Glamour Daze, a well-designed website of vintage fashion and beauty, has just posted a full page about my beginnings with Avedon. There are five photos of me, and two of Dick, all circa 1953. To visit CLICK HERE.
Yes, I really love chrome. Google's Chrome web browser, that is. For me, it works much better than the competition, including the latest version of Internet Explorer. What is especially nice is the minimalist approach it takes, doing away with the visual clutter that plagues other browsers. Chrome is also reportedly faster and more secure, but these measurements don't concern me. I'm certainly no technical genius, nor in any way a nerd, but I do appreciate something that works well even for a complete novice.
I have come to prefer shopping for many items, especially books, CDs and DVDs, online rather than in stores. For me, the service from Amazon.com has been particularly good over the past several years for several reasons:
Customer reviews really help in selecting products, and can usually be relied on if there are, say, five or more. I always check the lowest ratings (1 or 2 stars) first to see what might be wrong with the item, followed by the higher (3, 4, or 5 stars) ones.
Products are described in minute detail.
A full range of similar or competitive products is usually shown.
Links are provided to independent vendors in their Advantage program who may, or may not, offer lower prices or used merchandise. These are rated as to reliability, determined by customer feedback.
Suggestions are made for related items.
There is no pressure to buy.
Delivery is often free if the total order is for $25 or more.
Depending on your location, they often do not collect sales taxes.
On several occasions I have gone to Amazon intent on purchasing a particular item, but changed my mind after reading the reviews. I then selected a similar product that was more satisfactory. This helpful guidance is one of the reasons I love Amazon. The other is price — not always the very cheapest, but usually quite reasonable.
SO, just what Little Adventure am I up to now in 2013? Why, just the most challenging one of them all! CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT.
If you have not already experienced shopping at Amazon, you can see what it's like by clicking on the ITEM'S NAME in the box below, NOT on the Buy button. Doing this will get you full information. I have chosen one of my own books as an example because its Amazon listing is very informative. FULL DISCLOSURE: Clicking on any Amazon links on this blog and then purchasing anything at all before leaving the site puts a few pennies in my pocket, which helps defray the cost of maintaining this blog. Thank you.
Since I started this blog two and a half years ago it has reunited several old friends, expecially on the Military Service, ASA, and Avedon Years threads. What a wonderful power the Internet has! The "comments" listings at the bottom of many entries is especially fertile ground for finding your old buddies and co-workers. So leave a message there and maybe someone will find you! And if they do, I'll gladly contact you about it — so you can take it from there.
Last month I switched from using Internet Explorer as my web browser to Google's brand-new Chrome. This was not only faster and cleaner, it made composing this blog so much easier. Then, a few days ago, a problem developed. Postings created in Chrome looked great in that browser, and also in Mozilla Firefox. But were all messed up in Internet Explorer, as I was quickly told by viewers. So I made corrections by opening the compose editior in IE and reworking the Chrome posting. This seems to work.
So, if it looks messed up to you, please leave a comment and I'll try again. I don't know what it will do in Opera, or on Apple Macintosh computers.
A few months ago TypePad, my blog service provider, switched to a new "Compose Editor." This is where you compose your blog prior to putting it online. Complaints poured in. Although it allowed many more options in layout and typography, it was exceedingly slow for some of us, including me. I complained several times. Their first answer was to switch from dial-up to a high-speed connection, which I did. Unhappily, there was no improvement in composing, although a vast one in other aspects. So I complained again, and was told that they were "working on it."
Then, this week Google (bless them!) announced a new web browser to compete with Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Firefox, Netscape, Opera, and all the others. So I did the free download. What a difference! Now I'm having absolutely no problem with TypePad's new Compose Editor.
There are are other benefits as well. It seems to be faster, has a cleaner interface, and is much better organized. Now, I am no computer geek and know (and care!) absolutely nothing about programming. That is why I have a blog instead of a regular website. Blogs are really simple — if you can type you can blog. And Chrome makes TypePad's Compose Editor work the way it's supposed to.
