Banks in trouble. “At the end of Old Maid as banks used to play it, the loser would take a big write-off and then everyone could start playing again. In the new version, the use of leverage means the game is being played with hundreds of packs of cards and by thousands of different players.”
NY Times Business:
Right There on the Tarmac, the Inmates Revolt. There should be a mandatory return to terminal after two hours of waiting.
“Antibacterial soaps show no health benefits over plain soaps and, in fact, may render some common antibiotics less effective ...”
Freeman Dyson says computer models of global warming are not the whole story. “It is at least a possibility to be seriously considered, that China could become rich by burning coal, while the United States could become environmentally virtuous by accumulating topsoil, with transport of carbon from mine in China to soil in America provided free of charge by the atmosphere, and the inventory of carbon in the atmosphere remaining constant. We should take such possibilities into account when we listen to predictions about climate change and fossil fuels.”
Arthur Miller’s Missing Act. This kind of behavior was status quo in the middle of the last century; hide the problem children, never bat an eyelash in public. I know of at least one other ‘famous’ family that behaved similarly.
NY Times Travel:
NY Times Politics:
Rove Steps Up His Attacks on Clinton’s Candidacy. Soon as he’s out, he opens his mouth. But I agree with the Obama camp: “Mr. Obama’s advisers scoffed and said Mr. Rove was aiding and abetting a Clinton nomination because Republicans believed that she was too divisive to be elected.” Conservative talk radio is gnawing through microphones in anticipation of a Clinton nomination.
NY Times Business:
U.S. Stocks Open Lower After Losses Overseas. “Countrywide Financial, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, said it had tapped $11.5 billion in emergency loans from 40 of the world’s largest banks, as it seeks to shore up its cash position. [snip] Shares of the company were down about 15 percent in morning trading, to $18, after falling 13 percent yesterday. The stock is down about 50 percent for the year.”
New Mexico won’t supply marijuana to medical patients. “The Department of Health will not subject its employees to potential federal prosecution, and therefore will not distribute or produce medical marijuana.”
SF New Mexican:
Santa Fe Railyard: State scraps plan to harvest rainwater. In a location where water is so scarce and vital, one would imagine the State should be more open to recycling solutions.
SF New Mexican:
Countrywide Falls; Merrill Cites Bankruptcy Prospect. I, and many others, don’t like the sound of this. Wall Street Journal has more details; glad to hear local Thornburg (mentioned earlier this morning) has climbed back 39%.
Squirrels wield a hot, secret weapon. This gives me a little more respect for our lousy, skulking, plague-carrying groundsquirrels.
London Review of Books:
Travels with My Mom. In Santa Fe. Can’t say as I’ve noticed a predominance of women in the O’Keeffe Museum. But this is familiar: “Everywhere you look: big no-nonsense gals in polo shirts and purple fanny packs, all sporting the same grim grey clippered haircuts, like space shuttle astronauts.” My italics. Yep, that’s the look.
Greetings from Idiot America. “... the rise of Idiot America today represents - for profit mainly, but also, and more cynically, for political advantage and in the pursuit of power - the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people whom we should trust the least are the people who best know what they’re talking about.”
Error by FTC Reveals Whole Foods’ Trade Secrets. They’re a business, just like any other.
is this weekend in Santa Fe. But you’ve got to get up early to get the good stuff.
SF New Mexican:
“Kinlichiinii John has an empty spot on his Cub Scouts uniform that he hopes to cover with an acknowledgment of his Navajo faith. But searching through emblems available for 35 religious affiliations, the 9-year-old found that none exist for the traditional Navajo spiritual way of life or the Native American Church — both of which his family practices.”
SF New Mexican:
The subprime mortgage crisis goes local. Thornburg Mortgage stock sinks. Local mortgage company gets downgraded by Moody’s, S&P, others.
Dallas Morning News:
“The sudden heat wave has brought something more menacing than sunburns and higher electric bills. The latest sign of summer just might be spontaneous combustion.” Once upon a time, when catalytic converters were first installed on cars, there was a blanket warning not to park on piles of autumn leaves. Converters operate at very high temps, and stay that way for quite a while.
Upgrading to Adobe Creative Suite 3, Master Collection.
I have used Illustrator, Flash, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Premiere, Acrobat and others at different stages of my career, but their prices of late had sent me searching into the world of alternatives ... open-source and shareware apps ... while letting my commercial versions age. I dare say there’s a certain cachet to brag that one uses open-source equivalents, as a sort of badge of gear-headed expertise. I’ve tried, as others have, to replace the functionality of Photoshop with Gimp, Illustrator with Inkscape, Flash with SwishMax, Acrobat with PrimoPDF, and other lower-entry-cost software for others. Little interoperability, reduced feature sets, differing interfaces, inconvenient file formats, and more ended up eating away mountains of time ... and for a small business, time is money. Your ‘free’ time disappears in managing all the little incompatibilities, all the ‘special requirements’. Debugging recent installs of certain open source software has wasted immense amounts of my spare time; charged at my hourly rate these hours represent a pile of cash bigger than that which full list price versions of comparable commercial software would require for purchase.
