Category: Off Topic

barney stinson’s not the only one who can accept a challenge

I love learning.  Always have, always will – because as you learn, you grow.

When you’re challenging yourself in ways you haven’t done before, you get the possibility to discover talents and skills you didn’t even know you possessed (or, you might discover that you sucked at something, but let’s stay optimistic).

Trying something new probably means you’re not going to become a pro in one try, but at least it might awaken something inside you – an interest, an eagerness to improve or a realization that you should hire someone to do what you just tried to do. Regardless, you’ve gotten a positive outcome – you’ve learned something and you’ve improved when it comes to your self-perception.

So, when Tate and Lindsay last week asked me if I’d ever worked in Adobe After Effects, I told them “No.” I’d never even opened the program on a computer before. To share what the program was capable of and what he hoped he could see from me, Tate showed The Girl Effect – the animation intrigued me so I said, “challenge accepted.” I had no idea what the outcome would be, but if you never try you’ll never know, right?

In order to create a text animation you need, well, words. Luckily the Stokefire crew is good at keeping track of all the memorable quotes that pop up in the day to day elocution of our wise President. Some of these incredible sound bites were given to me to play around with.

Here’s what I managed to do with it.

And the feeling I got? Well, I certainly want to learn more about text animation. It’s an awesome tool to create interest among the viewers and present information in a fun, innovative and engaging way.


Dearest potential applicant:

In our eight year history we’ve never brought on a single intern nor employee who started their cover letter with “Dear Sirs” or “To Whom it May Concern,” and then perhaps followed it with body copy that could just as well introduce someone trying to break into the laundromat business, or maybe rocket science.

The unofficial policy doesn’t hit home for you? Consider what it would be like if a purportedly reputable organization was staffed by people so lazy that instead of taking the time to understand and address each applicant individually, they just posted a blanket rejection statement on their blog and left it at that.

Searching for Steve Jobs’s “Dent In The Universe.”

Posted by: Tate Linden

Did Jobs make a dent in the universe? Damned if I know. Frankly, I can’t find a place far enough back to see for sure.

“We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?”
– Attributed to Steve Jobs

Actually, Jobs probably didn’t say that. At least the real one didn’t. Noah Wylie said this exact line in The Pirates of Silicon Valley while playing Jobs in a made-for-TV movie. Martin Burke (the director of the movie) admitted that he never actually interviewed Jobs, though he did “have two or more sources that verify each scene” which means that all he knows is that something like that happened, but not what was really said. Even wikiquote lists it as unsourced.

Noted leadership expert (and author of Organizing Genius) Dr. Warren Bennis (or perhaps his coauthor, Patricia Ward Biederman) hedged, writing in 1996,

To echo Steve Jobs, whose Great Group at Apple created the Macintosh, each of these groups “put a dent in the universe.”

Dr. Bennis uses the phrase again twice in 1997 in the same interview with David Gergen in reference to the ideas discussed in Organizing Genius and in another interview in 1998 Dr. Bennis is back to loosely referencing Jobs’s denting.

Jump forward to 2001 and Philip Elmer-Dewitt also uses it twice in an article for Time Magazine:

He loved to tell his designers that the computer they were building — with its icons, its pull-down menus and its mouse — would not only change the world, but also “put a dent in the universe.”

In the future, says Levy, “we will cross the line between substance and cyberspace with increasing frequency, and think nothing of it.” That’s what Jobs would call a dent in the universe.

Upon his death we see the likes of Macworld and Discovery News cite the quote and reference a Time Magazine article that doesn’t say anything about the context or timing.

But it’s Playboy, of all the publishers in the world, that comes through  and actually finds Jobs’s dent under a pile of 15,000 words in an interview he gave way back in 1985. Jobs says,

At Apple, people are putting in 18-hour days. We attract a different type of person‐‑a person who doesn’t want to wait five or ten years to have someone take a giant risk on him or her. Someone who really wants to get in a little over his head and make a little dent in the universe.

So, while I can’t confirm that he made a dent in the universe, nor that Noah Wylie was quoting him directly with his often referenced script reading, it’s probably safe to assume that Jobs was at least thinking about the issues.

What bugs me more than the way this quote has grown from something he did say into something that he likely didn’t is the fact that he would think of it at all. For a man that smart and talented to choose a sledgehammer as his tool of choice seems… wrong. A dent gets stuffed with Bondo and buffed out. Pretty sure he didn’t actually want that to happen. Maybe I’ll look into it in my next post if there’s interest from the (possibly dented) world-at-large.


