Do you need to replace sensitive information in a screen capture? Let me show you a couple of tricks that may make your life easier.
I’d been seeing posts about the “flat design movement” for some time, mind you. But I’m not a designer (nor fashionable in any sense of the word), so I was not obligated to care, and I just thought it would pass. No such luck.
Tired of carrying heavy stuff around, I just bought a svelte little MacBook Air. The joy of that New Computer Smell is tempered by the fact that it came from the factory with OS X 10.10, Yosemite (at least they don’t name operating systems after cats any more).
I understand some of the objection to skeuomorphism; do we really need shiny chrome interfaces, or detailed stitching on realistic leather calendar backgrounds? Probably not. That sort of stuff had inspired a cottage industry of how-to videos featuring 127-step tutorials on how to make blobby blue glass buttons.
Look at the poor Finder icon:
The Emperor’s New Flat Design. Sheesh. A 4th-grader could do this with ducky scissors.
Prediction: There will be a backlash against this boring elementary school approach. But it will be taken too far, adding haptic feedback and sound effects. Soon, scrolling through a directory will be accompanied by a jittery feeling and screeching brrrrrrrrippppp! sound. Buttons will click with a pronounced snick. Close a window, and you’ll hear something like the old Star Trek sssffffp door close effect. Select a range of text in InDesign, and it will feel like you’re dragging your mouse across corduroy.
I can hardly wait.
How many of you are planning to be employed as texters? The majority of you, apparently—every time I look up, at least 25% of you are looking down at your phones, despite my polite (but not subtle) request at the beginning of the course to please turn off your phones. Maybe you didn’t hear my request, because you were too busy checking your text messages.
To the constant talkers: That constant high-pitched background soundtrack that the two of you provided with your persistent personal conversations really added to the ambience. I thought at first that you were helping each other over rough spots, and I’d ask, “are you ladies OK?” Invariably, you’d indicate that you were just fine; this occurs in every class that you two attend. More than once, I would just stop explaining whatever I was explaining, and just stare right at one of you until you stopped. Sometimes there were long moments before it seeped into your consciousness that the background noise (my instruction, other students asking questions) had ceased. Once, I just said to the class at large, “we’ll just wait until they’re finished.” Did that shame you into paying attention? Oh, hell no.
To the phone addict: At one point, I came back to the row ahead of you to help someone out of a jam, turned around, and you were just texting away. I stood there, looking right at you, finishing the answer to the other student’s problem, and you just kept on exercising your thumbs. Irked, I raised my voice, but you didn’t even look up. Finally, I reached over the top of your iMac and drummed my nails on the screen, announcing loudly “…and all you have to do is CLICK RIGHT HERE.” At last, you raised your head, your eyes slowly drifting upward as your cow-like brain registered that this might have something to do with you. I give up.
To the slacker bullshit artist: You take the cake. The day classes at [redacted] are 2 days in length. The evening versions are the same total hours, but spread over 4 evenings. You showed up Monday night, spending a fair percentage of the time with the customary texting and web surfing. Tuesday night, you were initially a no-show. But when we took our mid-evening break Tuesday night, there you were, in the hall outside the classroom, eating a pastry. I said “howdy,” and you mumbled something with your mouth full. But when we reconvened after break, you were nowhere to be seen. I delayed our restart, thinking that surely you’d materialize, but gave up when it became apparent that you weren’t coming in.
Wednesday night, you were absent again. I figured you’d drag in Thursday night, to snag your undeserved certificate. Sure enough, you settled into your chair to get caught up on your web surfing, along with occasionally clicking your way through the exercises. When I passed out the certificates at the end of the evening, you didn’t get one. I told you that you had to attend 80% of a class to get a certificate, and that you could consult the [redacted] website to see when the class would be offered again.
But you had such a great excuse— “The course listing says Dec. 8-11. I thought that meant it was on Dec. 8 and 11, not 8 through 11.” Involved with paperwork and student questions as the class broke up, I didn’t get a chance to nail you on your appearance on Tuesday that proved you knew better—trust me, son, I’ve heard plenty of bullshit in my time, but I gotta give you points for sheer audacity, looking me right in the face and telling a bald-faced lie. You’ll go far. I’m thinking politics—or at least sales. And you might want to lay off the chronic*, after falling asleep in another class, head back, snoring loudly.
Today, as you attended a day class, I waited until everyone cleared out for lunch, and put some tape on the end of your network cable, then plugged it back in. It was fun watching you trying to get connected as class continued.
It wasn’t always this way. When I first became a trainer at a training company in 1999, I saw none of this behavior—people came to class, paid attention, asked questions, and it was a lively 2-way exchange. When I struck out on my own in 2002, I taught only custom classes for corporate clients who had defined goals (and a boss expecting results). That kind of training is still very gratifying, because I’m filling in blanks for interested people, making their jobs easier and less frustrating.
In about 2009, I started teaching occasional public classes for [redacted] to make some extra money. At first, it was OK, but soon I began seeing the side effects of the constant barrage of texting, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. There was little of the dedication to tasks I see in corporate clients—most of these Gen Y students have some blue-sky notion of being “a designer,” with no sense of what’s truly involved. I impart real-world best practices in class, but I really don’t think there’s anything for it to land on.
