New release of The Fontz

Terry at To The Point Software has released an update to his excellent font browser The Fontz. I recently created a new icon for The Fontz, and I am far too excited at seeing my name mentioned in the release notes:

v4.3.3

  • new program icon by Richard Smith
  • fixed bug that occurred when trashing an uninstalled font
  • some toolbar icons replaced
  • added button to open a selected uninstalled font’s parent folder

It is a great little application if you want to browse a large set of fonts; far easier to use than Apple’s Font Book.

My portfolio is complete

Okay, I think I’ve added all the images and animations that I need to, so I’ve reset all the “view” counters so that they aren’t distorted by my own editing and browsing. I’ve used this opportunity to add new things, and omit some stuff that either isn’t relevant or is similar to other material. It’s nice to have some animation in there too.

A brand new look

I am very pleased to announce the launch of my brand new site!

If you are a returning visitor, you will notice that everything around here is brand new. A while ago, I decided that my site needed a complete overhaul, and in my spare time have been working on this new version for the last few weeks. This is the most complete redesign the site has undergone since I rewrote the site scripts 4 years ago.

The most difficult decision I made was to completely rework my portfolio browser. For the last few years, I have been using a piece of software I wrote myself using Perl and XML, which I called the Image Engine. This worked well, but I wanted to add new features, and realised that adding the features I wanted would require such a comprehensive rewrite that the time involved would not justify the end result.

So, at the beginning of the redesign process, I decided to switch to using Gallery, an Open Source software solution. This was a big step, as apart from the work involved in integrating my new site design into the Gallery templates, it also meant that I had to manually add each image into the new albums. Previously I was able to upgrade the existing XML database each time I updated the Image Engine, but this was not an option with Gallery (well, it is beyond my meagre programming skills).

I hope you will agree that the effort has been justified, as I think that the new Gallery albums are much easier to use and make my work more accessible. However, because adding all the images has proved to be so time consuming, I have decided to launch the site before finishing all the editing, so you may find a few holes in the descriptions and summaries here and there.

Also, although I have tested the site as comprehensively as possible in as many browsers as I have access to, you may still encounter a few glitches. If you do, please leave a message on the bug reports forum, or use the e-mail form on the contact page.

Personally, I think the new design is leaner, simpler and more attractive. I hope that you agree. If so, please feel free to let me know in the comments, on the feedback forum, or use the contact page to get in touch.

Adobe updates

Adobe have released the first update for Illustrator CS 2, taking it to version 12.0.1. The release notes are a little sketchy to say the least, but report improvements to Tiger compatibility. I can’t say I’ve had many problems with Illustrator stability myself, but the update ran smoothly and Illustrator is working as well as ever.

I don’t know if these where also released today, or whether I missed them, but there were also updates to Bridge scripts, Photoshop scripts and InDesign CS2 available. These updates have cured the problems I’ve had switching to the Adobe Help Centre and Adobe Bridge from within Photoshop and Illustrator. The problem affected people like me who (for security or other reasons) work from an account that doesn’t have administrator privileges.

Taking my tablet

Somehow, I managed to overlook the fact that Wacom have released a new driver for older Intuos tablets like mine. I’m pleased to see that they have finally ditched the clunky old OS 9 style control panel for a swanky Aqua Preference Pane (about time too). The release notes (PDF) list several other changes to improve reliability.

The Wacom drivers have come in for a lot of stick over the years on sites like Version Tracker, but personally I have never had any problems with installation or reliability; especially since Wacom added support for Fast User Switching in the previous release. The latest driver installed without a hitch, and works flawlessly. Perhaps this is because I only use the tablet when I’m working. I don’t use a mouse unless I’m playing the Unreal Tournament 2004 Demo. In that case, I have to unplug the Wacom tablet, as there seems to be a minor but irritating conflict that causes the pointer to suddenly jump across the screen every few minutes. I don’t know if it’s a driver conflict or a hardware problem, but unplugging the Intuos solves the problem and makes playing UT a little less challenging.

If you ever have trouble with the Wacom drivers, I recommend the following trouble shooting steps:

  1. Use the Wacom installer to uninstall the current driver.
  2. Repair permissions.
  3. Restart.
  4. Install the new Wacom driver.
  5. Enjoy.

