Jul '08

Photoshop vs Fireworks

Anyone who has seen any of my presentations over the last year and half or so knows that I poke a bit of fun at our beloved Photoshop when it comes to both image optimization (Fireworks makes a smaller JPEG by default) and using Photoshop to prototype web layouts. I always make sure to point out that Photoshop is a fantastic tool – I mean, duh, we all use it. But a tool is just that – it should be used to accomplish the task that it was designed for. Unless you’re really desperate (or maybe you can’t find the hammer), you wouldn’t try to hammer a nail with a screwdriver. As professionals, we have a wide variety of tools at our desposal and it’s our job to select the right tool for the right job.

And therefore, I appreciated the fact that several web professionals took up this discussion for Digital Web Magazine. If you’re interested in this on-going debate, check it out. (And thanks to Stephanie for sending me the link.)

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Jul '08

When Computers Attack

Okay, so my computer (in this case a MacBook Pro, Core 2 Duo) didn’t actually “attack”, but rather simply died… repeatedly. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been “offline” for about three weeks now. That’s not because I “wanted” to, but rather because upon arriving in Kuala Lumpur, my MBP decided not to boot. After highjacking my fellow evangelists to the hotel lounge, and working for over four hours on the machine – during which we tried booting while holding verious key combinations, using an external disk as a boot drive, booting from the Leopard CD and hooking the computer up as a Firewire disk – we were left with decidedly mixed results. Several times we were able to reach the desktop, but upon attempting to actually open files or applications we hit the beachball of death. Other times we never even made it that far, being forced to reboot due to a gray screen. There is/was no logic in any of the scenarios… it was more a question of “flip a coin”. But the strange thing was, the external drive never gave us a problem, booting repeatedly and without incident. Hmmm…

I subsequently limped through the rest of our tour, booting off of an external drive and having to shutdown completely after every session. Additionally, due to the external USB drive, battery life died to only a maximum of ~90 minutes. This made all work (and yes, that’s blogging too) incredibly painful… So I went ahead and ordered a replacement drive (the exact same model as before), which was waiting for me upon my return home. I spent the better part of that Monday (now 8 days ago) removing/replacing/reformatting/restoring the new HD into the old MBP. And, here’s the part I love, Time Machine restored literally EVERYTHING! Even my browsing history to the point that FF3 asked me if I wanted to restore my previous (albeit from 3 weeks prior) session. Too cool!

And with that, I truly thought that life (in the digital sense) was back to normal. But, low and behold, over the weekend I began to notice the same “beachballs” as before. This time though, the MBP would only spin a bit and then respond normally. That is until today. Last night, as I was about to finish my expense reports for my Asia trips, I hit the beachball again. And only after some 20 reboot attempts did it come up normally. Thinking that the system might somehow be corrupt, I even downloaded the lastest Apple update manually, and installed it. Then came the “morning of truth” – I put the laptop to sleep and placed it in my bag. But when I pulled it out on the plane, everything was gone… done… only a gray screen, regardless of how long you waited. Shite!!!

I immediately headed for the Seattle Apple Store (thanks, guys!), where we were able to diagnose the problem to either a logic board or the harddrive ribbon (the real culprit). But guess which part they didn’t have in stock… So, with no other option, and hundreds of registered attendees awaiting my sessions (all 7 hours) tomorrow, I had to purchase a completely new MBP. While at dinner, I let it restore my MBP backup (via TimeMachine), and once again TimeMachine impressed me. Literally everything (including the contents of my trash) was restored.

So, here we are again… Finally and reliably back online. For those readers waiting on the posts from the Masters Tour, I’ll be getting those up this week – thanks for your patience.



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