Publicious Links: The Whine Flu Edition

I don’t have a cure for the H1N1 virus, but good links are good medicine for whatever ails ya. Unless you’re ailed by attention deficit disorder. In which case, they’re poison. Anyhoo…

Thus far, I’ve been able to avoid the Swine flu, but I think I’m coming down with a case of the Whine flu. Symptoms: dissatisfaction with my software and hardware. Not fast enough. Not up-to-date enough. Buggy. Case in point: Adobe’s back with another warning about the security of Javascript in Acrobat. Some folks are so fed up, they’re dumping Reader for alternative PDF software. Sheesh. Adobe invented PDF. “How embarassking,” as Popeye would say. The new patch is promised by May 12th. Till then, I guess, just rub your screen with Purell, and disable Javascript in Acrobat.

Not to kick a giant corporation while they’re down, but there is more bad news in Adobeland. Not only did they have shutdown weeks where all employees were forced to stay home, layoffs, wage freezes, and now financial analysts downgraded Adobe stock from “buy” to “hold,” even though it’s stumbling between $15–$25 lately. The thinking is that Adobe’s stock will stay low till Creative Suite 5 appears. Let’s hope CS5 is a home run. But of course, if you read Publicious, you already know what’s in store for CS5 😉 If you don’t want to take my word for it, check out the  interview with CEO Shantanu Narayen. I’m sure he mentions Publicious in there somewhere…

Actually, he’s more focused on Flash, making deals with Netflix, Comcast, and Disney to deliver content in Flash to your TV. The question is, do you want Flash on your TVs? Personally, I don’t. TV’s craptacular enough as it is, without having to install the latest plug-in version and reboot the set before you can watch MythBusters. Or commercial pop-up ads. Or the prospect of having the SuperBowl “Unexpectedly Quit” while a team is driving for a touchdown. When it happens (and you know it will), it’ll be a 21st Century Heidi moment.

Want to know who else is reading Publicious? Check out Quantcast.com for a look at yourselves. It’s fun to see where everyone is coming from. I’d like to give a shout out to my 10 unique cookies in Bulgaria. Yo! S’up, Razgrad?

Trying to enhance your software developer skillz? By all meanz, check out Refcardz.com for free PDF “cheat sheetz” chock full o’ information and well-dezigned.

Also worth checking out are Adobe’s new “marketplaces.” Claiming to be “the ultimate resource” and “the most comprehensive collection products, services, and communities available.” Sounds like Exchange on steroids. So far there are two marketplaces, Photoshop and AIR. If they succeed, there will no doubt be more.

I’ll give you three guesses who just bought Stanza, the eBook reader app for the iPhone, and the first two don’t count. If you said Amazon, you win (or do you?) Hmmm.

By the way, Amazon just announced a large format Kindle, aimed at the textbook market. My heart’s still with the underdog, PlasticLogic guys. But either way, if my son’s backpack can get under 20 lbs, I’m good.

Looking for a perfect Mother’s Day gift? Sure, Facebook was ruined when your mom joined, but at least you have Twitter, right? Well, before mom starts following Ashton Kutcher and tweeting links to your prom photos, you might be proactive and give her the new Twitter book from O’Reilly. Who knows, maybe she’ll become a niche titan and buy you a shiny new MacBook Pro.

Finally, I leave you with the disturbing images of the real origin of swine flu: Johnny Cash singing with Miss Piggy.

Be good, and remember, cough into your elbow to keep your PDFs virus-free.

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Pub Links: The Play Ball Edition

Ah, springtime in Boston. The last remnants of dirty snow cower in the shadows near big box parking lots. The Emerson girls are trading in their UGGs for flip-flops. And with the first pitch at Fenway, the looooooooooooooooooong winter of ’08–’09 was finally, officially, over ’round these parts. Now ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, introducing the starting lineup for the 2009 Publicious GREP Sox.

Batting leadoff, and playing centerfield, O’ReillyMaker lets you customize your own version of those iconicly weirdo book covers.

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Batting second, and playing shortstop, a must-have iPhone app for fontgeeks: Bitstream’s What the Font? for iPhone. With it, you can go to the grocery store, snap a pic of a box of Cocoa Puffs, and WTF will tell you what typeface that crazy rooster has been dancing in front of lo these many years. I think it’s HelveticaBlackExtraCuckoo.

Batting third and playing second base, Squidspot’s Periodic Table of Typefaces.

Batting fourth and playing first base, David Pogue’s blog post on landscape vs. portrait orientation for PDFs. Touches on a lot of issues of readability and design.

