Publicious Links: The Squirrel Bombing Edition

OK, let’s just get it over with.

squirrel-falls

squirrel-fenway

squirrel-soldiers

squirrel-bull

squirrel-nana

squirrel-beachroad

Ever since he was first spotted, that damn rodent’s been following us around all summer. Now on to the links.

First up, my latest post at InDesign Secrets, Document Differencing.

Layers Magazine has an article on using Conditional Text in InDesign. Aside: ten years later, I still hate the phrase, “in InDesign.” AwKward.

What do you get when you cross Mad Men with Illustrator? Sketchpad, a 1963 computer illustration program created by Ivan Sutherland at MIT.

Thanks to mehallo.com for the heads up.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow (leopard, that is). Here’s a PDF on Adobe’s Creative Suite compatibility with Apple’s new version of OS X.

Elpical has a product called Claro Layout (which I haven’t tried yet) which gives you the ability to optimize and enhance your photos from within InDesign.

Vectorsonfire.com has a vintage Ford Thunderbird drawn in Illustrator that is so awesome it’s either going to inspire me to refresh my vector skills or make me never touch the Pen tool again. Too soon to tell which.

Examiner.com has a story about some members of the UK Parliament considering a ban on Photoshopped images for ads targeting kids. They’re upset about the widespread Photoshopping of already attractive people into poreless, wrinkleless monuments to Barbie-doll perfection. Here’s an interactive example of the typical process. Of course, this has been going on for a long time, witness the these pics of 18th century First Lady Dolly Madison:

Before

Dolly-1.0

After

Dolly-2.0

Prompting Ben Franklin to say, “M’lady, thou art a hottie.”

Designussion (i.e. Design Discussion) has 13 Amazing Vector Cartoon Tutorials.

If that wasn’t enough for you, Designreviver has 50 Illustrator Cartoon Tutorials.

Ever heard of Flash cookies? AKA cloud cookies? Apparently some sites now keep cookies on your surfing habits on their machines. Thus removing the last shred of a hint of the illusion of privacy. Might as well just post your browser history on your Facebook wall.

Wish you knew more about CSS? Existingvisual.com has 250+ Resources to Help You Become a CSS Expert. Hmmm, wonder if those resources include six months off from real life and a fresh brain.

Stumbleupon has the definitive list of Adobeans on Twitter.

Finally, if you just didn’t get enough rodent, here’s more squirrel bombing and an automatic squirrelizer app.

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.

sadmac

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

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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Operating System Blindness

I think I’m suffering from a new disease. OSB: Operating System Blindness. Sort of like snowblindness, but with pixels instead of flakes.

Last time out I wrote a little thing on two-fingered gesture support for the Creative Suite on my MacBook Pro. Then I left the MBP’s powercord at work, necessitating a frenzied copying of files off it before the battery died, and a moving of said files to Ye Olde PowerBooke G4. The G4 is the beater laptop in the family. The laptop of last resort. It’s tired, but it’s proud and I will squeeze every last spin out of that hard drive.

I immediately noticed that on the G4, the 2-fingered horizontal scroll works just fine, no Command key needed. Duh! Check the System Pref! Indeed, there I found the controls for horizontal scroll and zoom.

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Sigh. Sometimes I think I have Adobe blinders on and forget that there’s an actual operating system sitting between me and the Creative Suite. I live in the Mac OS for so many hours of the day that it becomes transparent, and I forget it’s there. The cure for OSB, it turns out is a daily dose of RTFM, which as we all know means, “Read Things First, Mike.”

Layers of Awe

I’ve been dragging a mouse around a Mac screen for over two decades/more than half my life/since Max Headroom was spokespersonality for New Coke. So I’d like to think it takes something insanely cool to get me all worked up. Well, today I came across something insanely cool thanks to Branislav Milic, the guru’s guru when it comes to InDesign. He sent me a link to a simple application called Layers. Layers raison d’etre is “screen forensics.” Think CSI Macintosh. It allows you to save your screen as a layered PSD image, a composite PNG, or as a bunch of separate images. Everything, and I mean everything, down to each icon in your menu bar, can be a separate layer if you like. The whole idea of a screen grab just changed. Every window, every icon on your desktop is separately manipulable. Every object can easily be moved, adjusted, deleted, whatever you like. If you don’t regularly have to capture high quality screen grabs, you are allowed to roll your eyes at me and yawn. But I have to document applications all the time and to me this is freakishly cool and useful. And it’s $15.

plish117-layers

Lunchtime Links

Here’s a couple of tasty links to chew on while you’re downing that 16¢ cup of Ramen Noodles and pondering the future of publishing.

GalleyCat has some interesting numbers to illustrate why ebooks are so expensive in a some people’s opinion. Methinks the industry is going to have to recalibrate, or face a fate worse than the music industry.

Macworld has a review of CS4 Goodies for photographers.

David at InDesign Secrets posted a nifty trick for using Mixed Ink Groups on process colors in InDesign (with a comment by me).

Last but not least, here’s what happens when a Flash designer’s creations get tired of being pushed around the screen.

Accidentally Awesome

You gotta love accidental discoveries. Penicillin, chocolate chip cookies, the Western Hemisphere. All found by people who were trying to do something else. I don’t have anything as big as those to share with you, but today at work I did stumble on a trick for superslick application switching on my Mac.

If you’re a Mac user, you know about command+tab to invoke the list of running applications. They pop up into the middle of your screen and you can tab or shift+tab (click or hold) to cycle through them. It works well enough, so long as you don’t have fifty open apps and find your self tab tab tab tab tab tabbing to oblivion.

But what I didn’t know till today is that this list is aware of the mouse as well. Command+tab once to get the list. Keep command held down. Mouse over an app to choose it. Release command to switch. Very slick. There’s no clicking involved, you just glide to your destination. It’s almost too easy, since your cursor was probably in that vicinity anyway, and the app icons are big, inviting targets. It makes tab tab tabbing seem, like, sooo 2007.

Now my only question is, what do we call this technique? A keyboard shortmouse? Mouseboarding? Maybe just a mousecut. Guess that makes me the first Mousecuteer.