For the love of Typography   April 2nd, 2016

As most of my design and graphics students know, I’m a bit of a type geek. In almost every class, even if it’s not in our regular syllabus, I try to include at least a brief introduction to Type as Design – or, Typography. 

And, you probably also know how I stress the idea of kerning – the way individual letterforms fit together, as a method of refining your work, adding a cohesive look and confirming that you’ve taken some time and put in some effort at making your type look good, as well as read well.

Today, I found an excellent infographic at Digital, that may help you to make better decisions about how to improve your Headers, your Titles, and all display type. Take a look!

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 1.37.40 PMToday, March 31st, 2016, is WORLD BACKUP DAY!!!

Many of you in both my live and online classes have heard me, very strongly, tell you to BACKUP your data! As I’ve mentioned before, the only time you miss having a backup is when you need it and don’t have it. 

I always recommend more than one method of backup, just to be safe. Hard drive space has become very reasonably inexpensive, and cloud space can often be had for FREE (my 2nd favorite price, as I often say) ?

Some strategies you might mix and match:

  • A CLONED backup of your system, or just your startup drive. Cloning is creating an exact replica of your hard drive (please note, for this discussion, I’m not referring to “Disk Imaging”, which creates what is essentially a zipped file of your cloned hard drive, but doesn’t use the suffix .zip). You need a hard drive with space that matches the size of the drive you’re backing up for this. As for software, Windows users have the options of Macrium Reflect Free, Paragon Backup and Recovery (Advanced) Free  ,   Acronis True Image 2016 (not free), and several others. I do a weekly clone of my startup drive, so that in the case of disaster, my system is only one week behind. However, please note that I do the next strategy daily.
    For Mac users, there’s DejaVu, Carbon Copy Cloner, Super Duper!, Data Backup, along with many others . Note that there no longer seems to be much FREE cloning software for Mac, but that’s because the MacOS has Time Machine built in – we’ll discuss that momentarily. With any application you choose, I recommend getting one with the following features:

    • Exact duplicate clone capabilities
    • Creation of a bootable backup (contains the files necessary to start from and use the backup drive, should your original drive go “bad”)
    • Duplication of the startup drives “Recovery Drive” feature (I know Carbon Copy Cloner does this on the Mac, but am unsure what does in the Windows world)
    • The ability to SCHEDULE your backups on a regular basis – so that you don’t have to remember to do them – your system does it automatically.
  • A duplicate backup of all my “Work” drives, which includes my USER FOLDER from my startup drive. I do this nightly, scheduled with the same backup software I use for my weekly backup of the startup drive. Every night, the drives (or folders) that contain my daily changes are duplicated to a secondary drive. Note that my user folder is in there, so if I ever need to reinstall from my cloned drive back to a new hard drive, I can also move my user folder into place, and my emails and documents, etc. are up to date. On this drive, I don’t duplicate my startup drive. Since I have several drives in my computer, I need quite a large capacity drive for this backup. However, since it only changes the file that have been changed that day, the backup process is quite quick.
  • Mac users may also take advantage of the MacOS built in “Time Machine”. This requires quite a lot of storage space, but it does an hourly (give or take) backup of all changes made to your system. The advantage of this is that you can store and restore files from many months back, in case a file gets corrupted, accidentally deleted, or just plain messed up. The DISadvantage to this is that the drive is not bootable (you can’t start your computer from it), so there’s downtime if you must replace your original hard drive, while Time Machine copies your files back to the drive.
  • ONLINE backup into the “cloud” is also a great option. Some systems automatically upload your files to their cloud, but you may need to pay for the service. Please note that these will NOT backup your system files, so an Operating System reinstallation would be required). But, your work files will be saved offsite, which is always safe. Nowadays, there are what seem to be a Zillion choices out there for this service. One popular service is Carbonite, and another is Backblaze, there’s also iDrive,  CrashPlan,  Pogoplug (I love this option, because it also offers a hardware “personal cloud”)….. I could go on for days on this. Some of these plans offer a free option for a small amount of space. In addition, there are FREE:
    • Dropbox – 2GB – file size limit 10GB
    • – 50GB – file size limit 250MB
    • OneDrive Windows – 5GB – file size limit 10GB – or 1TB with an Office 365 plan
    • Google Drive – 15GB – file size limit – varies – but up to 5TB for non-converted files
    • Verizon Cloud – 5GB – 1200KB from phone
    • Amazon Cloud (w/ Prime) – 5GB for video and files, unlimited for photos – file size limit 2GB
    • – 15GB no max file size limit
    • hubiC – 25GB Free – got 30GB with code

Oh, and DON’T FORGET TO BACKUP YOUR CELL PHONE PHOTOS AND VIDEOS. Use a cloud to do automatic uploads, use iTunes, or whatever software you have to get those photos on your harddrive and back THOSE up. I’ve seen such sadness when someone loses their phone, corrupts the data, accidentally resets the phone… PLEASE remember that those photos will not be easy to recover, if they’re recoverable at all.

In my line of work, there’s been a lot of money to be made by people having NOT backed up their data – please save yourself the money of data recovery, the heartache of lost files and work. Find a strategy that suits you and remember to BACK UP!!!

Oh, and if you ever do need to have data recovered, I do recommend DriveSavers, in Novato, CA. Their “cleanroom” work is the best in the business. If you ever need a discount, please feel free to use my code DS16297.

