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How to Play Foosball

It’s a known fact that we at REM love to play foosball!

 

It’s a fun activity to do and it feels great to get your energy levels up after playing a vigorous, challenging match with a friend. Personally, it took me a long time to get the hang of it. When I first started playing about 2 years ago I lost a lot – and I mean A LOT! But the key in acquiring new skills is to never get discouraged, no matter the number of loses. I didn’t see it as losing I saw it as “training;” with that mentality I wasn’t afraid to challenge anyone.

 

So how does one play foosball? Essentially, foosball is table game/sport based on Soccer (or Football for Europeans). The name originated from the German word for soccer (pronounced the same way) literally meaning “foot plus ball.”

 

The goal is to utilize the 4 rods and a total of 9 “players” (the wooden or plastic men with no arms) to put the ball into the “net” (usually just a hole at your opponent’s side). The 4 rods are:

  1. The 5-bar: the rod in the middle that starts off the game. Usually the strongest because it’s the heaviest and the hardest to get pass because of how many “players” in the bar.
     

  2. The 3-bar: the main set of players that shoot the ball into the goal and therefore closest to the opponent’s “net.”
     

  3. The Defense (2-bar): this bar is right in front of your goalie and net. Its main uses are two-fold: a) to block/deflect the ball from the net and b) to push the ball away from your side of the table and into your opponent’s side.
     

  4. The Goalie: self-explanatory here.

I’ve learned that when it comes to Foosball, it’s not about the power of your shots (although having strong, powerful shots can help a lot…. I’m looking at you, Sean Sanderson!), but the precision of them.

 

Of course there’s a lot more that goes into this sport. And yes, it is a sport! It requires training, accuracy, strategy…and sometimes trash-talk…. hehe  but of course all in good fun. The important thing is to have fun and to be a good sport about it. If you’d like to know more about it, here’s a link to a handy-dandy video:

 

 

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British Slang I've Learned from Watching UK Shows

I love watching British shows! I love:

  • a) their accent,
  • b) their mannerisms & culture,
  • c) the awesome architecture/old timey buildings, and
  • d) the slangs, which is what this blog post is about.

 

As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post about “Jamie-isms” I like listening to not only what people say but also how they say it. The UK’s culture has shaped a lot of the idioms; it has always fascinated me. Some of the slangs I’ve heard are easily understood or have been used in North America or familiar to us, but a bunch of them I had to look up their meaning. So, I’ve decided to collect some in this blog post with a few examples, from the obvious to the not-so-obvious.

  1. Chips – French fries
  2. Tube – subway
  3. Mate – friend, pal or chum
  4. Telly – television
  5. Loo – bathroom
  6. Ice-lolly – popsicle
  7. Brilliant – great
  8. Wicked – cool
  9. Chuffed – proud
  10. Rubbish – garbage
  11. Whinge – Whine
  12. Going across the pond - going to North America, going to the UK or vice versa.
  13. Jolly good – extremely good
  14. Kerfuffle – a fuss, commotion
  15. Fortnight – a period of two weeks
  16. Blimey – exclamation of surprise similar to “Oh my goodness!
  17. Boot – the storage area of a car, in North American terms the trunk of a car.
  18. Dodgy – iffy, suspicious, illegal. “That store looked really dodgy.
  19. Proper – good, right, went well, legit. Example: “I had a proper sleep last night.
  20. “How are you getting on with…?” – “How are you doing with…?
  21. Having a row with someone – having a fight with someone
  22. Blinding – an adjective for excellence. Example: “That was a blinding episode of that show!
  23. Tickety-boo or hunky-dory – going smoothly, going well. Example: “Is your paperwork tickety-boo today?

Hope you’ve had fun reading these. I’ve certainly used a few of them once and a while. I shall end this blog post with an appropriate Brit slang: “Cheerio, old chap!” Until next time!

 

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REM Canoeing Team Building Event

At REM team building is very important to us. Our Team Building Events are fun, challenging, productive and stimulating. Not only do the events build stronger accord between us by improving our teamwork and leadership skills, they also highlight aspects of our talents and personalities that are normally not seen in day-to-day work. I certainly saw some great teamwork skills exemplified in our canoeing team building event last October.

 

On a chilly and damp October afternoon, we rented some canoes from Canoeing the Grand for a fun and challenging excursion down the Grand River. How does paddling down a river make it a team building event you ask? First, we were split into teams of two: Todd and I, Jill and Rob, Sean S. and Shauna, and Sean M. and Ryan. Each pair had to strategically and physically coordinate a path down the river; the path set before us was laden with shallow parts, large rocks and (somewhat) rough waters. Second as if that’s not hard enough as it is, we had to multi-task: as we paddled down the river, Rob gave us a trivia on general facts about REM and each other. He quizzed us with questions such as “What are the 7 Guiding Principles of REM?”

