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!

Woo-hoo!

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!

Blatner Tools Public Beta

aka InDesign on Steroids

 product banner

DTP tools has just posted the public beta for a suite of InDesign plug-ins that are the brainchild of my partner in blogging crime, David Blatner. I got a look at these a while ago and they are very cool. My favorite restores an ability I’d lost when I consigned Quark XPress to the dustbin of DTP history: the ability to assign any keyboard shortcut to any style. That was my #1 pet peeve when I switched to InDesign and remains a (healed over) thorn in my side to this day. In fact, Blatner Tools goes even further, allowing you to assign keyboard shortcuts to swatches and layers too. Other features include the ability to find and replace colors, automatically generate styles from unstyled content,  automatic fraction building, side-by-side comparison, and so on. If any of ths sounds cool (and I’m betting it will to 99.9% of Publicious readers), check out the public beta.

Now if only someone would make a DTP army knife for real!

Oh, and memo to the FCC and anyone else who cares: I have not received any compensation for this post, though I think David once offered to buy me a cookie after we had dinner. Nuff said.

Publicious Links: The Better Edition

I feel better. Thanks to the CVS-brand version of Zyrtec, I can breathe, sleep and surf the Web for the usual graphic goodies. With all the money I’m saving on tissues, I might even buy a new laptop. 

Kungfugrippe has a hilarious take on SnowLeopard and the cult of Mac.

Speaking of SnowLeopard, wikidot has a SnowLeopard compatibility list, so you can see if anyone else has got SoundJam to work in OS X 10.6 😉

If you’ve ever wanted to try out Adobe apps, but not actually go through the trouble of installing them, you can use Runaware to check out demos from within your browser. Not all apps are available, but Photoshop, Framemaker, and a few others are.

Discovered a cool RIA today, Fractal 4D. With it, you can draw some really cool vector shapes and export them to Illustrator.

Picture 4

Speaking of Illustrator, didja know that the Illustrator team at Adobe has their own blog, with the cool moniker Infinite Resolution? You do now.

Jostens.com sponsored a contest where kids could design their own high school yearbooks using InDesign. Judging from the looks of the winners (and even the honorable mentions) there are some scary-talented young InDesigners out there. 

ContentServ offers some interesting-looking Web to print solutions for InDesign.

ZenTextures has hundreds of cool, free textures for Photoshop 

Know those hip “painting with light” effects used the Sprint ads and elsewhere? Well, if you ever wanted to try your hand at it, check out Designmag’s post on Light Effect Brushes

On the other hand, if you’re designing a logo, Tripwire magazine has a huge set of logo design tips and tutorials.

Adobe wasn’t satisfied with just buying Omniture. They also scooped up online business solution Goodbarry. and rebranded it Business Catalyst. It’s not too hard to imagine a web designer clicking an Export to Business Catalyst button in Flash, Flex, or Dreamweaver soon. TechCrunch has more details.

Working on PSD files without Photoshop? Blasphemy! Yet, there is more than one way to skin a pixel.

I love restoring old photos with Photoshop. TipSquirrel has some good info on bringing back ancient faded photos.

If you ever need to illustrate a professional quality map, definitely check out Ortelius.

Lastly, Halloween season is here, and with it the Nightmare Before Christmas Soundtrack will once again be playing in our house nonstop. If you know any kids (of any age) who are fans of Jack Skellington (and you don’t mind a bit of über commercialism) check out Create Disney, where they have Flash drawing apps where you can make all kinds of creations with the Pumpkin King, and many other minions of the Mouse.

Publicious Links: The Insomnia Edition

The thing about insomnia is…

Uh, sorry, spaced out there. The thing about insomnia is, I can never complete a thought after undersleeping for any extended period of time. Reminds me of the time my daughter was born. Little tyke didn’t sleep through till she was 4. That was about 1500 days of lousy sleep, give or take. So from 2002-2006, I had one long, unfinished thought. The upside was wakeful dreaming, so my PB&J could easily transmogrify into rattlesnake aspic, and the row of tulips in the Public Garden became soup ladles, gently chiming in the breeze. At least I think it was the Public Garden, maybe I just wandered into the kitchen scene from Goodfellas. Hi Hendry, how’s your mother? Still, I never saw anything so disturbing as the Bearsharktopus.

All this to say, I came up with a perfectly good theme for this week’s links, and then immediately forgot it. Or did I dream it? Oh well, on to the linkage.

First up, me. My latest post at InDesignSecrets, Find-Change Scripting Goodness. Wherein I point out some great scripts for formatting and cleaning text in InDesign.

The Light’s Right is offering a free Photoshop CS4 panel that is to the standard Unsharp Mask panel as a Swiss Army knife is to a butter knife. This looks seriously cool and I can’t wait to try it.

CarDomain Blog has an interesting post on how automotive designers use Photoshop. In it, the author uses the term “vexel” which I’d never heard before. Cute.

Kung Fu Grippe has a post taking Adobe to task for increasingly bloated, buggy software, and some advice for how to improve it. This article is part of what seems like a rising tide of anti-Adobe sentiment on the Web. Adobegripes is a blog devoted to crashes, bugs, and wtf dialog boxes. Maybe it’s just that Adobe’s grown so big and powerful that there’s no one else left to blame for your computer problems. Maybe trying to be all things to all users inevitably leads to application degradation. Maybe the Creative Suite should be smashed into a multitude of suitelets, targeting user needs with laser precision and speed. I use the Creative Suite apps every day, at home and work. I do my share of crashing, stalling, grumbling at bugs, stupid default settings, wonky tools, and missing features. I do the exact same thing with my Apple apps. Firefox is the crashiest app on my machine, by far, and I still like it. I totally agree that the Creative Suite apps are far from perfect. When I find bugs, I spread the word. Repeatedly. But context is everything. You may come across those wtf dialog boxes in the midst of hours of productive work. In the realm of training and support, I have dealt with lots of cases over the years where someone was pissed at the application, when really it was a case of RTFM. So if we’re serving up some blame pie, user error gets the biggest slice.

Tripwire Magazine has a Massive Collection of Stunning Photoshop Actions.

Ever heard of seam carving? If you use Photoshop, you will. CS5 is reportedly going to bring seam carving technology to Photoshop, and the world of retouching will never be the same. The fact that it’s going to apply to video too, is mind-blowing. Speaking of retouching, the movement in the UK and France to require labeling on retouched images continues to gain momentum. Although, I think they’ll just have to put a warning on the cover of some magazines stating that EVERY image inside has been retouched. Would save a lot of effort.

Finally, I did find the cure for my insomnia. Just swallow 2 Benadryl, and watch Microsoft’s so-bad-it-has-to-be-on-purpose-to-try-and-start-a-meme video “How to throw a Windows 7 release party at your house” Mission accomplished, Redmond.

Nighty-night.

The Return of InDesign on Vacation

Picture 14

I’ve had a few requests to resurrect last year’s video monument to geekery, InDesign on Vacation. It lost its home on YouTube a while back, so what better place to put it than right here? I didn’t purchase the WordPress.com video upgrade, so I can’t directly embed the movie in a post or page. But thanks to the magic of InDesign, I can embed the movie in a PDF. It’s not the best solution, for sure (slow as heck to load) but once it’s loaded it plays fine, and it’s the best way I can think of right now. So without further ado, I give you last year’s smash hit, InDesign on Vacation.

And as a bonus, here’s the Extended Director’s Cut, which includes a special deleted scene.

Still can’t believe I got snubbed at the Oscars!