Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Don't wait until you feel like it

Some people adore physical activity. Give them the slightest chance to go for a long walk, or a cycle ride, or a trip to the local swimmerama and they jump at the chance.

These people make up about 1% of the population.

Most of us would much rather slump.

The problem is that the long-term effects of slumping include:

- lower energy levels
- lower abilities to cope with stress
- depression
- lower appetite for 'healthy' foods
- higher appetite for 'unhealthy' foods

99% of us never 'feel' like exercising. The list of excuses I find myself making for skipping my gym sessions are endless.

Nearly everyone feels better AFTER exercising. And it only needs to take 20 minutes to provide tangible benefits.

So whether it be a brisk walk, run, a cycle-ride, or a session at your local gym, plan some kind of physical activity into your day. It will make your day more enjoyable and (if you care about such things) more productive.

Friday, 25 September 2009

iPhone/iPod touch wallpapers

For a regularly updated collection of quotes and images that have been designed to work as iPhone (or iPod touch) wallpaper, click here

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Keeping up with the news

The Week reports:

"Few of us have time to read one newspaper from cover to cover, let alone the hundreds of newspapers and magazines published in the UK and overseas every week. Britain's daily and Sunday newspapers amounts to around 5,800 pages. Almost ten million words. Every week.

"So, keeping up to date with what's happening - and understanding all the issues behind the headlines - is difficult, if not impossible."

"The Week distils the best of the British and foreign press into 35 pages."


I find it an excellent way to keep up-to-date with a wide spread of world issues. There is a 6-issue free trial on the web site, and various subscription offers.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

InDesign Secrets

If you, or someone else you know, uses InDesign, InDesign Secrets, featuring regularly updated news, tips, links and tutorials about all things InDesign, is a 'must-RSS' site.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

In search of the perfect pen

My favourite writing implement is a battered old Sheaffer fountain pen. I've got other more expensive fountain pens, but none of them have the correct 'balance', write as smoothly or deposit such a heavy density of ink.

The problem with the Sheaffer is that (like most fountain pens) it requires regular refilling and cleaning. And it doesn't enjoy travelling. It can also be temperamental in its ink delivery. And even when working 'properly' it usually leaves ink stains on my fingers.

A few years ago a friend gave me a 0.7mm Zebra Sarasa gel pen he bought while shopping in London. He was impressed with the ink colour (as I remember, a rich yellow), but what I liked best was the way it wrote. I now keep stocks of them in blue, red and black. My only reservation is that the line thickness is a little too thin for my writing style.

While shopping in Staples last week, I came across 1.0mm versions of the Zebra Sarasa, and it is now my 'new favourite pen'.

The Zebra Sarasa 1.0mm pens are available in blue or black, for around £1.25p each.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009


If you want an 'old-school' hand-lettered look as used on film credits for 1950s films, Sinzano allows you to do it without a lot of work.

It has over 400 OpenType interlocks which iintelligently' replace the letter combinations you type. It works very well, and at just $8.95 from My Fonts it won't bankrupt you either.

Monday, 7 September 2009

The importance of proof reading

The Guardian reports: [edited]

The Daily Express had a prime example over the weekend of what can happen when you fiddle around with a headline.

The first edition of Saturday's paper carried the headline "Can Dec finally match Ant?" on a two-page feature about the ITV presenters, with the word "finally" cut between two pages.

Apparently, there were too many headlines with "finally" in, so it was changed to "Can Dec at last match Ant?" But along the way, someone forgot to change both sides of the spread, leaving the "a" of "at" on one page and "nally" of "finally" on the other, creating the memorable headline "Can Dec anally match Ant?" in some later editions.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Comic Sans

The Wall Street Journal reports: [edited]

Mr. Connare has looked on, alternately amused and mortified, as Comic Sans has spread from a software project at Microsoft Corp. 15 years ago to grade-school fliers and holiday newsletters, Disney ads and Beanie Baby tags, business emails, street signs, Bibles, porn sites, gravestones and hospital posters about bowel cancer.

The jolly typeface has spawned the Ban Comic Sans movement, nearly a decade old but stronger now than ever, thanks to the Web. The mission: "to eradicate this font" and the "evil of typographical ignorance."

"If you love it, you don't know much about typography," Mr. Connare says. But, he adds, "if you hate it, you really don't know much about typography, either, and you should get another hobby."

Mr. Connare, 48 years old, now works at Dalton Maag, a typography studio in London, and finds his favorite creation - Magpie - eclipsed by Comic Sans. He cringes at the most improbable manifestations of his Frankenstein's font and rarely uses it himself.

The proliferation of Comic Sans is something of a fluke. In 1994, Mr. Connare was working on a team at Microsoft creating software that consumers eventually would use on home PCs. His designer sensibilities were shocked, he says, when, one afternoon, he opened a test version of a program called Microsoft Bob for children and new computer users. The welcome screen showed a cartoon dog named Rover speaking in a text bubble. The message appeared in the Times New Roman font.

Mr. Connare says he pulled out the two comic books he had in his office, 'The Dark Knight Returns' and 'Watchmen', and got to work, inspired by the lettering and using his mouse to draw on a computer screen. Within a week, he had designed his legacy.

A product manager recognised the font's appeal and included it as a standard typeface in the operating system for Microsoft Windows.

Thanks to Conrad for the link

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Give it a year

'People Who Know A Lot About How To Sell Things' (PWKALAHTST) have come to the conclusion that 'people' (that's you and me) think that 6 weeks is a 'bearable and believable' amount of time to follow a programme for and expect results.

That's why our newsstands are stuffed with magazines promising 'A flatter stomach in 6 weeks', 'Bigger biceps in 6 weeks' and 'Build your own space shuttle in 6 weeks'.

However, while the claims aren't technically false (they don't specify HOW much flatter, HOW much bigger or... OK, I made up the last claim), they are misleading.

If you are planning on making life-changes, whether it be increasing your personal fitness levels, learning a new skill or improving your sleep patterns, make it a year plan. A year goes by plenty fast anyway (we're into the last third of 2009, so where did the first two go?) but 12 months gives you some room for 'lapses', and the ability to fine-tune your programme based on assessing your results (or lack of them) at monthly intervals.