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I admit, I have kind of thing for blogs. I started mine in 2000, and I’ve been doing “analog” blogging in some form or another for the bulk of my life. If I think a blog is cool. I have to go prowl the archives, see who they link to, find out who else is talking about them…once I make it out though, I’ll tell EVERYBODY how awesome it is, which is what I’m doing now. So in no particular order, here are some blogs I really really like:

* I am on an eternal quest to make cool geeky things out of yarn. As it turns out, lots of people are a) crafty, and b) geeky, so now the fantastic MAKE: magazine has spun off a new one called Craft. Craft, how I adore you. Even more so, how I adore your Blog! Links to all kinds of cool crafty blogs and cool crafty things people are doing, yarn-based or otherwise. If you have a taste for the DIY and the hack but not so much for sewing and yarn, stick to Make, it will treat you right.

* I am also a Moleskine fan, and I always have one with me. I try to keep them in the best of shape, so I was very interested when I stumbled across Wreck This Journal. I thought the story was interesting and I might even try some of these things on my own notebook.

* Vestal Design’s Blog is another one I enjoy. Vestal Design has an interesting philosophy and their posts are diverse. Here’s how I found them: Star Wars + Google Maps = Crazy Delicious.

* I know I’m not a well organized person, be it time or socks or action figures (OK so my action figures are pretty well organized), so I am always looking for tips on how to make some of the tedium either go away entirely or just keep to a minimum. One such useful site is 43 Folders. Merlin at 43f talks about implementing the Getting Things Done (GTD) system in life. Plus he has a wiki set up so anyone can contribute ideas. Lifehacker is another good one. They list a useful application each day, tips for consumer interaction, and even just cool thoughts on front pages and how they evolve, and I like his insight into the newspaper business. It’s an interesting read from my standpoint, since he comes from the print world and I spend most of my time in front of digital design.

What blogs do you read? Why do you like them? There’s still room in my RSS reader so hook me up with some good ones in the comments.

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MSNBC cartoonist and blogger Daryl Cagle recently posted a fun font review of a recent Los Angeles Times front page. I was astonished at the sheer number of fonts that he found above the fold.
(March 18, 2007 post)

Daryl Cagle LA Times font review

Is this a current trend in newspaper publishing? Back in the good old days of my college journalism classes, we were taught to select a few easily readable fonts for news items and stick with them. We were to leave the creative typography for the advertising designers. Granted that was back in the stone age, so perhaps newspaper design standards have changed in the digital era?

Thanks to Extensis software engineer Loren Barr for passing on the link.

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Design, illustration, typography. When these skills are put toward activism, the results are truly powerful.

StatAttak Shirt Series

The StatAttak shirt series from Stolen, Inc. is “a t-shirt line based on statistics that people should be aware of.” For example:

  • Mozambique has the lowest life expectancy in the world at only 31.3 years (relative to 77 in the US and 78 in the UK).
  • 37% of people in Botswana are infected with AIDS (compared to .02% in Japan)

The impact of this data is 10-fold when represented visually. Best of all, your contribution goes to a great cause. “Since Mozambique was the country that inspired all of this, the Sons of Stolen are putting 20% of the money from the sale of the shirts towards building an orphanage in Mozambique. Instead of giving the money to a charity, we will go to Mozambique with a group of volunteers from the design industry and build an orphanage from the ground up.” Brilliant idea!

Please pass along other ‘design for a cause’ campaigns you know of. We’d like to showcase them.

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One of my many hats here at Extensis is to create and maintain the user documentation for our products. Depending upon the product, this typically includes creating a printed PDF as well as an HTML based help system.

Well, to help me better manage the reams of content that have been built up for our mature product line, I’m currently looking to move toward a solution that allows me to store all of my content in a single location. I would then be able to generate multiple documents from a single point.

Since this process will cover a large amount of content, spanning many documents, I’ve found that it’s absolutely critical to thoroughly define my workflow before selecting an appropriate tool for the job. I’ve got a slew of tool options, including AuthorIT, MadCap Flare, Adobe RoboHelp, and even XMetal. Heck, I can’t say that I’m very close to making a decision just yet, but the process has definitely gotten me far down the road to more efficient information architecture.

Portfolio workflowWell, knowing how hard it can be for me to choose a tool, we’ve created a number of documents that will help you define your workflow, and see if one of our solutions will meet your needs.

