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    Russell Viers is a Transition Expert in the publishing world. Since 1997 he has helped newspapers and magazines adapt to changes in the industry. Read more...

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  • Archive for the ‘Stuff’ Category

    iVend

    Monday, March 26th, 2007

    I was walking through the Dallas airport yesterday and noticed a vending machine for iPods and accessories. I walked over and checked it out. It had all the goodies: video iPods, Shuffles, Nanos and various cases, cords, etc.
    My first thought was that I don’t have enough quarters for the 80 gig video version, and even if I did, would I have enough time to drop all 1,396 of them into the slot. That’s when I noticed that Apple had the foresight to put a credit card reader in the machine.
    My second thought was of the bag of M&Ms I didn’t get the day before from one of these darn machines.
    I can just picture myself shaking it, screaming at it to “give me my iPod…give it to me now!!!” …repeatedly pushing the Coin Return button…sticking my finger in the hole over and over just to see. Shaking it and yelling at it some more “You piece of crap vending machine from hell…give me my $349 iPod.”
    Wouldn’t be funny if the iPod was $349 but they added $9.95 for shipping and handling…that’s an expensive drop.
    They’ll vend anything, these days. I’ve seen Ice cream, phone cards, personal hygiene products, baseball cards, candy, drinks and Motorola phones.
    I think they should have a machine to vend small domestic animals…Vend-A-Pet. Of course the fish would have to be on the bottom row, so the tanks don’t break when they drop out of the little spiral holder thing. It would also make sense to put the cats on top, as it is well documented that cats have an incredible ability to land safely from very high altitudes. Also in there would be puppies, turtles, snakes and ferrets all looking cute behind the glass, begging for freedom.
    I do believe that the behavior of a vending machine is directly driven by your Karma. Good karma = treat, bad karma = tough titty, no M&Ms for you, pal. If I ever get ripped off by a machine, the first thing I do is look internally. I go inside myself and examine my behavior over the past 24 hours and I reflect on the cars I cut off trying to exit the freeway, elderly people I didn’t help across the street or not feeling sorry for Anna Nichol Smith and her mess of a life the world seems so interested in. I don’t feel sorry for Phil Spectre, either.
    So, before I ever approach an iPod vend-o-matic and pump in 350 smackers, I better have behaved like a cub scout the week before.

    Announcement? CS3?

    Friday, March 16th, 2007

    Adobe blew it.
    They made the big announcement about the announcement March 27th about the release of Creative Suite 3 this Spring…I’m sure you’ve all read or heard about it.
    If not, check it out: Adobe Creative Suite 3 To Be Announced March 27th
    I think they should have milked it a bit more…created even more buzz.
    They should have come out on March 5, when they posted this to the their blog, and said “We will have a major announcement next Thursday.
    Buzz, buzz, buzz…
    On Thursday, make an announcement like “Thank you for coming, we would like to announce that after much discussion, Adobe will not be including a new version of PageMaker in the next generation Creative Suite, whenever it may or may not be released…good day.”
    Buzz, buzz, buzz…
    Then announce another major announcement for the following Tuesday.
    When Tuesday rolls around: “Adobe has the luxury of choosing between three fine web page creation applications to be bundled with Creative Suite 3Dreamweaver, GoLive or a newly reworked PageMill. We are not at liberty to release our decision at this time, nor are we confirming or denying that there will, in fact, be a Creative Suite 3 in the near future, or that it will, in fact, be named Creative Suite 3. Thank you for coming.”
    Keep this going for a few good weeks, announcing possible intentions of Adobe Streamline X for OSX, a rebirth of Dimensions Elements and LiveMotion Pro or possibly TypeTwister for Flash. The list could go on and on to include ImageStyler 3D and ATM Super Deluxe, which is both a font manager and a cash machine.
    Then, just when the entire design world is going insane with discussion, announce Creative Suite 3 which will run on Windows Vista, Mac Intels and Commodore 64s.
    Announce a Spring delivery…but don’t promise which year.

    What’s in the Box?

