Shyfrog Media Relaunches on Drupal 8

I am happy to announce that I’ve relaunched the Shyfrog Media (http://www.shyfrog.net) site on #Drupal 8 with a new design.

The site has a renewed emphasis on web design and development, media production, branding, and publishing.

Other specialties include music, songwriting, studio & live sound engineering, promotion, and producing.

The site will continue to expand as I publish case studies, projects, blog entries, and music. Thanks for taking a look!

Are you a life-long learner? It’s never too late to start.

β€œIntellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”
~Albert Einstein

Back in April of this year (2016) I wrote a piece about life-long learning called Rust Never Sleeps. Here’s an excerpt:

“In the age of information and ready access to seemingly infinite knowledge, it amazes me how many people are unable to get out of their mental comfort zones to expand and strengthen their knowledge, abilities, talents, and creativity. With so many options available, perhaps it’s just too much to filter through and still remain focused. Understandable, given the over-saturation of memes, cat videos, and other myriad distractions. However, getting into a mental exercise regimen is no different than getting into a physical one. We all make excuses for why we aren’t following through. Myself included.”

Well, I have no more excuses. This month, I’ve finished 24 courses on Lynda.com in UX/UI, Front-End Development, Drupal, and Audio Engineering tracks/courses and there’s no end in sight to the learning available.

Back in the late 90’s I spent a great deal of time absorbing everything I could about the internet. A lot of people thought it was just a flash in the pan, and that I was wasting my time. It didn’t take long for me to land a job though. 20 years later I’m still in the industry and learning more than ever before.

My background and experience in homeschooling, unschooling, alternative schooling, and online education may put me at an advantage. I’m steeped in the concepts of self-motivation, individual merit, and peerless achievement. This doesn’t mean I can’t work in teams or groups. I’ve played guitar in bands for almost 40 years and I know the value of collaboration and love the new sounds and styles that come from writing and performing music with others. It simply means that I also know how to go it alone and can get things done without having to rely on others. For example: I can write music, play all the instruments, record them individually, and produce a final product that sounds like a full band without ever relying on another musician. I took the time to learn how to do these things because I didn’t want to have to wait for someone else to finish their part.

We all have different learning styles and some of you may never get the hang of learning outside of a classroom. However, the online resources are getting better at accommodating a diverse audience by offering live video feeds, forums, chats, exercise files, interactive group sessions, and much more. Compared to what was available in the late 90’s, the offerings are myriad and overwhelming sometimes. I really like having that choice and competition ensuring that things will continue to improve.

So where to begin? There are a lot of options and my advice is to browse through them, try them all, and get a feel for what works for you. Here’s a repeat of links/resources from my previous blog about learning, plus a few more so you can get started learning today! Some of them are completely free, others have free classes and offer certificates for a fee, and others have monthly fees.

Khan Academy
Lynda.com
LinkedIn Learning
edX
MIT OpenCourseWare
Coursera
The Johns Hopkins University
UC Berkeley
Yale University
Aquent Gymnasium

Punk’s Not Dead, It Just Smells Funny


While in Utah, back in April/May 2016 for my oldest son’s college graduation and wedding, I took an unexpected side trip down memory lane. Taking my youngest boys to visit with some musician friends (Branden from Rancid and Quinn from The Used) for lunch was a nice little reunion. But it got so much better.

That night, I was invited back to Branden’s home studio to record some guitar tracks for one of my old tunes with my old bandmates from Froglick and Branden on drums. We had a blast talking about when we were all just starting out and how music connects so many people over time and distance. So here is the result: 90’s post-punk/rock refreshed with a new arrangement and simplified approach. Listen on Soundcloud

Volunteering: 2016 Uplift Music Festival


The 2016 Uplift Music Festival has teamed up with the ConVal school district and South Meadow School to be the beneficiaries of this years Uplift! We will be raising money for the school music program to buy much needed instruments and equipment for the kids. Everyone involved with Uplift knows the importance of music and the arts in early childhood development. This is a cause that we are particularly excited about!

