Category: General

Adobe shipping Acrobat X Pro with new and improved features

AcrobatAdobe Acrobat X Pro, its powerful document collaboration tool for creative professionals who need to take their work to the next level. Acrobat X Pro allows users to deliver polished communications using PDF Portfolios, and work together effectively with shared document reviews. Users can also simplify workflows with integrated online services for storing and sending documents, and ensure designs will print accurately with advanced print production tools.

Adobe has added a host of new features with Acrobat X Pro, including:

  • The Action Wizard helps users automate and standardize multi-step tasks for maximum productivity.
  • New customization options for PDF Portfolios enable designers to create and share custom layouts and themes and develop PDF Portfolios with consistent branding and presentation.
  • Tight integration with online services at Acrobat.com allows users to share large files online and streamline collaboration.
  • Improvements made to the Preflight tool and printing options enable creative and print professionals to process jobs quickly and accurately.
  • Acrobat X Pro also supports the latest versions of the PDF/X-4 and X-5 standards, enabling users to stay current with industry standards.
  • Users can speed up everyday work by customizing the Quick Tools area for fast access to the tools they use the most.

Additionally, Adobe has added two new cloud services – Adobe SendNow and Adobe CreatePDF – that will improve document exchange and enable easy PDF creation.

Customers who previously purchased Acrobat 9, 8 or 7 (either Standard or Pro) and have a serial number can upgrade to Acrobat X Pro for $199.

I don’t have a copy yet, so I can’t say if Acrobat X Pro is worth the price of upgrade, but I do know that Adobe is putting a lot of engineering and R&D into Acrobat, so it most likely continues with the tradition of adding useful features and maintaining backwards compatibility and ease of use. When I get around to upgrading, I’ll post my thoughts on this latest version.

Mac OS X startup key combinations

Startup keyboard combinations have been around since the early days of the Mac operating system. Holding down specific keys while pushing the power button offer a plethora of options for troubleshooting when your Mac starts up.

Here are the most useful keyboard startup combinations:

Key/Combo What it does
⌥ (Option) Display all bootable volumes (Startup Manager)
⇧ (Shift) Perform Safe Boot (start up in Safe Mode)
C Start from a bootable disc (DVD, CD)
D Start up in Apple Hardware Test (AHT), if the Install DVD 1 is in the computer
T Start in FireWire target disk mode
N Start from NetBoot server
X Force Mac OS X startup (if non-Mac OS X startup volumes are present)
⌘-V Start in Verbose Mode
⌘-S Start in Single User Mode
⌘-⌥-P-R Reset NVRAM
Mouse button Eject CD/DVD and start up from hard drive

Most of these keyboard combinations will work with any modern Mac, but some models may have variations that work or don’t work.

Think twice before you buy a MacPro

iMac 2010I saw it coming years ago when Apple released the iPod Touch. Since that fateful day in September of 2007, it seemed like Apple tossed the desktop computer to the curb like a red-headed stepchild.

Every once in a while, they updated the desktop lines, but with the exception of a really nice iMac update (to what we have today), there’s been little to get excited about outside the laptop and mobile lines.

Now before you say “oh no, not another ‘Apple is killing the desktop’ article,” let me just say that this isn’t. Only an idiot would make the assumption, observation or claim that Apple is going to give up billions of dollars in sales – especially when their new love affair with mobile hardware requires a Mac to be useful.
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Flexible paper and payment options can save a bundle on your next print job

Commercial printing is expensive, but there are ways you can save money with little effort if you’re willing to be flexible and spend some time before the bidding process with your printer. The key is communication. Your printer’s sales rep should be most helpful in finding ways to save money on your job. After all, if you’re happy with his or her service, you’re more likely to give him repeat business.

Saving money on your next print job

Your paper selection can make a huge difference in the cost of your print job

Here are a few tips to help you save a little money on your next print job:

When requesting a bid from your preferred printer, and paper stock isn’t set in stone, be sure to ask your sales rep if they have access to any discontinued paper from the manufacturer. Many times, limited quantities of discontinued paper is available at a heavy discount. It’s a great way to save money on your print job if you’re willing to be flexible.

Consider printing multiple jobs at the same time, on the same paper stock. Many times, paper is only available in large sheet sizes and your job doesn’t quite fill the sheet. You can add a smaller print piece on the same sheet and save money on the print run.

