Apple Store Arrowhead Mall opens to large crowd and cranky security

The latest Apple Store in Arizona opened this weekend to large crowds, and cranky, party-pooper mall security. When I arrived a half hour or so before the Apple Store was set to open, there was already a line stretching halfway through the mall. Most patient customers were waiting with coffee in one hand, iPod/iPhone in the other. The first thing I noticed was the age group of the Mac-oholics waiting in line. It wasn’t the typical 20-something geek crowd I generally see at Apple Stores. Instead, a host of 40-somethings, and a very large handful of 50+ retirees just wanting to see what the fuss was all about. I spent a few minutes explaining that the long lines was indeed typical for all Apple Stores, and that while many probably were interested in seeing all the goodies in the store, some were simply in line for the free t-shirt. This wasn’t my first Apple Store opening, but it was certainly the most crowded – and I’m not referring to customers. The Arrowhead Mall is located near Arrowhead Ranch in Glendale, Arizona – a big money part of town where the “if you have to ask how much, you can’t afford it” crowd calls home. There were (I’m guessing here) around 40-50 Apple Store employees in bright orange and cyan colored shirts buzzing around the store front, with several of them walking up and down the mall checking the length of the line, which 15-minutes after my arrival had doubled. Perhaps whomever was in charge thought they were going to busy selling iPhones. I still think it was the free T-shirts. Just before the store opened, all the store employees filed-in for a last-minute pep-talk. Lots of clapping and yelling could be heard through the glass store-front. It was at this point where the party took a moderate down-turn. The mall security (politely) asked me to stop taking photos because it wasn’t permitted inside the mall. Not wanting to cause a big scene, I decided to stop – because they’re well within their rights to ask me to leave. It was then that I noticed another security officer starting acting like a traffic Cop, rather rudely directing the flow of people when the store opened, as though people were too stupid to know that moving forward was the thing to do. At one point it appeared that he was ready to use whatever means necessary to stop a woman and her kid from cutting in line… the problem was, they were trying to get into another store that the flow of traffic from the line was temporarily blocking. Sheesh. Arrowhead Mall security needs to lighten-up! Despite these minor mall mishaps, the Apple Store Arrowhead appears to be off-and-running at full-speed. I took a quick peek in the store and got the heck out (I don’t like being in the middle of large groups of people). The store itself looked about the same as the Biltmore Apple Store, just a bit smaller – so there was really nothing new to see.

Customize OSX’s Mail “Flag” icon

UsingMac has a nifty tutorial on how to change the little “Flag” icon used in OSX’s Mail application. Using the built-in flag feature (Command + Shift + L) is a great way to bookmark/highlight an email, but for me the flag icon that ships with Mail doesn’t stand out enough. This simple tutorial not only shows you how to customize the icon, but makes the star icons you see in the image above available for download.

Use Tilde to create outrageous Illustrator patterns and shapes

If you’re looking for something a little different for a background in Adobe Illustrator, try holding down the Tilde (~) key while dragging out a shape using one of Illustrator’s shape drawing tools such as line, circle, square, etc. Holding the Tilde key forces Illustrator to repeat the shapes in rapid fashion as you drag your mouse around the artboard. For fun, I set all the shapes to the same color, then went back and randomly chose a few dozen shapes and made them a different color, then set all shapes to Multiply in the Transparency panel. Try it and you may find yourself busy for an hour or so. Thanks to BittBox for the tip.

This email will self-destruct in 10 seconds

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to save the world. This message will self destruct in 10 seconds… (queue Mission Impossible theme song!) Sometimes you want to send a private email to someone, the type of email that contains sensitive information. Perhaps you’re plotting to overthrow the board of directors at your company, or maybe just the latest gossip about your boss and his rather disgusting eating habits. Obviously, you don’t want ANYONE but the recipient to see that email. In fact, you’re not even sure you want to risk them saving that email. Enter Privnote. Privnote allows you to send an email that will self-destruct (sans messy explosions, and evidentiary ashes) after reading it, leaving no trace of its existence at all. What makes Privnote cool and different from regular email:

  • You get a link to the note, and once that link is clicked the note is destroyed so it can only be seen once. If someone intercepts the link and sees the note before the person who’s intended to read it, that person will know that the note has been eavesdropped, and can tell you about it.
  • If you want to be notified when your note gets read you can do it by checking the notify box located below the note. Neither email nor instant messaging provides a reliable way to know if, let alone when, your messages are read.
  • If you send a note and suddenly regret having done so, you can click the link yourself which will destroy the note and prevent the receiver from reading it.

