24 October 2016

How to learn Japanese using Google Translate

Learn Japanese with Innovative Language's Proven Language System - Level 1: Introduction to Japanese
I was able to download the Google Translate app in iPad last week. The app is free, but the catch is that the images are sent to Google, so Google knows how you are using the app. Well, I am not using it for highly classified information that would bring down the whole country if they are released in Wikileaks. I am just taking a picture of what is written in a soy sauce or magazine or flyer. So I clicked ok. This is the price of free apps: you become the product, i.e. how you use the app will help make the app smarter, because image-to-text translation apps rely on neural networks and deep learning technologies which need to be trained and trained by giving them more and more data to chew and churn. As the the Google Translate app becomes better, Google can then use this expertise to make its search advertising business smarter.

At the start, I was just taking pictures of Japanese characters in Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Kanji are traditional Chinese characters. But a friend told me that in China, they have simplified the Chinese characters that it is impossible for the Japanese to read them. Katakana are simplifications of some Chinese characters, with a preponderance of angular strokes. Katakana is for the translation of foreign-derived words into Japanese syllabary. Finally, Hiragana is the Japanese syllabary with a preponderance of curved strokes. You may think of Hiragana as snails and Katakana as starfishes with different numbers of arms.

Taking pictures may not be polite when riding trains, so I learned to draw the characters with my hand in my iPad and let Google Translate translate the sequence of Japanese characters to English. Right now, I am still learning my hiragana and katakana, so I remember only one character at a time when looking at some posters and signs in the train or bus. Google Translate does an excellent job of knowing the characters that I have written. For the case of kanji, I had trouble with Google Translate. Well, actually it's my fault: I have to remember what the kanji character looks like and draw it in my iPad. This really exercises my imagination. I am an artist. I can draw faces. But Google Translate allows you only a second or two to draw the character before it translate it into a well-written Japanese character which Google then translates to English. So with complicated kanjis that are compounds of different basic characters, I cannot write fast enough, because my mind still has to pause to recall the next set of strokes. We humans can only remember seven chunks of information in our short-term memory. A kanji with 20 strokes is difficult to remember. But if you can remember the basic characters within a compound kanji character, you can bring down those 20 strokes into just 2 to 3 word-characters, which is easier to remember.

The good thing with Google translate is that it keeps a record of all characters that you have written and suggests some of them if it sees a similar pattern. It also gives suggestions of other related characters to see if there is something there that you intended. It's something like a thesaurus on the fly. You can also use the microphone too, and speak the speech as you pronounce it trippingly on your tongue. I have used this feature once when we were having lunch in the office. To show off the capabilities of Google Translate, I touched the microphone icon and spoke, "My name is Quirino." And the voice of a lovely lady translated them in Japanese: "Watashinonamaeha karinadesu" My friends laughed. This boy has turned into a woman. But hey, I can now have a sensible dialogue with another person if we have Google Translate in our phones or iPads.


23 October 2016

How to turn on an Apple aluminum wireless keyboard with Bluetooth for iPad

Apple Wireless Keyboard with Bluetooth - Silver (Certified Refurbished)
Last Friday, I bought an Apple aluminum wireless keyboard at our university's bookstore. When I got back to my office, I paired it with my iPad and begun to type. Click, click, click. Nothing's happening on the screen. It should be Bluetooth. What's wrong? Oh, perhaps I did not turn on the Keyboard in the Settings. I went to the settings and clicked on the Keyboard. There's no keyboard detected. Weird.

I gazed at my keyboard. I recalled the memories of seeing it several times when I passed by the bookstore and wondered how life would be easier with that keyboard and my iPad. I remembered how the cashier wrapped it in plastic bag. I remembered how I carried it back to my office, passing through the great courtyards of Autumn trees, through the traffic lights and highways, through the long walks with crickets chirping in the trees. I remembered how I opened the box along the width when I should have opened it along the length. I remembered how I marveled at the smooth grey aluminum and white keys.  Click, click, click. Perhaps, it would be a great collection for Modern Art to be hung on the walls, gazed by onlookers, and passed by.

Ah, a thought occurred to me. I rushed upstairs and went to the office of my friend. He's staring at a screen about 2 ft x 3ft x 1.5 in. He's the master of the internet networks. Surely, he would know how to turn on the Apple keyboard.

"Sumimasen," I said. "I need help with my Apple keyboard."

"Ah, Apple keyboard!" He went to a nearby shelf and gave me an Apple keyboard that looks exactly like the one I bought.

"No," I said. "I already bought an Apple keyboard, but I don't know how to pair it with my iPad."

"Sorry," he said. "I am not an expert with iPads." And he asked me to ask our other friend in the opposite room. So off I went.

When I entered the room, I saw a man before a desk with a large Apple monitor on his side. The man who loves Apple! Surely he must know how to fix my keyboard.

"Good morning," I said. "I need help how to turn on my Apple keyboard with my iPad."

He checked my keyboard. On the keyboard's cylindrical stand, he turned what looks like a disk with a line through the center.

"Is that the battery?" I asked. I have seen a battery something like that in Game and Watch several  decades ago, while playing Popeye vs Brutus.

"No, it's just a screw," he said. And pop! The screw came out. There's a plastic strip--and the batteries! Ah, the plastic was meant to prevent the batteries from getting used up. It's a genius design.

He removed the plastic, placed the batteries back, and screwed them back. He then checked the opposite side of the cylinder: it's actually switch. Fascinating.

I opened my iPad, pressed my passkeys, and went to the Keyboard settings. Round and round the circle of time goes and then there: the Apple keyboard is now visible on the iPad's screen. Click, click, click. Oh, my keyboard works!

"Thank you very much," I said to him and made a slight bow. "Arigatou gozaimashita!"

18 October 2016

How create a journal notebook with date-time indexing system

AT-A-GLANCE Planning Notebook with Reference Calendars, Plan.Write.Remember., 9.19 x 11 Inches, Black (70-6209-05)
For the past few days, I experimented with a new research notebook: Kokuyo's B5 size Campus notebook. Its binding is flat, not spring. It has 60 pages. Each page has 35 lines spaced 6 mm. I chose the flat binding with glue because the notebook may be used as evidence for prior discovery in patent court proceedings. Loose leaf sheets are difficult to consolidate and present as evidence.

Unlike normal logbooks with vertical red margins on the left side, I made my margins on the side opposite to the binding. The style is similar to that of a Tufte-style book, except that the margins are not too large, but only about 3.5 cm.

