Category: General

General creative topics

Should you outline your fonts before output?

InDesign Outline Fonts
InDesign offers the ability to outline your fonts before output, much the same way as Illustrator. Outlining the fonts (sometimes known as converting to paths) prevents the potential for missing font errors and a host of other issues. But it’s not without a catch. There was a time when service bureaus and printers wouldn’t accept your files unless the fonts were outlined, but for the most part, that time has long since passed.

InDesignSecrets has the definitive guide to outlining fonts that offers a new way to outline your fonts in Acrobat DC, preventing that gotcha when you do it in InDesign.

So, what exactly is branding?

Mention a luxury brand like Rolex and the associations that spring to mind are likely to include wealth, prestige, status, craftsmanship, heritage, exploration. Whatever your take on someone who sports a $30,000 Daytona, it’s probably going to be different from what you think when I mention Swatch. Fun, colourful, cheeky, playful, inexpensive… and no less a reflection of its wearer than a Rolex.

The fact that a cheap, mass-produced Quartz timepiece keeps time more accurately than a hand-crafted masterpiece costing the price of a small car is irrelevant.

Brands ceased to be expressions of product truth a long time ago; in branding, perception trumps reality.

What your customer thinks of you when they hear your name. THAT is your brand, not your logo, your font, your colors or your website.

The Apple Mac App Store sucks: Reason #237

Mac App Store fail

It seems like every time I have to update an Apple application on my Mac (not an OS update) using the Mac App Store, I experience obnoxiously slow download speeds, and a plethora of update issues. The screenshot above shows off what happens almost every time I update iMove (it happens with Pages & Numbers as well, though not Keynote).

The fact that I’ve already endured a painfully slow download of a 2GB+ update to iMovie 10.1.1, and am able to launch the app and use it doesn’t seem to bother the App Store app. It continues to tell me that I have an iMovie update. It continues to try to download the 2GB+ iMovie update. It continues to suck donkey balls.

I’ve tried all manner of fixes, but the Mac App Store app just insists on sucking donkey balls.

What doesn’t fix it:
• Restart Mac App Store app
• Log out/in from App Store Account
• Log out/in from iCloud
• Log out/in from Mac
• Restart Mac
• Deleting all .plist files with the word ‘store’ in them

What does fix it:
• Re-downloading the giant and slow-downloading ‘update’ of iMovie

So to summarize… the Mac App Store sucks donkey balls. Phil Schiller (recently placed in charge of the Mac App Store at Apple) has his work cut out for him.

Is “above the fold” web design dead?

web-above-fold-is-dead
For years, web designers and their clients have had the idea that the most important content must live above the fold (the area viewable in your browser window without scrolling). Back in the days of 14-17 inch monitors, slow modem speeds, and static web pages that was absolutely true. But does the idea that the important info must be above the fold still hold true when we now have 24-30 inch LCD screens with extremely high resolutions?

Everything I’ve read the last few years say absolutely not. In fact, many studies are beginning to reveal that larger numbers of viewers are finding the most valuable information below the fold—likely due to blog-style sites (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) where information is presented in a top-down updating list instead of static navigation and content locations.

HugeInc has published the results of their study on user scrolling in Everybody Scrolls. The results, perhaps not so surprisingly, is that everybody scrolls nearly 100% of the time.

While this is just one study, I suspect that the vast majority of people have been trained to scroll over the years. As for me, I almost always scroll—if for no other reason than so many sites I visit have the area above the fold filled with annoying content rotators and oversized intro graphics.

I take this as a reminder that rules are meant to be questioned and/or broken at any time.

8 tips for combining typefaces

type tips
You finally chose a typeface that’s perfect for your next print or screen design project. Good job, but don’t break out the bubbly just yet. For many projects, one font isn’t enough to create visual interest and establish the information hierarchy. And when you have multiple typefaces, you want to be sure that they work well together.

2016 tech predictions – as made by a dolt

Any time I see something from an analyst, I immediately mark it as invalid, uneducated drivel. Because it almost always is. But Fred Wilson is a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley—so what’s his excuse for his list of 2016 predictions that are so blatantly obvious, incredibly stupid, or slightly crazy?

I won’t comment on each of his 10 bouts of idiocy, but here are my thoughts on a few of them:

#2 We will see a new form of wearables take off in 2016… If I had to guess, I would bet on something we wear in or on our ears.

