Leaving Money on The Table

In Store Pickup? Not so fast...

In Store Pickup? Not so fast…

I haven’t been posting much, free time to blog being consumed with the details and intricacies of relocating my studio and our home from the NYC tri-state region. But regards that, I wanted to include some news about that process the annual message I included in my family’s holiday greeting. So I was holding off on sending to press the card I had already designed back in October. When some setbacks actually loosened up, we were only days away from Christmas.

So instead of ordering four color printing online, I turned to my backup process, overnight color copies at my local Office Depot. I could send them the files, and pick up the finished work in one or two days at my local store. The project was not technically complicated, double sided color copies, on index weight stock with a single fold. Easy peasy and drama free, one might think. Continue reading

Get yo’ iPad On

My Alt self staring back from an iPad

My alt self in the screen of an iPad. Image: PC World. Composite: KG/FRS

This is kind of an experiment, not only am I taking about my experience with a new iPad, but also updating the blog using the WordPress App on iPad, and seeing If a long form article on the iPads touch keyboard actually is sane and/or reasonable. For openers, I do very much miss arrow key from my standard keyboard. But that still falls under “quibbles.”

One thing I swiftly noticed that neither the Facebook or Facebook Pages apps allow you to copy text from within them except while you’re posting. Bummer. I had posted my first thoughts on the FRS Facebook Page. But I was able to get in in Mobile Safari. Live and learn. Remember that early versions of iOS didn’t have copy & Paste at all. But I got it –

Continue reading

New Printer in the Shop

Canon Pixma MG6220

Where I replace my ancient canon inkjet. And test the new one.

After nearly 8 years of faithful service, my comparatively ancient Canon inkjet printer gave up the ghost, failing with some sort of recurring glitch down in it’s silicon innards. After replacing a print head, the ink tank sponges, it reached the end of any reasonable user maintenance. So I replaced it with a comparable mid-range model, the SOHO targeted multifunction Canon Pixma MG6220. To give you a sense on how swiftly this world moves, that model is already discontinued and succeeded in the model line.

It’s performing well, an respectable successor for the aging Pixma iP4000 it replaced. The wireless functionality works flawlessly from two machines in my studio, once tweaked to life. The prints are the usual high canon quality. However, it is worth noting that test prints from a CMYK target document will still show “contamination” of dots of other colors in swatches of – in theory – pure C, M Y, and grays set as pure black percentage Greys have CMY dots unless set to grayscale print. But this is designer quibbling. But I am well aware that desktop inkjets are NOT appropriate for precise prepress color proofing. (One can dream, but we’re not any printer maker’s target market of any significance any more and “Pro” machines are horrifically costly ) More on this later.

Of course it comes without any cables, but I still have the perfectly fine USB A-B cable from old the iP4000. But this is less of a annoyance than it would have been since this printer utilizes Wi-Fi quite well. I can also connect wirelessly from my other workstations and the laptop through our local network. It also seems to run through ink a bit more quickly, but I manage to minimize it by leaving the printer powered up. I also wish there was a bit more guidance for using the various printer paper profiles built into the driver, but this is a continual Canon issue, not specific to this printer. More on this later.

I still like that Canon Ink tanks have been consistently less costly than HPs insanely costly ones, and their drivers better and more versatile, esp. on Mac OS, but their ink prices ARE creeping up. >: (  And more on this later… Continue reading

Artz Pushb4ck

Doonesbury Webcomics Snark

A little artz pushback for Gary’s dissing of webcomics artists. Apologies, G.B.T. Click fo’ bigga’.

I was going to post the Printer review of the Canon Pixma MG6220, but this came along. Gary Trudeau is one of my art heros, and I’ve enjoyed Doonesbury for years, right after my first comic love Peanuts. Gary also has the virtue of still being alive and drawing. And I certainly do appreciate the plight of print media. As a Designer, I see it all the time, as my work more and more tilts to the web and small businesses cut back on print projects.