Batting fifth, the designated hitter, the story of how the InDesign spell checker caused a controversy that lead to a newspaper recall. Actually, I think it was probably the person using the spell checker. But fine, throw ID under the bus. It can take it.

Batting sixth and playing left field, Apple and Adobe: The Odd Couple. Steve Jobs has to be Felix. Who at Adobe would be Oscar?

Batting seventh and playing right field, the Cut & Paste Digital Design Tournament in Chicago.

Batting eighth and playing third base, Adobe and Facebook getting social.

Batting ninth and catching, an anagram maker. Some of my faves:

Helvetica = A tech evil

Adobe InDesign = bondage inside, deadening bios, disdain begone

Publicious.net = bionic pustule, polite incubus, unlit poi cubes.

And the starting pitcher, THE greatest Looney Tune of all time: Baseball Bugs.

Lunchtime Links: The Bailout Bonus Edition

Now that the corporate malfeasance has been dealt with by a powerful surge of re-branding, AIG can go back to standing for “anchored inline graphic.” Whew! For a minute there I was worried we were all screwed. At least now the printers will be happy with all the millions spent on new business cards, stationery, signs, etc.

I just posted a way of using GREP styles with Preview in InDesign to play and learn GREP with fewer tears and gnashing of teeth.

A few other popular GREP reources:

Master Yoda was actually speaking of GREP when he famoulsy croaked, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” He also said of Peter Kahrel’s GREP in InDesign CS3, “A better $10, you will not spend, my young apprentice.”

BBEdit’s GREP tutorial

JetSet Communications Adventures in GREP.

The InDesiger’s Undocumented Bit of GREP Gold.

GREP-free links

This summer Montreal will play host to the XML alpha geek community when the Balisage 2009, conference hits town. Montreal, summer, XML, oui, oui, oui! Anyone interested in being a speaker must submit a paper by April 24th. Ahem, Mr. Damitz, I’m looking at you…

Counting human beans: maybe the AIG bonuses wouldn’t have happened if the execs’ performance had been subjected to this kind of scrutiny.

If you like your graphic design preserved with a good dose of sodium benzoate, check out the magnificent decontrstuction of Pepsi’s new look. at Before&After.

NCAA, meet PDF: in Adobe’s Ultimate Tourney Guide. (Acrobat 9′er required). You only have to pay for it if your picks all lose. Call it a virtual vig. 😉

Lastly: Sherman, set the Wayback Machine for exactly five years ago. When Adobe was touting the new CS as the most important box of software you’d see for the next five years. Guess they didn’t see the fact that in five years, there wouldn’t BE any software in boxes. They were clearly living in the past. If the cloud people have their way, in five years, there won’t be any software on my computer.

See ya, kids. I’m off to collect my bailout bonus: a bowl of Ramen.

Lunchtime Links: The Economapocalypse Now Edition

All the bad economic news is starting to get to me. Stocks were up yesterday, but that doesn’t offset the fact that Zillow says my house is worth the same as a pepperoni pizza. I’d be tempted to go to the mall and pick pennies out of the fountains, but somebody probably beat me to them. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Now that my 401k has minned out, the fountain gig is my retirement plan 😉

If the prospect of a Great(er) Depression has got you down too, pull up a bowl of mac and cheese and check out these links. They’ll make you feel better (or at least distract you while the bank changes the locks on your house).

First up, Prepress Pilgrim. It is an excellent blog written by DJ Dunkerley, about marketing, business, and technology issues in prepress. There’s also a whole section of career management posts, including stuff like Trying To Find Job Websites That Aren’t Skanky. DJ used to work for Creo back in the day, developing a little PDF workflow thingy you may know better as Prinergy. For my money, Prinergy is coolest thing in prepress since, um, ever.

So you say you need a content management system, but the global economic crisis has left you broke? Check out Drupal. It’s a free, open source CMS that’s gaining popularity. And it’s the CMS behind Allyouneedischeese.com. What more do you want?

Bulletin Bulletin Bulletin…Adobe makes it safe to swap PDFs with strangers again, by posting a patch to Acrobat 9.

Crowdsourcing: necessary evil or evil evil? Personally, I’m thinking evil evil. Pitting designers against one another, and eroding the quality and wages of their profession, just ain’t my idea of a party. What’s next on the road to the bottom? How about we crowdsource medical care? Post your symptoms and anyone who claims to be a “doctor” can diagnose your illness on spec. Then you pick the treatment that fits your budget. Hmm that might work; Obama are you listening?

If you are a freelancer, or think you might be one soon, check out Michelle Goodman’s blog, the Anti 9 to 5 Guide. She’s been freelancing for more than 15 years and has written a great book on the do’s and don’t of the freelance world. Yes, it’s aimed at women, but good advice is good advice.

