Posts tagged with ‘Team’ Category

OMG, Who Did Your Nails?!: Q&A with Nail Artist Miss Pop

Miss Pop is exactly the kind of person you’d expect from that nickname: bubbly and bright with a dash of sass. From bows with polka dots to Nicki Minaj’s bubblegum pink beehive, this nail art diva’s arsenal of funky fresh designs definitely blow your average mani/pedi right out of the salon. Miss Pop dished with us about her artistic influences and inspirations.
Howcast: What was it like shooting the Nail Art series?

Miss Pop: The Howcast team were a bunch of sweethearts, but doing over 20 nail looks in like 3 hours? My table was a mess and so was I! Usually when I get down with my polishes, I play some tunes and it’s just me, my client, and my colorful kit. But, since we were taping, it had to be pin-drop quiet and there were like 5 people watching my every stroke up close. When the director, Ben, offered to let me get some air, I put my headphones on, turned up the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and took a stroll around the block. Just as I was starting to get my strut on, a few construction workers told me just how cute I looked (I’m paraphrasing there). And POW! Just like that, I was feelin’ it again and ready to do up some digits!

Howcast: What inspires your funky designs?

MP: I’m super obsessed with pop iconography in Dima Drjuchin’s paintings. He uses all of my favorite colors — pink, red, yellow, turquoise, black, and white — to create these massive, elaborate stories with adorable monsters. His work is the best parallel universe I’ve ever seen. I have one painting of his hanging across from my bed. I love that it’s the first and last thing I see everyday.

Howcast: You must have a ton of nail art designs in your arsenal. Did any not make it in the series?

MP: OMG, so many! But I feel like every week I do new things. That’s the great thing about nail art! Everyone is so unique and it’s fun to really give all my clients something that suits their personality perfectly! Ladies who love nail art tend to be extra creative and open to having fun with it. Sometimes I even pull patterns straight out of their clothing and put them on their nails.

Howcast: Do you have a particular favorite nail art design?

MP: I love having bows and polka dots on my nails — although I just did that for my mom and now she’s obsessed with them. And she’s my toughest customer! So, I think I might have to let her have that look. Last week, I did them with kind of a twist by painting pink poodles with bows in their hair on a polka-dot background.

Howcast: When did you realize that you wanted to do nail art professionally?

MP: I can trace my love of nail art back to the movie Earth Girls Are Easy. It has this amazing salon scene where everyone’s nails are tricked out! I loved the hair, loved the clothes, loved the whole vibe of the movie, but the minute I saw the hand close-ups, I was hooked. So, ever since I saw that movie as a lil’ Baby Pop, I’ve been obsessed with nail art, which got me in a lot of trouble in prep school. But I kept doing it on the weekends back in the day, and now I’m still doing it!

Howcast: Speaking of your professional career, you’ve worked with some pretty cool clients and bedazzled nails at some awesome events. Any particularly cool stories from these experiences?

MP: Burlesque beauty La Maia has a couple pet snakes. Clearly, she’s a total badass! Anyway, inspired by Terry Sillaci, she brought me their skin sheddings a couple weeks ago and asked me to put them on her nails. At first I was like, “Eeww!” but it turned out mega awesome.

– Betsy Bloom, Editorial Intern

Howcast’s Gaming Guru Leaves Comfort of Couch for Retro Fun

Last weekend, as part of my diligent research as Howcast’s video game guru, I decided to venture out to a popular little spot deep in Brooklyn’s hipster country called Barcade. This isn’t the kind of arcade where you drop a dollar for five minutes in an elaborate race car simulator or team up with friends for a game of air hockey, but the kind where a quarter gets you a joystick and three lives in games like Asteroids, Smash TV, and 1943, just to name a few.

After grabbing a beer and hitting the change machine, I made a beeline for the vacant Donkey Kong cabinet. All it took was one quarter and three swift deaths to remember something I had long forgotten:
Old games are hard. Forget about a killscreen — I couldn’t even get past the first level. But with each barrel to the face and “game over” screen, I found myself putting in quarter after quarter to keep trying.

Some gamers complain that games today, like those we cover at HowcastGaming, are too easy and don’t hold up to the golden titles of yesteryear. To that I say: Yeah? So what? Arcade games were never hard because their creators thought difficult equaled fun. They were hard in order to make you part with as many quarters as possible — and judging from my recent Donkey Kong experience, the strategy was incredibly successful. Today, however, when I slap down my $60 for Skyrim (why isn’t it November yet?!) that’s all I’ll have to pay. The publisher at that point doesn’t need my quarters, so why try to kill me over and over? Developers, with massive advancements in the technology at their fingertips, can instead craft a unique experience that focuses more on immersing the player in another world.

