Every day in my normal workflow, as I come across interesting web sites that may be worthy of a DesignGeek story, I add them to an ever-growing list of URLs I maintain just for this purpose. I've been collecting these URLS over a year now — the dropdown menu for them goes way beyond the bottom of my screen — and really only about 10% of them ever make it into an article.
So much content, so little time.
And so for this issue, I thought I'd try to clear the decks a little. I'll just write up some short blurbs about the most recent sites I've bookmarked, starting with the latest one and going down the list till I hit my limit.
Okay, I'm done. Listen, I had so much fun writing these up I figure I'll probably do it more often. I thought about calling it the First Quarterly Bookmarks Issue or the First Biannual Issue but I can't live within your rules, man, I gotta be free. So I settled on "Occasional."
Hope you'll enjoy this random look at what kinds of things I collect with an eye toward DesignGeek content. As always, I'd love to hear from you and what *your* recent bookmarked "finds" were.
Free Kontrapunkt Typeface
Apparently they have an annual typeface design competition in Denmark. The 2004 winner is an intriguing but not too totally-out-there slab serif face called "Kontrapunkt." The designers of the face want to spread the joy by giving it away; so it's first-come-first-served to the web site to download it.
Kontrapunkt is a PostScript Type1 face, for Mac or Windows, available in Light, Light Italic, and Bold. (No word on any plans to develop a Bold Italic.) At the URL above you can enter random text and see what it looks like in the font, download their PDF presentation on the typeface's design considerations (for some reason it's not in English — what's wrong with these people), and of course download the typeface itself.
The web page says that the award was "handed over by Crown Prince Frederik to creative director Bo Linnemann at a ceremony in Danish Design Centre." Can you imagine that, being awarded by the royal family for some design work you've done? Wow. Hey, why can't *we* have a Crown Prince? Oh wait … nevermind.
TextPattern Content Manager Thing
For the past few years I've been following the blog craze with interest. Of course I'd love to have my own blog but I have to wait until cloning technology has progressed a bit so I could assign Anne-Marie2 to the task. In the meantime I daydream about, "If I could create a blog site for myself, which cool web-based blogging system would I use." (Yes, that's pretty geeky, in my defense though my favorite daydream is working on the list of the five or six cities in which I'll establish pieds-a-terre, complete with live-in staff, once I win the lottery.)
Then I started reading about a new kid on the crowded block, TextPattern, just out of beta. I spent some time on this site trying to figure out just why it's better than Movable Type, but of course since I've never used Movable Type myself, I didn't get very far.
Computer Jargon Test
Some researchers at the Global Consumer Advisory Board suspected that consumers were a bit foggy when it came to understanding the features of technology products that manufacturers plastered all over the packaging. Big surprise: They were right.
Test your understanding of terms like DPI and Bluetooth at the link to the researcher's actual quiz, and see how your knowledge stacks up against the results of their study. (Only 3% aced all eleven multiple choice questions.)
Adobe TechNote on Problems with WindowsXP SP2
I just paid a Windows geek to get rid of a nasty spyware infection on my Dell and to install SP2 (Service Pack 2). It took him 4 hours, sheesh. I guess it wasn't smart to ignore all those "You have Windows Updates ready to install" alerts for the past 2 years.
SP2 is a major security fix for WindowsXP, and upgrading to it breaks some software. This is Adobe's tech note on what it breaks with Creative Suite programs… no biggie, it's just that running Online Help runs into SP2's lockdown on suspected virus/spyware-laden web sites. Easy fix.
Fellow Mac users, you just know that if OS X were as popular as Windows, we'd be going through the same hell. Don't gloat. It tempts the gods.
InDesign Tips in French
This is Branislav Milic's personal site. Branislav is a very helpful InDesign geek on all the listservs and forums I haunt, and one day I just clicked on the web site URL in his sig to learn more about him. From his name I would've guessed he was from Eastern Europe — and maybe he is — but his site's content is all in French. (The navigation buttons are in English though, for some reason.) Looks like some fantastic tips there, complete with helpful screen shots. Too bad I no speakenzee French.
