Macworld 2009 Free Passes

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Thanks for visiting the Extensis blog. Unfortunately, we’ve given out all of the tickets that we have for Macworld Expo. Hope to see you at Macworld!


There’s been a ton of talk recently about Apple events such as Macworld Expo and Apple Expo. Well, here’s you chance to get out there and check out one of these events before Apple is no longer a part.

Macworld 2008 is again being held this year at the Moscone Center in San Francisco from January 5th through the 9th.

We’re again offering an opportunity to get a free pass to the Expo Hall.

To get your free pass, simply make a comment on this post.

Be sure to use your correct email address, otherwise I won’t be able to send you a free ticket. We won’t use your email address for anything else, and it will not be displayed publicly.

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What could be better than getting a great font manager or digital asset manager? Well, how about getting some great tunes from iTunes to go along with your new software?

This December when you purchase any of our desktop products from the Extensis website, you’ll get a free $10 iTunes gift card! (₤10 in the UK)

  • Suitcase Fusion 2
  • Suitcase for Windows
  • Portfolio 8.5

So, if you need to get a copy of the new Stephen Colbert Christmas Album, or if perhaps you like your Christmas with a little more Twisted Sister, you’ll be able to satisfy your urge with this $10 iTunes card.

NOTE: this applies to online purchases only from 12/8 through 12/24/2008. See the Extensis website for full details.

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MacUser Five Mouse Rating

There is nothing mousy about receiving MacUser’s perfect five mouse rating for Suitcase Fusion 2. This month, two premier Mac-focused publications, Macworld and MacUser, have published favorable reviews on Suitcase Fusion 2:

Keith Martin from MacUser says, “The real icing on the cake, and what sets this version of Suitcase ahead of the pack, is the preview features it offers.”

While James Dempsey of Macworld states, “To my delight, Fusion 2 has done a remarkable job in stability, speed and usability.”

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The iPhone looks so small compared to the NewtonThinking back I guess my fascination with gadgets and gizmos started with my brother’s calculator. In May 1979, and at his request, he received for his birthday a Commodore PR100. I remember helping my parents with the gift-wrap. The one feature that got me really interested in it was the fact that it was a programmable calculator. One of the programs in the tutorial was to randomly display numbers from 1 < 6. I recall attempting to play a game of ‘Monopoly’, the calculator replacing the traditional rolling of the die. It soon broke into farce however since it wasn’t possible to easily pause the numbers when negotiating the purchase of the ‘Electric Company’, and ‘Monopoly’ as you soon discover, is a game best played with two dice. With my birthday due later in the year, I argued the case for a second ‘PR100’ birthday gift (to take the role of the second die). My parents stalwartly refused declaring that one was sufficient.

Several ‘Casio’ calculators and numerous electronic watches later and in 1996 my love of gadgets came to a peak as I bought an ‘Apple Newton Message Pad 120’ (complete with the optional external AC adaptor). One neat feature that proved to be pretty useful was the fact that the Newton could ‘audibly play’ the telephone/fax number you wanted to dial through an integral speaker. An interesting experiment at the time proved that by placing the Newton’s speaker near to the mouthpiece of an old analogue telephone had the effect of making your finger redundant when dialing the number. Later on I discovered by chance the same feature made it possible to connect to another number without having to pay (when using a public phone box connected to a non-digital telephone exchange). Perhaps if Apple had highlighted this feature in their marketing the Newton would have been more than just an executive toy.

I got my first mobile phone, a Nokia 6110 shortly after. In terms of it’s dimensions the phone itself seemed almost as long as the Newton but much fatter. (Sadly, I don’t have it anymore but then it proved so uncomfortable to carry around that pretty much everyone I knew, myself included, started to wear what we affectionately called ‘utility belts’ these were little pouches especially designed to accommodate bulky phones. If I’d tried to attach my Newton to my belt I’m sure my trousers’ would have fallen down. The physical size of the Newton was a real disadvantage and despite version 2.0 of the Newton’s OS allowing users to switch from portrait to landscape mode, which benefited the stylus user and facilitated the attempted spelling of three syllable words. It was time for a change.