That said, Barcade still ended up being an awesome place to drink and geek out to those old-time games. And P.S. I totally rocked at 1943.

– Rob Pimentel, Post-Production Coordinator

Excited about Excel: Q&A with IT whiz (and salsa dancer!) Shir Moscovitz

Shir Moscovitz loves technology — and he wants you to love it, too. Whether it’s teaching Fortune 500 executives to create compelling PowerPoint presentations, or showing senior citizens how to see their grandkids’ photos on Facebook, Shir knows how to make it all less intimidating. We asked Shir about the Excel tutorials he made for Howcast.

Howcast: So what’s sexy about spreadsheets?

Shir Moscovitz: What isn’t sexy about them? What it comes down to is me being a big nerd. I get a lot of joy from discovering better and faster ways to get things done using technology.

Howcast: Why are people afraid of Excel?

SM: It tends to be generational. People who didn’t grow up with Excel think of it as something only math-minded people can do, and they’re afraid that it’s overly complicated.

Howcast: So how do you make learning it less intimidating?

SM: The key is to use everyday language when explaining what it can do, instead of throwing around techno jargon. Also, I focus on teaching functions that are relevant to the person’s business. A lot of computer teachers turn people off by teaching stuff that’s totally unnecessary for most people.

Howcast: You got nominated for a local TV station’s “New Yorker of the Week” honor for giving a free computer class at a senior center. What was that like?

SM: It was a lot of fun. That age group gets marginalized because people assume they don’t want to keep up with technology. But I found they were eager to get up to speed. Even if they didn’t want to use Twitter or set up a Facebook account, they wanted to know what those things were and how they worked so when people referred to them they’d know what they were talking about.

Howcast: You’ve taught salsa, too. How did you get involved in that?

SM: I was always fearful of dancing and took a class as a way of overcoming my fear. I picked it up pretty fast, so I began teaching it. I’ve found that teaching is a great way to learn — whether it’s Excel or salsa — because it forces you to know your subject inside and out.

Howcast: Final thoughts on the virtues of Excel?

SM: When I was using an online dating service, I used it to analyze the responses to my messages to see what worked and what didn’t. I found that women were much more likely to reply to a short message than a long one. In fact, if you or anyone you know is an avid user of OkCupid and would like their response rate analyzed, I would be happy to set that up for them.

Howcast: Er, let’s talk offline…

– Rosemarie Lennon, Senior Writer

Doin’ It All for the Babies: Q&A with Music Composer Steven Milton

When we asked Steven Milton to write the music for a Howcast series of educational children’s songs, he didn’t hesitate. “My plan was to get back at all my friends with children,” says Steve, who’s apparently been forced to listen to one too many tunes for the toddler set. Here’s what Steve had to say about writing songs for kids.

Howcast: First off, We have to ask: Are you the former rubber band ball world record holder Steve Milton?

Steve Milton: No. But I have heard of that guy.

Howcast: Have you ever created music for children before?

SM: I have. After undergrad I was a junior high school teacher for a couple of years, and I’d help write the annual musical. One year I helped the kids compose their own musical. It was cool because at the time I was closer in age to the students than I was to most of the faculty.

Howcast: What was your process in writing the Howcast children’s songs?

SM: I looked at what was out there and also thought about the stuff I liked as a kid, like Schoolhouse Rock! and The Letter People. I found a lot of the stuff today to be very safe and not very interesting. And one thing I learned from teaching children is that they are really just adults without the experience — they still want things that are interesting and cool and fun. So I thought, we could do these lukewarm, or we could just go weird with it and see what happens.

Howcast: Well, we’re glad you went weird. Because weird turned out really well.

SM: Thanks! I just saw the videos myself and I’m really happy. I made all of this music without knowing what the visuals would be, and it turned out that they were even better than what I had envisioned. That was the coolest thing.

Howcast: We do have one bone to pick with you, Steve. We really like the Animal Sounds song — so much so that now we can’t get it out of our head.

SM: You’re welcome.

– Rosemarie Lennon, Senior Writer

“Does My Butt Look Fat in This Swimsuit?” and Other Burning Questions: Q&A with Candace Draper, Canyon Beachwear Fit Expert

Don’t ask Candace Draper how you look in a bathing suit unless you want an honest answer. Her mission is to find the most flattering swimsuit for your body, not tell you what you want to hear. Brace yourself for some brutal truths from Candace in our Howcast swimwear video series and in our Q&A below.

Howcast: How was the shoot?