It just seemed like a fun thing at the time. Little did I dream, back in May 2006, the extent to which blogging would enhance my life. It has brought me into contact with long-lost buddies from my years in the U.S. Army in the 1950s, with co-workers from my photographic career in New York City in the 60s and 70s, with people in publishing from the 80s and 90s, and with complete strangers from around the world who share my current interests and passions.
And it was all so easy.
If I can do it, anyone can. TypePad makes it simple and offers a free trial, so I gave it a whirl and discovered just how rewarding this can be. If you'd like to try it without cost, just go to near the bottom of the left-hand column and click on the red TypePad button for more information and their famous free trial.
I've just finished preparing my latest book for the printer. In this case, as with the last four books, I did the entire process by myself — partly to cut costs to a bare minimum and partly because it was a challenge that turned out to be not so difficult. This meant not only writing the text, but also doing the graphics, taking, manipulating, and inserting the photos, designing the pages, proofreading, and doing the index. The finished file that I send to the printer can be used for either offset or POD printing, as sales warrant.
If you've ever had the urge to try this, read on.
Here's how it's done:
STEP 1, WRITING:
I do my writing in MS Word, although any good word processing program would do. The important thing is to create separate files for each chapter or other discreet unit such as title page, copyright page, table of contents, introduction, etc. Doing the whole book as one file canwill result in nightmarish problems. Number each file, starting with the first page, using file names such as MyFile.01.doc., and keep the numbers consecutive. If the number of files exceeds 9 be sure to put a 0 before numbers 1-9, otherwise they will not line up in the right order. And if the files exceed 99, add two 0's before numbers 1-9 and one 0 before numbers 10-99. This will help when, as the last step, you put the files together into one huge pdf file for the printer.
I recommend using an easy-to-read font such as Courier for the initial manuscript. Double space it, and use a font size a bit larger than it will be in the finished book. This will give you some "elbow room" as you insert the files into a publishing program. Proofread this and correct any spelling or grammar errors. Better still, have someone else proofread it as well. Authors often don't see their own mistakes, which is logical since they're the ones who made them.
STEP 2, GRAPHICS:
In the books I'm doing, the graphics are mostly maps. These I create using CorelDraw, although any good draw program that can output in a TIFF format will do. For decent resolution I save these at 600 dpi. Do not use the JPEG format for graphics where fine detail is important. Creating the graphic in layers makes it much easier to edit and correct. If you are copying from another graphic, scan it as the bottom layer, trace it in upper layers, then delete the scanned bottom layer when you are done. Graphic files are then given a file name corresponding to the text file that they will become a part of, such as MyFileGraphic.01-1.tif.
Although a regular mouse can be used to create graphics, I've found it much easier to use a Wacom graphics tablet. This allows you to draw as you would with a pen, using either the stylus or small mouse, both of which are included. There are one or two other brands of these tablets that are less expensive, but I have not tried them.
CLICK HERE to read what I wrote about making the graphics in May 2006.
STEP 3, PHOTOS:
I use photos that I've taken over a period of years, which can be in print, slide, negative, or digital file form. Prints I scan at 400 dpi, while slides and negatives are done at either 600 or 1200 dpi depending on their size in the book. I use a modest HP flatbed scanner that can also do 35mm slides and film, and open the results into Photoshop Elements. There I first crop and resize the file to the final book size, and change the resolution to 400 dpi in JPEG format. Then comes the manipulation of colors (or conversion to B&W, as needed), density, and contrast. Highlights are usually darkened, and shadow areas brightened. Other photo editing programs may work just as well, but I've been using Photoshop Elements for several years now and it suits me fine. Each saved photo is given a file name that corresponds to the text file that it will be entered into. Example: MyFilePhoto.01-1.jpg.
STEP 4, USING A PUBLISHING PROGRAM:
Desktop publishing programs take all of the text, graphics, and photo files and puts them into numbered book pages. It is important at this point to keep separate publishing files for each chapter or other discreet unit, and to number them consecutively so you get them in the right order when finally assembling the book.