****Broken hard drive image, courtesy of

Today, Google announced that their excellent Photoshop Plugin “The Nik Collection” is going to be free to everybody.

This excellent collection includes: Analog Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Viveza, HDR Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro and Dfine – professional level controls to refine your images. I’ve been using it for several years (along with some other plugin sets) for efficient control over my effects, sharpening, noise removal and more.

For those of us who use Photoshop on a regular basis, getting this (previously $149) plugin for FREE is a boon!

Check out their post at:

As almost all of my students know, I’m a bit of a type geek. So, imagine how fulfilled my inner geek feels, when I find blog post about Typefaces, Type Structure, Type families, Type anatomy, and Type Classification, the use of Type in Paragraphs, Typographic Terms like kerning and spacing, Page Layout and Type, and so much more!

Although this article is written with a focus on software development, the article is about DESIGN. Knowing what you’re using, and why. As I always say “in design, you can always break the rules, but first you have to know what the rules are!”

I seriously recommend this article to all my design students, my motion graphics students, my still image students, and anyone else who feels that Type is more than just a way to make a word show up.

Today, many Adobe Creative Cloud subscribers (and subscribers to other sites who do business with Adobe) got emails with the subject line “Take 10 free images on us”, with a link to the Adobe Stock site.

While this is a great offer for those who want access to very good Stock Imagery, please be aware that this offer is not anything new or interesting – it’s simply a “First Month’s Free” offer.

In order to get your “Free” images, you need to sign up for their basic 10 images/month plan, with recurring payments of $29.99/mo. Then, they’ll credit you the first month. At that time, if you don’t cancel your plan, you’re going to continue to be billed $30/monthly.

Adobe Stock is a great plan for those who need these images, and the pricing is reasonable as far as the market goes. But it’s important to make sure that you know what you’re signing up for.



No More ROBOCALLS!   December 8th, 2015

I wanted to thank my friend, Lora? for introducing me to This free service blocks robocalls – and I get a TON of those – and I HATE them! I signed up for the service on Thursday (it’s limited as to who has access to the service – mostly VOIP and Digital Phone accounts – no cellular or landline holders – I have FiOS Digital Voice). The only notification you get is that the phone rings once, then stops ringing.

Of course, I was concerned that it might be blocking legit calls, but I’ve checked Fios, and all the calls seem to be real junk.

I haven’t yet checked if it’s gonna block things like Kaiser’s machine calls, but in my comments here, I’m going to attach a link to an article that talks about the technology behind the service. I feel confident that this is gonna work just fine. Check them out! They’re FREE!

In a recent article on InDesign Secrets, I can finally find the reason why so many of my InDesign classes have been having font errors when using files from the Adobe courseware. It seems that InDesign – and all of the Adobe programs, for that matter, are no longer installing the fonts that used to come with the programs! I’ve been using Adobe programs for too many  years than I want to count, so of course, I have the fonts installed, but so many of my students are downloading demo software for their classes, and work in an environment with security limitations, so they can’t easily access Adobe’s Typekit (part of the Creative Cloud suite).

In my opinion, this is a terrible move on Adobe’s part, and I can’t quite figure out why they’re choosing to do it. Over the years, I’ve seen Adobe seemingly losing touch with their users in quite a few ways, but in software that’s ABOUT design, I can’t imagine what they’re thinking.

To view the post on, please visit

There’s an earlier article about the issue here:   (which includes a work-around)

And, for a list of the fonts originally installed, and mostly still necessary, please see Adobe’s article here:

As for me, I’ve backed up ALL of my installed fonts into a directory I use for my font management program. I suggest you do the same. If you’d like instructions for doing so, please comment on this post.


I’m not usually one to suggest people learn from others, considering Adobe Training is what I do – but I firmly believe that giving students ideas for supplemental learning can always help them to practice what I teach and help to embed the information they learn in my classes.

So, I thought sharing a deal on a lifetime subscription to TrainSimple’s Adobe Training might be helpful to those who want reference information, and ways to practice what I teach. Take a look at this deal – good ONLY today!

27 Useful Design Tips   July 18th, 2015

For my design and typography students, here’s a really nice blog with some tips and ideas to improve your feel for good design, good use of typography, and maybe provide some inspiration.

It happened. My backup hard drive used for my daily backup died. It was one of those 4TB MyBooks, that is made up of a RAID of 2, 2TB disks. On that SAME day, I had to teach an online class, which often somehow screws up my Time Machine (which takes ages to fix, but is doable, and got done). BUT, I still felt my data was safe in the event of a serious problem because I’d just renewed my subscription (I’d gotten an initial free 3 month trial) for BackBlaze. I figured that having ALL my other work data on the cloud for only $50/year wasn’t a bad idea – and indeed it wasn’t!

BackBlaze doesn’t back up my operating system, applications or parts of my user folder, but I have several other terabytes of data that sits on my startup and other connected drives. I live in earthquake country and my office electrical is… let’s say… overloaded. I was given a gift of a new 4TB multi-interface replacement backup drive so I can have my local backup again (nice gift, right?)- AND I ALWAYS HAVE A SEPARATE LOCAL CLONED BACKUP OF MY STARTUP DRIVE – but for $50 I had peace of mind – and that’s a great thing!

Check them out at