Ducati is to the world of motorcycles as Apple is to the world of computers. Ducati creates sleek, fashionable and powerful machines that inspire a lust and desire practically unmatched in the motorcycle world. I’m sure that some of you feel exactly the same way about your MacBook Pro or iPod.
We’re proud to have been a long time software provider for Ducati. A few of our European staff recently visited Ducati to check in on their current installation, usage and to talk about the potential for an expanded Portfolio implementation.
Extensis Business Manager, Lars Thunstrom and Sales Engineer Chris Stevens visit the Ducati museum.
Classic motorcycles from the Ducati museum.
Our Italian distributor, TechnoSolutions Srl, has been helping customers with their digital asset management needs for many years. Some of our other customers hailing from the land of the Etruscans, Romans and the Renaissance, include Viabizzuno, IMA and Giorgetti.
If you work with Photoshop on a daily basis, you likely know how difficult it can be to work with files that seem to pull the performance of Photoshop to a hair-pulling crawl. While Adobe has worked hard to improve performance by creating Intel-native versions, there are still many other things that you can do to put a little pep in Photoshop’s step.
On of our technical support representatives, Carl Anderson, recently brought a couple of Adobe knowledge base articles that focus on this very issue to my attention.
- Optimizing the performance of Photoshop CS3 on Mac OS X
- Optimizing the performance of Photoshop CS3 on Windows XP or Vista
One of their specific recommendations relates to font management:
Your computer may operate slowly if there are too many active fonts on the system. Font management software allows you to deactivate the fonts you aren’t using to speed up the computer. Turning off the WYSIWYG font preview list will also speed the processing of fonts in Photoshop.
This is one of many helpful recommendations for improving the responsiveness of Photoshop. Read the entire articles for many more tips.
Of course, if you aren’t currently taking advantage of the benefits that font management brings to your workflow, might I recommend that you check out our complete line of font management products.
March 19th, 2007 by Jim Kidwell
Today we released an updated version of our Portfolio Raw filter. This update adds support for 36 new camera Raw formats, bringing the total number of cameras directly supported in Raw format to over 100.
For a complete list of cameras and file formats supported, see http://www.extensis.com/filesupport.
To download the update, please visit the Extensis website.
February 15th, 2007 by Jim Kidwell
So, you’ve decided that you need to keep better track of files. Trying to manage everything through the Macintosh Finder or the Windows Explorer just isn’t cutting it any more. You’ve done your research and found out there’s this thing called digital asset management software that can help you get over your file tracking nightmares.
When you’ve chosen your solution (we happen to like Portfolio) the next step in the process is to convince the powers-that-be that the investment will amount to more than just giving you a new tool in your arsenal.
To help you talk to your boss, we’ve developed the following Top 10 list of reasons that your boss will come to love asset management, and be willing to invest in it.
- Self Service.
The creative team is no longer interrupted by image and document requests from other departments. Now the other departments can locate the file by themselves, and the creative team can concentrate on getting their work done.
- Asset reuse.
With an asset management system, reusing files becomes effortless. Assets no longer need to be recreated when the original can’t be located.
When users spend less time looking for source files, the creative team can spend more time doing what they do best, creating new materials.
- Branding consistency.
By implementing a NetPublish site, users can make sure that only the most current assets are distributed to all end users. This can help eliminate the misuse of out-of-date assets, and quickly propagate updated collateral.
- It saves money.
The old adage of “time is money” still holds true today. A streamlined workflow cuts downtime and creates more billable hours. Portfolio has a high, proven return on investment (ROI).
- It strengthens client relationships.
Professional-looking, password-protected web portals for clients can be created with Portfolio NetPublish. This way, delivering files for review becomes almost automatic.
- Enhanced communication
Clients and teams around the world can access files in real-time on the web and across platforms.
- Saves space.
There’s no need to copy the same files over and over – creative users won’t bog-down the email and the network by emailing large files anymore. Plus, files that don’t need to be on our server can be easily archived to CD/DVD, while previews of the archived files are still available in the system.