This I found interesting bit of Google on Google crime: Hitwise notes that GMail is now more popular than YouTube. It’s well on its way to becoming more popular than food, water, and air.

Another fine blog, this time from inside the Adobe Empire. Bob Bringhurst is the man in charge of official InDesign documentation. Can’t get much closer to the source than that.

On my bucket list is to solve the frigging Rubik’s Cube once and for all. In case I never get there, I can always fake it with a tutorial to make your own Rubik’s photo cube in Photoshop from any image. It also gave me the idea that you could print out whatever picture you wanted on sticker paper and make your own photo Rubik’s in real life. I might have to try that.

Guess I’ll have to put my plans for an origami TV screen on hold. Those super cool OLED flexible screens are also feeling the bite of the lousy economy.

Last, if you might find yourself up on stage in front of a crowd anytime soon, I suggest you first check James Duncan Davidson’s 8 Tips For Speakers. His perspective is literally unique, as he is a photographer who’s shot speakers of all kinds in the act of connecting (or not) with their audiences.

Till next time, I just have one question. You gonna finish those fries?

Lunchtime Links

Ignite is a site sponsored by O’Reilly, and devoted to building the worldwide community of Ignite speakers. Who’s an Ignite speaker? Anyone with something interesting to say on topics “geeks hold dear.” Could be almost anything. Past topics range from hacking chocolate to buying cars to using Twitter to keep tabs on your houseplants. But there’s one catch. You must do a slideshow presentation that is exactly five minutes long, exactly 20 slides long, and each slide automatically rotates after 15 seconds. The tag line is “Enlighten Us, But Make It Quick.” Not only am I a fan of the Ignite speaking rules, I think they should become law for all business presentations. Keynote and Powerpoint should only save in Ignite format.

Here’s a pretty lengthy list of Adobe products and people on Twitter. Sadly, no Big Electric Cat.

I posted the results of a little bug testing I did with the latest InDesign update (6.0.1). A couple major bugs squashed, a few other critters still scurrying around.

The CMYK-RGB t-shirt inspired me to look for more geek merch. CafePress has a well-formed assortment of XML-tagged apparel. My favorite is the baseball cap. If you need to hire an XML developer, wear the hat when you meet them. If they laugh, hire them.

Flash on Tap is an upcoming conference here in Boston that will bring together the coolest Flash developers and brewmasters, and mixing code with kegs. Should be a great time. If you have any interest in going, be aware that the early bird pricing ($595) ends April 28th.

From the Department of Awe-inspiring Process Diagrams. Behold. And Bewarned, it takes a while to load. This is either showing how to use Wikipedia to do news article clustering, or it’s the process my wife and I follow to get our kids ready for school in the morning. Insanely brilliant or brilliantly insane?

The Book Cover Archive is pretty much what it says it is. Just don’t judge the books, by their uh, never mind. In our house, we installed front-facing book shelves in the kids’ rooms, as a stealth literacy-marketing tool. Works like a charm. Showing the covers instead of the spines makes the kids about 1000% more likely to pick up the books and check them out.

TweetGrid is a browser-based “Twitter search dashboard that allows you to search for up to 9 different topics, events, converstations, hashtags, phrases, people, groups, etc in real-time.” I’m not sure what a “converstation” is, but TweetGrid is pretty neat, with the potential to be completely overwhelming. You can set up search boxes in a grid layout, to have literally hundreds of streaming tweets on your favorite topics pour down your screen. Works great, especially if you have nine brains and eighteen eyeballs.

InCase you haven’t heard, Adobe has acknowledged a “critical” vulnerability in Acrobat and Reader, whereby a ne’er-do-well could maliciously take control of your machine and drive it off a digital cliff with your data strapped in the back seat. Or something like that. To avoid death by PDF, you can try disabling JavaScript, which will help in some cases. But until the real fix comes, don’t take candy from strangers.

Now that you’ve had your broccoli, I leave you with a sugary dessert. Blambot.com’s article on comic book typography and grammar. Yum (and thanks, Greg). They also have some fun fonts for sale.

Lunchtime Links

Going to the O’Reilly conference was like going to Supermarket for Lunchtime Links. Grab a shopping cart and we’ll see if we can sneak 15 items in the 10 Links or Less aisle. Check the labels for how many of our items have the magical “social” ingredient. “Social” is the high-fructose corn syrup of new media.

