Rich Mix Protest Show

Yesterday afternoon I produced a poster for the showing of some of my pictures at Rich Mix during 6 Billion Ways on Saturday. It should have been a very simple job. I still use the old software I used to teach Desk Top Publishing with around 15 years ago, well before Adobe moved over to InDesign to try and fully compete with Quark.

It was Aldus who made the Mac successful and gave it the dominance that to some extent it still enjoys in the creative industries. Pagemaker 1.0 was introduced in 1985, the year after the Apple Macintosh, and together with Apple’s LaserWriter created Desk Top Publishing, spawning a new industry – and to service this we got other software that could produce the illustrations and images that this required – including Photoshop.

Before this, even simple publishing jobs had required hugely expensive imagesetting hardware and skilled techicians along with tedious and precise paste-ups, but they could now be done quickly and accurately with a few mouse clicks by technically unskilled designers on desktop equipment costing only a small arm and a leg – and of course just a year or two later on considerably cheaper PCs.

Adobe (they bought the succesful product from Aldus) Pagemaker 6.5 came free with one of my scanners and doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of its succesor InDesign but is easy to use, fast and handles text and layout superbly, and works fine with Windows XP.

It was ease of use (and the fact that it could still then be supported as an industry standard) that made me choose PageMaker to teach our students. It was far simpler, less clunky, more competent and more reliable than amateur software such as Microsoft’s Publisher (which I hated having to touch, software that should have been strangled at birth), and the output was so much better. I’m only sorry that Adobe discontinued it in 2004. A simple, effective, classic which really just needed an occasional update to keep it up to speed as operating systems etc change. But apparently what sells is feature bloat. Perhaps the future for those of us who want simple, effective software is in open-source such as Scribus, which also has the advantage of being free.

But yesterday I had great problems, as every time I imported two of my images into PageMaker it gave an error message and crashed. I tried copying them from Photoshop and pasting them in, which worked fine on screen, but they then printed black and white rather than colour. Eventually an error message gave me a clue. Some jpegs produced by Photoshop 7 (also of course from Adobe) started with a section of bytes (I think it was 637 bytes) that Adobe Pagemaker decided were illegal. Loading the jpegs into some non-Adobe software and saving them (at a similar high quality) solved the Adobe-Adobe clash. It was a poster about protest, but I hadn’t expected a walk-out by the software.

From PageMaker I exported the file as a PDF (of course another Adobe format) and checked this by printing on my own Epson printer before e-mailing the 20Mb file (its an A3 poster) for 20 or so copies to be printed. Here’s a rather smaller version (with a black border I’ve added with Photoshop to make it stand out on the page.)

© 2011, Peter Marshall

The bad news is that the projection, which we had wanted to have around 50-60 pictures has now had to be cut to 20 – and none of those in my previous post about the showing will be included. There is still time to register and attend, and there is a great free programme for Saturday at Rich Mix in 6 Billion Ways of which my pictures are just one very small part.

And of course if you can’t get there you can see those 20 pictures on line – along with around 59,980 others – at My London Diary.

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