June 23, 2015

I Am Not A Gamer, But The Music Influences My Mood

Filed under: Culture,Home,Married Life,Research,Step-Motherhood — Emily Reeves @ 8:34 pm

This morning, as I was getting ready for work, my background soundtrack was the “music” of the video game Minecraft as my eight-year-old step-daughter played before she left for day camp. It was driving me crazy; it felt like it was music that would be used for hypnotism and even felt sad. I remember playing Super Mario Brothers, Excitebike and Zelda in my youth. The music in those games seemed to go with the activity on the screen with the sound effects of motorcycles, doors sliding open, and such. Not having played a video game since circa 1988, I am understandably unfamiliar with how these games work and sound.

My curiosity was piqued and I did a little research this morning on game music. The first record of a game with music is from 1978 (the year I was born!) in the game Space Invaders in which four chords were used throughout the game, increasing in tempo as the gamer progressed further in the game. Now there are music scientists that analyze video game music and conferences for the experts to talk about techniques.

The things they research, discuss and do make total sense: they try to replicate the emotions that the game makers want to induce in the players and the express the emotion of the activity in the game. The music mimics what your body does when you feel emotions in real life: if your avatar is running, the music speeds up to mimic your heartbeat as if you were the one running.

But none of this explains the somber music of Minecraft. A little deeper digging, and I came across this article in The Guardian. From the creator of the Minecraft soundtrack, Daniel Rosenfeld:

“…I decided to work with experimental simplistic acoustic music that doesn’t actually tell you anything about the game.”

It works because the slower tracks give players permission to take their time – Minecraft is a game about making stuff, and Rosenfeld’s gentle minor key songs provide a peaceful sonic playspace.

He also wanted the music to be unobtrusive enough to be easily phased out in the player’s mind. “I almost hoped that they’d only notice it when something interesting happens in the game,” he explains. “That way the player automatically identifies the music specifically with events that they themselves created. Imagine you’re building a house and the sun starts setting, and the theme the music comes in – or you go into a cave and there is lava and there are diamonds, and then the music plays. People still come up to me and tell their story of how they did this or that and then the music came in and it was like magic to them – even though it’s completely random.”

While not a completely satisfactory explanation for the Minecraft music, it is at least an explanation. And now I know more than I did this morning.

March 29, 2015

This Little Lady Went to Market

Filed under: Beauty,Culture,Current Events,Personal,Shopping,Travel — Emily Reeves @ 10:30 pm

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Floors and floors of shopping. Miles and miles of walking.

For years I have heard people talk about going “to market” to see the latest trends for the upcoming season and buy for their stores. It always seemed so exclusive and exciting. So I jumped at the chance to go this weekend with my friend Amy Hester who owns Red Beauty Lounge, a salon that sells gifts. A road trip to Dallas for shopping and some girl time sounded perfect.

In the center of the #dallasmarket. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Market is overwhelming, to say the least. Especially for two market virgins like Amy and me. Spread across three buildings, the tallest of which had 15 floors made it hard to figure out where to start. But first there was the parking dilemma: we didn’t even know where we were supposed to go in, so we were having trouble figuring out where to park. As the navigator with Google at my fingertips, I discovered $8 valet parking. Best decision of the day.

I had envisioned a trade show-like set up. And while there were temporary stores that were similar to trade booths, most of the vendors were set up in shared showrooms, behind glass windows and doors like permanent stores. We were on the hunt for jewelry and cosmetics. While the map directed us to the seventh floor for jewelry, it wasn’t the artisan jewelry we were seeking. We found what we were really looking for in the temporary booths and buried within gift stores on other floors.

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Not what we wanted.

Found what we were looking for and Amy makes some orders!

Found what we were looking for and Amy makes some orders!

Over the course of the six hours that we made our way through the buildings and stores, we walked a mile and a half. Amy and I worked out a system where I scouted while she made orders, then led her to the next vendor that I thought she would like. It was a good system. One catch: I had a “courtesy” badge, so not all the vendors took me seriously since I wasn’t the one with the buying power. I wanted to go all Pretty Woman on them and say, “You work on commission, right? Big mistake. Huge.” But I resisted.

Notice the "courtesy" title.

Notice the “courtesy” title. And Dean shouldn’t have an “s.”

Of course, I could be found sitting a lot while Amy shopped. I am still having some pretty bad back pain.

Feet up. In my current favorite sneakers and my new favorite camera bag/purse.

Feet up. In my current favorite sneakers and my new favorite camera bag/purse.

At the end of the day, we felt as if we had been successful. Though we learned a lot that Amy can apply to her next market trip. And we decided that the Dallas Market Center app could use some significant improvements to provide a better shopping experience.

We were exhausted by the time we got back to our hotel and had a little slumber party complete with wine, pizza delivery to the room and pay-per-view movies. It was perfect.

