Jan 30

Adobe InDesign CS4 One on One, by Deke McClelland ????

I’ve been a bit remiss on writing on my blogsite. Every once in a while I feel like I need to offer a personal reflection on what’s going on, but that may be a while from now. There are some trips being planned soon, which I’ll detail when I get back.

It is a bit unusual perhaps seeing a book on InDesign from me. Oddly, typography has a particular attraction for me. I remember the days when I was a typographical apprentice, mostly using hot type. It was at that time, in the early 1970’s, when cold type first arrived. I remember the clunky and always problematic Alphatype machine, which seemed to be broken more often than not. But, it was the forerunner of our current typesetting technology. I suspected back in 1973 that computers would eventually take over the typesetting business, and I was correct. The only use I had for my Journeyman’s card was to work my way through medical school. My former union (International Typographical Union) doesn’t even exist anymore. It was in the early 1980’s that the first real typesetting program came out, called Aldus PageMaker. I purchased it and started playing with it. It was unreal how closely PageMaker simulated how a typographer would approach type. Aldus was since bought out by Adobe, who later morphed PageMaker into InDesign, constantly adding new functionality. This book takes one on a whirlwind tour of InDesign CS4. It is quite amazing all the power that one now has in the program, compared to the first version of PageMaker. McClelland adeptly demonstrates many of the subtle functions of InDesign CS4. His instructions are quite easy to follow, compared to many how-to-do computer books. Each chapter is accompanied by a short video that highlights a particular segment of the upcoming chapter. My only complain about the book is the preoccupation with certain distractions, such as how  to draw figures, that are nice to be able to do in InDesign, but best performed in Illustrator. I would be quite amazed if somebody owned InDesign and did NOT own both Illustrator and Photoshop. Many typesetting topics were glossed over. He could have spent more time on the use of styles, which is one of the strongest utilities in InDesign. His examples included portions of past books that he wrote, or a silly frog article called Professor Shenbop. I would have appreciated a fuller spectrum of types of publications. Deke did have a keen eye for typographical details, and I wished he would have mentioned his thinking more often regarding adjustments of type spacing, etc. In the 1970’s, everything had to be -10% between-letter spacing, so that letters ran on top of each other—thankfully, that is bygone. In summary, Deke does a most capable job of giving one a great summary of what InDesign CS4, and what it can do. For somebody familiar with InDesign, it was still helpful to read, and I felt like I picked up many new tips to make InDesign more useful to me.

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Jan 28

By Kenneth Feucht Media, Movies No Comments »

Jesus of Nazareth, directed by Zino Zefferelli ? ? ? ? ?

Of all the films on the life of Jesus Christ, this has to be not only the longest, running a good 6 hours, but also the best done, with superb acting and very expensive props. It is clear tha an attempt for historical accuracy from a Biblical perspective was attempted, een though there is a moderate amount of directing freedom that has occurred. The film does have a touch of a Catholic “ring” to it, with Jesus running around as though he were a mythical character, but this film paints more humanity into Jesus than any of the other films available. Also, compared to the Jesus film, it is not so occupied with “in the face” emotionalism, but attempts a review of Christ’s life more akin to what you might see on tv with investigational reporting. Thus, it ranks in my estimate as much better than the Jesus film. This is a must see, long and demanding several nights to make it through the whole series, but is well worth it.

 

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Jan 17

The Roots of Obama’s Rage, by Dinesh D’Souza

I typically don’t read political books, and especially contemporary political books. This hit me as an exception, based on the discussion created over an excerpt from this book published in the Wall Street Journal. So, while I’m aggressively disinterested in learning anything about BHO, this book seemed to be a worthy exception to the rule. The most notable finding while reading the book is the exception writing style of D’Souza. He is very easy to read, very organized in his thinking, and his writing flows easily. He is convincing, as he is also writing as a person of the “3rd world”, having been born in India. D’Souza has a rather compelling argument for understanding how Obama thinks. The thesis of his book denies that he is primarily a socialist or Muslim or militant anti-racist. Rather, he is a determined anti-colonialist, a trait acquired from his father, of whom he had almost no contact. D’Souza builds an effective argument by walking through the life of Obama to show through his history and writings how Obama’s thinking developed into radical anti-colonialism. In support, D’Souza shows how the many decisions that Obama has made in his presidency confirm his anti-colonial sentiments. Obama considers the USA having replaced Britain as the great world colonizer, motivating him to seek ways to destroy American strength and effectiveness through the world as a means of atonement for America’s “sins” of pro-colonization. While not defending British colonialism, D’Souza shows how the most successful countries in the world today were most dominated by Western colonialism in the past, the prime example being India. Contrary, Africa, while complaining the most about colonialism, was the most briefly occupied by foreign powers, and remains the most backward in their ability to develop themselves out of poverty. This book is a contrast to a book that I recently reviewed, The Decline and Fall of the British Empire by Piers Brendon, where the sins of colonialism are brought out in their worst. Brendon seems to side with the Obama/Africa camp in his heavy emphasis on the problems of colonialism. D’Souza doesn’t deny the evils of colonialism, yet shows how it could be used as a force for good, as is currently occurring in India, China, Indonesia, as well as many other “3rd world” nations that are demonstrating rapid economic gains. D’Souza’s insightful analysis is a worthy read for both the Obama Choir (as D’Souza says, “those hypnotized followers who routinely suspend their rationality when it comes to this political rock star”) as well as those who find Obama as a destructive embarrassment for our nation, to best understand what makes our president tick.

