June 2012

Adobe InDesign CS6 Classroom in a Book

Adobe InDesign CS6 Classroom in a Book ★★★★
I show my age when I recall purchasing one of the original Aldus PageMaker programs. It was nice, because it treated type like a typographer would have, rather than an amateur using a word processor would do. Each upgrade seems to get better. InDesign CS6 is now focusing on the ability to publish eBooks and automated .pdf files. Much of the print typography functionality has improved significantly but mostly unnoticeably if one were to simply upgrade from CS4 or CS5 to CS6. Yet, it is easy to tell that Adobe has worked with professional publishers in order to make their life easier. This book offers a very superficial review of those improvements, and the broad spectrum of functions that are contained within InDesign.
Classroom in a Book is designed for the earlier amateur, and goes through steps to familiarize a person to InDesign in a painfully slow fashion, though not so painfully slow to one who has never used the program before. Much of its treatments of subjects is very superficial. While this book contained many more explanations about various functions than its Photoshop counterpart, it still lacked in giving the learner a good idea as to how to get something done. Its technique of walking the reader through various projects does better at informing the reader of InDesign functionality,  than teaching the reader how to really use the program. Learning to use InDesign is best accomplished by simply using the program, and  reading other texts. This book provided great ideas and vision for future publications, and was great as a re-briefer for InDesign after not having used much of the built-in power of the program. Thus, the four stars.

Adobe Photoshop CS 6 Classroom in a Book

Adobe Photoshop CS6 Classroom in a Book ★★★★
This book was used by me as an adjunct to upgrading from CS4 to CS6 and not having used Photoshop to much in the last year. I felt that this would be the quickest way to catch up on the latest and greatest of Photoshop, and indeed, the text is oriented toward giving a VERY brief survey of much that Photoshop has to offer. For the absolute novice, it is a 5-star text, in that it will labor over the minutest details of the way in which the complete CS6 system operates. It’s greatest deficit is that it is almost entirely a mechanical instruction book (“click this, slide that, push this, etc.”). Missing are the explanations as to why you are doing certain things to achieve your end. This book MUST be complimented with any of a number of standard photoshop texts for photographers that tell you where to go once you understand the mechanics of photoshop. There were several chapters which simply were inapplicable to me, since I have the basic photoshop and not the extended version. Discussions of 3-D effects (which I’d prefer to do in Illustrator anyway), editing video (much easier in many other programs like Premier), or editing for the web (please, I’ll use Dreamweaver if I need to write web stuff) betrays the fact that many of the Adobe programs are unnecessarily overlapping/redundant. The book served its purpose with me by re-familiarizing me with Photoshop, and thus the 4 stars. If you are at all familiar with Photoshop, don’t waste your time on this book.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4, by Nat Coalson ★★★★★
I previously read Martin Evening’s book on Lightroom 3, which was also excellent. Now that I’m using Lightroom 4 with the massive new added functions that Adobe put into the program, I felt it worthwhile reading a new text on the topic. Coalson approaches Lightroom similarly to Evening, giving great advice as a working photographer. The book is definitely different from Evening’s text, yet both are quite clear, and well describes the steps for performing any desired function in Lightroom. I found that I learned a lot more about Lightroom by re-reading another text on the program, that will allow the program to be more useful. How many times have you looked at a function or command or area of Lightroom, and wondered why it was there. Coalson offers a fairly comprehensive review of much of what Lightroom can do for you, and what it can’t do. I would recommend either text for the photographer to learn about what the program can do for you. If you are an occasional photographer, then don’t waste your time and stay with iPhoto.

Deutschland 2012

Deutschland JUN01 – JUN15, 2012

The above scene is a panorama shot of the old town of Passau. You see the Donau (Danube) River below and the Inns above, running together. There is a third river, not seen also running into the Donau, the Ilz, and so Passau is often called the Dreiflüssenstadt, or City of Three Rivers. Such a photo represents the overwhelming impressions one gets while visiting Deutschland, and of the nearly 400 photos that I took, I could only show a small fraction of them. Pity.

