Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.

Date: June 2005

Ulysses Speaks!

My old college acquaintance Noel would appreciate it, I'm sure. I never bought into the whole NoU thing, but their first album is so good it sounds like it was recorded tomorrow. #link

The bloggers have all the best news

I've read around this topic and I tend to agree with the concensus: British (and Irish) people are far better served by our mainstream media outlets, so we don't really have that urge to shake things up. #link

Simple templating with PHP

I should redo the Furnace website with this system. It'll make managing it much easier. (I'd use MT but I don't want to pay for a licence.) #link

The Helvetica Meditations

This has been linked pretty much everywhere else. But I like it, so there. (On a related note, I would have used Helvetica as the sans-serif for Furnace but it wasn't available, so Arial had to do. Not that you can tell the difference, really.) #link


From the regularly insightful Design Observer:
> The Daily Telegraph has won the prestigious UK Newspaper Design of the Year award for 2005, also known as “The Quark Award.” Quark, Inc. provider of QuarkXPress software, sponsors the award that singles out the UK’s best-designed newspaper. (The Telegraph is produced entirely in Adobe InDesign and InCopy software.)

MetaFilter moans about Matt Webb

Is this what we've come to? That we can't write on our own blogs without some jackass complaining we're not up to the standards of the New York Times or something? Jeez... #link

Holy Sith!

Two points, after seeing Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith:
* Doesn’t it strike you as odd that at the beginning of the movie the technology is all plasma screens and shit, but by the end they’ve regressed to knobs and switches and blinking lights? I know they needed to have continuity with the original trilogy, but come on!
* If there can only ever be two Sith lords at any one time, then who the fuck was Darth Maul?? Hello?!?

On Fire

So the class magazine that a small but dedicated group of us have been working very hard on over the last ten weeks has at last been sent to the printers. This week in particular has been markedly fraught, what with getting all the copy subbed and proofed, last-minute rewrites and image sourcing, weeding out a couple of potentially libellous statements — not to mention the interlude that was our shorthand exam on Tuesday, which sent the stress levels into the red.
But yesterday morning, finally, Kevin (the editor) and I collected all the necessary layout files to burn what I suppose could be called our ‘gold master’, which is currently winging its way towards Co Kerry via the Irish postal system.
I’m normally modest to the point of utter silence, but I’m not too shy to say I’m very proud of the work we’ve done. I’ll even go so far as to say (hold on tight, there’s a bold statement coming!) that compared to the previous years’ MA class magazines, ours kicks every one of them square in the ass.
But I’m a perfectionist and, even though I know it shouldn’t, even the slightest mistake sends me into a tizzy. Going through the final printout last night, I found four silly errors: a subbing error on the contents page where an upper-case capital should be lower-case; a standfirst that was kerned a little too tightly (though it’s still completely readable); and two layout bugs at the foot of articles towards the back, where hairlines drawn above the author’s e-mail addresses ended up below them instead.
They’re the kind of thing that aren’t really noticeable until they’re pointed out (the first two especially) and all things considered they don’t take away from the quality of the publication. But I hold myself to the highest possible standards, and even now while I’m writing this I’m kicking myself over them. I’m the design editor; it’s my responsibility to make sure everything is ready and looks perfect before the project gets locked down — and in this case, I didn’t live up to my own standards. They’re tiny, niggly little things that should have been obvious to me and I should have caught them at the final stage.
But I’m not completely down on myself. On the plus side, four minor mistakes in a 48-page magazine is a pretty good rate for a first-time design editor with no formal training and no previous experience in a project of this scale. And at the very least, I know what my mistakes are, so no one has to point them out to me. I’ve already learned from them, and the magazine hasn’t even been printed yet — that must count for something.
By the way, the magazine is called Furnace. It will be launched at a star-studded gala (read: hastily-thrown-together buffet reception) on the 13th of June, and it should be available in various locations throughout Dublin city centre thereafter, free of charge. There’s also a companion website, which will be handy if you can’t get your hands on a physical specimen.
If you’re reading this and you happen to be a journalist or editor, we’d be happy to flow you a copy so you can look at the work we’ve done (my mistakes included). Just send us a note with your contact details to furnace.magazine@gmail.com.