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Jan 17

Canon Speedlite System Digital Field Guide, by Brian McLernon ???

I needed to explore how to better use my flash with my Canon camera, and so I purchased this guide. McLernon adeptly covers the functions and settings for the flash and shows how to program the flash system for the utilization multiple simultaneous flashes illuminating the scene, including discussions of what equipment and supplies would be helpful to best utilize a flash system in a creative manner. McLernon discusses well the various lighting scenarios for various portrait and still life scenes. He is much briefer on technical topics, such as the use of flash sytems with macro lenses in technical photography. Looking over McLernon’s photos in this book and on his website, there is much to commend for this usage of innovative flash setups. There were several problems that I noted with the book. 1. McLernon should have given better illustrations of floor setup of the flashes. From a schematic view, where was he placing the flashes, how was he pointing them, how were the flashes configured to obtain the effect that was being illustrated? He describes various portrait lighting modes, such as the Paramount and Rembrandt, but does not tell the reader exactly where flashes are placed to obtain those effects. Thus, the descriptions were near useless. 2. McLernon spends much time discussing basic photography rules and compositional techniques. But, I didn’t purchase the book to learn basic photography rules. As an example, he discusses sports photography, and includes photos that did not use a flash. Perhaps he could have utilized flash/non-flash comparisons of various scenes to demonstrate how flash photography adds a different dimension to the photo, but that is never done. Thus, the book deviates from the objective of simply teaching flash photography. It is still a useful book for understanding the Canon flash system, but bloated with off-topic discussions and lacking in useful information to guide the amateur flash user in the art of flash photography.

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Jan 16

An Inconvenient Truth, by Rev. Algore ?

This film is labeled a documentary, but its entire format is really that of a sermon by Rev. Algore. There is very little documentary here. Included are also occasional testimonials by supposedly notable figures. There is much political jabbing, some of which is justified, but most of which is not. Approximately 95% of the entire film has at least 40% of the screen filled with Rev. Algore’s face. There are multiple clips that just don’t relate to the thesis of global warming, such as a complaint about how the votes were tallied in Florida, with the subsequent Supreme Court ruling, and no explanation as to what this had to do with the “inconvenient truth” of this film. The film is entirely about global warming, but unknowingly shows how Rev. Algore is particularly skilled at depleting carbon units, although he is exempt since he alone is allowed to consume mass quantities of energy. I can’t imagine the energy required to run Rev. Algore under the North Pole in a nuclear submarine and surface through the ice, just to add a 2 minute episode to the sermon. I could go on and on. Rev. Algore sanctimoniously suggests that the family farm quit growing tobacco because of the concern over lung cancer, yet it almost certainly was a result of declining reimbursements from tobacco. Rev. Algore’s tone of voice, inflections, and speaking style were much more like a sermon than a documentary. The fools who gave this film an Academy Award fail to offer how this film stood out in quality and credible research. The entire thesis of the film is based on supposed rising atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, while Rev. Algore maintains a schoolboy belief in the accuracy and significance of the data and its extrapolations, without any questioning of the data. It shows the absurd fallacy of having a lawyer/politician pretend to be doing credible science. There is no doubt that there is some truth to what Rev. Algore is saying. There is a retreat of glaciers in the last few decades. There are certain interesting climate changes. Yet, Rev. Algore fails to substantiate the exact causal nature of these events, and chooses instead to promote emotionalism and extreme reactions, exactly what he accuses the Republican party of doing, though on other issues. If Rev. Algore didn’t make so many hard jabs at his political opponents, he might have gained a few more sympathetic ears. Making the weather a political rather than a pure environmental issue makes Rev. Algore ineffective and suspect as to his true intentions for making this film. It is thus hard for me to give this film even one star. It is not worth purchasing, though a single viewing is of value only to see the many gorgous faces of Rev. Algore. Global warming supporters may have a credible argument, but it certainly is not given in this film.

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