Bob de Leon: RIP

I’ll tell ya right now, this is not my typical blog post. Yet, it’s one I feel compelled to write and share. I wish, though, I didn’t have to do so.

The Houston Creative Community lost a good and talented designer and thinker last week in Bob de Leon. I lost a good friend.

Bob de LeoonHe was way too young to leave us, but, then, we didn’t have much to say about the departure date. Thank God he did not suffer or linger. As I understand it, from attending his memorial service yesterday, he was home alone, quietly sitting in a chair. Then, his time came and he was escorted up that VIP Staircase.

I’ve known Bob for bunches of years – we shared several in-depth phone conversations, chased that little white ball around the golf course a few times, and generally pushed each other to do better when it came time to deliver creative that would make a difference. He was, and probably still is, quite passionate about the world of advertising and creativity’s role in it. He also had little patience for those who didn’t share his beliefs (clients).

It was to this end that he joined with me and others in getting Only in Houston (OiH) on the right path in its formative years. Born out of the American Advertising Federation Houston, OiH’s guiding light was, and still is to a large degree, to promote the talent and creativity here in Houston, Texas, in a way so compelling that clients would not need to look (or spend) elsewhere for top notch creative for their advertising and marketing needs. Yeah, we were all pretty passionate about that.

But Bob conveyed his passion in a quiet, somewhat subdued manner. He was not the “rah-rah cheerleader” type. He didn’t need to be. Once you were in a conversation with him, his passion would sink into your inner depths, whether you believed him or not. He was a gentle persuader. And he always had the data to back it up.

His approach brings to mind the old ad slogan: “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen”. We need more people like Bob in our profession!

Throughout his career, he maintained the respect of his clients and peers. He was thorough in his approach to solving the problem and very detailed oriented when developing the designs that would accompany his thoughts. He wasn’t just into “pretty pictures;” they had to serve a purpose. That’s a mark of a seasoned designer, a creative thinker.

Though I never flew with him, Bob was an avid flyer of sailplanes (gliders, those without engines) and loved participating in competitions across the country. He was also very dedicated (again, the passion) to his work with prison ministries and had been serving in this capacity for several years.

Quoting from a poem written by an American aviator and poet, John Gillespie Magee, Jr., that was read at the service yesterday, this sounds like something Bob would have had on display in his cockpit (I don’t know that he didn’t):

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue,

I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.

Where never lark, or ever eagle flew –

And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod

The high untrespassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

I think that happened last week when he was taken home. Bob, we miss you. Peaceful travels, my friend.


Behance vs SoundCloud: One Listens, One Doesn’t

The average user of software can easily get mired in technical problems. When one finds an understanding and knowledgeable person in tech support, one feels major relief. Especially when the problem gets fixed.

However, when we come across an issue that’s perplexing even to tech support, our frustration heightens; patience goes poof.

I recently encountered this when trying to embed an audio file from SoundCloud onto my Behance ProSite portfolio gallery. It actually sounds more difficult than it was. I had successfully performed this feat and enjoyed the fruits of my labor while listening to my audio file in both FireFox and Chrome browsers. However, Safari wasn’t wanting to play along. Being on a Mac, this simply won’t do.

Behance logo

After messaging tech support at Behance several times (very good and insightful folks over there), they were finally able to re-create the error message I kept getting, and contacted SoundCloud on my behalf for input. Eventually, SoundCloud responded that I should go into the “advanced” section of Safari Preferences and un-check a particular box, which may have even been checked by default.

I’m not an average user when it comes to certain software. However, even I wouldn’t have known to go playing around in anything “advanced” unless I knew what I was supposed to do. The average user sure as heck wouldn’t even think about this. And it’s not our responsibility to do so!

SoundCloud logo

SoundCloud, in this instance, knew there was a problem. This embed issue had even been brought to their attention by other Safari users, according to what the Behance tech support told me. Yet, SoundCloud didn’t even post an alert or notice on their site to let users of the Safari browser know there’s a problem and here’s a possible fix.

They should have been more proactive, especially since they already had feedback. Like some other software companies, they chose not to do so. Way to treat your customers, SoundCloud!

As consumers, we have a choice of with whom we will play or with whose services and products we will use. It’s unfortunate that some companies seem to be focused on what they deem are more pressing consumer issues (some may be) like new and improved features; yet these firms may be ignoring a basic flaw in their product or service which would undermine whatever other goodwill they may be gaining. They either just don’t get it or they don’t want to get it.

Tech problems are not created equal; neither is tech support. Let the “buyer” beware, even if it is a free service.