29 May 2011

[design] QuarkXpress's Days of Future Past

2632.Punditry is full of its own pitfalls. It tends to create them for you.

It must be said, it really can't be helped. Even the most clear-eyed, prudent, and sober prognostication still amounts to throwing the dice. And when trends seem to be strong, they can't be denied in the moment.

One of my favorite articles ever written is one done by Scott Kelby, in 2003 for (then) Mac Design Magazine, which was succeeded by Layers magazine. Kelby is of course justly famous as one of the premier Adobe Photoshop doyens, with a fairly sparking wit besides. His writings, salted and peppered with his inimitable humor, are always a pleasure to read.

Back in 2005, I got permission to post to this blog this aforementioned column, titled "Big Trouble in Page Layout Land". It was a witty survey of the scene in 2004, when I first started learning page layout, at what seemed to be the trajectory of QuarkXPress … and it wasn't looking promising.

Quark, Inc had rightfully displaced PageMaker as The Layout App To Have If You Were Only Having one. XTensions technology was innovative, XPress had a way to do everything you could do in print at the time. But, in 2002-2003, QuarkXPress 4 still ruled the roost. QuarkXPress 5 was rolling out, but wasn't bowling the DTP world over - it had tables, which was nifty, but wasn't enough to cause the installed base to storm on over the Quark for an upgrade.

Things were looking pretty grim for Quark. Because not only was Adobe bringing its "A"-game on InDesign, as well as evolving it into an integrated Creative Suite - eventually bringing drag-and-drop simplicity between InDy, AI, and PS, and a slick look and feel, but Quark didn't make XPress OSX-native until XPress 6, which debuted more than 2 years after InDesign 2 which was, while not quite the Quark-killer everyone had hoped for, winning fans for being OSX-native. InDesign 3 was the equal of Quark 6, passed it when reinvented as the Creative Suite, and hasn't, in my opinion, looked back. It zoomed out ahead, taking a good deal of Quark's market share along with it.

Reliable market-share figures are hard to come by, but the rumor and buzz I hear are remarkably consistent … upwards of 50-60 percent of the electronic layout market has moved over to Adobe InDesign. Locally, I've applied for my share of design jobs, and the refrain I hear over and over and over in skills-desired-lists is InDesign, and very little Quark.

In 2003, Scott predicted that QuarkXPress would be, in my words, to InDesign what Microsoft Publisher was then to Quark - an entry-level layout package for the small-office and non-professional design market, complete with templates for newsletters, business cards and such … the sort of person who would use Publisher then, someone who needs to get out publications but not necessarily design them.

The dice have come up a little differently though. Quark, in 2003-2004, seemed to be slow to start and slow to catch up. Scott's prediction seemed not an unreasonable one. Well, mabe Quark is now the scrappy underdog that can, because in the meantime, while XPress has lost a great deal of market share, it's hanging on the minority position it enjoys, and a strong one - 30-40 per cent, if the buzz I'm hearing is correct. Quark is applying itself to the digital trend aptly (rather than clumsily as in the old dark days there), with Quark Design Studio locked and loaded for the iPad. 

So while it would seem that QuarkXPress's days as the dominant platform are over, predictions of its demise (by more than one of us) were rather overstated.

That's not the fault of any of the punditry. It sure looked like that's the way it was going.

And, for what it's worth, I'd still trust Scott Kelby on the trends in the industry. 

But even the best shot misses one or two occasionally.

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26 May 2011

[ad_design] What's Up Your Butt?, Or The Power Of A Negative Message

2631.As reported by KGW and other media outlets, a … well, there's no other way to say this … blunt message about colorectal health was nixed Washington-state dry-siders - specifically, those dry-siders around the Tri-Cities. But I can't help but thinking that maybe it hit the mark (again, 'scuse) anyway.

The billboards depict a bespectacled, rather average-looking woman with a mildly unpleasant look on her face, her mouth screwed up, lips pressed together, perhaps contemplating something awkward, maybe even nasty, but necessary. The message: What's Up Your Butt? Get tested for colon cancer starting at age 50 takes up most of the rest of the board (check the link above to see it).