So here's my system:
  • There are no page numbers, but only dates starting at the upper corner on top of the margin column. The dates are in year.month.day notation, e.g. 20161017. But you may use the standard form, e.g. 17 Oct 2017.
  • Each paragraph entry is preceded by a title in black ink and underlined with red ink. Another option is to write in red ink.
  • The paragraph title and the paragraph are separated by a line space
  • The paragraph is marked by time stamp in four digits, e.g. 1427. You may also use the ordinary time stamp of 2:27 pm or 14:27.
  • Whenever I start a new paragraph, I put a time stamp, even if it is just a continuation of the previous paragraph under the same title.
  • Whenever I start a new day, I write the day stamp about beneath the last line of the previous day's entry, separated by a line space. Then I write the hour stamp of the first paragraph of the day beneath the day stamp. In this way, I fill up empty spaces. 
  • At the back of the notebook, I use the same margin width and I place the date on the margin in black ink underlined with red. Below the date, I place the time stamp in black. Along the line of the time stamp, I write the title of the paragraph in the body text. I repeat the process for the different paragraph titles.
  • If I write a paragraph which is related to a paragraph that is not the preceding paragraph, I note in red ink "from date-time", e.g. 20161017-1427. If the paragraph referred to belongs in the same day, I simply write "from -time", e.g. from -1427.  And the paragraph referred to I mark in red ink by "next date-time", e.g. next 20161020-1913.
The date-time indexing system allows me to work on different research projects in one notebook, even if the notebook is not sorted with filler tabs. This is really useful for me, since I'm juggling different research projects.

This system may also be used by writers who are drafting out different story elements: describe a scenery in one paragraph, make character sketch in the next paragraph, or change the "from" and "next" date-time marks to find where each paragraph logically connects to in the past or in the future. Note that the "from" stamp may also be from the future paragraph and the "next" stamp may be from a past paragraph, so that when stitched together, the paragraphs in succession create a coherent piece.

 Bloggers may also use the system to jot down paragraph ideas for different blog posts. Once you can get three of four related paragraphs and connect them with "from" and "next" date-time stamps, you may already type them out in your blog, edit a bit, and click publish. 


08 October 2016

Multilingual self-service printers at Japanese convenience stores

Lexmark 22Z0021 (X954DHE) Color Laser Printer with Scanner, Copier & Fax
A few days ago, I needed to make 6 photocopies of a 10-page document. Printing them all in the office would take a long time, so I decided to take an adventure by going to a convenience store here in Fukuoka. I saw people printing their documents in 7-11 and Family Mart before, so perhaps I may be able to do so even with my limited Japanese.

Before going to the convenience store, I prepared some Japanese phrases to use from Google Translate and copied them in my notebook:

  • I would like to have 6 copies of this document. 私は、このドキュメントの6コピーを持っていると思います。(Watashi wa, kono dokyumento no 6 kopī o motte iru to omoimasu.)
  • I don't know how to use the photocopying machine. 私はコピー機を使用する方法がわかりません。(Watashi wa kopī-ki o shiyō suru hōhō ga wakarimasen.)
  • I don't know. 知りません。 (Shirimasen.)
  • What button do I press? 私は何ボタンを押していますか?(Watashi wa nan botan o oshite imasu ka?)
  • Where is the copy? コピーはどこにありますか?(Kopī wa doko ni arimasu ka?)
When I was on my way home, I dropped by at the Family Mart in Kyudai Gakkentoshi station. There was a man ahead of me in the printer. "Clink, clink, clink." He dropped some coins on a white rectangular stand that sticks out from the ground at about 1.5 feet high. After he finished printing, he pushed a button. "Cli-li-ling-li-link," and he got his change back. Looks simple, I said to myself.

My turn came. I approached the printer. I was expecting Kanji and hiragana splattered all over the user interface screen. But lo and behold! It was not so. The printer asked me what language do I wish to use. There are about 9 major languages and one of them is Tagalog! But I clicked English. If I am not mistaken there are four paper sizes available: A4, A3, B4, and B5.  These papers are stored at the different drawers at the base of the printer. You have different printing options: photocopying, fax, printing from usb, and if I am not mistaken, you can also do web printing.  I am sure about the usb printing, because I saw the usb slot. For the web printing, I only know it because I read it somewhere that it can be done. 

And so there I was, holding my umbrella, my knapsack, and my documents, thinking what to do next. I laid my bag and umbrella on the floor and touched some buttons to print 6 copies. "Wommm. Wommm." The printer scanned and printed with the sound of light saber being swung in the air. When I saw my account balance is getting used up. I placed more coins. After using up all my coins, I realized I still have 6 copies to print! So I bought a banana for about 100 yen to get a change for my 1,000 yen bill, and I printed the last copies.

Whew! I survived the Japanese printer! My next stop is the Japanese Post Office.


28 September 2016

Why an iPhone with stereo cameras would be the next disruptive technology

4 in 1 iPhone 6 /iphone 6s Lens Case Camera Lens Kit Fish Eye Lens / Macro Lens / Wide Angle Lens / Telephoto Lens Black(4.7 inch)
A. Dual Lens Camera System

Apple has released the Iphone 7 this month with a dual lens camera system:
While the larger model should boast identical specs for its wide-angle lenser, the non-OIS telephoto module and lens pairing has yet to undergo rigorous testing. In addition to 2x optical zoom, the dual-lens configuration allows for a new portrait mode — coming in a future iOS update — that analyzes and merges data from both cameras to create a shallow depth of field effect, keeping the subject in sharp focus against a creamy bokeh. (Apple Insider)
The depth of field is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appear acceptably sharp in an image. A small depth of field would have a shallow focus, which is ideal for taking photos of portraits: the face of the subject is made sharp at the expense of blurring the background.

I think a dual lens camera system, as its name implies, allows for extended zooming range. If you're doing the wide angle shots, the wide-angle camera would take over, while the smaller camera shuts down or simply takes a support role. But if you're doing close up shots of a bee frolicking sunflowers, with the pollen grains gathering like dust on the bee's body, the smaller lens takes over doing the hard work.

B. Stereo Camera System

Unlike a dual lens camera system where different lenses operating in zero-sum game, a stereo camera system would require at least two identical lenses operating simultaneously, just like the human eye. The difference in the two images would allow the camera to make a reasonable estimate on the distance of each point in the object with respect to the center point of the line joining the two cameras. A stereo camera system is used for example in NASA's STEREO (Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory). As the name implies, there are two satellites orbiting the sun at two Lagrange points in the earth's orbit. These two satellites take picture of the sun at different electromagnetic wave frequencies. The data of the two satellites are then used to make 3D images of the sun.

