Goodbye Double Click Road

Just a quick note to say that I don’t anticipate any more new content on this blog. It was a fun while it lasted, and certainly lead to many great things for me. But it’s all too obvious that I don’t have the time to keep it up any more. So rather than letting it drift any longer in limbo, I’m officially closing up the Publicious shop. I’ll leave the old posts up as a source of information and amusement to anyone who happens by.

Also, I’d like to offer great thanks to Cinnamon, Eric, and Robin for their contributions.

Happy trails, everyone. See you over at InDesignSecrets and elsewhere.

InDesignSecrets LIVE!

Hello Cleveland!

And Austin! And Detroit, Minneapolis, and Secaucus, NJ!

These cities are the first announced stops on the InDesignSecretsLIVE! 2010 tour.

Click the image to go to InDesignSecretsLIVE for details.

Also on InDesignSecretsLIVE, you’ll find information about the single biggest, coolest, most awesome InDesign event of the year: The InDesign Print and ePublishing Conference. This is going to be absolutely sick. And by sick I mean ridiculously fun. Here are some of the details:

Print and ePublishing Conference

Seattle, Washington USA
May 12–14, 2010
Join the world’s top InDesign experts and the Adobe InDesign team, May 12-14 in Seattle for the InDesign event of the year! Find answers and valuable insight on the topics publishing for eBooks, print, interactive documents, and more! Be inspired by fresh ideas and new products. Includes 1-day pre-conference tutorials, then 2-day multi-track conference.

Not your typical InDesign Conference

Founded by world-renowned InDesign experts David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepción, and dedicated to the proposition that InDesign professionals deserve a great learning experience, the Print and ePublishing Conference brings together over a dozen of the leading InDesign experts minds for three days of non-stop inspiration and education!

Topics include:

  • InDesign CS5: What to Expect
  • Boosting efficiency with InDesign’s automation features
  • Best practices for a cross-media workflow
  • Creating and managing ePub and Kindle documents
  • Working with Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and Flash
  • XML, XSL, and You

Speakers include:

  • David Blatner
  • Anne-Marie Concepción
  • Russell Viers
  • Rufus Deuchler
  • Mordy Golding
  • Michael Ninness, Group Product Manager, Creative Suite
  • Chris Kitchener, Senior Product Manager, InDesign
  • Olav Martin Kvern
  • Diane Burns
  • Keith Gilbert
  • Claudia McCue
  • Mike Rankin
  • David Creamer
  • Gabriel Powell
  • Colin Fleming
  • Pariah S. Burke
  • James Fritz
  • Adobe Engineering Team
  • Steve Jobs
  • James Cameron
  • Lady Ga-Ga
  • Chewbacca
  • President of the United States, Barack Obama
  • Marcel Marceau
  • The Rockettes
  • The ghost of Jimi Hendrix
  • and a special keynote address by Samuel L. Jackson

OK, I may have gotten a little carried away there somewhere after the Adobe Engineering Team, but you get the point. It’s going to be awesome. And yes, no joke, I am going to be speaking there too. And who knows, maybe we can channel the ghost of Jimi to give us some GREP tips on his guitar. See you in Seattle!

Why Would You Want Be Adobe Certified?

I’m baaaack. After an extended cyber-hibernation, I’m back on the Publicious beat, and hoping to make this blog better than ever in 2010.

Recently, I received a comment on my last post about the ACE ebook asking, “why would I want to be an ACE?”

Excellent question! And one worthy of a detailed answer.

To become Adobe Certified, you have to devote a significant number of hours of preparation and study when there are probably many other things you’d rather be doing. Then when you’re done studying, you have pay $150 for the privilege of subjecting yourself to a rigorous test. Why would any sane individual do this?

Before you even look at the testing objectives, you should have some good answers to this question. That’s why I devoted a chunk of the first chapter of the book to answering the “why” question. Here’s an excerpt:

Professional Rewards

1. Shared Branding When you become an ACE, you can put the Adobe brand to work for you. Adobe has worked hard over the years to build a brand that is synonymous with excellence in technology, graphic design, and cross-media production. PDF, PostScript, and the Creative Suite are respected worldwide. So much branding goodness is tied together in that red A. One of the benefits of being an Adobe Certified Expert is that you are given permission to use the Adobe logo. If you’re in business for yourself, you can put the ACE logo on your business card, website, and other promotional materials. People recognize Adobe, and the use of the Adobe logo lends instant credibility to you.