By 1997 I’d saved up enough money to buy the smaller Psion Organizer (series 5) to replace the Newton. I’d tired quickly of the Newton’s ‘innovative stylus technology with hand writing recognition’ (read: gimmicky) to realize that actually a keyboard was best. The Newton wasn’t able to keep up with the speed of my typing. The Psion I remember really did have a great little Qwerty keyboard but then within a couple of months I was starting to regret the purchase – a colleague showed me his Palm Pilot that allowed him to access his email account. It was pretty cool on the connectivity front since it had network synchronization over TCP/IP. Connectivity was becoming more important and the Palm Pilot was really the leader since it also had an optional 14.4 modem. Palm at the time was a subsidiary of US Robotics; the future for Palm on the connectivity front looked promising. Then disaster; within a few months US Robotics were themselves acquired by 3Com.

Such was the pace of change and consolidation in the PDA market at this time that shortly after I’d saved enough to buy a Palm Pilot other friends had migrated to use Handspring Visors, another new PDA but this time one that had a USB port which meant that connectivity with a desktop computer was event better. Handspring was set up by the original developers of the PalmPilot who deserted after 3Com stepped in. The Handspring Visor used the same PalmOS but the actual units were still pretty large by comparison to mobile phone technology which was getting smaller and smaller.

Tired with the utility belt and the cost of replacing stylus after stylus I got myself a Samsung phone which was not only cheap but looking back also ridiculously small for normal sized fingers. That was a mistake as the functionality of the phone didn’t really live up to much. It was after all simply a phone but so small I kept dialing the wrong number. The next few years I switched, swapped, up-graded, side-graded in my searching for the elusive perfect ‘smart-phones’ I changed rapidly from Nokia, to Sony Ericsson, back to Nokia, to Motorola and then in 2004 back to Sony Ericsson with the introduction of the P910. In my quest for ‘smart-phone utopia’ I was happier with the P910 than I was with it’s successor, the P990i where connectivity was a bigger problem. Despite Sony Ericsson stating that the phone was going to ‘sync’ with MacOS I never managed to get it working and couldn’t even get the Bluetooth to connect to my existing Sony Ericsson hands-free headset. It then developed a loose battery connection so that every time it rang (when on vibrate) it would turn itself off. It came with a spare stylus but loosing two in one week I soon realised that I needed to change again. The other thing that annoyed me was that Sony Ericsson would change the AC power connector (seemingly with each new model) and so I ended up with 3 or 4 redundant phone chargers all with slightly different connections.

In 2007 I got my first BlackBerry, a Blackberry Pearl 8110. I could actually charge it with my old Motorola chargers since they both shared the same mini USB connecter. It is a great phone and a good smart device but not perfect. Whilst it physically connected to my Mac it still didn’t ‘Sync’ without the use of a 3rd-party bit of software called ‘The Missing Sync for BlackBerry’. Whilst it is a great bit of software I’ve often thought that really the manufacturer should be developing the connectivity software not a third party.

Last week my new iPhone 3G arrived. It connects to our VPN and our Exchange Server = Neat! It allows me to zoom into email attachments and read them; It shows me the contacts I add on my PC within seconds (without duplication). It’s early days but it looks promising, working well with fewer glitches than anything else I’ve tried… Hopefully I’ll not be able to loose the stylus (since it’s actually my finger) and best of all, I can now take pictures of my two children having fun whilst dancing to the sound of my MP3 collection.

Whilst there’s no handwriting recognition one other important bit of über coolness is that I can administrate the Universal Type Server running on my MacBook Pro just using my iPhone. The only things I think that are missing from the iPhone is Adobe Flash for Safari – when Flash eventually comes out for the iPhone I’ll be able to administrate the Universal Type Server User Management Application too!

Soon, you\'ll be able to administer Universal Type Server from an iPhone

Almost forgot, if someone reading this could develop an iPhone App that mimics the random throwing of dice I’d like to finish that game of Monopoly.

Extensis user forums

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Extensis Forums - user to user conversations about Extensis Products

Everyone gets themselves into a jam from time to time. Heck, I’m the guy that’s constantly trying to make my software do things that it just wasn’t initially designed to do. And thus, we all run into problems. Lucky for you, we provide free technical support for all of our registered users. Give us a call or shoot us an email and we’ll get back to you.

If you’re like me, and you occasionally push the limits of your software, or if you like to chat about Extensis software, take a moment to check out our user-to-user forums. We’ve set this place for you to talk about each of our products, including the brand-spanking new Universal Type Server.

We also monitor the forums, so if we see that a topic is coming up over and over, it may be something that we’ll consider adding or changing in new versions of the software. No guarantees, but we definitely do listen and care about the needs and feature requests from our users.

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Fonts, typefaces and the web, oh my!Using fonts on the web has been a constant challenge for web designers. You may want to use a snazzy typeface on your site, but with most standard HTML sites you need to rely upon whatever fonts the user has installed on their system. This is of course for good reason – it protects the intellectual property of typeface designers, and makes sure that the “per user” font licensing model is respected.