As odd as it might seem, it's an "up-front" and irreverent way to get people thinking about a major risk factor as they move into the second half of life - something that will sneak up on you from, well … behind. Colorectal cancer is something that is, at best, awkward to talk about but it can get the most beautiful of us … Farrah Fawcett was killed by a form of this disease.

To say that this campaign didn't play in Pasco suggests that it did elsewhere; just up I-82, in Yakima, the article suggests, it's been running for a bit. 

Even though it's a simple design, it works, and it doesn't have to stay up to do so. Everyone in the Tri-cities, or at least a whole lot of people in the target audience, while presumably appalled at the lack of taste, is talking about it now. 

Sometimes, you don't have to design a design for the ages. Sometimes, you just have to design for right now.

Mission accomplished.

Now, I'm going to go off an giggle a lot. My inner four-year-old is loving this thing.

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25 May 2011

[pdx] The First National/First Interstate/Wells Fargo Tower

2630.A post to Facebook by Dave Strom made me think on my favorite, and one of the most beautiful buildings anywhere in my opinion … well, they call it the Wells Fargo Center today, but when it was built back in 1972, it housed and was known for its primary tenant: the First National Bank of Oregon. 

Good times.

Even though Big Pink has a couple more floors, the First is still first in altitude - by about 10 or so feet (546 feet to 536), making it the tallest building in Oregon.

And it has a grand, sleek design I just love:

First One

There's something very "2001-ish" about it.

First Two

I've got to get more pictures, is one thing.

[pdx] Portland: On The Edge Of Something Or Other

2629.(via OLive)The National Lists of Things Administration, outsourced at this juncture to the makers of Edge Shaving Gel, have deemed Portland as one of 10 cities on the "Edge of Greatness".

Having been born in Oregon and grown up in the Willamette Valley, I'd say what we're actually on is the Edge of Wetness, but that's my sarcastic side speaking out, and I've promised to discipline him this year. No dinner for you tonight, young man, and we're not reading you any more Camus for your bedtime story!

What pushes a city up to the Edge? Well, in our case, Indie arts (hallo, Indiewood!), indie music, a whole bunch of LEED-y buildings and soccer.

On the list, we are not quite as Edgy as Denver, but Edgier than Austin, Seattle, and even Los Angeles? Wha? We're edgier than Elay? Dude!

Here's the List. We await yet the next list of something or other that Portland will no doubt appear on.

If there's a list of cities that are apt to appear on lists, Portland would no doubt be right up at the top of it.

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20 May 2011

[art] RIP Jeffrey Catherine Jones, Renowned Fantasy Artist

2628.As it often occurrs, you only recognize some shaping influences after they've passed you by. It's the way of life, it seems

This last week, the renowned fantasy artist Jeffrey Catherine Jones passed away, and since the topic trended so strongly, I checked out the artist's oeurve, and I saw there a series of images that explained to me why I thought of fantasy artwork in publications like Heavy Metal and the expressive artworks from things like the covers of the Burroughs novels I used to read. The sensibility also informed the artwork on some of the saucier fantasy novels I've seen.

Jones was, by all accounts, a complex and fascinating individual. Transgendered, transitioned MTF in 1999. Member in a small alliance called The Studio back in the 1970s that set the tone for a lot of fantasy art of the day. Celebrated by no less than Frazetta as the "greatest living American painter".

If you can't live forever, it's good to at least leave behind a body of glowing admiration.

In reviewing the work on the artists website, I noted that I'd seen it all before, that style – but in the good way. Jones' work must have been one of those wellsprings of inspiration that a lot of aspiring artists strove to copy as they forged their own styles. You sense the solidity of one of those "shoulders of giants" that others stand on to evolve and forward a craft or school of thought.

Even I, as unfamiliar as I was with the name, find a compellling sense of power in the impressionistic, unfocussed quality. The website (should you enter) has a great number of galleries of drawings and paintings that will give the viewer a fine sense of how important this artist was.