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March 22, 2015

Virtual Reality

Filed under: Culture,That's Just Cool,Video — Emily Reeves @ 10:30 pm

I am not ashamed to embarrass myself, apparently. At the office on Friday, our digital team came together to experience Google Cardboard’s virtual reality for the first time. I never thought I would enjoy the experience, or really even understand it. I was wrong. Though still not perfect, the experience was pretty cool. And fun. While most of our digital team members were reticent to get too into it for fear of embarrassment (especially since we were livestreaming through Meerkat), I went all in.

Virtual Reality Dance from Emily Reeves on Vimeo.

November 6, 2013

Girl Gives With Guilt-Free Shopping: The GO Exchange, TOMS Marketplace, Amazon Smile

Filed under: Culture,Giving,Style — Emily Reeves @ 9:51 am

I am a shopaholic. No doubt about it. But I also have a big heart, even though I don’t think about donating money as much as I think about spending it. When the opportunity is put in front of me however, I always add to my bill–at PetSmart, on the Tory Burch website, on the Bobbi Brown website, when ordering online from Pizza Hut–all of these brands have prompted me to add a few dollars to my cart at checkout, and I have done it without hesitation. I love having this opportunity because it makes me feel a little less guilty about the money I am spending on myself.

If every brand did this, we could raise significant dollars for organizations that do good and give back. This was an idea I actually pitched as a product at the G60 pitch competition in Little Rock several weeks ago. Then last week, Amazon announced Amazon Smile. When you purchase from Amazon Smile, you can select a charity and Amazon gives .5% to your bill to that organization. Brilliant! I am an Amazon Prime member and if I can find what I want or need on Amazon, I will buy it there before anywhere else. I might place three Amazon orders a week. Since they announced Amazon Smile, I have been using that site to place my orders and give to an organization close to my heart, Carry The Load (here is why). It is so easy. I just have to remember to go to the Smile site instead of the regular Amazon site (it is the same site and my cart carries over, you just go to the separate URL to trigger the giving addition to your order at checkout). I already loved Amazon and now I love them even more and will encourage others to shop there.

Even better than donating money is purchasing cool products that help people in need. There are two online stores where this is happening and I want everything they sell!

The GO Exchange is part of the Global Orphan Project (GO Project). I traveled to Haiti with the GO Project through their GO Adventures program over Labor Day weekend and learned a lot about the story behind the goods that they sell. All of the money you use to purchase the goods that they sell goes back to the organization to care for orphans around the world. I have purchased scarves, bags and bracelets from the GO Exchange. Not only are the products beautiful and stylish, they are a high quality. I am proud to wear, carry and use these products and am always anxious to tell the story behind the making of each product when I get compliments on them. And I know the money I spent is given to a good cause.

This week, TOMS announced its one-for-one Marketplace. I have long been a fan of the TOMS brand and written about the company in this space for several years (and own more pairs of TOMS shoes than I care to admit!). With the Marketplace, TOMS has curated products that have a platform for giving of their own and is selling them on the TOMS website. In exploring the Marketplace, I was pleased to find many brands that I already love and have purchased. Now they are all in one place!

My wish is that every brand that I buy from or interact with will give something to those in needs for the purchases that I make. And the world will become a better place.

May 20, 2013

Little Rock Film Festival 2013 (@LRFilmFestival): A Great Experience

Filed under: Culture,Girl Gets Geeky — Emily Reeves @ 7:52 am

I had a great weekend in downtown Little Rock watching film festival movies, listening to panels and hanging out with cool people. I am so proud of the city for continuing to host this event and I have been pleased to watch it grow every year since 2007. If you missed the Little Rock Film Festival this year, be sure to catch it next year. You won’t regret it. I’ve included all the photos that I took below. Here are the films and panels I was able to catch:

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  • This is Where We Live
  • 12 O’Clock Boys
  • The Girl
  • Tales of the Heartland (panel)

My favorite was “This is Where We Live,” but everything I saw and participated in was fabulous.




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Little Rock Film Festival 2013, a set on Flickr.

April 22, 2013

The Value of TED

Filed under: Culture,Technology — Emily Reeves @ 8:14 pm

I’ve recently discovered that too many people I know are unfamiliar with TED videos and the knowledge and inspiration they convey to viewers in 18 minutes or less. If you don’t know TED, go there now and start exploring. I promise you will feel at least a little inspired by the people and their presentations that you find there. My feelings won’t be hurt if you leave this blog post now to go there.

TED started out as a conference for sharing ideas around Technology, Entertainment and Design. It has evolved over the years into an online community with videos free to the world to watch as well-renowned leaders in their industries share their knowledge and experiences with the viewers, and still includes conferences around the world. All in short, 18-minute or less videos. We all have time for this at least once a day. And in our high-pressure jobs that require creative thinking on a daily basis, TED videos can provide just the inspiration we need to spark an idea, motivate us to action and generally just make us feel better about the world around us.