I can see that some of his tips end with a one-word sentence: "Chic." Like, "Bladety blah commenvous bladety blah. Chic." I assume that translates to "Cool"? That made me smile. The happy geek vibes come through loud and clear.
Illustrator Collect for Output
During GraphExpo a couple months ago, when I was working the Adobe booth as a hired "Ask the Expert" (see the story in DesignGeek 30: <http://senecadesign.com/designgeek/dgarchives/designgeek30.php>), one of the attendees I was helping was griping about how difficult it was to gather together all the fonts and linked images in an Illustrator file.
I knew I had seen a Collect for Ouput utility for Illy *somewhere,* and made him sit there for fifteen minutes while I exhausted myself in Google's, PowerXChange's and Adobe's search engines looking for it. Fruitlessly. I looked up and noticed he had quietly absented himself while I was mumbling under my breath, trying keyword after keyword.
Of course, two days later in my office, splat, it landed in my browser window while I was surfing elsewhere. This time I made sure to bookmark the beastie. Dear Mr. GraphExpo man, if you subscribed to DesignGeek, here it is. See? I wasn't insane after all.
Font Problems in Mac OS X 10.3.5
MacMedics is a company sort of like mine except they're on the East Coast, have multiple locations, classrooms, and do on-site Macintosh troubleshooting. Okay other that, they're exactly like me.
This page contains some interesting details about how 10.3.5 changed the way it dealt with PostScript font character maps, resulting in missing characters when printing or exporting from a wide variety of programs, especially with Expert or dingbat fonts. Scroll down their page to see all the details and a list of affected programs.
Upon revisiting the site, I see there's a new blurb that says 10.3.6 has partially fixed the problem. But if you're still suffering from dropped glyphs, this page contains some great advice and fixes.
The Worst Interface Ever
Because I spend so much time with software and hardware interfaces, the "interface" of real, everyday things like clock radios and hotel shower Hot/Cold dials sometimes comes under my wrath. I love books on product design and user psychology (pick up a copy of "The Design of Everyday Things" by Donald Norman when you get a chance).
But my favorite author on the subject (which he calls *interaction* design) is Bruce Tognazzini, via his Ask Tog columns, which I've been reading for literally over 15 years in various computer magazines. Now he's got his own AskTog.com web site.
The link leads to a recent column of his where he describes The Worst Interface Ever, which is in effect a "death switch" (Tog's term of course!) on an aftermarket device for Lexus RX-300 series cars.
Creating Press-Ready PDFs With OS X Panther
PDF Guru Leonard Rosenthol vehemently rebuts a PDFZone editorial which said that OS X's "Save As PDF" button can't create reliable press-ready PDFs. Mr. Rosenthol begs to differ and offers proof. He says that Apple hid the relevant features deep inside the ColorSync Utility (in the Applications/Utilities folder) and explains how to use them to your advantage.
With the 'Save as PDF' button in the Print dialog, he concludes, "You have the ability to create press-worthy, PDF/X-compliant PDF documents from ANY application (even MSWord!) … with almost the exact same features as those found in Adobe's own authoring applications."
"I Love My Mac" Song, courtesy of GarageBand
One of the top-rated original songs on the icompositions.com web site, which offers thousands of user-uploaded compositions created in Apple's GarageBand software.
Chorus: "I love my Mac, cause it's so dependable, so sensible, so beautiful, oh it's the only one for me."
Color Management Downloads
The second edition of Real World Color Management (2004, Peachpit Press) just came out a few months ago. Authors Bruce Fraser, Chris Murphy and Fred Bunting do a fantastic job explaining everything from what a working space is to setting up a completely managed color workflow.
The URL is to the book's downloads site. You may find some of the files useful even if you don't have the book, because the downloads are mostly target files (Granger Rainbow, MacBeth ColorCheckers) you can use to test/optimize your setup.
World's Most Amazing Gradient Mesh Work
Pictures tell thousands of words, and that's a good thing because you'll understand few words on this page since I think it's all in Chinese. No matter. Be patient when you get there because it takes a LONG time to download to your browser window.