Uplift Music Festival is a community driven festival showcasing The Monadnock Region’s finest musicians, artists, food, and so much more! Our mission is to β€œUplift” our community through a family oriented music and arts event. We encourage all local farmers, artists and businesses to join us at the festival and to share their talents and products with the community. By doing so, they help raise awareness on the importance of supporting our local economy. Each year we choose one small business or nonprofit organization as the beneficiary to receive all profits earned from the event.

Uplift Music Festival will take place August 6th, 2016 beginning at Noon and ending at 11pm. at Oak Park, 791 Forest Rd., Greenfield NH.

Tickets available now.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac: Making “Old” New Since 1792


Back in October of 2015, I announced that “Old is New” and that we had migrated our old Drupal 6 site to Drupal 7. This was an interim launch and the real launch would come at a later date. Well, after a lot of design and usability meetings, the creation of custom branded fonts, streamlined ad delivery system, and so much more, I’m happy to announce it again!
The Old Farmer’s Almanac: Making “Old” New Since 1792

Dark Patterns (The Walking Dead)

Pigeonholed? Maybe...
Dress-for-Success, Day Planners, cold calls, hard sells, brick phones, power ties, feathered hair: some things should be left to rest in peace. Somehow, the worst of the worst has risen from the marketing grave and infected the natural, organic, and the living. Here’s a list of walking dead that should be taken out before they infect more of us: bait-and-switch, forced continuity, road blocks, disguised ads, and many, many more.

Honestly, who thinks that any of these manipulative, open-ended numbers games are a good idea? If you have to manipulate people into buying your product, and then manipulate your sales numbers in order to impress stakeholders and/or potential clients, then your product probably isn’t worth buying. Getting it to as many people as possible before the initial nostalgia wears off is a losing proposition in the long-run. If you’re an honest business selling an honest product, you really shouldn’t fall into any of these patterns. It could be deadly for your business.

Flashback (please don’t Flashdance) to my time in Los Angeles circa 1985. I was offered a job at every telephone sales company I walked into. I suppose this is the perk of having commercial voice-over experience and being a baritone. One of the last companies I worked for in that industry had a very cocky workforce that claimed they could sell copier toner to companies that didn’t even have copiers. And, they were right. They had the dark patterns down to an art: Have a spiel, dial quickly, talk quickly, have a series of rejection responses/misdirections/trick-questions, close, close, close! I remember one salesperson closing a $3000 sale of toner to a small pet store. Yeah, eventually the toner was returned because they had no copier. But hey, they could quantify their success rate by cherry-picking the stats (i.e. leaving out the returns). Dark patterns indeed.

While we’re talking about manipulative, open-ended numbers games, lets talk about the biggest zombie of all: Aggressive email marketing and lead capture. This idea that you can inundate your customers/prospects (people, as I like to call them) with emails that offer nothing more than repeated fluff and non-content in a bid to sell them something is no better than the cold call in the 80’s. Lets put that epidemic to rest sooner than later. If you want your email to be truly effective, it needs to be opt-in, personalized, have real content written by real people, targeted, tangible, and free of marketing speak, corporate jargon, and buzzwords. And lets face it, if your content is what people want, they’re going to find it and share it organically anyway.

The future is about Transparency, honesty, autonomy, choice, open-source, and responsiveness. Be wary of businesses that approaching your potential purely in terms of bottom-line and ROI. Do some due diligence before taking the bait. On the other hand, be mindful of businesses, groups, and individuals who put people first and who understand the organic and dynamic nature of doing business online. Give them your business. Foster healthy partnerships for long-term success. Remember, the market is made up of living, breathing people. Stop the marketing zombie apocalypse.

Beyond Work-Life Balance: Honor Your Talents


All through my youth and into adulthood I’ve met many people who were once dedicated to their passions. These are hardworking individuals who, for some reason or another, have relegated their talents to mere hobbies or past-times. Or worse, they’ve let them go and think of them only as childish dreams. More often than not, their reminiscing seems tinged with regret.

There are many reasons for this: family, career, responsibilities, duties, sickness, apathy…the list goes on. It gives me pause to reflect on my own choices as I hear some of the reasons why they just don’t have time for what made them excited and motivated in their youth.

There are some who say their fire just went out. Or perhaps they have an ember glowing and it just requires some nurturing to bring it roaring back to life. It can be difficult to sustain the demands and requirements of keeping all those projects alive and healthy.

