Archive for the ‘Prepress’ Category

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Nerg takes a battering

January 4, 2008
The best advice I heard for a successful blog was ‘turn up’, damned if the link can be found. During November I was busy helping out with this. Then in December an extra helping of suck was delivered to add to the already huge pile of suck that was 2007… More on that in a later post.
Still trying to remove some of the suck before a complete disaster occurs.
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Font Matching

November 25, 2007

Working in Prepress it’s quite an every day experience to be asked to match a type face to some artwork supplied, may be for body copy or for modifying or redrawing a logo.

Ordinarily to match a font you would use the excellent services supplied by either What the Font by scanning and uploading an image of the font or use another font identifying service such as Identifont to identify a font based on a particular glyph or glyphs.

When it comes to redrawing, more often than not, it’s best to just get on with drawing it. Most letter forms are quite forgiving, a 6 can be a 9, a letter p can become a letter b or a letter d. There’s nearly always some work required but you’re 99% there.

However, the Germans have developed a font that makes it very difficult to perform the usual tricks in a bid to defeat number plate crime. The font is FE-Mittelschrift. FE stands for F√§lschungs-Erschwert, meaning ‘difficult to forge’. One letter cannot be easily transformed into another. A more in depth analysis is available form useful design, that also has a neat flash movie that shows how the letters are ‘unbreakable’.

It would be pretty difficult to match the font without a full character set to reference while redrawing it. For example the the 6 cannot easily be used to make a 9, unless you know what a 9 looks like. A letter P cannot be made into a letter R and so on. Yet it it still legible and pleasing to the eye.

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Ambition

October 28, 2007

Ambition is a funny thing. It’s good to have and in the majority of cases I would imagine that it’s a good thing to fulfill that ambition. Twenty years ago, my ambition was quite simple – get a job. In the depths of a recession in the UK and a time of upheaval (Miners Strike, Printers Strike, resulting legislation and huge social changes) that was ambition enough. In many respects I was lucky and started working on a local news paper as a paste up artist and camera operator, progressing through various companies to become a colour planner. It suited me, I liked the precision required and it also allowed some of my creativity out. Thus began my career in print.

Then Macs came along and I put myself through college to gain qualifications and experience that I could use to further my career. It perhaps wasn’t the greatest plan, but it worked, I’ve only been without work for three months in the last ten years.

As the recession continued to bite and printers shut down, it became clear I would have to move to London. I really wanted to be a Senior Operator for a Design Agency ‘up in town’. I read everything, (there wasn’t much of an internet in those days) I spent what spare time I had continuing to learn new stuff, always pushing myself.

It was a slog, it took me ages to do it, ten years in all, but I spent seven of those years in one location evolving. So yes there I am, Senior Op at an Agency up in town. Ambition fulfilled, and I’m quite pleased that my plan worked, but it’s a little disappointing. Some of the disappointment comes from the company itself and some from my changing priorities.

During the seven years I spent evolving, I was working a shift producing some of the finest packaging to ever appear on a shelf.

During the first five years there, I spent my time ‘off shift’ when I wasn’t trying to hone my skills, trying to improve my life in other ways. Enjoy London, find someone special and start a family etc. I have to confess, I haven’t done particularly well in that. But my career was going well.

I started at the bottom with three other people on the same day. While they languished and complained about a lack of opportunity in the company, I pushed myself harder.

Through steady improvements, I ended up being a team leader, building teams, hiring staff and being Senior Op for two shifts of thirty plus operators each, after being put on permanent days. I wrote documentation for all our procedures and set up a training course for our two production sites in London. I was lucky in that I was surrounded by people that kept me pushing myself and encouraged and rewarded me.

Eventually I was removed form the production environment completely for the last two years and seconded to the development team. This was great, I was taking what knowledge I had and applying it else where.

What lack of opportunity?I moved from site to site as the need arose. Sometimes sitting next to the guys writing the code that would go on to automate our production systems, testing their incremental changes as they wrote. An amazing experience. Sometimes sitting with some of the best Prepress professionals I have ever met, working out how we would implement these changes. Sometimes UI testing, sometimes beta testing (a tester of the month for Quark in Sept 2005.) and end to end testing. I loved it. I didn’t love the corporate BS so much, but it comes with the territory.

All things come to an end, and although I had no wish to leave (apart from the corporate BS) I was made redundant. I wasn’t surprised, I had done what was needed and there was no way that the company would put me back in production, I cost too much and I’m not much of a yes man. I would have gone back, I could have really used going back on shift…

In amongst all of that I was a member, contributor and moderator at Prepress Forums – thanks Cory, until the merger with print planet and now I do those things for B4Print. Thanks Joe, I’m very happy to do so.

