The 2011 archive

These comments and polls appeared on the home page of during 2011:

December 2011

Vintage type

This beauty is on display in the MIAT, a museum about industrial archeology. I spent part of my day off admiring their collection of old letterset presses, hot metal typecasters and, of course, this Compugraphic Editwriter 7500.
The Agfa Compugraphic Editwriter 7500

What would Steve say?

Example of a bad reading experience with the Amazon Kindle appLike so many other technogeeks I bought Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs the day it came out. It is a pretty interesting read so I finished it in about a week. During the week-end I used the Kindle app on my iPad while nightly reading sessions were done with my phone. One of the themes in the book is the obsession of Steve Jobs with creating elegant and well-designed products. ‘Less is more’ was one of his mantras. In a minimalistic user interface every pixel had to be just right. While reading about this, I noticed how …more

Can’t get enough of photochrome prints

While working on my pages about the history of printing, I stumbled across the invention of the ‘Aac process’ around 1880. This technique was used to create photochrome prints, a type of color prints that were very popular between 1890 and 1910. The process was mainly used to print postcards. I find these old cards oddly compelling. They depict a world that has long gone in colors that are realistic but at the same time slightly ‘off’. Below is one such print, more can be found on my page about photochrom prints.

Milk sellers with a dog cart near Brussels, Belgium

A postcard of a dog cart near Brussels, Belgium - created using the Aac process

PrepressPete is tweeting

“Printing has become a science”, the boss declared. I looked around. Not a single scientist to be seen. Go figure!

New terms in the dictionary

Embedding – The process of including data such as fonts or graphics in a file.
E-13B font
– E13B is a font that is optimized for magnetic ink character recognition (MIRC), a technique used in the banking industry for processing cheques.
Lap register
– Register refers to the process of aligning colors (plates) properly during printing. With lap register the colors overlap slightly, as compared to butt register.
Dye – A substance used to color materials or liquids (such as ink)
Split run – A print job with one single frontside but two or more different backsides
– In the screen printing process a squeegee is a blade of rubber set on a handle and used for pushing ink through the mesh. In lithography, a squeegee is used to distribute ink as well but then it can also refer to a small roller.

November 2011

Visit the shrine

The new Shrine of Apple web site is loaded with beautiful pictures of old Apple products. Recommended for those rainy autumn evenings.

Hedy has to go

I am forced to clean up the printing dictionary because of some obscure WordPress bug. One of the victims is Hedy, who was in this dictionary for the past 10 years. Hedy Lamarr, in case you don’t know, was a famous movie actress from the 1930s and 40s. She was one of the first to appear nude in a major movie. During the second World War, she also invented (along with George Antheilt) spread spectrum technology, which is nowadays used in modems and mobile phones. For a few years, a drawing of her face was used by Corel for their drawing program Corel Draw. Apparently they never had permission for this (or were not aware of copyright laws) and Hedy took Corel to court. Both parties reached a settlement out of court.
Her brief fling with Corel got Hedy in the dictionary. It is a pity to see her go. She was probably more fun than ‘landscape’, the next glossary term after her entry.

Doom & gloom, once more

A book about 'books in our digital age' by Jeff GomezThis time it is RISI, a trade organization, who tell a story of doom & gloom. According to their predictions, the total demand for paper for magazines and newspapers will drop 12% to 21% by 2015. In the 10 years following that it will drop another 40% to 50%. RISI link this decline to the rise of tablet-style computers and e-readers.

On a lighter note: ‘Print is dead’ by Jeff Gomez was published in July 2009. I find it highly amusing that the book is still for sale but that the accompanying web site has in the mean time already vanished from the Internet.

A tiny historical print shop

During my holiday, I took a few pictures of the ‘Imprimerie’ at the Fourneau Saint-Michel museum in Saint-Hubert. You can find additional photos in the reworked pages about printing museums and in the blog.

Detail of the printing press at the historic museum of Fourneau Saint-Michel

The poll: the need for press checks

I recently added a page on how to do press checks to the site. It brought up the question on how much this is actually still done. I used to have colleagues who did these on a regular basis but in recent years either the need to do them or the willingness to invest in them seems to have disappeared. The poll asked users about their use of or involvement in press checks. As usual, there is also a thread on the b4print forums to share opinions about press checks.

The need for press checks

  • Sometimes for a few select jobs (44%, 72 Votes)
  • For all or most of the orders (26%, 43 Votes)
  • For quite some jobs (12%, 20 Votes)
  • Never (10%, 17 Votes)
  • Not anymore (7%, 11 Votes)

Total Voters: 163

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October 2011

The most beautiful bookstore in the world

I regularly visit this church which got converted into a bookshop and this time I had my camera with me. You can see more pictures on my page about the Selexyz Dominicanen book store.
The table shaped like a cross is a nice design touch

September 2011

The poll: keeping up-to-date

Even though the rate at which the graphic arts industry changes seems to have diminished somewhat in recent years, keeping up-to-date is still a challenge. On the one hand you need to keep up with the news: which new applications came to market, how does technology evolve, which vendors or competitors bit the dust, etc. On the other hand there is the more in-depth knowledge that is needed to work efficiently and get the job done. In this poll I asked visitors about the ways they keep up-to-date professionally.

