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ATPM 14.04
April 2008




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by Mark Tennent,

Chips With Everything

What will you want for dinner, or shall we eat out? A few weeks ago there was the tussle with “Can I have your birthday list?” This resulted in a virtually blank piece of paper. After all, an Aston Martin DB9 is no more likely than being stuck on a desert island with a broody Charlize Theron.

Most of the meals we’ve had out have been pretty dreadful, too. Expensive, badly cooked food with wine unfit for vinegar. The worst being in a Brighton Tex-Mex restaurant, which had a Les Routiers sign above the door. Only after reluctantly paying the bill we learned that the sign was from a restaurant the chef ran in another town some years before. It is just so frustrating when 50 miles away in France just about any restaurant’s 14-euro menu will be scrummy and even the cheapest plonk drinkable. We even tried one of Gordon Ramsey’s nightmare kitchens in Hampshire. Unfortunately, this was before rather than after the great man gave it an effing seeing-to. That one burned down in mysterious circumstances not long after the TV show was broadcast.

The answer can only be cod and chips from the Fish Hut on the beach in old town Hastings. Bought where the cook’s apron is as greasy as the spoons, no Les Routier sign, but a far more valuable certificate from Hastings Beaver Scouts have voted the Fish Hut the best chippie in town. The portions are far too large and eaten while walking between the fishing fleet pulled up on the beach and throwing chips to flocks of gulls hovering above us. Especially baby ones with spotty grey feathers who haven’t learned the tricks of begging.

The only other meal worth repeating is from the Still and West, sitting in the window overlooking Portsmouth harbour. It’s a bit like being in the stern cabin of HMS Victory. Her Majesty’s ships pass about 20 feet away, their crews lined up on deck to enter harbour at eye level with you as they cruise by. Fish platter for two with chilled Muscadet sur lie, please.

What of Software?

Ask a similar question about software and the answer comes easily. What is the best you have used? Both of us said QuarkXPress without thinking. We’ve lived with it since version 3, though we nearly switched full-time when InDesign 2 arrived while QXP 5 was still running in Classic. The latest, QXP 7, has leapt ahead in terms of usability and speed. And it has an interface based on a long-established design. We were loud and vehement in our slating of QXP 6, but even InDesign CS3 is flawed in so many departments that it’s going to take Adobe a long time to dig itself out of some of the holes.

Other packages have transformed our work. PostScript, PDFs, Photoshop, and Acrobat have been as life changing as XPress, but not without side effects. Plus, of course, Mac OS X—especially Quick Look and Time Machine, iTunes for revolutionizing music, and Call of Duty United Offensive online and EyeTV with CyTV for the fun they give. iDisk is so darned useful being linked closely to the Mac, and iChat is a brilliant idea waiting for the world to catch up. Some programs have been around as long as we’ve been using Macs, such as Fetch, the most reliable file transfer application, even if we prefer Transmit because of the support for WebDAV and columns view.

And Now the Baddies

We hate Microsoft Office with a vengeance. In fact, we hate everything MS because it sells products that seem to have been made by 1970s British Leyland and updated by local government ever since. MS can even buy-in a great piece of work such as iView and turn it into the stinking pile now called Expression Media. Adobe products aren’t far behind. After using most for the last 30 years, we still fight with them and will never forgive Adobe for buying and dropping FreeHand—which was always a better package than Illustrator.

Second worst to those…hmm.

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Reader Comments (4)

Beth Pauley · April 3, 2008 - 13:59 EST #1
I didn't know you guys could read my mind! I couldn't agree more with your observations re:
QuarkXPress 7 ... check
iTunes ... check
Microsoft Office ... check
Freehand ... check
Well said! Keep up the good work.
Jacques Daviault · April 6, 2008 - 14:19 EST #2
Stop being so mean to Illustrator... I've used both as well and honestly, comparisons aren't fair, they each have features the other could use. And, after all, Freeehand is dead, so long live the new Vector King.
Mark Tennent · April 6, 2008 - 15:09 EST #3
I'm not being mean. Maybe it's a left-hand-right-hand thing but Illustrator remains, for many people, the most awkward way of making vector illustrations.

Thankfully, XPress and inDesign both have advanced bezier abilities, plus layers, transparency and export options that make Illustrator almost unnecessary. Add in better colour control, typography, tables and multi-pages and you arrive back at Freehand.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · April 6, 2008 - 16:42 EST #4
I agree, and I'll hang on to my last copy of Freehand for as long as it will continue to run on OS X.

For the love of Pete, why am I able to work with bezier shapes more easily in InDesign than in Illustrator? Shouldn't it be the other way around?

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