Although I’m a Senior Op and I have fulfilled my ambition, career wise and professionally, it’s a step backwards. I made a lot of progress in a way I hadn’t imagined and now I’m kind of where I was ten years ago, like I say, kind of. I cannot go forward where I am, there isn’t a process for it within the company, it’s too small. It doesn’t help that the company I work for is possibly the most disorganised shambles I’ve encountered. Even the worst Prepress job ever had was more organised. I could sort it out, but I wouldn’t be progressing. At best I’m stagnating where I am.

So I want to test software. I believe I’m pretty good at it and I enjoy it. I’m not naive enough to believe it will be like anything that has gone before, it might be, but I might end up testing embedded systems or control systems or anything, that’s part of the attraction. Of course it would help if I had passed my exam, but there is more to it than that.

Instead of being in an environment that encourages and rewards, I am in one that won’t innovate, invest or encourage, where moral is rock bottom and the company is disorganised and reactive.

Instead of having a peer group that will encourage and compete or give me an aspirational target, I have a vacuum. I don’t know anyone who does what I want to do. The web is a great resource, but no substitute for the things a human needs. Interaction. Instead of my job encouraging me and motivating me, it is delaying me from fulfilling my next ambition. The part of the world where software testing and project/team management overlap.

An interim plan should be in place by the end of the year that eventually will allow me to devote more time to what I want to do, instead of wasting my time in a dead end. Of course the interim plan could open up all kinds of different avenues that I haven’t thought of or even knew existed. It’s impossible to see beyond the choices before you. Given an opportunity, I’ll take it.

I can’t wait, I haven’t time to to spare.

teneo vestri

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Print Planet and Prepress Forums

September 9, 2007

A lot of you who read this will already know of the merger and the out come of it. To be very clear, I have nothing bad to say about Cory and I am proud that I was trusted and privileged enough to have been a moderator at PPF, however briefly. I will also point out that I am a member of Print Planet.

The intention of the merger as far as I am aware was to create the largest prepress forum under one roof. Print Planet realised they had an image problem and wanted some of the ‘life’ and ‘spirit’ the old PPF had about it. A little over a week later, now I’ve had time to think about things it seems the merger isn’t happening as any one would wish.

I can’t claim to speak for members of PPF, but there is a commonality of thought amongst all those posting into a thread on the topic. For a site that wished to capture some of the ‘spirit’ of PPF, the present members of PP methodically went around stamping on it and choking it from day one.

Most members were a little upset with the upheaval, it’s change after all and few people are happy with change. It came as something of a rude shock to me.

Apparently Print Planet did a great deal of research regarding the forum. If that’s true then I’m surprised they settled on one of the most dis-functional forms of a message board it’s ever been my pleasure to use. If you take away from PPF then you no longer have PPF, the very thing you wanted in the first place.

Thankfully Joe decided to do something about it and set up B4print. Joe allowed me to be a moderator and in little over a week we had managed to recruit nearly 70 members. Some of our attempts at recruitment were being stifled by PP, which is hardly surprising. Our members can be quite inventive!

Looking ahead, Joe has decided to change the host so that there is more flexibility for times ahead, this will mean more upheaval for the members, but better to do it now while relatively small.

I’m very nergged about the demise of PPF, but I’m very pleased to be involved with, and my hopes are high for B4print

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Pantone owned by X-Rite

August 24, 2007

A member of PPF has posted a thread that I think will have a far reaching effect on some software and PrePress in general. Pantone has been bought by X-Rite.

I’m thinking about licensing for a ‘Pantone’ Library in your software. I haven’t even got a clue who owns that, probably Pantone/Dupont. This will get interesting as I know a lot of shops that simply don’t manage colour.There’s been a big change with Pantone Bridge And I have no idea how the look up tables (the data that generates what they are composed of) are sold to the likes of Adobe and Quark.

Many thanks again to Mjetz

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More Vapour Ware – Update

August 19, 2007

Some readers may remember me being annoyed that Pixelmator would supposedly ship in July and didn’t. It still hasn’t shipped, but there’s a closed beta available if you’re a member of the test team. I’m not. It’s not the same as a proper ship and thankfully they haven’t gone down the route of a Public Beta – that would be a proper ship. It’s either released or it’s not. Get a 1.0 out soon and an update shortly after.

Not being part of the beta team I don’t know if it’s taking advantage of any forthcoming Leopard features (unlikely for a beta – most testers won’t have access to dev releases of an OS) or changes to core image. I hope it ships before Leopard and a Leopard update isn’t far behind, assuming of course that Leopard isn’t delayed…

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Pantone calling…

August 7, 2007

It was pretty slow at work today, we had managed to catch up with everything (mostly). I was searching for Pantone because I needed to know RGB values for Pantone numbers – just helping out the ‘web’ guys. When I found this.

A mobile phone that is available in Pantone colours. But strangely if you scroll down the page, the phones are not named by the colour they represent. There is no Pantone Navy or Pantone Brown… We had a couple of minutes of fun trying to match the on screen colour to the swatch book. I’ll have my next phone in Reflex Blue thanks…

However if you care about what you drink your coffee out of, I recommend one of these.