Our trip started by arrival to Düsseldorf. We were just given notice from Herbert that his plumbing gave out, and so there was no running water in the house. Thus, we stayed in a hotel in Düsseldorf, and dropped in twice to Herbert’s Haus to pick up the bicycle and visit a dear friend. We also must bring Herbert his annual load of Jamaican Jerk sauce.Herbert’s Haus

Betsy and I then went to München, and met Peter Tate there. The time was spent riding our bicycles, and seeing the city. On our last night, we were able to meet with old friends, Robbie and Jordan Rayburn.Peter in Marienplatz

05OCT. First bicycle day ride 3:27 riding time.  50 km total riding, ascent 105 meters, 2416 cal, ride around München, Nymphenburg, Olympia stadium, Enflischer Garten,, then SW of city.Peter in front of Nymphenburg PalaceOlympic Stadium areaPeter pumping up the Olympic MountainOverview of the Olympic Park from the top of Olympic MountainBavaria, in the Theresian Weise06OCT., second riding day in the München area, 4:41 riding time,  74.65 km, 3315 cal, 283 m climb , trip from München to Wolfratshausen and back, mostly on variants of the Isar Radweg.Quaint house on the IsarWoods along the Isar

Somehow, we lost our way on return from Wolfratshausen, and ended up on a very muddy mountain bike alternate of the Isar Radweg. Not good.We then took the train to Würzburg, where we dropped Betsy off with the Wagners, and went on to begin the Main Radweg from Würzburg to Frankfurt.07 OCT,  first day on the Main Radweg, starting at 12:30, for a total of 3:54 riding time, 77.19 km, 108 m total ascent, 2847 cal burned,  trip from Würzburg to Markt Heidenfeld. TOTAL RAD!Castle in the Lohr area, close to the REAL sleeping beauty castleHotel in Markt Heidenfeld08OCT 5:48 riding time, 102 6 km, 3425 cal, 181 m ascent.  Trip from Markt Heidenfeld to Aschaffenburg.  Miltenberg was awesome!Poppies on the wayNumerous castles were seen along the wayMe in Miltenbergin MiltenbergAschaffenburg Castle09OCT 4:10 riding time, 67.43 km, 2453 cal, 137 m Aschaffenburg to Frankfurt, and then Zellingen to Leinach. We took the train back from Frankfurt to Zellingen, and then rode our bikes up to the Wagners in Leinach. Peter left to Munich the next morning. I went for a walk with Hans-Jurgen and Gustav.Frankfurt on the horizonFlowers were everywhereDer Hund und der MeisterDorf Leinach ohne NebelBack in Leinach, we went for one day to the Fränkisches Freilandmuseum in Bad Windsheim, where many of the old Fachwerk houses were reconstructed into a museum setting.Nicht die Meisterin mit GustavSheep dog in museum herding sheep the old wayOne of the many Fachwerk Houses in the museumHannes and Katja and Gustav

Betsy and I then hopped on the train to Passau, and was met by Herbert’s sister Hille. She showed us around Passau, and then let us stay overnight at her place in Rotthalmuster. We got to walk the town the next morning.Kloster across the Inn River in Passau Largest pipe organ (in the world?)Inn River flowing into the DonauDowntown Rotthalmünster Betsy and HilleBetsy and HilleDonald Duck

We then took the train back to Würzburg, and then the next morning to Benningen. There we met some dear old friends from the past, Heinz and Debbie Fuchs. That evening, we got to watch the Europa Meisterschaft, with Deutschland playing Niederland. Deutschland won, of course. The next day, it was off to the Castle in Ludwigsburg.Betsy at Ludwigsburger SchlossFlowers at the SchlossDebbie and Betsy

The castle had a Märchen (Fairy Tale) Garden, where many of the Grimms tales and Max and Moritz were displayed in anamatronics type format.The big bad wolf from Little Red Riding HoodLehrer Lampel from Max and MoritzOnkel Fritz from Max und Moritz

