31 March 2007

[type] Indents, Hyphenation, Leading, Finding Fonts...

747 Everyone has questions on the titular subjects–especially those thoughtful designerly types who love the "high-end type controls" that modern layout applications obtain.

The fact is that most people introduced to those controls–leading, kerning, &c &c, have so much to adjust now they either spend a lot of time twiddling or almost none. Or, if you're late to type obsession, as aim I, you invariably forget something, and look back at the finished piece and go "gahhh....wish I had that to do over."

Irene Strizver at CreativePro.com gives you a rocket ride around four common things and has good advice served up: Tabs vs Indents (hint: use 1st line indent, not tabs); Hacking Hyphenation; a nifty Auto Lead vs no Auto Lead that'll help you control leading with characters of varying point sizes, and timely tips for font searching.

It's all at CreativePro.com here.

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30 March 2007

[design] Extensis: The Quiet Giant Amongst Us

746 I didn't know it when I started studying GD, but one of the big names in creative software lives right here in good old Stumptown.

Extensis is a name familiar to a lot of digital creatives and Mac addicts: its flagship applications have been the Suitcase line, which was one of the first applications I bought for my then-new PowerMac G4, as Suitcase X1.

I no longer have Suitcase X1, in as much the big hard drive crisis wiped it from my drive back in November. I remember enjoying using it, however.

Portland's Extensis seems to be very committed to the Adobe CS3 platform, recently announcing upcoming free font-activation plugins for Suitcase Fusion for Indy CS3 and Illy CS3, which is undoubtedly fine.

I have not had the chance to upgrade to Suitcase Fusion (though I have had the opportunity to review it for Designorati) and I liked what it had to offer.

And they have a cool blog, which I read (soon to be blogrolled). I think it's pretty cool to have a company like that in Portland.

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27 March 2007

[design] Adobe Creative Suite 3: Now It Can Be Told

745 Yes, Creative Suite 3 is announced...and we know what's going to be there. We don't quite exactly know when it'll be officially on sale, and we know it's gonna be sa-weet.

I am, of course thrilled. And it's nice to be able to breathe again–for the past several months, while I've been TE'ing an upcoming book and learning up on CS3, I've been under NDA about these things. However, now me (and some others) can tell the world: I've written already about the CS3 and InCopy/InDesign CS3 here and here and I've got more coming up (I'm particularly excited about Adobe (neĆ© Macromedia) Flash® CS3 Professional).

They say "feature-packed" a lot in the software biz, and I think it's profitable for any regular user to be a little bit jaundiced when that phrase that gets flung about. But Adobe does not use this in vain. At the first "here" link above (or at the end of this link if you don't feel like scrolling back up) at at least 10 reasons why I'm (and I think you) should be excited about CS3, at least the Design Collections.

Almost all of it will run on PowerPC as well as MacIntels; certainly the Design Collections will. You'll need a MacIntel for the Production Collection, but the core apps, InD, InC, PS, Illy, Dreamweaver, Flash, are all Universal Binaries, so live can be equally as sweet for PowerMac and MacIntel users alike.

Altho I think Quark, Inc would do well to take note here. IMHO, it's QuarkXPress catch-up time again.

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15 March 2007

[liff] Taskfreaking, GTD and Lifehacking

744 I'll admit, I'm not terribly good at 'lifehacking'. Which is a shame; of all the lives I know, mine requires perhaps the most; I could nominate myself as a canonical example of the spirit being willing and the flesh being weak.

As I used to tag this blog with "The only things standing between me and my goals are me...and my goals."

Strictly speaking, I'm expanding a bit on a definition that has spread somewhat since the nomenclature was coined. I have a subjective take on it; over time, I've come on board the definition of the "hacker" as someone who does brilliant undocumented and ad hoc things, and slowly adapted to the thought of its opposite being a "cracker", though the simple unreconstructed term vandal should serve.

I digress in the interest of exposition.

Anyhow, the idea of hacking in the traditional sense (the positive, "elegant and impressive solution to a difficult problem" sense) appeals to me. For various reasons, off-the-shelf solutions are not always that available; moreover it appeals to me in the self-sufficient abstract sense).

All this rambling is coming down to the concept of what I see as discipline. This, to me, is the idea of staying focused on what you are doing that you believe will get your there. Discipline is a worthwhile thing in this wise, and one has a lot of enemies in keeping discipline in.

Illegitimati non carborundum, they say. Noble thought. Trouble is, the illegitimati never give up.

Hacking, discipline, illegitimati non carborundum, all this, and me being actually quite a lazy person...mix it all together and let's see what this woolgathering and thinking out loud has gotten me.

Land of the Lazy

James Blish, in the Cities in Flight saga (more particularly the book Earthman, Come Home) introduces us to the character of Mark Hazleton, the city manager of New York City.

For those who haven't read it, this is Blish at his height, not the Blish of those risible Star Trek script adaptation omnibuses or the bizarre first Star Trek novel, Spock Must Die. The story of the cities in flight was speculative SF at its best, using an imaginary future history to look back on the socioeconomic history of the first third of the 20th Century, when the spindizzy gives humankind supraluminal travel with trivial limitations, and cities become migrant workers amongst the stars. Fleeing a permanently-economically-depressed Earth of the 28th Century, New York City is one of them. Due to the anagathic pharmaceutical ascomycin, people also live hundreds (some more than a thousand) years, as does the mayor of New York, the main character of the 2nd half of the saga. Working under him is Mark Hazelton, a lanky, laid back fellow who has to be eminently successful to rise to the level of city manager in a flying Okie town, who nonetheless Mayor John Amalfi inwardly describes as the kind who takes "lazy man's pains".

That phrase speaks loudly to me. I tend to laziness; it's a fight I fight every day (and lose abound as much as I win). What I do tend to do is try to take care of as much as I can as quickly as I can; that way, when I can be lazy, I've enabled that option.

The benefit of taking lazy man's pains is that you sometimes look quite industrious. Perception is the reality (Oh, my, the secret's out!!!).

While I haven't quite cracked the nut yet, I do realize that any system of instilling discipline for myself that will sustain me and move me on will be one that enables my habit of taking lazy man's pains. I think I've found one method and one tool that may help me keep my focus on things.

Taskfreaking and GTDing

One thing that I was introduced recently to is an FOSS web-based PHP app called TaskFreak!.

TaskFreak!. What a cool name. The exclamation point comes standard with it.

While it's meant to do serious things, it has an irreverent streak in it. That appeals.

To cases, then; TaskFreak! is a an application that allows you to organize what you want to get done along the lines of projects and tasks, attach attributes like contexts and spaces for notes and comments, and have an instantly recognizable status update right on your web-browser window.

It's fun to use. It does require you to have access to a database server such as MySQL (which I've installed on my home machine and the workstation at the design job), and I'm finding MySQL so damn useful I'll be installing it wherever I go from here on out, and I'm digressing again, anyway, as I said, it's fun to use and quite intuitive. I don't have to use all its features in order to get benefits from it.

This dovetails with something I've stumbled on which needs no flogging from me as it's already quite the rage; I imagine that everyone who's likely to read this post probably already knows about it. I just found out about it. It meets me where I live–in the land of the lazy man's pains. that thing, of course, is GTD–Getting Things Done. It's the land of such hugely popular places such as 43Folders.com; Wikipedia, of course, has an entry on it.

Here's where it and TaskFreak! meet me in the Land of the Lazy: Simple, simple, simple. Get it and get it down, don't fuss and fret too much with organization; just get it out of your head and on paper (or onto Taskfreak!, as the case happens to be). Then, do it, delegate it, or defer it. If I can't make of it an action thing, file it for reference, ashcan it, or sit on it until I can handle it.

This is the prefect intersection of motion and comfort zone that I need...at least it sure looks that way.

In the past I've gone gung-ho on personal managment to get myself into the space I've wanted to be, with the concomitant burnout when I run out of gas. This method respects my style; I can get gung-ho, but I dont have to start out that way.