What's are the implications of this stereo camera system technology for the iPhone? Here's a rundown:

  • AutoCAD. You take a stereo photo of a building and you use an app to instantly create a wire mesh model in AutoCAD file format. It would be like Iron Man making his designs in virtual reality.
  • Skype Do you notice that when you meet with your colleagues or friends in a video conference in Skype, you cannot really see each other eye to eye? The reason for this is the camera is at the top of the screen. With a stereo camera system, two or more cameras can take your video simultaneously, reconstruct your 3D avatar, overlay it with the stitched images from the different cameras, and project the result back to the screen, so that you can see each other in the eye.
  • Street Fighter. Four posts may be installed as corners of a ring, just like in boxing, which can serve as reference points for the iPhone's stereo cameras. Unlike Pokemon Go which is based on GPS technology with horizontal accuracy of 3.5 m, the fight in a four-corner ring for a Street Fighter app would have accuracy of a few millimeters in tabletop settings, which would be enough to see Ryu and Bison fight like in an arcade game, with other iPhone users watching the show from different directions.
  • Snapchat. Oh, it's Snap Inc now. Snap has made its mark in social media by making filters that are based on facial recognition software, so that princess crown filters would fit just right in your favorite profile pic. With a stereo camera system, Snap can create a 3D filter to make a gif of you waving your hands demurely as the newly crowned Miss Universe. For marketers, a Snap filter for new blouse or jacket would be the excellent way to test the product before you head off to Amazon's One-Click.
And there's so much more. With the increase in computing power and machine learning technologies in the coming years, an iPhone with a stereo camera system would truly be the next disruptive technology.


26 September 2016

Are you blogging for yourself or for your audience?

Blogging for Creatives: How to Build A Blog Readers Love (Blogging Guides): 101 Questions to Ask Before You Launch Your Blog
This blog is due for another overhaul. What keeps me up at night is how to properly classify my blog content. I am stumped with the following question:  Am I blogging for myself or for my audience?

A. Am I blogging for myself?

I can treat my blog as primarily for myself to define my personal brand. What is my personal brand? In Twitter and in LinkedIn, my tagline is Social Media and Space Weather Scientist. So my blog header should have at least two menu categories: social media and space weather. Or what I broaden the menu to media and science. I can add another one: teaching, but it's not in my main tagline. Of course, in my university, I am more known as a physics professor and less as a content marketer. This would create a triumvirate: social media, space weather, physics teaching. These three categories should be orthogonal: any article should fall on one and only one category.

Social media, space weather, and physics teaching looks like orthogonal categories, since they correspond to my different day jobs:

  • Social Media: Blogger, Webmaster, and Social Media Manager of the Department of Physics of Ateneo de Manila University
  • Space Weather: Head of the Upper Atmosphere Dynamics program of Manila Observatory and currently a visiting professor of the International Center for Space Weather Science and Education of Kyushu University
  • Physics Education: Assistant Professor of the Department of Physics of Ateneo de Manila University

B. Am I Blogging for My Audience?

Ideally, one audience is to one blog. If my audience are business people, then my blog should only contain business related writings. If my audience are physics teachers and students, then my blog should only contain things related to physics education. My problem is that I am interested in too many things and I spread myself out too thinly like butter. I need a blinder, such as those of a horse, so that I can keep focus.

Focus. I need to focus.

I already have a good audience in Twitter. They're mostly people interested in social media and technology. If my Twitter audience is my priority, then this blog should only contain those that caters to my audience's interest.

On the other hand, I already gave my blog address as part of my signature in my work email: qsugon(at)ateneo.edu. So my administrators and colleagues will definitely take a peak on my blog, and maybe even those scientists whom I correspond with. They are my audience, too. Also, next year my co-authored physics textbooks for college and high school may be published. I need a Blog and Twitter platforms to promote these books. It is already difficult to manage multiple blogs and Twitter accounts. Maybe I'll just stick to one blog and one Twitter account for both marketing and physics related topics.

C. Possible Solutions: Google+ Collections and Twitter Time Splicing

This may not be an either or problem. Perhaps there are creative solutions.

Google+ collections, for example, allow bloggers like me to classify my blog content into different collections intended for different audience. In this way, I only have one hub for all my content.

In Twitter, I can also splice each hour as follows:
  • 0 min: Curated content on social media related news and technologies
  • 30 min: General interest articles on marketing and from my blog
  • Random: Content for physics teachers and students
But I am wary of doing this since adding physics education to my content mix may dilute my Twitter brand. Wait. My problem before was that my Twitter deck of tweets is indistinguishable from others in my community. How do I stand out then? Perhaps those physics tweets would reinforce my personal brand:
  • Quirino Sugon Jr: Space weather and social media scientist 
Once I decide on what to do next would change the flavor of my tweets and my audience mix as well. These blog changes are structural and long-term and it would be difficult to overhaul again if my brand positioning takes root as my audience grows. I do not wish to be the person who planned to make a store house but only accomplished in laying the foundations:
Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion?  Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’ (Lk 14:28-30)
So right now, I am still weighing the pros and cons. Maybe I need a blogging retreat to make a good discernment on what to do with this blog.


24 September 2016

Why marketing is like creating a religious cult around your brand

The Power of Cult Branding: How 9 Magnetic Brands Turned Customers into Loyal Followers (and Yours Can, Too! )
Marketers peddle products that solve mankind's desire for comfort, health, and long life. That is why marketers sell air conditioning system during a hot summer, antibiotics when we get ill, and vitamin supplements for removing our wrinkles. But the greatest marketers are those who market an idea that solves mankind's greatest problem: death. One such marketer is Sauron. To Ar-Pharazon the King of the Numenorians who sensed his impending death, Sauron made his marketing spiel:
The Valar have possessed themselves of the land where there is no death; and they lie to you concerning it, hiding it as best they may, because of their avarice, and their fear lest the Kings of Men should wrest from them the deathless realm and rule the world in their stead. And though, doubtless, the gift of life unending is not for all, but only for such as are worthy, being men of might and pride and great lineage, yet against all Justice is it done that this gift, which is his due, should be withheld from the King of Bangs, Ar-Pharazôn, mightiest of the sons of Earth, to whom Manwë alone can be compared, if even he. But great kings do not brook denials, and take what is their due. (Silmarillion)
And similarly in our history, we see the rise of religious movements that promises life after death, such as Paganism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity: from man becoming a god to God becoming man. Today, businesses who wish to succeed must also create a cult of religion around their products, with customers acting as believers, buying whatever product the company releases, relying on faith that what the company says is true, even without knowing all the the nitty-gritty details of how the iPhone works or how the Intel transistors compute those millions of bit operations for you to send a smiley face halfway across the globe.

Religious fanatics for the company's product may be good for the company's profits, but what turns an ordinary man into a believer are evangelists and apologists. The word evangelist comes from the Greek words evangelistes, the preacher of the Gospel or literally the bringer of the good news; on the other hand, the word apologist comes from the word apologia, which is not an apology, but a speech in one's defense against accusations, in the same way Plato's Apologia narrates Socrates' defense of the truth of the afterlife, even willingly accepting the poison offered to him as capital punishment to prove his point. Today, an evangelist in marketing is called an influencer, whose word can ripple across hundreds of thousands of listeners, while an apologist is the expert, who can be called upon to give his opinion on the technical merits of the case, e.g. Apple's wireless earphone. The task of the content marketer then is to magnify the expert's opinion through the influencer in order to drive up sales. If the content marketer is himself an expert and an influencer, then so much the better.

