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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 November, 2008

    Travel Tips from Europe

    Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

    As I look out the window of my hotel here in St. Petersburg, Russia, I see kids playing, trying to make snowballs out of the one centimeter deep powder that has fallen this morning. This could be anywhere, were it not for the clearly Russian letters on the signs.
    Sometimes as I travel I marvel at how alike humans so often are, as if our behavior is because we are the same species, not because of race, country or creed. Take graffiti, for example…looks the same wherever I go.
    I share with you now a couple of things one should keep in mind when traveling to Eastern Europe, as I have recently learned.

    Don’t assume the Russian babushka will be as excited about you taking photos of her building as you are.

    I discovered this helpful tip this morning as I wandered the neighborhood around my hotel taking photos. As I neared her building, she began yelling at me in Russian, or so I would assume, and wanted me to get the hell away from her building with my camera.
    Since I don’t speak Russian, there wasn’t a lot I could say to her to smooth the situation over, except “nyet problem.”
    To which she replied, very sternly “nyet problem DA!!”

    Just to show I wasn’t about to be pushed around, I snapped this photo defiantly, then went on my way.

    While in Ukraine, don’t stick your arm between closing elevator doors just because you want to help the guy running to catch it.

    As an American I have this inherent faith in elevators, airplanes and amusement park rides…it’s just part of our social make-up.

    Yesterday, while entering an elevator in Kiev, I saw a guy running towards me carrying his briefcase, obviously anxious to catch it, knowing that if he missed it he could possibly wait a bit before the next opportunity. Because of my natural reflex, I stuck my arm between the doors just before they closed.

    I could feel them slam against my wrist, deciding whether to take my arm up the the ninth floor, or not. There was enough pressure on my arm that I must admit, I was a bit worried…and relieved when I heard the clang of the doors changing motion and open, leaving me with the ability to type this article with both hands.

    The man thanked me for risking my limb for him and then told me how lucky I was. I explained that it’s just habit for me at which point he gave me some very good advice: “Always remember where you are.”

    While demonstrating software to a group of women in England, don’t assume their meaning of “period” is the same as yours.

    While presenting in Winchester, showing how to use InDesign, I was explaining how to use a nifty little shortcut to enlarge text while holding down the shift key and “your period.”

    There was a look of confusion all around. They call the period a “full stop”, I was told and quickly informed that “the only period in England is what a women gets once a month.”

    I stand corrected…end of story…full stop.

    Bad Waitress Story II

    Friday, November 14th, 2008

    Last night in Moscow I on my way to a customer visit with large Russian daily newspaper with my Adobe friend Roman Menyakin…and we were hungry.
    Because of traffic, we wanted to get to the customer’s office so we knew we could make it on time.
    We arrived an hour early, enough time to grab something at the only restaurant around, Jack Rabbit Slim’s.
    Decent place…Elvis playing in the background. They made us check our coats at the door as it’s a rule: “No Overcoats Allowed.” I don’t profess to understand the reason a person wouldn’t be allowed to take their coat in, it certainly wasn’t because it would cheapen the atmosphere here at Slim’s.
    So we check our coats and grab a table upstairs.
    I could have ordered Mexican food, but I’ve always had a little unwritten rule in my life not to eat Mexican food prepared by Russians. There’s no logic to this and it’s certainly nothing against Russians, or their ability to make enchiladas…it’s just a little rule I have followed and it hasn’t failed me, yet.
    I’m not a big steak guy, but we ordered steaks. I told Roman I would like mine medium-rare. So he starts to explain this to the waitress.
    They don’t have that, he tells me. They only have three levels: rare, medium, well-done. Roman tries to explain, and even demonstrate, that we would like our steaks between medium and well-done.
    Nope. Can’t do that. Pick one of the three.
    “Whatever,” I said.
    We had also ordered a nice cream of mushroom soup. When it arrived, we were each given a small bowl with a few croutons in it. Roman wanted more and asked about it.
    “No,” she said. “I can’t give you more.” (all in Russian, of course)
    “I will pay for them,” Roman told her.
    “I would not know how to do that for you…you can’t have any more,” she replied.
    So I threw my croutons in his bowl and I used the bread on the table, instead.
    I certainly don’t want to get into a pissing match with a Russian waitress at Jack Rabbit Slim’s in Moscow…another little unwritten rule I live by…and it’s served me well so far.

    On The Road with my Hot Tamales

    Friday, November 14th, 2008

    About a month ago my good buddy Brent Niemuth visited me in Bregenz, Austria with a big box of Hot Tamales. Good stuff.
    So I took them with me on our Beatles tour trip to Liverpool and London. They also joined me on trips to Warsaw, Istanbul, Winchester, Brussels, Zurich and Amsterdam.
    As my wife was packing for my trip to Prague, she asked me if my Hot Tamales needed to join me on this trip, too.
    “Of course,” I answered.
    So now I’m packing my things getting ready to leave Moscow and I notice I still have a few left over. I guess they get to join me in Kiev and St. Petersburg next week.
    If I’m careful, I can even have them join me in Nice, France and then Warsaw again the following week.

    Dynamic Spelling is Watching You

    Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

    Yesterday I was doing an InDesign demonstration for some newspapers and magazines in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod. A block away from the hotel I was speaking at is an old Kremlin, with its huge walls surrounding the government offices, churches and commons areas.

    As I was going along, a woman in the audience asked if it was possible to have InDesign highlight any words that were spelled incorrectly.

    “Of course,” I told her, and proceeded to demonstrate InDesign’s Dynamic Spelling. I showed her how to turn it on by choosing Edit> Spelling> Dynamic Spelling and how it underlines in red any misspelled words.

    I also showed how if you see a misspelled word underlined, you can right click, or ctrl + click (Mac) on the word and it will pop up a list of alternate spellings or you can add it to your dictionary and it won’t be a typo anymore.

    I was demonstrating on a document I have used for years that highlights the words RGB, CMYK and two words without a space. So I proceeded to right click on one of the words to show the list of possibilities InDesign offers.

    Well as I right clicked on RGB, up popped a nice long list of choices and right there, between rub and rib was the KGB.

    Linking Text Between Multiple Documents

    Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

    If you have ever wanted to link a text frame from one InDesign document to another, you can’t. But I have written a little step-by-step trick that allows you to do it now, thanks to CS4′s Conditional Text feature.
    I just posted the tip on my buddy David Blatner’s InDesign Secrets Blog. Check it out at: