So, this weekend I got my new personal business cards. And while I don’t really need personal cards, I just became too darn enamored with a new little card design from the English company Moo to go without them. Moo is basically a print service that allows you to create the mini business cards, sticker books or note cards all from your existing images. You can upload images directly to Moo or link many online accounts to them, including Flickr. And, the best part is that each one of your 100, 28x70mm cards can have an entirely different image on it!
I first saw the mini cards while at Typecon, and fell in love right away. While I was recently on my honeymoon in Hawaii I specifically took a variety of images that I thought would look good on the back of a card. When I got home, I loaded all of the images onto my MacBook Pro, cataloged them in Portfolio and got to sorting. I keyworded about 60 images with the keyword “moo” and then used a smart gallery to find all of the images with that keyword.
I then used the collect command to make copies of the images in a folder on my desktop. I then uploaded the files to Moo, and wham-bam one week later I’ve got cards!
The cards are printed on good stock, and are matte-laminated for smoothness. If I had any complaints it was that some of my images turned out a bit more dull than I had expected. They didn’t “pop” as they had done on my computer screen. They could also use a better variety of font selections for the text on the back. Yet, all in all, I’m a very happy customer. 100 cards for 20 bucks, not bad at all. Thanks Moo!
Oh, and there’s even a Flickr pool of what people are doing with their Moo cards. Check it out.
September 14th, 2007 by Jim Kidwell
Procrastination hits all of us from time to time. When the creative spark doesn’t seem so bright, there are a great number of places that I like to visit on the internet. You could call it “wasting time,” but I think that I’d rather call it “recharging my spark.” Here are the top internet locales that I use to get that boost.
The Veer folks from Calgary and have really pulled their stuff together. Their site always presents reams of creative ideas and resources for projects — fonts, images, graphics and more. It’s all good stuff and always presented in a fun interactive way. Their blog rocks too.
Forums can be a great source of troubleshooting information, and also a great place to generate a community around specific topics. It’s through those community connections that I often find new ways of solving a problem, new creative techniques, and even sometimes an idea for a new project. There are many quality forums out there, here are a few to get you started:
Also be sure to check our our larger list on the Forums page of this blog.
This site contains thumbnailed screen shots of websites. You can click on one, rate it, and even leave a comment for the designer. Use it as a source of website design inspiration, or as just a fun way to randomly browse the net.
September 13th, 2007 by Jim Kidwell
Just a quick link today over to a very thorough excerpt from the book, Web Design and Marketing Solutions for Business Websites over at Digital Web Magazine. The excerpt covers how good website design, structure and most importantly site content plays into effective communication with customers.
I’m happy to say that the Extensis website is presented as an example of a well-designed product page that includes good core content, case studies and technical information for customers.
If you’re in the business of selling a product on the web, or designing sites for those who do, this is definitely recommended reading.
September 12th, 2007 by Jim Kidwell
Photoshop is an integral tool in any creative workflow. From advertising and graphic design to generally any business that requires the manipulation of imagery. The power of the tool allows you to change an image in amazing ways, yet how certain results are achieved might not always be immediately evident.
Sometimes you want to apply a certain effect immediately, and can do so easily through a programmed filter. Yet what happens when you’re just not sure how to achieve a specific effect? You can fumble around randomly applying layer adjustments, curves and such, or you can turn to a resource that has already spent the time to create what you need.
Photoshop contains a powerful feature called “Actions.” This feature allows any user to record any action that they perform in Photoshop, and then play those actions back at a later time. These actions can be saved, exported and shared with other users. Fortunately, many users provide actions they have created for download on the internet. You can download these actions, load them into Photoshop, and then step through each action to see just how the effect was created.
By default, Photoshop will playback the entire action in one fell swoop. You can change this so that Photoshop pauses after every step, allowing you the time to better understand how each step manipulates the image.
To briefly pause a Photoshop action after each step:
1. From the Actions drop-down menu, choose Playback Options.
2. In the dialog box, choose the Pause option, enter a number of seconds to pause and click OK.
Now whenever you playback an action it will pause between steps so that you can examine the modifications to the image, and even stop the action mid-application.
To get you started, here are a few places where you can download some interesting Photoshop actions for examination:
September 11th, 2007 by Jim Kidwell
When there’s a bit of great information out there, no matter how old it is, it often deserves a second look. Like coming back to your favorite album in high school, a good article can resonate even years after it was originally written. That’s what you’ll find in today’s post.
Over three years ago, Michael McDonough wrote a great list of “Top Ten Things They Never Taught Me in Design School” for the publication, The Architect’s Newspaper. The Design Observer was given permission to reprint the list, so those of us who aren’t fortunate enough to get the print copy could enjoy Michael’s great insight.
The list is a reality check for those of us who do intend to do creative work on a daily basis. What percentage of your work is actually creative? Who’s opinion matters? Generally, how to cope in a professional creative job. This dose of reality is important whether you work to create websites, print publications, Portfolio NetPublish sites, or some great new font that we’ll all be using for years to come.
The point that always hits home with me is that stress on the audience (what Michael calls “The rest of the world”). Whatever you create, you must be able to satisfy a potentially large and differing audience — your boss, internal reviewers, and most importantly, the end user of your product.
