Category: General

Fixing various power issues on MacBook/MacBook Pro

If you find your MacBook or MacBook Pro having various power issues such as:

  • backlighting
  • hard disk spin down
  • sleep or wake issues
  • battery issues
  • trackpad control

the first thing you should try doing (after simply restarting your computer to see if that fixes it) is resetting the System Management Controller (SMC). The SMC is a chip on the logic board which is responsible for power management of the computer. Issues can and do pop up that render the settings in the SMC unusable, resulting in problems with the above mentioned items. Many times, resetting the SMC is all that is necessary to fix the problems. To reset the System Management Controller on the MacBook or MacBook Pro, do the following:

  1. Turn the computer off
  2. Disconnect the AC Adapter and remove the computer’s battery
  3. Press and hold the power button for 5 seconds, then release it
  4. Reconnect the battery and AC adapter
  5. Press the power button to restart the computer

The process is similar for MacBook Air users, as well as users of older Apple laptops which use the Power Management Unit (PMU) rather than the SMC. You can view this Apple support document for more info.

Who owns that Web site you designed?

It’s the age-old question of designers. “Who owns the design you just created for a Web site?” Most designers think they do, while most clients believe it’s work-for-hire and they own it. Pixelita Designs has an informative article covering the subject titled Who Owns Your Web Site? The article dates back to 2007, but the information is valid, and quite informative. You should also consider the same advice when dealing with print design work as well. The article also features some additional resources on the subject at the end.

Optimize PDF files with better results

Most people who work with PDFs in Acrobat versions older than version 8 know you can quickly reduce the file size of a PDF by going to the File menu and selecting Reduce File Size. The problem with using that method was that it virtually destroys your images, making them so blurry that you can barely see what they are. Thankfully, with Acrobat 8 and 9, a new PDF optimization method is available. The PDF Optimizer can be found in two places. The first place is in the menubar under Advanced>Print Production>PDF Optimizer. The second, and more handy location, is in the Save As dialog box, where you click the drop-down menu and select Adobe PDF Files, Optimized as seen below. Clicking the Settings button offers you complete control over how your PDF files get optimized. The first thing to do is figure out what’s taking up so much space in the file. You do this by clicking the Audit space usage button in the upper right corner of the PDF Optimizer dialog box. A window will open offering you a breakdown of what’s eating up all the space (see image below). As you can see in the image above, the images in my test PDF file are what’s taking up the most space, so that’s where I need to focus my attention. Close the Audit window to return to the PDF Optimize dialog box. In the panel list on the left side of the PDF Optimizer you can choose which areas of the PDF file you wish to work with. In the case of my test file, I chose Images. As you can see in the screenshot below, you can downsample your images, select the quality settings, and more. This as opposed to older versions of Acrobat where the program just decided for you to reduce everything to the bare minimum. The new PDF Optimizer gives YOU the control and the choice. Selecting other source items such as Transparency, Discard Objects, Fonts, and Clean Up are also available. I recommend you take a look at all of these to see where you might be able to save a few “k” in file size. It all adds up. I also recommend you don’t overwrite the original PDF file, just in case you’re not happy with the results. If you wish to see the PDF Optimizer in action, visit the Acrobat 9 PDF Optimizer page at CreativeTechs, where they have a brief video you can watch to learn more.

Organize your client file names & invoicing

Keeping your client’s digital files and invoice numbers is something no designer wants to deal with. But you’ll thank yourself later as your client list, and number of jobs grows beyond just a few. Here’s one way I’ve found very helpful in keeping my client’s digital files organized, and cross-referenced with the invoices I send out. Read on for how it works. (more…)

Quick and easy color management with Pantone ColorMunki

One of the most difficult aspects of graphic design is color management. It’s one of those things you know you should do, but often overwhelms all but the most expert of users. Thankfully, Pantone offers ColorMunki Design, a suite of hardware/software tools for designers and digital photographers to ensure accurate color from design to output. I recently wrote a full review of Pantone ColorMunki for Macworld, where I found that ColorMunki not only makes color calibration of your display and printer easy, but capturing colors from any substrate you can think of a snap! (more…)

Beauty is in the details

Some people have waaaay too much time on their hands! Or you could say, they have way too much Photoshop talent. I ran this article back in 2006 on my previous blog, but thought it was worth revisiting. Bert Monroy, a digital artist, has composed what is claimed to be the largest Photoshop image known to the public. A quick look at the above image doesn’t do it justice. Here are some specs for that image:

  • The image size is 40 inches by 120 inches.
  • The flattened file weighs in at 1.7 Gigabytes.
  • It took eleven months (close to 2,000 hours) to create.
  • The painting is comprised of close to fifty individual Photoshop files.
  • Taking a cumulative total of all the files, the overall image contains over 15,000 layers.
  • Over 500 alpha channels were used for various effects.
  • Over 250,000 paths make up the multitude of shapes throughout the scene.

Most of the basic shapes and the Chicago skyline were created in Illustrator and brought into Photoshop for the final touch. The attention to detail is just staggering, as seen in the image at right. When you consider that the zoomed in image at right is such a tiny portion of the overall image above, it’s just an incredible amount of detail for something virtually nobody will see at first glance. Most designers and artists would have skipped such details in such a large image, but it goes to show you what attention to detail can do for your image, and your reputation. You can read more at – but be patient, the page WILL take a while to load.

Adobe CS4 Printing Guide available for download

adobeAdobe has posted the Adobe Creative Suite 4 Printing Guide, which serves as both a detailed technical reference for handling Adobe Creative Suite 4 Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and Acrobat files from your customers, and as a training tool for your staff. If you want to know more about graphics, exporting and printing, font issues, working with book files, output troubleshooting, color management and more, you’ll find this downloadable PDF guide extremely helpful. Direct-download links: CS4 Print Guide – low-res (PDF, 4.6mb) CS4 Print Guide – high res (PDF, 18.1mb) If you’re still using Adobe Creative Suite 3, you can download the Creative Suite 3 Printing Guides here: CS3 Print Guide – low res (PDF, 6.6mb) CS3 Print Guide – high res (PDF, 24.4mb)

Font management with Suitcase Fusion 2

The name is familiar. Everything else is groundbreaking. Extensis Suitcase Fusion 2 redefines professional font management with a sleek, modern interface, time-saving tools and unmatched stability. Dynamic searching and advanced auto-activation in Fusion 2 makes selecting and activating fonts a snap. I’ve written a full review of Suitcase Fusion 2, which you can read at Macworld’s Creative Notes blog, where I covered the user interface, auto-activation, and my real-world experience using the application. Over the last few months, I’ve been using Fusion 2 with great results. Gone are the days of slow launch times of not only Suitcase, but InDesign, Illustrator and Quark as well. This is partially because Fusion 2 no longer needs to be open in order for font auto-activation to work. I’ve had no issues with crashing, fonts embedded in .eps files, or any other issues that seemed to have plagued previous versions of Suitcase. The new tear-off preview menus are a nice touch, as is the simple interface – right down to the icon. Everything is just easier and faster with Fusion 2. If you’re looking to upgrade your font management application, take a look at my review of Extensis SuitcaseFusion 2.