Tag Archives: NYC

2014 Vanguard Direct Scavenger Hunt

Another year, another Scavenger Hunt!

Vanguard Direct’s yearly celebration of New York City went off without a hitch! On October 23, fourteen teams embarked on the fourth annual VanScavenger Hunt.

This year’s hunt put a twist on the normal look and find employees have come to expect. Teams found an envelope with 16 clues, all ranked with points. They also found a list of extra items they could find on the hunt for additional points. Limited to a 2.5-hour time span, whoever came back on time with the most points won!

Once the clues were solved, a theme revealed itself. The hunters were going to some of the most haunted places in New York City! Running from the Chelsea Hotel to the Fraunces Tavern and everything in between, the game was on!

Check out some of the best photos from the Hunt, including some classic pictures from the Halloween Costume Contest on our Facebook page!


Author: Zack Smith


Mayor Bill de Blasio in Vanguard Direct Apparel

Mayor Bill de Blasio

The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s office turned to Vanguard Direct to facilitate a new paid sick leave law.

On July 16, 2014, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and 200 volunteers donned yellow t-shirts and handed out palm cards to promote the city’s new law. Under this law, those who work more than eighty hours a year may earn up to forty hours of sick leave to use on him or herself or to take care of a family member. Specifics were provided in 500,000 palm cards printed by Vanguard Direct. These cards were married with other products, including t-shirts, posters, ponchos, staplers and buttons.

The cards were printed on thirty percent post consumer recycled paper at a union shop. Afterward, 340,000 cards were shipped to six locations throughout the five boroughs. All informational material shipped was handed out the morning of July 16th.  To support the campaign, Vanguard Direct rushed over 75,000 of the 160,000 cards still located in its New Jersey warehouse. Volunteers received the material before it came time for the afternoon rush.

“Our sincere thanks to Vanguard Direct for your tremendous assistance with the City’s “Paid Sick Leave Day” … from the beautiful palm cards to T-shirts, buttons, posters, and rain ponchos (not to mention timely delivery of same), and for coordinating with us today to get even more materials to the public.” – Debra R. Halpin, NYC DCA

Workers may begin using this sick leave time on July 30, 2014.

Author: Jacyln Saumell

QR Codes – Mandate!

You have recently fallen in love. You do what all new couples do: watch movies, cook together, shop together, go out to eat…

How many times have you and your loved one browsed the streets, trying to find a great place to eat? In this economy we always try to get our money’s worth and at the same time prefer highly rated restaurants. Good food, a clean environment, great prices––this all matters. And the inspection grade posted on the window doesn’t always reveal enough information (at least if that grade is not an A).

How many times have the two of you walked around the city avoiding street sides or even blocks because of scaffolding, worrying about safety?

You love your partner so much that you want to get his name tattooed on your body. Think of all your friends who have picked a tattoo artist through word of mouth, without knowing whether the person has a real permit or not. That person may be great, but it’s important to feel safe, having trust based on credentials as well as artistic ability.

Let’s say you and your partner got married and have a beautiful girl together. Do you remember all those hours spent discussing your child’s day care center? You want to be able to go to work knowing your child is in good hands. A good feeling is not enough. You want to know that the day care provider is licensed for the job before leaving your baby with a stranger for the next eight hours.

Well, I have good news for anyone who has ever thought about these things: The New York City Council has approved a law (which will most likely take effect next fall) requiring every city agency that has inspection, permit, license, or registration information online to add QR codes, which link to more extensive information, to the physical documents that are posted in windows, at construction sites, etc. Agencies that do not post information online are obliged to do so by 2016. You’ll soon be able to learn a lot with just a quick phone scan.

Long live the smartphone!! Click here to read more. Thoughts?

Author: Marina Kaljaj

Two Vanguardians’ Reflections on 9-11

I was speaking to a colleague a few weeks ago, and we were remarking on how long she had been with Vanguard Direct. I knew exactly how long because she started on 9/10/01. We all know what followed next.

Eleven years ago, Vanguard Direct was located at 90 West Street.

