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.

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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.

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Movie Review: Welcome to Macintosh

Do I smell popcorn?

Hey film fans, welcome to the first ever Publicious Movie Review. There aren’t a heck of a lot of movies that feature publishing technology, but last week I did catch one: Welcome to Macintosh.

Written and directed by Robert Baca and Josh Rizzo, this film is a documentary take on the history of Apple Inc., not just Macintosh, so the title is a bit of a misnomer.

I was really excited to see this film since I have been a MacHead for more than 20 years. My first Mac was a 512k-e in August of 1987, though I’m sure I used them briefly at school before that. The 512 lasted me until 1994 when I got a Performa 630 CD. CD-ROM baby, yeah! After the Performa came a parade of iMacs, a G5 tower, 3 laptops, and the current top dog in the household (more of a chihuahua), a 2.26 GHz 13″ MacBookPro. Since I use them at work too, I figure that for the last 15 years I’ve spent the majority of my waking hours sitting in front of Macs. So I was totally ready to love this film. But I didn’t.

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Welcome to Macintosh felt like a TV special. And a missed opportunity. Apple is a huge subject to cover, with an impact on technology and culture that people are passionate about. Maybe the filmmakers bit off more than they could chew. Or maybe it’s my fault. Maybe I’m one of those hardcore Mac geeks that wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than a Ken Burns 12-part Encyclopedia Macintoshia, complete with full-color booklet, and scratch-n-sniff pix of Woz’s garage.

The film starts out strong, with juicy details of the formation of Apple. Original logos. Lots of shots of ancient, wooden(!) hardware. But then it quickly dawned on me that the voices I most wanted to hear: The Steves, Jobs and Woz, were silent. There are no interviews with the two men who brought the Mac to life, and the film suffers as a result. It’s also missing input from lots of other folks who had a hand in the Mac magic. People like Susan Kare. She gave the Mac its face, designing the icons and graphics for the original Mac GUI. Susan designed the Mac city fonts, Monaco, Geneva, New York, Chicago, etc. and everything from the Happy Mac to the Command key icon. Wouldn’t you like to see her sketches or hear her stories and thoughts? BTW, Susan now does icons for Facebook. And you can buy sticky notes with her original Mac icons at MoMA store.org.

Another voice I want to hear is Jonathan Ive. He’s the principal designer of the iMac, Powerbook, iPod, and iPhone. He’s the guy who brought Jobs’ modern visions to life and helped resurrect Apple over the last decade. He’s responsible for Apple stores being mobbed with people who see little shiny things and must have them NOW.

Who we get instead are the affable Andy Hertzfeld, the BS artist/evangelist Guy Kawasaki, and Ron Wayne (the original 3rd co-founder of Apple) along with Jim Reekes (made the Mac startup chime) and Leander Kahney (author of  Cult of Mac). They provide some interesting anecdotes, but in the history of the Mac, they’re the supporting cast. The stars are missing. Reekes is pretty entertaining, though. He comes across like Apple’s version of Dwight Schrute. Sardonic does not begin to describe this guy. He seems completely unimpressed by Apple and the people who love their products. He is the sour antidote to the saccharine MacWorship that is always lurking when Apple is discussed.

My other main problem with the film is that it’s too hardware focused. People love the Mac because of the experience of sitting down and using it. Since it’s inception, it’s been the coolest, most beautiful, most fun way of interacting with a computer. We love it mostly because of the operating system and software. What about MacWrite? MacPaint? What about System 7? Mac OS X? I don’t think the word “Finder” is never even mentioned in the film. With apologies to Mr. Ive, you could stick the Mac OS in a boring beige case, and I’d still use it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that Ive makes it sexy, but I love this thing for it’s brains, cleverness, and sense of humor. Maybe the movie I’m looking for is Married to Macintosh.

Despite my objections, I’m still recommending anyone who likes and uses Macs to see Welcome to Macintosh. It’s worthwhile, but it could be soooo much more.

Welcome to Macintosh is available on DVD for $19.84. Cute.

You can also follow Welcome to Macintosh on Twitter or Facebook.

So to sum up,

Pros: Great subject. Good early history of Apple. Reekes channelling Schrute.

Cons: No Jobs, Woz, Ive, Kare. No Mac OS!

Rating: 2½ Macs 2-half-macintosh

Publicious Links: The Hoist The Jolly Roger Edition

Y’arr, mateys. Your captain has sworn off rum in favor of GoogleJuice, so this week’s meme be pirates. Has anybody seen a stray parrot, answers to the name of “Preflight”?