- It’s a dashboard.
An asset management system allows users to easily search and view patterns and relationships between all cataloged files, without having to dig into folder-after-folder in the operating system.
- It’s automatic.
When files are cataloged, they are added to a sophisticated database that tracks all kinds of metadata about the files, and allows users to search for files across multiple servers and drives, even if they are stored offline.
Microsoft just released a new tool to help users edit the metadata embedded in many photo files. The Microsoft Photo Info tool basically adds an item to the right-click menu. You can select one or more items at a time and update the embedded metadata by choosing Photo Info from the right-click menu.
I tried it out, and was impressed with the variety of IPTC, EXIF and other metadata available. It’s nice to have another location from which to view and modify this information. If you do end up modifying any metadata with this tool, be sure to use the Update command in Portfolio (Item > Update) to extract any newly updated information and store that new info in your Portfolio catalog.
Right now, the tool supports the following file types: JPEG, TIFF, WDP, HDP (HD Photo), NEF, CR2, and CRW.
Items to note:
- To install, you must running Microsoft Window XP or Vista.
- You must have Microsoft’s “Genuine Windows Advantage” software installed.
- You must also have Microsoft’s .NET Framework 2.0 runtime installed.
- You must visit the install link with Internet Explorer (or another browser that supports Active X controls. Personally, I use Firefox, and am never too pleased when I’m forced to use a different browser.)
December 21st, 2006 by Jim Kidwell
If you’re a Portfolio user, you already know that there are many ways to manage your files directly with the Portfolio application. Even with the powerful functions that come built-in to Portfolio, there may be times where you might like to further extend the abilities of Portfolio, or automate a somewhat repetitive task.
To help you accomplish these tasks, we’ve made Portfolio script-able with Visual Basic on Windows and AppleScript on the Mac. For example, you could use this ability to add an automated email every time something is added to Portfolio, or you could create a utility that automatically creates a new gallery on a weekly basis of all new items.
To get started, you’ll need to already know how to script with Visual Basic or AppleScript. To learn more about the scripting languages, see the Microsoft and Apple sites. Once you’ve got that covered, download the Visual Basic Guide or the AppleScript Guide and get scripting!
Note: On Windows you will also need to install the Visual Basic Scripting Type Library before creating and running custom scripts.
Everything is so digital these days that it’s easy to forget that there was once a time when most creative work was done by hand. From Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel to setting lead type by hand.
For those of you who might also be harkening back to the earlier, arguably more simple, days of the creative work, Brenda Hoddinott has put together a site that’s chock full of basic drawing lessons. If you’ve ever wanted to get your hands back into the drawing game (Now, be honest, we all picked up a pencil and some crayons at one time or another as children.) Drawspace is a good place to start.
Online lessons are free, but if you’d like to download PDFs of any lesson to save, she asks you to upgrade to a “Premium” membership for $20. This will last you three months, which is definitely more than enough time for me to realize just how difficult it is to draw anything in perspective.
And, since everything these days will remain firmly digital, you can always scan your masterpieces and catalog them with Portfolio…
In Technical Support, we talk to a lot of people who are currently unhappy. If you think about it, nobody calls Tech Support to say “Hey, everything is just fine and I am THRILLED with your software!” We only get to talk to people on a deadline, in a crisis, or at the end of their technical rope-all temporary situations, but all can be frustrating. Here are some tips that can make your phone call or email a bit easier for everyone. (These are all based on actual calls and emails that Technical Support deals with on a regular basis.)
* Be Prepared. This isn’t just for Boy Scouts! There are lots of things you can do ahead of time to see if you have an issue that is so easy to solve you don’t even need to make the call. See if the manual has your answer first, check our website for the latest updates to the software you have, make sure your OS updates are all applied, and maybe see if our forums have an answer for you. I talk to a fair number of people having trouble with something and their issue was fixed in an update. Also make sure the software in question is registered with us, this is how we find you in our system so we can record the call. While we’re talking about being prepared, it’s also probably a good idea to have your software installed and make sure you don’t have to be someplace in 10 minutes.