Gary posted this strip on Febuary 2. I know he was being funny. And it is. A little. But my life is far from empty. In this offhand manner, he’s casually dissed a deep and insanely talented pool of webcominc artists creating an amazing amount of work. Some of them are a little miffed off about it. Even some serious criticism went Gary’s way.

“Many webcartoonists took on the question of what happens to comics if newspapers go away by posting the Doonesbury strip with inserted images from their own web comics. Most were well done, but Scott Kurtz depicted one of his characters farting in the blank space of the strip. Adam Manley created a collection of those strips along with his opinion…”

And fans weighed in on Doonesbury’s Slate site. Many readers pointing out that they read the strip online, as many papers have dropped DB, or comics entirely to save money. And strictly speaking, online, Gary enjoys a worldwide audience. One reader comments:

“I completely disagree with today’s strip. I’ve been a reader for about four years now and I have never once read Doonesbury in a newspaper. I have always read it online, and most of my friends (most around my age of 25) have only read it online as well…”

I have to say, that MY life is far from empty, I follow at least two dozen webcomics, my sons even more. Even my wife has a few faves. Many of the creators are proper full on professionals. In the fact they make an actual living creating comics online, all the more remarkable is that the majority of them are free to read. They are every bit as creative and interesting and funny as their print counterparts. In some cases, better, as the elite small crowd that gets picked up by the media syndicates, are often shallow and chosen for their general, inoffensive appeal to the most general of audiences.

Web comics are free to pursue their vision and find their own voice and audience. The freedom of the web allows developing young talents to get their work out there, seen, and to absorb all the constructive (mostly) criticism that the internet can heap on them… and grow. In the course of a webcomics tenure, you can often see explosive growth in the skill of the artists and writers.

So I felt, as did a lot of other creative sorts, a little pushback was fair play. I also got to draw stuff. Bonus.

iCloud is Not for Everyone

Apple's iCloud - Documents in the Cloud

Apple’s iCloud – Documents in the Cloud promises “all your documents, with all your edits, on every device.” Image: Apple

In the most recent update of the Mac OS, Mountain Lion, the Apple branded cloud computing service iCloud was expanded to more fully embrace the Mac from it’s previous focus on iOS devices, the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.  After taking a look at in in reviews and a one friend’s somewhat exasperated experience with iCloud, I realize that the utility of iCloud will very much depend on what sort of user you are.

One of the enjoyable things I do, rather off to the side of the “day job” is serve as president of my local Mac User Group. Like many things in the tech world, Mac User Groups are not what they once were. Before the era of the internet, Applecare, the Apple Store, and the Genius Bar, Mac (and PC) User groups were often the only casual source of experienced to expert help and guidance for most users, especially non-professionals without their companies to provide IT support. And of course, mac’s were a markedly different species from PCs in those days, and were a lot more … well.. computer-y.

Apple’s arc in the last decade has been to cater to a vast underserved consumer computing market and to that end, has relentlessly pushed simplicity, elegance, design excellence and the appliance nature of their devices. Note that they almost never use the word “computer” any more, it’s even gone from the company name. It’s simply iMac, MacBook, iPhone, iPad… An iPhone is a more powerful and capable micro-sized computer that most of the Power PC line of Macintoshes, just one that happens to have a phone. And they’ve done away with most of the computer-y stuff that most folk associate with desktop computers, while still having it do all those THINGS, and typically very well. (Except Maps at the moment… opps) Using an iPhone, the focus is almost entirely on the apps, and what you’re doing, and not particularly on the device much at all.

Currently Apple is making an effort in it’s desktop computing operating system to bring that ideal to to their desktops and notebooks. And part of that effort is iCloud. But iCloud is not cloud storage as most of you who are power users already use and experience it, such as in Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon CloudDrive, Microsoft Skydrive. There are also cloud computing services as well like YouSendIt, Amazon Web Services, Google Apps and the like which actually provide computing services and apps remotely, and most of the cloud storage services also have some of this functionality. iCloud also provides some dedicated services for various iPhone, iPad, iPod and Mac users, such as Music Syncing, iTunes matching, Mail and Calendar services, etc.

Continue reading