And of course the comments are worth a few minutes of your time. Check it out.
It is such a cool idea I can hardly believe I’ve never heard of it. A creative tournmanent. No, not a competition where you get all the time in the world to perfect your submission. Nope. You better move fast and have a brain that can keep up.
Cut & Paste 2007 combines art and sport into a cutural event. 8 contenstants are chosen in each city and are subjected to several 15-minute rounds of thematic projects. Then the local judges pick a winner. There are crowds, advance tickets, hoopla, and yes, even some local bands. The audience is encouraged to participate at open workstations, where their submissions will also be judged. This year’s audience theme is “survival of the fittest.”
The tournament kicked off this past weekend in Boston. Next stop is right here in Portland (our home base) on September 21st. Other cities include: San Fran, LA, Chicago, New York, London, Berlin, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Sydney.
Advance tickets are available through the Cut& Paste site. So show up and prepare to have your idea of design turned on it’s head.
In the era in which many companies are curtailing many of the benefits provided to employees, I’m happy to say that Extensis is swimming against the current. Within the past nine months, we were able to implement a new sabbatical program for employees who have been with Extensis for 10 years or more.
Much like well-known sabbatical program at Intel, employees are given paid time off as a reward for their long-term commitment to Extensis. After 10 years of continual employment, employees are given a sabbatical of three paid weeks with the option to take a fourth consisting of standard paid time off hours.
Founded in 1993, we still consider ourselves a relatively young company. That being said, we still have a number of employees who have been with Extensis for long enough to have earned this privilege. Up to this point, three people have taken sabbaticals.
Operations Manager, Scott Rogers used his time off as an extended vacation to experience some classic Western locations, including the Oregon Coast Aquarium, the Pendleton Roundup, Yellowstone and some quality fishing time in Idaho. Scott had the additional challenge to work in his sabbatical around some important Extensis financial reporting tasks.
Channel Sales Manager, Alphonse Goettler, used his sabbatical as an opportunity to “enjoy the rhythm of daily life” with his daughters, in addition to a trip extended family vacation to Sedona and the Grand Canyon.
Network Systems Admin, Greg LaViolette spent the majority of his time making improvements to his house, including an impressive vinyl siding tear-off project. Greg also spent some time enjoying the natural beauty of the landscape by staying in a cabin in Southern Oregon.
Fewer and fewer people are able to stay with one job for a long time these days. My father, now in his sixties, worked at the same office his entire life – from college co-op internship to retirement, all in the same facility. While the same goal is definitely not achievable in the US for me, one day, I hope to be able to earn my own sabbatical. Only five years to go!
- What’s your job title?
Quality Assurance Engineer, was Priority Support Technician
- How long have you been with Extensis?
Working on four years now.
- Where is your cog in the Extensis machine?
I test the candidate builds of software in order to squash bugs before it gets to you!
- What is your favorite Extensis product?
Gotta be Portfolio
- If you were a font, which font would you be?
- What’s at the top of your iPod playlist?
Hifana, The Streets, Chemlab, Pigface
- When were you most happy?
I think thats a rather personal question don’t you? Did you click on a button confirming your age?
- What is your greatest accomplishment?
Taking the leap and proving all doubts wrong
- What is your biggest regret?
Not taking the leap
- What is your biggest passion?
Music, Art, Film
- What do you like to read?
Zombie Survival Guide, World War Z
- What is your most treasured possession?
- What food can you not live without?
Sandhu’s Chicken Saag on Thursdays
- How are you a weekend warrior?
Wait a second, there are wars on the weekend, where?!
- What’s the strangest thing on your desk?
Wind up Bender
- What is one thing that people don’t generally know about you?
I’m an amateur film maker and a vidiot (idiot video gamer)
- Which website do you visit daily?
- In another life you were…?
- What’s your ultimate destination?
Just over the other side of this ridge
- What do you want your dying words to be?
I told you so
Yesterday Adobe announced the release of their newest beefy font collection, Font Folio. The majority of the fonts in the collection are in OpenType format. This gives you great cross platform support, as well as expanded typographic features such as contextual alternatives and potentially huge character sets. If you’re in a design house, and want to be sure that every font that you’re using is appropriately licensed, this may be a good option for you.
The words “art” and “Microsoft Office” aren’t often used in the same sentence. Microsoft Word wouldn’t be my first choice of tool when when starting my next creative project, unless it was to sketch out an outline or to write a little bit of content.
Well, not to be stopped, the Microsoft Mac Business Unit just launched a new site devoted entirely to the creative endeavors tackled in the somewhat non-traditional creative tools of Microsoft Office. They have been able to obtain submissions from a few big names, including most notably Mark Mothersbaugh. So it’s worth taking a quick gander.
From the entries that I have viewed, a few of the entries look like they were the primary creative tool. Most of the office documents seem to be mere containers for the creative work therein. Kinda like celebrating the frame of a canvas instead of instead of the artwork itself.
Though, I must say that I am quite fond of the Pac Man pie chart.
Of course, you’ll need Office installed to view the source files offered for download. We’ll see where it goes from here. Perhaps I’ll be surprised with what can be done with Word’s simple drawing tools. My skills, while self-centered, are clearly not up to snuff.