I might be able to do something with this stuff.

  1. Taskfreak!
  2. 43 Folders
  3. Getting Things Done
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11 March 2007

[pdx] One More for Norm Thompson

743 Here's another pic of the old Norm Thompson building at NW 18th and Thurman, focussing on the part that the veneer's been removed on, with a better view of the old painted signage:

I adore the hand-done typography; while it's nearly immaculately-executed it is clearly hand done and seems rather proud of that fact. The italic tagline is a delightful bonus.

And here's a photo of NW Thurman Street looking east toward Front Avenue taken at (natch) the same time. I'm including it because I have a big soft spot for the romantic feel of an empty street in a deserted corner of town in the pit of the night:

In the next block up on the left is a cabinet shop, The Thurman Group, and on the right is a machine shop called Premier Gear Works. The area is filling up with upscale development, but they ain't driven out the real folks...not quite yet.

The time was 0430 approximately on 11 March 2007

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[pdx] Remembering Norm Thompson

742 NW 18th and Thurman, about 0430 today:

This is what's becoming of the old Norm Thompson flagship store–some of the veneer gone to give a glimpse, and a reminder of what was a good old local company.

No word on who or what, if anyone or anything, is going to happen here.

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10 March 2007

[liff] Happy DST!

741 I had nearly forgotten about that, you see.

I have a Palm Tungsten E. It gives me much pleasure; and needed to be updated. If you have a Palm object it may need updating; go to this page here and peruse the requirements. It's small and quick to install.

If you have Mac OS X 10.4.5 or better, or the most updated Win, your computer should already be one with the ylem.

I hate DST, just to be on the record about it. Perennial third-shift worker. Personal problem, but still.

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09 March 2007

[liff] It's A Sign of the Times

740 Found at Powell's Hawthorne on the POS rack:

From the left: Scooter, Rove, Veep, Hammer.

Note that it's already 25% correct. And, sure, I found it at Powell's, but my experience has been that today, you'll find it at Powells, tomorrow, the rack at the 7-Eleven store.

The back reads "Eat them with conviction".

Available at your local Godless liberal agitprop outlet or The Unemployed Philosophers Guild.

Interesting times.


08 March 2007

[design] Developing Supporting Materials: Virtual and Real

739 There's just no doubt about it...it's time to amp up the self-promotion by establishing my own website and refreshing my identity.

The word identity to a print designer means one thing generally–the brand. In this case, it's Brand Sam™.

As far as the identity goes, I'll be developing a business system–that is, a coordinated letterhead, business card, envelope system. This will share tangible design elements such as logo, type, and colors, and intangible ones as well, such as color, relationships, and attitudes of the elements I do use, all of which will thematically bind the group together. This is what makes it a system.

The website I'll take a more gradual approach to. Right now I'm evaluating providers. I'm familiar and have had experience with Lunarpages, which seems to have a wide range of services available at a wide range of price points. I've heard both good and bad about Lunarpages, but so far the good is ahead of the bad.

I'll be most interested in a hosting service that can give me a easy start and grow with me, with a history of stable pricing.

That's not to say that Raindrop Laboratories (the best damn ISP in the world, word to Alan Batie) isn't a good solution for the small-timer, which level I'm trying to graduate from...it sure is, and Alan also offers hosting plans, which I'll be evaluating as well.

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07 March 2007

[pdx] Portland Skyline From Sellwood Park Dock

The Portland skyline from the end of the dock in Sellwood Park on the first clement day of the year. The new condo towers in Rich Person City make an interesting new dent in the profile. Obscuring the right end of downtown is the south end of Ross Island; OHSU is at the top of the hill on the right, of course.

This was where me and The Wife™ went to enjoy the sunshine and our new art supplies from I've Been Framed.

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[bloggage] Slight Uptick in Visitors...

