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!

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.

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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.

Realballonboy

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 ActionScript.org 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 CreativePro.com (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.

Publicious Links: The Dude, Where’s My Blog? Edition

And we’re back.

Sometime Monday the domain mapping that transforms mild-mannered “pubtech.wordpress.com” to it’s super hero identity “publicious.net” expired. Silly me, forgot to pay the bill. For about 48 hours, I was thinking I had offended some very important bots in Internetland. All the incoming links to Publicious disappeared and traffic was down more than 90%. It felt like Publicious had been put in solitary confinement.

After the inital shock, I said, “Oh well, whatever. Home alone at last. Now that everyone’s gone, I have all the time in the world and the whole internet to myself. Maybe I’ll just put on some Carpenters, kick back with bag of Cheetos, and check out SpongeBob On Demand.”

Every sha-la-la, Every whoa-o-oh, still shines.

patrick-carpenter

But then I got lonely. I finally figured out I should check one of the sites that links here and see what happens. Bingo. A hop, skip, and credit card payment later, I am once again master of my domain. Now, help yourself to some Cheetos. On with the show.

Might as well start with my latest post at InDesignSecrets.com, Snippet Style InJectors. I stumbled on this idea when I was preparing for a presentation last fall, and noticed that all the document resources used by a snippet get placed before the snippet itself. I said to myself, “Self, this could be useful someday.”

Drawn! the cartoon and illustration blog has an interesting video of an artist laying out a comic book in InDesign. You’ll never look at the Pencil tool the same way again.

Miverity has a tutorial on how to build a Flash XML slideshow app for a website.

Smashing Magazine has an article on Ten Simple Steps to Better Photoshop Performance. Life is short, no time for beachball cursrors.

The Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog has an good article on ebook format wars. Which one will end up the Betamax of the 21st century?

Speaking of which…

InformationWeek weighs in on the same ebook format issue, with a Sony v. Amazon angle.

Gigaom is ready to declare a winner: Adobe, because of Sony’s embrace of EPUB.

Relatedly (is that a word? if not, I just made it one) Digital Media Buzz has the scoop on Adobe’s Open Source efforts.

Thinking of using an online word processor? Read Linux.com’s comparison of GoogleDocs, Zoho, and Buzzword.

Quick, how do you make a dotted line in Photoshop? Sitepoint has some nice quick tips about using Photoshop brush options for dotted lines and such.

One NYTimes.com writer thinks the bloom is off the Rich Internet App rose already, with the arrival of Google’s Chrome. Please, don’t be evil, Google. Please.

Graphics.com has some ‘tony tutorials (as in duotone, tritone, etc).

Finally, if you’ve ever wished to see Photoshop and Illustrator battle to the death as giant transformer robots with foul language (and who hasn’t?) I recommend checking out GoMediaZine’s ongoing Photoshop vs. Illustrator series.

Publicious Links: The (Insert Theme Here) Edition

Crowdsourcing is all the rage nowadays, so I thought I’d make, er, empower you all to come up with your own theme this week. Yeah, that’s it.

Here’s your template:

Intro paragraph citing some current event, 
with possibly strained metaphor to publishing technology.
Jokey second paragraph with parentheticals (galore).
<<insert goofy Photoshopped graphic>>
Closing paragraph, ending with a one-word sentence. Really.

Adobe is taking this crowdsourcing thing seriously, with a few new initiatives that seek to tap the power of the hivemind. First, Adobe Community Publishing is a rich internet application that allows/requests/begs you to write and upload content related to Adobe applications to their site.

Adobe CommunityIcon

It’s like a blogging tool where your content is published directly to Adobe’s site. After you sign in with your Adobe ID, you pick a template:

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And have at it.

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Secondly, Acrobat.com is also looking for a few of your good ideas. Got a feature or functionality request? Go over to ideas.acrobat.com and make your voice heard.

Also in a nod to crowdpower, Serna has make its Syntext XML editor open source.

Back in the day, the only people who could see music were in psychiatric wards and Grateful Dead shows. Now any shmoe with Photoshop can see music, edit it, and save it back as a sound file. Head over to Photosounder for info on editing audio files as images in Photoshop.