With the rise of search engines like Google, content marketing becomes a leverage for small businesses to become visible in search rankings. How to make Google love your content over others becomes the domain of web design: to incorporate metadata in your content, such as Google Schemas, so that search engines, who are not humans, can understand what your text, image, audio, or video is all about, in order to decide whether your content is a good match to the user’s search engine query. It is like the ancient Greeks and Romans trying to appease the gods with offering of food and wine, as the stories of Homer and Virgil tell us, except that now the god is the Google search engine with names like Panda and Hummingbird. Before, the ancient Greeks would ask the Oracle of Apollo for answers. Now, modern man types phrases in the Google search form, and Google spew out a list of possible answers.  Google knows everything, but not exactly the one thing you wish. So you need wisdom to differentiate the wheat from the chaff (c.f. Mt 3:12)

22 September 2016

What is content marketing?

Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses

Content marketing is marketing that uses text, images, audio, and video not to stop people in their tracks and advertise to them, like a salesman handing you a flyer while you're walking to the restaurant for dinner, or like a TV commercial that stops your favorite Japanese or Korean drama for 30 seconds to tell you about sanitary pads, the low calorie beer, and the new smartphone. Rather, content marketing is like a friend who passes by, who invites you to read or listen or watch something that you may need--a word of advice, a useful information, a compelling story, a wonderful picture, a moving film. In content marketing, you really need to be like a good friend: you create a reputation of trustworthiness so that the products that you sell that are related to your content cease to become merchandise in your customers’ minds, but a way for you to help them solve their problems--an aching tooth, a financial loss, or a broken heart.

The job of a content marketer is two-fold: create content and market it.

Content is anything that conveys information. Right now, the content at the content marketer arsenal are limited to text, graphics, audio, and video--essentially for the sense of sight and hearing. Those for the senses of touch, smell, and taste are subsumed into these two senses, through metaphors such as smooth as silkfragrant as a rose, or sweet as honey--metaphors which conjure memories of the experiences in the brain, making those memories alive again. The skills needed to do content marketing covers a wide spectrum: writing, graphic design, programming, photography, video editing, podcasting, etc. It is difficult to master all these skills, so some people specialize on a few set of skills, while others specialize in how to bring skills from other people together.

Marketing, on the other hand, is the promotion of content in in flyers, brochures, billboards, blogs, websites, and social media. And, of course, there's the word of mouth marketing--the oldest form of marketing that began when men learned how to speak. In marketing, we try to convince another person about the truth of what we are saying, assuming that we are not trying to deceive. This is called truth in advertising. In marketing, we proclaim a good news that there exists a solution to some of the problems that ails mankind, e.g. illness, hunger, thirst, cold, heat, etc. That is why we propose to the other medicine, food, drink, clothing, shelter, etc. And in exchange, the other gives us what we wish to have: gold for silk, cacao for corn, meat for rice, etc.

12 August 2016

10 ways to grow your Twitter followers organically

The Organic Farming Manual: A Comprehensive Guide to Starting and Running a Certified Organic Farm
Growing your Twitter followers is difficult, if you are really serious about your Twitter marketing. The easy way, of course, is to buy followers, but all these followers is just plain vanity--it's like chasing the wind (c.f. Eccl 1:14). Some people are really aggressive in increasing the number of their followers: they follow several people per day and unfollow those who don't follow back after a day or two. But going from house to house is a miserable way live (c.f. Sir 29:24). Twitter should be fun. It's an online way of meeting real people who shares your passion and interests. You don't hoard people like sheep on your right or the goats on your left (c.f. Mt 25:33). If you like what other people are tweeting, follow them and expect to see their tweets on your home page. Retweet, like, or comment. Twitter is the Greek marketplace or agora--a marketplace not only of goods but also of ideas-- expanded to millions of citizens spanning seven continents. Engage with your Twitter community. This is still a human social network after all.

Growing your Twitter followers may be difficult, but the good news is that the principles for growth hacking are simple enough to write down in a single blog post.

1. Create a personal branding tagline

A personal branding tagline is your elevator speech. It should not exceed once sentence. It should be short and crisp and describe you you are. In my case, my personal branding tagline is "Physics professor studying space weather and social media."

2. Create a tweet topic hub

A hub is the center of the wheel. The spokes radiate from the hub. A tweet topic hub is the main topic of your tweets. As long as your tweets support your topic hub, then your tweeting will move smoothly and you shall gain more followers in time. In my case, I realized that I can't target three phrases all at once: "physics professor", "space weather," and "social media," because they target different audiences. So I decided that my tweet topic hub is going to be "social media scientist". This allows me to target different media forms--text, graphics, videos, audio--but also the social media platforms in particular: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.

3. Create an audience persona

Define your target audience. Who are the people you want to reach? What are their interests? If the interests of your target audience are the same as yours, then tweet things that are relevant to your audience. To find your target audience, check out your Twitter analytics dashboard. You may be out for a surprise.

4. Use topical hashtags

A tweet without a hashtag is like a tree that fell in the forest and no one heard about it's fall. Don't use an ephemeral hashtag like #rainydaysandmondays, unless you are using this to track your marketing reach. Use the topical hashtags that you can use everyday to define your brand's focus, e.g. #technology, #graphicdesignm #blogging, and #socialmedia.

5. Curate content that supports your brand

Make sure that your tweets support your branding. You can either make your own tweets from the titles of your blog posts or you can curate tweets. You can find excellent tweets by checking out your timeline or by clicking the hashtag of your choice to find tweets by other authors who are not necessarily your followers. Be sure that you have read the article yourself before retweeting the links, because a bad link or a thin content can damage your brand. You can use automation tools to find good content to tweet, but the you should still be the one who should decide if that post gets tweeted or not in your timeline.

6. Engage with your Twitter followers

Remember that you are forming a community around your personal brand. Share good content from your followers, too, and not just spamming everyone with your content, unless perhaps you have written 720 evergreen blog posts of sufficient depth and variety which allows you to share 1 blog post per hour for 30 days without repeating a thing. As a rule, share 3 to 4 blog post from your community for each post from your blog.

7. Write a blog

Blogging is what differentiates a publisher from a content curator. Blogging is what distinguishes your content from other content and make your brand stand out. Blog two to three times a week and tweet your blog's headlines, pertinent quotes, and related graphics.

8. Use pictures and Twitter cards

Twitter is now a visual medium and not just text. Make sure that the tweets from your blog posts have pictures. If you use Twitter cards in your blog, the pictures would show up automatically in your tweets in your timeline and in your followers' news feeds, except when you view your Twitter feeds using Tweetdeck.