A block south of the World Trade Center, we faced the North Tower, the first building to be hit by the passenger jetliner. Rita was on her way to work, and it was her second day. She was lugging her books of paper and production samples in a shopping bag.

As she approached 90 West Street, she heard a very large bang and could not determine where the noise came from. As she passed a firehouse, she was rushed inside by a fireman. At that point, no one had any idea what was going on except that we all thought a commuter plane had hit the tower. The fireman told her to go into the basement. After spending some time in the firehouse, she left because she had to get to work.

When she left the firehouse, it looked like the world had come to an end. There was debris everywhere––plane seats, paper, and a foot in the middle of the street, etc., etc.

As she entered our building, she saw Millie, her supervisor, as we were being evacuated from the building. During the time Rita was in the firehouse, the fuel from the first plane had exploded. Everyone who was not facing the north side of the building really had no idea what had happened. It was nineteen minutes later when the fuel exploded that everyone realized something major had gone wrong.

As we evacuated the building, we were herded south away from the Trade Towers toward Battery Park. We were slowly realizing this was a major deal. At this point, Rita and I had not been formally introduced. We all broke off in groups––I was among the Midtown commuter train group bound for Penn Station and Grand Central.

We started our trek uptown. Manhattan is a very big island, and the walk took two and a half hours. This story is like many others, and it is about ordinary people stepping out of the box. As we were walking uptown and realized we were thirsty, a store owner dragged out water for sale. Now he could have charged whatever, but it was the standard $1.00. Then someone in our group mentioned she could use a restroom. All of a sudden, a doorman from a building who was standing on the street invited anyone who needed it to use his restroom (not glamorous but much needed) and also allowed us to use the phone!!! (All cell phones downtown were not working.) As we stood on line, the TV was on, and that was when we as a group realized we were under attack.

We continued our journey uptown to Grand Central. For the most part, people were calm. By the time we reached Midtown, it was almost surreal––people were working, stores were open. We stopped at a deli for lunch. But things were far from normal. A van had its doors open blasting the news. People huddled around to get the latest updates.

When we reached Grand Central, it became very apparent there were no trains leaving anytime soon. We decided to get a cab up to 125th Street, where trains were rumored to be leaving from. The subways were not running, so it was our only option. One of the people from our group managed to grab a cab. Two of our group got in the front seat, and Rita and I were headed toward the back seat when two strangers jumped in our cab. On any other day, you would have called the police, but not today. They were scared, and so off went the cab, and there we were––Rita and I standing and wondering what to do next.

I suggested we head over to the West Side, thinking maybe we would have more luck catching a cab there. Rita said, “I have an idea,” and said she would ask a passing car for a ride. We looked at the first car and thought better of it, and then there was a late-model Saab from Connecticut covered with ash. Rita gently knocked on the window. The man rolled down his window, and Rita explained we just walked up from 90 West Street and that we were just trying to get uptown. He said he was going to Connecticut, to which Rita replied, “That’s even better.” He immediately invited us into his car. He expressed feeling guilty about driving in an empty car with so many people walking uptown. Rita explained that she lived in the Bronx, and the man said he would take us home but just had to stop by his apartment in Manhattan to get his cats and his wife’s medication. He was headed to their weekend home until the dust settled, as it were. We could not believe our luck. He took us up to his West Side apartment and let us use the phone and offered us food. Then with cats in tow (I am allergic to cats but would have carried them on my lap at that point, which I practically had to do), we headed up to the Bronx. He turned out to be an attorney––I cannot remember what his wife did. Then we were driven to the Bronx, safe from the mayhem in Manhattan. We passed a church, and I asked Rita if we could stop in. Although neither of us are Catholic, we said a prayer of thanks for our safety.

Then Rita, having only just met me, invited me into her home to wait until my father came to pick me up. I sat in her home while she baked me cookies. The neighbors came over to make sure Rita was OK. She was not even sure of my name but remembered correctly it was Chuck.

We were going through our lives, spending time with family, going to work––sometimes not appreciating what we had, taking things for granted––when this happened. You would never imagine that in NYC in the USA that we would ever get caught up in a major terrorist attack. People all around us rose to the occasion. Rita and I were swept up by a perfect stranger and delivered home.

