Getting things done with a little Anxiety

Getting things done (GTD) is all the rage these days. It’s all over the Web, with entire sites dedicated to helping you achieve a “honey-do”-free life. There are plenty of applications out there to help you as well.

Omni recently released OmniPlan at a cost of $149, and iGTD is another popular offering, especially since it’s free. The problem I have with the whole GTD movement is that I feel like you spend more time organizing and categorizing and less time doing. Most of the applications I’ve looked at require a lot of time to enter tasks, place them in proper categories, customize the interface to your needs and simply living in the app to actually get any use out of them. You spend more time trying to help yourself be productive than actually accomplishing your goal of getting things done. (more…)

Package Function not working in InDesign?

About a year or so ago I was experiencing a strange occurrence in regards to InDesign’s built-in Preflight/Package feature – normally I’d select the item from the menu and the dialog box would appear with all the pertaining options: But sometimes I’d be all set to get a file out the door, select ‘Preflight’ and nothing would happen. Well, ‘nothing’ unless you’re not counting the endless spinning of OSX’s ‘beachball’. No preflight box, no error message, nada – the whole program would simply lock up and I would have to Force-Quit & start over. This is not nearly as aggravating as it was under any OS prior to 10 or in most early versions of Quark. Adobe’s wonderful little autosave/crash recovery function has saved my bacon more than a few times these past few years. Anyway, when you’re dealing with a 20, 40 or 64-page document, pinpointing the cause of such a problem can resemble the old cliché about the needle and the haystack. When I first encountered the bug, I reverted back to my early production days and I began to eliminate pages from the document in hopes of narrowing things down. First I’d delete the first half of the document’s pages and try preflighting again. If I got the error once more, I’d know where my problem lied. If I *didn’t* get the error, I went back and deleted the 2nd half of the document’s pages and try again. And so on and so on until I was down to the one or two pages that were giving me the headache. I also employed this method when I’d receive the dreaded ‘postscript error’ on our office printer.

At the risk of sounding like one’s dad or grandfather, designers and production artists starting out today don’t know how rough us early Mac Quark users had it. I shake my fist at you damned CS3-right-out-of-college PUNKS!

So here I am in the process of deleting pages from my file and I happen to notice more than a few blank text boxes hanging out in the pasteboard area. Huh? Oh that’s right – I put these here for text overflow and forgot to delete them. *delete* *delete* *delete*…there, all done. Annoying, but those couldn’t have been the cause of the problem, could they? …could they?! The answer is *yes*, loyal readers – empty text boxes CAN cause a problem when left in the margins (or in some cases the actual document) and you need to preflight the file. I’m pretty sure this error only relates to text boxes that previously had copy in them – that is, if you used the box tool and created an empty frame on the pasteboard or on the live page, it wouldn’t repeat the problem. I haven’t had time to test my theory, but feel free to conduct your own experiments. Sure enough, about 99% of the time, the root of any preflight errors I’d encounter had everything to do with these rogue text boxes. Preflight would lock up the program, I’d restart & re-open the file, and sure enough there’d be one or two of these gremlins hanging out on the pasteboard. At the very least, they’re easy to spot – the real challenge is when those boxes are deep within your layout, buried under layers of text & graphics & placeholders. Ugh. Countless Google searches, forum posts and conversations with my colleagues failed to turn up a solution – it was only by trial & error (and a bit of luck) that I finally figured things out. Yay me, back to work now. *delete* *delete* *delete*

13 cool OSX Leopard tweeks via Terminal

There are already many applications available which allow you to tweek the settings in OSX Leopard to adjust the dock, the menu bar, and other areas you wish to alter. But one thing that bothers me is having all those little apps hanging around my hard drive, or worse yet, running at all times. UsingMac has listed 13 very handy Terminal commands that do the same thing as many of these apps, without the space and memory overhead. It’s as simple as copy & paste. Check them out.

Use Textorizor to combine text & graphics for a stunning image effects

Sometimes the image you’re using in your latest design layout just isn’t interesting enough and using Photoshop filters just isn’t cutting it. Enter Textorizor, a creative way to combine text and your image to create a unique look for your next design piece. While Textorizor is actually just code that needs to be compiled, there is a simple Web interface available for the non-code-geeks among us. There are actually two versions of Textorizor available, the sample above uses Textorizor 2. As you can see, the original image (inset) is used along with user input text to create the appearance of a text image. You could re-create the effect of Textorizor 2 in Photoshop using blend modes, but this just seems so much easier! And Textorizor 1 would just require a lot more mork.

Master your DSLR camera – program mode

You ponied up for a digital SLR camera because you hated the shutter lag on your little point-and-shoot. The good news: Your photos have improved! The bad news? You know they could be even better—if only you dared to let go of the camera’s “auto” mode. It’s as if you’ve been creeping around the neighborhood in a new Mustang using only first gear. No more! It’s time to take control, hit the highway, and learn what you can do in program mode. Lifehacker has a great feature titled Master Your DSLR Camera: Program Mode — worth taking a look at if you have a digital camera and you’re not yet used to the settings.

How to create customized OSX Mail stationery in Leopard

This tutorial has been updated for Snow Leopard users! Please visit the updated article here. While not much has changed, I’ve edited it for a bit more clarity.

If you enjoy Leopard’s new Mail Stationery for sending beautiful HTML email, but wished you could personalize it more, read on for some very good news!Apple has made Mail’s new Stationery feature quite easy to edit to your heart’s content, as long as you have an image editor that can save .jpg and .png files, and an HTML editor such as Dreamweaver (or just text edit if you’re a die-hard HTML coder). Just follow these simple steps: (more…)

Keep layers intact when copy & pasting objects from one InDesign document to another

Moving objects from on InDesign document to another is as easy as drag-and-drop or copy-and-paste. But what about when your Indesign document contains items on multiple layers and you don’t want to lose them when you move the objects to another document? By default, InDesign merges all the objects when pasting in a new document onto the default layer. InDesign has a simple solution for this earth-shattering dilemma. Simply visit the Layers Panel flyout menu and select Paste Remember Layers. This will keep the objects you’re copying on their respective layers through the copy process.