2. An Asset in the Job Hunt In a competitive job market, you want every tool at your disposal to get and keep the attention of prospective employers. In a stack of resumes, certification might be the difference between “keep” and “toss.” It also gives you something to smile about and highlight in an interview. Obviously, certification
is no substitute for years of industry experience and an impressive portfolio, but it complements those assets and adds another detail to your story of why they should hire you.

3. Attention From Your Current Employer If you’re seeking a promotion, or even just trying to stay employed in a tough economy, you must continuously develop your professional knowledge and skills, and demonstrate them. Getting certified is a very “show-me-don’t-tell-me” kind of thing. You can’t fake it. You can’t get by on reputation or luck. You have to earn it. Being thought of as someone with the initiative to take on a challenge and the chops to pull it off can only enhance your value in your boss’ eyes. You can proudly post that certificate in your workspace as a bit of personal advertising. You may find that your opinions carry a little more weight and you become the “go to” person when it comes to all things InDesign.

Personal Rewards

1. Confidence and satisfaction There is nothing like the confidence that comes with knowing what you know. Work approaches something more like play when you know all the tools in your toolbox. You can build new projects that are fundamentally solid right from the start. When changes are needed, you know how to make them happen smoothly and efficiently. If big problems occur later on, you’ll know the best way to fix them.

2. It’s fun! I know some of you are thinking, “Fun? Are you nuts? You have issues.” Be that as it may, hear me out. I think it’s fun to devote yourself to a large and difficult
task, meet it head on, and succeed. I am assuming you want to get certified, and no one’s put a gun to your head. I’m also assuming you don’t find InDesign impossibly tedious or difficult, and that you actually like sitting in front of a computer and making stuff. In other words, you’re a geek like me. If that’s the case, then yes, there is an element of fun in this.

3. Revenge Revenge? Yeah, sure, why not? Ever been made to feel a fool by some nasty über-geek because you didn’t know an obscure bit of digital trivia? If you study for and pass this exam, you will be able to throw a bucket of cold knowledge on the Wicked Geek of the West, who will disappear into the floor shrieking, “I’m melting! Oh, what a world! Who would have thought a good little geek like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness?” Or you might just get a grudging nod of respect.

But you can always hope for the melting.

The InDesign ACE eBook is Published!


My first ebook is published and now on sale!

Click here to visit the InDesign Secrets store.

Here’s the official description:

The InDesign Secrets Guide to the InDesign CS4 ACE Exam eBook (PDF, 150 pp) is the most thorough resource available for anyone interested in becoming an Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) in InDesign. More than a simple study guide, it offers you a comprehensive plan for preparing for and passing the exam.

The Guide breaks down every one of the 58 InDesign CS4 testing objectives (as published by Adobe) and shows exactly what you need to practice and study. Objectives are illustrated with screenshots from InDesign and are hyperlinked to the relevant information in InDesign’s online help, so you can get immediate answers to your questions. Each chapter ends with sample test questions (and their answers) to help you gauge your progress as you go.

Additional chapters detail the testing process, self-assessment, personalized study plans, study tips, and test-taking strategies, and re-certification. With The InDesign Secrets Guide to the InDesign CS4 ACE Exam you can accelerate and focus your preparation so you walk into the testing center with confidence, and walk out an ACE.

  • Download a Sample Chapter (11 pp, a 2.2 MB PDF) to see how Mike breaks down the test objectives (in this case, tables) into clear, concise, and generously illustrated explanations.
  • Only $9.95 for each copy of the full e-book (150 pp); download it immediately after purchase.
  • 25% Introductory Discount off your order if you enter the discount couponRANKINRULES in the shopping cart before Nov 30, 2009.

No doubt, I’ll have a lot more to share on this topic, but for now it’s just…woo-hoo!

Publicious Book Review: Presentation Zen

It’s been a while since I’ve recommended any books, but right now I have two good ones to share, Presentation Zen and Graphic Design History: A Critical Guide. The first is an absolute, five star, required reading, go get it RIGHT NOW book. The second is more of a textbook that will appeal to a limited audience of brainy desingers who get off on knowing how we got from Roman majuscules to uncials to, God help us, Comic Sans. I’m not finished with Graphic Design History, so I’ll save my thoughts on that one for now. But Presentation Zen rocks. (pun intended)


If you have ever been the victim of “death by bulleted list”, or suffocated by a boring speaker droning on until all the air is sucked out of the room, I think you will love this book. Over the years, I have endured many a dreadful presentation consisting of a person basically reading over a set of ugly, confusing slides, that taught me nothing. Presentation Zen recommends quite a different approach: clean slides with very little text, bold visuals, and..get this…speaking in a real human voice. What a revelation!

