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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 March, 2007

    Can you spell CS3?

    Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

    Today’s the big announcement from Adobe…the largest in history (although Multiple Master fonts was a big one, too). Here in Austria it’s 8 a.m., which means, according to my advanced math skills, we’re about 13.5 hours away from the big event.
    Out of curiosity I headed over to wwww.adobe.com and boom, it’s already updated with Creative Suite 3. They show new packaging, new collections, new software, new pricing, new features, new integration and new icons, by golly. Go spend some time there, checking it out. Feel free to turn on mute after about 38 second, though.
    So what’s the big deal? Adobe has done upgrades before, and some of them pretty major. Well, one big thing is that Creative Suite 3 is really geared for cross-media, making it easier than ever for guys like us to create for print, web and video with integrated software. This is important for the veterans and newbies, alike. Some of the new tools and integration between products is unmatched, which veterans will eat up as solutions to problems they’ve faced for years. But if you are new to the web or video world, now is a great time to get started, due to the ability to easily jump to the other products and use skills and assets you’ve had for years.
    I think it’s time we expanded our skill sets. I think it’s time for all of us print-minded folk to start creating for web…and it’s time for web-minded folk to push into video and multi-media…and vice-versa. We’ve been doing the same ol’ thing for long enough and it’s time for us old dogs to learn a few new tricks.
    I’ve used Flash on a very limited basis and found it to be a hoot. It was made easier because of my ability to use Illustrator for a lot of the creation. I’ve enjoyed the web arena, as well, and a lot of that is now made easier by using Photoshop and Illustrator. The bottom line is that if you know Photoshop and Illustrator, that’s enough to get you started in new areas, because they share so much. And if you like Bridge, it REALLY is cross application.
    Even though I’m most comfortable building documents for print, I can see how a broader knowledge is makes us better designers…and if you are an agency or a freelancer, the more you know, the more work you can keep to yourself.
    Anyone who currently creates exclusively for print is at risk. The day is here when most clients are doing print and web. If you are doing the print production and a different freelancer is doing the web, it’s just a matter of time before one of you chooses to broaden your business offerings…and the first to do it will get the whole enchilada.
    The new suites even come with software that lets you test files on mobile phones. Yep, the days of using Adobe to just create a flier or catalog are over…Adobe is giving us so much more, now.
    So head over to www.adobe.com and take a stroll through the stuff.
    There is even a software selector in case you don’t know which collection is right for you. You click on the things you want to do and it recommends which software you need. I was disappointed they didn’t have an option to choose if you wanted to create garbage and work really slowly, then it would show you Quark XPress.
    Other big Adobe news today, http://kuler.adobe.com has been updated and is improved. One of the cool new features of Illustrator CS3 is integration with Kuler online. And if you’re already a Kuler fan, and a Mac user, you must get the Kuler Widget for your dashboard from http://kuler.adobe.com/links/kulerWidget.zip.
    That’ll give you something to do today while you wait to watch the announcement. Oh, and make sure you watch the announcement with a bunch of snobby coworkers, and say “I knew about that” after everything Adobe shows.

    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?

    Where do we begin?

    Saturday, March 3rd, 2007

    I’ve noticed a lot of new InDesign users are a really new. I don’t mean new converts from Quark XPress or PageMaker…or even Microsoft Publisher. I mean new to the “desktop publishing” world, altogether.
    Perhaps I’m seeing it more now because PageMaker used to absorb this type of new user. Maybe it’s because InDesign has finally taken its place as the respected tool of the industry.
    Regardless of the reason, there are people buying and installing InDesign who have no prior knowledge of layout, design, tools, fill, stroke, frame, PDF, etc. They are sitting down at computers and realizing very quickly that before them on the screen is a very powerful tool that has a learning curve…and it’s even bigger for a newbie.
    So here is my question to all of you experienced users: Where do we begin? If you had to give one bit of advice to a new user who knows nothing about print production, design, layout, InDesign, Photoshop, Illlustrator, you name it…what would it be?
    Of course there are the obvious things, like the basic tools, or fill/stroke, or what is a frame and how do you fill it with photos and text.
    But you probably wouldn’t jump right into Edit Keyboard Shortcuts, now, would you. Or XML, or Data Merge (unless they were doing something that specifically needed that).
    So, where does the new user start?
    When we talk about publications, I’m a firm believer in the power of templates. I would, therefore, recommend a new user understand what a template is, what it can do for them and what goes into one. These would include, Styles, Master Pages, Swatches, design elements, page numbers, frames, preferences and more.
    “Your cheating” you say, noting that this would show the new user nearly ten items, not the “one thing” I asked about. I said “one bit of advice” not show them one feature.
    So now I continue.
    If the user were heavy into design I would focus on that. Perhaps they have a history of design, but the computer is new to them. I would get this person right into the “toys” that will make them want to learn more about the program and keep them growing. I wouldn’t spend all day on Story Editor and Preferences.
    But what if someone is a wordsmith? I don’t think I would waste my time on Mixed Ink Groups, but rather focus on the nifty editing and typography tools of InDesign.
    Just some thoughts…and now I turn it over to you.
    Pretend your mom, or your aunt Josephine has just bought a new iMac and the Creative Suite to work on the church newsletter, as well as some other projects. What’s would you tell them to get them started in the right direction as quickly as possible?
    And don’t say “Just let me do it.