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Okay. So the world is a pretty busy, noisy, chaotic place and we are all out here trying to do our best, right? Sometimes, don’t you want to just filter out all the noise and focus on something cool, informative, uplifting, or fun? I think we could all use that from time to time. Well, don’t you worry, because Helix House is here to deliver on just that.

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The inspiration for this recurring blog series comes from one brilliant man – our cultural spirit guide, Garth Brooks. We will let Garth speak for us when it comes to the types of stuff you can expect to see posted here:

Thanks, Garth, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. As always, your concision, insight, and attitude are greatly, greatly appreciated. So there you go. Welcome to your monthly port in the storm, a bastion for cool stuff, neat stuff, and of course, slick stuff.

Of course, we are a digital advertising agency, so our perception of what is cool might be just a little skewed. Would your average, everyday person on the street think that a brand new performance reporting tool offered in Google Search Console is just about the coolest thing since CD mixtapes?

Probably not.

Not the sort of unabashed uncoolness of say, a diehard Nickelback fan wearing frayed, homemade cut-off jeans. No. More likely they’d regard us with the type of benign disregard typically reserved for cocktail party conversations with bird watching enthusiasts. (Sidenote: we think birdwatching is pretty freaking cool, we have a pigeon nest outside our office window! Two eggs!)

But that won’t stop us for sharing what we think is the coolest stuff out there on SEO, development, design, digital advertising, A/B testing, and social media along with anything that piques our interest on the topics of science, culture, news, SPACE, art, music, and more.

So without further ado, let’s jump into our inaugural 5 cool things.  

Here is a quick peek behind the scenes at operations here at Helix House – we tend to be extremely busy. For that reason, we have to be quite productive with our time. We work in a busy, open office which can, at times, pose a challenge to individual productivity. For that reason, everyone has their own little techniques for locking in on a task at hand or getting into a creative mindset.

For me, music is incredibly important for both productivity and creativity. It helps me block out distractions and enter a head-space where I can focus on thinking and accomplishing the job in front of me.

Of course, the type of music I listen to is very important as well. Lyrics can be distracting. The typical rising and falling action of the standard verse/chorus/verse/chorus song structure can worm its way into your body as an almost physical distraction. Luckily, there is a genre of music that eliminates these elements almost entirely. Enter, the world of lofi hip-hop and the streaming channel ChilledCow.

Lofi hip-hop is a stripped-down genre of music that combines down tempo hip-hop beats with jazz-adjacent instrumentation to create relaxing, nostalgia inducing soundscapes that remind one of quiet, grey afternoons spent indoors as kid watching rain softly patter down outside the window.

The ChilledCow Youtube stations streams lofi hip-hop 24/7, 365. The channel is even labeled with the tag “beats to study to”. Give it a listen next time you have a big project to tackle. Pair it with a cup of coffee on an early morning in the office before the crowds arrive, and you really got yourself a vibe going on.

Beyond the music, there is one other exceptional thing about the ChilledCow station. There is a chat room. And there are people. As I write this blog the station has 12,930 concurrent listeners from all over the world. Now normally, when you allow anyone on the internet to communicate with anyone else, utter horror ensues. However, the ChilledCow chat room is often an exception. For whatever reason, the chat almost always trends towards positivity, connection, and genuinely pleasant messaging. Check it out sometimes. Of course, now that I have guided you there, I’m sure the next messages are going to be unspeakably horrible. I’m sorry. Life is a gamble guys.

2. New SERP Feature – Favicons!!

It’s finally happening. The moment you’ve all been waiting for. Favicons are coming to Google SERPs. But wait, you ask? What is SERP? What is a favicon? What is a Google?!

We are here to answer! And also to explain why we think all of this is pretty dang cool. Working in reverse order, here are your answers.

  1. Google is the most successful successor to the legendary website AskJeeves.
  2. A favicon is a branded icon attached to a website. You can think of it like it little internet logo for your business. They help your company stand out online while establishing familiarity with your customers and website visitors. 
  3. SERP stands for search engine results pages. Whenever you enter a query into a search engine such as Google, a page of results is returned to you. This is the first of many pages. An SERP could include ads, organic listings, maps, news, products, FAQs, or any number of other elements. It all depends on your search query!

So what does all of this mean together? It’s pretty simple! In the near future, you are going to see favicons located at the top left of a website’s listing on a search engine results page. You can expect it to look something like this:

This is exciting for us in the digital advertising world because it gives us one more opportunity to help our clients shine. How do we know this is going to give our clients in particular an edge? Easy – for many of them, we created their branding and their favicons. We know they are awesome. We know they stand out. We know they are better than the competition. And we know that this is going to help them get more clicks than their competitors. Pretty cool indeed.