    Monday, March 5th, 2007

    If you haven’t seen it, yet, there is an Adobe commercial/video on YouTube that is a teaser of something on the horizon. You can also see the corresponding spinning box webpage at http://www.whatisinthebox.co.uk/. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Take a break, check it out, then come back…I’ll wait.
    Humm…Hmmm…dumm…dee…dum…
    Okay, sooooo whadayathink?
    Obviously there is an attempt to create interest in something that may happen with Adobe in the near future, but what, you may ask.
    They’ve been saying for a long time that we’ll see Creative Suite 3 this Spring. However, according to Wikipedia
    Astronomically, some Western countries consider spring to begin with the vernal equinox (around March 20 in the Northern Hemisphere, and September 23 in the Southern Hemisphere), and ends with the summer solstice (around June 21 in the Northern Hemisphere and December 21 in the Southern Hemisphere). Such conventions are by no means universal, however. In Chinese astronomy, for example, the vernal equinox instead marks the middle of spring, which begins around the time of Lichun (around February 4). In the Irish Calendar it is counted as the whole months of February, March and April. In meteorology, it is (also by convention) instead counted as the whole months of March, April, and May in the Northern Hemisphere and September, October, and November in the Southern Hemisphere.
    So this doesn’t really tell us when to expect CS3.
    But if I put the two together, Spring + goofy video of people playing with glowing boxes, we start to put the pieces of the riddle together. And perhaps it’s safe to say we might soon hear and see something exciting from Adobe regarding Creative Suite 3.
    Or maybe they bought Quark.
    So, out of curiosity, what do you think is in the box?

    Watching the Clock

    Saturday, February 24th, 2007

    Have you ever done things the hard way?
    You know, like the project where the customer wanted extra space between paragraphs, so you put in an extra hard return after each? The when the customer wanted a little less space, so you went in and selected the returns and dropped the leading…line… by line… by line… for over an hour. Then when you showed the proof, they asked for a little MORE space.
    Then you discovered the Space Before/Space After feature…ouch!
    Or remember discovering Style Sheets AFTER you completed the 120 page directory with last names and phone number in bold…and the customer changed their minds on fonts 53 times?
    Oh, the pain.
    But what about the people who do these things on purpose?
    I was at a publishing company once and help one of the employees set up a way to automate a lot of the card creation, only to go back a month later and he wasn’t using it. He said “Well, I wasn’t getting in my 40 hours, so I just went back to the old way.”
    Go figure.
    Have are you guilty of using the Delete Anchor Point Tool in Illustrator to get rid of all those extra points on a path instead of Object> Path> Simplify, the whole time watching the clock for five o’clock to roll around?
    So, whether you have a war story of how you USED to do things the slow way or a technique on doing things the slow way just to get in the hours, please let us hear them. Or, you may have a slow technique to share just to be stupid…we welcome that, too.
    If we use your suggestion or story in a podcast or cartoon, we’ll send you a free Deadlines Suck! T-shirt… and who doesn’t want one of these?
    C’mon… I know you all have some great submissions. If you are too shy to post, feel free to email the story to me and I’ll post it for you, under an assumed name. Or you can start your post with “I have a friend who…
    I have to tell you, I can’t wait to hear from you on this one.

    Let’s Help Apple Out

    Thursday, January 11th, 2007

    With the recent announcement of iPhone, Apple has added yet another product in its long line of “i” gadgets. There is no question the iMac, iTunes and iPod have revolutionized the world as we knew it and they are hoping to do the same with their version of the cell phone, the iPhone.
    I fear, however, that Apple is running out of ideas for more “i” products, and I think it’s up to us, the clever and consuming public, to create a comprehensive list of new gadget proposals.
    I’ll start.

    iCurl: Picture this…you’re curling your hair while listening to Best of Twisted Sister on the built in MP3 player… the iron is hot… a call comes in. The music fades out… the iron cools… you answer the call. After hanging up… We’re Not Going to Take It fades back in at eardrum blowing volume… the iron heats up… you look marvelous.
    I would assume this product idea wouldn’t be limited to just curling irons, as not everyone uses one. I’m sure it would be easy to deploy an entire line of “i” personal hygiene products like iDry, iBrush (for both teeth and hair) and some sort of entertainment center/toilet paper holder called iWipe. The latter product could even alert you that the toilet roll is almost out via text messaging so you’re not caught in one of those embarrassing “can you bring me some toilet paper” moments while at a friend’s house.

    iDrive: Oh, yes, Apple could easily compete with Detroit in the automotive market. Of course, you’re not going to see Cupertino pumping out Hummers or other 20-cylinder, gas-gulping behemoths. On the contrary. In keeping with the “i” theme, their cars would be personal transportation pods for one person to get around town in. Of course you can expect a place for your iPod to drop right in for your listening pleasure while on the road. But you can also expect other goodies like built-in GPS, WIFI and cup holders.
    Just program in where you want to go and let the car do the rest. Lay your head back and enjoy The Carpenters on your morning drive. One nice touch is the Mood Activated Exterior Paint which will change color depending on how you are feeling. Gives coworkers the heads up if you are in a bad mood that morning. Can also be helpful to those you share the road with, as well as people crossing the street. It’s always good to know when the driver of that car is on the verge of Road Rage.

