March 31st, 2010 by Ken Beck
Last week we talked about the entropy of over-organization and breaking old habits. This week we unlock the mystery of the Suitcase Fusion 2 font vault in part two of this three part series. Let’s begin:
Entropy #2 : Why keep your fonts “in-place” instead of in the “font vault”?
If you went to a bank to deposit a large sum of money and the bank said you had the choice of:
- keeping your money in their vault (made of two feet thick solid steel walls, a dual-control combination lock, protected by 24-7 cameras, multiple alarm systems and three trigger-happy security guards (underpaid and jacked up on coffee) or
- you could keep the money in your apartment spread out in a couple of shoe boxes and old paper bags
Which would you choose? Which sounds more secure for the long term? Which is a better “system?”
In may aspects of life, we have a strange misplaced desire to either 1) control things we can not control or 2) continue to control things we have already delegated to someone else to handle. The result of each is pain and suffering.
A classic example is someone who constantly complains about the weather. You can complain till you’re blue in the face that the weather is too hot, too cold, too wet, or too dry, and guess what ? the weather remains un-changed. It is a complete waste of energy; as fruitful as shaking your fist at a storm cloud or talking to a tornado. You cannot control the weather; accept that as natural law and let go. When its hot, work on your tan. When it’s raining, consider it a free shower. When someone gives you lemons, make margaritas. If the weather wherever you live is that miserable for you, then do something you can control, move to another location with weather that suits your preferences. As they say in Las Vegas, “put up or shut up” because talk is cheap in the silver city and time is money.
Another classic example: a boss who assigns you to handle “important problem X with customer 17″ (because they’re too busy) but micromanages your every move along the way. Good managers delegate tasks and trust their employees to deliver results; bad managers pretend to delegate tasks and want an “update” or to make a “suggestion” every thirty minutes in the process. It’s a confusion of ownership and both manager and employee miss out on the benefits of delegation. High entropy. Getting Things Done guru, David Allen talks about achieving a zen-link mental state of “mind like water” where your mind is always clear from worrying about things in which worrying is fruitless. In Buddhism, the tendency to worry about that which one should not worry about, is called “monkey mind” (“unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable”); “mental noise”, “just spinning wheels”, “a dog chasing it’s own tail”, “running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off”, “beating a dead horse” and “beating your head against the wall” are western idioms that point to the same concept of futility.
If you’ve purchased a font manager to manage your fonts then hello, let it manage your fonts. Delegate and let go. Let SF2 manage your fonts and let iTunes manage your mp3s. When you are dead and buried, looking back on your life, does it really matter if your 80′s hair metal is in a folder called “/music/hair metal/80′s/motley crue” or “/music/itunes/itunes media/music/motley crue”? Over-riding the default preferences of each program to organize your fonts/mp3′s manually because you think you have “a better way” smacks of ego unless you are an advanced user and have a really, really, specific reason for doing so to justify the performance loss and overhead needed to maintain your system. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating total passivity in the face of technology (never bow down to the robot overlords without a fight!), rather I am advocating that you choose your battles wisely grasshopper and that you make good decisions on how you want to spend your time. If I had a magic wand and could grant you an extra two hours a week, every week of “free time” to spend on either:
- designing great work that puts food on the table and might just change the world or
- renaming folders, copying files, searching and re-linking broken links on your hard disc
Which would you choose? Which achievement are you more likely to feel proud about 10 years from now? Which will bring you recognition, fame and fortune?
Unlocking the Suitcase Fusion 2 Font Vault
Many customers don’t use the Suitcase Fusion 2 font vault because they fear it’s something really complicated but it’s actually quite simple. You have your original fonts on your hard disc in “location A”, organized meticulously or simply in a big giant hairy folder called “my fonts” [see part one of this series]. You drag them into SF2 in order to use them which copies the actual fonts into “location B” i.e. the suitcase fusion 2 font vault located at:
/Users/[username]/Library/Extensis/Suitcase Fusion/Suitcase Fusion.fontvault
The font vault is a special folder called a “package”. You can see what’s literally inside the font vault by stopping the Suitcase Fusion Core and then right-clicking the font vault and choosing “show package contents”. This will allow you to see whats inside the package just like a regular folder. Here’s a screenshot:
The SF2 font vault organizes your fonts by Type (MM = Multiple Master, OTPS = OpenType Postscript flavor, OTTT = OpenType TrueType flavor, PS = Postscript, TT = TrueType), then by foundry, then by font name, then by version number, then by Font Sense number. Simple and orderly. In the screenshot below, you can see I have three different versions of ACaslonPro-Bold, an OpenType – Postscript flavor font from Adobe.