No more. I’ve come to the hardened conclusion that this ‘cachet’ of alternative software is ridiculous in a for-profit business, especially in this economy. Hobbyists, fine. Business, no. Purchasing this Creative Suite, for me, is an investment in saving money and time, while improving the quality of my output. I might still use one of the open-source or shareware alternatives I own for a specific effect ... but I will not, in the foreseeable future, ever again base any business upon them.
So let’s get down to brass tacks on the Adobe Creative Suite 3 Master Collection. I had been hankering for the MC, because my skillsets bridge print, web, video, audio, 3D and more. Obviously, getting the Master Collection puts me on track to a lower-cost upgrade each version change, rather than chasing down individual package upgrades that would result in higher costs over time. Choosing the suite gives me the interoperability and consistency of interface that will free up headspace for creativity. I can set the toolbars across multiple programs to be identical, color palettes sit in the same locations, etc. etc. I can drop the ‘Trivial Pursuit’ (remember dozens-of-different-interfaces and their vagaries) mindset the alternatives imposed.
My experience with the major packages in MC:
1. Illustrator ... Highly skilled with Version 9.0 on Macintosh.
2. Photoshop ... Highly skilled with CS2.
3. Flash ... Middlingly skilled with Version 5. I knew Macromedia Director very well, the translation across has been a little rocky at times; I still fight my Director reflexes. I intend to concentrate on updating my Actionscript chops to current accepted levels of expertise.
4. InDesign ... I knew Quark Xpress 5 very well on Mac, churning out production magazines. I’ll have to change over. My Pagemaker to Quark transition didn’t take long, I don’t expect this one to take long either. I have a skilled individual in-house to help me.
5. Premiere Pro ... Used Premiere Standard on my year-old VAIO install, created a couple of pieces. Most of my experience is on physical offline and online editing machines. Learning to be done. Additionally, my VAIO needs a little debugging over video inputs (they apparently only work with Media Center open, and I don’t use or start the Media Center services), so getting video footage in is going to be a challenge for a bit.
6. After Effects ... I used Version 1.0 extensively for a while. The interface looks a little familiar, but much learning to be done.
7. Dreamweaver ... I am a skilled XHTML/CSS hand coder, and never really liked DW much. Admired the ease with which skilled DW individuals can churn out completed websites, disliked the weightiness of the generated code. I’ve built templates in previous versions, but have never used them in conjunction with Contribute. I prefer CMS output for most sites of size, through Expression Engine. Curious to see if the CSS interface has improved; it used to reek. The interop with other software intrigues me here, so I’ll give it another go. If nothing else, I’ll use it for that nifty ‘tree view’ of an entire site.
8. Fireworks ... Version 1.0 I knew well. The CS3 interface still looks familiar. Shouldn’t be a problem.
9. Soundbooth ... Never used. Audacity has been my recording environment of late.
10. Encore ... Never used.
11. Acrobat ... I’ve used Professional frequently on the Macintosh platform, CS2.
The fun in all this, is tracing out a schedule and plan for getting back to speed on the current CS3 versions. The first thing I’m going to tackle from a production perspective is a Flash/video piece for delivery via internet in the next month ... and I’m really looking forward to it. I prefer immersions with deadlines. Nothing like it for learning.
There’s one point of perceived ‘weakness’ in the Suite, where some will point up the popularity of Final Cut Pro [Mac only]. I know, it’s ostensibly the more popular package for video wonks, at least when you hit the HD video mags. I find the video edit interface paradigm is pretty standardized across platforms and software. The bread-and-butter aspects of video editing are usually obvious and easily transferred, if ever necessary. I’d rather judge the suitability to intended purposes myself, anyway. The fact that After Effects sits in this Suite is a kicker. I used to create some really edgy things in the 1.0 version, when combined with form*z/Electric Image 3D renderings, years ago. It was a bizarre little piece of software, able to do online effects without the costly equipment. I can’t wait to work in this new version, and in combination with Premiere Pro, judging its power vs. Apple’s offerings. An HDV camcorder and Blu-ray recorder is in a future hardware budget.