I’d show a step, then check to make sure everyone was keeping up — “Does that work for you? Anyone need some help? Hello? Yes? No?”) Crickets. Any vocal feedback has to be forced out of some of them. All the “social media” BS has apparently rendered them incapable of actual human interaction.
By contrast, I also taught a corporate group this week, and the difference was like night and day—they were lively, asking lots of questions, providing instant feedback (“wow! So that’s why I couldn’t make that work!” “I wish I’d known this last week!” “Hey, I know how we can use this—it will save us so much time!”)
Don’t misunderstand—there were some great folks in the public classes this week, too:
- One with a wonderful imagination and attention to detail.
- One who worked very hard, through breaks, even before and after class, to practice what she was learning. And she has a great eye for good design.
- One who absorbs knowledge like a sponge, and who is constantly working to correlate class lessons to her real-life job.
- One who wasn’t shy—she piped up if things weren’t going right, and experimented beyond what we were doing.
Those students are the ones that keep me teaching when I want to give up and just go back to fixing bad files in a printing plant. But the others — well, I’m glad I’m not burdened with hiring any of them and depending on them to actually get anything done in between their obsessive texting and Facebooking.
*CHRONIC: Urban slang for marijuana.
There’s been a change in the stable of fonts installed with Adobe Creative Cloud applications, starting with CC 2014.
This explains why new clients don’t have Minion Pro Bold, or Myriad Pro Semibold. Now, many of the old standard fonts, which had been installed by Creative Suite and Creative Cloud applications in the past, are only available via TypeKit (or direct purchase) for those starting fresh with CC 2014. I’d been wondering what was going on—now I know. At least the installation of newer versions of CC apps doesn’t wipe out fonts you already have.
This limits what I can do when creating templates for some clients who are using CC2014—I’d always been able to count on clients having a base set of fonts, and now I can’t, because some are working in environments that don’t allow Web access or downloads, and thus will have no access to TypeKit.
Trebuchet, here I come.
I’m working in the Adobe booth at Photoshop World this week, fielding questions about Creative Cloud and various applications. It’s gratifying when I can solve a problem for someone, but sometimes not being able to solve the problem leads to a different kind of reward—learning something new.
A gentleman brought his Microsoft Surface Pro 3, complaining that the Photoshop interface components are so small on the hi-DPI Surface screen that it’s almost unusable. He was right—icons, tools, and panel text were hard to read, and controls were challenging to select, even with the fine-point Surface stylus.
Lowering the display resolution worked, of course, but then all other applications were huge, with components falling off the screen.
Several other booth folks tag-teamed on the problem, but it was Adobe’s Russell Williams (a 2014 inductee into the Photoshop Hall of Fame, by the way) who offered the solution. In Photoshop CC 2014, you have the option to activate experimental components—features that haven’t been officially incorporated into Photoshop—with the caveat that these features might not be fully production-ready yet. One of the experimental features lets you scale Photoshop’s interface @200% to accommodate a high-density display (Note: it’s available—and necessary—only on Windows; hiDPI display has been possible on Mac Retina displays since CS6).
To access experimental features, just choose Edit > Preferences > Experimental Features.
So it was a good day—the Surface owner is back in business, and we all learned something new.
Here’s more information on experimental features in Photoshop CC2014: http://adobe.ly/1lIUwIk
Last night (7/25), the Adobe Creative Cloud desktop app deployed an upgrade. I was minutes away from a presentation, so I wanted to dismiss the update, but there was no option to decline; it was either upgrade or quit. I couldn’t quit, because I wanted to show the features in ACC. The other two speakers had already run the update and seemed to have no issues, so I took a deep breath and ran it. For good measure, I rebooted. To set up for my first topic, I opened a PSD with missing fonts, and received no “missing font” warning, and no offer to go shopping for fonts on Typekit. Photoshop locked up, and I had to force quit.
Unfortunately, I was about to demo that very feature in front of about 200 people. I force-quit, rebooted, then quit and relaunched the desktop app, and Photoshop still wouldn’t show the missing fonts alert (even though the affected type layers sported yellow triangles). I was running out of time.
I sidestepped the issue by showing how to get fonts from Typekit through a browser, and by some miracle, a font actually synced and showed up in my fonts list. I applied it, and I think nobody knew. But I was a bit flustered, and afraid that something else would go awry.
After the session, I futzed around more, with no success; it still wouldn’t trigger the Missing Fonts alert. Finally, more out of aggravation than hope, I wiped out the Photoshop preferences — and that fixed it. Not just in Photoshop, but in all the other apps, too (beats me).
When I got home, I ran the ACC update on the desktop Mac, with the same results; somehow, it warped Photoshop’s connection with Typekit. And when I wiped out the prefs, everything was fixed.
This is under Mac OS 10.9 (Mavericks); anybody else have this experience?
“That dinner was incredible!”
Really? You couldn’t believe that it was a dinner? “Incredible” means “beyond belief.”
Was it delicious? Was it elegantly presented? Then it was “delicious, and elegantly presented.” Was it as big as a two-story building? Okay, that’s incredible.