London back on the move

Fair play to the people of London. Watching the news this morning, the overwhelming reaction from people travelling to work seems to be “screw the terrorists, life goes on as normal”. People are shocked and angry, but not scared, and certainly not willing to let these lunatics win. The London News Review carries an open letter to the terrorists (contains strong language) that seems to sum up the overriding sentiment. It’s short, to the point, and ends with this sentiment:

…we’re going to go about our lives. We’re going to take care of the lives you ruined. And then we’re going to work. And we’re going down the pub.

So you can pack up your bombs, put them in your arseholes, and get the f*** out of our city.

Thanks to Russ for the link.

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London atrocities

The news of the bombs in London has shocked and horrified our country, and the rest of the world has been quick to offer sympathy and support. Members of the Spanish public, having suffered recently in the Madrid bombing, have e-mailed the BBC news services offering their thoughts and condolences.

This attack has come as a real shock, especially as I have friends and colleagues in who live and work in Central London. Thankfully, no-one I know has been directly affected, but my heart goes out to the casualties, and to family and friends of those killed. My wife and I spent 3 days in London at the end of June (just two short weeks ago). We stayed in a hotel a few hundred yards from Kings Cross station, where even now emergency services are trying to free people trapped underground by one of the bomb blasts. We went through that tube station several times over those three days; seeming a familiar place crawling with emergency services personnel and injured people seems somehow to make the incident much more personal. My thoughts are with the people of London, and with the emergency services who, as always, put their own lives on the line to rescue and treat the casualties.

There are a lot of live London based blog that have taken up the story, providing news and comment from people “on the ground”. Take a look at Europhobia and Tim Worstall’s blog for eye witness reports and commentary.

Update: I received (via IM) a random message of support from someone in France, offering sympathy and condolences. Even though the atrocities don’t directly affect me, I am moved by the sentiment.

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Will you still remember me when you’re famous?

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This time last year, Stefan at Reality Dreamship commissioned a caricature of fashion model Jordan Paris, which was used in the funky website he designed for her.

This morning, I was chuffed to see Jordan on LK Today, modelling Indian fashions for the lovely Lorraine Kelly. It was great to be able to point at the telly and say “Oi, I’ve drawn her!”, even if my cat was the only one who could hear me.

Very nice she looked too.

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Video games

My trusty G4 Powermac turned 3 years old in April this year, and I had been considering upgrading to a shiny new G5. However, the recent announcement that Apple will start switching all their computers to Intel processors within the next 12 months has made me shelve this idea. Traditionally, Apple machines have always had an excellent resale value, and this has always helped to ease the pain of upgrading. But any PPC PowerMac that I buy now will have almost no resale value in another 3 years, so I’ll wait until the new Intel Macs reach revision 2 before throwing down the cash for new hardware.

The problem was that my G4 was starting to it’s age a little, particularly running heavyweight applications like Creative Suite 2. So, instead of upgrading the whole thing, I decided to drop a little cash on a new video card. After 3 years, I was still using the original 32Mb nVIDIA GeForce4 MX, and my 20″ Cinema Display was stretching to the limits. I expected the 128Mb ATI Radeon 9200 to improve the performance; what I wasn’t prepared for was just how big the speed boost would be.

The new card has transformed the performance of my old workhorse. Switching between applications is almost immediate, and the speed of Exposé is a revelation; so far I haven’t managed to open enough windows to make Exposé pause noticeably. I also get the cube effect when I switch accounts, even with a lot of windows open (something the nVidia card couldn’t manage consistently) The performance improvement has certainly justified the cost of the card, and I’d recommend the ATI card to anyone who wants to squeeze a bit more performance from an older Mac.

I’m even tempted to install a game demo just to put the card through it’s 3D paces.

Creative Suite 2 is shipping

Yesterday I had confirmation from Adobe that my copy of Creative Suite 2 is now on it’s way via UPS.

For some reason though, Adobe sent the confirmation e-mail in PDF format, with no clickable links for the order tracking or support page URL’s. So I had to open up the PDF in Preview, then copy the URL and the tracking number manually into my browser. Of course, after I’d done it, the UPS site was “unable to track shipment”. Has anyone ever had an order tracking number that worked?