No shit, Sherlock, they’re called wireless earbuds. That’s the only wearable that’s going to take off… because wearables haven’t taken off as a concept to begin with. Even Apple’s awesome watch isn’t a mass-market breakthrough.


#3 One of the big four will falter in 2016. My guess is Apple. They did not have a great year in 2015 and I’m thinking that it will get worse in 2016.

If you ignore the fact that Apple had one of it’s most successful years in history, and managed to grow its lead as the world’s largest company, then yeah… they had a really crappy year. And of the “big four” (whomever they are), of course you choose Apple, because they’re the only one that will get you page views.


#4 The FAA regulations on the commercial drone industry will turn out to be a boon for the drone sector…

No. It won’t. The drone industry will sit in the fringe “I play with remote control vehicles” sector that it has sat in for the last few years.


#5 The trend towards publishing inside of social networks (Facebook being the most popular one) will go badly for a number of high profile publishers who won’t be able to monetize as effectively inside social networks…

Yeah. Because publishers are monetizing so effectively outside social networks. Honestly, this one is the big “no-duh” statement you’ll read all year. I’m not even sure about what “trend” he’s referring to, since there are only a small handful of publishers who are test publishing with Facebook, Twitter, etc…


#7 Bitcoin finally finds a killer app with the emergence of…

Oh please. Bitcoin is never going to happen. Stop trying to make it happen.


#9 Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee and… As a result the tech sector will line up behind Hillary Clinton who will be elected the first woman President.

The tech sector is going to line-up behind whomever the Democratic candidate is because they know the Republican Party hates anyone who isn’t a rich, white male. Donald Trump actually has a better chance with the tech sector because, you know, they need a little light comedy in their life.

Check out MyApple Magazine

MyApple Magazine
I had completely forgotten that I had downloaded the premiere issue of MyApple Magazine, a new English-language magazine about the world of Apple from the combined staff of Apple World Today and MyApple.pl.

Since I took the last week off for the holidays, I had some time to read through the free downloadable magazine. After reading through the first issue, I quickly downloaded the remaining new issues. Great stuff!

The articles aren’t just blog posts pulled from the website, they read easy—not too long, not too short. The photography is nice, and the layout is easy on the eyes.

Dear Apple: Seriously???

I have a pretty darn fast Internet connection. Much faster than any streaming video service requires, and plenty fast enough for me to download large files with little eye-rolling and finger-tapping. But the thought of updating my iPhone makes me cringe.

When Apple pushes an update to iOS, you have two miserable choices.

Miserable choice #1:
You can render your phone completely useless for as long as it takes to download the OTA (over the air) update, unpack/prepare, install and restart your iPhone. The annoyance is compounded by the fact that you must keep the phone from “sleeping” while the update downloads, otherwise it just stalls. So you basically have to sit there like a jackass flicking the screen every minute or so to keep it active. Unless you have a death-wish, you definitely don’t want to do this while driving.

Miserable choice #2:
You can render your entire home network useless for hours by downloading an enormous iOS installer. It’s like downloading the entire OS just to get the updated components. Everyone in the house will hate you, because your Internet service slows to a crawl while you download what appears to be something the size of the entire Amazon video library just so your Apple Music app gets improved playlists, old photographs stop showing up in Photos app as new every time you connect your iPhone to your Mac, and your Email app works the way it should have to begin with.

iOS updates

…And as is always the case…
I decided to update to iOS 9.2 this morning. At 4am, to be exact. Nobody in my neighborhood is awake, so there is no internet traffic from other users in the local pipe. I made sure no other downloads of any kind were occurring. I decided to ‘download only’ the iOS update via iTunes on my Mac. The 2GB file download offers me the wonderful news that it might be finished downloading by the time I get home from work tonight. That doesn’t include actual install time.

So I decide to go the ‘quick’ route by doing the OTA download. A much smaller file, my iPhone claimed it only need ‘about 15 minutes’ to update. So after 40 minutes of downloading, another 15 or so minutes of updating, and 5 or so minutes of excruciatingly slow restarting, my phone is finally ready to use again.

In contrast, I downloaded and installed the entire Mac operating system from scratch in less time than it takes to do a run-of-the-mill iOS update. And I didn’t have to sit there and babysit the download—–as the Mac is smart enough to not fall asleep while downloading/installing.

Seriously, Apple. FIX THIS SHIT!

Font use inspiration

Font inspiration
Have a look at FontsInUse for some great font inspiration for your next design job. The examples are large images, complete with the names of the fonts used in the piece. There’s some really great work here, definitely worth checking out.