There's something to profit from viewing that site.

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[pdx] What Now? Quebec Imperialism in Oregon?

2627.As Isaac Laquedem has found, Google Maps has deeded I-84 in NE Portland to French North America: it would seem to be also Quebec Route 366.

Just so the Quebecois PM knows, I draw the line at escargot. That stuff's nasty.

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19 May 2011

[pdx] Urban Archaeology at the Burlingame Fred Meyer (updated x 2)

2626.(Update, 23 May 11 1957) Just came down from the high induced by watching this posting being mentioned on local TV. KGW's "Live @ 7" program, broadcast weekdays from 7-7:30 PM, mentioned it as a part of the "Web Links" section, selected by producer Aaron Weiss and reported on by Steph Stricklen. Not only was Steph's reporting on the bit articulate and nifty, but she said my last name correctly! Seriously, you'd be surprised how many people have trouble with the name Klein.

Not only does this solidify my Live @ 7 fandom, it bears witness to the fact that, while all the Portland TV stations are fairly nifty, KGW's crew - and especially the Live @ 7 staff - are the most adept at connecting with viewers and fans on the Intartubez and the twitter-device. For your handy reference, the twitter-point for Steph Stricklen is @StephStricklen and for producer Aaron and the Live @ 7 production juggernaut is @TheSquare. This post is also linked from the Monday Links section at http://www.kgw.com/thesquare/inside/Mondays-links-122477424.html. And thank you, guys!

(Update, 20 May 11 0915) A friendly indvidual, fellow-traveller 'sputnik housewares' from the comments, pointed me at a nifty vintage picture of the FM Burlingame sign going in. Please see the bottom of this postng for the goods.

The Burlingame Fred Meyer store, located near where Terwilliger Blvd and Barbur Blvd meet I-5 in southwest Portland, is one of the oldest stores but has survived over the years where stores like the old Hollywood store (NE Sandy and 41st) and the Rose City (NE 72nd, where Sandy and Fremont cross) haven't perhaps because there aren't any other good Fred Meyers in convenient distance. Thanks to its small size, it's been presented as a "Fred Meyer Marketplace" (a term, I understand, for smaller Freddy's such as this one and the Stadium store), and boasts about the last vintage Fred Meyer sign that I can find.

During this season, Fred Meyer closed the store to put it through a balls-to-the-wall remodel. Everything was cleaned out, out to the walls of the old building. The Chase bank brand moved a couple hundred yards east, to the old Hollywood Video store on the west side of SW Barbur between Bertha Blvd and Terwilliger, but the rest won't be back until this Fall, according to the banners around the site. At this point, the building is extremely cleaned out:

Burlingame Fred Meyer 1

Naturally, having the outside off the way it is, the building has had its skin removed; we're looking at the bones. It's more interesting than I thought it would be. For instance, in the above photo, notice the slanting-out faces of the vertical supports. They have details on, some grooves in the masonry that add visual interest, and there are mansard-style caps on each of them.

The vintage sign bears mention at this point. I'll refer back to it presently:

vintage Fred Meyer sign

My understanding is that the style of sign used to be Fred Meyer empire style; I don't know how many old Freddy's it graced, but I do remember the old one, exactly similar in style, that used to perch over the corner of 39th (now César E Chávez) and SE Hawthorne Blvd at the Hawthorne store. It was smaller. After the Hawthorne store got LEEDed to the gills, a new sign - an inferior version, IMHO - was placed at the corner of SE CEC and Main. Here, you be the judge:

FMH sign

Meh, amirite (thanks, Google Street View, BTW).

Pulling this digression train back on the tracks, there were two most visually appealing palimpsets that I wanted to point out. At the eastern end of the building (Barbur is a N-S street but this is on an almost east-west kink in the road due to the low-spot in the hills that also hosts the famous Terwilliger Curves) is this:

Burlingame Fred Meyer 2

Fred Meyer stores have long had a tradition of having additional retail spaces for things like salons and cleaners and the like. This is particularly intriguing because of the obvious human touch; the HAIR FASHIONS manifestly created by sight and hand as the uneven kerning and awkwardly sized S attest.

