Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Archiving Work

With cheap 300GB disk drives available now it has become easier to procrastinate archiving one's creative work. Everyone hates archiving their work. It's so boring--so uncreative. The following is how I archive my work and hopefully it will allow you to archive faster and more efficiently.

The main points to consider when archiving are:
  • Do I have everything for this project?
  • Do have a list of everything on the disk, so I can locate files in the future?
  • Do I have a way of marking that I have archived this project and so can delete my project folder in the future?

DVDs vs CDs
With printable DVDs costing a few cents more than their CD counterparts and the ubiquitousness of DVD players now, I always burn one DVD instead of trying to burn multiple CDs.

Listing files in OS X
A co-worker of mine said there used to be a print window (a Finder window) command in OS 9. I was unable to find an equivalent in OS X. One could screen capture the Finder window in List mode and print the resulting PNG or PDF. That would work, but it would be a pain expand all the folers, and you would still need to fold up the piece of paper and place it in the CD case.

A few months ago, I discovered an AppleScript on a forum that uses Unix commands to recursively list all the file contents of a folder's directory tree (meaning all subfolders and their contents), and saves it to a text file. Here is the folderPrint script, and the folderPrint OS X application (PowerPC version).

The folderPrintApp.app will open up a Choose Folder dialog and ask you for a folder. It will then save a text file named "folder_list.txt" to the Desktop. You can open this text file and copy all the text (Ctrl+A) into a textbox in the following disk template.

Listing Files in Windows
Coming Soon. . .

Disk template
If you have a direct to CD printing printer (or if you want to use labels), use this archival CD label template (PDF made with Illustatrator CS2) for the Epson R220. For directions on using the Epson R220 to print to CD in Illustrator, read my previous post on the topic. It isn't the prettiest, but your archive disk ends up in a CD album or with a job ticket, after all.

Marking that a folder that has been archived
I place a text file called "_FOLDER_ARCHIVED" in a folder after I archive it. With the "_" first, I know it will appear at the top of the file list. Once this file has been placed in a project folder, I know that I can delete it, since I have a backup copy.

--Stephen M. James

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Word: Text to Table and Table to Text

Microsoft Word is an often overlooked tool in a designers toolbox. Not in actual design, but in data organization. If you are given a column of information and want to make it a row of information or select only one column of tab separated text, Word is an excellent tool.

Selecting only one column of tab separated text
There are two commands under the Table Menu, "Text to Table" and "Table to Text." This will divide any text by tabs, paragraphs, commas, or any other character into table cells (rows and columns). From there, you can select a column with the mouse (click above the column, so the cursor turns into an arrow pointed down). Then, copy the whole column to the clipboard (Ctrl+C). Open a new document, and paste the column into the new document (Ctrl+V). Now use the "Table to Text" command under the Table Menu to convert the table back into paragraph text. Now you can select any column you want and bring it into Illustrator or InDesign as its own text box. Now that each column is it's own text box. You can right justify any of the columns.

--Stephen M. James

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Flash: White artifacts in transparent Photoshop files (PSD)

The other day I discovered that all the Adobe Photoshop files I had imported into Macromedia Flash contained white artifacts (jagged edges) where they were supposed to be transparent (alpha channel fade). This problem was remedied by saving each Photoshop image as a PNG (Portable Network Graphic). I also noticed the colors were more accurate when saving them as PNG's. PSD's imported into Flash tend to be washed out and less saturated.

--Stephen M. James

HTML: FireFox Web Developer extension is your friend

This is the best tool I've seen for analyzing and disecting a pre-existing website (or to debug the one you just created). This extension allows one to outline table cells, view anchors, DIV tags, disable CSS, resize the browser window, validate your code with the W3C, inspect the DOM, and all inside your browser! Download Firefox. Then download the Web Developer Extension.

Screen shot of Display Element Information
Screen shot of Outline Table Cells

--Stephen M. James

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Learning Apple Motion 2

I am finally understanding the interface of Apple's Motion. It's nice. It's kind of cute, but it's interface, in typical Apple fashion is nothing like Macromedia or Adobe (which eventually may be a good thing, but increases the learning curve).

If you want to add a keyframe, you need to do it from a drop down menu. I recommend trying to animate using the Record button (shortcut key: "A") whenever possible. This will automatically add a frame.

It also might be good to deactivate the thumbnail and turning on the keyframe viewing in the Timeline (buttons in the bottom-left of the timeline palette). I have a cinema display, and I'm still starved for space in this application.

The keyfame editor will take some time to get used to also. I recommend not clicking it's tab, but selecting it from the drop down menu of a specific keyframe. This will zoom in on that particular keyframe.

These links might help also:

--Stephen M. James