Hello 2017

Is it too late for resolutions? No, it’s never too late to set targets and lay down a path for goals.

Here’s mine as part of CN:

“What do I want to achieve this year? On tech front, I want to get this idea that’s been itching me off the ground, as in validated by business and users and start the fun part of building the damn thing. 

On photo front, I would love nothing more than stitch together a project with my photography partners in crime here in CN. And it’s not out of the realm of possibility holding another exhibit, or two! 

On the design front, I would love to collaborate and throw something up there again. I do know that when push comes to shove this item will come last unfortunately as I only have so much time. Trading this off guarantees I actually finish something and hopefully what I do complete meets my own personal expectations.

Would like to finish validation and start build by mid year for startup idea and would ideally like to have project or two done with an exhibition slated in the books.

Those are the goals. There’s nothing but hard work between now and midyear / end of year. But that’s a given for me, all I need is a window of opportunity.

I’ve been quite precise in what I want to do and I’ll make a point by putting a reminder up mid year to check on:

  • how I’m tracking with the startup front (with Suraj from CN) and
  • how we’re tracking with a new project in my fellow photographers.

I pretty much owe it to myself to set goals out there and track progress as there is nothing better than having that feeling of fulfilment.

Since I started the #gettheresolutionoutthere, I thought to ask the good guys at CN what goals they had for the year and they came back with this:

And we also have a few soon-to-be-published goals by the other guys:


“I would like to get back into my photography as lately I haven’t been doing it as much as I would have liked. With that, I would like to pimp my pics at some stage this year too.

Would love to get a new camera too — fingers crossed, Nikon releases a new full frame.

And I would also love to travel this year. Not sure where but hopefully by the end of the year.”


Goals? Finish my new book this year but at a minimum, get the draft out to my editor.


This year I would like to focus on improving my health and increasing physical fitness through yoga.

And at the time of writing, I’m still waiting for the rest of the crew to get back to me with theirs.

But no matter what comes back from the rest of the crew, here’s to everyone achieving what they set out to do this year and beyond!

This post first appeared in Medium from Perry from CN.

Old fashioned viral

We hopefully will stand up a physical shop in the local markets to meet as many passers-by as we can, in a bid to present, and hopefully, sell a few of our products. Going online viral is one thing — and it takes a considerable amount of effort to convert the casual visitor into sales.

But our strength in the CN community means that we can greet people with the good old fashioned handshake with a “hello, how are you”. This will hopefully be the difference in connecting with people; we want to grow viral locally first — then branch out.

Here’s what we’ll have.

Them Pups

Top of the list will be our dog design range of shirts, hoodies and caps. These adorable pups will not only make you feel comfortable and make you look hip, but they will also make you feel good knowing that sale proceeds will go to RSPCA NSW (yes, we are accredited).

We’ll have stock on site but we’ll also have a sign-up form to capture orders just in case.

CN Range

On the side we also have our own range of CN shirts and cap. Now the proceeds of these will go to the blood, sweat and tears of our own designers to fund any future initiatives.


What future initiatives? We have 2 of them already in development.

Photo exhibition

Our creative group actually started as an Instagram meetup and there are a few of us who enjoy taking pictures (some professionally).

Here’s a range of what we do:


We plan to have some of these snaps on display in the markets with a signup form, so we can alert everyone to our upcoming exhibition.

Startup Ipsum

Building software is no joke. It takes a ton of time and numerous iterations to find and work around all those kinks around the software. It makes it even harder when life takes majority of your time.

With all said, we are progressing through our Startup Ipsum initiative — which allows users to create their own content (copy and design) for their future website.



Note: We’ve redesigned the application. More details to follow.

We’ll also use the markets to spread the news by word of mouth, with alerts sent by email to those that have signed up.

Say hello to the crew

If you’re in Newtown area this Saturday, come down and say hello to the Collective Network crew. We’ll be more than happy to give you a high five and have a chat.


n.b. we’ll hopefully be receiving confirmation that we’re good to go for this Saturday by Wednesday. We’re excited!

#letsgo #helloworld #homeofcreatives

5 minutes with Matias the animal surfer

The 'Surf Animal' joins us in this edition of the people behind the Collective Network.