9. Use Tweetdeck to schedule your posts

I still use Tweetdeck for managing multiple accounts. It's advantage is that you see tweets in real time, and this can sometimes be dizzying if you have thousands of followers, and tweets cascade down the columns at the rate of one block per second. So it is not surprising that influencers can't anymore share content from their followers via Tweetdeck. But for influencers who adopted the Twitter's algorithmic feed, the feeds are paused in time to give you time to check out old but recent posts from the people you follow.

10. Be choosy about following people

You don't have to follow everyone who follows you. Check out their timelines. Are you interested in tweeting 3 of their 5 tweets? If yes, follow their accounts. If not, just let them pass. Remember that your Twitter home feed will show the tweets of the people you follow and it is from your home feed that you get your news and excellent content to share. If you are not interested in checking out your home feed, so why follow people in the first place?

05 August 2016

Medical examination at a clinic in Tenjin, Fukuoka

CLINIC DESIGN 130 (InDeXy&x30B7;リーズ Vol.2)

Today, we went to Tenjin for my medical exam, which is a requirement in Kyudai. We took the train to Tenjin and walked a few blocks to the Kenkou-Zaidan clinic. We climbed the stairs to the second floor. The clinic staff wore dark suits lined with light yellow. They stand behind a meter-high, semicircular wall that also serves as desks for conducting business. In front of these circular desks are red sofas where patients can wait. And further more are observation cubicles where patients can be interviewed.

We filled up some forms for my medical history. The Japanese appears to be very conscious with weight. The form asked me: "Are you 10 kg heavier than your weight 20 years ago?" I answered yes. I was skinny in my college days with 125 lbs body weight. I think I now weigh more than 150 lbs. My waistline is 1 cm beyond the standard. "Do you wish to change your lifestyle?" the questionnaire asked. I answered, "Yes, within 6 months." In the forms, most of what I do is just to check out the boxes by marking a diagonal line from the left bottom corner to the upper right corner. The directions for answering are very precise.

When I gave back the form, the attendant gave me a yellow plastic tag labeled 104 attached to a clothed rubber string. It guess it's supposed to be worn on the wrist, so I placed it there. It's a dangling conversation.

After a while, I got my urine samples. The attendant gave me a cup and marked about 0.5 cm from the bottom with a pen. I guess that's the minimum. My urine filled 1 cm. That's enough sample for them to work on.

The chest x-ray was quick. I barely finished inhaling the air, when the attendant says it's ok. Actually, I don't understand what she is saying. But the clinic is wise enough to print two phrases in Japanese with English translations.  The attendant just pointed to the English translation, e.g. "take a deep breath" and I know what she is trying to say. Then she pointed to another phrase, that says it's already ok to relax. Fukuoka City are really accommodating to foreigners like me who only knows how to speak English.

There was an ECG test where the attendant put probes over my chest area and my ankles. Perhaps near my elbows, too. I have done this test before. It's for measuring the speed of electrical responses in my nerves. This lady really got in my nerves.

I went to hearing test where I entered a an enclosed cubicle like a phone booth and placed plugs on my ears of the size of my palms. For the first time, I heard the sound of silence. And then there's a beeping sounds on my right ear. I pressed a button to inform the attendant that I heard it. Then the sounds came from the left. And I did the same. The process was repeated twice. Looks like my ears are good. Or sounds like it.

Next, I went for a blood pressure measurement. It looks like she is using the Mercury based pressure sensor. It's analog not digital. My blood pressure is ok.

And then there's the blood test. Just like before, the instructions are printed in both Japanese and English, and she communicates to me by pointing her fingers to the text. Long before Steve Jobs invented the iPhone with its touch sensors, humans have already communicated by pointing their fingers. It's digits, not digital. I clenched my left fist, while resting my elbows on the concave upper part of a block three inches high from the table. And before I knew it, the attendant already got 3 vials of blood samples!

After she got the needles out from my veins, she placed a piece of cotton on the wound, and immediately replaced it with a 1 inch x 1 inch plastic tape with a 1 cm x 1 cm cloth at the center. Then she gave me a black velcro band to put pressure on the taped wound for 10 minutes. In the Philippines, the nurses will just place a cotton and tape it; it is the patient's duty to hold that cotton in place. But the Japanese found a way to make an innovation out of this little thing. The Japanese motto is always "How can we make it better?"

The last stop is the interview. The doctor spoke to me in Japanese. I told him, "English." So attendant asked my guide to come with me in the consultation room to serve as an interpreter. After the interview, the doctor said in Japanese: "Next year you should already speak in Nihonggo." I said, Yes. I blanked out. I forgot the thank you phrase in Japanese. So I said "Thank you very much" and made a slight bow.

03 August 2016

Chopsticks and plastics in a Japanese supermarket

Happy Sales HSCH22/S, 5 Pairs Multi Color Design Japanese Bamboo Chopsticks Gift Set, Mnt


From Kyushu University, I drop off from the bus at at Kyudai Gakkentoshi station to take a train to Fujisaki. In Kyudai station there's a supermarket where I usually buy my food for dinner and breakfast. I don't cook my food yet. I just buy meals packed in styrofoam plates--no, not those plain white ones like those in McDonald's or Jollibee in the Philippines, but colored styro plates in different Japanese designs to make you feel you are eating authentic Japanese dish.

For these past few days, I was just nodding my head without understanding what they are saying. I only know what they mean when they try to show the thing, especially when I go to the counter to pay for my goods. Usually the cashier would mumble something and show me a pair of chopsticks or a plastic bag. I just nod my head in agreement. But not this time.

"Ohashi?" the cashier asked. Her question was actually longer, but I can't still follow the rest.

"Iie," I said. I checked this earlier in the bus, so I am sure of what I am saying.

"Plastic?"

"Iie."

Like a two-year old child, I finally learned the power of saying "No."

I don't know how much these chopsticks and plastics cost, but garbage is a serious issue in Fukuoka. We really have to sort garbage here into burnable, non-burnable, PET bottles, and cans. Each of these garbage types we have to sort in different colored bags. The burnable trash Fukuoka uses to generate electricity. The other garbage the city tries to recycle. And those plastic bags needs to be bought. These little things cost money and costs add up everyday. I need to save.

Usually, what I do is to use only one pair of chopsticks at home and clean it after use in the same way I clean my spoon and fork at home back in my country. The plastic bags I try to maximize by cutting up the styrofoam and plastic into smaller pieces which are about 1/4 of the size of the original. In this way, my plastic bag can hold more garbage than if I just dumped the plastics and styro whole in the bag. The neighborhood associations will be happy to have my garbage, because Fukuoka City will buy it from them which they can use to fund their activities.

