Archive for the ‘Ministry’ tag
Hard on the heels of our story about Empa’s self-cooled bulletproof vest comes word of a like-minded innovation back in the world of everyday clothing. The creation of MIT-derived startup Ministry of Supply, the new Apollo shirt taps NASA heat-regulation technology to keep its wearer comfortable and cool.
Massachusetts-based Ministry of Supply aims to create “the next generation of business wear,” in the company’s own words. Drawing upon a combined experience that includes space suit design at MIT, the company has been working on its shirts and proprietary fabric for the past eighteen months. Now, its new Apollo dress shirt features a special fabric blend that offers not just anti-microbial functionality and moisture-wicking construction, but also a way to keep the body at a more comfortable temperature using technology borrowed from space suits. With the ability to both absorb and release heat, the wrinkle-free shirt pulls heat away from the body during a hot walk outside, for example, but then can release it back again as the wearer returns to the air-conditioned indoors. The video below explains the premise in more detail:
Priced at USD 105, the Apollo shirt will be available for preorder starting in mid-July. Retailers around the globe: get in line!
Spotted by: Hemanth Chandrasekar
It’s a good time to be Kickstarter. The crowdfunding platform has had a blockbuster year, breaking into mainstream consciousness with campaigns that raised millions of dollars, like the Pebble e-paper watch above. The platform has seen almost $275 million pledged to some 63,000 projects to date, with $231 million going towards successful fundings.
As Devin wrote at the time, before February, no Kickstarter project had ever raised over $1 million, but since then, seven projects have surpassed $1 million, including the current #1, Pebble, which raised an astonishing $10 million. And this growth applies to multiple categories, not just sexy wrist watches. Prior to February only one gaming project had reached $100K in funding. Since then? 37. Even something as niche as webcomics saw its number of pledges double in February.
A lot of people came to Kickstarter for the first time as part of the buzz around those seven projects that surpassed $1 million, and to the startup’s delight, a lot of them have gone on to fund other projects, resulting in a positive net effect both for the platform itself and for project founders.
The long-term question/caveat to this, of course, is whether new users coming to Kickstarter tend to just end up amplifying the projects that are already blowing up, or whether they’re actually spreading the love and helping other projects reach their goals that might not have otherwise. After all, when you launch a Kickstarter project, the odds are against you; 56 percent of Kickstarter projects fail to find funding — with some 32K projects in total having failed, compared to the 25K projects that succeeded.
The company hides the failures as a gesture to creators, and to help users focus on the projects with traction. To further boost its transparency, Kickstarter also launched a stats page in June, which provides daily updates on metrics like dollars pledged, success rates, etc., broken down by category. Check it out here.
A 44 percent success rate ain’t bad. Considering there have been seven $1 million-plus projects since February and that today 82 percent of projects that raise more than 20 percent of their goal go on to become successfully funded, the overall trend is positive. However, keep in mind that 62,711 projects have launched in three years, and only seven have hit $1M. That means your chances of reaching $1M are a fraction of one percent.
What’s more, few of the Kickstarter projects that are successfully funded go on to become real, revenue-generating businesses. Many of those projects naturally go on to create eCommerce stores to sell their wares. As a number of those projects have used Shopify to open their storefronts (including the $10M baby, Pebble) the startup has taken an interest in this growing trend.
Shopify’s marketing and PR guru, Mark Hayes, even decided to profile the creators of some of Kickstarter’s most successful projects to ask what they’d learned and to get them to share some of the secrets of their success. (You can check the post out here.)
As Kickstarter grows, and more and more companies opt to use it as a launchpad and a means to validate their product and measure market demand, learning from those who’ve found success provides an awesome guide future founders. So, piggy-backing on Hayes’ work, herein we’d like to offer a glimpse into what the most successful projects have done right — and what they did wrong.
For starters, it’s good to know what areas (or categories) you should be focused on based on past Kickstarter data. It turns out that “Theater” and “Dance” projects have the highest success rates at 64 and 69 percent, respectively — good to know for all you theater and dance geeks out there. Yes, there are people who will fund your avant garde, dance-heavy rendition of “A Confederacy of Dunces.” (Best to do it now in the event Zach Galifianakis beats you to it.)
