Just my type

Keith White
21 October, 2007
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1. New Vintage Type — Classic Fonts for the Digital Age is a font fanatics delight. At nearly 200 pages with 400 illustrations in full colour this book styles itself as “a critical survey of how modern artwork uses old type to evoke another time and place”. Or in the ironic words of American type designer Frederick Goudy, "those old guys stole our best ideas”.

Organised into five chapters by historical era the book lets the illustrations do the talking. Pomp and Ornaments looks at type from the Victorian age, Slabs and Gothics illustrates the wood type era, Fashion and Flourish moves us into the Art Deco period, Modernism is covered in the chapter titled Austerity and Monumentality and finally the Eccentric movement is portrayed as Excess and Idiosyncrasy. Each chapter begins with a brief essay, which covers the essential features of the typefaces under review and how they can be translated from the historical setting into contemporary situations. Each illustration is accompanied by brief notes, which first describe the style, then note the main fonts used, with design, photographic and publishing credits. A great design reference or a brilliant present for someone who just might be your type.

2. Take Control — the Mac OS X Lexicon is down the price scale somewhat — a $US15 ebook. OK, so you’re already comfortable with metadata, hypertext and public key encryption. Even so, the authors argue you might still enjoy finding out where the term spam came from, what an 8x CD speed is eight times faster than, and what planet an Ogg Vorbis comes from. And do you know the difference between a dual-layer and a double-sided DVD? And is either one a Blu-ray?

The book is simply organised into alphabetical chapters. A hyperlinked alphabet A-Z runs down the right hand side of each page so you can move around quickly. in addition each chapter starts with an active list of contents. Further hyperlinks abound within individual entries and margin icons take you beyond the book — if you’re online. The definitions are concise, often witty but authoritative and lightly illustrated with cute graphics. This lexicon makes great use of some of the technologies it describes. Get it and impress your friends.

3. Google SketchUp for Dummies is a great way to get acquainted with this powerful piece of software. Author Aidan Chopra has designed this guide for people with little or no 3D modeling experience. He doesn’t claim to show you everything that SketchUp can do but focuses primarily on modeling buildings because this is SketchUp’s strongest suit. In the first of five parts Chopra, covers the basic concepts and does a quick run through with the software. Part two is the real hands-on section, which will have you constructing buildings with stairs and roof, extruding more complicated shapes and modeling with photographs. Part three shows you how to present your creation in a variety of ways and adding light and shadow. Part four deals with various modes of sharing. Here you will learn how to work with Google Earth and the Google 3D Warehouse, how to print your work and, for those with the Pro version, how to export to other modeling software. Part five, the Dummies traditional part of tens, gives you ten SketchUp problems and their solutions, ten invaluable plug-ins, extensions and resources and ten ways to further expand your knowledge, with or without your wallet open. This book really adds value to an amazing free piece of software and is about as painless an introduction to the world of 3D modeling as it gets.

PS. If you haven’t yet got into iLife ’08, Apple has made for you a series of ten or more nifty tutorials on each member of the suite. Each runs for about two minutes with high quality video and sound, so you’ll need a fast connection. In iPhoto you get a great overview of the new Events organising feature. iMovie includes the new Video Library feature and the growing number of output options. iDVD, seemingly the poor cousin in this iLife upgrade, just gets the basic treatment. In GarageBand you’ll get a demo of the new Magic GarageBand feature while iWeb tutorials will get your page up in no time complete with photos movies, blogs and podcasts.

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