 

As I’ve previously stated, it was cold and damp; we were all very wary of falling into the murky water. We thought to ourselves “Woo, we’re all dry!” as we were about to reach the end of the trip. Alas! Not all of us were so lucky. Poor Sean. S. fell into the water; just as he was stepping out of the canoe the boat accidentally moved under his feet and he fell (what looked like head-first) into the water. It was a sight to see! We were all both laughing our butts off and sorry that he was wet and freezing.

 

Below are a couple of photo montages I took of our team during the trip. The river and its surroundings was very beautiful, all in all it was a beautiful day for a trip down the river.

 

REM Canoeing Pics 1

REM Canoeing Pics 2

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Font-astic Terms

Continuing my theme of web design terms, this blog post is to further expand upon one of the main elements I’ve mentioned in my previous blog post: fonts.

 

As you might’ve read in my last blog post, it refers to the typeface the texts use. It plays a crucial role in establishing a website’s branding (look and feel), especially when it comes to composing a consistent and cohesive design. It can impact the message of the text itself. For example, using a hand-drawn style might give the viewer the impression that it’s a personal message from someone.

 

The following are my personal interpretations and are in no way the “official” meaning. There’re visual typeface examples on the right for each category mentioned. They can fall into these main “Font-astic Four” categories (Pardon the comic book pun! I couldn’t help it.):

 

Sans-serif

clean and modern. This style is best used in all sorts of scenarios from headlines to small type to body copy because it’s easy to read, big or small. Common ones such as Arial and Helvetica are considered neutral styles.

Fonts: sans-serif

 

Serif

classic and traditional. This style is useful for business settings such as documents, formal letters and contracts, but still has so many variations that it could work in a modern context. Just like sans-serif it can be used in a large variety of things such as headlines, small type and/or body copy.

Fonts: serif

 

Script

cursive, elaborate and elegant, also known as “calligraphic” styles. This style always looks beautiful and unique; it definitely highlights text when used. However, unlike serif and sans-serif, it’s most effective when used sparingly, as most script typefaces are notoriously hard to read when small and will look busy when used too much.

Fonts: script

 

Hand-drawn

custom-looking, fun and creative. It’s hard to give examples for this one because they’re not “standard” typefaces. It can also be combined with the other categories (as in a hand-drawn typeface can look like a script, sans-serif or serif typeface). This style is usually literally hand-drawn by the person who created it. Similar to script styles, they’re ideally used infrequently to highlight a headline or a callout. 

Fonts: hand-drawn

 

There are plenty more categories typefaces can fall into, but these are the basic ones that come to my mind first. Just like any design element it’s not about the quantity, but the quality; that’s why best practices suggest that you only use 2 or 3 styles in a design. When used at the right spot in the right combination, they can give your users/customers the right feeling and attract them into the website, making them want to explore it further.

 

I shall end this blog post with another inspiring quote. This one is from Steve Jobs (I think almost everyone knows who is) one of the founders of Macintosh/Apple:

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

 

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Handy Web/Graphic Designer Terminology: Part 2

Last time on my previous blog post, I explained the meaning of a few terms that’re used for different sections of web page. If you haven’t already, you can read Part 1 here. The first post is about the main sections of a web page. In this one, I’ll be getting into a few of the nitty-gritty parts, the components or elements in a web page.

 

Again I’ll be using parts of REM’s homepage as an example with labels to illustrate the terms.

REM Web Solutions homepage with labels: Part 2

  1. Headline – This could also be known as “hero” text. Unlike a heading which could appear several times anywhere on a web page, the headline usually refers to the very first, large line of text that grabs the user’s attention and gives them a quick idea of your company. That means it could be your slogan, tagline or a quick summary of what you’re all about. REM’s headline at the top of the homepage is “We Provide Web Design & Development.” A headline is best when it’s short, concise and leaves an impression on the viewer. You can think of it as the “billboard copy” in your web page.
     
  2. Call-to-Action – The explanation is in the name. This is quite useful for marketing and advertising because it’s an element such as a graphic, heading, button, area, etc. that draws the user's eye and compels them to do something in your website. Its job is to make your user/customer do what you want them to do: contact you, go to this or that page, buy something, etc. For example, in our homepage the large “Learn More” button is a call-to-action to compel our customers to learn more about our services by contacting us.
     
  3. Iconography – This refers to illustrations, visual images or symbols that’re interpretations of an object or idea. Icons are used everywhere in our world, not just in websites. Unlike text which has to be a specific language, icons can be universally understood (think: the symbol for women’s/men’s washrooms). Also key aspects or ideas could be created into icons. In my example’s case, the illustration of a group of people conveys we have worked with many clients.
     