By the way, according to the bean counters, InDesign CS4’s Live Preflight is worth more than a chest of Spanish doubloons. Well, OK, about $5 a week. Check out the Pfeiffer Report on CS4 ROI for details (Adobe ID required for download).

Next, read my 5 Random Tips at InDesign Secrets or I’ll have ye swab the deck.

Prepare the boarding party, part 1: More speculation on Apple buying Adobe.

Prepare the boarding party, part 2:  More speculation on Google buying Twitter.

Jack Sparrow just threw a squid at you on Facebook. Captain Hook’s posted a YouTube clip. Blackbeard’s tweeting up a typhoon. How do you get a handle on all the pirates in your life? Try an RIA that gathers all your social networks into one place, like Skimmer.

Flex Marks the Spot: Here’s a nice (and thorough) look at best and worst practices in developing a rich internet application: Architecture of RIA.

If your skull and crossbones is looking a little tattered, design a new emblem to strike fear into all who cross your path. psd tuts+ has an eye-popping tutorial on creating a Hellacious Flaming Skull in Photoshop.

Speaking of Photoshop, John Nack has announced that PICT is about to walk the plank. Wonder what InDesign and Illustrator features we can safely send to Davy Jones’ locker…

Till next week, I wish smooth sailing to you. And remember, dead men click no links.

Lunchtime Links

In anticipation of the O’Reilly Tools of Change Conference, today’s menu of lunch links has a mostly “changey” flavor. As opposed to my usual links, which often taste like chicken.

iPublishCentral is a solution by Impelsys that allows Publishers to upload PDFs and build marketing and distribution tools around them. Everything from Flash-enabled micro widgets to full blown Web portals. Whenever I hear “portal” I still think of the pylons from the Land of the Lost TV show, or the portal into John Malkovitch’s head in Being John Malkovitch. Sadly, uploading a PDF to iPublishCentral will not transport you to a prehistoric jungle. But it may help you sell some eBooks.

Lulu.com has an interesting idea for reincarnating your old books: Vintage Publishing Services. Basically you mail them a crumbling, but beloved old tome, they “gently scan” it, and send you back the original, plus a brand spankin’ new copy. You can also get a DVD with the high-res PDFs. The service isn’t cheap, but I find it interesting because I collect old history books, some of which are more than 100 years old and are quite literally turning to dust. Of course, you could always do the scanning yourself, send Lulu your PDFs and save the dough.

Ars technica has a huge and insightful article on the past, present, and future of eBooks. It makes the point that with the slightest effort, Apple could’ve dominated the eBook world with the iTunes store and the iPhone. So why haven’t they? I won’t give away the answer, but it begins with Steve and ends with Jobs.

Woodwing has released Smart Connection 6, the latest iteration of their enterprise publishing platform. I’m interested in checking out the Content Station, a Flex-flavored rich internet application for publication planning and monitoring. Now if we can just get the RIA for authoring…SCE 6 also supports InDesign Libraries and Books. Hallefreakinleujah.

Thenextweb has TwitterKeys which are entities you can copy and paste into your tweets to spice them up with some graphical goodness (aka Dingbats).

Last, but never least, InCopySecrets has the straight dope on the right way to fix missing links to InCopy stories.

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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MathType + iWork = ?

Huh. Just saw that Design Science, makers of MathType, MathFlow, MathPlayer, and MathBurger (just kiddin’—I’m hungry), announced that MathType works with Apple’s iWork ’09 suite. Pages, Keynote, and Numbers now all support MathType. Apparently it was announced at MacWorld in SF, but I didn’t know till now. This is weird. For years I have wished for some of MathType’s capabilities in InDesign, and now I get them in iWork. Wished for a pony, got a puppy. That’s OK, puppies are cool. Of course, I’ll hold off on joy till I see how this puppy works. Seems like I can save iWork as Word. But maybe not .docx? Dunno. I’ll find out because I’m going to get Apple’s “Box Set” of iLife, iWork, and Leopard. I’m notorious for losing my OSX install discs, so having a back-up is good, and the kids are pining away for the latest versions of all the iLife apps. Whatever happened to crayons? When I get iWork working, I’ll try out MathType with it and report back here. Man, what’s next—DITA support in GarageBand?

A Blog About Nothing

Tonight was the 10th anniversary of the last episode of Seinfeld (and coincidentally, the last call for Mr. Francis Albert Sinatra). I always got a kick out seeing the Mac in the background of Seinfeld’s apartment, and how he silently “upgraded” each year to Apple’s latest and greatest. In the final season, Jerry even had one of those crazy 20th Anniversary Macs.

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