Why the escalating superlatives? I think it’s primarily due to a poverty of vocabulary, coupled with simplistic thinking: the speaker wants to describe the dinner in a positive manner, and “incredible” comes easily to mind, because she hears it constantly from her equally lazy peers.
“I washed the dishes.”
“Awesome” would be if Jimi Hendrix came back to life, right here in front of me. Washing dishes is something that, well, I thought you were going to do last week.
“I literally jumped 10 feet in the air!”
No, you didn’t, unless you’re an Olympic pole vaulter.
“That movie was HILARIOUS!” Not really; it’s a bunch of stoners trying to find a car/hamburger stand/sex tape, with dialogue generated by shredding old Jim Carrey scripts and reassembling them with a glue gun.
At the opposite end of the superlative spectrum, there’s “no problem.”
“Thanks for bringing our meals while they’re still lukewarm.”
Is there usually a problem? Is it rare that you deliver meals in a timely manner to diners?
Instead of “no problem,” say something with some conscious thought and intent behind it, such as “my pleasure.”
But there’s something else, too—cadence. I think a love of accentual-syllabic verse runs deep in us, at least in the Western linguistic tradition (that arcane phrase will make sense in a second; hang in there). From Shakespeare to Hallmark cards, there’s a certain vocal rhythm we adopt: da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM. “The DINner was NICE” doesn’t quite have it. “The DINner WAS inCREDuhBULL!” See what I mean?
I think the same urge for rhythm, coupled with the desire to add some extra verbal oomph, prompts the pointless use of profanity: “SHE’S a FRAKking ID-iot.” But you can have so much more fun with language if you exploit rich vocabulary. We’re masters of elaborate invective here in the South: “Bless her little heart, she probably pre-heats the microwave.”
See? Bitch-slap with a warm creamy center.
A client sent me an InDesign file, complaining that the placed Illustrator EPS file within would not display at High Quality Display. He assured me that the file was up to date.
My first move, of course, was to resave the Illustrator file as a native AI file. Hmmmm…no luck.
Both the InDesign file and the Illustrator file are large—72 x 48 inches. The Illustrator file is not complex—no effects, no symbols, no patterns. At Fit Page in Window, InDesign is displaying the page at 14% magnification. Even when High Quality Display is invoked, the Illustrator file looks ratty. However, once I zoom in to 50%, all is well.
At first, I thought this was just InDesign thinking, “why bother to render detail when you’re zoomed out so far?” But I made another discovery.
A smaller Illustrator file (smaller in terms of dimensions) displays fine at any magnification. Here’s a comparison:
The top file is 18 inches wide, 1.2MB, placed at 100% in a 20×20 InDesign file. The bottom file is 2.5 inches wide, 1.1MB, placed at 800%. So it’s not a matter of file size; it’s a matter of dimensions, apparently.
Output is fine—only the display in InDesign is questionable, and only when you’re zoomed out (the particular zoom level varies according to the dimensions of the InDesign file). Zoom in sufficiently, and you’ll see the real story. And if you’re still in doubt, make a PDF. If the PDF looks good, that’s all that counts.
I understand the logic behind leaving InDesign’s Preview checkboxes unchecked: Rendering complex content or effects could have an impact on redraw times, aggravating users. (Of course, what really aggravates users is having to check those dadgum Preview checkboxes.)
Of course, if you check a Preview checkbox once, it remains checked in future sessions (unless you wipe out your preferences); this gives you the option of choosing how Preview behaves. But why would you not want to preview the results of your choices in a dialog?
But here’s something ironic—there is one Preview checkbox that’s pre-checked in InDesign. It’s the checkbox in the Frame Fitting Options dialog—the one dialog in which you usually don’t have anything to preview, because you’re flavoring empty frames before you bring in content.
You have to admit that’s kinda funny.
New users of InDesign are sometimes confused by the [Paper] swatch— “Is it white? What color is it?”
I explain it as “No ink prints here,” because “knock out” often doesn’t make sense to newbies who know nothing about printing.
But there’s something you might not know about [Paper]— you can change its appearance. Even though the protective brackets around the name imply it’s ineditable (try saying that quickly, and it always comes out as “inedible”), double-click it and you’ll discover that you can concoct a new CMYK, RGB, or Lab color (you can’t shop in Pantone, Toyo, etc.). Festive, huh?
Why is this allowed? If you’re printing on colored stock, you can mimic the outcome on screen, which is kind of cool. Even cooler, when you print to your desktop printer or export to PDF, that color disappears—as it should, since it’s just intended for onscreen preview.
What About White?
You’ll only see White in your swatches if (a) the file was converted from QuarkXPress or (b) someone didn’t understand [Paper] and felt compelled to create a swatch that would knock out or (c) White is a spot color used when printing on colored or foil stock (for example, on a metallic decal).
If the answer is a or b, just delete the White swatch and replace it with [Paper]. If the answer is c, make sure the swatch is defined as a spot color. It would also be helpful to change the name to something like “Spot White” for clarity.
Note: In Illustrator, “white” means the same as InDesign’s [Paper]—”no ink prints here.”