  4. Font – It refers to the typeface and style the texts uses. It plays a crucial role in establishing the website’s look and feel, particularly when it comes to making the design look consistent. Best practices suggest that one use no more than two or three font-styles. In the example I’ve highlighted there are two fonts being used: Raleway and Opens Sans (both sans serif).

Did you feel like you’ve learned something after reading my two-part blog post? I hope you have! We designers think in visual terms; we like to interpret the world around us with images not words, so you can imagine that it was a bit of a challenge for me to write down my personal definitions of these commonly used terminologies.

 

Just like last time, I shall end this blog post with another great quote to inspire you and/or make you think. This one is from Thomas Watson Jr., a businessman, political figure and 2nd President of IBM:

“Good design is good business.”

 

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Handy Web/Graphic Designer Terminology: Part 1

Ever worked with a Web or Graphic Designer and wondered about what that designer jargon meant when they explained their design and/or answered some questions? Have you ever tried to muddle through them? Some of them are logical and easy to understand, but there are some that might make you scratch your head and go, “What do you mean by that?”

 

Well, fret not! Here are some handy Web/Graphic Designer terminologies (“Jibber Jabber” as Penny from The Big Bang Theory would call it) that you’ve been dying to learn. Keep in mind that these are designer lingos that I’ve learned for myself and are not “official” descriptions.

 

I will be talking about the main sections of a web page, using the homepage of our website, REM Web Solutions, as an example with labels and numbers to illustrate the terms below.

 

REM Web Solutions homepage with labels

  1. Main Navigation – the explanation is in the name. This is a set or menu of web page links that’re crucial to your website and where your user/customer would navigate to the most. Best practice suggests it should be at the very top of a website; it must be clearly visible and easy to understand.
  2. Header – much like the header of a formal letter, the header is the main section that appears at the very top of a web page. It’s what you want the user/customer to pay attention to first. More often than not, the main navigation is within the header because just like the main navigation, the header should ideally have the most important pieces of information and elements your website needs, such as your company logo, search bar, etc.
  3. Body Copy – the body copy is the main text that starts off a web page. In a homepage is the introduction paragraph more often than not. For a website body copy is an important piece of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). A search engine such as Google or Bing, would crawl through the website and look for keywords in headings and paragraphs that will be associated with your company.
  4. Footer – similar to a formal letter, the footer appears at the very bottom of the web page. Most of the time the footer’s main role is to reiterate the info/elements that were in the header. Why repeat in the footer what’s already in the header you ask? It’s to engage your user/customer once again after they’ve scrolled to the very bottom of the page, enticing them as if to say: “Congrats! You’ve made it through the entire page. Now that you’ve seen this page, wanna see another one?”

I hope this blog post has been very informative for you! You could throw them into conversations the next time you chat with a Web/Graphic Designer. Certainly the designer will be very impressed and they’ll appreciate that you know them. This is Part 1 of a blog series; next month is Part 2 which will delve deeper into web and graphic design lingo.

 

For now, I shall leave you with a great quote from Paul Rand, a famous Graphic Designer.

“Design is so simple. That’s why it’s so complicated.”

 

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Growing Avocado Plants Part 2: Outdoors

You might remember a couple of months ago I wrote a blog post about “Growing Avocado Plants.” This is part 2: the great outdoors. I have narrowed down my avocado plant to one; it’s doing so well and I want to concentrate my attention on it

 

Back in May, it was still too small and the weather was still too cold for me to leave it outside. But when the end of May came I took the plant out, and what a difference that made! Because avocado trees originated from Central Mexico, it does really well in hot conditions. It loves the mid-day sun it gets, which encourages the plant to grow more leaves. Also its trunk has become much stronger thanks to the breeze my backyard gets.

 

Avocado plant growing outdoors

Avocado plant growing outdoors

 

My fiancé and I have other plants on our deck as well. As you can see from the photo below, we also have:

  • cherry/assorted tomatoes in the back row
  • a couple of kale
  • a hibiscus
  • 2 cabbages
  • 2 lavenders
  • a few snow-peas
  • and 2 gooseberries

 

Plants on my deck

 

I’m looking forward to the day that we can finally have vegetables to eat from our little garden.

 

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Fun Facts About Colours

On my April blog post, I created a "Fun Facts About Avocados" infographic. I've decided to design another infographic, this time about colours. I found this great article that has some interesting facts. I've used a few of them for this infographic. 

 

Fun Facts About Colours

Source: Ucreative - "22 Intriguing Facts About Colors That You Need To Know!"

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Growing Avocado Plants

As you might know from my April blog post “Fun Facts About Avocados” I absolutely love avocados! They’re delicious, nutritious and a great snack. Hence, it was only natural that my fiancé and I started growing our own avocado plants.