Author: Chuck MacGill, Rita Orphanos

Turning the Tech Tide: New York’s Ten-Year Plan

The Bay Area has long been known for its stunning ocean views and its dominance as the home of tech start-ups and worldwide technological leaders such as Apple, Google, and Facebook. The area’s leadership role, innovations, and share of the market surpass any other geographical area of its size. With hundreds of tech companies based in coastal California, to suggest that there could be a coup d’état would be preposterous to some, but you need only the facts and forward thinking to see the change in the tide.

A recent article on the Huffington Post notes that tech start-ups have been popping up on a different coast. Whether it’s because of the already heavily populated Bay Area and a lack of vacancy along the Pacific Coast Highway or a preference for the Big Apple, California has some serious competition. New York City, historically known for its “this is where dreams come true” atmosphere, is welcoming savvy developers and engineers by the baker’s dozen. In the past four years, nearly 500 start-ups have planted roots in Manhattan, making this multi-industry city that much more diverse.

With 500 new companies and a surge in members for NY Tech Meetup (an organization that supports the growing NY tech community) from 7,500 in 2008 to the current 25,000, one can only imagine the momentum and power that the East Coast “concrete jungle” is acquiring. Taking those numbers into consideration, we can see that location means everything.

What do the city and surrounding boroughs have that the Bay Area doesn’t? Hundreds of blocks of companies, grasping to attain a digital presence, all located next to the developers and engineers pitching tents. How can the Bay Area compete with “For Rent” signs that are next door to Fortune 500 Companies?

Companies like Vanguard Direct not only have the creative gusto to plan, create, and execute entire marketing strategies, but also boast the personnel to develop digital solutions. The merger of developers and tech start-ups with the creative talent that flocks to New York to be a part of the advertising scene is the final stroke. Thanks to New York’s newest residents, companies in many industries will now have direct accessibility to creative and marketing strategies that have been conceptualized for a digital platform.

This acquisition is part of a bigger picture for New York City––Mayor Bloomberg himself has tweeted on several occasions that tech start-ups are welcome here. His commitment to increasing the city’s industrial dominance shows that the thousands who flock to New York aren’t alone in their pursuit of their dreams. The city has dreams of its own, and has just added overthrowing the Bay Area’s long reign as Tech King to its ten-year plan.

Author: Elizabeth Zouzal

Vanguardian Crashes Engadget NYC Reader Meetup

On Thursday, August 25, I raced from our office across town to attend tech blog Engadget’s NYC Reader Meetup. This open-to-the-public mobile communications event was scheduled for 6:30 pm at Gustavino’s, an elegant steel and glass meeting space built into the stone foundation of the Queensboro Bridge ––known to locals and 60s pop-culture fans (see Simon & Garfunkel: “Feelin’ Groovy”) as the “59th Street Bridge.”

When I arrived at 5:45, a line of mostly 20- and 30-something techies stretched around the corner onto First Avenue, under the bridge, and onto the next block. For those in line, texting and tweeting was, of course, the order of the day. Doors opened on time, and getting in was far more orderly and friendly than at the average music show or sports event.

Once inside, I found both floors dismayingly jammed—a condition that waxed to the extreme as time passed. But we’re used to crowds in New York, and I soldiered on, bellying up to various bars to ask questions about and briefly caress dozens of smartphones and tablets. Most of the major players, including AT&T, Samsung, HTC, Motorola, and RIM (BlackBerry) were in the house. Other exhibitors included: AC Gears, a Japan-based retailer of headphones and other mobile accessories; set-top media server maker Boxee; and Cadence, makers of the geek-chic 4-Bit Chrono Watch. Amidst the hubbub, two well-lit graffiti artists were for some reason creating a mural in real time, dispensing toxic paint fumes as they worked.

A tantalizing alcove into which I wandered turned out to host a popular, multi-outlet recharging station—essential with all the power-hungry devices in the house.

Steam tables and wandering, tray-bearing caterers supplied a better-than-average offering of complimentary food, including tiny “slider” burgers, chicken potpies, mac and cheese, and small squares of assorted diet transgressions. Several watering holes dispensed soda and juice. Skipping the alcohol option, whatever Engadget’s reason, helped keep the crowd just this side of surly-mob-hood.

