DTP Monkey: The Path to Technomancy, Part 2

The unofficial-turned-official club newsletter was directly responsible for me landing my first real job as a DTP monkey. I walked into the interview with my portfolio of club newsletter and stickers I made on my old Mac SE and the Mac IIci my best friend had that were printed on my trusty, 70+ pound LaserWriter II SC with the Canon engine that lasted well over a decade. The guy who interviewed me was a bit skeptical that I made those. I was honest and told him that I didn’t do all the work, and that I had a friend that started the newsletter. I showed him what *** did and what I did — explaining how you could tell our layout and writing styles apart.

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A Quick DRAM Speed Note

RAM Speed Calculation

I see a lot of confusion about this subject so here is a quick guide for finding out what sort of RAM your computer takes. Let’s say you are out at a store, and see what looks like a great deal on some more RAM for your computer, but you don’t know what type to get. To find out what memory “PC#-XXXX{X}” your computer needs but you don’t have a manual handy, do the following:

If you know your data rate (1066 or more commonly 1333 these days) multiply it by 8 and round to the nearest hundred (but most manufacturers round down) and you can figure out what goes in the XXXX{X}. A data rate of 1333 * 8 = 10664 or “10600,” the “#” is for the data rate type. So  PC3-10600 (SO-204pin) is what 2011 MacBook Pros take. It is DDR3  1333 Memory.

My MacBook Pro (2009: 5,5) takes DDR3 – 1066. Using a quick bit o’ Math, that translates to PC3-8500

Macs Are Easy

If you happen to have your computer handy and you are on a Mac, you can also open the System Information Application located in

Applications/Utility/System Information (System Profiler in previous OS X releases)>Memory

or

Apple Menu>About This Mac>More Info…>Memory and it will tell you what type of DRAM it takes and how many slots are full.

Where to Buy

Among my favorite Mac hardware resources is Other World Computing because their prices are competitive and they stand behind their products. I had purchased RAM from OWC that ended up being defective. I did not find this out until my new installation of Leopard started crashing under heavy memory loads. (they change how OS X uses memory to use more of it if available, and when I upgraded the memory that was usually not used in 10.4, was activated in 10.5 to speed the system up.) But this discovery took place over a year after I purchased the memory from them. I was hoping “lifetime guaranty” meant what it suggested—a hassle free exchange. It took one phone call, my invoice number and about 10 minutes for them to cross ship a replacement set out to me. It was truly hassle free. Since then they are my first consideration when buying new memory. So, if their prices are within $10–15 of competitors, I go with them.

Fun with CSS3+ (Even Though it’s not finalized)

CSS3 animations & less layout headaches are pretty slick, but I’m not going to bother supporting MS browser quirks. I’ll wait for them to catch up. The person it matters to only cares about iPad compatibility (He uses Win7, but only FireFox). Mozilla browsers benefit from being closer to standards compliant though and the CSS property names are almost identical to webkit and the proposed standard. I’ll pop up the standard “Upgrade your browser to a web standards compliant one” with links to FF, Safari, Chrome, etc. considering Opera & others.

IE isn’t even on my radar anyway because no one I know uses it, and every time I have encountered it in the last year is when someone uses it to download one of the other browsers. I see more MacBooks and MacBook Pros and iPad at various coffee shops now than Windows Notebooks or Netbooks. It is clear that the tide has turned, but the business sector hasn’t realized it yet. About 5 years ago, after I got my 3rd Mac Laptop, I started working at coffee shops because I can get more done than anywhere else. (No one wants to interrupt the guy in black with headphones on furiously pounding away at the keyboard faster than they can and is always waiting for his computer to catch up to him.

Odd that none of CSS3 is finalized yet. It works great when it works though. I do wish there were better ways to see precedence of style definitions without uploading and without counting element, class and id priorities. Luckily Safari’s Develop Menu is extremely helpful at tracking down the ordering.

I just wish Coda, my Web Development program of choice, was updated with things like code folding, CSS3 compatibility and AJAX help.

I’ve found a ton of useful links in learning the newer (but still not finalized) CSS3, but the most helpful documentation is the actual W3C Working Drafts because they go into the “why” you want to do things this way and considerations others have noted in red which is pretty interesting. However, when it comes to drop down menus and the like I’ve have found very few guides that explain the syntax and reasoning while explaining the techniques.

I am really looking forward to CSS3’s grid module, but the box module is no slouch either, and using it is disgustingly easy. It works the way I wish bock elements did. If the browser makers all decided to support this stuff fully, post-haste, we could see web sites require a lot less time to do UI design and refaces.

I had more, but it is worthy of its own post…

Why I Don’t Recommend Clan Lord

Clan Lord: Pay No Attention to the Graphics

A Rare Challenge

Clan Lord is a veritable Methuselah among online role-playing games, the graphics—2D hand drawn sprites—are crude compared to todays 32-bit texture laden 3D graphics. The reason is that this game is on its second decade of existence having come out of beta after about a year of testing in 1998. Since then development efforts have gone into expanding the world and adding features on occasion.

The gameplay is simplistic for fighters and for the first few levels of “healer-dom.” One simply runs into what one wants to try to kill or start healing. Unlike 3D games, a 2D system allows this because there is no “ASDF+turn key” navigation needed in a 3D space, In a 2D space your mouse does quite nicely.

In addition to this lack of combat mechanic complexity, there is also a very simple items system, and thus not much of an economy. If a person is not too concerned about rapid advancement while off-line and doesn’t carry more than the maximum of allowed objects, there is almost no reason to even have coins or care about obtaining them after one gets their basic equipment needs met, aside from the 5 coin boat fare to leave the island and chain repairs.

So, what does this game so clearly lacking offer, and why are people still playing after over 10 years? Clan Lord has a radically different concept and approach to games than pretty much every other RPG online or offline out there. And the difference in the environment it came out of and exists in has both its strengths and weaknesses.

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My First Encounter with a GUI. A true story.

Hey, I’m not always goofing off on the internet. That’s not why I’m not getting article 2 out the door. No, to preface the content and explain my lack of article 2 I’ll explain (and hopefully wordpress won’t lose my text this time).

I take part in about 5 forums where the focus is on various things from games to tech support, to tech trends, etc. It’s one of the first things I do in the morning: I check my email for replies in the forums I’m watching, then reply if warranted. So this guy says that when they were first introduced GUIs were crap because they were unreliable and hard to understand and navigate.

I disagree, and write the following which I thought would be good to include here:

Actual events that took place in 1984 in a little computer store in San Jose/Santa Clara between my father and the salesman:
Salesman (S) to my Father: “Yes, that’s the new Apple Macintosh. We only have a few….”
(I sit down in front of it, look at the mouse and the black and white 9″ screen.)
S to me: “That’s called a mouse. you move it to move the pointer on screen.”
(move the pointer to a picture of something labeled “MacPaint.” and click on it. The picture inverts.)
S to me: “Oh, to start the program you cli-”
(I double click and MacPaint Launches.)
“ck the button twice…”
(I start drawing…)
S: “Oh, I see he’s got it.”
(He shuts up while I play with the new toy, and then after a few minutes he and my father start talking price.)