    These ought to get you started. I’m working on another idea based on a colostomy bag, but it’s not ready to share, yet.
    So now it’s your turn. Submit your “i” ideas and we, as a group, will help Apple stay on it’s road to success. I’m sure Steve Jobs will be giddy with excitement after he sees these.

    Things Customers Never Say

    Tuesday, August 15th, 2006

    With my head in the clouds, I dream of things customers might someday say to me…when I die and go to heaven, perhaps.
    Usually we get stuff like “I need it yesterday” and “I can get it cheaper from the other guy.”
    Do let’s daydream a minute and think of the many things we would like to hear our customers say, like:
    1. No Hurry…take your time
    2. Other quotes? I didn’t even know there were other printers in town.
    3. Just tell me how much it costs when I pick it up.
    4. That misregistration is hardly noticeable.
    5. I love black ink.
    6. Don’t worry about it…I always type my phone number wrong, too.
    7. Can I do the press proof over the phone?
    8. If you like it, I like it.
    9. All those specs confuse me…why don’t you choose for me.
    10. Deadline? I don’t want to sound stupid, but I don’t know what that is.
    11. Missing photo? Oh that? I didn’t like that picture anyway.
    12. Can I pay you in advance? Cash?
    13. WOW…look at the big dots in the photos…I like that!
    14. What’s wrong with Helvetica?
    15. Proof? Nah, I trust you.

    Now it’s your turn…share your dream quotes with us all, so we can fantasize together.

    Digging through the print museum

    Tuesday, August 15th, 2006

    I finally found Jesus.
    That’s right, I found Jesus. I was getting ready for my move to Austria, going through every box and drawer in my old house and there he was…the baby Jesus for our Nativity that we’ve been without for a couple of Christmases.
    In addition to Jesus, I found my old waxer. It was the Lectro Stix Waxer with an extra box of wax. The box boasts the waxer is “skid proof” and “cuts paste-up time in half.” Good stuff.

    Lectro Stix Waxer

    The box of wax promotes the advantages of Lectro Stix Wax over the competition: “Micro-crystalline wax! Provides a dry-to-the-touch, easy-to-handle adhesive coat that slides easily into position…in contrast to tackier waxes that need synthetic additives to make them stick.” And don’t forget, Lectro Stix Wax’s “bond is positionable—yet lasting.”

    Proportion Wheel
    What else did I run across? Oh, there were the rainbow colored Apple stickers for my car, E charts (some people would call them Type Guages), proportion wheels and burnishers…along with some X-Acto knives and blades.

    E Chart

    I found my old Logitech Scanman Plus hand held scanner. Boy did I put a lot of miles on that fine piece of hardware.

    Logitech Scanman Plus

    My 56K modem was in a box…why did I still have a 56K modem?
    On the software front, I found Adobe Gallery Effects…I think it worked with Photoshop four. I also discovered my Connectix RAM Doubler disks. Not that they’d work with OSX, but wouldn’t they be handy now. Doubling the capacity of my two gigs of RAM into four gigs…I need that.
    And for the really old-timers, I found a few CompuGraphic CG101 Diskettes…unfortunately they were FULL, as noted on them with flair pen. I also had some font strips and width cards for the CompuGraphic EditWriter 7500. I threw the training manuals and cassettes long ago.

    CompuGraphic Disk

    Why I had the premier issue of Publish magazine, I’ll never know, since the technology was outdated about a decade ago. In the stack of old mags I also had an old Desktop Publishers Journal and PostScript Journal. It was fun to flip through and look at what you could do with simple PostScript code if you had the time and desire to sit and write it. I was too lazy for that…I used Aldus PageMaker 1.0, with Microsoft Runtime Windows…on a PC 286 AT. Those, by the way, were thrown out long ago.
    I’m sure many of us have things that we just can’t throw away. Perhaps we think this old stuff will someday end up in a museum, but maybe just want to have the cherished memories of line tape and hot wax.
    What’s in your boxes? Share with us, without shame, what you’ve got tucked away for not explicable reason.
    We really want to hear.

