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Extensis Universal Type Server

Spring has sprung and beta is in the air. I am somewhat belated in posting, but yes, the Universal Type Server beta is operational and being tested by the best and the brightest: our customers.

We have reached out to our power users across the globe to test out Universal Type Server in as many representative work environments as possible. We calculated every permutation of small team/ large team/Mac/Win/US/Europe…yada yada. You get the idea.

Industries currently testing Universal Type Server include:

  • Printing
  • Publishing
  • Advertising
  • Media
  • Retail
  • Financial Services
  • Education

…and more. We’re feeling confident we’ve got you covered. So thank you in advance to all of our customers- for their input on the product, and their feedback on how it is performing. You help us do better and keep us honest. Fingers crossed that it works as well for you as it has for us. I’ll surely keep you posted.

* The Universal Type Server beta comes to you courtesy of a very hard-working development and product management team that has been living on Starbuck’s and the occasional doughnut. We thank them all so very much. You know who you are.


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Destination ImagiNationWe work with a wide variety of organizations at Extensis – from the largest Fortune 500 companies to sole proprietorships. In addition to for-profit companies, we also work with a wide variety of non-profit groups who each pursue causes close to their hearts.

We recently donated our Extensis Portfolio software to a group who works to foster creativity in young people. The group, Destination ImagiNation® organizes competitive events that allow students to work on problem-solving and creative skills.

I asked Wayne Kurtzman who volunteers as the Web Team Lead for Destination ImagiNation to tell us a little about his organization and how they utilize Extensis Portfolio to help them with their events.

“My team of volunteer photographers have the unique job of capturing the world’s largest student creativity tournament, Destination ImagiNation Global Finals. The top student creativity teams from most states and various countries advance through various tournaments to Global Finals.

Destination ImagiNation, or “DI” is a non-profit, school-friendly program where teams of up to seven students solve complex Challenges that incorporate core school subjects with a focus that is based in Technical and Mechanical Design, Structural and Architectural Design, Science, Theatrical/Literary/Fine Arts, Improvisation, Research, or International Studies – or a blend of several disciplines. This is the ultimate “kids hands-on; adults hands-off” program, as all the ideas, planning and execution must be done solely by the students.

No team solution is the same – an insane task for the photographers and videographers (and is part of the fun!). Their pictures must tell the story of Global Finals and DI – and transcend language, as many teams come from non-English speaking countries.

When we arrive at the University of Tennessee, host site for the 8,000+ students at Global Finals, we have a matter of hours to setup and test the infrastructure before the first photos start coming in. This requires us to use Portfolio to help us get everything done. Here’s our basic workflow:

  1. The photographer shoots, then catalogs the images with Portfolio using the Copy/Move/Rename feature to uploads their photos from their camera’s flash drive to a shared drive.
  2. From the large batch of images added to the catalog, the photographer uses Portfolio to create a gallery of images that are worthy to publish on the web.
  3. For the selected images, the photographer adds pertinent metadata: a full description of the images including school, city, state/province and country of children in the photo – no small feat with thousands of children at an event!
  4. When the photographer is satisfied that the gallery of images is ready for publication, the photographer then renames the gallery to start with an underscore. This puts it at the top of the list of galleries, and indicates to the editors that the gallery is ready for the next step.
  5. The editor takes the gallery of original images. as well as the preview images created by Extensis Portfolio, and implements a custom CSS for a web page that is compatible with the Linux web server.
  6. The entire package of images, preview, originals and HTML is then FTP’ed to the site and linked.

In addition to the competition, many other events ranging from speakers to an alumni meeting to sponsor showcases all add to the positive atmosphere where creativity is expected – and needs to be captured, cataloged, captioned and published. Quickly.

The down side of the methodology is tweaking something requires the album be republished and uploaded again. The team, made up of professional, amateur and talented program alumni, has gotten very good at getting their photos right the first time. Now, less than 0.05% of photos ever need adjustments to the text, image or otherwise.

The up side is huge: We have well organized photos with tags that can be easily recalled when making marketing collateral, need a web site image or a photo for a sponsor.