 

It’s very simple to grow your own! There’re tons of tutorials on the web on how to get it started. Here’s a few links if you’d like to try for yourself:

 

How to Grow an Avocado Tree: Guac 'n' Roll from HGTV:

www.hgtvgardens.com/guac-n-roll-grow-an-avocado-tree

 

HOW TO: Grow an Avocado Tree from an Avocado Pit from Inhabitat:

inhabitat.com/how-to-grow-an-avocado-tree-from-an-avocado-pit/

 

Growing Avocado Plants From Seed from Instructables:

www.instructables.com/id/Growing-Avocado-Plants-From-Seed/

 

Essentially, you use toothpicks to suspend the bottom half of the pit under water, while the top half is exposed to absorb sunlight. It loves sunlight! It’s best grown on a sun-lit window sill or in front of a patio door. Once and awhile the water needs to be changed too. Eventually when it’s ready it can be transferred to soil. It’s an easy process, but it takes a lot of patience with some trial and error if it’s your first time. Any water container will do so long as it’s big enough to fit the pit with some room at the bottom; gradually change the container to a larger one according to plant’s size and its roots. We’ve used pop cans, beer cans and wine cartons.

 

We began to grow them back in January. In total, I’d say we tried growing around 12-15 pits since then. A lot of them were not successful and didn’t grow at all. The first one that grew a root, my fiancé accidentally killed; he removed the sprout from the pit, thinking it was having a hard time coming out of the pit. We later realized that the sprout needed the pit for nourishment. Also the plant splits the pit in half and come out on its own.

 

Out of them all and after almost 6 months we now have two that are growing quite well and another two that have potential, as you can see from the photo below.

 

4 Avocado Plants

My four avocado plants lined up in front of my patio door

 


 

The biggest one potted in soil (#1) is the most mature plant. It started making great progress back in February. Here are some dated photos of its progress from when it first sprouted from the top:

 

Growth Progress of My Avocado Plant

 


 

The one in the upcycled wine carton (#2) is doing quite well! As you can see it’s starting to grow a nice, long root. Eventually when it’s long enough the roots will start to branch out and hopefully a sprout will come out from the top. You can see the tiny plant inside the pit.

 

Plant 2


 

The next pit (#3) to the left of the carton has a lot of potential! It’s already split the pit in half and started to grow a very small root. Come on, little guy! You can do it!

 

Plant 3


 

I have hopes for last pit (#4). It looked like it tried to come out, but failed. Strange that it looks like it has a green sprout in the middle but no roots. I have trimmed the bottom in hopes of helping the root grow.

 

Plant 4

 


 

Growing the avocado plant is a lot of fun! It’s so gratifying to watch them grow and come to life with just some toothpicks and water. My fiancé hopes that one day the biggest one will bear fruit, but to me it doesn’t matter if we get fruit from it or not. It’s such a pretty plant! I’d be happy just to watch them grow!

 

I will keep documenting their progress with photos. I hope they do well! I might post another blog later on when the largest plant is even bigger.

 

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Favourite Websites That Inspire Me

The creative process abhors stagnation and craves inspiration.

 

Inspirations are necessary for the creative juices to flow. They're the little sparks that keep the artistic brain-engine going. As a Graphic Designer I look for inspirations for my work and I find them everywhere. Even if it’s not a website, the layout, colours or feeling of something could inspire my next website design.

 

Here are a few of my top websites I like visiting to reinvigorate my creativity:

 

Abduzeedo screenshot

Abduzeedo: a blog with a funny name. This website has some great inspirations for not only design, but architecture, art, illustration, typography and a whole lot more. I also like that they have tutorials and a section called “Friday Fresh Free Font.” for downloading free fonts.
 

 

 

 

 

 

Bashooka screenshot

Bashooka: a great website for web-specific inspirations, freebies and tutorials. I also like their minimalistic, clean design and colour scheme. Hmm…Bashooka’s colour scheme (mostly black and white with highlights of orange) looks very similar to another website. Hint: the website you’re at right now.


 

 

 

 

Web Designer Depot screenshot

Web Designer Depot: this is a cool website that has a blog, news, freebies, resources and all sorts of neat stuff. It has some very useful tips and tricks for designers. Personally, there are parts of the website that look too busy and advertisement-heavy to me, but I like the layout and bright colour palette.
 

 

 

 

 

DeviantArt screenshot

DeviantArt: This website has pages and galleries for amazing artists! You can find any genre of art here; from traditional paintings of still art to digital, fan-made art. I’ve mentioned before, it’s not just web design that inspires me. I have a background in Classical Illustration, and I find ways to incorporate my art skills into my design because they’re always interrelated. Looking at art helps stimulate all aspects of my creativity.

 

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