Of course, only 3,256 Theater-related projects have been launched, which is on the lower end, when you compare it to the 18,263 Film & Video projects and the 14,906 Music-related projects that have launched on Kickstarter. These two categories are by far the most popular, having raised over $100 million “successful dollars” between them. While there is far more competition for dollars among these categories (and in Publishing), of the more popular categories, Music projects have the highest success rate at just over 54 percent. Meanwhile, I’m sorry to say, readers, but Technology ranks near the bottom with only 1,236 projects launched and the second lowest success rate at 29.25 percent.
Now that you’re aware of what categories are most popular on Kickstarter, let’s dive into some examples.
Ministry of Supply is a good place to start. (You can read our recent coverage here.) Borrowing technology from NASA (with a dollop of Under Armour), the startup has designed a next-gen line of dress shirts, called “Apollo,” that adapt to your body to control perspiration, reduce odor, stay wrinkle free and looking a badass. Plus, everything from the fabric to the packaging is made right here in the U.S. of A.
Ministry of Supply set out to raise $30K and has raised $288K to date, sneaking up on the $291K raised by Flint & Tinder for their men’s underwear — currently the most-funded fashion project on Kickstarter.
So, why has Ministry of Supply been so successful? Well, there’s less competition in Fashion and it also happens that the top three most-funded projects in the category tackle menswear and offer either a next-gen, wrinkle-free, durable product or focus on bringing manufacturing jobs to the U.S.
For Ministry of Supply, it also helps that working stiffs like you and me who need dress shirts, and futuristic dress shirts that solve all the problems of what’s currently out there (wrinkles, pit stains, etc.) are certainly appealing. Especially when they advertise the fact that they’ve borrowed from the same technology that NASA uses in its space suits.
All that makes for a sexy product that solves a real problem, plus there’s a movement to help get the U.S. back on track by keeping manufacturing jobs here. “We used to make things,” you might’ve heard an American lament. There’s also the fact that the founders used to work at companies with recognizable names, like SpaceX, Lululemon, IDEO, and Apple.
The founders also attribute their success to focusing on an iterative process, developing a product, releasing it to a small group of testers, taking the feedback to make it better. They made dozens of test runs on Apollo before launching their Kickstarter project. And, for those who are lucky to exceed their goals, the founders tell us that it’s important to keep people engaged with the project page by offering updates.
Ministry of Supply has posted videos and updated the text of their Kickstarter page numerous times since reaching their initial goal, as a way to thank their supporters and talk about their plans going forward. They also said it’s important to add further goals. For example, if they become the most-funded fashion Kickstarter project, they’re going to launch their backers’ names into space on a “ridiculous weather balloon.” This keeps people coming back, checking in on their progress, and sharing the concept with friends.
Dave Jackson and Dave Petrillo, two mechanical engineers from New Jersey, were tired of the foibles inherent to coffee drinking. Baristas seemingly love to use lava to heat coffee, which makes for burned tongues and hands. Plus, there’s the fact that coffee tends to stay at a pleasant, warm, drinkable temperature for less than 30 seconds. So, the engineers developed a stainless steel coffee bean that you can put in your cup. The bean absorbs excess heat, bringing your coffee down to a drinkable temperature — and not only that, but when it starts to get cold, the bean releases heat to keep your coffee warm. Sweet. (Read our coverage here.)
The team set out to raise $9,500 but brought in over $300K and is one of the top 15 Design projects on Kickstarter to date. As to their tips for success? The engineers told Mark Hayes of Shopify that the smartest thing they did was to allow potential customers to opt-in to their email list as their project came to a close. Kickstarter brought a ton of referrals to their site, but because they were busy filling orders, they weren’t able to pre-sell their Joulies for several months.
For successful Kickstarter campaigns this can be a huge problem. Teams are small and they inevitably have to go into overdrive and rush to fill orders. If they’re not prepared, they can lose a ton of customers as a result. “Instead, we had a compelling opt-in email box that would notify customers when Joulies were ready to order, so that when the time came to sell again, sending emails to the list was easy — and of enormous value,” they said.
In describing what went wrong with their project, we find a good lesson both for project creators and for Kickstarter itself. Founders need to be ready for traffic, and Kickstarter needs to get better at providing its companies with more guidance and transparency into traffic and metrics.
Here’s Petrillo’s explanation:
We didn’t know what our real traffic numbers were like on Kickstarter, and we also didn’t really have a clue what levels of hosting were required to host and protect against traffic spikes since it was all behind the scenes during Kickstarter. When we did get spikes, like when a story about us got syndicated on Yahoo! homepage for 12 hours, our ‘unlimited’ shared hosting crashed within minutes and we lost hundreds of thousands of unique viewers. Bummer.