UPDATED: Learning Thankfulness From A Four-Year-Old

Posted By:
Tate Linden

Updated 11/28 – at the bottom of this post

My young son has a best friend that he’s known pretty much from the time he could speak in complete sentences. Just the mention of her name causes his eyebrows to shoot up and his mouth to open in surprise, as if he’s just remembered that she exists and that she could very well be hiding around a corner waiting to tickle him. Both kids seem to be on a different wavelength than others their own age, but when they’re together they become kinetic energy made visible. They tumble, sing, play cooperatively, chase frantically around the room, hold hands and hug with a joyfully innocent intensity that astounds me.

When anyone asks him who she is his response (without any coaching from others) has always been, “she’s my girl.”

Not “girlfriend” or “friend”.

“My girl.”

I am thankful that I live in a world where we have a chance of experiencing or witnessing such powerful bonds.

I am thankful I am capable of learning as much about life from my son as he is from me.

I’m thankful to all of the people that I’ll likely never meet who protect our way of life and our liberties so that we can appreciate these moments and relationships at our leisure.

But right now I’m mostly thankful to the MRI tech that discovered His Girl’s brain tumor today, and to the surgeons now trying to figure out how to remove it.

In the midst of the hurricane of long trips, traffic, cooking, in-laws, exes, screaming kids, over-eating, and unwanted political conversations we should remember to take a moment to breathe and perhaps be thankful that we and those we’re spending this day with are all able to do just that.

Maybe this year when Great Aunt Dorothy leans in for her annual semi-mustachioed smooch we won’t have to just pretend to appreciate it.

Hope you’re all able to spend the holiday with your own “my girl”.

Update 11/28:

On Thanksgiving day we took my son to spend a couple hours with His Girl in the hospital. The two of them laughed and played the entire time – often so boisterously that nurses and other parents in an otherwise very quiet hospital wing came by to peek their heads in and smile. Not a single disapproving look from anyone – including our normally shush-prone selves – during the entire visit. 

My son’s Girl entered surgery the day after Thanksgiving, less than two days after the tumor was found. As of yesterday she was awake, speaking and smiling again. She’s been released from the ICU and is recovering nicely in the children’s unit. We’re hopeful that she and my son will be able to see each other late this week.

I’m honored and surprised that so many of you were moved to write to me. Thank you for all of it. I’ve tried to share your sentiments with my son but the scale of what’s happening is a bit larger than such a young kid can fully digest. Know that he’s thankful nonetheless, and that he’s looking forward to his next play-date.

And the thousands to come after.

I opened this door as some sort of personal catharsis, but now must close it out of out of belated consideration for the girl’s privacy (and the privacy of her entire family). I will not be posting further updates. As jarring as this has been for my family, I cannot begin to understand the emotions and fears that hers is dealing with. I don’t think I’d appreciate having my own family’s challenges shared with the world – even if they were anonymized – so it doesn’t feel right for me to create an ongoing narrative from someone else’s.

My apologies to anyone I’ve troubled.

Stokefire Welcomes… Truth.

Woe betide anyone visiting Stokefire HQ on a day (like today) that there’s client-involved brainstorming to be had. If you do our boss may also betide you a bunch of cheap beer and takeout food. You’ve been warned. No… that’s not quite right.



And yes, this really is on the big sign in our lobby.

Today's Welcome Sign at Stokefire

Car Love

Posted By:

You know, I love my car.  No, I hate my car.  Well, actually, I love my car.  At least I love it when it works.  Lately it’s had me hop-scotching to the dealer, the other mechanic, to the tow truck company, and symbolically, to the bank – where tons of my money is leaving my account to maintain this beast that I love/hate.

When it runs it is awesome. Nice, tight, German engineering. Very responsive on the road.  Happy to accommodate my requests for quick maneuvers.  Did I say fast?  Fast.  Smooth-riding.  Quiet.  Oh, and then there’s the sound system.  When I was considering buying it the sales guy told me it had a “Monsoon” sound system.  “Who cares?” I thought.  Guess what – I care!  It truly makes music come to life.  I get to hear Carlos Santana’s fierce guitar riffs, the hand drummer’s trills so crisp I think I should be able to count them (but they’re too fast), and all the minor percussion toys that happen to be part of the mix – all coming from different corners of the cabin.  My husband calls it our “stereo on wheels.”  Sometimes I have to replay a song for him when he says – “hey, I’ve never heard THAT sound in that song before.”  Hit the replay button and enjoy it again.  Given all the road trips that I take I truly enjoy that Monsoon.