After the evening shoots (around midnight), the day’s photos are reviewed to see if we missed any good ones in our rush to get new content to the web.

During the event itself, GlobalFinals.org has over 10,000 unique visitor sessions an hour from families and classrooms around the US and the world. We compliment the photos with several live video streams, including that of opening and closing ceremonies.

Destination Imagination Global Finals 2008We’re proud to help Destination ImagiNation with this event and wish everyone involved the best of success. If you’re interested in the event, be sure to check out the event site and volunteer opportunities.

  • What: Destination ImagiNation Global Finals
  • Web: www.GlobalFinals.org
  • When: May 21st through May 24th
  • Where: University of Tennessee
  • To Volunteer: click here

For photos of last year’s event check out d2k7.globalfinals.org.

More information about Destination ImagiNation can be found at DestinationImagiNation.org.


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The Extensis Salestools site provides assets when our team needs themMaking sure that everyone has the most current photos, sales sheets, and information to get their job done is always a challenge. Files can be misplaced, deleted or just plain forgotten. In order to help our various sales channels get all of the files that they need, we setup our own Portfolio NetPublish sites.

These sites were configured to share all of the appropriate assets created by our Marcom team. We chose to implement two separate NetPublish sites, each for a different target audience.

Our channel sales partners need the most up-to-date box shots, software screen shots and other company branding materials. They use these items to build catalogs, websites and other sales pieces.

http://channels.extensis.com

Our internal and external sales partners have slightly different needs. They need presentations and specific product information for customers. So, to facilitate this, we created a site that is flush with marketing collateral, product information datasheets, as well as customer implementations case studies.

http://salestools.extensis.com

These sites are available to our sales partners from anywhere on the internet. When we need to distribute new materials, we can simply add those assets to a Portfolio catalog, tag them with metadata and they immediately appear on the NetPublish site, ready for use.

While these two sites were developed specially for this use, the sites that can be generated automatically by Portfolio NetPublish are equally impressive. Check out the following sample sites as examples of what can be done quickly with our solution.

The Big Shoe Company
Really Big Shoe Company sample NetPublish site

This is an example of NetPublish used within an in-house marketing team for a retail company. The company uses this site to provide co-workers, vendors and partners with an easy method of accessing approved marketing assets 24/7.

Medic Marketing

Medic Marketing Portfolio NetPublish sample siteThis is an example of NetPublish used in a full-service marketing agency. The intent is to create an easy and efficient method to share comps and final materials with clients.

Widgets West, Inc.

Widgets West Portfolio NetPublish sample siteThis is an example of NetPublish used in a manufacturing company to automate the distribution of approved assets for insertion into catalogs.


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Savannah college of art and designYes, I’ve suddenly turned into one of those–an after-Christmas shopper. I never used to be. I used to think that you’d just acquired so much, why on earth would you want more? But then I started having more and more occasions to give gifts. Maybe that’s just an excuse. Anyway…

So I purchased a creative notebook for work- you know, all my many to-do lists are housed in there. (yes, some things in my life are still analog.) I go through them like water, so no point spending a fortune. I bought this one on Dec 26 last year. Not until recently, when I carried it into work, did I notice who produced it: Savannah College of Art and Design. They’re a customer! How cool is that.

They have a really fun venture where they productize student projects and sell them online- and apparently through wholesale. The venture is called Working Class Studio. I had to give them a shout-out, because their products are a great gift idea for the creative in your life (which may prove to be you). Check them out.


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So, the newest from Extensis and Apple is now revealed. We’ve got two great new products this morning – Universal Type Server and the MacBook Air. Both are extremely cool. If you aren’t able to be in San Francisco at the Moscone Center today, here are a few photos from the event.

The Extensis team at the booth

Macworld 2008 - the extensis team at the booth

Extensis Product Manager Cindy Valladeres demonstrates Universal Type Server Macworld 2008 - Kelly demonstrates Universal Type Server

There are, of course, some rather interesting booths. I like this one from Moshi:

Interesting looking booth - Moshi

And Crumpler always has interesting designs. This one looks a bit like a castle to me:

Macworl 2008 - crumpler booth

I like the living room feel of Microsoft’s Blogger’s Lounge.