Shelfari is a social network site devoted to reading. You create a bookshelf with areas for the books you’ve read/are reading/want to read. You can write reviews and give star ratings à la Netflix. You can connect with others and share your bookish experiences and discover new things. You can also try to make yourself look smarter and cooler than you really are by putting One Hundred Years of Solitude on your shelf and leaving off Garfield Beefs Up! You’re welcome to check out my Shelfari page, where I will attempt to look smarter and cooler than I really am.

The unfortunately named Bookglutton is an online social reading site where you can read books (mostly public domain oldies) in a window called an “unbound reader.” The book is displayed in the middle, and on either side you can open windows for chat with other people reading the book, or leave/read comments. You can start or join reading groups devoted to authors or subjects. You can also upload your own work for people to find and read. I would’ve called it BookJunky or something.

Feedbooks is a universal e-reading platform for mobile devices. You can download free e-books and share your own content. The thing I’m most curious about: the ability to create your own customized newspapers from RSS feeds and widgets. I love my RSS, but its crying out for something that brings it organization and design.

Bookworm is an O’Reilly site where users can create their own online library and read eBooks on their browser or mobile device. You can store your eBooks on Bookworm and download them when you want to read them in your iPhone (via the Stanza app).

Espresso Book Machine is a print on demand machine that makes paperback while-U-wait. It takes about 4 minutes to churn out an average book. The quality is indistinguishable from something you’d buy in a book store. At the O’Reilly show they had one with a clear side, so we could see how it works. Watching it in action is weirdly hypnotic. It was the most simultaneously amazing and boring experience of my life. (“This is incredible; when will it be over?”) Sort of like watching microwave popcorn. The makers humbly state, “What Gutenberg’s press did for Europe in the 15th century, digitization and the Espresso Book Machine will do for the world tomorrow.”

Buzzmachine is the blog of Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do? Jeff blogs about new media and the ways in which is is changing (or could change) business, journalism, the universe, you. Lotsa Big Ideers from smart people. Good stuff.

Institute for the Future of the Book is a “think and do tank” based on the premise that print is dead, we need to deal with that and positively shape those tools that will replace it. In their mission statement, they state one of their goals is to build tools for “ordinary, non-technical people to assemble complex, elegant and durable electronic documents without having to master overly complicated applications or seek the help of programmers.” Hmmm, wonder if they’re hiring.

CommentPress is one of the tools created by the Institute for the Future of the Book. It is a WordPress theme that re-orients the comments on the page to enable social interaction around long-form texts.

Safari Rough Cuts is a social, interactive publishing service that gives you access to pre-published manuscripts on technology topics from O’Reilly. Authors submit their working manuscript, which you can read and comment on to help to shape the final book. Call it CrowdEdit.

E-Ink is an electronic paper display technology with a paper-like high contrast appearance, low power consumption, and a taste just like raspberries (just kiddin’). It’s the technology behind the Plastic Logic reader.

IDPF is the standards body responsible for ePub. Lots of publishing companies, technology companines, and publishing technology companies are members. Important because ePub is going to be the standard format for eBooks.

The DAISY Pipeline is an open source collaborative software development project hosted by the Daisy Consortium. It includes includes beta versions of tools for the transformation of documents between different formats: “uptransforms” (non-XML text to XML), “crosstransforms” (XML-grammar to XML-grammar), and “downtransforms” (XML to non-xml deliverable format).

Adobe Digital Editions is a free RIA (Rich Internet Application) for viewing and managing eBooks and other digital publications in ePub and PDF/A formats. Although it’s free, it’s not DRM-free. You can use it with eBooks you download from your public library. Here’s the FAQ.

Bonus Quiz!

PDFs, Wookies, and of course, Twitter

A couple of PDF snacks for you to munch on:

PlanetPDF is a seriously large, all-things PDF website, sponsored by NitroPDF, an alternative to Acrobat. I don’t think a lot of people even realize there is an alternative to Acrobat. I’ve never used Nitro, so I can’t say if it’s the cat’s meow or the litterbox, but it’s been around for more than 10 years, so it must have some satisfied users. The site has plenty of Acrobat-related content: tips, articles, forums, 20 RSS feeds, and a plethora of PDF-related software to buy from all corners of the known Universe. Seriously, I think there are some Wookie developers hawking an “AAAAAAAAAAAARGUUUUUUUMMMMMMFFFFF” plug-in.

AcrobatUsers.com is another biggie, with tutorials, videos, forums, news, and stuff to buy.

Lastly, in today’s obligatory Twitter bit: for anyone so inclined, you can now follow Publicious on Twitter. Just click the link on the left sidebar of the blog, or here. I’ll tweet all the posts, and related content that doesn’t quite make it into the blog.

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