Douglas Adams on The New

Khoi Vin:

Douglas Adams, in his book “The Salmon of Doubt,” wrote that “I’ve come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies.” The rules are:
  1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
  2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
  3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
I’m as guilty of this as anyone, I must admit. Youngsters: it will happen to you, too. Via

Words to live and work by in a university.

Davide Barranca’s ‘Decomposing Sharpening’

Dan Margulis is The Man

I’ve been dabbling in the Dan Margulis’s Picture Postcard Workflow since serendipity landed me in Dan’s session at Photoshop World Boston in 2006. Dan’s methods and his teaching style are unique in their depth, usefulness, and results. They’re not easy to pick up casually, though. Davide Barranca posted this on
Dan’s Color Theory Yahoo Group, and I’m linking it here for my own reference as much as anything.

Actually I got carried away with it and wrote a four articles series (called Decomposing Sharpening) on that very topic on my blog. Not that all that bandwidth is required to understand what I’m doing – let’s say I’ve happily dug into the subject. A schematic index is as follows:

#1 Introduction
PPW Sharpening, Halo Maps, Blending Modes

#2 Mistakes
Why the obvious (Darken / Lighten, double Smart Filters) fails

#3 Workaround
Setup for RGB/CMYK images (Subtract adjustment layers, cascading blending modes)

#4 The Lab way
Setup for Lab images (Smart filters, visualizing Threshold, Blending mode boosters)

Free National Park iPhone Apps

Screenshot of a map from the Grand Canyon app, courtesy of Chimani

I love National Parks, and I like what my iPhone makes possible. This is a nice freebie.

TUAW: Chimani National Park Guides free for iPhone until April 24

The Chimani Guides are really first rate apps at US$4.99 – $9.99, but in celebration of National Park Week, they are free from now until April 24. A good deal at the regular price, they are certainly worth a download for free.

There is one app for each of these parks: Arcadia, Cape Cod National Seashore, Yosemite, Cuyahoga Valley and the Grand Canyon. The apps contain lots of photos, descriptions of hiking trails, restroom and parking guides, and details on lodging, camping and restaurants. There are detailed maps, and the apps use GPS to locate you. The apps also contain an audio driving tour and a look at scheduled events in the park you are visiting. For photographers, there are sunrise and sunset times and some optional push notifications alerting you to important park events.

Frankly, travel apps don’t get much better than these, and I’m thrilled these apps are free for now. Some features require GPS and a 3G or Wi-Fi connection, and the downloads are sizable. The Grand Canyon app is 132 MB and Yosemite is 334 MB, so be sure you have room for them. I love finding great quality, free stuff for our readers, and this series of apps is a perfect example. If you’re headed to any of these parks, grab one or more.

Online Medical Advice Can Be a Prescription for Fear –

Image cropped from the original by Kevin Van Aelst for The New York Times

The gist: avoid the drug-company financed, poorly written, overly hysterical WebMD for the sound information at the Mayo Clinic’s excellent site, including their Symptom Checker.

If you’re looking for the name of a new pill to “ask your doctor about,” as the ads say, the Mayo Clinic Health Information site is not the place for you. If you’re shopping for a newly branded disorder that might account for your general feeling of unease, Mayo is not for you either. But if you want workaday, can-do health information in a nonprofit environment, plug your symptoms into Mayo’s Symptom Checker. What you’ll get is: No hysteria. No drug peddling. Good medicine. Good ideas.

via Online Medical Advice Can Be a Prescription for Fear –

Speed up Photoshop with these 5 performance tips

This seems an important reference to keep at hand. Thanks to OS X Daily, and (very likely; not sure) to My Apple Menu for the link.

Adobe Photoshop was running a bit sluggish on my Mac recently, so I set about to make the app run faster with a few tweaks. While these were done on my MacBook Pro, there’s no reason the tips wouldn’t work the same on a Windows PC running PS too.

1) Quit Other Apps

Before digging around in the Photoshop preferences, quit any other apps that you are not using. This frees up additional system resources to devote to Photoshop instead.

2) Raise the Memory Usage

More memory the better! This gave me a large speed increase:

From Photoshop Preferences, click on “Performance”

Adjust the slider upward to use more RAM, the more you can spare the merrier

A quick note regarding RAM: Computers love RAM, and so does Photoshop. If you’re a frequent Photoshop user or you do anything else that involves significant memory consumption, adding more memory to your computer is a good idea. You can read my review of upgrading a MacBook Pro to 8GB RAM if you haven’t already, or find out if you need a RAM upgrade.

3) Set Scratch Disks

If you have multiple hard drives, use them for virtual memory:

From the Photoshop “Performance” Preferences go to “Scratch Disks” and add your additional hard drives

This is really only relevant to those users with multiple hard drives, so those of us on laptops generally can ignore this one.

4) Adjust the Cache Levels

Most users benefit from a lower cache level:

Open the Photoshop Preferences and click on “Performance”

Set “Cache Levels” to 1

Note that if you’re working with large single layered images like a high res digital picture, setting the cache level higher will speed up performance instead. Adjust this setting based on your current usage.

5) Never Save Image Previews

Caching image previews slows things down:

From the Photoshop Preferences, click on “File Handling”

Set “Image Previews” to ‘Never Save’

This reduces Photoshops RAM and CPU usage by avoiding the image previews.

While these tips are specific to speeding up Photoshop, the tweaks may apply to other Adobe apps that have similar preference options too.

What else can I do to speed up Photoshop?

Outside of app specific tips, the other things you can do to boost nearly any apps performance are getting more RAM and upgrading to a faster hard drive for your computer. In terms of hard drives, an SSD or an SSD Hybrid drive are ideal, there are plenty on Amazon to choose from if you’re in the market.

via Speed up Photoshop with these 5 performance tips.

Ask H&FJ: Four Ways to Mix Fonts

Ask H&FJ: Four Ways to Mix Fonts

Is there a way to know what fonts will work together? Building a palette is an intuitive process, but expanding a typographic duet to three, four, or even five voices can be daunting. Here are four tips for navigating the typographic ocean, all built around H&FJ's Highly Scientific First Principle of Combining Fonts: keep one thing consistent, and let one thing vary.
I see that the combos look really good together, but I do not understand the criteria they use for their choices. It’s a way of seeing and combining patterns that I don’t grasp yet. I may never. Too bad I haven’t studied design. Nonetheless, an interesting presentation (and advert for their fonts).

Via John Grober.

Dabbling in jQuery

One of several possible jQuery slideshow layouts. Click to see a larger image. Soon, when you click on this, it'll have a jQuery add-on so it won't have to load in another page.

I am going to install an automatic rotating photo header slide show on both my blogs with jQuery. (At some point.)

I found this tutorial for doing dynamic jQuery headers yesterday, and this morning my aggregator came up with this more basic tutorial. I’ve been playing with jQuery slide shows – here’s a sample.

To make them I used Jalbum, a free Java-based web photo slide-show app for PC and Mac to make those. I started with Flash slide show templates, but Flash is hateful. The jQuery versions don’t require a browser plug-in and “degrade gracefully” if the user’s Java is not enabled. I used DrMikey’s Lightbox2 for the album linked above.

13 April Update: Came across this article and thread about Including jQuery in WordPress The Right Way.