March 31st, 2010 by Ken Beck
Last week we talked about the entropy of over-organization and breaking old habits. This week we unlock the mystery of the Suitcase Fusion 2 font vault in part two of this three part series. Let’s begin:
Entropy #2 : Why keep your fonts “in-place” instead of in the “font vault”?
If you went to a bank to deposit a large sum of money and the bank said you had the choice of:
- keeping your money in their vault (made of two feet thick solid steel walls, a dual-control combination lock, protected by 24-7 cameras, multiple alarm systems and three trigger-happy security guards (underpaid and jacked up on coffee) or
- you could keep the money in your apartment spread out in a couple of shoe boxes and old paper bags
Which would you choose? Which sounds more secure for the long term? Which is a better “system?”
In may aspects of life, we have a strange misplaced desire to either 1) control things we can not control or 2) continue to control things we have already delegated to someone else to handle. The result of each is pain and suffering.
A classic example is someone who constantly complains about the weather. You can complain till you’re blue in the face that the weather is too hot, too cold, too wet, or too dry, and guess what ? the weather remains un-changed. It is a complete waste of energy; as fruitful as shaking your fist at a storm cloud or talking to a tornado. You cannot control the weather; accept that as natural law and let go. When its hot, work on your tan. When it’s raining, consider it a free shower. When someone gives you lemons, make margaritas. If the weather wherever you live is that miserable for you, then do something you can control, move to another location with weather that suits your preferences. As they say in Las Vegas, “put up or shut up” because talk is cheap in the silver city and time is money.
Another classic example: a boss who assigns you to handle “important problem X with customer 17” (because they’re too busy) but micromanages your every move along the way. Good managers delegate tasks and trust their employees to deliver results; bad managers pretend to delegate tasks and want an “update” or to make a “suggestion” every thirty minutes in the process. It’s a confusion of ownership and both manager and employee miss out on the benefits of delegation. High entropy. Getting Things Done guru, David Allen talks about achieving a zen-link mental state of “mind like water” where your mind is always clear from worrying about things in which worrying is fruitless. In Buddhism, the tendency to worry about that which one should not worry about, is called “monkey mind” (“unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable”); “mental noise”, “just spinning wheels”, “a dog chasing it’s own tail”, “running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off”, “beating a dead horse” and “beating your head against the wall” are western idioms that point to the same concept of futility.
If you’ve purchased a font manager to manage your fonts then hello, let it manage your fonts. Delegate and let go. Let SF2 manage your fonts and let iTunes manage your mp3s. When you are dead and buried, looking back on your life, does it really matter if your 80’s hair metal is in a folder called “/music/hair metal/80’s/motley crue” or “/music/itunes/itunes media/music/motley crue”? Over-riding the default preferences of each program to organize your fonts/mp3’s manually because you think you have “a better way” smacks of ego unless you are an advanced user and have a really, really, specific reason for doing so to justify the performance loss and overhead needed to maintain your system. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating total passivity in the face of technology (never bow down to the robot overlords without a fight!), rather I am advocating that you choose your battles wisely grasshopper and that you make good decisions on how you want to spend your time. If I had a magic wand and could grant you an extra two hours a week, every week of “free time” to spend on either:
- designing great work that puts food on the table and might just change the world or
- renaming folders, copying files, searching and re-linking broken links on your hard disc
Which would you choose? Which achievement are you more likely to feel proud about 10 years from now? Which will bring you recognition, fame and fortune?
Unlocking the Suitcase Fusion 2 Font Vault
Many customers don’t use the Suitcase Fusion 2 font vault because they fear it’s something really complicated but it’s actually quite simple. You have your original fonts on your hard disc in “location A”, organized meticulously or simply in a big giant hairy folder called “my fonts” [see part one of this series]. You drag them into SF2 in order to use them which copies the actual fonts into “location B” i.e. the suitcase fusion 2 font vault located at:
/Users/[username]/Library/Extensis/Suitcase Fusion/Suitcase Fusion.fontvault
The font vault is a special folder called a “package”. You can see what’s literally inside the font vault by stopping the Suitcase Fusion Core and then right-clicking the font vault and choosing “show package contents”. This will allow you to see whats inside the package just like a regular folder. Here’s a screenshot:
The SF2 font vault organizes your fonts by Type (MM = Multiple Master, OTPS = OpenType Postscript flavor, OTTT = OpenType TrueType flavor, PS = Postscript, TT = TrueType), then by foundry, then by font name, then by version number, then by Font Sense number. Simple and orderly. In the screenshot below, you can see I have three different versions of ACaslonPro-Bold, an OpenType – Postscript flavor font from Adobe.
The font vault is a SQLite 3 database for you techies out there. SQLite is an “in-process library that implements a self-contained, serverless, zero-configuration, transactional SQL database engine;” the same open source database code used by Apple for your iPhone, iTunes, Mail and Safari. It’s good to understand the font vault but don’t go monkeying around inside it just for kicks. Fonts are added or removed from the font vault though the SF2 program to keep the database in sync.
Benefits of the Suitcase Fusion 2 Font Vault
- requires absolutely no maintenance
- no more missing fonts, broken links or having to mount external drives
- fonts are checked for corruption before being added into the vault
- the vault does not allow duplicate fonts
- the vault is a single folder that can be easily backed up or moved to another computer
It all comes down to how you want to spend your time. You can spend Saturday night alone, quietly hunched over your computer, eyes bleeding, meticulously organizing your iTunes library, file by file, tag by tag into some complex series of personal folders or dancing with friends to the music blasting from your iTunes library. Living “the good life” means you spend more time “wining and dining” then you do “whining and pining.” Time may be our most precious human resource so re-evaluate how you’re spending yours if you’re micromanaging minutiae. Get outside, spend some time with your loved ones, follow your passions, pick up a new hobby, create something beautiful, think BIG, just don’t miss the forest for the trees. As they say at the morgue, “If you have time, you can always make more art but you can’t make more art when you’re dead.”
[Winona Savings Bank Vault image courtesy of Jonathunder from Wikipedia]