My dinner for tonight is like chopsuey with chopped vegetables, quail's egg, and shrimp. There are also two little meatballs and some rice. The cost is about 410 JPY, but there's a 30% off for food that has spent in the stall for several hours longer. I don't mind. This is still good food by Philippine standards and I am tightening my belt.

23 July 2016

Why answer survey forms when you already have loyalty cards?

Restaurant Marketing for Owners and Managers
A. Do you really need your customer to answer surveys?

I once went to a restaurant. I go there because I have a loyalty card. After my meal, the waitress gave me a tablet, perhaps an iPad.

"Can you answer some survey questions, sir?" she asked.

"Sure," I said.

The questions started with the food I ordered, if I like it; the place, if it's clean and presentable; the staff, if they are prompt in attending to the orders, etc. So far, so good. After five page flips, I realized the survey is getting longer and longer and the questions are becoming personal. The survey asked for my email and contact number. Oh, wait. Isn't my loyalty card suppose to know these things already?

I stopped answering and gave back the tablet to the waitress.

"Sorry, Ma'm. I can't continue with the survey. It's asking for my email address."

I think the survey provider is an external party and not the restaurant itself. With an email address marketers can already send you cold e-mails without giving option for opting out of the mailing list. E-mail is a precious commodity. You don't just give your e-mail away. When websites pop-up messages saying that I can't continue reading the blog post unless I give them my e-mail, I just clicked away.

B. Mine the data from the loyalty cards of your customers

Companies who give out loyalty cards but reliy on survey forms to measure customer feedback are defeating the purpose of loyalty cards. Loyalty cards are for customers who are already sold to the idea of buying from you. They already have made at least one purchase. If they bought from your restaurant 100x a year, that's a lot of data. That's big data.

Here are some metrics that you, the restaurant manager, should be able to distill from your customer data:
  • Total cost of purchases per year. You can group your customers into different bins depending on their total cost of purchases per year. You may be surprised that your top 20% of your customers is responsible for 80% of your income. 
  • Total purchases per product per year. You can combine this data with other customers to make a list of top products by number of items sold, unit price, and total cost of the items sold. This is important for making projections on the volume of demand next year for each item, so that you can plan your purchases for the following year to match the demand. You may also study the seasonal variations of the prices of goods, so that you can order them by bulk in the months when they are cheapest, assuming that you have sufficient adequate storage for these.
  • Total purchases per waiter per year. This is an interesting metric. It may surprise you that some waiters can get more purchases per customer than other waiters year after year. Study your best waiters. What are their tricks of the trade? Are they naturally beautiful. Do they like to engage with your customers in short personal conversations? Do they know your customers by name? Reward your best waiters with an extra bonus or better yet make them shine by asking them to teach the new hires on how to handle orders. 
C. How to mine the customer data from loyalty cards

Customers usually fill up a form before they can get their loyalty card. The form questions normally include, name, address, email, contact number, etc. These data are then stored in a database and the customer is given an ID number. For every purchase the customer makes, the purchase is logged in his account. A good database manager can then mine such data using standard querying tools, e.g. MS Access, MySQL, etc. If the data is in spreadsheet or text form, you may use macros to analyze your data. Macros are a set of formulas or operations done in sequence, so that when you input your data, it would immediately churn out the table or graph that you need. Usually, many of these back-office functions can already be outsourced to business process outsourcing (BPO) agencies.


06 July 2016

Let a hundred blogs bloom!

The Flower Workshop: Lessons in Arranging Blooms, Branches, Fruits, and Foraged Materials
This blog is a random collection of articles, photos, posters, podcasts, and videos. Since it is difficult to classify all my diverse interests, I will just categorize my post in the most generic way possible: text, photo, graphic, audio, and video--depending on which takes up more space or time. But these won't be visible in the menu bar: all of them will be grouped in the "Blog" heading. If there are three more more blog posts that talk about the same topic, I group them together by making a blog post out of their abstracts, e.g. 5 articles on Twitter, 6 videos on Content Marketing, 7 lectures on ionosphere, etc. These blog posts will have "Collections" as tag. Finally, to help the reader get a bird's eye-view of the the whole website, I shall make blog posts with "Sitemap" tag, e.g. 100 blog posts for Year 2016.

I am a teacher, so most of my posts are "how to" posts, e.g. how to design a poster using GIMP, how to compute the magnetic field of a line current, how to animate an object in JavaScript, how to use prefiguration in fiction writing, etc. Sometimes, I shall tell stories about my life--not too personal, but just simple observations of everyday things. I shall also tell fictional stories. Hopefully, next year I am going to publish books out of my blog posts.


03 July 2016

How to organize your tasks per hour, day, week, month and year using a plain binder notebook

Trycooling PU Leather Loose Leaf Business Round Ring Binder Cover Notebooks 100 Sheets With a Pen Inserted (A5 6-Ring, Black)

If you are riding a car, you see clearer the things that are near than those that are far. The far objects gives us a sense of direction, e.g. North, South, East, or West. On the other hand, the near objects give us warnings on whether we need to steer left or right. The same is true with planning: the long-term goals give us a general direction of our life, while the short-term goals are what we need to accomplish each day.

There are many notebook planners in the market from detailed calendars with 30-minute resolutions, to general-type notebook planners with formatted days, weeks, and month pages. What I propose is just an ordinary binder notebook with unformatted pages for making short-term and long-term goals. You'll just do the formatting yourself. Here's how:

1. Get a binder notebook.

I'm using 26-ring Septcouleur binder notebook, but the page fillers are from Acryl. Septcouleur page fillers are of excellent quality for different types of pens. But since they are imported, the price can be prohibitive. Acryl also has binder notebooks, but in plastic and not steel. I am using Acryl binders for filing my archival notes, but I am using Septcouleur binder for everyday note-taking with my Parker fountain pen.

2. Mark consecutive pages by day of the week

I use a red pen to mark the page headers by MON, TUE, WED, THU, FRI, SAT, and SUN.

3. Write down your tasks for the day

If Today is a Saturday, I go to the Saturday page and write down the date and the tasks for the day. Each task has a square box that I can check if I have completed the task. If I moved the task to another day of the following week, I mark the tick box "moved", so that I can cross it out of my mind. Once all the tasks in one page have been checked or moved, I cross out the whole page. And once I crossed out both the front and back pages of the day, I throw away the page and get a new one as replacement

4. Create an HOUR page

I usually make an HOUR page before the MON page. The HOUR page header is in red ink. In the hour page, I write the hour of the day and not the minutes or seconds. I underline the hour of the day by red ink and write the tasks which I think I can finish in one hour. That's usually just 2 to 3 tasks which I get from my day of the week pages. Doing so allows me to focus knowing that the tasks are few and not insurmountable. It also allows me to plan ahead in three steps in one smooth workflow, e.g. go to the bookstore, buy a notebook, and eat lunch.