How much to charge for design work

The never-ending, no right-or-wrong answer, how do I figure this out question that every new freelancer has. Design: Talkboard has an article that covers some of the things you should consider when trying to come up with your hourly rate. In addition, you may wish to take a look at some links I wrote about in the past that may help you figure out your hourly design rates. You can read them here, and here.

Free font: Fusty Saddle

BitBox has just released another free TrueType font called Fusty Saddle (fusty means “Old fashioned in attitude or style). It’s a rustic, western-style font similar in style to the old Adobe favorite, Mesquite. Fusty Saddle makes for a great display font, to be used in headlines only. The only problem I have with the font is that there are no punctuation characters such as period, comma, quote or exclamation point. These characters are still important in headlines. That being said, it’s still a beautiful font. You can download Fusty Saddle here.

How to easily remove an OS X system preference pane

TUAW reports on an easy way to remove system preference panes. Simply right-clicking on a system preference pane in the Others section (which are the custom preferences installed by user applications) will present you with the option of removing them, which moves them to the OSX trash. While this is a simple OSX tip, it’s great for those who don’t want to go digging through their various Library folders looking for the actual preference pane manually.

Photoshop Action Pack for Automator

Automator If you’re a Photoshop user running Mac OSX 10.4 or 10.5, you should be taking advantage of Apple’s Automator. Automator allows you to string a series of “actions” together to create a workflow. Think of them as shortcuts. The Photoshop Action Pack 3.7 provides 90 Actions which allow you to control a huge amount of Photoshop functions, and execute complex batch operations you just can’t do with Photoshop’s built-in Actions.

The following actions are provided in the new Action Pack:

Add Empty Adjustment Layer Flip Canvas
Add Graphic Watermark Gaussian Blur
Add Layer Glass
Add Watermark HDR Merge
Arbitrary Rotate Hue/Saturation
Assign Color Profile Invert
Assign Custom Profile Load Selection
Assign Epson 2200 Profile Maximum/Minimum
Assign Epson 2400 Profile Mono Gaussian Noise
Auto Color Motion Blur
Auto Contrast NTSC Colors
Auto Levels Ocean Ripple
Bleach Bypass Open as Raw Data
Change Bit Depth Open
Change Mode Paint Daubs
Change Pixel Aspect Ratio Photo Filter
Change Resolution Pinch
Channel Mixer Polar Coordinates
Clouds Posterize
Color Balance Purge
Convert to Profile Radial Blur
Copy Data to IPTC Reduce Noise
Copy IPTC to Spotlight Comments Render
Crop Resize Canvas
Deinterlace Resize Image
Desaturate Resize to File Size
Deselect Resize to X by 10%
Despeckle Restore Original File List
Diffusion Ripple
Do Action Scale Image
Duplicate Current layer Set Blending Mode of Current Layer
Dust and Scratches Shadow/Highlight
Edit IPTC Info Sharpen Edges
Exposure (CS2 only) Sharpen More
Filter by Aspect Ratio Smart Blur
Filter by Bit Depth Smart Sharpen (CS2/CS3 only)
Filter by Color Mode Sphereize
Filter by EXIF Strip Extra Channels
Filter by File Type Swap Colors
Filter by IPTC Threshold
Filter by Orientation Trap
Filter by Size Trim
Fit Image Twirl
Flatten Document Unsharp Mask
  Use Currently Open Documents

Version 3.7 is fully compatible with PowerPC and Intel-based Macs. In addition to the action bundle, an assortment of sample workflows is provided. The included 73-page manual gives you a reference for all of the included actions, as well as an introduction to using Automator, and strategies for building Photoshop workflows. The Photoshop Action Pack is free, but donations are accepted via PayPal.