Macworld 2008 - Microsoft’s Blogger’s Lounge - preshow

The John Lenon bus has a bunch of musical instruments outside, as well as demos of Mac-based music editing tools.

Macworld 2008 - the John Lennon bus

And, probably the most unique product available at Macworld, an iPod ready TP roller – because a little music never hurt the “process,” I suppose.

Macworld 2008 - probably the most unique product available here - an iPod TP roller

Of course, you’ll be happy to see that the MacBook Air was well received.

Macworld 2008 - MacBook Air

Macworld 2008 - MacBook Air table

Stay tuned for more updates, and everything Macworld.


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Extensis winter Amazon.com promotional sale 2007

Wondering what you’ll be giving for the holidays? Well, wonder no more.

From today through December 21st, for every $49.95 that you spend on Extensis products, you will receive a $10 electronic gift certificate from Amazon.com. It’s just our way of saying thanks for being an Extensis customer.

This offer is applicable for any new or upgrade purchases of the following Extensis desktop products.

  • Suitcase Fusion
  • Suitcase for Windows
  • Portfolio 8.5 (Single-user)

This offer does not apply server purchases or volume license agreements and cannot be combined with any other discounts or offers. All purchases must be made online through the Extensis.com store. Purchases made outside the US will receive the equivalent amount in their respective country. For full offer details and restrictions, check out this page of the Extensis website.


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This last Thursday-Saturday (25th-27th October) Richard Bamford and I were in attendance at MacLive Expo in London. As a partner on the Computers Unlimited stand, our UK distributor, there was plenty of opportunity to show off the MacUser award nominated Portfolio Server 8.5, along with our two Font Server products Font Reserve Server and Suitcase Server. Shame we didn’t win the award but when you’re up against Adobe InDesign CS3 and Quark Publishing System then you know you’re in good company! You can see who won at www.macuser.co.uk/awards2007/.

Each day involves talking with both existing customers, partners, dealers, but also new prospective customers. Whilst we had many questions about FontSense, Suitcase Fusion and the new Portfolio 8.5 features, the most common question we faced this year was about our new Type Server development. The previous posts on this very blog proved quite useful to help explain about what’s happening!

There was also a great deal of interest in the fact that our ICS team has expanded to provide Professional Services in the UK also. Which all means one thing…busy times ahead for a Sales Engineer like me!

Richard Bamford at the MacLive Expo in London 2007


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Extensis UK Images in Higher Education presentationPortfolio is used by all sorts of customers within a growing number of different vertical markets. One of its principal strengths, as a flexible application, is it’s ability to cope with different workflow environments and manage mixed graphics, video and image collections.

In Europe there are a large number of educational establishments using the software and so earlier this week we held ‘Images in Higher Education’. The October half-term week seemed like a logical time to hold the event and looking for a location we were delighted when the University of Derby, one University using the software agreed to act as host and made us all feel very welcome.

In total we had 40 customers attend the event, with delegates making journeys from as far away as Glasgow, Newcastle, Hull, Sheffield, Aberystwyth. Whilst this was the first in what we hope to be an annual event, it also had an international flavour as we were joined by a couple of delegates who had made the journey from Cork in Ireland.

The event presented those using the software the opportunity to meet like-minded professionals, with common backgrounds, experiences, issues and concerns from other academic institutions. It presented an opportunity to share experience and best practice and also, presented the opportunity for Extensis to get a better understanding of needs and requirements.

Those attending were treated to a number of presentations, including a presentation by Grant Young of TASI, (Technical Advisory Service for Images). TASI is a JISC funded service. TASI provides advice and guidance to the UK’s Further and Higher Education community on the issues of:

  • Creating digital images (including raster, vector and animated formats)
  • Delivering digital images to users
  • Using digital images to support teaching, learning and research
  • Managing both small and large scale digitisation projects

There was also a presentation by Simon Birkett and Sally Forest of the University of Derby who talked about their own transition from analogue to digital, the challenges and issues they tackled along the way. They then presented their searchable NetPublish collections in their VLE (Virtual Learning Environment).