Lately the car has been heartache.  Expensive heartache, over and over again.  The German engineering is great, but why don’t they package it with a German engineer!  Then maybe the constant string of issues could be addressed – we could put the guy up in our guest room and keep him fed.  It would be cheaper.  And I wouldn’t have to drive all over creation (or get towed there), to let yet someone else look at it.  How can multiple “experts” view the same thing and come out with completely different diagnoses?  Ah, well – it doesn’t happen just with cars.

Sometimes I think the mechanics in the world decide “this one should go.” Then they start telling crazy (and expensive!) stories about what’s wrong with the car.  All in an effort to get me to take it off the road – then they don’t have to deal with it again, or with me, making that pained face that says “HOW much???”

For now I will carry on, trying to get my money’s worth out of my latest repair investment.  After all, this is a small rant, in the scheme of things.  We are not talking about life and death matters here, nor hardships beyond my endurance or capacity for happiness.  But when the time comes for this pretty beast to be rolled away for good I will feel a little sad – because I love my car… sometimes.

My New Favorite Website.

Who knew making graphs could be so fun – and reading them so educational?

song chart memes
more graph humor and song chart memes

I’m tempted to start a naming contest for the first two… Poor Bono and horsey…

Comments? Who needs comments?


Evidently last month at some point I adjusted the Thingnamer SPAM settings in frustration so that they were a tad too sensitive.  Evidently the only person allowed to comment on the site was me.  As incredibly persuasive and intellectually compelling as this made the site for me, it evidently didn’t go over so well with our readers.

It took the following note for me to get the point:

“I know what happened to the Soup Nazi.  You have him moderating your blog.  NO COMMENTS FOR YOU!”

Sorry folks.  I think I’ve fixed the problem.

You can get back to your astute observations on my flawed ramblings in the near future.

Unless you point out my flaws, of course.  You may get past my SPAM filter, but my SYCOPHANTS ONLY filter is still set pretty high.


I’m Just Here for the Food, Man.

hellomynamewas.jpgWhile looking for “hello my name is” stickers for a promo event we came across this goodie.

We bought a bunch.

We’ll mix ’em in the pile and see if anyone notices. …and no fair hoarding them all for yourself if you find ’em.

Oh – and we are indeed serving chicken skewers…

This does relate to naming, so don’t be hatin’ us for being more than a little off topic.

Oh yeah, well… um… You have bad posture!

The folks over at Igor’s Snark Hunting site have been sending us a bit of traffic due to the fact that our site may have had a bit of social networking overkill.

We have a popular post here from February that discusses and rates the trends in Web 2.0 naming and might be of interest to you.

But if you’re clicking through just to see the offending links you’re going to be disappointed. We’d been quite fond of them as they were colorful, pretty, and acted as a nice visual indicator that one post was ending and another was beginning. (Okay, so when I think about it a bit more I’ve gotta agree they were just clutter and there for absolutely no reason at all… but still… It made me feel popular. Or at least potentially popular.)

Sadly, I have thin skin (and little talent) when it comes to my blog-designing skills so I have put my tail betwixt my legs and removed the ninety-dozen links that got the hump-backs on my case.

I was going to say something witty here about the hatin’ being directed at us due to Igor’s fear of fire, but realized just before I hit the “publish” button that Mary Shelley might’ve risen from the dead to correct me.

So, Igorians… if you think of any appropriate comebacks you can feel free to pretend they were hurled by us and be suitably humbled and intimidated.

Yeah. We roll like that.

Maybe it’ll have something to do with ‘stooping to your level’ (Oooh snap!) Though we’d appreciate it if you could make it a bit more witty and significantly less obvious.

We’d be more agressively peeved if it weren’t for the fact that they called us “an actual blog” – thus alleviating our fears that we were only hypothetically a blog, or worse, only metaphorically blog-like. Here’s to hoping that the “actualness” of our blog was not inextricably linked to our abundance of clicky bookmark art.

Anyhow, thanks for the tip, Igorians. You’re enabling positive change from afar.

And maybe… just maybe… tomorrow I’ll be back writing about names and stuff.

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