The Ramos Alarm Clock was developed by a team of engineers in NYC. It’s an old-school, neat-looking clock that displays time in a funky way and includes a wireless alarm deactivation panel that forces you to get out of bed to turn off the alarm. The team set out to raise $75K, but made double that and was even teased on Saturday Night Live.
The Keys to success? The founders said that it’s all about creating a product that solves a real problem, finding an idea that people can relate to and want to use every day. That should sound familiar to entrepreneurs. They also found Kickstarter to me a much better launch platform than just going it alone or trying to reach out to press themselves. “Kickstarter served us well in being a reputable, visible platform to start from … I don’t know if we could have generated that much buzz launching ourselves, or elsewhere,” said co-founder Paul Sammut. He also recommended that companies be ready with their own storefront as soon as their projects expire on Kickstarter.
What didn’t work? Easier said than done when the future of your idea is uncertain, but Sammut said that founders should be realistic about what they can achieve in a short period of time. In other words, be careful of over-promising and under-delivering. “We offered things to customers at the onset of the project that seemed easy to do, but ended up adding a great deal of complexity to the manufacturing process,” the co-founder told Hayes. “I would recommend a serious analysis on how to simplify your product and keep variations to a minimum when starting out,” especially if you’re attempting to launch something that will need to be mass-produced. If you’re a small team, even handling communication and customer support for a couple hundred people can be a bear.
Kickstarter also apparently loves coffee. ZPM Espresso, the makers of a high-tech espresso machine called the Nocturn, set out to raise $20K, but made nearly $370K on Kickstarter. The machine offers PID controls, programmable presets, adjustable temperature and pressure settings, and open-source software to boot — to the delight of coffee geeks everywhere.
What worked? ZPM Espresso co-founder Janet Tambasco said that the key to their campaign was focusing on being extremely responsible to questions and feedback. What’s more, when asking for money on a crowdfunding platform (i.e. you’re hitting up strangers for money), she said that the key is being both passionate and transparent. Be honest about your product and what you expect to accomplish.
Tambasco said that the team made sure to respond to the thousands of emails they received during their campaign, talked to people who work in the coffee industry about planning next steps, and posted frequent updates on their blog and on their Kickstarter page.
As to what didn’t go right? Even if you’re worried about being able to meet your manufacturing (or production goals) at scale, don’t try to slow things down. Roll with it, and don’t be afraid to try to amplify the publicity for your product yourselves — through press and otherwise. Plan for scale in advance in the event you’re lucky to find it. “In retrospect, more funds always helps,” she says, “so we should’ve tried to gather as much momentum as possible, rather than trying to slow things down while we tried to figure out logistics.”
Pebble is an infinitely-customizable smartwatch that is water and scratch resistant and comes with a neat ePaper display (i.e. Kindle-like). Its battery lasts for seven days and can be charged by USB. Users can connect the watch to their smartphones to sync calendars, alerts, emails, and even calls. Essentially, it’s the watch of the future. It makes my Casio calculator watch of yore look like an abacus attached to a sundial that can be worn around the wrist.
What worked? Pebble Founder Eric Migicovsky says that (besides all the kickass technology — my words, not his) the key to its Kickstarter campaign was finding effective, demonstrative ways to describe its use cases, which they laid out on their page. “We knew that no one really wakes up in the morning with a desperate urge to buy a smartwatch,” he told Hayes, “so it was our job to figure out exactly how to explain to future users how they will be able to use Pebble.”
To do this, he recommends testing out your pitch on people who aren’t going to be your core user base or audience. In fact, he turned to, among others, his mom. Find the best way to pitch every day people and then expand on that to describe your product — advice that has broad/general application, too.
And to that point, his other piece of advice echoed that from many others: Above all, one should listen to their users, take care to hear their problems and react accordingly. Be responsive, quick to react, and transparent, and do whatever you can to resolve those pain points as you iterate and go through your product cycle.
Amanda Palmer has the most-funded Music project on Kickstarter to date. She set a $100K goal and made over $1.1 million. Amanda’s goal was pretty simple: It was to raise money to release her new album. Kickstarter wrote a lengthy description of Amanda’s milestone (becoming the first musician to reach $1M), so we won’t re-hash the whole thing here. But, in case you missed it, there’s plenty that applies to this discussion — and echoes what’s been said by other project founders.