The author practices what he preaches. The book is beautifully designed with lots of white space surrounding the text and examples, so reading it is a pleasure. It’s the rare book where you feel like you learned something on every page. Edward Tufte’s data-ink ratio is honored. Nothing is wasted. Inspiration is drawn from daVinci, Einstein, Thoreau, and that master of Zen presentation, Steve Jobs. 

There are plenty of examples of good and bad presentation design. Most of the bad stuff comes from people mistaking decoration for design, or trying to make their PowerPoint slides into full-fledged documents, aka slideuments. Slideuments suck. Your slides are not supposed to be pages in a document, crammed with tiny details. For that, you should create an actual supporting document to hand out to your audience after the presentation. Giving it to them beforehand, or even worse, giving them your slides printed out, is the kiss of death. Everyone is so busy flipping back and forth, dividing their attention between page and screen, that they will remember nothing. I’ve seen it many times.

Dissolves, logos, 3D effects, and tired PowerPoint templates are all to be taken out behind the barn and shot, for the crime of crippling human communication.

One of the most interesting points the author makes is that slide presentations have more to do with comics and documentary film making, than anything else. It’s about the story, the audience, and using emotion and visuals to maximum effect to get the audience to remember your story (and you, BTW).

Presentation Zen also has a companion website well worth visiting. I’d recommend you check the book if you plan on speaking in front of an audience any time in the foreseeable future.

Cast Iron Cool

Lest you think Publicious is a stable of one-trick publishing ponies, only capable of rendering the creations of others onto screen and print, behold!


Yes, we have a soon-to-be published author in our midst. Read about Cinnamon’s upcoming book, The Everything Cast Iron Cookbook, at her blog, Poise.

Yummy! And congratulations to my multi-talented friend.

The book won’t hit the streets for a bit, buy you can pre-order it now at Amazon. At just over $10 it’s a steal. And if you order now, I’ll throw in some extra kerning for free.

Now if only I could get Eric to write a book on cocktails…

Publicious Links: The Real Balloon Boy Edition

He’s still up there. Somewhere. Alone. The poor balloon boy, captive of the merciless sky. Orphan of the atmosphere. My heart goes out to him. No, not that hoaxing chump whose dad sent up a Jiffy Pop bag and called 911. I’m talking about the real balloon boy. Pascal. Le garçon Parisien who has been riding the whims of the winds since 1956.


At least he was wearing a warm sweater. In retribution for failing to protect one of their kind from the neighborhood bullies, pauvre Pascal was kidnapped by a marauding band of garish helium hooligans, never to be seen again.


He would be in his 60s by now. Be brave, Pascal.

Now on to this week’s links:

Web 2.0 Journal has a look at the Nook (hey, that rhymes) vs. the Kindle.

2010 is going to be the Year of the E-book. Don’t take my word for it, PCWorld has a roundup of the new combatants in the War on Paper. Old Publicious pal Plastic Logic will ring in the new year in January with the QUE.

XML Journal has more on the Nook, and how Adobe worked with Barnes and Noble to get PDF and EPUB on the gadget.

Need to design and produce accessible PDF? Then you need to read Adobe’s resources on the subject. How to create accessible PDF from Word, InDesign, etc.

LiveBrush is yet another free and interesting drawing app.

‘Tis the season to be gory, and Naldzgraphics has gathered 45 horrifying Photoshop tuts. How to zombify, vampirize, etc.

Flash without ActionScript is like ice cream without hot fudge, whipped cream, and a cherry on top. That comes zooming onto your table from stage right. Enter to help you learn the magic words.

Flash on the iPhone? Sorta, kinda. Newsfactor has an article on Apple v. Adobe.

VectorTuts has a tut on creating a vector texture with a wonderfully old school twist.

Creately is an online diagramming app that’s either free (basic version) or pay what you want (souped up).

InsideRIA is a great site from O’Reilly for keeping tabs on developments in the rich internet app realm.

Lastly, thanks to Pariah Burke and his column Free For All on (required reading for destitute designers everywhere), for the heads up on FontCapture, a free online tool for making a font out of your handwriting. I don’t know why I think this is cool. I don’t try to write in Helvetica, so why would I want to type in Rankin? But I really do.

Till next time, think of Pascal, and keep watching the skies.