Just on the left of this art is a light blue angle, before the outer skin of the building ends. I wonder what that must have led into. I hope someone else captured it.

The big prize was on the east end of the building, nearest to Bertha Blvd:

Burlingame Fred Meyer 3

In the state the building is in, this is as good as it got, but it's nice, no? Referring back to the vintage sign above, notice that the script style is all but identical (the descender on the g and the low-hanging bottom of the e being the giveaways) with the script on the sign styled to fit in with the backslanted sign edge. It's a small point to note, I suppose, like the Dude's rug, this ties the sign and the building together irrevocably.

As with the other bit of wall art above, I don't know if there was more to reveal. The building has got to be, oh, I don't know, at least 60 years old. I only got this; if there was more, I hope someone else noted it.

If you jumped down here because of the note at the head of this post: in the comments of the post, a commenter by the name of sputnik housewares posted a link to the following picture on Flickr, of the above sign going in at the first:

 Fred Meyer

You'll note the sign at the bottom …My-Te-Fine Foods Drugs. As any dyed-in-the-Doug-Fir Oregonian knows, My-Te-Fine was the FM house brand, before the chain went through a series of sales which eventually made it a subsidiary of Kroger (which is why you can find Big K, the Kroger house brand, in Fred Meyer stores latterly.

Thanks, sput! Nifty!

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[pdx] Hawthornehenge

2625.In my neighborhood there's a little section of SE Hawthorne Blvd that runs from SE 114th Avenue to SE 117th Avenue. And, very close to my house, the last block of that bit of Hawthorne turns west-northwest - a bit of a diagonal.

Every year, in the middle of May, when you stand in the middle of the street, for one perfect moment, you get the sun setting over the middle of the street like this:


Most of the rest of the year, it's just a outer SE side street.

For one moment on one day, it's HawthorneHenge.

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[pdx] A Clearer View From Council Crest

2624.Not too long ago I put up some pictures from Rocky Butte. Yesterday I wangled our way over to the other beauty viewpoint in town, which as any Portlander ought to know is Council Crest.

Council Crest has had a variety of roles since Europeans came to this area. As related in a very clever way at the summit viewpoint, the knoll itself was named by a group of church leaders who, for some strange reason, decided that it would be just the grandest place to hold a gathering and decided that, since it was so majestic, that the Native tribes who preceded them simply must have done the same thing.

Never mind that it took them two hours in horse-drawn carriages to get up there.

In the past it's also been an amusement park (imagine riding the roller coaster on that one … they have something like that in Vegas now, though they had to build a tower to get it) and a terminus to one of the iconic old Portland streetcar runs (the CC car). Now, of course, it's one of our most popular city parks and has, at 1,070, the best view of any park in town.

Until recently, though, the signature views were actually getting obscured by tree and brush growth. This put more than one Oregonian in a peculiar place: unironically advocating for the removal of a bunch of trees. But it's in the service of a good cause, and there's still plenty of green.

The clearing has reopened views that had gone away so gradually I didn't know they were gone. The Fremont Bridge is one again clearly visible with Mount Saint Helens in the distance:

Loowit and Fremont Bridge

And, signature and picture-postcard views of downtown and NE Portland are back in style:

PDX From Council Crest

The niftiest thing to me is the view of Sandy Boulevard that this viewpoint gives:

Sandy Boulevard from Council Crest

And if you can zoom in … welcome to Hollywood, baby!

Hollywood Close-up

And that's Council Crest, today.

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[ad_design] Sarcasm Day: Snark About Coors Billboards

2623.I'm declaring this a Sarcasm Day, mostly because these ads:

Coors billboards 1

… have really gotten on my nerves.

Gosh almighty, we can't send a man to the Moon anymore, but we'll always know when a Coors Light is at the perfect serving temperature. Remember those days when you just, well, I don't know … picked up a bottle to see if it was cold or not? Yeah, those were hard times. We had to write down phone numbers to remember them an' all. The horror.