Amanda wasn’t famous or particularly well-known before her Kickstarter campaign blew up, which should be encouraging to other fledgling musicians out there. But what we can take from her success is that, for starters is that, when strangers offer up their cash to help you meet your goals, they love being rewarded with experiences just as much — if not more than — items or things. This may not apply to every category, but a significant portion of the money pledged to Palmer’s campaign was for experiential rewards. She offered backer-only performances, or for $5K, she offered to play a show at her funders’ houses, or the chance to have dinner with her in which she would paint you your very own portrait.
Backers ate these rewards up, something that’s reminiscent of Ministry of Supply’s offer to send their backers’ names into space on a weather balloon if they become the most-funded Fashion project. As a result, they’re almost there. As Kickstarter says in its post, “traditional marketplaces restrict fans to being customers, but Amanda’s project invited people to participate.” With the evolution of the web to a discovery and entertainment-driven medium, this kind of interactivity is huge.
Transparency also came up again in the discussion of the musician’s success, and, for what it’s worth, Kickstarter likes to think that backers reward artists and campaigns that “step out from behind their industries’ protective walls.” If we can agree that the creative economy is in shambles, then it is likely true that fans are eager to support people who are willing to challenge the status quo and take risks. Even if that means you have to paint your investors’ portraits.
Nobody likes to admit it, but if you’re a working professional, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with sweat stains. The commute to work, the stress of meeting a deadline, the faulty air conditioning in the boardroom, cotton weaves — all of these things and many more have been known to conspire against you, the working professional. Luckily, Ministry of Supply feels your stinky, stinky pain.
While athletes have Under Armour, business attire has more or less remained the same for the last century. So, armed with some of the same technology NASA uses in its space suits, Ministry of Supply has developed a line of dress shirts — called “Apollo” — that adapt to your body to control perspiration, reduce odor, and make you feel like a million bucks.
Founded in 2010 by MIT grads, Gihan Amarasiriwardena, Aman Advani, Kit Hickey, and Kevin Rustagi, Ministry of Supply launched three limited lines of premium dress shirts back in October. Of course, they quickly found that, in order to continue iterating and sell at scale, they would need funding. They went to venture capitalists for backing, and while there was interest, most wanted to see more proof of concept. So, like many before them, they took to Kickstarter to raise money for their hi-tech dress shirts.
And the working professionals of the world responded. The team set out to raise $30K and within 5 days of launching the campaign, they met their goal. Today, that total is at $123,386, and the excitement continues. The Ministry of Supply founders tell us that, over the last week, they’ve been averaging $8K in donations per day.
But what is it about these dress shirts that has people so excited? The team’s line of dress shirts, called “Apollo” use a knit, synthetic (and proprietary) blend of fibers that use “Phase Change Materials” to control your body temperature by pulling heat away from your body and storing it in the shirt. Find yourself back in air conditioning and the shirt releases the stored heat to keep you feeling warm — and like a million bucks.
The shirts, like Under Armour, also wick sweat and moisture away from your body and, by using an anti-microbial coating, get rid of that pesky bacteria that makes you smell like a barnyard. Not only that, but having done strain analysis and designing the shirt with motion in mind, the Apollo line adapts to your movements and stays tucked in and wrinkle free all the live long day.
In essence, it’s a magic shirt.
Ministry of Supply also wants to keep jobs in the U.S., so the whole production process — packaging to fabric — is done at home. The funds the startup has raised from Kickstarter will be put towards managing these costs and paying for the production of the proprietary raw materials that go into the Apollo line.
Not every Kickstarter project is lucky enough to reach its initial goal — let alone exceed that by tens of thousands of dollars — so, to keep people engaged, the team has been updating its page with video and has been setting new milestones in addition to the ones put in place at the outset.
At $75K, the team pledged to switch from XS to XXL to standard collar-sleeve length sizing; at $125K, they pledged to add two new colors to the mix, and if they reach $200K, they’ll add patterns, either a thin stripe or a plaid, the founders tell us.
And, if they reach $291,494 and become the highest-funded fashion-related Kickstarter project, the founders tell us that they plan to launch their backers’ names into space on a “ridiculous weather balloon.” To that end, they assured us that they have two aerospace members of the team, one of whom works for SpaceX, who will help make that happen.
