Bob and Joy
                                      
 
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach
                                                                        

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  July 2005, Week 3 Bubbling Over
Bubbler

   We're bubbling over with enthusiasm for Bubbler, a blogging program for the blog impaired. It lets you post video, photos and, of course, your opinions to the Web as easily as if you were using one of the popular text-only blogging programs.

   Bubbler is sort of a competitor to Google's Blogger, Six Apart's Movable Type and Microsoft's MSN Spaces, but they hardly measure up to this kind of competition. You can post darn near any file straight to the Web without knowing any HTML coding or much of anything else. We posted a slide show of family photos and gave it password protection, and it was as easy as clicking "add file" and browsing to the place we had the slideshow stored. It came with music as well.
    Bubbler is made by Five Across (www.bubbler.com). It was founded by a former Apple engineer, so it works equally well with Windows or Macintosh. It was a cinch to use one of Bubbler's basic startup templates, but we had some difficulty removing the sample photo.
     A free version lets you create a text-only blog and post it to the Web. A "court reporter" feature lets you type messages that appear on the blog immediately. The full version that lets you post photos, video, sound, PDF and Office files costs $5 a month or $49 a year for up to 10 megabytes of blogging space; 500 megabytes would cost $25 a month or $200 a year.
  The Art of the Package Deal

Creative Suite 2

   Adobe has a $1,000 package of programs for Mac and Windows, and if you like it, you can save $1,500. It's called Creative Suite 2, and it pulls together most of Adobe's programs for advertising, publishing and Web design.
   It's common in the software industry to put together a package deal when sales of the individual items start to fall off. Microsoft Office is an outstanding example. It doesn't mean the pieces aren't great on their own, but just that the market for individual pieces is getting saturated.
     The success of a package then depends on price and pulling the pieces together. This, Adobe has done beautifully with an overlord program called Bridge. Bridge is a visual file browser. It gives you a quick look at all the files related to a particular project and all the files you've used recently. They show up as thumbnail images; click on any of the folders and you go right there to continue your work.
    Bridge pulls together the features of Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat 7, GoLive and the best-selling Photoshop in Creative Suite 2, Premium version. These five programs would cost $2,695 at list price, but are being marketed at $1,199 as a package. A Standard version, which leaves out Acrobat and GoLive, lists for $899. A search on the Web revealed only slight markdowns from these prices at discounters.
     Creative Suite is huge. We spent days with this package and barely touched its features. Here are just a few highlights:

 

  InDesign is Adobe's competitor to Quark Express, a $699 publishing program from Quark (www.quark.com). Like that program, InDesign is full-featured. You can create documents ranging from small brochures to multi-volume books.

     Snippet may be its neatest feature. Anything you create, including page layouts, can be saved as a snippet and dragged over to Bridge. Snippet not only saves it but also saves its position. So an item that is part of a layout, an image being created for a logo, for example, can be pulled and edited, and then when you put it back into Snippet, it is snapped right back into the logo.

 

  Adobe Illustrator is a top-of-the-line drawing and paint program.

  The best tools are Live Trace and Live Paint, which let you turn photos and other art into line drawings, sketches and paintings. The program lets you enlarge any artwork without getting the "jaggies" on the edges.

 

  Photoshop has a tool called Vanishing Point. Select a vanishing point on a building, say, where the image recedes into the distance. The program can then adjust any text and pictures to fit that receding image. The program will also adjust color tone and other markings so the new addition looks like it's always been part of the picture.

 

  GoLive is a powerful Web page creator. Simply drag and drop text and images into place on a screen, and you can publish your creation to the Web.

  You can also drag and drop PDF files onto the Web site. You can bring in just one page or an entire file. This holds true for anything created with InDesign, including books and brochures.
     Finally, the training video that comes with the package is one of the best we've ever seen; we couldn't have figured things out without it.
     It runs for one hour, but then continues for an additional hour if you register any of the programs. More training CDs are available from www.totaltraining.com, but they're expensive: 10 hours for $130.
     You can get a lot more detail at www.adobe.com.
  NOTE: Though many people buy high-end programs like this, we would say it's best suited to professionals and students in the graphic arts. Still, general users are a surprisingly big part of the market for high-end graphics.
  When we talked to sales clerks at office and computer stores, we learned that customers who say they just want to touch up their digital snapshots will usually buy Photoshop, even though it costs hundreds of dollars.

 

NOTE: Readers can search several years of columns at the "On Computers" Web site: www.oncomp.com. You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at bobschwab@aol.com and Joy Schwabach at joydee@oncomp.com.

  COPYRIGHT 2005 UNIV