And this animal is none other than Matias, our resident animal advocate whose drive in helping animal shelters has inspired us to create our dog tees campaign.  

Let's hear all about his story in this edition of 5 minutes.


What are the earliest memories you had as a child?

I have a very vivid memory, I must have been 2 and a half years; I was in my bedroom (it was dark) and I was asking my mom for some milk (well more than asking - may be shouting).

I remember my mom walking in with a smile and giving me the milk bottle.

Awww. That's cute. Is one of your parents a software designer or developer? Or did you have a close family member that introduced you to development?

Nope, none of my family members are into the tech industry.

Oh really. So what were you good at as a kid?

I was kind of good (well, that’s what I thought at that time) at drawing, especially when doing cartoons or superheroes; I used to spend hours doing quietly drawing (and my parents were very happy with that).

I did some craftwork with clay, only modeling animals. 

Right. And so what was your first job?

I was a lifeguard; I was 19 years old and after 15 years swimming I decided to use my water skills to make some money.

I have to admit it was a great job, I met lots of fun people.


If you did not have to create a product or any work for a client, what would you be doing?

Back in my days of software designer, I would have created some application or system for my personal use.

Sounds like you enjoy doing development.

Yes, I do actually. I find it challenging and fun :)

Do you dabble in music? Do you listen to music when you do work?

Most definitely, I love to listen to music when doing any kind of work.

Sometimes I play all the music I have in shuffle mode, that’s like a roller coaster of music, memories and emotions, I love it!!


Who inspires you? Who should we follow?

People who is passionate about saving and protecting animals. I recommend to follow @Peta, @WWF_Tigers, @wildAid, @TakePart, @action4ifaw, @ASPCA,  @world_wildlife, @peta2, @WWF

Would you do anything else?

Yes I would like to help more animals and do some volunteer work in remote areas of the planet with wild animals

So what gets you out of bed?

Life itself!! I enjoy life a lot, every day a new thing might come up, so let’s make the most of it!

Is there something else that you would like us to tell about yourself that we haven’t touched on? 

I love water, I can spend hours in the water, surfing, swimming or diving; the ocean is such an amazing source of energy and life; feeling the power of a wave and the movement of the water is a unique experience.

It's very hard to describe the state of mind when I’m on it.

We sure feel the same way with the ocean. It is such an amazing, positive source of energy that's quite strong and calming at the same time. 

We also feel the cause that Matias is driving hard for - which is why all proceeds from our dog tee products go to a non-profit. Please help us, help them.

We'll see you shortly in our next edition of 5-minutes.


Making a better Lorem Ipsum

We are fans of Lorem Ipsum here at Collective Network.


HUGE fans like most of the people that use it. It is a great way to add some copy to quickly visualise a design during its initial stages.

The problem with Lorem Ipsum is that its value diminishes after those initial iterations when both client and designer have refined their work. What is actually required after this point is a better Lorem Ipsum.

A lorem ipsum generator that creates content, copy and design, based on a category. Wouldn’t it be nice if the tool would then generate a filtered list of content, helping the user’s focus during those crucial first steps?

And thus, this idea was born.

How it works

We have taken this idea and broke how to use such a tool in 3 simple steps:

  1. Select your category
  2. Generates the copy
  3. Add your design

As a user, you can then have a play around with your the results, by editing the copy, adding some more swag to the design, drag and dropping sections, adding / swapping / uploading your own images, adding icons and much more.

You can even save and download your work.

Let’s take a closer look.

Selecting a category

Use cases

The first challenge in designing a better Lorem Ipsum was its many uses. People use placeholder text to build just about any website, from travel to fitness, restaurants, photography, their own portfolios and multitude of others. A few will even use it as a play around when designing a section within their site, like their own blog.

The idea of adding a “category” to generate content specific to the category selected was then conceived.

Wouldn’t it be great if the tool was able to generate travel-specific content when the “travel” category, heading and/or paragraph was selected? Imagine the time and money it saves the user who might otherwise have to pay someone to write this all up.


Making it easier for the user should always be the top priority when designing a new product.

And who exactly will be using this tool?