When I asked what contributed to their success thus far, the founders said that it’s been important to them to bring the same intense iterative process to the development of their dess shirts that one sees when designing products for consumer electronics or for the consumer Web. They’ve done dozens of iterations of Apollo, A/B testing, you name it.
As the founders themselves boast experience working for IDEO, Apple, Lululemon, and more, the focus on design and iteration isn’t surprising.
As to what’s next? The team is working on finishing a showroom in Boston, which should be completed in the next couple of months, as well as a dedicated eCommerce site. The founders have been inspired by the work of Warby Parker and Indochino, and plan to initially do most of their selling online — and through their showroom in Boston. Just like their shirts — it’s a blended approach.
But with so much interest both at home and abroad, it won’t be long before the team begins to work with retailers to distribute their dress shirts. Right now they’re planning on selling them for about $130 a pop, so their Kickstarter campaign provides a good opportunity to get in early before prices start rising.
For more, find Ministry of Supply at home here. Kickstarter video below:
We always try our best to challenge your artistic abilities and produce some interesting, beautiful and creative artwork. And as designers we usually turn to different sources of inspiration. As a matter of fact, we’ve discovered the best one—desktop wallpapers that are a little more distinctive than the usual crowd. This creativity mission has been going on for over four years now, and we are very thankful to all designers who have contributed and are still diligently contributing each month.
We continue to nourish you with a monthly spoon of inspiration. This post features free desktop wallpapers created by artists across the globe for July 2012. Both versions with a calendar and without a calendar can be downloaded for free. It’s time to freshen up your wallpaper!
Please note that:
- All images can be clicked on and lead to the preview of the wallpaper,
- You can feature your work in our magazine by taking part in our Desktop Wallpaper Calendar series. We are regularly looking for creative designers and artists to be featured on Smashing Magazine. Are you one of them?
Sun In July
"…enjoy the sun in July!" Designed by Marco Palma from Italy/Germany.
- with calendar: 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1366×768, 1440×900, 1600×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1200
- without calendar: 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1366×768, 1440×900, 1600×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1200
Designed by Kwestia Smaku from Poland.
- with calendar: 1024×1024, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1080, 1920×1200, 2560×1440
- without calendar: 1024×1024, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1080, 1920×1200, 2560×1440
Message In A Bottle
Designed by Pietje Precies from The Netherlands.
- with calendar: 320×480, 1024×768, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1200
- without calendar: 320×480, 1024×768, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1200
"Would you let a blind duck lead you through July?" Designed by Yellow Duck Web Design from Essex, UK.
- with calendar: 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1080, 1920×1200, 2560×1440
- without calendar: 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1080, 1920×1200, 2560×1440
"Olympic Games and july 2012 weeks calendar’s infogrpahics." Designed by Sherif Saleh from France.
- with calendar: 1024×768, 1024×1024, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1280×768, 1360×768, 1366×768, 1440×900, 1600×900, 1680×1050, 1680×1200
Fourth Of July
Designed by Cortando Pixeles from Argentina.
- with calendar: 320×480, 640×480, 1024×768, 1024×1024, 1152×864, 1280×800, 1280×960
- without calendar: 320×480, 640×480, 1024×768, 1024×1024, 1152×864, 1280×800, 1280×960
This Is Summer
"Design for 10th anniversary of our youth ministry’ summer camp!" Designed by Lex Valishvili from USA/Russia.
- with calendar: 800×600, 1280×800, 1440×900, 1600×1200, 1920×1080
- without calendar: 800×600, 1280×800, 1440×900, 1600×1200, 1920×1080
Designed by Leen Van Severen from Belgium.
- with calendar: 1600×1200, 1920×1200, 1920×1440
- without calendar: 1280×800, 1600×1200, 1920×1200, 1920×1440
"Even tough it is not summer in my country, I made a summer theme. A coolest approach to summer themes, tough, very fresh and “twilighty”." Designed by Marcos Sandrini from Brazil.
- with calendar: 1024×768, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1080, 1920×1200, 2560×1440
- without calendar: 1024×768, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1080, 1920×1200, 2560×1440
Sweet Summertime In July
Designed by Anna Downer from USA.
- with calendar: 320×480, 1024×768, 1024×1024, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1366×768, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1680×1050, 1920×1080, 1920×1200
- without calendar: 320×480, 1024×768, 1024×1024, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1366×768, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1680×1050, 1920×1080, 1920×1200
Up In The Clouds
Designed by Ioana Bitin (yoot) from Romania.