Candace Draper: Great! Though the models were a little taken aback when I began spraying hairspray on their bottoms. They didn’t know it’s an old pageant trick that keeps the bathing suit in place.

Howcast: What’s the biggest mistake women make when they’re shopping for a swimsuit?

CD: They walk in and ask for the bathing suit that they saw on a celebrity, like Kim Kardashian, but they have a completely different body type. Or they think that a big butt is going to look better covered up. No. A whole lot of Hawaiian print across a big bottom is not the answer. I tell them the half-and-half rule: Showing half skin and half suit is the most flattering look on everyone’s butt. You don’t want Grandma bottoms.

Howcast: Do most women have an accurate idea of what their body looks like?

CD: No. They often think they’re smaller than they really are, so I hear a lot of, “OMG, this suit can’t be a size 4!” Then they start blaming the way their body looks on our dressing room lighting. And I’m standing there thinking, “Do you not own a mirror?”

Howcast: What body area do women worry about most when they buy a bathing suit?

CD: It’s a cross between the butt and the tummy. With the butt, women want whatever they don’t have. Women with large bottoms want smaller ones, and women with flat butts want curvier ones. And nearly every woman has an issue with her stomach, including me. Whenever a customer comes in with a 6-pack, I want to say, “You can just help yourself. I can’t even look at you.”

Howcast: Is there one swimsuit style that flatters most women?

CD:  A one-piece can flatter anyone. La Blanca makes one called Solid As a Rock. It has a sweetheart neckline and rouching detail that’s great if you have a little tummy you want to hide. We’re always selling out of that one.

Howcast: Do you automatically “correct” women’s swimsuit problems in your head when you’re at the beach?

CD: I do!  Just last week I saw a very cute girl in a two-piece that didn’t suit her athletic build. I thought, “If only she had a bottom that tied at the sides, she’d look more curvy and feminine.”

Howcast: Is there anything you see at the beach that just makes you cringe?

CD: Women in suits that are either too small or too baggy. I always suggest that women get a bra fitting before swimsuit shopping, because so many just don’t know their correct size. They’ll say, “I’m a 36D,” and I know just by looking at them that they’re not. But they don’t want to hear it. I’ve actually ripped size tags off tops to get women to try them on.

Howcast: What can women do to make bathing suit shopping less painful?

CD: Get a spray tan before you go. Bring a pair of stilettos — they lift your calves and make your thighs look smaller. And play the Rocky theme in your head.

– Rosemarie L., Senior Writer

Buggin’ Out: Q&A with Entomologist Jeff White

Jeff White’s comfort level with bugs would probably skeeve most people out. Then again, most people don’t study bugs for a living. But even Jeff, Howcast’s pest-control expert, has had his share of close encounters of the skin-crawling kind.

Howcast: What was the shoot like? Were our director and producer afraid of getting fleas?

Jeff White: Yeah, many people who come to interview me expect Pig Pen of the bed bug world, with an infestation swirling around me. But they were fine.

Howcast: Is your family ever afraid you’ll bring work home with you?

JW: I actually did once. About 4 years ago I woke up with a bunch of bites on the back of my neck. I didn’t think much of it — I’d been working in my yard that day — but the next morning I woke up with another set of bites on my arm. Sure enough, I found a single bed bug under my mattress. I treated the whole house; my wife made it abundantly clear that I needed to take care of this now.

Howcast: What about travel? Has your job made you paranoid about picking up bed bugs in hotels?

JW: Not really. I travel so much that I can’t afford to be. But I do check the room and, in about 40 hotel stays over the past two years, I’ve found evidence of bed bug activity in two rooms and actual bed bugs in one. When I told the desk clerk that the room I’d been assigned had bed bugs, he said, “No, sir, there are no bed bugs in that room.” And I was like, “Listen guy, this is what I do for a living and I’d be more than happy to show them to you.” He gave me another room.

Howcast: We know people who won’t even go to the movies anymore because of bed bug reports.

JW: Here’s what I tell people: If you’re going to stop going to the movies because of bed bugs, you might as well stop going to work, too, and avoid all public transportation, because you can pick up a bed bug anywhere. But what’s really important to remember is this: There’s a really low chance that a bed bug is going to crawl onto you and stay there as you make your way home. If you’re really concerned about bringing bed bugs into your home, you can always take your clothes off in your garage or bathtub as soon as you get home and store them in a sealed plastic bag until you’re ready to wash them.

Howcast: What about stink bugs — are they the new bed bugs?

JW: They’re actually worse, because they pose a threat to agriculture. But a home infestation is merely annoying; stink bugs don’t bite or carry diseases. And the species that has made its way here from Asia isn’t one of the stinkier ones. They smell kind of like a bitter, sour version of Juicyfruit gum.