Everyone from a product guy, designer, developer, sales & marketing professional, or simply anyone that has come up with an idea. A user can iterate through an initial idea easily without having to hand it off to a designer.
A designer can use the tool to quickly, before launching into Sketch, Photoshop or their design tool of choice.

Generating Copy

After selecting the category, the user can then select a heading and description — and the tool will automatically generate an accompanying heading and description for that category.


All heading and description copy relating to Travel will be generated when selected by the user.

Similarly, all copy relating to Health/Wellbeing/Fitness would be generated with the selection of “Fitness” category, and so on. We, therefore, added a story card on the board to build that core feature.

Design considerations

Now in our head, copy wasn’t enough; we also wanted some design elements in our tool to contextualise what the user is building.

A person reading a travel site might expect the content to also include photos, which could be a key selling point in such a site.

Based on the category, we then added a card up to generate placeholder pictures specific to that category. The user would, therefore, have the ability to select an image which would generate random photos. Some of these will be generated through stock photos from Unsplash, and others will be taken from our group of talented photographers! [note: There are a fair few photographers here in Collected Network.]


We also added the ability to swap photos in case the user was not satisfied with the random photograph generated.

And as an added bonus, the user can also have the ability to upload their own images should they chose.

Design? Why bother?

And why even bother with adding design with a copy based tool? Context.

What better way to visualise your design than with real images (particularly with your own photos!)

But copy is STILL king

We have followed the universally accepted ‘Copy is King’ approach by presenting the block for copy prior to selecting any design elements. This approach ensures that copy is the key focus when the user starts to use the tool.

It is fairly obvious to the user that when they select images, before they select copy, that the output might look a bit odd — unless, of course, if that is the effect they’re going for.

Other bits of functionality

Drag and drop sections

To ensure flexibility, we will also allow users to move sections in different areas. In the scenario where a user creates the following content:

H1: Travel Australia
P: Australia is a country, and continent, surrounded by the Indian and Pacific oceans..
H2: Sydney
P: Sydney, capital of New South Wales and one of Australia’s largest cities, is best known for its harbourfront Opera House, with a distinctive sail-like design..

The user should be able to move the H1 (heading) and accompanying P (paragraph) below H2 if they so choose. The added functionality allows the user to have a quick play before settling on a final design.


We will create avatars of random people with an accompanying description if the user selects on the people icon. This will enable users to contextualise their site with real people.

The people and descriptions will also change depending on the category.

For example, the people generated for the Travel website will be travellers with some tall travel tales as description text; whereas if the user selects photography category, the people images generated will change to that of photographers (with accompanying text once again).


As you would’ve guessed, hitting the blog icon will generate a random blog specific to the category. A travel category will generate a travel blog (if selected) just like a fitness category will generate a blog related to fitness and wellbeing.


Contextualising the content is once again the key to creating a succinct experience for the user. There is simply no better way to design a concept in your head than providing you, the user, with tools in context, of what you have selected in the category. The aim of the game is to make the users thoughts concrete (as much as we possibly can).


The output to all this is HTML for the copy and images will be exported via png files. We have also added a card for ‘copy to clipboard’ function.


The outputs from our Lorem Ipsum tool can then be used as inputs when the user builds their real website.

This is, in fact, the real benefit of the tool: It is the first stepto mocking up a website (or simply a design), for creatives, product types, designers, developers, marketing pros and anyone else out there who intends to create a site.

We have even included the traditional Lorem Ipsum text if the user so chooses. The tool is meant to be the first step in the design process — which is one of the reasons why we decided to call it “Startup Ipsum”.

Where to from here?

We are working hard behind the scenes building all the good stuff that comes with the tool; there are a few other features and surprises we haven’t even mentioned.

We would love to give you updates and absolutely welcome any feedback that you may have through our sign-up form. We’ll also do the rounds with meet-and-greets, predominantly here in sunny Sydney as well as promote our initiative through social media.

You, the user, are the key to letting us know what you would like to see in this tool. Let’s think outside the box and shape our first few steps in the design process together.

Feel free to reach out to us at any time.

Them Collective Rascals

This fabulous initiative is brought to you by the following#CollectiveNetwork rascals, specifically:

The handles: Perry CMark B and Suraj D.

Drop a ‘hey there’ or follow us on Collective Networks and through our own handles. We appreciate that :)