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

Weeknotes #679

I’m currently without my bicycle as I’ve left it into the local shop for a service, and won’t get it back till Monday afternoon. I’ve got so used to pottering around the neighbourhood on Ol’ Greenie (as I’ve just named it; it probably won’t stick) that I’m at somewhat of a loss. What am I supposed to do now? Walk?

In better news, my delayed Amazon order finally arrived today (though the parcel van person didn’t knock so I had to traipse to the delivery office — by foot, gawd!). Inside the box: the Blu-ray special edition of Apocalypse Now (the Nordic version, weirdly, but it’s in English so no big deal); the BD remasters of Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II (because Ghostbusters, and for the commentaries and extras); a DVD/CD drive for my new laptop (would have got a BD one but Apple doesn’t support the format — I mean WTF like — and I’m not paying an extra €30 for a codec FFS); and a set of sporks (for luncheon convenience).

Workwise, my review of the excellent Manuscripts Don’t Burn was published on Thumped, and there was one press screening for me on Wednesday evening (I’m embargoed till some time next week, sorry) which capped off a busy production schedule at the newspaper. Apart from the usual subbing, layout and putting to bed, I spent a lot of time (including much of last weekend) re-familiarising myself with InDesign in preparation for our imminent switchover from QuarkXPress (yes, I still use QXP, and I know, but we’re a low-budget operation).

Both programs more or less do the same thing — desktop publishing at this level is a standard practice — but there are quirks that make all the difference. The use of frames, for instance: QXP has separate frames for text and graphics, and right-click access to import and otherwise manipulate images/PDFs for the latter. No such luck with the (admittedly older) version of InDesign I’ve been rebuilding our templates in (better to do it from scratch as I can learn along the way, and won’t need to shell out hundreds of euro for a bloody file conversion plug-in). But now I’ve pretty much got the hang of placing and scaling images the InDesign way, as well as setting up paragraph and object styles to quickly contextualise frames for whatever page furniture I need (body text, headlines, image boxes and captions, etc).

Indeed, while the learning curve was steep coming from my way of doing things in QXP, setting up styles and master pages in InDesign has been a godsend (of the ‘How have I lived without this before?’ variety) and will make things so much less complicated for me going forward. As will exporting direct to press-ready PDF (so long, Acrobat Distiller!).

More time for subbing is a good thing. Plus, I’m finally putting that InDesign seminar I attended eight years ago to good use. I think that counts under the rubric of ‘professional development’.