* Be at your machine. I know this sort of falls under being prepared too, but you’d be surprised how many calls we get from people in the car, from work about a home computer, etc etc. Seriously-if you aren’t in front of the machine there is a good chance some vital piece of info we need is something you don’t have. And how can we suggest anything that might help if you can’t try it while we’re on the phone with you? Not to mention that a lot of issues (particularly font issues) are something we have to try a little process of elimination with. If you simply cannot be at your machine during our support hours, our email form is open 24/7.
* Tell me more. We like things like version numbers, exact error messages, screenshots, any bit of insight you can give us is useful. Remember, we can’t see your computer, so we are relying on you to be our eyes and ears into the world of weird technical juju. Let me be the judge of irrelevant info, I’ll ask you what I need to know if you haven’t already told me.
* We are mechanics, but for computers. Sometimes I find it easiest to make analogies to cars. Would you call a mechanic and say “My car makes this kind of thumpy noise, what’s wrong?” If they ask whether you have a car or truck, Ford or Chevy, those are vaulable pieces of troubleshooting info-would you call a mechanic at all if you didn’t know you had a 1999 Chevy S-10 with a 4.3 Liter V6? My hunch is no. And just like a mechanic, I probably need to know more than just “thumpy noise” in order to diagnose you accurately. So when you talk to Tech Support, think of us like a mechanic-what would you tell them?
* I did not break your computer. This sounds really elementary, but if you think that, you would be shocked (shocked!) at how many people call and yell at us as though we personally made their machine crash or their fonts go bad. I know you’re frustrated and I know exactly what you’re going through, I really do, but really, showing me a teeny tiny bit of courtesy will go a very long way towards making this easier on everyone.
* If you know, or don’t know, say so. Don’t pretend you know all about your machine if you don’t, but don’t pretend to be clueless if you aren’t, either. Be up front about your cluelessness if you have it-you are my favorite type of caller. I know to go slowly, and I know I might need me to help you a bit more. If you’re upfront with how much you know, I can cater my directions to your skill level. If you aren’t super technical, I can go slowly, and help you through things so we can get you all sorted out. If you are very tech savvy, I can speed through the simple steps and not spend a lot of time telling you what you probably already know. If we understand each other better, we can more quickly get to the root of your problems and more importantly, get you back to work.
I know that nobody enjoys calling Tech Support. It means something has gone terribly wrong and you’re unable to fix it. We’ve got the same goal as you do, to get you up and running as quickly as possible, and these tips should make your Technical Support experience a happy one for everybody. 🙂
As far as photography goes, there are quite a few people who would prefer to see a defined set of beauty in front of the camera. This is increasingly apparent when you compare who we see on TV every night with photographs of the average lottery winner. Personally, I prefer to see the character in a person’s face, dress and general body image.
In this respect, the Dutch photo collection, Exactitudes is sheer perfection. For this group of images, photographer Ari Versluis and stylist Ellie Uyttenbroek explore how social groups often have common dress codes enforced within the group. In this enormous series, they explore a wide swath of humanity, and show that even with how different we are, we can also fall into similar patterns of dress. Wasn’t all of this supposed to stop once we left high school?
In somewhat the same vein is Dove’s campaign for real beauty film Evolution. It shows how unrealistic images of beauty are manufactured in the fashion industry. If you haven’t taken the time to watch this short film yet, I highly recommend it.
Recently, I sat down with Brian Berson, General Manager of Extensis to ask him a few questions about his experience with software development, the future of font managment, and even a bit about his accent.
How long have you been in the font management business?
I’ve been dealing with fonts for over 15 years now, but I’ve been in the actual business of managing fonts for almost 12 years. After being around publishing companies for many years and seeing the level of font problems users were experiencing daily, I felt it was a problem that was solvable, so I founded DiamondSoft with the express intention of solving all the world’s font management problems. Boy was I ever overly optimistic :-). Twelve years later and we are still at it. But kidding aside, we have made tremendous strides in font management. Technologies such as font auto-activation, Font Sense technology, and server-based font management have helped organizations around the world get their work done quicker, more efficiently, and with fewer errors than ever before.