 Inner court of Ludwigsburg PalaceStairwell of Ludwigsburg Palace

Unfortunately, they would not let me take photos on the tour of the Palace. It was stupendous. That evening, we bid Debbie goodbye, and took the train up to Frankfurt, flying back home the next morning.This trip was fun, rewarding, and inspiring for returning as soon as possible to do Germany ag
ain. This time, I’d like to predominate the bicycle travel, thinking about either some portion of the Donau Radweg, or perhaps the Romantische Straße, which runs through western Bayern.Betsy and I need to thank everybody who made this trip a pleasure, Sarah at home who got the mail and watched the house, Herbert for advice and inspiration, and attempts to accommodate us, Katja and Hannes for their incredible hospitality, Hille for putting up with us on the fly, Heinz, Debbie and family for their accommodations and willingness to watch my bicycle and use it once in a while, Robbie and Jordan for touching base with us, and helping Peter care for the rental bike, and for Peter for making an awesome cycle partner. 

The Idiot

The Idiot, by Fyodor Dostoevsky ★★★★
This book was recommended to me by Dr. WP as his favorite Dostoevsky work. The story revolves around a sickly, epileptic prince named Prince Lef Nicolaievitch Muishkin, but is often simply referred to as “the idiot”. An idiot he is not, but a kindly, reserved fellow. The story has him returning from Switzerland for recovery of his health when he comes into encounters with multiple females. Ultimately, he becomes romantically engaged with several, though not be actively seeking them out, but rather by becoming an inheritor of a large sum of money. The story has a fascinating ending which I won’t reveal. Like most Dostoevsky novels, you won’t easily predict the ending until you get there. Worthy of reading, I should soon be reviewing the Russian “made for television” version of the book.

The Prince

The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli ★★★★
Machiavelli lived in Firenze, Italy, and wrote this piece in 1513 as observations of politics as seen in the church and in the state. He spares neither the pope nor the regional princes in his comments, though mostly makes comments on the behaviors of rulers in achieving power and maintaining power. Though the word “machiavellian” has sinister connotations of slyness and craftiness, this did not pertain to Machiavelli’s behavior, but simply what he saw happening in Italy up to the year 1513. Machiavelli proposes nothing but does note what behaviors have led to stable empires, and what behaviors have caused ruin to the same. The previous blog contains some quotations from the book, giving one a sense of his writing. Perhaps machiavellian behavior has become the norm in successful politics, though it seems as though much of the solid, non-devious advice of the book goes unheeded in today’s politics. The book is a worthy read and is short enough to be read in 1-2 evenings. I read the book from the Kindle reader on my iPad while on the airplane to Düsseldorf.

Quotations from Machiavelli

“To begin with, there has never been a case of a new prince disarming his subjects. Indeed, whenever he found them disarmed, he proceeded to arm them. For by arming your subjects, you make their arms your own. Those among them who are suspicious become loyal, while those who are already loyal remain so, and from subjects, they are transformed into partisans. Though you cannot arm them all, nonetheless you increase your safety among those you leave unarmed by extending privileges to those whom you arm…
When you disarm your subjects, however, you offend them by showing that, either from cowardliness or from lack of faith, you distrust them; and either conclusion will induce them to hate you. Moreover, since it is impossible for you to remain unarmed, you would have to resort to mercenaries, whose limitations have already been discussed. Even if such troops were good, however, they could never be good enough to defend you from powerful enemies and doubtful subjects. Therefore, as I have said, a new prince in a newly acquired state has always taken measures to arm his subjects, and history is full of examples proving that this is so.”
From chapter 20 of The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli. “Machiavellian” is a word that means cunning, scheming, and unscrupulous in politics and in life. If you read The Prince, you will realize that Machiavelli simply describes the behavior and nature of current politics, both in the rule of the state and in the rule of the church. The observation he made regarding disarming and arming subjects could not be more true. When President Obama has to have his soldiers in Afghanistan disarmed in order to come into his presence, as happened recently, it is a sign of absolute distrust and disrespect. Removing arms from loyal citizens is offensive and eventually destructive of the strength, since the military of itself is never sufficiently adequate to defend a state.