5. Create consecutive pages by month of the year

I use a red pen to mark the page headers JAN, FEB, MAR, APR, MAY, JUN, JUL, AUG, SEP, OCT, NOV, and DEC. These comes after the day of the week pages. If the task occurs on the month but not within the week, I put this task in the page of the month. As the days go by, that task will be within a week's time frame, and I transfer it in the day of the wee page and mark the task in the month's page as "moved". Once all the tasks in a a page of the month have been moved or corrected, I cross out the page. If both sides of the page have been crossed out, I throw the page away and get a new one as replacement.

6. Create a consecutive pages for the next five years

I haven't yet done this, but I think this is a good exercise if you wish to make 5-year plans, e.g. get married, buy a house, finish postgraduate studies abroad, etc. If you're a manager, then this 5-year window is really a must for management of long-term goals, such as those pertaining to personnel and assets, e.g. retirement of employees, job vacancies, purchase of new equipment, sale of stocks, etc. Once the tasks are within a year time-frame, the tasks can then be moved into a particular month.

08 June 2016

How to design your Twitter content mix by studying your audience

Twitter for Research Handbook 2015, 2016
I was looking at my Twitter audience profile and my audience's top interests are as follows:

  • Technology (80%)
  • Tech News (78%)
  • Marketing (78%)
  • Entrepreneurship (72%)
  • Leadership (67%)
  • Startups (64%)
  • Business News and General Info (64%)
  • Business and Finance (63%)
  • SEO (58%)
  • Advertising (52%)
About 72% of my audience are male and 28% are female. All of them speaks English and they come from US (45%), Philippines (12%), United Kingdom (8%), Canada (5%), India (3%), and Germany (3%).

A. CATEGORIES: TECHNOLOGY, MARKETING, BUSINESS

Let's classify these topics into different categories that I think I can make a difference:
  • Technology
  • Marketing
  • Business
There are 6 permutations of these 3 words taken 2 at a time:
  1. Technology Marketing. How do we market technology products? I can tweet about the branding of Android, the pricing of chromebooks, the lifestyle behind Apple gadgets, etc.  
  2. Marketing Technology. What technology should we use use for marketing our products? I can tweet about social media platforms like Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. I can tweet about blogging tools, web traffic analytics, and search engine optimization tools.  
  3. Technology Business. How much profit does technology companies earn? I can tweet about the profitability of Facebook, the venture capital raised by Elon Musk, the acquisition cost of Flickr, etc.  
  4. Business Technology.What technologies should we use in our business? I can tweet about database management softwares, new ipads for creative artists, global navigation satellite systems, etc. 
  5. Marketing Business. How do we sell the idea of doing business? I can tweet about entrepreneurship or startups, franchising models, organizational management designs, cash flow accounting, etc.  
  6. Business Marketing. How do we market our business? I can tweet about branding, positioning, SWOT analysis, guerrilla marketing, etc.
My problem with this content mix of technology, marketing, and business is that I don't have a distinct advantage over others who are tweeting on these topics. I need a new set of categories.


B. CATEGORIES: TECHNOLOGY, BUSINESS, GENERAL INFO

Since marketing is part of business, I can absorb it in the business category and add the general information category. This gives me three categories:
  • Technology: I am a physics professor specializing in theoretical physics and space weather. I can understand the physics behind the latest technological breakthroughs--just enough to explain them to non-specialists.
  • Business: I have read more than 30 business books in the past two years. This can compensate for my lack of formal business education. 
  • General Info. I studied in Jesuit University, which means I have a strong background in Liberal Arts, especially in History, Literature, Philosophy, and Theology.
So I think I have the expertise to tweet on these subjects.

Let's now consider the 3 permutations these 3 subjects taken 2 at a time. Since we already discuss business technology and technology business earlier, we shall only discuss the remaining four permutations:
  1.  Technology of General Information. Technology of history can refer to ground-penetrating radars for Archaelogy, Carbon dating for fossils, etc. Technology of Literature can refer to the invention of alphabet, the printing press, the internet, and social media. Technology of Philosophy can tackle the technologies that help man answer the question "Who am I and why am I here?" This includes the neuroscience of the brain, machine learning, and human-machine androids. The technology of Theology can discuss the technology of Ancient Civilizations geared for worship, such as Mayan Astronomy, the Gregorian Calendar, and the Islamic science.
  2. General Information on Technology. I may need to avoid equations here, by writing my articles not as formal texts in mathematical physics. Popular Mechanics or Scientific American would be good writing standards. But if ever I use equations or computer codes, I need to balance them with additional general treatments. Or I may just simply link the gory mathematical details to articles in pdf.
  3. Business in General Information. Business in history can refer to the development of economics in different historical ages, e.g. Mercantile Era, Industrial Era, Galleon trade, etc. Business in Literature can refer to writers who became bankcrupt, the Kindle book publishing, the rise of Medium, etc. Business in Philosophy can discuss the different economic theories from Marx to Catholic Social Thought. The business in theology can refer to the wealth of the Papal States, the military spending in theological conflicts, the creating designer babies etc. I'll try to avoid controversial topics, as much as possible, e.g. Catholic apologetics and political rants, since they are covered by my other Twitter account, @monkshobbit.
Because of this new focus on Technology, Business, and General Information, I rewrote my Twitter description as follows:
I'm a physics professor with a passion for blogging. I blog on business and technology and their relations to literature, history, philosophy, and theology.
C. CONCLUSIONS

It is important to study your Twitter audience, so that you can tailor your content to fit their needs. If you don't like your current Twitter audience, you may need to change the topical categories of your tweets, but this is difficult if you have a large number of existing followers who follows you in your previous topical categories. Whatever you decide, it is important to be consistent in your topics to retain your existing followers and convince other Twitter accounts to follow. To find the right content mix for your topic categories, you must gauge your strengths in relation to your existing audience, find a sweet spot where you can really shine, and rewrite your Twitter profile description accordingly.

23 March 2016

How to use a 5x5 grid tool to design sponsored ads in Facebook

Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising: How to Access 1 Billion Potential Customers in 10 Minutes (Ultimate Series)
Yesterday, my friend sent me a note that she wants to promote one of our posters in Ang ProLife Partylist as a sponsored post: the national elections is already this May 2016 and we need to promote our partylist representative for Congress. But the problem is that Facebook won't approve the post: the text should only be 20% of the image, she said.

Ok, no big deal, I said to myself. I edited out my marketing copy and shrunk the text in the post to about 3 lines, which should be roughly 20% of the size of the image; the rest of the post I dumped to my other blog, Monk's Hobbit: Who do you think is the most pro-life presidential candidate? No, it's not exactly a dump: it's actually an overhaul. I spent at least 3 hours just to expand the text by elaborating on the 9 core life issues that should be debated by presidential candidates: abortion, contraception, divorce, same-sex unions, depopulation, radical feminism, sex education, pornography, and euthanasia. In this way, the text would fit the editorial standards I set for my blog: long articles of at least 1,000 words with lots of quotes and hyperlinks to original articles.

