Publicious Links: The Parallelepiped Edition

Had a “whoa” moment a little while ago. Whilst taking a deep dive into Adobe history and technology, I came across an article on the math behind Bézier curves. If you’ve ever used any of the Creative Suite apps, you know what these are. They’re the edges of objects you shape by pulling little control handles attached to the ends of lines. You can draw pretty much any shape by varying the number, length, and angle of the control handles.

I’d known for many years about the man who invented these curves, Pierre Bézier. He was a French engineer who used them to design precisely manufactured auto parts for Renault. They also come in quite handy in computer graphics. But what I’d never seen before is the control handles in the context of the 3-D shape they describe: a parallelepiped. Here’s the article that blew one of my 100 amp geek fuses. What amazes me is that I never realized how I was in effect, pulling and pushing these control handles in three-dimensional space. Hence the “whoa.” You are warned, there is math involved. If you ever wish you could play with Bézier curves in real life, you can, and probably already did as a kid, with string art.

I’d be remiss to be talking about vectors, without mentioning the VectorBabe, Sandee Cohen. You may know she’s the author of The InDesign Visual Quickstart Guide by PeachPit Press. You may not know she recently launched a blog called From Design to Print to augment her book of the same name.

Sumo Paint is another “whoa” experience. It’s a free, web-based painting application with an interface so full-featured and well-executed, you won’t believe it. Makes you think you could create anything with Flash.

Sixrevisions.com has an awesome list article on 25 Excellent Typography Tools for the Serious Designer. Silly designers, you can click the link, but don’t let me catch you goofing around. No funny business.

While you’re at Sixrevisions, also check out another list: Ten Unusual Places to Get Design Inspiration.

Thenextweb.com has an entertaining man-in-the-street video, produced by Google wherein the question posed to the public is “What is a browser?” How horrified you are at the answers = how much of a geek you are. Personally, my favorite is the WAY over-caffeinated lady who says, “I use the Yahoo!”

Occasionally, we are reminded the world is more than pixels and prepress. You can show your support for those protesting the election in Iran by changing your avatar.

Speaking of the Iranian election, I don’t know if it was rigged, but I do know that the government needs to spring for a few of Deke McClelland’s Lynda.com Photoshop videos. Because, as BoingBoing said, Ahmadinijad Sucks at Photoshop.

You can’t get Flash on the iPhone, but thanks to AIR, you can get the iPhone in Flash. Desktop iPhone is an AIR application that simulates the iPhone on your desktop. You can even make phone calls with it.

Drupal is everyone’s favorite open source CMS, n’est ce pas? RefCardz has a free Guide to Getting Started with Drupal.

MarkLogic is offering another free eSeminar for publishers. This time the topic is Three Ways To Innovate: How Smart Publishers are Thriving Now. Count on a lot of “XML is da schizznit” rap.

Finally, Meninos is at it again, making me lust after geek merch. This time it’s Illustrator and Photoshop palette, er, panel magnets. No geek fridge should be without ’em.

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?

The Life of O’Reilly

I’m happy to announce that next Monday and Tuesday I will be in New York attending the O’Reilly Tools of Change conference. With all the bad news permeating the publishing world, it will be a welcome change to be immersed in the technology and the vision of people focused on future of publishing. I’ll be gathering and sharing as much info as I can on some of the most forward-thinking publishing technologies and the companies behind them.

I plan to sample as many sessions as possible, and will be posting and tweeting anything and everything I find share-worthy. The things that directly relate to InDesign, I’ll post at InDesignSecrets.com. Everything else I’ll post here or tweet here. The official conference Twitter page is here. I’ve already been doing my homework, reading up on the solutions that will be showcased, and there’s some very cool stuff. Should be a lot of fun—and a lot to write about.

The industry is quickly evolving from a linear print-driven desktop publishing type workflow to a collaborative, cross-media delivery of rich content. Publishing is being redefined. “Ecosystems” is the buzzword. No longer is it adequate to put out a beautiful book. You need the beautiful book, plus the Flash-enabled PDF eBook. Make it customized. And throw in a blog, a wiki, and a Twitter page for people to follow. In my mind, the key questions are: what do your customers really want? how do you make it? and how do you make money doing it? And that is what I will seek to find out. Stay tuned.

Lunchtime Links

Time to crack open a new package of Ramen and see if I can write this post before the noodles turn mushy. Should I mix the usual chicken-MSG bomb or try the organic roasted dandelion root? Life is made of choices. Only the good die young.

Elvis is a slick-looking digital asset manager with hooks into InDesign, and based on Flex and Adobe AIR.

iStudio Publisher is an intriguing desktop publishing app that lives somewhere in the “far unlit unknown” between the iWork suburbs and the big city lights of InDesignopolis.

RogueSheep posted back in November, A Developer’s View of InDesign CS4. Worth a looksee because they made a Flex panel in InDesign to play a game like Asteroids. In InDesign.

Here’s a YouTube video of a 1981 news report that asks us to “image if you will..turning on your home computer to read the news.” Sorry, news on a computer? That’s just cuh-ray-zeee!

Lastly, if you are a MacHead, you must must must check out the insanely great freeware app, Mactracker. It is one nifty tool, showing specs and info on not only every Macintosh ever, but tons of other Apple products, including software. Here’s how cool it is: for each Mac, there’s a button to play the Startup chime from that exact model. Ahh, my dear departed 512k, I never thought I’d hear your voice again.

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Photoshop Rastafarian

A little news bite for you. During my lunchtime RSS and e-mail grazing, I came across two interesting bits:

1. Mark Logic is hosting a “Webinar” (I hate that Frankenword) on April 8 at 11AM Eastern called “Achieving Agile Publishing — How XML is Changing the Face of Dynamic Content Delivery.”

The basic pitch:

“Attend this event and learn how you can leverage an XML architecture to build out a publishing model that is agile enough for today’s changing market.”

I’ll be checking it out since I came away from the XML Conference last December with a feeling (not actually knowledge, mind you) that the Mark Logic people really “got it” regarding XML workflows, content, and publishers moreso than anyone else.

If you are an XML geek, pubtech geek, or especially if you’re both, here’s the registration form.

Afterwards, let’s all grab a Webrewski and Webscuss the Webifcations of this Webciting Webology.

2. Adobe introduces a new member of the Photoshop family, Photoshop Express. It looks like a flash-based rich internet app version of Photoshop, and it comes with 2 GB of online storage and a hook to Facebook. Looks like I’ll be getting a Facebook account tonight. Hmmm, Flash, Photoshop, RIA, Web 2.0…Everything I’m interested in seems to be merging into one massive thing. Or as I recall Bob Marley once said on a mixtape of mine, “Instead of I and I and I and I, there’s just one I. RAS-ta-far-I.” Man, I miss Bob.

I’ll post the next installment of our XML cookbook project tonight.

And now, back to lunch.