I use Serif's PagePlus X3 as my desktop publishing program, although there are others that work just as well. PagePlus is relatively inexpensive and quite easy to use (see Amazon link at bottom of page).
Change the fonts to ones that look better in books. My choices are Times New Roman for text and Arial for headlines. Because I must crowd a lot of information into the pages, I set the text at 9 pt. and headlines at 10 or 12 pt. Photo captions are set at 8 pt. italic. This is really a minimum; most books should use 10 or 12 pt. text. For line spacing I use 110% of point size.
At this point it is a good idea to print out each file as you create it, so you can check for the inevitable errors.
STEP 5, INDEXING:
Once you've printed out the files it's easy to create an index. I do them using MS Word (any other word processing program is probably ok) by arranging all of the printed sheets in page order, beginning with the first text page. Starting at the top of the page, I look for things that should be indexed and type them into Word, in alphabetical order along with their page numbers. This file is then inserted into the publishing program at the end of the book.
STEP 6, CREATING A COVER:
Covers of all books for sale must have a Bar Code in the lower right corner of the rear cover, which must meet the Bookland EAN standard. To get one you will first need an ISBN Number (International Standard Book Number), which you get from your publisher. Print-on-Demand (POD) services such as Booksurge often act as publishers and can furnish one. For more information contact Bowker Bar Code Service. Once you have the ISBN you can have a bar code done professionally by an outfit like Bowker, in which case it will be tested and free of error, or do it free online and take the very small risk of it not working properly. Either way, it should be downloaded in the EPS (Encapsulated Postscript) format, which you can convert to TIFF in Photoshop prior to insertion on the rear cover. If you're friendly with a local bookstore, you might ask them to test your bar code.
I do covers using the same PagePlus X3 desktop publishing program as for the inside pages. The trickiest part is an accurate measurement of the spine width. Your printer can give you a mathematical formula for determing this once you have decided on paper stock and final page count. Any error here can result in a slightly off-center cover.
Photos can be inserted onto the cover in JPEG format, although I prefer to use TIFF for maximum definition. Use AT LEAST 300 dpi. Anything lower may well be rejected by the printer.
Words and symbols are done right in the desktop publishing program. Doing this in PagePlus X3 is easy once you have read the manual and used the tutorial.
This is what a cover file looks like as it is sent to the printer:
STEP 7, MAKING A PDF BOOK FILE:
When you are satisfied with all of the chapter files, you can go into book mode and arrange the files in the sequence desired. Then click on "Publish as PDF" or something like that. This may take a while if there are many pages. At the end, Adobe Reader will open so you can see your entire book before burning it to a CD.
Remember, the complete inside of the book is on one file; the cover is on a second. Name these files as (ISBN number)_book_block and (ISBN number)_cover.
STEP 8, SENDING IT TO THE PRINTER:
There are two ways to send the files to the printer: First, ship the CD. This is simple and troublefree, but may take a few days unless you use FedEx. Second, send it to them over the Internet using FTP (File Transfer Protocol). Just bear in mind that a typical book file is usually over 100 MB in size, and maybe several hundred, so a high speed connection is essential.
While offset printing is the least expensive way to produce books, and usually results in high quality, Print-on-Demand (POD) printing has the great advantage of eliminating inventory so you don't wind up with a garage full of unsold books.
CLICK HERE to read what I wrote about POD publishing in June 2006, and then click through for a July 2007 update.
Finally, be sure to request one copy as a proof before ordering more. It doesn't happen often, but sometimes there are compatibility problems between your file and their computer that can result in substituted fonts — or worse.
As you may have noticed, this blog doesn't stick to one subject, but is filled with all kinds of stuff — whatever comes into my garbage mind and won't go away. This might make it difficult for you to find anything, but not if you use the handy Google search field near the bottom of the left-hand column. Just enter what you're looking for, choose the "lifeslittleadventures.typepad.com" button, and click the "Google Search" button. It really works. And, if you choose the "www" button instead, it searches the entire web. Is there anything Google can't do?