about their fantastic reviews.

This week, Music-critic took another giant leap into the digital realm with the launch of it’s own weekly Podcast.

Hosted by Nathan, this new weekly podcast will highlight some of the best new tracks being released from well known and undiscovered artists. So if you’re looking for some new music to fill your iPods and iPhones, make sure you go to “iTunes and subscribe to the new and a 100% fresh Music-critic.ca podcast”:http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/music-critic-ca-podcast/id370841312.

SXSW10: Links For Your Enjoyment

As previously mentioned SXSW is long over and the overviews are starting to roll in. As usual, I’m a little late with my final blog posts. So instead of waxing poetically about the conference, here is a run down of some of the links that you should have a gander at. They cover the entire spectrum of the conference, from influential thinkers to upcoming design techniques to new tools for business:

Social Media Thinkers & Shakers

* “Chris Brogan”:http://www.chrisbrogan.com/my-plans-for-sxsw/ and “Julien Smith”:http://inoveryourhead.net/, the two brains behind the exceptional book Trust Agents. If you are involved with building an online brand or personal brand, invest in this book.
* Washington DC Visual Information collective “JESS3”:http://www.jess3.com.
* Uber-entrepreneur “Gary Vanyerchuk”:http://garyvaynerchuk.com/, who is an amazing inspiration for people looking to build a Company brand.

Web Typography

* “Samantha Warren”:http://www.slideshare.net/SamanthaWarren/sxsw-2010 a fantastic designer who is pushing the World of Web Typography, with some great poster based design.
* “Jason Cranford Teague”:http://www.jasonspeaking.com/index.php/about/ wrote a book called “Fluid Web Typography”:http://www.peachpit.com/store/product.aspx?isbn=0321679989, which is a fantastic and straight forward break down of the up coming shift towards Web Typography.

Interesting Takes On SXSW and Design Culture

* A Graphical representation of the SXSW Conference thorough a series of “Moleskin notebook sketches (via. Roh Design)”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/rohdesign/sets/72157623522676011/
* Unhappy Hipsters, a collection of “Wallpaper magazine photos with unhappy hipster commentary”:http://unhappyhipsters.com/

New Tools For Everyone:

* “Wufoo.com”:http://wufoo.com/signup/ a simple web site that allows anyone to develop simple and stylish web forms.
* “Mapscripting.com”:http://mapscripting.com/way-cool, which is a pushing the boundaries of what Google Maps and Yahoo Maps can do for small businesses.
* “Grasshopper.com”:http://grasshopper.com/how-it-works/ is an inexpensive Toll Free phone office service for small businesses. (There is also a Canadian Equivalent called “RingCentral”:http://www.ringcentral.ca/ which Canadian businesses should check-out)
* “Launch’s take on Leave Your Job Start An Agency”:http://www.lunch.com/reviews/Leave_Your_Job_Start_An_Agency-1439609.html, the feedback to our talk from SXSW
* From our good friend Andy at “NonImage”:http://www.nonimage.com, is the amazing Invoicing app called “FreeAgent”:http://www.freeagentcentral.com/?referrer=31l1ldro, which will revolutionalize how freelancers control their own books.
* “OneForty.com”:http://oneforty.com/ the ultimate resource for Twitter apps to leverage for your business.
* A great presentation on the power and beauty of “Co-Working and how it will change our own way of working”:http://spinuzzi.blogspot.com/2010/03/sxswi-what-coworking-tells-us-about.html. If you are interested in coworking in Calgary check out “Coworkyyc.com”:http://www.coworkyyc.com.

SXSW10: The Big Showdown – GoWalla vs. Foursquare

Well, now that SXSW 2010 is over and everyone has begun shoring up “their own conference overviews”:http://techcrunch.com/2010/03/09/location-is-the-new-just-kill-yourself/, It’s about time I finish off the last two posts on the conference.

So with out further adieu, here’s my take on the “other big topic at this year’s festival”:http://blog.armadillostudios.ca/article/sxsw10-the-big-trend-is-web-typography. Yes, friends without question the big showdown of *SXSW 2010* was between geo-locational social network superpowers “GoWalla & Foursquare”:http://twitpic.com/18fgd6.

The big guns were definitely brought out to play, as each of the two superpowers fought for the affection of the influential _first adopter_ crowd. In laymen terms, *they were coveting the nerds*.

The idea being that, if you win the Nerds (First Adopters), they’ll return to their home town and influence others to join the network. Now to preface it, both foursquare and gowalla were predominant at the ’09 version of the festival, but this was the big year. iPhones and Smartphones were are as common as underwear at SXSW and pretty much everyone at the conference was already using one of two power house apps. But the key for these two start-ups was to convert the nerds to their own service. To come out one top and _create the next Twitter Effect_.

So after all the final software updates, redesigns, secret badges and super, super duper checks-in were completed, who won?

The Big Winner Is…

Well, this may come as a shock, but I would have to venture that Austin based “GoWalla”:http://gowalla.com/blog/2010/03/sxsw-2010-redux/ was the slight winner. Which for those following the Geo-Locational Network apps battle (or “even this web site”:http://blog.armadillostudios.ca/article/foursquare-starts-to-make-waves-in-calgary) will see as a bit of shock.

“Foursquare”:http://www.foursquare.com has been the _it company_ for this new section of the Social Media spectrum for over a year, with “predominant deals with national and local media outlets”:http://foursquare.com/metronews and a buzz that’s rivaled Twitter. But, with an ill-timed redesign roll-out and some glaring downtime issues, Foursquare seemed to miss a golden opportunity to squash the competition. Rather than blowing the socks off of the crowd, it left with a small whimper of excitement. Instead, smaller “GoWalla”:http://www.gowalla.com was able to keep rolling with a crisper interface design (“just look at those gorgeous icons”:http://gowalla.com/spots) and leverage the _cool small guy_ vibe to win over a majority of the _nerds_. By the end of the five days, most dedicated Social Media Enthusiasts and Insiders were gravitating towards GoWalla and away from Foursquare.

What this means for the future of Geo-Locational Networks is something that will play out shortly, but for the future if you are looking to expand your business into the Foursquare network, it would be best to keep one eye on GoWalla as you start to build your strategy. (Don’t worry, they are both fairly interchangeable) Foursquare will still maintain it’s buzz and significant edge on users, but GoWalla made a solid impression.

The question for the future will be, was it enough to sway a majority of the _First Adopters_ and their friends to make the switch.