If you’re in a position to need font management, yet are unsure if a server-based solution will work best in your installation, check out the following documents:

When choosing an asset manager, you might be changing the entire way you work with assets. For example, instead of emailing files from person to person, you will be adding them to an asset repository to which everyone may have access. So, to help define your process, check out the following documents:

We also have a slew of other information available by product from the download page of our website. If you have any other workflow-related questions, don’t hesitate to contact our corporate sales department, or stop on by the Extensis Forums to chat with other users.

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Well, maybe not all of them, they don’t really say who authors the posts, but you can read more about W&K at the Weiden & Kennedy Studio blog.

Good Lord.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love working at Extensis. We have a fantastic group of people and we do cool things and so forth. But unless you ACTUALLY work at WK, you HAVE to be a little jealous after reading just their front page!! We got a Wii, Pete Yorn was here, Fab 5 Freddy was at a movie screening…

I’m a little jealous. Only a little! But I’m still jealous. Not as jealous as I would be if I were the London office and looking at that blog, but then the London office has it’s own share of neat stuff on their blog too, including their own YouTube Channel.

I did think it was interesting to see a little insight into the work they’re doing, and that’s always cool to me as someone who is reasonably creative, but not necessarily a “creative” type. With InDesign I maybe can do something non-hideous, but give me some yarn and some specs and I’ll definitely hook you up with something awesome.

I’m going to go back to being a teeny bit jealous now. (Only because they have a Wii.)

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Publishing Executive & Book Business Conference and ExpoFrom March 5th through the 7th we’ll be attending a combined event focused on the book publishing business. The Publishing Executive Conference and Expo as well as the Book Business Conference and Expo. They’re two separate conferences, each with unique conference sessions, yet sharing an Expo hall.

Recently I talked about how much I admire the art of book cover design. For this show, we’ll be focusing on how Portfolio can help those creative users (who just might be pulling together images from their recent Thomas Pynchon photo shoot) get organized and save time in their busy schedules.

So, if you’re in NYC, swing by the Mariott Marquis and share some of those images of Pynchon with us.

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Adobe MagazineI just came across the premier issue of the new Adobe Magazine today. I still remember the days, oh so long ago, when purchasing an Adobe product entitled you to subscription to a wonderfully designed, printed magazine. (short pause for reminiscence…) Well, even though those days are now long gone, this new magazine in PDF form is still beautifully designed and contains all of the interactive features that we’ve come to expect in ultra-moden PDFs.

For you font-o-philes, Thomas Phinney showcases a few of his favorite fonts from the 2006 Type Directors Club typography competition on page 21.

Download your very own PDF here.

Judging a book by its…

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Books- yeah, we've got a few computer books in the houseThe dust jacket has long been an integral part of marketing of a book, and it’s good to see sites devoted to the presentation and discussion of the art that goes into a book cover. Here are a few the sites that dedicate their time to examing this art.

Graphic design firm Fwis has created a worthwhile book cover review site. While the comments might not always indicate an in-depth analysis, the books presented cover a wide range of interesting design concepts.

The Ospresy Design firm specializes in book design. Their blog, Forward, focuses mostly on the success or failure of recently published covers as well as tools commonly used to create them.

The Book Design Review blog, while prolific in it’s cover posting, doesn’t tend to give much more than an “I like it” type of analysis.

Readerville has a page devoted entirely to the “Most Coveted Covers.” On about a monthly basis, DG Strong and Karen Templar post a brief commentary about the cover of a recently published book. The site’s main purpose though is as a dues-based book group forum.

Owing to the power of the cover, Penguin Books launched a campaign where they published books “without covers.” It allowed you to create your own cover for your favorite book. Heck, this might help fabulously fickle high school students design covers that go with their current fashion statement – black for the goths, pastels for the preppies and so forth. I think that I’ll make my own picture of Dorian Gray, thank you very much.

Do you have a favorite book design site?

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Publishing Report Workbook 2007The Publishing Report Workbook contains a number of good articles relating to print publishing workflow, database driven publishing, the state of the publishing industry as well as a rather lengthy list of publishing-related conventions and educational opportunities in Europe and the US.

It’s published in German, so it might not be immediately accessible to those of us who are unfortunate “single language” US citizens. That being said, the event list (PDF) is still quite useful and comprehensive even for non-German speakers.

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