Design Science, makers of MathType, Math Flow, and Kraft Matharoni and Cheese (jk), has a useful guide to Math in eBooks, in the ePub standard.

While we’re on the XML subject, might as well point out the XML in Practice Conference coming up at the end of September in D.C. I learned a ton at the one in Boston a couple years ago. And I got a MarkLogic t-shirt, which catapulted me to a level of geek usually unseen in the Boston area outside the MIT campus. Maybe I can get Johnny Cupcakes to hack the design, and we can sell ’em for $40 a pop.

Don’t touch that PDF if you don’t know where it’s been. Especially if it has a trojan virus embedded in a tiny Flash video.  Apparently we still have to be suspicious of PDF from unknown sources.

Typophile has a neat Flash tutorial on Typography 101.

Laughing Lion Design has a tutorial on achieving a letterpress effect in Photoshop.

Finally, over at my home away from home, InDesign Secrets, Steve Werner has posted tips and tricks for interactive Buttons in PDF (via InDesign).

Till next time, (insert closing).

Announcing: Publicious To Go!

I know in this day and age, no one is disconnected from the Web for longer than they can hold their breath. Still, I have heard from some people that it would be nice if Publicious content were served up in a PDF package, for viewing offline or just sans browser. Being the media-agnostic guy I am, I heard and obeyed. So now you can get Publicious To Go. Just pull up to the drive thru and grab yourself 18 pages of the tastiest publishing tech content anywhere.

You can download either the “Big Gulp” (48.7 MB), which contains an awesome bonus Easter egg, or the “lite” version (3.67 MB). Both versions have the same Publicious content.

Publicious To Go, vol. 1 July 2009 (lite version 3.67 MB PDF)

Publicious To Go, vol. 1 July 2009 (with Easter egg 48.7 MB PDF)

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Enjoy!

Publicious Links: The Eagle Has Landed Edition

As I wrote before, I am eight kinds of geek. Kind number 4 is space geek. I am an unabashed fanboy of the Apollo astronauts. Among my space geek collection I have Neil Armstrong’s autograph and a lunar module pencil sharpener. ’Nuff said. This week’s anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission has brought a ton of space goodies to share. So tear open a bag of freeze dried ice cream and read on.

John Nack has a nice set of space links, including my favorite, We Choose the Moon, where you can follow along with the mission in real time. For those of us too young to remember or experience it for ourselves, this is as close as we’re going to get to the feeling of witnessing the moon landing.

Spacefacts has a nice map of the roamings of Armstrong and Aldrin.

Astronautix (aka Encyclopedia Astronautica) is a great resource, boasting over 25,000 pages of content, including day-by-day accounts of the space race, astronaut and engineer bios, detailed breakdowns of hardware, and a Paths Not Taken section of canceled designs and missions to make you wonder what if…

Ninfinger has a huge collection of space models, as does Apollo Maniacs. You can even to try your hand at making a papercraft lunar module.

BoingBoing has links to newly-restored video of the One Small Step.

In fairness, not everyone saw Apollo 11 as mankind’s greatest moment. Witness, Gil Scott Heron’s Whitey On The Moon.

OK, on to the publishing tech links.

Adobe Genesis is an attempt at taming the tangled desktop via Flex. It allows users to create persistent personal portals (try saying that three times fast). It’s newer than new (you can’t get it even a beta yet), but as I understand it, the idea is to break applications and web services into tiles and assemble just the piece you need for your workflow in one window. Fill your plate from a workflow salad bar, if you will. Here’s a better explanation.

Need to learn (or deal with) TeX or MathML in a browser? Check out the MathML browser test, where you can see examples of rendered math and click on them to get the code.

Would you like to create a custom blog theme, without the coding chores? Check out Artisteer. Thanks to her geekness,  Anne-Marie Concepcion for the tip.

The 80’s pretentious-pop band the Fixx once asked “Are We Ourselves (And Do We Really Know)?” It’s a real question now as the importance of social media continues to rise. When anyone can grab any username, how do you KNOW who’s who? Protect your name/brand, and claim your name. You can check the availability of usernames/IDs on tons of social media sites at Knowem.com. You may also discover new social media sites you want to join. Thanks to PrepressPilgrim for the idea.

