Archive for the ‘Computers’ Category

A Faint Voice from the Way Back Machine

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Day 4, Bill Ruesch recession recovery diary

Dear Reader,

The name for a watch without hands--broken.

I remember when the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons were first aired. I remember when pagers were the hottest thing. Why, someone could reach you even if not standing near the telephone. Yup, telephone answering machines, faxes, cell phones, digital watches,and personal computers have all be introduced during my lifetime. I tell you this to remind us all that this world is very different from the past–even the recent past.

The very first American web page went up in December, 1991. 1991, that’s only twenty years ago! Twenty years–I have sweat shirts older than that. Before that, everything was routed on a very limited basis through Switzerland.

How long has it been since you’ve seen a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman? What about a vacuum cleaner salesman? The world changed and selling has changed. Old fashioned selling methods don’t work as well as they used to–if at all. The trick is to keep the things that do work and toss those that don’t.

What still works? Human contact works. Through all the levels of wires, glass, and ceramics, the effective salesperson has to find a way to connect eye-to-eye with the customer. For repeat business there is nothing that can replace the personal touch. Without it, the customer is buffeted by every other company willing to buy their business with discounts and premiums.

In an Internet world how can you create a sincere personal touch? I’m going to have to mull this over. Do you Dear Reader have any thoughts on this?


Graphic Designers & Printers–It’s a Love/Hate Thing

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

I envy the printers for one thing in particular, they are updated regularly by paper merchant reps who call on them with the latest developments, updates, and changes. I get my information either second hand or by attending seminars and showings hosted by the merchants. In the last two weeks I attended a seminar on preparing art files for printing, direct mail, and the danger of the opt-out initiative, and digital printing advancements. I never know what a customer is going to ask of me and I have to be prepared.

Yesterday, Sappi paper sent Daniel Dejan, their North American ETC Print/Creative Manager to town to speak about graphic design and file prep. I thanked Daniel for his presentation, but didn’t thank him enough. You see the printers depend on the artists and graphic designers to keep the presses rolling. The graphic designers need the printers to produce their products. But to hear them talk about each other, you’d think there is a war going on. The printers say that graphic designers don’t even try to prepare their files correctly, that they think because something looks right on the screen it will print right. Designers on the other hand, think that the printers are screwing up their files, and if they just knew what they were doing the jobs would all run smoothly.

Stop the bickering. Mr. Dejan framed the problem as having its roots primarily in the graphic programs and in the designers failure to take the finishing steps necessary to make sure their files are correct.

I can tell you from my personal experience that computer design has completely overhauled the printing industry. When the first design programs were introduced, they created more problems than they solved. Over the years we have seen definite improvements. The programs are much better but still far from perfect. Could they get even better? Yes. Are they striving to implement technology that would fix the disconnect between printer and graphic artist? Not really. Daniel says that he has recommended changes that are possible, but are shrugged off as being too expensive, or time consuming, and aren’t worth doing. money trashedMillions of dollars every year are wasted in printer and designer time because the needed tweaks aren’t happening. Printers and designers need to get together and insist that the software is improved. Maybe working on changes that would throw up red flags when art is incomplete or wrong isn’t sexy, but it would go along way to reducing wasted hours and angry phone calls.

“The single most important thing a designer can do to communicate the job to the printer,” according to Daniel, “is to provide a hard-copy dummy. Herein lies the rub, most files are now emailed to the printer or go by way of ftp. It used to be that the print rep picked up the art and delivered it to the printer. Hard-copy dummies were more common then. We have gotten away from them today, but they are still critical to successful communication. I hate to say it, but it seems to me that we need to take a step backward and have the print reps pick up the disk and hard-copy dummy to take back to the shop. We’ve lost an important communication opportunity along the way.

The second most important task for the designer is to pre-flight their own files. A good pre-flight program provides information about problem spots like low-res photos, but also tosses all the false starts and junk that accumulate as the design is developing. It’s like delivering a finished statue without cleaning it up or sweeping the debris around it. It’s not just ugly; it confuses the rip and leads to wrong fonts being selected, and other problems.

Every printer in the world would love for Daniel Dejan of Sappi to personally instruct the graphic designers, but that isn’t possible. What is possible is that the word gets out about dummies, and pre-flights and most of the problems would be resolved early.

As for Adobe and the others, come on, give us a break. Listen to Daniel, take his advice, and endow your programs with the tweaks needed to help stop the war.

Sappi’s website is If you would like to discuss other design-print problems with Daniel, his company email is


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Printing Papers–Greenwise or Green-foolish?

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

International Paper is distributing a series of brochures under the title of  DOWN TO EARTH, A Practical Look At Environmental Issues And Trends. They are thought provoking and well-designed. I tell you this upfront because it is always good to know the source. In this case it is a paper company making a case for paper, so be sure to take it with a grain of wood pulp.

The brochure I have on my desk in front of me asks the question, Are Pixels Greener Than Paper? I never really thought about it, but if I had I suppose my answer would be, “Of course, pixels are greener than paper.” After all you don’t have to harvest a tree for a blip on the screen.  Right? Well I was surprised to learn:

  • 20% less CO2

    20% less CO2

    “Twenty percent less CO2 is used per year by a person reading a daily printed newspaper versus a person reading  web-based news for 30 minutes a day.”

  • “On average it takes 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity to produce 440 lbs. of paper, the typical amount of paper each of us consumes annually. That’s the equivalent of powering one computer continuously for five months.”
  • 60% energy increase

    60% energy increase

    “It costs an estimated $2.8 billion [in] energy to leave computers sitting idle overnight in the U.S. alone. On a CO2 basis, that’s 20 million tons of carbon dioxide, about the amount produced by four million cars on the road.”

  • “A government study estimates that the rise in gadget ownership and the switch from analogue to digital TV could boost the electricity usage of the consumer electronic sector by 60 percent by 2010.”

There is more to report on this issue and International paper recommends the following sites for further information: ; ; ; ; ; ; ;

Next: Sustainability and Recyclability

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