    Printers You Can Trust

    Sunday, May 21st, 2006

    Here is a list I compiled of the best printers in the United States and Canada. If you can’t find anyone here to do the job right, you’re too picky.

    Lower your standards just a bit and give your business to one of the fine establishments listed below.

    • Hickey’s Printing
    • Better Late Than Never Litho
    • Skip & Skeeter’s Bait, Beer, Printing & Jerky
    • Dead Trees & Poisonous Chemicals Fine Lithography
    • You’ll Get It When We’re Darn Good ‘n’ Ready Print Crafters
    • Hot Lead & Parchment Printhouse
    • Sweaty’s Stinky-Print
    • It’s Not Our Fault Litho
    • Tortoise’s Steady-Print
    • Looks Good To Me Litho
    • Dickey’s Letterpress, Offset, Flexo, Silkscreening & Tattoo Parlor
    • Deadlines Schmeadlines
    • Plates ‘R’ Us
    • Rollers ‘n’ Things
    • Freddie’s Fast & Cheap Printing… “We’re fast & cheap”
    • We Just Bought a Mac Litho
    • Any Color As Long As It’s Black Litho
    • Bubba’s Big Press
    • Helga’s Haus of Heidelbergs
    • Moirès & More

    You can do better than this… Submit your names for the most comprehensive list in the history of printing.

    If I only had a G5 with Creative Suite 2 in the 80s

    Tuesday, May 9th, 2006

    Often I think back to the early days…not wood or lead type…not that early. My early days, when I used to use a CompuGraphic MDT350 to write my stories. Or my old Nikon Nikkormat film cameras…and layout boards…and line tape…
    Or what about PageMaker 1.0…on a PC 286AT…with run-time Windows…and a 300dpi laser printer? Ahh…those were the days.
    I was thinking about one of my first freelance projects using PageMaker on that old machine, and I remembered that it had a memory limit. Not based on RAM or Harddrive space, but a limit within the program.
    It would happen something like this: you’d be typing along, working on page 25 of the document and all of a sudden…POW!!!…a message would pop up…mid-sentance…saying “you have reached your memory limit” or something to that affect.
    So now what do you do? Delete enough characters to work, save the document, do a save as and break your document into two parts. Eventually I had broken my 120 page catalog into six 20-page docs.
    Aaaahhhh…the good ol’ days.
    And what about the speed? Outputting the final pages at a blistering 1 page every day.
    There was the project where I wanted to put the page number inside a circle. When I printed the page out, they weren’t arranged like they were on my monitor. To make it work, I had to move the page number until it looked good on the printout…which, of course, meant the file on screen looked like a train wreck.
    Remember Photoshop pre-Layers…and pre-Actions…and pre-History? Oh yeah…they weren’t always there.
    It doesn’t take long for my thoughts to move to “What if I had a time machine? What if I could go back to the 80s with a G4 laptop, loaded with Creative Suite 2? What would that do to the competition?”
    Oh, I know it’s just a pipe dream, but it’s still fun to think about how different things would be.
    I think of how I really could have used things like Object Styles, Snippets, Anchored Objects and the eyedropper over the past two decades.
    One thing that hasn’t change, though. I think it’s funny when I hear people say “This Creative Suite is so easy to use and so powerful, now everyone is going to think they’re a designer.” Well, I’ll tell you…I heard that back in the mid 80s at the birth of the Desktop Publishing age.
    These faster computers and more powerful software programs don’t magically make people designers…they just help people create crap faster than ever before.
    So tell us what it would have been like for you if you had a G5 with Creative Suite 2 in the 80s…or the 90s for that matter.

    It’s hard to sound tough and say Snippet…

    Saturday, April 1st, 2006

    Widgets was already taken…as were Sniglets and bonbons. So what was left for this wonderful new creation from the Adobe Gods? Snippets.
    Hmmm…I’m sure there were a lot of people sitting around a big table discussing this at length before settling on that name.
    I actually like the name, but it’s hard to sound tough when saying it. There are lots of tough names in the Adobe world. Actions, Clone Stamp, Master Pages to name a few. But snippets isn’t one of them…but then neither is Droplet…or dongle. (more…)