Among the subjects that were discussed in the Q&A sessions were the complicated issues of Copyright and licences within education issued from the The Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd. (CLA) and the The Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS). The CLA is a non profit-making company that licenses organisations for photocopying and scanning from magazines, books and journals specifically for educational purposes.

Chris Stevens presents at the Images in Higher Education eventThe Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS) protects and administers the copyright of visual artists’ and photographers. It issues an annual license granting blanket permission for educational institutions to reproduce images of artistic works on to slide for the use of staff and students.

At the end of the event our very own Chris Stevens presented new features and functionality from Portfolio Server 8.5 showing both the integration to Adobe Version Cue Server CS3 and fittingly, considering the concerns over copyright earlier in the day, the visual watermarking of assets within NetPublish Server 8.5 to protect content from un-authorized usage.

Looking for a location for next year’s event we had offers from Loughborough University, The London School of Economics and Glasgow University, interested in hosting the event next year. If you are interested in attending Images in higher Education 2008 please contact ctaylor@extensis.co.uk.

The Images in Higher Learning audience


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cws_765.gifIf you win a baseball game, someone might want a picture of your team. If your team happens to be the Chicago White Sox and you just won the 2005 World Series, everyone wants a picture. No one is more painfully aware of this fact than the marketing department behind the championship baseball team. After the big win, they were bombarded with photo requests from journalists, fans, advertising agencies, etc… Luckily for them, they already had a management system in place to ensure that all 30,000 images from the series were properly organized and instantly accessible.

An Extensis customer since 1999, the White Sox organization implemented of Portfolio as a solution for the team photographer to manage the hundreds of images collected during each game. Before long, Portfolio Server was installed, enabling dozens of additional users to access the photographs without requiring the photographer to spend time finding and manually filling those requests.

In addition to facilitating the internal distribution of images, Portfolio is also used for external distribution of images to partners, sponsors, and members of the press. Using Portfolio’s email feature, it is easy to email original files, or dynamically generate low-resolution preview files, directly from within the program. So when the requests started rolling in following the 2005 championship game, the marketing department was able to easily locate and then distribute any image within their catalog. *Whew!*

Let’s wrap this with a bit of trivia: I was curious what font the White Sox use in their logo (shown above) so I did a search and found one site that claims it is Old English….anyone know if that’s correct?


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Comic ReliefRecently we paid a visit to Comic Relief, a London based charity who use Portfolio Server and Portfolio NetPublish Server to organize and manage a large library of digital images internally on their own network. They use Portfolio to facilitate the delivery of content to outside agencies, partners and news organizations.

If you’re not based in the UK you can be forgiven if you’ve never heard of Comic Relief. You should also be aware that you’re missing out!

Working closely with the BBC, Comic Relief are responsible for annual televised events that alternate between ‘Red Nose Day’ and ‘Sport Relief’. The events are best described as Comedy and Sporting extravaganzas designed to raise awareness to important issues effecting different people all over the World. Their mission envelops ‘positive change through the power of entertainment’.

Chris Stevens at the Comic Relief serversIn building up to Red Nose Day 2007 Comic Relief started using Extensis Portfolio Server to organize the digital content they amass each year in documenting the good work that they do. During the 2007 campaign their photographic team catalogued over 20,000 records and then on Red Nose Day itself went on to raise over £63,000,000 ($119M).

Working in-conjunction with their internal IT and photographic teams Extensis Professional Services were able to resolve some niggling performance issues they had experienced with their Portfolio installation, suggested some improvements to their workflow and gave their implementation a general health check.

Today we work with a large number of charities and non-profit making organizations and whilst Extensis offers significant discounts on software and services we find that on a personal level, being involved (albeit on the fringes) with life-changing organizations like Comic Relief adds to our enjoyment of the jobs that we do.

If you would like to make a donation to Comic Relief or would like to read more about their activities click on http://www.comicrelief.com/

Comic Relief project Comic Relief project


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