PS Consultants - ideas & solutions

The good stuff guide

July 2002   

Adobe GoLive 6

Adobe is struggles with names for its products. After the masterpieces of obviousness Illustrator and Photoshop, it’s been downhill ever since. Acrobat is a page layout format, obviously, and GoLive a website editor, of course. 

I eventually overcame my suspicion that the product was basically some form of CPR device, and decided to take a closer look after reading the Version 6 press release, and use this as the starting point for a thorough update in the state of the web weaving art.

GoLive also persuaded me to look at the whole issue of web editors in detail once again, after having long ago succumbed to the simplicity of MS Front Page for most odd-job page hacking, and in the process, getting berated by the html jocks hereabouts for copping out. I can see why purists feel that so many html packages meddle and interfere, and why they like to keep control from first principles at all times. Front Page completely butchered several imported html files by applying the all-too-familiar “Bill’s people know best” philosophy, probably dedicated to the cause of stifling creativity but ensuring the Microsoft Internet Explorer was not too severely embarrassed.

GoLive seems to have the best of all worlds, including the familiar Adobe design tools interface, and I am now deep in the manual to make sure I don’t miss the zillions of features.

Vegas Video 3

Now, just in case I am accused of being hopelessly besotted by Adobe, I raved about Sonic Foundry’s Vegas video editor quite recently, but I’d like to say again that this is the benchmark PC video editing solution and if you have a DV camcorder, then get it.

Much though I love most of Adobe’s wares and appreciate their coherent interface strategy, Vegas is the best game in editing town. Whilst I generally applaud the incestuous hillbilly similarity of the Adobe product suite, in this case, although it can be persuaded to get the job done, most users I know seem to regard Premiere as less than wholly together; so rather than persist with mating the cousins, maybe it’s time for Adobe to introduce some fresh blood in the Premiere family and get a bit of a chin back into the strain.

Lexmark X83

The days when this hack got sent boxes of hardware to explore and review are largely past. Which is a blessed relief in many ways – there is so little to choose between so much of the clutter these days that I’ll end up talking about the colour of the manual cover like all those eager young neophytes just entering the profession, and not being aware of the long gone blood and thunder days of the gruesome kit that simply hated anyone that touched it, and never ever wanted to work without a struggle and 10 calls to support.

So a trip to a supplier for a new printer/scanner provided a rare opportunity to rant/rave on some aspect of hardware. I asked an assistant for an opinion and quickly discovered which supplier was providing sales incentives this week, so I just panicked when faced with the bewildering choice, grabbed the Lexmark X83, and ran for the checkout.

 Jeez. What a lot of – well – plastic you get for the money. A colour printer, flatbed scanner and copier all in one for around £170 is plain daft. The bundled software checks the status of the ink cartridges and includes some simply wonderful OCR software, which although the inevitable “LE” edition, does a very good job.

If this is what £170 now gets you, by am I glad I don’t have to make or sell printers for a living. I well recall my first Oki Microline 80 dot matrix printer for around £400, which seemed like a revelation in simplicity after a behemoth from Centronics, that could have been used to depth-charge a submarine with great success. I won’t even go near those once-ubiquitous IBM golf ball printers with more moving parts than the Ark Royal – but boy, did IBM shift a ton of those and collect a fortune in those inescapable service and repair fees. What sort of demented mind conceived the golf ball printer in the first place? The only explanation was this it was first discovered in the UFO wreckage at Roswell and slavishly copied. I can just see those aliens falling about laughing now: “Aha Earththings, April fool!!”

And then who remembers daisy wheel printers? Many less moving parts to align than a golf ball printer Gosh did we get excited about those things and their letter quality output, deafening noise and lazy 12 CPS print speeds that sounded like a Tommy gun. And the nifty NEC thimble wheel printers at 40 cps were magical, and sounded more frenzied, like Uzis.  And only £2000.00 in real money. Kids today? They don’t know they’re alive.

The X83 installed and worked on my Windows 2000 Professional workstation. Isn’t USB is wonderful after years of torment with RS232 and to slightly lesser extend, Centronics parallel interfaces..? The software interface ain’t pretty – reminiscent of early Delphi apps – but it works, and the output quality (2400x1200) is stunning, which is getting really important in the age of digital photography..

And the manual cover ..? Err… there must have been one, but I don’t think I could have bothered t look at it. I just followed my nose. God knows what else I’ll learn if I actually read it.  So it’s all lovely – except that the price of the ink cartridges reminds us that this is the cheap razor/costly blade marketing strategy. And ink carts at around £27-45 a pop are pure daylight robbery; but you can’t have everything. Even in an “all in one” printer.