I’ve been a musician far longer than I’ve been involved in any career. Some in the music business tend to call me a “lifer”. And they’re correct. I always knew I’d play music. At some point early on I realized that I could still raise a family and enjoy a comfortable existence by taking on a career, while still making time for the thing that gives me joy: Music! Luckily, I also enjoy my career. I’m grateful that it’s in a creative field and gives me an outlet for my ideas, even taking on the role of muse.

Sometimes it does seem like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew: I’m in 2 bands, mc an open-mic at the local pub, host and livestream a weekly jam with local musicians, and perform regularly. Add to that a perpetual appetite for information and learning, the need to get out and discover new places, and a very bad case of procrastination. I also have 5 children. It’s a fine balance, but it can be overwhelming.

I’d love to leave you with an inspirational list of bullet points and advice for re-igniting your latent or neglected talents, but I’m really not a list-making kind of person. If you are, great! Start making a list. I’ll play it by ear πŸ˜‰ Spontaneity is what works for me and keeps me exploring new opportunities.

So what are your passions and talents and how are you going to re-dedicate yourself to them and honor them?

Rust Never Sleeps: On Becoming a Polymath

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
-Robert A. Heinlein

In the age of information and ready access to seemingly infinite knowledge, it amazes me how many people are unable to get out of their mental comfort zones to expand and strengthen their knowledge, abilities, talents, and creativity. With so many options available, perhaps it’s just too much to filter through and still remain focused. Understandable, given the over-saturation of memes, cat videos, and other myriad distractions. However, getting into a mental exercise regimen is no different than getting into a physical one. We all make excuses for why we aren’t following through. Myself included.

So where does one begin? We could start with the obvious offerings: Wikipedia, Google, etc. These are great research tools, but you still have to filter through a lot of fluff and unreliable, sometimes uncurated data while taking everything with a grain of salt.

Then there are the pay-for-training sites: Lynda.com, Udemy, Treehouse, etc. I used Lynda.com long before its acquisition by LinkedIn. I still use it and find it to be relevant to my career path. These are great resources, especially if your company is paying for it. Take advantage of that kind of opportunity when it’s available. And if it’s not provided by your employer, consider a small investment to hone your skills.

The biggest disruptor (wheee, a buzzword!), and one that I fully support and embrace, is the opencourseware, or Open Education movement which has been available online since 2001. And I’m not talking about a seminar or weekend intensive class on the latest industry fads. This is undergraduate and graduate level academia. I am talking about world-class, top-notch, Ivy league education…entire curricula…for FREE (I use the term lightly as nothing is actually ever “Free”). Some of them are now offering credit, at a very reasonable fee, for their online offerings as well! One of my favorite sites, edX offers courses from several accredited Universities world wide. You can choose from options for free learning, certified learning, and credit toward a degree.


Opportunity is abundant and practically everywhere these days (unless you spend too much time on Tumblr). You just have to recognize it for what it is: work. It requires focus, dedication, and effort. Homeschoolers (like myself) have recognized this opportunity for a long time. The learning can begin as early in an individual’s path as needed. A favorite among the homeschooling/unschooling community, Khan Academy, has K-12 and college curricula, standardized test prep, and evolving college admissions advice.

These are just a few of the offerings available. Take some time to reflect on the path and practice you want to pursue and then get out there and work toward it. It’s a brave new world. πŸ˜‰

Here are a few more resources to explore:
Coursera
The Johns Hopkins University
UC Berkeley
Yale University
Aquent Gymnasium

Live Local Music


I am the host of Thunderous Thursdays, a weekly improvisational music jam, streaming live from New Hampshire every Thursday night. It’s mostly off-the-cuff and completely live and raw. Sometimes you’ll catch our band practicing before the jams and a lot of the time there is dead air while musicians take breaks. Conversations get pretty entertaining during that time.

Why do I do this? Lets just say I’m a “lifer”. Music is part of my being and essence. There’s something about gathering other music loving and dedicated individuals to feed off of each other’s willing participation in creation and performance. No other art has the same real-time collaborative ability.

Granted, sometimes it is a cacophony of sound. But there are those magic moments when the groove just settles in and takes you on a journey into unexplored space.

https://www.youtube.com/c/LouEastman