The changing size of displays

You learn something new every day…

One of my clients called me up recently and asked me a question about a book we were typesetting. It turned out that there is some software that would save me countless hours of work: Annotations for InDesign. Now for this to save time, it requires that the editors and proofreaders and often the authors too use Adobe Reader correctly to mark up the PDF.

So finally I decided, rather than spending 20 minutes on the phone each time teaching people and tools such as to screen share the process, I would simply make a little video. So answers to a post on FaceBook gave me a few recommendations and I ended up using ScreencastOMatic which was brilliant.

You can also see text instructions on the Renana Typesetting website. Unfortunately, even though the free Adobe Reader for iPad has improved drastically, most of these features are for Windows or OSX.

Inbox Zero

I receive a lot of email and I was intrigued by a piece of software on my phone called Acompli that among other things allows you to snooze email. In fact it seems that Microsoft were also intrigued and bought the company! However, as much as I enjoy reading emails on my phone, my PC has a larger screen (actually it has 3 screens, but that’s a whole other post) and I much prefer Outlook.

So I decided that there must be a way to do this in Outlook and I found a brilliant post by a guy called Kevin Guyer on how to do this. I encourage you to read his post which includes screenshots etc. It will make you rethink the way you use Outlook. I now have 2 items in my inbox. Not quite inbox zero but the closest I have ever been.

Talking of screens…

nintypeIt is inevitable that many times an email has to be written on your phone. Unfortunately carrying a keyboard as large as my Microsoft keyboard with my phone is somewhat impractical (although the size of phones are increasing…) so I’m always checking out new keyboards on my phone and the latest to impress me Nintype which has now replaced Swype as my favourite phone keyboard. It does have a bit of a learning curve but it’s worth it out since it really is very much faster.

Not just keyboards, but websites too

ktav new logoA new venture of Renana is One of the challenges was creating a website that would adapt to the size of the screen. Fortunately using Magento and a theme called Ultimo this has become very straightforward. You are encouraged to visit from different devices to see how this works or if you have a large screen simply resize your screen to see what happens. Magento has tutorials on this which are worth checking out.

How to fit three 24″ monitors into a small suitcase

In my past two executive positions that I held it was required of me to wear (at least) two hats: one of the “manager” and one as a productive member of staff. So it’s natural for me in my relatively new role as a publisher to also continue to be productive as a book designer and typesetter and indeed a good portion of my typesetting is for other publishers.

However my blog post is really nothing to do with my job but rather a technological dilemma that a typesetter (and perhaps others) faces when traveling and that is of course, how does one work away from the office. You see my PC setup is very powerful i7 with 16GB RAM and the obligatory SSD, but that can all be squeezed into a laptop. The real problem are the monitors. You see as a typesetter you need a lot of screen real estate and there’s no way I can pack three 24″ monitors into a suitcase.

The second problem is my software and data. I am not dealing with little Word files but rather huge graphic files and software that as little as a year ago came on several DVDs.

So my first dilemma was how to deal with my computer setup. I knew I had access to a PC with a 24″ monitor (no not quite the resolution that I wanted but you can’t have everything in life) but the absolute minimum is two screens.

My second dilemma was a cellphone. But I digress.

So back to the computer. I knew I had a fast internet connection with wifi so my first thought was that I should remotely access my machine. However the connection from the UK to Israel was fine for doing corrections although somewhat cumbersome.

So it was time for plan B.

Recently software has moved to the cloud and Adobe is no exception. People don’t quite know what Adobe Creative Cloud is but apart from the unclear name it’s actually rather marvelous.

I logged into my account on the PC in England and downloaded the creative cloud app onto the computer. From there I chose the software that I needed and then switched on both file and font synchronization. I would like to say that 15 minutes later I was working but despite a 50 Mbit download connection it took quite a while (a day or so) for all the software, and in particular, for all my files to sync.

However once it all synced I had my entire software library and files in England. Remember I was syncing the files and software which meant that the software, Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat were installed locally and the files were copied locally too. You don’t want to be working on a 50MB file that is being accessed on the internet.

My next job was Microsoft Office. I had recently subscribed to Office 365. Now here Microsoft do an amazing job. When I chose to install my software it was extremely fast. You see they install the core code that is needed for the software to run and then in the background the rest of code is downloaded. What this basically meant was that Word was running almost instantly. Now I confess that I’m an Outlook user. I know people swear by gmail, but I like the full version of outlook. Each to their own I guess. Office 365 gives you a 25 GB mailbox so I just synced that and my entire office was now locally synced. Some of my files are on SkyDrive and some are on Dropbox for various reasons beyond the scope of this post but it was trivial syncing them too.

Yes I had a whole bunch of scripts for InDesign that I needed to login remotely to grab them but on the whole I managed to transfer my entire office with a few clicks of the mouse and a lot of waiting.

Fortunately, when I get back to Israel all my files will be back in sync immediately.

Now back to the cellphone. Last time I flew I called up my local cellphone provider and got a deal but it was quite expensive. I also found that I used data a lot more since I wasn’t at home with wifi the whole time.

I was smarter this time. I picked up a Lebara SIM card for £1.10 and added a package for a tenner. It’s actually very good value. I loaded up with 1GB of data and have the option of calling Israel both land lines and mobile for 5p a minute. However, armed with my iPhone with iMessage and FaceTime (particularly FaceTime Audio) I haven’t needed to pay for calls to Israel.