The font vault is a SQLite 3 database for you techies out there. SQLite is an “in-process library that implements a self-contained, serverless, zero-configuration, transactional SQL database engine;” the same open source database code used by Apple for your iPhone, iTunes, Mail and Safari. It’s good to understand the font vault but don’t go monkeying around inside it just for kicks. Fonts are added or removed from the font vault though the SF2 program to keep the database in sync.
Benefits of the Suitcase Fusion 2 Font Vault
- requires absolutely no maintenance
- no more missing fonts, broken links or having to mount external drives
- fonts are checked for corruption before being added into the vault
- the vault does not allow duplicate fonts
- the vault is a single folder that can be easily backed up or moved to another computer
It all comes down to how you want to spend your time. You can spend Saturday night alone, quietly hunched over your computer, eyes bleeding, meticulously organizing your iTunes library, file by file, tag by tag into some complex series of personal folders or dancing with friends to the music blasting from your iTunes library. Living “the good life” means you spend more time “wining and dining” then you do “whining and pining.” Time may be our most precious human resource so re-evaluate how you’re spending yours if you’re micromanaging minutiae. Get outside, spend some time with your loved ones, follow your passions, pick up a new hobby, create something beautiful, think BIG, just don’t miss the forest for the trees. As they say at the morgue, “If you have time, you can always make more art but you can’t make more art when you’re dead.”
[Winona Savings Bank Vault image courtesy of Jonathunder from Wikipedia]
March 25th, 2010 by Ken Beck
Hello world: I’m Ken Beck, Technical Product Specialist at Extensis and I will be adding some content here that I hope you will find helpful. So here we go: Post Numero Uno :
In tech support, naturally we see a lot of screen shots from customers while troubleshooting their Suitcase Fusion 2 setup. One common pattern is over-organization. That sounds odd now doesn’t it? Can you really be over-organized? Is it possible to create a filing system so complex that you can’t find anything? Definitely. Over-organization creates entropy and not only is doing so largely a waste of your time but it creates unnecessary stress and is actually counter-productive to efficiency. Wait a minute: I can be less “organized” and more “efficient” at the same time with less work? I’m listening. In short, if your spending hours/days/weeks sweating blood to “organize your fonts” by creating byzantine nested sets within sets within sets, multiple font libraries to nowhere and twenty six alphabetical set folders, then “you’re doing it all wrong“.
Human beings are creatures of habit as they say and a lot of us are guilty of doing things a certain way through sheer force of habit. There’s no benefit or reason to our madness, we just keep doing it a certain way because “hey, that’s the way I’ve always done it”. Now don’t get me wrong, some structure is good: I like having hips to keep my pants up and having shoulders for people to cry on and riding a bicycle made of steel instead of jello gives me more “confidence” commuting to work though downtown Portland, but if all you have is the past to justify a current action, then it’s time to re-examine your goal and dig deeper for a solution. You may be using an outdated model from last year, five years ago, ten years ago, or some ancient psychological maxim you were taught by a teacher or a parent that has absolutely no relevance to what you are doing today. Yes we are getting philosophical here but remember technology is digital philosophy. If you are using new technology without changing your behavior/relationship/workflow then you’re probably missing the benefits of acquiring the new technology in the first place and therefore “missing the boat”. As they told me in trampoline class, “if you’re gonna jump, you have to let go of whatever you are holding onto”. And as they say in one of my favorite episodes of Samurai Jack, if you’re gonna join the tribe who jumps, then learn to jump good.
Over the next few posts in this three part series, I’ll give specific examples of over-organization in Suitcase Fusion 2 and how to achieve the same goal with less effort and more grace. Here is the first example:
Entropy #1 : Why have 26 “A thru Z” alphabetical sets in Suitcase Fusion 2?
This is an old technique from Font Reserve circa 2002. The “alphabet strip” was a cool and effective technique for sorting/finding a specific font in 2002 but life was different in the good old days of 2002. This was a time when men wanted to be a cross between Eminem, Brad Pitt and Spiderman and dreamed of picking up Jennifer Lopez, Pamela Anderson or Shakira, preferably all three, in their Ferrari, and driving to Paris, to see the World Cup and then relax watching the Simpsons. For a meta experience, google “2002 year end” to see Google’s 2002 year end zeitgeist to remember what else was “hot” in 2002 to get some perspective.
In 2010, with Suitcase Fusion 2, this “A to Z” outdated filing technique creates entropy because:
- Doing so maxes out your screen real estate in the sidebar. Where are you gonna put your meaningful sets (clients, projects, favorites) now?