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[liff] Three Girls, One Teapot

2622.Them Aussie women are a different kind of crayzee.

I mean, if they aren't planking, they're teapotting.

Some women are doing with sheep, for cryin' out loud!

I know! Sheep … in Australia?

Don't think this sort of public behavior is dangerous? It's getting people fired at Woolworths.

Kids these days. Next thing you know, it'll be jazz halls and dancing.

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13 May 2011

[type] Handschrift: A Different Sort of Sign Language

2621.What do you need to create a type font?

José Ernesto Rodriguez needed a photocopier and his own two hands:

Handscrift Sample

"Handscrift" is a complete 26-glyph, majuscule and minuscule, punctuation and special symbols, font produced by Rodriguez using just those two things. It's really cool stuff, and his project at Behance (http://www.behance.net/gallery/Handschrift/1271211) shows a complete display of the type, how he did it, and pages out a sketchbook, which is always my favorite thing.


11 May 2011

[logo] First Ahhnold and Maria Separate, Now This, or, Paging Sarah Connor

2621.So, just after we hear that Mr and Mrs Schwarzenegger separate, we hear that MSFT has bought Skype.




I sure hope so.

Will Sarah Connor come to the white courtesy phone?

Via Jeff Patterson.

09 May 2011

[web_design] Did The Lakers Get Swept? Simple Website - Effective CSS Lesson

2620.I don't know if Brad Benites was out to teach web design, but he did.

Brad Benites is a resident of Arizona who's also a DMavs fan. In other words, he's also thrilled that the Mavericks ate the Lakers lunch, but whereas my joy is based on schadenfreude and despair, his is based on his team actually winning the series, an alternative I hope the Blazers explore in future seasons.

Proving it's impossible to predict what will go viral (believe me, I wish I knew that magic bullet (Magic and Bullet being two other NBA squads entirely)) He asked the question "Did the Mavericks Sweep The Lakers" with the website http://didthelakersgetswept.com/.

Go ahead and click the link. Even dialup users can do this one.

Are you back? Good. Since web design intrigues, I ordered up a source view, and wasn't surprised to find out that it included very little: What you see is what you got, except for the visitor tracking javascript. However … the simplicity of the design provided a straight-ahead look at some thoroughly modern web design. Here's what it was:

Of course, first, there was some header information. It's what you might expect. Then, came this bit of text:

<style type="text/css">

.yes {
    font-family:Arial, sans-serif;

This is just basic CSS. Since it's in the file itself, it's inline CSS. Specifies font family, color, font size in ems, aligns in the center, and gives 200 pixels top and bottom padding. Good old box-model CSS.

The body (skipping the javascript) looks like this:

<div class="yes">Yes.</div>

The logic used makes it obvious to even the beginner here.

The first block, which defines the display of the characters, is a class selector. What identifies that, of course, is the period in front of the work "yes". Class selectors, of course, can be used wherever, on single things, large groups of things. The other thing is the ID selector, which is used to style only one element at a time. Each has their strengths. And this could have been styled with either an ID or a class selector, but class seems to be the right way to go here; the most simple approach, as demonstrated by the fact that all you have to do is insert the attribute in the div tag, and the job is done.

This is why CSS is so powerful. All you have to do is change one attribute in the selector definition, and the body text changes automatically. The box model makes positioning the text oh, so very easy - and so browser agnostic, you don't need to care (at least with this application) whether you're going to use Firefox, Opera, Safari, or Chrome to view it.

Moreover, a small task like this is ideal for inline CSS, which is typically eschewed in favor of external CSS. That's not to say that external CSS couldn't be used here: that selector could go into a file of its own, say yes.css,  and be attached to the file with the tag

<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="yes.css" />

It would be rather too much design for this little gem, but it would be utterly valid.

In the meantime … the Lakers are out! Swept by the Mavs! Go Mavs!

