Rarely do we get near 100-degree weather this far up North, much less a string of sweltering high-ninety days in a row. I mean, seriously, if it weren't for 53 miles of lake water between us, we could literally shake hands with our neighbors in Toronto. And Canada, by all accounts, is known more for cold, snowy winters than for pavement wrinkling hot summers.
Confined to our air-conditioned offices during the record heat wave, we found ourselves tackling some long overdue homework: renovating our web site. It didn't take long to discover why the makeover had stayed on the back burner all this time. The deeper we got into it, the more we realized the site needed more than a new coat of paint. It's going to need a bulldozer.
On a much smaller scale, our second project was to find out whether Morning Flight will run on Microsoft's new OS, pre-released as Windows 8. I never doubted it would, but still, nice to get cleared for takeoff by the softies.
Unitac International Inc.
Morning Flight Gold, running on Windows 8
Look closely and you'll see Morning Flight Gold parked next to the suitcase in Metro. "Right! Got it," Anslow might say, he of the BBC's sitcom Keeping up Appearances. Loosely translated, what's the fuss?
The fuss is that we didn't have to lift a finger to make that happen. After years of public beta testing and not a single bug having surfaced since February of 2011, you can understand how reluctant we are to tear down the Morning Flight pricing engine for the sole purpose of making it run on a new operating system.
The fuss is also that the rock-solid and reliable Morning Flight edition you now own (or is waiting for you at the Printfire Store - still only $42.50 for the Passport Edition) will be running service free for the life of Windows 8. I'd call that outstanding!
Going up: New Printfire Website
Most of the nearly seven billion web pages on the internet are static HTML, presenting the same information to all visitors, much like handing out a printed brochure. We wanted something more when we decided to give the Printfire website a complete makeover. Much more. The pages had to be interactive, generated on the fly from bits and pieces in a database. We wanted a place where people could come and do stuff.
The site we're building is powered by Drupal, a Content Management System. Drupal is based on the open source LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP), meaning it's free and can be hosted pretty much anywhere.
When it comes to designing a CMS, you buy a theme and adapt it to your needs. Even with time on your hands, you never, ever want to start from scratch. My first impulse, always, is to go for the cool and classy European look (Di'Verso). Then I reign myself in and settle on warm and fuzzy and easy to get around in (Mistix). Hope to have the site up and running for our next FlyBy.
Print Production Fundamentals
As a developer, I often spend more time learning than designing and coding. One of my favorite hangouts for that is lynda.com. The other day, I accidentally ran into "Print Production Fundamentals" which, after thirty-seven years of running a print shop, I could easily have ignored. I didn't, but in hindsight maybe should have. Why wasn't this kind of stuff available for the benefit of more than one clueless designer we had no fun working with?
Produced by Claudia MCue, the course is available at Lynda.com. For $25/month you get access to all training videos in the library.
Tip of the Month
Can Morning Flight be used by In-Plant Shops?
Absolutely. When it comes to estimating and job tickets, there are only two basic differences between commercial and in-plant shops:
1. In-Plants usually have a single customer (the corporate entity), but still have to distribute costs to the various departments.
2. Unlike their commercial counterparts, In-Plants as a rule are not expected to make a profit. They're not generally treated as profit centers.
The first difference is easily accommodated. Instead of an order being entered for ACME Plumbing, the job ticket now reads Dept 16A - Engineering. That only leaves markups. More to the point, disabling them. Morning Flight uses markups only for paper, with a single control panel for adjusting them.
When you press F4 for My Store (where the control panel is located), the lowest markup you can enter with Validation On is 5%. Here is where the Tip of the Month comes in: Click the umbrella icon to make sure "Goofy" is showing. That turns Validation Off. You're now free to enter any value you like, including zero for no markup.