“If I spike you, you’ll know you’ve been spoken to.”

Camberwell Carrot

So, the other day, I was asked to set up HTML for an e-mail that someone else—let’s call them Agent B—is sending. Today Agent B sent us a preview of the e-mail, with the Agent B logo added at the top and the usual “Click here to unsubscribe, etc., etc.” at the bottom, but the middle of the message—my part—has become completely verkakte in the process. So I looked at the code and found that my nice, clean, valid HTML had been run through MS Word’s garbagealator. For example, this—

<p>Sunday, May 18, 2008<br />
11am to 5pm<br />
The Times Center<br />
242 West 41st Street</p>

—was converted to this—

<p =
margin-left:7.5pt'><font size=3D3 color=3Dblack face=3DHelvetica><span =
style=3D'font-size:12.0pt;font-family:Helvetica;color:black'>Sunday, May =
18, 2008<br>
11am to 5pm<br>
The<span class=3Dapple-converted-space> <st1:place =
u2:st=3D"on"><st1:placename u2:st=3D"on"></span><st1:place
w:st=3D"on"><st1:PlaceName =
class=3Dapple-converted-space> <st1:placetype =
<st1:street u2:st=3D"on"><st1:address u2:st=3D"on"><st1:Street =
w:st=3D"on">242 West 41st =
color=3Dblack face=3DHelvetica><span =

Continue reading ““If I spike you, you’ll know you’ve been spoken to.””

Thank you, Microsoft!

Now I will never have to buy any of your products again!

The latest issue of Editorium Update has arrived, and Jack Lyon reports the following:

Word 2008, for Macintosh, isn’t out yet but will be later this year:


Like Word 2007 for Windows, it will feature the Ribbon interface, with all of the drawbacks I discussed in the previous newsletter:


But there’s one more drawback that will be utterly devastating: No more recording, programming, or even running of macros.

(hysterical emphasis mine)

No macros.

No. Macros. At all.

According to this Macworld article, you’ll be able to do macro-type-things using Applescript and Automator and whatever—I confess that I have not tried to wrap my head around that stuff at all yet; go ahead; suspend my Geek license—but if I have to write my own scripts, why the fuck would I write them to control Word? If I’m going to put that kind of effort into something, obviously it would make more sense to trick out a free word processor than a piece of overpriced bloatware from a company that has demonstrated time and time again that it doesn’t want my business.


Day 9 of 90

Hey, remember when your computer had a leetle teeny screen, and all your software used to run slower, and you just couldn’t get as much work done as you do now?

Yeah, so try doing your multifaceted, exciting twenty-first-century job on a 12″ laptop that, despite being totally loaded when you bought it three years ago, is somewhat poky and sluggish when you try to run InDesign and Acrobat Pro and Photoshop and Bridge and Word and Eudora and BBEdit and Linotype Font Explorer and Firefox with at least four windows and sixteen tabs open. It does not make you feel very efficient, let me tell you.
Continue reading “Day 9 of 90”

The Other X-Acto and Wax Technique

The other day, Cathi told a tragic story about how

I remember right after my newspaper moved me to a brand new building and informed me I’d have to do layout with an exacto knife and waxer again because they had no Mac for me . . .

And while I’m in awe of Cathi’s skillz, I have to say, when I think “X-Acto and wax,” my associations are quite different.

More than once—more than once, I say!—I have seen type spec’ed in the margin as something like 16pt Akzidenz Grotesk, and I look at this tiny type and think, “Sixteen points, my ass,” and then I click on the line and find that, yeah, it’s sixteen points, with the superior attribute applied to it, so it’s shrunk down. And the designer didn’t even notice that he or she had done it. Or worse, she did notice, but she left it like that saying, “Oh, let the compositor figure out what point size it is.”

And then the same designer will demonstrate to the comp how a blockquote should be formatted by creating a separate text box with a runaround and then dropping that into the middle of a regular paragraph. Apparently because the designer doesn’t know how to set indents. And god forbid she should know what a style sheet is, or a character style. I mean, really—knowing how to use your tools, that’s so . . . working-class. Designers are professionals. Continue reading “The Other X-Acto and Wax Technique”

Designers vs. Illustrators (vs. Authors)

This is not really my field, as I’m not a cover designer, but the Guardian just posted a rant by an author with the teaser (sorry—there’s a proper term for this in newspaperspeak, isn’t there?), “Now that pixels have replaced pencils the art of drawing has vanished. I’m so exasperated I’m designing my own book cover.” Supposedly, after thirteen rounds of comps and despite specifically requesting a hand-drawn illustration, the author still has only been shown covers using photographs, and she concludes that this is because designers can’t draw.

Give me a fucking break.

As someone has already posted in the comments,

  1. Designers design; they don’t necessarily draw. That elusive artist you’re looking for is called an illustrator.
  2. If the author has been asking for hand-drawn covers and the designers aren’t providing them, after thirteen rounds, it’s the fault not of the designer but of the publisher, who either isn’t
    • stating this preference in the design brief, or
    • providing a budget for an illustration, which is billed separately

The book and publisher are not mentioned by name, but it’s probably The Post-Birthday World, forthcoming from HarperCollins. We’re talking about a design department run by people who create their own fonts. I can’t believe they’d balk at buying or drawing an illustration. There’s clearly some backstory here.

InDesign vs. Quark: 4 things

If you’ve ever sat near me while I’m working in Quark XPress, you know what a charming vocabulary I have. I !@#$% hate Quark. It’s a $&%@! buggy piece of #@&!. I may need all the glyphs in the Unicode set to type my distaste for it.

But having glanced for a minute at Layers magazine’s new “InDesign Advantage Center,” I see a solution: I can follow their example and express my displeasure by highlighting a couple of my favorite InDesign features—which, gosh! how shocking!, Quark 6 doesn’t have. I haven’t yet played with Quark 7, but I’ve been reading reviews and think it’s safe to say these are all features it’s still missing. If I’m wrong, feel free to let me know—not that it’ll make me loathe that *&%$# plate of spaghetti code one bit less.

So. Here are the four InDesign features that I miss most in my current workflow:
Continue reading “InDesign vs. Quark: 4 things”