[liff] Condolences to Commission Randy Leonard

2619.I'm not a huge fan of Randy Leonard as a Portland City Councilor, but as a human being, and someone who has lost a younger brother to the vicissitudes of life and fate, I can certainly sense the pain in losing a child.

Doubtless he should agree with my mother who has opined that a parent should never outlive their child.

And in that spirit, heartfelt condolences.

[art] A Fantasy Diary Girl

2619.Well, not really some fantasy-dream-girl, but a girl's face and head drawn from a how-to book, Christopher Hart's Figure It Out!:

Hart Girl

The book, Figure It Out!, is, as said, one in the nigh-indefatigable Hart's line of how to draw and cartoon books. I swear, half the art-how-to bookage in the world has to have been produced by Mr. Hart … prolific seems such a quaint word when it comes to his output.

Most of it doesn't work too well for me … there's something formulaic, urelenting about them. But if you must buy a Hart book, this is one this is the one. Goes over figure drawing in a friendly, followable way. Which is worth its weight in gold.

And I'll be going over some of the exercises in the book and copying out drawings, to keep my newly-rediscovered chops developing.

07 May 2011

[media] The Whole Animal Kingdom, Or Just That Horse There?

2618.I wish headline-writing was its own career. I would so go for that.

Why? Because every once in a while, I can come up with this (via KGW-TV):

Animal Kingdom Wins!

Those throngs in the stands are the horse's support staff, I guess.

Sometimes the sweetest victories are those that are shared precariously. This is the day of history: not only did this horse win the Derby, not only did humanity win, by extension, but the entire animal kingdom.

I guess we never have to run that race again.

In other headlines that caught my eye, KPTV-TV has a very clever titler working today:


… I love that. Also, in other alliterative news: Purloiners Pick at Pontiacs in Pendleton, Absconders Attack Acuras in Albany, Saboteurs Sully Saturns in Salem, and Villians Victimize VWs in Vernonia.

Oh, won't someone think of the children?

05 May 2011

[pdx] Beauiful Day; My Favorite Mountain

2617.Mount Hood is, forgive me for stating perhaps the over-obvious, iconic for very good reasons, three of which are location, location, and location.

Mount Hood tight shot

On Wednesday, that beautiful day, me and mine were at the top of Rocky Butte, in that lovely little Joseph Wood Hill park, and I was getting pictures of my favorite mountain.

Mt Hood Piccy Postcard

Some good enough for postcards.

I've grown up with Mount Hood visible out my window most of my life. I strongly identify with the Cascade volcanoes, and when I showed people pictures of my hometown, what bits of the world I have seen, they were absolutely enchanted by the big city with the graceful mountain in the background.

Mt Hood Portrait

Observing the mountain over my hometown, my east side, concentrates the sense of time and space and leave me feeling … something, somehow. Aw, heck, I guess some things defy words for a very good reason.

But those peaks on the horizon? That's part of me too.

04 May 2011

[art] Crappy Late Night Photoshop Presents a Star Wars Character Lucas Decided Not To Use

2616.I give you:

Django Fett

… Django Fett.

[art] Diary Drawing: Sayuri from Pastel Manga

2616.At the library today I went looking for manga with visual style that appealed, and hit upon Pastel, which is some sort of romantic-comedy-shonen joint. I'm not too concerned with subject matter right now; more visual style, for styles my eye enjoys that I would like to emulate for practice. And Pastel hit the spot exactly and satisfyingly. One of the characters is named Sayuri, and this is her:

Sayuri Number 1

She had just snuck up on one of the main characters and played a prank on her by pretending to be a violently-inclined mugger, but revealing the game with a squirt of the gun and a knowing wink. That weapon she's holding is indeed a squirt gun.

I instantly saw how I could render that, and here's my go:

Sayuri Pastel Number 2

I took out the squirty-mark to make it a general girl-with-gun pic. Because we all know that chicks with guns go over big. Here's a close look.

Sayuri Pastel Number 3

Stiff fun-loving and playful, but a little dangerous maybe.

And I call this one a success.