Typically if a web designer wants to use a fancy typeface that can’t be guaranteed to be on a user’s system, the designer can typeset the appropriate text and save it in a GIF or JPG for use on the site (like I’ve done in this post). This displays the text on the site, and protects the typeface designer, since the end user cannot easily recreate and use the typeface.

Embedded fonts

With Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, and other web technologies, it has become a bit easier to embed fonts within tiny web applications. This can allow the end user of the application to see the appropriate font, and it can be typically displayed as live text that can be quickly reformatted, rather than being stuck in an image. Of course, when you deliver and use fonts in this way, you are coming up against a new form of font usage that may be outside of the typically licensed use. At this point you could be considered and Independent Software Vendor and depending how your web application is used, it is likely that you will need a separate deal with your typeface vendor. I’ll have more on Independent Software Vendor (ISV) and Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) font license deals in the coming weeks.

Of course, there even more areas where you may run into embedded typeface trouble on the web. For example, if you’re a printer who has a web interface that allows users to create custom rubber stamps using a wide variety of typefaces, you had better work with your type vendor to strike up a deal. This situation could come into problems on two fronts. The web user can be considered a user of the typeface, and when a rubber stamp is created, it is effectively creating a re-usable copy of a unique typeface. Before you run into legal trouble here, it’s best to talk to your type vendor as well as your own lawyer.

The bleeding edge

So, you say, there’s got to be an easier way of dealing with typefaces, fonts and the web. There’s a new approach that attempts to attack the problem, and it all started off in the open-source world. It basically allows the a web designer to link to a font that is on any web server, and have the end-user’s web browser display the page using that remote font. This method of font use has typeface designers very concerned, and rightly so. If this font use model continues, it could effectively pull the run out from under the entire current per-user font licensing model. Linking to fonts on a web server that were purchased under the current licensing model could very easily be construed as font piracy. Since the current licenses typically are on a per-user model, and by placing the font up on a website, many, many users could potentially be using the same font – all without paying for it.

As far as I know, this functionality is only built into Apple’s Safari browser and the Opera browser. The fact that Apple is including this “feature” in Safari is a bit ironic in my book. Apple has always been a friend to the creative folk who have fairly consistently supported them through the ups and downs of their technological swing. This Safari move takes aim at making a gaping financial hole in what currently is a fairly small, but creative typeface design community. Now that Apple is in a huge upswing, it’s the time for us to watch and make sure that they don’t start behaving like a monopoly and pushing the little guys around.

What’s good to hear in this area is that Bill Hill, Lead Researcher at Microsoft recently commented at the Business of Type conference at Microsoft that including this feature isn’t in the plan at all for Internet Explorer. I seem to remember him describing his opinion in his typically colorful way, “We’ll go there kicking and screaming, if we go there at all.” Typeface designers should know that they have a friend in Microsoft, and I surely hope that this sentiment continues with their leadership.

Time will only tell what will happen in this area. Since only a few browsers support this remote font use technology, I don’t think that it will be very widely used. And heck, web designers do use the technology open themselves up to all sorts of potential legal problems. It’s probably best to just stay away from using this technology until everything shakes out.

Stay tuned for a post on ISV/EOM font licensing in the coming weeks. Over and out.

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Logologos site banner

The Logologos site has a fun concept much like the song chart meme over at Flickr. For these, I can almost see a logo designer pitching her next concept in the board room. If only only white boards came with a good set of clip art we’d probably see more of these type of equation.

Apple Logo Math

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Apple CertifiedSo, in case you hadn’t noticed, I’m kind of a Mac geek. (Just a little, it’s the tiniest bit!) Last summer in my annual review my boss (Scooter Enthusiast Paul Krummenacker) and I discussed making me a Mac geek in more of an official capacity. So it was determined I would start on the path toward Apple Certification and put my money where my mouth is, as it were. So at the end of April I went off to Leopard Support Essentials training, and spent three days learning about Leopard and some of the features that were new and also where things can go wrong. So after filling my brain (and my Hello Kitty notebook) with information and bits of stuff to remember, I studied and studied some more. Then I studied for awhile after that. And yesterday I took the test and passed! Basically this means I’m certifiable by Apple’s standards too, so they went ahead and certified me. I wouldn’t have made the certifiable joke (it really is too easy) but I know I will hear it around Extensis if I don’t get to it first, so now my fellow employees will have to be creative! Shouldn’t be too hard here at Extensis, right?This means I am now an Apple Certified Support Professional, and with more testing and training I can become a Technical Coordinator or System Administrator if I want to. So far I think I’m going to stick to Support Professional and see how that goes. Do you have a certification? Was it difficult to get? Leave a comment, maybe I’ll need some other certification next!