In the shortened Facebook post, I simply posted a shorted link to the blog post via goo.gl: http://goo.gl/XlBSo5. It is believed that in Facebook, links below posters have much lower click through rates than blog post snippets. But it's ok.

So far, so good. I told my friend that everything is already ok. And I returned to my work, learning new tricks in GIMP, such as cropping pictures using scissors and lasso.


Who do you think is the most pro-life presidential candidate?
Who do you think is the most pro-life presidential candidate? (Ang Pro-Life Partylist)


B. Facebook's 5x5 Grid Tool

A few hours later my Facebook message box popped. My friend told me that Facebook did not approve the poster. She sent me the link to try: https://www.facebook.com/ads/tools/text_overlay. So I tried it. Here's what I got:


Poster uploaded in Facebook's Grid Tool
Ang ProLife Partylist's poster uploaded in Facebook's Grid Tool
Notice that Facebook's grid tool divides the 4:3 poster into a 5x5 grid, which gives 25 rectangles. Facebook requires that the text size should only be 20% of the image, which means that the number of cells that the text occupies should only be 20% x 25 = 5 cells. For my poster, the text occupied 18 cells out of 25, or a whopping 72%!

C. Grappling with Facebook's restrictions

Well, if Facebook won't approve our ad, then I'll just add more text to the image to make it more informative and catchy for Facebook news feed scrollers, I said to myself. Specifically, I'll just add the 9 core pro-life issues in the image and rely on organic reach for marketing muscle. So far, our organic reach ranges from 100 to 2,000 views for 7,000 followers or about 1.4% to 28.5%. Here's my revised poster on Ang ProLife Partylist's page's timeline:

Shouldn't they also debate on core pro-life issues? (Ang ProLife Partylist)


I tried out other poster designs, except now I tried not to be stubborn and really try to reduce my text to 20% using Facebook's Grid Tool. It was tough. Really tough. It was like wrestling against the Angel of the Lord as Jacob did:
Jacob was left there alone. Then a man* wrestled with him until the break of dawn. 26When the man saw that he could not prevail over him, he struck Jacob’s hip at its socket, so that Jacob’s socket was dislocated as he wrestled with him.d 27The man then said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go until you bless me.” 28“What is your name?” the man asked. He answered, “Jacob.”e 29Then the man said, “You shall no longer be named Jacob, but Israel,* because you have contended with divine and human beings and have prevailed.” (Gen 32:25-29)
D. Designing in Google Drawings 5x5 grid

Instead of going to Facebook's Grid Tool every time, I used the Insert-> Table in Google Drawings and chose the 5x5 option. I pulled the sides of the table to stretch it to the dimension of the 4:3 poster size. In this way, I can test my posters if they fit the 20% text-to-image ratio requirement

1. Pope Paul VI and Humanae Vitae

The first poster is a picture of Pope Paul VI with a quote from Humanae Vitae:
The family is the primary unit in the state; do not tolerate any legislation which would introduce into the family those practices which are opposed to the natural law of God.  (Humanae Vitae, sec. 23)
Notice that that the primary text (Italics Times New Roman) and attribution is 8 cells, while the Ang ProLife Partylist simplified logo is nearly 1 cell, but may be counted by Facebook as 2 cells. I also signed the poster as Monk's Hobbit (Satisfy font) in the papal chair, which spans 2 cells. Overall, the text occupies 8 + 2 + 2 = 12 cells out of 25, which gives 32%. Thus, this poster fails the 20% text-to-image ratio for Facebook sponsored ads. Nevertheless, I still like this poster for its legible font and logo. I think this poster will go a long way. So far, it has 29 shares.

Pope Paul VI on the family and natural law
Pope Paul VI on the family and natural law (Ang ProLife Partylist)

2. Pope John Paul II and Evangelium Vitae

The second poster is Pope John Paul II and a quote from his Evangelium Vitae:

But despite their differences of nature and moral gravity, contraception and abortion are often closely connected, as fruits of the same tree.  (Evangelium Vitae, sec. 13, par. 3)
Notice that the text spans 9 cells, while the Ang ProLife Partylist's simplified logo spans 2 cells. This gives 9 + 2 = 11 cells for text out of 25, which is 44% text-to-image ratio. Thus, this poster fails the 20% text-to-image ratio for Facebook sponsored ads. Nevertheless, I like this poster, though I wish that the text would be larger, so that it is more readable while scrolling.

St. John Paul II on contraception and abortion
St. John Paul II on contraception and abortion (Ang ProLife Partylist)


3. Jose Rizal and Noli Me Tangere

The third poster (the last for this blog post) is that of Jose Rizal through one of his characters in Noli Me Tangere:
"There are useless officials, evil, if you like, but there are also good ones, and these are not able to accomplish anything because they encounter an inert mass, the population that takes little part in matters that concern them." (Noli Me Tangere)
Notice that the text occupies 4 cells, while the logo only 1 cell (I have to shrink the logo for this purpose), which gives a total of 4 + 1 = 5 cells out of 25. This gives exactly 20% text-to-image ratio, which satisfies Facebook's requirement for sponsored ads.

But I am not happy with this poster: I wish the text to be larger and a bit closer to the face of Rizal. I also wish the logo to be bigger. We'll, that's the price we have to pay if we play by the rules in another man's court. But this is where art lies: to create with freedom within the bounds set forth. The problem with Modern Art is that it promises freedom without bounds: to let the creative imagination soar without the downward gravitational pull of convention (e.g. the rules of perspective geometry or the physics of light), and so the artist floats aimlessly in space, not knowing what is up or down, or left or right.


Jose Rizal on the inert masses of the country
Jose Rizal on the inert masses of the country (Ang ProLife Partylist)


  E. Conclusions

 Jon Loomer, who runs a blog for advanced Facebook marketers, had this to say:
When you think about it, there is no true way to measure the percentage of text in an image. Since letters aren’t blocks, there will always be white space in between. This is why using a grid is so inexact. It doesn’t really measure 20% text at all. It just measures whether there is some text within 20% of the squares within an arbitrary grid. So, yes, it’s an insanely stupid rule. But you have two choices here:
  • Ignore the rule, cross your fingers and get frustrated when your ads get rejected; or
  • Use the Grid Tool to make sure that your text is in the right place.
I recommend #2. Be conscious of the amount of text within your image. Before you submit your ad, make sure that text is placed properly when you use the Grid Tool.
And I agree with him. Just limit your text in your Facebook sponsored post to a word or a phrase--or at most a sentence. And you'll be fine.

Notice

The author is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for him to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.