737 They must be rerunning last year's Hell's Kitchen in Canada, he noted to himself bittersweetly.

[art] Site To See: EmptyEasel.com

736 I stumbled on this one when I was Googling Bob Ross (don't ask why–it was an impulse), and there was a highly pithy commentary on why Ross Method ain't necessarily all that. I found that me and he agreed on quite a bit as far as The Bob went.

Since that first post I've exchanged at least one email with the webster (Dan by name) and traded links. EmptyEasel is well thought out and intriguing, with an article-a-day sort of thing, something about art, about making art, about inspiration–if it has to do with art, Dan will write about it, and it's clear he knows his stuff.

We suggest anyone interested in art–addicts to tyros–give it a visit. We do.

That's emptyeasel.com. Accept no substitutes.

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06 March 2007

[art] Art Supplies–Cheap!

735 Yes, it's the eternal question–art materials or booze?

No, no, it's not the eternal question. Skip that. Sorry.

Anyhow, on Monday me and The Wife™ were able to visit a store we particularly love–I've Been Framed, at 4950 SE Foster Rd. Being right at the crook of Foster and Powell, parking requires a bit of planning, but it's worth the effort.

I've Been Framed does a big business in art framing, but that's only the half of it. They have the most worthwhile selection of cheaply-priced art materials we know of. This is just the place for the dabbler or the new artist who wants to dip their toe (so to speak) in oils or watercolors but don't want to sell the farm just to try it out (art materials, remember, can get 'spensive real quick).

They have closeouts on oil colors, water colors, acrylic paints, little starter kits, canvases and papers at amazingly good prices. This last time, me and The Wife™ walked out with two high-quality sketchbooks, one little Moleskine-knockoff book, an armful of colors and pastels, and blew less than $60 for it.

The catch is that they buy the clearance stocks of various places that are going out of business and lots that people are trying to get rid of, so the stocks are not going to be 100% consisten from day to day. But if you're looking for an art supply, and you happen to be in that area, we've found enough pleasant surprises that it's always worth a look.

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[design] Adobe Creative Suite 3: Contact Imminent

734 It's apparently official; Adobe Creative Suite 3 is now just around the corner, with the official announcement date mooted at 27 March 2007 with a release/ship date apparently soon to follow. According to an announcement posted at the site Beta News, an analyst at Merrill Lynch spilled the beans about days and what in general we might expect.

But that's all Adobe's telling us about form and function up to now. I'd say that the best way to get a look at what CS3 will probably look like is for those lucky Adobe users who've downloaded the Photoshop CS3 Standard public beta to fire it up and run it.

Creative Suite 3 is apparently going to be a Universal Binary as well, meaning it will run on both PowerMacs and MacIntels, and a rocket ride around what the tech analysts are saying strongly suggests that the combination of CS3 and Leopard is going to make Apple a very very profitable place to be in the coming months.

I find myself wondering if this will be a perfect storm for Quark. QuarkXPress 7 is much improved from QXP 6.x, but if CS3 is slick enough, Quark will still find itself in the catch-up position.

If I were them, I'd be kinda worried.

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01 March 2007

[netlife] Photoshop Is Coming To the Web

733 Photoshop...the staple of respectable graphic designers, image manipulators, Farkers, and visual arts malcontents everywhere, as a web-based application?

It's going to happen, according to Bruce Chizen. As I mentioned in this news bit on Designorati yesterday (which links to the CNet News.com article it sources) he's apparently said that it's due live and online sometime in the next three-six months.

And that's not all...the hosted version of PS is supposed to be free, supported by ad revenue. Adobe doesn't seem to be doing this to move away from coming out with shrinkwrapped versions (Creative Suite 3 is coming and it is massive, yo) but to compete with hosted offerings by Google (Picasa) and Microsoft (whatever it is they are doing). This is part of the battle for the Web.

The hosted version of PS is not going to be feature-complete; rather, it is said it will have whast is essentially a subset of PS functionality, presumably appropriate to the Web interface and efficiently deliverable over a web connection. For instance, I don't see PS for the Web as having too many layers (could be wrong there, Adobe's magic) or advanced features like alpha channels. But we'll see.

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