As TED has grown, they have embraced local communities that want to hold their own TED conferences. These local TED conferences are not official TED events, but they follow the strict rules of TED that allow them to use the TED name and the videos from these events end up within the TED community. These events are called TEDx.

I had the opportunity this weekend to attend my first TEDx event. It was TEDx Hendrix College. The theme was storytelling and included five speakers with diverse backgrounds and from all over the country. I wasn’t disappointed by my high expectations for TED; I walked away inspired, I learned new things and was moved to become engaged in organizations I might not otherwise have known about. It was a Sunday afternoon well-spent. I hope to see more TEDx events organized in central Arkansas and expand our knowledge and experiences.

Live, In-Depth and Personal Coverage During Tragedy

Filed under: Culture,Current Events,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 9:16 am

This last week was intense. Bombings, explosions, poisonous letters, gun fights and police chases. All in a period of five days. None of this was happening physically close to me, but I felt that it was. Our technology and rapidly evolving digital communications world has brought us closer together as a country. We feel each others’ joy, pain, fear, celebration, heartbreak and intensities as if we were all together in one place. This last week made believers out of skeptics for the communication power of channels like Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook.

The Boston Marathon bombings were truly the first live-tweeted tragedy. The news first broke on Twitter. The police used Twitter to call for help in collecting photos and videos of the scenes (by Wednesday they had collected three terabytes of information). Participants used it to report their status to friends and family members. The rest of us used it to share our love and support and offer outreach and help to those in Boston.

I was traveling on Monday and without cell service for much of the day. As soon as I was back within range, one of the first things I did was open Twitter, not expecting news of a tragedy that had happened many hours earlier. Twitter was how I learned of the bombings and how I kept up with the news the rest of the evening until I was able to get to a television for live news coverage. But even then, Twitter was just ahead of the TV with breaking news.

We’ve followed tragedy and disaster “live” before. But this time it was more personal with regular people reporting as if they were the media, sharing their specific experiences. From NPR:

“But this time, in our full-on, post-Sept. 11 surveillance society and freshly Twitterized media, we were able to experience each event in excruciating, exquisite detail.

“Through the saturation of social media, we were also able to experience it equally, whether reporting from the streets of Boston or the scorched explosion site in Texas, from newsrooms in New York or Los Angeles or Berlin, or from our own living rooms and college dorm rooms.

“This week, these awful events have cemented the reality that the media is now everyone, anyone with a computer or a smartphone, a Twitter account or a Facebook page.”

On the day of the bombing there were 500,000 tweets mentioning Boston with mentions of the world “Boston” skyrocketing on Twitter by a factor of 200 as the explosions were reported.

The consumer technology and communications tools available to us all and kept by our sides 24-hours a day are beyond valuable in connecting us as a country and as human beings. This past week felt like a personal attack, though I personally knew no one involved in any of this week’s tragedies. I felt the heartbreak for Boston, I felt the pride in its police force and I felt the relief when the suspect was captured. While some may criticize and avoid technological innovation and digital communications for disconnecting us personally, I believe that it brings us closer together.

April 2, 2013

Style Tips for Working in a Creative Industry

Filed under: Business,Culture,Style — Emily Reeves @ 7:51 pm

Working in a creative environment can mean a lax dress code where anything goes. Shorts, flip flops, torn t-shirts and jeans dragging the floor are not uncommon. But just because creativity can sometimes be hidden behind cubicle walls, that doesn’t mean that your clothes can’t both express your creativity and give a professional appearance. Here are a few tips for those working in a creative industry but needing to present well:

  1. Your appearance is your first impression, before you open your mouth or show you portfolio. Recognizing that simple fact is the first step. Make a list of adjectives and traits that you want people to assume that you have when they see you. For example: approachable, creative, professional, serious, fun, etc. Knowing how you want people to perceive you will help drive the clothing and accessory decisions that you make.
  2. Consider your audience. If you are going to a conference of creative professionals, you attire will be different than if you are going to present to the marketing department of a major brand to sell your creative services. Dress to reflect the how the audience will be dressed, while still incorporating your personal style. For example, if you are going to business meeting, you might wear a pencil skirt and heels. But that doesn’t mean it has to be a grey skirt and black heels. Instead choose a colorful patterned pencil skirt and strappy wedges that might be more reflective of your personal style, but still fits in within the environment. If you are presenting at a conference of creative professionals, you will not want to wear a suit if everyone in the audience is in ripped jeans and Converse sneakers. Instead, you might wear dark denim and hip low-heeled booties that show you care about your appearance but fit in more with the audience.
  3. Don’t be uncomfortable. Dressing for an audience doesn’t mean that you have to be stiff, uncomfortable and wear shoes that you can barely walk in. If you put it on and it doesn’t feel comfortable because it is not “you” or because it pinches, pulls or squeezes–even just a little bit–take it off immediately.
  4. When in doubt, choose a monochromatic black outfit and accessorize to make your personal statement. Solid black with a bold necklace and a colorful handbag can make you look both creative and professional.