Howcast: Final question: If you had to choose between a home invasion of bed bugs, stink bugs, or roaches, which would you choose?

JW: Roaches. Because they’re the easiest of the three to get rid of.

Howcast: Who knew we’d live long enough in New York City to hear a good word about roaches?

– Rosemarie L., Senior Writer and Entomophobe



Give Her 5 Minutes in a Room with Taylor Swift: Q&A with Cari Cole, Vocal Coach and Artist Development Expert

Don’t worry — Cari doesn’t want to beat up Taylor Swift; she just wants to straighten out her singing. And, actually, she’d need a few years with her, since that’s how long it takes to turn someone into a technically proficient singer. You can get a head start by checking out Cari’s vocal exercises and singing lessons in our Howcast video series. Here’s some other advice Cari has for aspiring pop stars.

Howcast: What’s the biggest mistake aspiring singers make? 

Cari Cole: Not getting professional voice training. There’s a stigma about it; aspiring singers think they’re supposed to have a natural sound. But not getting professional training limits a person’s ability. It would be like an athlete not getting coaching.  What these beginners don’t understand is that vocal training won’t take away from their style; it just makes them a better technical singer.

Howcast: Can you teach anyone to carry a tune, or are some people hopeless?

CC: I think there are some people who have no sense of pitch and are not musically inclined, and they’re much more challenging to teach. But everyone can learn to sing on a basic level, just not necessarily on a professional one. Of course, there are people who aren’t great singers who become stars, like Bob Dylan and Neil Young. So having a great voice is not the only criteria for musical success, at least in the pop industry.

Howcast: What do you do when someone comes to you who is completely deluded about their singing talents?

CC: I just say this might not be the right thing for you, that it’s gonna take a lot of work — I stress a lot of work — and it may not be utilizing your strengths. But people have defied the odds many times. If Madonna had come to me years ago, I probably would have told her that she didn’t have a good singing voice. But Madonna is primarily an entertainer. And she’s built her voice over the years. Most people who are really good have had professional training for years and still go for coaching after they’ve made it. You can always improve your singing.

Howcast: You’ve worked with Courtney Love, among other famous singers. What was that like?

CC: I think she’s very much like people think she would be — highly skilled and creative but in another world. She does have a good voice. She’s not as good a technical singer, but she manages to really get those notes out.

Howcast: What are your thoughts on Auto-Tune?

CC: It’s like airbrushing in magazines. It’s become the standard — it’s now used on every record. The problem occurs when you rely on it to the point that you can’t stand up live, like Taylor Swift. That’s why I teach my singers to sing on pitch without it. I wish Taylor would come and work with me. She’s a great songwriter, but she hasn’t worked on her voice as much. I could completely turn her voice around.

Howcast: Would you like to be a singing competition judge, a la American Idol?

CC: Yes, I would.

Howcast: What kind of judge would you be: Simon Cowell or Paula Abdul?

CC: I’d be in the middle. I’m not bitchy and I’m really supportive, but I also have the technical expertise to be very specific and direct in my criticism to help singers make changes. They need to call me!

– Rosemarie L., Senior Writer

How to Learn Just About Anything — Anytime, Anywhere

Over the past 2 years, we’ve seen tremendous growth in our mobile suite of applications, with more than 3 million installs of our iPhone, iPad, Android, and BlackBerry apps. And in January, YouTube announced a whopping mobile stat: 200 million video views per day, up 3x from January 2010. Given these kinds of numbers, it’s clear that mobile devices will soon be the dominant way of viewing video.

Our first apps offered users the chance to search, browse, and watch all the how-to videos in Howcast’s library. But as we began to understand the enormous opportunity that mobile learning can provide, we realized that we could also offer a more customized experience for learning through targeted apps. After several months of brainstorming and development, we’re excited to show off our Guitar Lessons from Howcast iPad app. With over 140 video tutorials, Guitar Lessons provides the perfect foundation for mastering the instrument. From learning the proper way to hold and tune a guitar to conquering barre chords, Guitar Lessons from Howcast helps you learn with short, simple, clear videos taught by an expert instructor and progress tracking so you can see how far you’ve come.

Even more exciting, this is just the first in a series of mobile apps centered around specific topics. In addition to Guitar Lessons, we’ve launched apps on all sorts of subjects, including dating do’s and don’ts, mixology and bartending, and dieting tips to keep you fit. In the coming months, we’ll be bringing you even more! While these apps are only for the iPad right now, we’ll soon be rolling out a universal iOS app so that you can use it on both iPhone and iPad.