How many companies have you started?
Just one – DiamondSoft. I tend to stick with things. I have been with Extensis now for 3 1/2 years. I ran DiamondSoft for 8 1/2 years.
Prior to that I was with a company called Island Graphics in Marin County in California for about 10 years. I was the 14th person to join Island Graphics initially and we grew to over 200 employees during my time there.
How many products have you overseen development?
Quite a few. Much of my time has been spent in the development of software for publishing and graphic arts areas. I have been involved with the development of some of the original early graphics software like paint systems and early page layout and pagination type systems.
Island Graphics was a real bleeding edge developer with some truly amazing products. It was developing Photoshop and Illustrator type products before these products were ever dreamed up – running on the first generation Sun Microsystems computers off the production line.
That is going back a ways – but I have worked with some great people on some very exciting products over the years.
What brought you into the field of software development?
I think I sort of fell into it. I studied engineering in college without really knowing what direction I wanted to go in. Somewhere along the line I took some programming classes and loved them. I ended up getting a degree in Computer Science from UC Berkeley and started my career as a programmer at Motorola. I realized pretty early on that I was not happy being a “cog in a wheel”. I wanted to work on smaller, more creative projects that had a direct benefit to someone. After a couple of startup company “false starts”, I ended up at Island Graphics.
I think at the end of the day I find software development to be a wonderful mix of creativity and problem solving. That is what I love most about it.
Where do you see the field of font management going?
Font management has a number of unique challenges in that a font is part system resource and part “user” resource. A font is used within documents, but usually only referenced by the document – therefore it is up to the user to ensure that the font is available on the system and made available to the document. Add to this the fact that most users have only a general knowledge about fonts – naming conventions, file makeup, interaction with the various parts of the system – and you have a recipe for problems. I would like to see font management get to the point where it is essentially completely transparent to the user unless the user is choosing a font to use. When I open a document of any kind, any fonts required by that document – and the specific versions of those fonts – should simply be available to the document without any interaction by the user. We have the beginnings of this goal with our auto-activation and Font Sense technologies.
Couple this with server technologies, and enhanced font license management to ensure that we are all being fully compliant with our font license usage, and we will be very close to the ultimate goal.
That’s an interesting accent you have, where did you get that?
My wife usually gives the person asking this question 3 guesses after which they owe her an ice cream 🙂 And more often than not, she ends up with an ice cream.
I was actually born and raised in Johannesburg in South Africa. My family immigrated to the United States in the late seventies because we did not agree with the political system of apartheid. So I have actually been in the United States for almost 30 years now. So I would have to say that while my accent is originally from South Africa, it is really a unique home grown accent at this point.
Do you foresee a convergence of asset management and font management in the future?
Well, there is no doubt that there is a lot of overlap between asset management and font management. Fonts are, after all, digital files. They typically have usage rights associated with them, they are often versioned, one font “asset” is often used in multiple documents, etc etc. But at the same time they each serve some very specific needs, so I would not expect them to completely converge. I do think the relationship between asset management and font management will continue to deepen. For example, many documents stored in asset management systems today reference fonts which are not stored in the asset management system. This means that at some point in the future you may access a document that has been safely stored in your asset management system, but still not be able to reproduce it since you no longer have the correct fonts. If the asset management system was able to talk to the font management system when storing and retrieving documents, this problem could be easily solved.
Which product do you like better, Suitcase or Font Reserve?
Ah – trick question eh? I assume we are discussing server-based products here. I think Font Reserve is the better product for larger environments where strong control over font compliance and usage is an essential requirement, and Suitcase is the better product for smaller more flexible environments. Both products have their strengths, and honestly, both products have their weaknesses, but at the end of the day what is most important is that in environments of 10 or more users, a server-based solution provides tremendous benefits over trying to manage fonts on each and every desktop individually, and both Suitcase Server and Font Reserve Server are great products.