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:

Picture 3

And have at it.

Picture 2

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).

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.

Publicious Links: The Educated Cheese Edition

educated-cheese

I know, I know: what the hell is educated cheese?

“Educated cheese” is a phrase uttered by Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley in his color commentary during a recent Red Sox game. It is my favorite new term, and I use it as much as possible, simply because it the caviar of baseball slang. And it makes me giggle and be glad to be alive. So I am trying to ignite a grassroots movement to increase its popularity. In baseball, “cheese” is slang for a good fastball. See also, “easy cheese”, “hard cheese”, and “cheddar.” “Educated cheese” is what a veteran pitcher throws when he no longer has the physical dominance to throw fastball after fastball. He can’t blow away the hitters, so he picks his spots. He finds a rhythm, and when the time is right, he lets it rip. Educated cheese. If he’s having a really good night, he may even “paint with educated cheese and salad.” But now we’ve gone beyond caviar slang to flying fish roe floating in a flaming absinthe smoothie slang.

So like that pitcher, I’ll pick my spots and hope to paint this post with nine slices of educated cheese.

First up, a tremendous short video on The Secret History of Fonts. It’s one of the Ignite series of brief, structured presentations. Most of the time, I love the Ignite format (aka, Enlighten Us, But Make It Quick). But this time, I was left begging for more. The presenter, Bram Pitoyo, should do a longer version. Beware of poor audio in spots. But it’s still worth it.

@students Creative Resource is a nice treasure trove of graphic resources and links, mostly Web related.

If it’s the second Tuesday of every third month, it must be Adobe Patch Day. That’s Adobe’s new scheduled day to release security patches, a la Microsoft. Nice to know they’re taking security as more of a job than a hobby. Not so nice to know that they have to.

Mr. Doob’s blog is where you will “find some random experiments done with Flash, pv3d (Papervision 3d), and ape”. Some really interesting/entertaining bits. My favorite is the one where you can literally bring down Google with one mouse click.

Creatives Are is a browser toolbar add-on for Firefox, IE, and others that puts all kinds of resources for designers, illustrators, and other creatives at your fingertips.

Not sure if you can afford an enterprise class publishing system? Rent one. K4 is now available for rent. How long till you can rent InDesign for a week, month, year? Hmmm. Or maybe even shorter, like you have a project and you need Photoshop but just for the weekend? $9.95 for 72 hours? Just sayin’.

Despite all our troubles: war, disease, recession, climate change, and the downsizing of the Cadbury Egg, the ’00s have been one helluva clean decade—if you judge by trends in graphic design. Everything is shiny. Blame Apple perhaps, for spreading the shiny germ. Here’s your chance to jump on the shiny bandwagon before the inevitable matte-lash: my post in InDesign Secrets, Shine On.

FreeConferenceCall.com  sounds too good to be true, and they know it. There’s a “something’s fishy” graphic on the homepage. Free conferencing, free recording and downloading, up to 6 hours per call, up to 96 participants, no ads, no spam, etc. But as someone who’s used it a couple of times, and know folks who’ve used it more, I think it’s legit. And an awesome resource to take advantage of.

Last, I leave you with my favorite images of the week: the headless brides. They’re Photoshop templates for graphic artists to insert models’ smiling noggins into. Certainly this offers us a wonderful opportunity to make Frankenbrides, cat-brides, etc. ‘shop on, kids.

The Non-Designer’s Design Checklist

About a dozen years ago, as I embarked upon my journey into the realm of publishing, I bought a book called The Non-Designer’s Design Book by Robin Williams. I’m pretty sure it was recommended to me by the guy who taught my first Quark XPress class. I remember thinking it was a fine and fun book. It may have taught me just enough about design to be dangerous. I made up business cards, and took on a couple freelance jobs designing flyers and the like. Years later I had enough confidence to take a side gig designing newspaper ads. Not exactly the peak of the design profession, but it was fun to at least be the guy picking the fonts. I left that job after I’d made enough to buy a second family car, and then spent the better part of a decade forgetting everything I learned from the Non-Designer’s Design Book. So I was happy to stumble upon a copy of the brand new, 3rd edition a few weeks ago.

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