  1. James Holzhaur, Jeopardy Excellence, and Philanthropy

James Holzhaur is having the time of his life – to the tune of $1,939,027.  For those who have not been paying attention, Holzhaur is currently on an incredible Mickey Mantel-like run of 26 wins and counting on the iconic game show, Jeopardy. This run is historic. To put it in context, Holzhaur is now the second winningest Jeopardy contest of all time, second to only the legendary Ken Jennings who wracked up 74(!!!) straight victories.

Holzhaur, who is a professional gambler from Las Vegas, Nevada, is playing a crafty, strategic game that maximizes his odds of winning every time the cameras turn on. He has also ruffled many rather snobby feather for what some believe is an overly showy and cocksure performance on stage.

Personally, I think if you are as good as he is, you’ve earned the right to be confident and even showboat a bit (Jeopardy-level showboating is like, smiling too much, we aren’t talking about anything crazy here). Most importantly, Holzhaur gets questions right. His critics may decry his strategy, but at the end of the day, he has to get things right if he is going to keep winning. And that’s just what he does, night in and night out.

Holzhaur isn’t keeping all of this newfound wealth for himself. Recently, he and his wife donated $10,000 to Project 150 which provides resources to disadvantaged and homeless students in the Las Vegas area. This follows a prior $10,000 donation to the Las Vegas Natural History Museum.

  1. Associated Crafts & Willet Hauser

We work with a client by the name of Associated Crafts & Willet Hauser. They are the largest stained glass company in the United States with an incredible and storied history that stretches back more than 120 years! The more time we spend working with them, the more fascinated we become with what they do.  

There is a lot that is really cool about Associated Crafts & Willet Hauser, starting with their work which is gorgeous, jaw-dropping, and awe-inspiring. In addition to designing and creating new stained glass windows, Associated Crafts & Willet Hauser are leaders in restoring and preserving stained glass. In this role, they are protectors of America’s stained glass heritage.

One of the neatest things about them is that their studio houses a collection of nearly 900 unique individual glass colors, many of which are rare and date back to the early to mid-20th century.

To learn more about Associated Crafts & Willet Hauser, I invite you to check out their Facebook page. In a few weeks, they are also going to have a brand new, beautiful website courtesy of Helix House. We can’t wait!

  1. Widespread Public Discourse on Genre fiction    

Have you guys ever heard of Game of Thrones? You know, the modestly successful HBO series based on novels written by prolific TV producer, George R.R. Martin (Editor’s Note: How dare you?) ?

Well, the series wrapped up this Sunday after an 8 season, 73 episode run which should have been more like… 10 seasons, 100 episodes. ANYWAY.

Game of Thrones concludes as one of the most popular television shows in history. The fact that the show achieved such mainstream, water-cooler-conversation success is an incredible accomplishment. Over the last 2 months, you couldn’t go anywhere, from the coffee shop to Twitter to family dinner, without bumping into people talking about GoT.

Shared, monoculture events like this are rare and valuable. They bring people together, cultivate a sense of community, and create shared investment. Without getting too philosophical, these are things we could really use in an increasingly divisive society.

What we find particularly cool about the shared investment and discourse surrounding GoT, are the types of conversations people have been having online and in the real world. It has gone beyond, “Dude that dragon was dope”, and “Woah, that fight was crazy”.

Instead, people are talking things like whether character beats were truly earned, if storytelling decisions were justified, or what the in-world consequences of a specific moment were.

These questions transcend the everyday back-and-forth of “did you see what happened?” and instead dive into meta narrative and approach literary criticism. Coolest of all is that we are having these mainstream conversations about a fantasy show based on fantasy literature with freaking magical dragons.

You can only have those conversations when people really care and have a real understanding of the characters and the story. As a book reader, I was disliked how the last two seasons were handled. But that feeling was rooted in a deep love for the story, the characters, and the world that we had spent so much time with. At the end of the day, the ending doesn’t discount the journey. One of the best parts of the journey was talking about it with others.

 

 

Nathan Rea
Nathan Rea
Nathan Rea, the lead copywriter at Helix House, is an Arizona native and a graduate from the University of Arizona in Tucson. With a B.A. in English Literature, he is wildly passionate about reading, writing, and boring his friends by talking Cormac McCarthy. He loves writing about the intersection between marketing, culture, technology, and business development. In his free time, he hikes, rock climbs, eats (a lot), and goes to just about every live music event in town.