Ask if your printer offers a cash in advance or upon delivery discount. Printers have to pay for the paper and print your job on their dime, then wait for you to pay them. By offering to pay for paper and ink costs, or even the whole job in advance, you may find the printer willing to offer a bit of a discount.

You can save a hefty amount on your print job by specifying a Grade 2 sheet. Premium (Grade 1) paper costs substantially more, and often times is really no better than 2nd grade sheets. When in doubt, ask for a sample from your print sales rep.

News from around the web

Adobe:

Apparently Adobe is toying with the idea of producing a Photoshop file viewing app for Apple’s iPad. John Nack is asking on his Adobe blog if users would like to take it a step further as well, by allowing the user to manipulate layers, and more. Adobe is definitely in development for tablet devices, as evidenced by this report from MacRumors.

iPhone Apps:

Photo KeysTwo nifty looking iPhone apps caught my attention this past week, both from RPA Technology. The first, Mobile Mouse Pro turns your iPhone into a wireless controller for your Mac. The combo desktop andiPhone app costs only $1.99 and looks to be uber cool. If you don’t require full control of your Mac, you can use the free Mobile Remote, which allows you to control a variety of audio and video apps on your Mac.

From the same company, Photo Keys offers iPhone users a companion tool to Adobe Photoshop on the desktop. Photo Keys puts the entire Photoshop toolbar, as well as many useful shortcuts right at your fingertips. Photo keys costs $2.99.

Bookmark Syncing with Xmarks:

Xmarks started out as a free extension for Firefox that allowed you to Sync your bookmarks between computers. Its popularity grew quickly, and soon there were versions available for Safari and Google Chrome as well. It was fantastic to be able to keep all my browsers on all my computers (Mac and PC) in sync. But just as soon as its popularity was exploding, they suddenly announced they were shutting down for financial reasons. Apparently, things have changed. According to reports, Xmarks has found a buyer and will make a lot of users very happy.

Cool art: Steve Jobs collage

If you’re a fan of Apple’s Steve Jobs and cool artwork, you’ll most likely appreciate this collage of Apple images used to create a portrait of Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs collage

Click image to view the full size collage at Flickr by tsevis

You could do it by hand, but it’s far easier to use a mosaic app like the free MacOSaiX, which I mentioned way back in 2009.

Font management with Suitcase Fusion 3 now extends to website designs

Suitcase Fusion 3With little exception, fonts can be the number one asset any designer owns, and the most difficult to manage.

The in-house graphic designer with a limited number of corporate fonts to use on a daily basis may need nothing more than Apple’s Font Book app (if even that) to manage a small font collection. But the freelance designer with dozens of clients, the ad agency production studio and the print shop with hundreds of clients must have robust font management or dealing with fonts can become a full-time job. For those users, Extensis offers Suitcase Fusion 3.
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Infographic design: Netflix vs. Redbox

Infographic design is one of the coolest projects a designer can work on. It allows you a hefty amount of creative freedom, with the advantage of not having to put a lot of emphasis on fitting the design concept into an overall campaign. You can just go to town on the cool factor.

Infographic design

This infographic by Redbox highlights great communication work by the designers for Redbox

There are entire websites dedicated to showing off infographic samples, and one I came across recently highlighted this Netflix vs. Redbox comparison made by the folks at Redbox. The use of color was an obvious choice, but the simplicity and easy readability was definitely something that attracted me to it.

If you’re looking to add a few colorful and creative pieces to your portfolio, an infographic that is well thought out, both in the data on display and the design used to communicate it, can make for a powerful showpiece.

Avoiding bland, cliché photography

There are plenty of stock photography sites out there, and while many of them are expensive, more and more of them offer some great, affordable images to use in your designs. But before you decide on your image, be sure to read through this post at DesignShack titled 10 pitfalls to avoid when using stock photos.

Cliché photos

The handshake - perhaps the most overused design cliché of all time

The article covers topics such as avoiding cliché and overused photos, creating bad clipping paths, and avoiding obviously posed photos.

Perhaps the most important piece of advice offered is to shoot the images yourself. A decent DSLR camera can be had for $500 nowadays, and can produce stunning images in the right hands. Beef-up on your photography skills by reading through the great photography tips and reviews at Digital Photography School, or subscribe to a photography podcast such as Daily Photo Tips with Chris.

Regardless if you choose to buy stock photos or shoot them yourself, be sure to make good choices when selecting images for your designs.