Francesomugnai.com has the 30 Most Interesting Photoshop Tutorials of 2009 (so far).

I leave you a trio of posts from InDesign Secrets (none of which is mine…I’ve been sitting in a tin can, far above the world).

Fritz posted about the amazing folding calculator. If you need to set up InDesign templates for folded publications, you really should check it out. It’s also a very cool example of what you can do with an interactive PDF.

David posted a fun 2-part series on A Trip to Adobe, in which we get to see InDesign in its native habitat of Seattle. Beware the Fremont Troll!

Till next time, take your protein pills and put your helmet on.

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The Bits and Pieces X: Training in Practice

There are many ways to train people to use complicated new software. You could sit down with each new user individually and show them what to do. Because you have 300 people on staff full-time to do that. The training might be a live demo of some of the processes, or one of those movies. It could be a series of online modules that take the user through various steps of various workflows. There might be a quiz at the end. Everybody likes quizzes.

We chose a variety of training approaches. This is a nice way of saying we didn’t really have a coordinated training approach. Our training started out with the best of intentions, of course. Unfortunately, our system was pressed into service before it was really finished, so the training program was REALLY not really finished.

Our first attempts at training involved the time-honored “live demo in front of a group of people” technique. I wonder if there’s anything more useless. Imagine a group of 20 people who don’t really know what’s going on, in a darkened room, staring at a projection of a completely foreign UI, listening to some dork (me) droning on about “tagging” and “attributes” and whatnot. For an hour. And at the end, being told to go back to their desks, and the software would be installed within the next couple weeks, and there are no handouts or manuals, but when you get the software, start using it all day as this is now your new way of working. We didn’t even offer snacks.

So that having predictably failed to impart all the vital skills they needed, the next step was to sit down with them individually or in very small groups and, with one of the users driving, talk them through the tasks they needed to do. “Click on the File menu . . . no, the Documentum file menu, not the Netscape file menu . . . good!” This actually worked pretty well. The only downside is the “trainer” has to spend all day doing it. And the trainer is never really “the trainer”, they’re more like the project manager who’s dropping everything to train people as they have questions.

To try to organize the random training and ensure that everybody in the group was getting the same information, we decided to hold weekly meetings to go over any questions that came up. Emergencies would still be handled as they occured (an emergency being an “I can’t do any work until you explain to me how to do this” situation). Unfortunately, or maybe inevitably, no questions ever came up in these meetings. I’m not kidding. “So how’s everything going?” “Fine.” Then an hour later 15 phone calls come in asking for individual help.

Then there’s the problem of “rogue training.” There’s always somebody who kind of gets it, assumes they totally get it, then trains their colleagues on their own. It is, after all, easier to ask the person sitting next to you than calling the person who caused all this pain and inconvenience in the first place. This caused no end of issues for everyone involved. Someone determined a simple 35-step procedure for creating a page and printing it out for further editing. The problem: the same thing could be accomplished in 3 steps, which had of course been covered in the original dark-room demo, but everybody forgot about that. And even better, the page didn’t really need to be printed out every time as it was after all a PDF file which could be viewed onscreen. But that rogue trainer had shown everyone their technique, everybody started doing it, and hours upon hours were wasted waiting for pages to process and print. And even after we discovered this and showed everyone the “right” way, many people still did it the “old” way because that’s what they were comfortable with.

(We also had someone come up with “rogue documentation” which was presented to me at a project postmortem. “Look at how complicated it is to use this!” “Where did you get this documentation?” “I wrote it up myself because this is so hard I needed a cheat sheet.” “I understand your frustration. I wish you would have talked to me during the project because most of this could have been done differently which would have made it easier.” ” . . . “)

When it finally became obvious that our ad hoc training program wasn’t going to cut it, we assigned someone to be a trainier and come up with a hands-on training program. And it wasn’t me. That was one of the happiest days of my career. It was one of the users, who knew what the users were going through, and spoke their language, and had credibility within their ranks. O joy! I just peeked in on the first couple sessions to make sure they weren’t talking crazy talk. And they weren’t. And everything went pretty smoothly from then on. Imagine that.