- with calendar: 1280×720, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1366×768, 1440×900, 1600×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1080, 1920×1200, 2560×1440, 2560×1600
- without calendar: 1280×720, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1366×768, 1440×900, 1600×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1080, 1920×1200, 2560×1440, 2560×1600
"A personal illustration for my new website and corporate identity i descide to share as free wallpaper! Hope you like it!www.fredericchristian.dewww.facebook.com/fredericchristianart." Designed by Frederic Christian from Germany.
- with calendar: 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1366×768, 1440×900, 1600×1200, 1680×1050, 1920×1080, 1920×1200
- without calendar: 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1366×768, 1440×900, 1600×1200, 1680×1050, 1920×1080, 1920×1200
"Ants enjoying a summertime feast." Designed by Tommy Digiovanni from USA.
- with calendar: 320×480, 1024×768, 1024×1024, 1280×720, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1366×768, 1680×1050, 1920×1080, 1920×1200
- without calendar: 320×480, 1024×768, 1024×1024, 1280×720, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1366×768, 1680×1050, 1920×1080, 1920×1200
"The year is more than half-way through and this is a reminder to live life, be adventurist, and take a breather. Whatever the challenge is, Doers make it happen — they always find a way." Designed by Richard Hanley Jr. from USA.
- with calendar: 1024×768, 1280×1024, 1600×1200, 1920×1200, 2560×1440
- without calendar: 1024×768, 1280×1024, 1600×1200, 1920×1200, 2560×1440
Designed by Design19 from Romania.
- with calendar: 320×480, 1024×1024, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1366×768, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1080, 1920×1200
- without calendar: 320×480, 1024×1024, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1366×768, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1080, 1920×1200
"Most Flamenco dances are fiery, passionate affairs, this one however is a bit soggy…" Designed by James-n-osborne from United Kingdom.
- with calendar: 320×480, 640×480, 1024×768, 1024×1024, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1440×900, 1600×1200, 1680×1050, 1920×1080, 1920×1200, 2560×1440
- without calendar: 320×480, 640×480, 1024×768, 1024×1024, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1440×900, 1600×1200, 1680×1050, 1920×1080, 1920×1200, 2560×1440
Vintage Olympic Poster
Designed by Davide Vicariotto from Italy.
- with calendar: 1024×768, 1024×1024, 1280×720, 1280×800, 1280×960, 1280×1024, 1400×1050, 1440×900, 1600×1200, 1680×1050, 1920×1080, 1920×1200, 1920×1440, 2048×2048
"A throwback to the original United States Flag in honor of the 236th birthday of the nation." Designed by Geoffrey Sagers from USA.
- with calendar: 320×480, 1024×1024, 1280×1024, 1366×768, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1080
- without calendar: 320×480, 1024×1024, 1280×1024, 1366×768, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1080
World Chocolate Day
Designed by Cheloveche.ru from Russia.
- with calendar: 1024×768, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1200
- without calendar: 395×512, 1024×768, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1200
Designed by Agata Maci?gowska from Poland.
- with calendar: 1024×768, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1080, 1920×1200
- without calendar: 1024×768, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1080, 1920×1200
"Wallpaper which I created consists of my personal sketches of Polish herbs and flowers and custom typography. I wanted it to be light and simple with a hint of romantic feeling. I hope you’ll enjoy it!" Designed by Beata Kurek from Poland.
- with calendar: 1024×1024, 1280×800, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 2560×1440
- without calendar: 1024×1024, 1280×800, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 2560×1440
Designed by Ajan Navaratnasingam from London, UK.
- with calendar: 1024×768, 1024×1024, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1440×900, 1600×1200, 1600×1050, 1920×1080, 1920×1200
- without calendar: 1024×768, 1024×1024, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1440×900, 1600×1200, 1600×1050, 1920×1080, 1920×1200
Birdie Nam Nam
"I have created a pattern that has a summer feeling. For me July and summer is bright color, joy and lots of different flowers and birds. So naturally i incorporated all these elements in a crazy pattern." Designed by Lina Karlsson, Idadesign Ab from Sweden.
- with calendar: 320×480, 1024×768, 1280×1024, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1200, 2560×1440
- without calendar: 320×480, 1024×768, 1280×1024, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1200, 2560×1440
Inspired By Henna
"I wanted to bring the organic, flowing art of henna to the digital world." Designed by Tara M Baker from USA.