Astute readers may be wondering: Where was the 700-pound gorilla on the mobile electronic scene, aka Apple Inc? It was absent and—sorry, fanboys and girls—not especially missed. RIM notwithstanding, this event was by and large a celebration of all things Android. I briefly wondered whether Apple’s absence might be due to lingering bad feelings over Engadget’s involvement, along with rival blog Gizmodo, in the affair of the iPhone 4 prototype left in a Redwood City bar by hapless Apple employee Gray Powell. But then I considered the balancing absence of Microsoft, together with a lack of direct presence by Google, and decided it was all good.

I’m more or less in the market for a phone to replace my one year+ ancient HTC EVO 4G, and a highlight for me among the many candidates on hand was the Motorola Photon—carried, like the EVO, by Sprint. Event swag, in my case, amounted to a couple of branded stress balls and a pair of cheap shades. But I didn’t stick around for the last two or three on-the-hour raffles and may have missed winning something that way. Apparently, the raffle did not include the way-desirable, all-electric Mini Cooper parked out front. I felt better about cutting out early after finding that out.

Everything displayed is currently available, and it occurred to me that one could try out nearly all of it in a much more relaxed milieu by visiting Best Buy, or even one’s chosen phone store, at an off-hour time of day. Admittedly, minus the “tribal gathering” vibe, many attendees no doubt enjoyed the Meetup at Gustavino’s. The product representatives didn’t seem able, or at liberty, to share any juicy factoids or prognostications that aren’t generally available. When I asked the otherwise friendly, helpful Motorola rep about a possible path forward for currently floundering Google TV via Motorola set-top boxes, he shrugged and said, “I get those kinds of rumors the same place as you … Engadget!”

Author: John Wehmeyer

Will Low Image Quality Destroy High-Quality Printing?

On February 17, Rachel Sterne, the newly appointed Chief Digital Officer for the City of New York, re-tweeted a post on the promotion of several EMS members. In her desire to share the event with her throngs of social media followers, she also re-tweeted a photo of the event on stage.

Photo Quality from a Blackberry Tour
Note the image quality from the picture taker’s BlackBerry Tour. Just like most people’s smartphones, the camera was probably covered with dust, pocket lint, and grime from daily use, which resulted in the out-of-focus image shared by Sterne. Sharing the image is great, good PR and all, but it undermines the public’s expectation of high-quality images.

Photography in the early twentieth century was nothing compared to what technology and digital image sensors can do today. Early photographic lenses, camera technology, and image-capture methods could only produce soft, poorly sharpened, grainy images. Film grain does add an aesthetic quality to early images that is difficult to reproduce with digital image sensors, but there’s no contest between an old image and a professional digital photo.

Traditional photographic printing technology, using chemical or silver-based processes, was designed to create a continuous-tone image where the human eye cannot discern the grain or image pattern. Halftone printing systems were created to mimic that continuous-tone process using a series of aligned dots separated by four printed ink colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black). Using the weakness of the human eye, the halftone system can achieve pseudo-continuous tone with a sufficiently resolved image (300 dpi) and properly executed print quality (line screen, screen angle, dot uniformity, registration). This is the high-quality printing that has existed for the last 30–40 years and was printed on modern presses using the four-color printing process (CMYK).

As the media “publish” more and more low-quality cell phone images, the expectation of quality will be diluted. High-resolution, sharp, well-composed images will become the exception, not the norm, and high-quality printing will no longer be required. The printing industry has invested huge amounts of cash over the past twenty years developing digital imaging technology––primarily ink-jet and electro-photographic technologies––that can mimic continuous tone. Sure, printers can print low-quality, pixelated images just as easily as they can high-resolution images, but as a graphic arts professional trained to identify those low-quality images, I must object.

How can we stop high-quality image annihilation?

Destroy all low-quality image sensors worldwide. Not a viable option unfortunately, but if it were, I would eliminate a few typefaces as well.

What do you think? How can we stop the slaying of high-quality images?

Author: John Carew