- You can see your fonts automatically sorted in alphabetical order in one click by clicking on the “Name” column just like iTunes or Excel.
- If you need to find a font called “ken dash something I can’t remember” then use the QuickFind box (top right of SF2) to search for “ken” in the same way you would use Apple’s Spotlight or Quicksilver to find a file. A fast search trumps manually digging through multiple folders any day. This concept of searching/tagging items in “one box” being more efficient than painstakingly filing items in multiple discrete boxes was pioneered by a little startup called Google way back in 1998. Considering they made profits of 23.6 billion dollars in 2009 when many companies we’re downsizing or folding, I’d say philosophically they got it right.
Choosing/Sorting/Finding a font when creating new documents should be cake in Suitcase Fusion 2. If you are re-working an existing document created with Extensis’s patented Font Sense technology (included in Font Reserve, Suitcase for Windows 11, Suitcase Fusion and Suitcase Fusion 2) then there is no need to search at all for a font as your fonts are auto-activated for you when you open the document. If you are not using our auto-activation plug-ins for InDesign, Illustrator and QuarkXPress then once again, you’re doing it the hard way.
As the immortal Merlin Mann says in his “Inbox Zero” tech talk, if you’re a sandwich maker, your job is to make sandwiches not organize food orders into neat little paper stacks, meaning don’t obsess about the wrong things, obsess about the right things that bring you joy. Don’t get lost spending weeks “organizing your fonts” when you could be creating. All you have to do is drag and drop your entire big scary messy font folder of 5,000 fonts into SF2 and let it organize them for you. SF2 will sort out your duplicates, check for corruption, OS compatibility, and extract the metadata (name, foundry, class, version, etc.) of all your fonts for you in the time it takes to enjoy a nice margarita. It can be that easy if you let go of the idea that it has to be hard.
You’re a designer so focus on designing; don’t micromanage your font manager. Let Suitcase Fusion 2 do the heavy lifting for you and get back to spending your time doing the fun stuff. Now, all this talk about sandwiches and margaritas gives me an idea. Who’s up for happy hour?
Adobe has announced the future release of Adobe Creative Suite 5. Sign up to view the launch event over at http://cs5launch.adobe.com/
It’s hard to believe that Adobe InDesign has been around for 10 years now. Born from the kernels of Aldus Pagemaker, InDesign has grown up to be a standard publishing application that designers around the world rely upon.
In celebration, Adobe has released a free PDF e-book that chronicles the first 10 years. As expected, the book is well-designed and written. Download your free copy from http://www.indesign10anniversary.com/
We continue to develop font auto-activation plug-ins that work with InDesign for both our Suitcase Fusion 2 and Universal Type Server product lines. Download trial versions of either of these products from the Extensis website.
We’re happy to announce that Extensis is providing a number of scholarships to the Museums and the Web event from April 13-17 in Denver, Colorado.
This Digital Asset Management Scholarship is available to help museum professionals offset the costs of attending the 2010 Museums and the Web Conference.
A competitive scholarship will be awarded to a limited number of applicants. The scholarship will provide $250 toward the Museums and the Web conference registration and automatic registration in the digital asset management workshop offered at the conference.
To be eligible, you must submit an application by March 19, 2010.
Extensis will review the scholarship applications and select recipients. Successful applicants will be those whose attendance at the conference will offer the most value to the applicant, the applicant’s institution and to others in attendance.
To apply for a scholarship, fill in and submit an application form. You will be asked to write short essay responses on two digital asset management topics.
Applications must be received at the Museums and the Web conference office by March 19, 2010. You may e-mail MW2010@archimuse.com, fax +1 416 352 6025, or send your application by mail to MW2010 Scholarships, Archives & Museum Informatics, 158 Lee Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M4E 2P3 Canada, if it is sure to arrive in time.
Scholarship recipients will be notified on or before March 26, 2010.
If awarded a Scholarship, you will be asked to assure the Conference Co-Chairs that you will make every effort to acquire all other funding necessary to attend the meeting. By no later than April 1, 2010, you must certify that you will attend Museums and the Web 2010. If you are not able to do so, your scholarship will be awarded to another deserving applicant.
You’ve probably already seen the Ecofont that comes complete with holes pre-drilled in the glyphs to reduce the amount of ink used during printing. But what if you’re not interested in using that typeface, but still want to reduce the amount of ink that you use?
Well, fear not, Matt Robinson and Tom Wrigglesworth have tested out a number of typefaces in an ingenious way. They used ballpoint pens to write a sample word at the same point size. Then, after they were done, they measured the amount of ink left in the pen.
Added bonus: it creates a wonderful graphic!