Jump Into Summer
"This is photography of my dog who is jumping into lake on our short vacation." Designed by Agencja Reklamowa Kalisz from Poland.
- with calendar: 320×480, 1024×1024, 1280×800, 1366×768, 1680×1050, 1920×1080
- without calendar: 320×480, 1024×1024, 1280×800, 1366×768, 1680×1050, 1920×1080
"A few essential items for the summertime weather at the beach, park, and everywhere in-between." Designed by Zach Vandehey from USA.
- with calendar: 1024×768, 1440×900, 1600×1200, 1920×1200, 2560×1440
- without calendar: 1024×768, 1440×900, 1600×1200, 1920×1200, 2560×1440
Join In Next Month!
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There are few lengths to which sports fans will not go to help promote their favorite teams, including even coughing up the cash to crowdfund them. Now, Uruguay’s Ministry of Tourism and Sport is tapping fans of its winning soccer team for their creativity instead – specifically, it’s soliciting fan-created images to include on a brand-new Olympic t-shirt.
Late last month the Ministry launched a new Facebook application inviting fans to upload photos of blue sky, the color of which plays a central role not just in Uruguay’s flag but also its soccer team’s color and nickname “La Celeste.” Dubbed “Above All, La Celeste,” the app has aready collected more than 100 fan-submitted images, a selection from which will be included on its new t-shirt. That shirt, in turn, will be given to the delegation that represents Uruguay in the London 2012 Olympics; 150 shirts will also be given away to participating fans.
Is there any limit to the creative potential of the global brain, particularly where team spirit and national pride are concerned? We don’t think so either. Similar organizations around the globe: one for inspiration!
Spotted by: Daniel Carranza?
Another day, another example of a country making it harder for its people to use the web and some of its most effective channels of communication? There are reports coming in from Pakistan that it has become the latest country to ban the use of Twitter.
According to the blog Dawn, the chairman of Pakistan’s telecommunications authority has today imposed the restriction because of blasphemous content: it reports that Chairman Mohammad Yaseen blocked the site today “because Twitter refused to remove material related to a competition on Facebook to post images of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.” Facebook, apparently, has complied with the request, says the blog. Others are now starting to report the same, and below the break we have a screenshot of how accessing the site looks from one of our readers in Lahore who says he “cannot access the site at all.”
Getting blocked in Pakistan, if true, is particularly ironic because the two, paired up, played a major role in one of the most important news events to be broken in recent history: the raid and demise of Osama bin Laden, which was tweeted by at least two people watching the raids as they happened in the mountains of the country.
This is a developing (and slightly confusing) story: just yesterday, about 12 hours ago, Senator Rehman Malik, of Pakistan’s People Party, tweeted that nothing was getting blocked: “Dear all, I assure u that Twitter and FB will continue in our country and it will not be blocked. Pl do not believe in rumors,” he wrote. We have contacted Twitter and Facebook for their responses to this story.
Update: More details coming in from Pakistan’s Express Tribune: The request to block the site was made by the Ministry of Information and Technology, it says, citing a drawing competition. The ministry, apparently, made several requests to Twitter, which responded that it “cannot stop any individual doing anything of this nature on the website.”
Directives to block the site were sent to ISPs in several parts of the country, including PTCL Broadband and Wi-Tribe. It also reports that Twitter is still accessible by mobile using secure browsers like Opera, as well as proxies and VPNs like Vtunnel. [original report continues]
This is not the first time that Twitter has been blocked in the country: a similar ban took place in 2010 for the same reason. That lasted for two weeks.
The move underscores how susceptible social networks remain to higher powers in government. And Pakistan is not the only country to pull something like this.
Sites like Facebook and Twitter are still officially forbidden in China (although millions use it anyway using VPNs — virtual private networks), with the bans often having strong political overtones around people expressing contrary opinions. Developing countries with big populations represent some of the biggest potential growth opportunities for scale-oriented social networks — when they can get used.
Even developed countries like the UK have floated ideas about how to restrict the flow of information on social networks — this was something that came up last summer during the London riots and the role that some believed services like BlackBerry Messenger played in gangs getting organized to loot.
Update 2: One of our awesome readers in Lahore, Waqas Ali, sent us this screenshot:
Ali has also played a role in a past campaign in the country to keep Facebook from getting banned. He says that he cannot access Twitter at all right now but that a friend is able to use the Opera Mini browser to access the site.
