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The Design Center / Creative Networking / January: Best Finds of 2005

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January: Best of 2005

... nothing better than finding good stuff

This month, DTG readers and subscribers of the Design Cafe share their favorite software or hardware discoveries from 2005
      We hope you enjoy these thoughtful comments as much as we did. BRAVO! Each of these will win a great prize from the Design Center.

Adobe Creative Suite

James writes:
      "Adobe's Creative Suite 2 stands head and shoulders above the pack for my work: graphic design and layout in a Windows XP-based facility. The combination of Photoshop and InDesign, supported by Illustrator and Acrobat, makes for a grand slam of software that enables me to turn out consistently higher quality work in less time.
      I currently produce little output for the Web, therefore I do not work with GoLive in CS2. The integration performed by Adobe's Bridge application has grown from its clunky and sluggish first steps to the more sure-footed walk of a confident toddler - no, not quite perfect yet, but able to handle the essential tasks of helping manage the growing pile of data that can now be "visualized" both electronically and in print.
      InDesign's support for older QuarkXpress files allows me to bring forward past design elements easily, and its advanced features surpass those of Quark. I appreciate being able to employ transparency and shadow features, as well as the advanced typographic features available with OpenType Pro fonts.
      There's little to say about Photoshop that hundreds of books haven't already said! With CS2 Adobe recognizes the importance of digital photography and included specialized filters that address camera noise, as well as the increased/improved functionality of the camera raw import filter. Refinements to the interface make for a working environment I have greater control over. For example, I can edit keyboard shortcuts now! It's "the little things" like this that make for a vastly improved experience.
      I employ Acrobat as a proofing tool and final RIP to send to a non-postscript wide format printer. This workflow is excellent, as I can send digital proofs to our in-house clients, make corrections and have final output all in the same day. Illustrator remains a bit of a lumbering behemoth, given the features and attention that Adobe has lavished on the other applications in the suite. While there's a lot of power in Illustrator, it remains the odd man out when it comes to the friendliness that has been brought to InDesign and Photoshop.
      You cannot master one of these CS2 applications and instantly expect to have an understanding of the others (I trust further integration and interface consistency will continue to be streamlined and refined). Coming from a Photoshop background, I find Illustrator takes greater concentration and effort - yet it's worth the work, especially when you can jump in and out of InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator, all while tweaking and refining a layout and its elements at the same time! "
[END QUOTE] James design professional from Topeka, KS, USA

iStock Photos & Cable Modem Help

Susan writes:
      "iStock Photos Need some inexpensive, royalty-free stock photography? This site has a variety of shots for around 3 bucks. So go ahead and design that site for the charity with a low budget or create your own non-profit domain just for fun; with this affordable stock, you can let yourself go WILD. Got a cable modem that locks up sometimes? Wondering how to test the speed to make sure you're getting what you pay for from your IP? This site offers instantaneous testing and a panel of experts that will answer your problems; plus an archive of searchable advice previously posted. "
[END QUOTE] Susan is a design professional from Burnsville, NC USA

I like Creative Public

Jason writes:
      "For four years, CreativePublic ( has provided one of the few business Web site resources for graphic designers by providing forms, contracts, pricing guides and other information to help graphic designers in self employed freelance graphic design. They provide an affordable product that educates graphic designers in the world of business.
      I use Mac OSX; and anything Adobe (Illustrator, Photoshop, GoLive, InDesign)"
[END QUOTE] Jason is a self employed freelancer from Allen, TX, USA

GameRange Studio

Andrew writes:
      "Do you remember good old games from the 80's? Guess what - there are good people out there, who create remakes of old classics to make sure they are with us forever. PacMan and BomberMan were the great gaming hits of 80's and if you enjoyed playing them, you will definitely fall in love with PacBomber. This game is a modern remake of popular classic games PacMan and Bomberman with several worlds and levels, beautiful graphics and sound effects, bonus items, teleports and offscreen tunnels. This is a Windows game... GameRange Studio -- Here's the direct Download link: pacbomberinstall.exe"
[END QUOTE] Andrew is a reader from South Dakota

Changing Wallpaper Calendar

Alexey writes:
      "This Shareware is a wallpaper manager for Windows. Semi-transparent wallpaper calendar with various skins. With Wallpaper Sequencer you can create collections of your favorite wallpapers (BMP, JPG, PNG, WMF, EMF, GIF or other image formats) and automatically change them on each Windows startup or at specified time intervals that can be as small as 1 minute. By pressing a hotkey, you instantly change to a different scene. The program can also enable the taskbar transparency (only under Windows 2000 and XP), revealing the entire wallpaper image. I love it... Wallpaper Sequencer Standard
      I use: Windows NT/2000 "
[END QUOTE] Alexey is an educator from Summerville, TX

And, that about wraps it up for this month. See'ya next month -- and don't forget to participate in another upcoming topic in the Design Center

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