February 9th, 2007 by Jim Kidwell
Recently, I pointed out the new Microsoft Photo Info tool that gives you the ability to view and edit a variety of metadata commonly embedded into digital photographs.
Well, it appears that a number of issues have been identified relating to editing metadata and the potential corruption of Nikon RAW files with the Photo Info Tool. For the time being, Microsoft recommends that you exercise caution (read: don’t do it, for the love of Pete, stay away from that keyboard!) when Nikon RAW editing files with the Photo Imaging Tool.
The same issue also happens when editing metadata directly with Windows Vista, but might affect quite a few more file types. (My bet is that the Photo Info Tool DLL was built directly into Vista). So, Microsoft also recommends that you don’t edit metadata with Photo Acquisition Wizard, the Windows Photo Gallery or directly from the Windows Explorer. See this knowledge base article for the complete details.
February 8th, 2007 by Jim Kidwell
You probably have a slew of fonts on your system right now. You might not know what to do with all of them, and just where to start organizing and using your fonts. We talked it through and have whittled our list of suggestions down to the top 10 things that you can do to better manage your fonts.
- Use a font manager.
It seems like a no-brainer, but if you’re not using a font manager, font management is most likely a cumbersome process that gets in the way of your workflow. Installing a font manager, such as Suitcase Fusion, Font Reserve, Suitcase for Windows or any other will significantly help streamline your workflow. In addition, be sure that you update your font management and design applications to the most current version. This ensures that you’re able to take advantage of the continuing improvements and bug fixes that the product engineers have made.
- Remove unnecessary system fonts.
Too many fonts in your system fonts folders not only crowds up the font menus in your applications, but can potentially cause other system problems. A complete list of required fonts for the Mac OS X operating system can be found in our Font Management in Mac OS X Best Practices Guide.
- Store all of your fonts in a single location.
All of the single-user font managers from Extensis include a Font Vault that enables you to store all of your fonts in a single, secure location. If you’re using a server solution, store as many of your fonts remotely on the server as possible, and only subscribe to fonts as required by project. Keeping all of your fonts in a single location allows you to take care of the next recommendation much more easily.
- Backup, backup, backup.
Don’t rely upon that hard disk to live forever. Make backups of your font library and store them in a secure location. Remember to store a copy of your data offsite. Fires do happen, and you don’t want to get caught with your guard down.
- Check for font corruption.
Power failures, system crashes and other unforeseen incidents can cause fonts to lose integrity. If you are seeing unpredictable application behavior or font substitution issues, use a tool such as Font Doctor to check for font corruption. This tool will help you find, and even repair some font corruption issues. In the event that you do locate a corrupt font file, it is always best to replace the corrupt font with a fresh new original copy of the font.
- Re-visit your font collection, and be selective.
Fonts are tiny bits of software, and just like any other application, a font that you’ve had around for the past 20 years might not be as up-to-date as you would like. Enormous changes have occurred in the font world. Newer OpenType fonts contain much larger collections of characters, glyphs and such, and have been designed to work in cross-platform environments. Maybe that very old version of Garamond can be retired in favor of a fresh new version. In addition, be careful which fonts that you choose. Since fonts are code, and code is written by humans, it can therefore be buggy and create problems. Choose fonts from reputable font foundries that are able to provide support and respond to any issues that you may have with the font.
- Activate only what you need.
Work efficiently by activating only the fonts you need. This reduces the demand on your applications and keeps your font menus “manageable” by preventing excessive scrolling. Using a font manager to selectively activate, and through plug-ins activate only the fonts used in a document, can speed up the time it takes to find the fonts you need when you need them.
- Get legal.
Fonts are software, licensed by the foundry that created them. Using fonts you don’t own can get you in more trouble than it’s worth. If you are working in a server environment, using a product such as Suitcase Server, be sure to check your license compliancy so that you have enough licenses to cover all of your users.
- Use metadata.
Use your font manager to “tag” your fonts with useful info, such as the projects you used them on and which ones your clients liked. Having this searchable information, at your fingertips can be a great reference.
- Learn about type.
Knowing about not just the technology, but also the history of fonts can help you significantly. The more knowledge that you have, the more easily you will be able to identify characteristics of font types that like. Read the Adobe Typography Primer (PDF) to get started by learning common type terminology. Simply being comfortable with the basics will allow you to explore type in new ways.
To learn more about managing your fonts, we’ve created a Font Management In Mac OS X Best Practices Guide. This document is available free of charge.
No Spec! is a site devoted to elevating the treatment of creative professions by encouraging people to say no to work commissioned on “spec.” Basically, when a company asks for work on spec, they are asking for a creative professional to put a lot of work into something, without ever promising to pay for the work.
The problem here is that the creative professional isn’t reimbursed for all of their effort to create the final piece. Spec work devalues the hard effort put into the creative process, and doesn’t really have an upside for the creative professional.
This site was brought to my attention due to a witty and interesting letter was apparently posted on Craigslist. It has been circulating on a number of design sites, and in my opinion it speaks to the designer’s dilemma very well. It would have been great to have been armed with this back in my days at the Indy 500.
I found this study through Matt Haughey’s site, and basically it says that the font you use for email can cause people’s impression of you-and your message-to change before they actually have any idea the content of said message. From the results:
This finding suggests that documents presented in typefaces that are viewed as less appropriate are seen as less serious and less professional in nature. The appropriateness of the typeface also affected the perception of the email author in that the email using Gigi created a perception of an author who is less professional, less trustworthy, and less mature. Finally, the typeface that was lower in appropriateness led participants to conclude that the author was a lower level trainee employee.
So to sum up: Using goofy curlicue fonts for meeting notes not only makes the notes look bad, but the author too. That message could have been sent by an (gasp!) underling! That’s not to say there aren’t times when a not-so-standard font is called for, I’m sure, but most people are reading email for email’s sake, they generally aren’t looking for the design flaws in it. Set your default to Arial or some other such standard-issue font and call it good.
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.
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. 🙂
Some new digital photography guides from industry gurus were recently announced over at John Nack’s Adobe blog. Jeff Schewe and others write a number of pieces on topics ranging from color management in a RAW image workflow to just how best to prepare your images for delivery.
If you’re a Mac user, you most likely know a number of keyboard shortcuts for commonly used tasks in the Finder. During my decade working at companies that have a healthy mix of Mac & PC users, and I’ve found that we Mac users are typically very savvy with their shortcuts. Perhaps it’s because as Mac users, we had to deal with the limitation of the one button mouse for so long that it became a necessity to find other speedy ways of completing a task.
So, knowing how much use I’ve gotten out of Command-C + Command-V (Copy & Paste). I can say that it’s always better to know more shortcuts. To that end, I recently found this fairly complete list of Mac OS X shortcuts, directly from the Apple’s mouth.
And, to not leave my fellow Windows users in the dark (heck, I’m a cross-platform kinda guy), this link contains some nifty Windows OS keyboard shortcuts. Even if they are a bit arcane (whomever thought of Alt-F4 to quit a program should have his head examined) it’s definitely worth your time to check them out.
And, I’m off with a three-fingered salute.
There is a little known extesion provided by Microsoft that extends the amount of font information available to users. After installing this extension, you’ll be able to view significantly more information about your TrueType and OpenType fonts than with the standard Windows installation.
- Download and install the extension.
- Locate your original font file on disk. Typically, fonts are stored in your C:\WINDOWS\Fonts directory.
- Right click the font file and choose Properties.