For more information about Guitar Lessons from Howcast as well as all our mobile apps, please visit our mobile app info page. We’d love for you to give all our apps a spin, and let us know what you think at [email protected]!

– Sanjay R., Cofounder, Chief Product Officer, and Mobile App Addict

John Popper Up Close and Personal: Behind our Series with the Harmonica Legend

My admiration for John Popper started back in the 1990s during my freshman year of college, when Blues Traveler represented the quintessential college band. Friends and I would sit on my dorm room floor, playing cards and listening to their album Travelers and Thieves on an endless loop. I can distinctly remember thinking, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I could meet John Popper and hang with him and the band?” At the time, I never could have dreamed I’d actually get that chance.

Seven years ago, my roommate spotted John Popper one night in New York. Of course, he’s pretty easy to recognize with his signature Stetson hat festooned with Hohner harmonicas and turquoise. He and my roommate became friends, and I was soon introduced to him too. I came to discover that John is cooler, funnier, wittier, and more charming than I could have imagined.

Ever since we opened our doors here at Howcast, I’ve wanted to work with John. So a few months ago, I finally picked up the phone and asked him to star in some videos about how to play the harmonica. The tough part, though, wasn’t getting him to say yes — it was getting him in one place long enough that we could shoot the series, since he’s always on the road.

In May, John was playing in Connecticut with his band the Duskray Troubadours, so we got our Howcast crew together and headed up there to shoot before the show. We had a ton of fun topics for John to tackle: how to play blues harmonica, survive a tour bus, record a solo album, and more — even how John got started himself! In true showman fashion, John was incredibly entertaining and informative, and we came away with some amazing videos. We hope you enjoy watching them as much as we did making them!

– Darlene L., Cofounder, Executive Producer, and President of John Popper’s Howcast Fan Club

The Green Mileage: YouTuber Shaycarl’s Eco-Odyssey with GE’s Tag Your Green Road Trip

When we began planning the GE Tag Your Green Road Trip, there was one person everyone agreed would be our #1 “get”: YouTube sensation Shaycarl. Luckily, he was crazy enough to sign up to host the web series, which took him around the country in search of cool green technology, from the innovative California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco and an engine in Wisconsin that converts cow poop to energy (heh, we said “poop”), to lightbulbs in Cleveland that last 22.8 years (yep, years). Shay’s suave charm even convinced megasuperduperstar James Blunt to join the madness in Episode 6 (coming July 13!), which also features the Shaytards, the 4 cutie-pie kids lucky enough to call the YouTube celeb “Dad.” Check out Shay’s insights below, and go to for more Tag Your Green fun.

Howcast: Did you learn anything from working on this series?

Shaycarl: Definitely. Green technology is here and now, not some distant future thing. And you don’t have to be a hippie that lives on top of a compost pile to make a difference. The little things make a difference.

Howcast: Did the series inspire you to make any changes at home?

Shaycarl: We went and changed to energy-efficient GE LED lightbulbs. I have 12 bulbs in my garage, and I put my wife on my shoulders because we didn’t have a ladder, and we went through and changed all the bulbs in the garage. Then we did the whole house. I get sick of changing lightbulbs — and these last so long!

Howcast: What was the coolest thing you learned about green technology?

Shaycarl: I was really impressed with the Jenbacher. It sounded almost too good to be true, to turn cow poop into electricity, but they’re actually doing it. And it’s really so simple. As far as the technology goes, that is the coolest thing that makes me excited for the future.

Howcast: You’ve got almost 1 million YouTube subscribers. What’s been their reaction?

Shaycarl: People have been excited. Thinking about stuff like this, people can expect it to be sort of boring, but my fans have said that this series is fun to watch. I’m like the next Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs.

Howcast: The Shaytards appear in the series too. Are they more aware of the environment now?

Shaycarl: Oh yeah, especially now that we moved to LA. In Idaho, we just recycled cans and milk jugs, stuff like that. Now we have 3 different bins in the kitchen. They’re definitely more aware of recycling for sure.

Howcast: James Blunt appears in Episode 6. What was it like meeting a famous singer?

Shaycarl: Actually, I wasn’t that familiar with his music beforehand. But now after seeing him in concert twice, I love it. There’s a moment [in the episode] where he’s pedaling all my family in a rickshaw through Central Park. That was hilarious!

Howcast: Did your kids know how famous he was?

Shaycarl: I’m not really sure. I mean, my daughter was speechless. James was doing an interview later, and he was like [imitates James’s English accent], “I met Babytard and she literally didn’t say one word. Not one word!”

– Bene C., Editorial Director