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Apple LogoI admit, my Mac-fu is strong. As a result I have a fair number of people ask me things because they presume I will just know. OK, usually I do, but I had to learn it someplace. Here is a list of good places to check out for support tips or just for fun bits of info:

Do you have Leopard installed on your machine? Did you know if you scratch the surface just the teeniest bit you can find all kinds of other cool stuff? Macworld has a list of 25 features that are overlooked and underrated (I’m here to tell you the sidebar saved search tidbit is phenomenal!) and easy to check out. You might just find something there that makes you even more productive!

If you have an Apple Store near you there are some tips on dealing with the people there over at Consumerist. Not that it’s a chore to go to the Apple store, but there are tips in this list from an actual Apple Specialist might come in handy (there’s some useful stuff in the comments too).

When things go south (as they do, even on a Mac), you should have some good support tips handy. MacFixIt is a great place to start-whenever I have had an issue I didn’t know how to fix I always found it there. They are also good about reporting things that are sent in by readers, and when they find out there is a fix or an update that helps resolve it they are very speedy about getting it online as well.

If everything is working and you just want to up your efficiency factor, check out 43 Folders for some excellent ideas. Merlin Mann runs this site which is a productivity site but he uses a Mac so there are lots of handy things there for you like the article about Smart Folders in which I found immensely useful after years of using color labels for my mail.

Another good source for general tips is Apple proper. In their Support forums they have a forum titled User Tips Library which is also pretty handy and a nice way to get information straight from the source.

Now if you want to poke around a little deeper in your system, there’s a page called Secrets where you can find out how to tweak secret settings or files for your applications and unlock special features or extend current features to do new things. I have spent a lot of time here and I’m always fascinated with the stuff that pops up.

If you just want tidbits, you can get the real deal from The Apple Museum who keep a nice list of Apple facts handy. There are quizzes around the internet as well to test your own knowledge.

Should it be rumors you are in search of, Marshall Kirkpatrick created a customer search engine that crawls the usual Mac rumor sites and aggregates that information for you. Thanks Marshall! Hopefully this will SAVE me time looking for rumors on pending updates from Cupertino.

Do you have a favorite site for tech tips or rumors? I’d like to add it to my list if you have a good one. Fire away!

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Virtualization using a Mac ProExtensis Technical support is trying something new. We’re trying to take computers AWAY from our support technicians.

Taking a walk through your typical technical support department is usually akin to strolling through innards of a Jawa sandcrawler from Star Wars. Support technicians can have up to 3 computers at their desks, with 2 keyboards, 2 mice, one KVM and usually a rats nest of wires underneath.

Typically they’ll have a Windows XP system, an OS 10.4 system, another running OS 10.5. We have a little farm of computers that we call ‘One Back’ that run everything from OS 9.2, to Windows 2000, OSX 10.2 along with the older versions of Extensis software. While we do have supported versions of the software, often customers will call in trying to transition from old versions to the current versions, or any number of odd situations.

In an effort to try and minimize cost, clutter, hardware and energy, we’re trying a new project. We just got a new 8 core Mac Pro with 4gb of RAM. We are using one Mac Pro to do the work of 2. By using virtualization software we’re able to have essentially a Macintosh AND a PC running at the same time, with two separate monitors, two separate keyboards, two separate mice, two network interfaces but only ONE box. We also have the ability to do a ‘snapshot’ of a configuration and then make the changes we need to test a customer setup, and quickly roll back to where things were before the test. As another benefit, we can even have the virtual PC and Mac environments interact, running a copy of Suitcase Server on one, and Suitcase Client on the other.

Our goal is that we can remove some of our computers that are older, minimize clutter and give technicians the ability to work faster and smarter using virtualization and this ability to quickly change between system configurations. While virtualization isn’t NEW, it is quite the trend lately. Now that hardware is fast enough, RAM is cheap enough and storage is a fraction of what it used to be, all the parts seem to be in place. If it all works out, we’ll be able to take our older Mac Mini’s and turn those into our ‘One Back’ farm in the corner of the library cube, further minimizing our footprint of hardware and energy use. It also has the benefit of having to purchase less equipment, thus reducing our operating costs.

As the Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe said, sometimes “less IS more.”

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