[Image: Farooq on Flickr]
Iran shut down Internet access to its oil terminals today following a cyber attack that is said to have begun on Sunday afternoon.
The Oil Ministry shut down Internet access to all of its oil facilities, operations, and rigs soon after finding the virus, dubbed “wiper”, according to an anonymous Oil Ministry employee who spoke with The New York Times. According to this individual, Iran’s oil production and exports were not affected.
The virus was responsible for some wiped hard drives within the ministry, appropriately earning its name. Related websites such as the National Iranian Oil Company and the National Iranian Gas Company were also shut down, according to the Times, though whether they were shut down by the virus or the Ministry remains unclear.
This virus isn’t the first of its kind to hit Iranian infrastructure. In 2010, a virus called Stuxnet affected Iran’s nuclear program by attacking its control system called SCADA or supervisory control and data acquisition. The SCADA system controls various processes (both hardware and software oriented) within the nuclear program, including those responsible for creating fuel for potential nuclear weapons.
“Attacks on critical infrastructure are more common than many think,” said McAfee security director Brian Contos in an e-mail to VentureBeat, “Because of a lack of disclosure in these industries, many incidents ranging from sabotage and intellectual property theft to extortion go unreported.”
Other SCADA systems, including those on U.S. soil are flagged as being vulnerable to cyber attack. John Strauchs, who owns a security consulting firm, flagged prison doors controlled by SCADA systems as a potential target. He came to the conclusion soon after receiving a call about a prison’s death-row doors popping open. In that case, the doors were triggered by a faulty wire.
Filed under: VentureBeat
If you loved Business Model Generation, you’ll really love Business Model You: A One-Page Method for Reinventing Your Career.
The canvas is similar with minor adjustments to fit “you” with some great real-life stories, examples, and exercises. This book is something every freelancer and solopreneur should own. I’m also recommending it to several ministry leaders because the ideas will translate well.
Here’s a brief explanation of the Business Model Canvas:
If you want a sneak peek at the book, author Tim Clark has made available 79 pages of BMY for free.
There’s also a community center to collaborate and bounce ideas to others.
The company is a social game developer that is making a Monty Python game in collaboration with the Ministry of Silly Games. It listed with a price of $1.58 a share and a market capitalization of $34.8 million. It is trading under the ticker code ZATT. Proceeds from the public offering will be $20 million.
The company said it is acquiring three game studios with the money. The deals include the acquisition of soccer management game specialist Hattrick Holdings, casual gaming studio Sneaky Games and art and design house Concept Art House. Zattikka now plans to expand its publishing operations and offer a wider range of games on digital platforms in Europe, the U.S. and China. It also plans more acquisitions.
Mark Opzoomer, CEO of Zattikka, told Gamasutra, “We are delighted to list on AIM to provide the capital base and incentivise the entrepreneurs joining our group.”
He added, “We begin with a strong group of companies with operations in key gaming centres in the USA, China and Europe, a mix of revenues across subscriptions, virtual goods and work for hire with an exceptional team of talent. We have a great opportunity before us to accelerate the growth of this initial group across multi-platforms to create a world class games entertainment group.”
Zattikka previously raised $5.5 million in a venture capital funding in 2010. Notion Capital led that round and it was joined by individual angels including Harald Ludwig, co-chair of Lionsgate Entertainment. The company was founded in 2009 by Opzoomer and Tim Chaney, two former Virgin Games executives.
Springwise has already noted several efforts offering alternative travel experiences, with the UK’s Political Tours hosting politically orientated trips to locations such as Northern Ireland and Kosovo. Now, in the Czech Republic, CorruptTour.com is sending travelers to Prague on a sightseeing trip that aims to uncover political sleaze.
The company caters for those wanting to know more about the Czech government’s less noble alleged activities, with tours taking in the Ministry of the Interior, the residence of President Vaclav Klaus – Prague Castle – and the building where former presidential advisor Marek Dalik, who was involved in a bribery scandal, began his career. CorruptTour.com says it is a unique proposition in the tourist world, providing access to some of the “leading practitioners of corruption” operating today. Tours last for an average of three hours and souvenirs are available.
CorruptTour.com isn’t the first innovator to be interested in uncovering corruption – we have also seen the Estonian Bribespot app raising awareness of dishonest dealings locally through crowdsourcing. How else could organization be forced into being more transparent about their operations?