Well, enough of my thoughts and plans. On to the product. Most reviewers give you details on the packaging. Faugh. It’s a box. It has disks inside. You install the disks. A couple of handy pamphlets to help you get familiar with the interfaces and specifics of interoperability. It’s all very pretty, well-designed and minimal. The first install disk has a Read Me file. Be sure to read it, not just gape at the link and press “Install.”
My installs tend to be rather meticulous. Windows can be finicky, so I like to clean things up before, during, and after installs. I have recently performed disk checks and optimizations, so this is what I did to get a flawless install:
1. Backed up vital work files (in heavy production at the moment).
2. Cleaned up the registry (I’d been lazy about this.)
3. Restarted the machine.
4. De-installed Photoshop CS2, Bridge 1.0, the Sony install versions of Premiere Standard and Photoshop Elements. I retained my current version of Adobe Reader.
4. Cleaned the registry again.
5. Restarted the machine.
6. Confirmed that my previously-installed Photoshop Lightroom didn’t lose any dll’s (it didn’t), and that it was still fully functional (it was, kudos Adobe Install/Remove programmers).
7. Installed the Creative Suite [4 DVDs].
I use Rose City Software’s Registry First Aid to clean my registry, but it’s just one I found years ago and have had good luck with. YMMV; compare reviews of other registry cleaner software. I like that RFA automatically creates restore points and registry backups on each repair. I clean the registry religiously before and after software installs/deinstalls, and my Windows issues have been minimal. I will, at a later time, run defrag/optimisation to kick the loading and operating speeds up further. I’ve been fooling with Raxco PerfectDisk of late, with better results than Norton SpeedDisk or Windows built-in defrag.
The first MC program I opened was Photoshop CS3 Extended. I got two screens while trying to start up this ‘first opened’ program: one for product activation, and another for registration. Both worked as advertised. I filled them out, they processed in less than two minutes.
Now, if you’ve read here long, you know I’ve bitched and moaned about my machine (dual core Pentium D 830) being slow to load and run Photoshop CS2 and other programs. I upped the RAM, bought a new video card, optimised both 7200rpm 250 GB HDs till I was blue in the face, with middling results. PS CS2 still took a minute and a half to start, every time I loaded it ... pausing forever on loading gradients. Well, I have to tell you that PS CS3 loads faster. Much faster. First load is just under 25 seconds, subsequent loads in SIX SECONDS. In operation, it is now snappy as all get-out. I haven’t yet opened any of my 16-bit multilayer HDR creations, but I’ll let you know if the snappiness is still apparent. Zipping multilayer TIFFs is a little pokey, a little slower than CS2. Saving a TIFF with no compression [8MP output from my 20D and Lightroom runs in the neighborhood of 24 MB] doesn’t even bring up a ‘wait’ icon. It seems instantaneous.
My style of working might not be yours ... I like to run programs with lots of RAM headroom, so I tend to open and close programs rather than keeping a half-dozen open at a time (old habit from the early ‘multitasking’ Macs). I found this opening and closing speed, for an updated and obviously larger and more capable program, simply astonishing. I’m used to updates being slower than their predecessors, when installed on the same machine.
The new CS3 interface is mildly different. I find myself having to pay attention to my cursor, because I’ve gotten in the habit of knowing where my palettes are on my screen real estate. I think I’ll prefer the tall single-icon toolbar over the double, adding screen real estate until I invest in a nice Dell 24” LCD. I’m getting used to the new palette area on the right, and I believe I’ll like it better. In playing with the new Brightness/Contrast panel, I can tell you the rumored improvements are completely true. It works so much better, I gasped. The more I play with the new PS, the more I want to re-convert all my RAW photos with the improved tools. I’m not adding my third-party plug-ins back until I review all the comparable filters in CS3 for quality.
Bottom line: If you’ve been on the fence about upgrading to Photoshop CS3, I wouldn’t wait any longer. I find even these few aforementioned improvements worth the price of upgrade.
Other than Photoshop, I opened and did a little fiddling in each of the installed programs to verify that they all work properly. Not a single install-related issue.
Bodes well for the future. I have a slew of production on my to-do-today list, but I thought I’d write this up right away. I’m particularly interested in delving into the interoperabilities within this Suite, and how that will affect my time/creativity. If you’re interested in my journey, let me know ... I’ll make a separate category, and continue to do weekly updates on my impressions, learned lessons, and overall progress.
“When I’m Cleanin’ Windows.” WWII-era Britain’s answer to Justin Timberlake?
Debtor Nation. “In 2006, the infusion of foreign cash required to close the gap between American incomes and consumption reached nearly 7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), leaving the United States with a deficit in its current account (an annual measure of capital flows to and from the rest of the world) of more than $850 billion. In other words, the quantity of goods and services that Americans consumed last year in excess of what we produced was close to the entire annual output of Brazil.”