How did you keep up-to-date professionally in the past year?

  • Web sites (16%, 128 Votes)
  • Manuals & on-line help (12%, 96 Votes)
  • Books (9%, 70 Votes)
  • Blogs (9%, 69 Votes)
  • Classroom training (9%, 67 Votes)
  • On-line courses (7%, 58 Votes)
  • Magazines (7%, 58 Votes)
  • Social Media (7%, 54 Votes)
  • Seminars & events (6%, 49 Votes)
  • Forum membership (6%, 43 Votes)
  • Webinars (5%, 42 Votes)
  • Industry associations (5%, 42 Votes)

Total Voters: 224

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Fighting the scrapers

‘Das Narrenschiff’ was one of the most popular books in the 15th century. Six authorized and seven pirated editions were published before 1521. It just shows that illegal copying is nothing new. Now this site got hit as well and I had to learn about site scraping.

PrepressPete is tweeting

Apparently a press check is also ‘pressing a hand on a girl’s crotch to check if she isn’t a transsexual.’ Yikes!

New words in the prepress & printing dictionary

Split run – A job with one single frontside but two or more different backsides.
– In the screen printing process a squeegee is a blade of rubber set on a handle and used for pushing ink through the mesh. In lithography, a squeegee is used to distribute ink as well but then it can also refer to a small roller.
Thermochromic ink
– An ink that contains leuco dyes which cause it to change color due to a change in temperature.

August 2011

PrepressPete is tweeting

After the sixth crash of my newspaper app, the paper version starts looking like a better idea again. It has a bigger screen as well!

So you think times are tough today?

Actually there is nothing new under the sun, as this advert from Vintageadbrowser shows. I also like the vintage ads on Dreamwidth, a site that has meanwhile disappeared off the net.

Free business cards!
Did this company morph into Vistaprint?

July 2011

Bad kerning

My wife looked at me accusingly when I spent a bit too much time looking at the image below in today’s newspaper. Obviously it was the bad kerning that got my attention! The picture was taken at a ‘SlutMarch’ in South Korea where women protested against violence and sexual crimes against women.

Bad kerning in a headline
OK, don’t touch – but can we retouch please?

Interested in the history of printing?

While searching for information on the history of printing, I came across the blog of MI Printing. It has lots of interesting posts and is highly recommended for all history buffs.

PrepressPete is tweeting

Hey prepress vendors: printers only respect big noisy machines – stop building compact platesetters & printers that beep and hum.

June 2011

QR for president

In recent months the page about the basics of QR codes has slowly gained popularity. It is now in the top 10 of the most popular pages on Given the interest in the topic, I have created an additional page with examples of the creative use of qrcodes. These include both printed barcodes as well as more unconventional uses of the technology.

QR code based advertising in a haircut
Scan my haircut

PrepressPete is tweeting

Talked to one of those ‘I love the smell of paper’ types. I actually like the smell of horses… but I will never sell my car to get one.

I love these old posters

The one below is on display in the brand-new MAS museum in Antwerp, Belgium. Photoshop wasn’t around in those days but that didn’t stop the artist from moving the continents around a bit on the globe. New York is almost a tropical city! Some books and other printed matter lent by the Plantin-Moretus museum are also being shown. It is a pity it was a bit too dark to take pictures of some of the engravings.

Poster for the Universal Exhibition of 1894

May 2011

PrepressPete is tweeting

A crying designer called the boss and claimed I ‘threatened’ her. Apparently my talk about trapping, bleed & creep had freaked her out!

PrepressPete is tweeting

You’re in prepress if you like your coffee ‘registration black’.

April 2011

PrepressPete is tweeting

Mistook the smoke from a small fire in finishing for an attempt by our boss to put our presses ‘in the cloud’.

A new record for the site

April 5th was a pretty special day for For the first time ever there were over 10000 pageviews on one single day! Unfortunately, site scrapers hit the site pretty soon after that and visitor counts dropped by more than 1500 page views per day. It took three months to figure out what went wrong and fix the problem.

PrepressPete is tweeting

Just finished drawing thin white lines on an ad. Customer insisted those ‘cool’ PDF flattening artefacts should also be visible in print!

March 2011

The poll: “print-ready” files

Graphic Arts Magazine ran a poll asking people how print-ready the files are that they get. That is an interesting question so I decided to run that same poll on this site as well. These results are quite different!

Are the files you receive from your customers "print-ready"?

  • No - most of the time we have to make adjustments. (57%, 72 Votes)
  • Sometimes - we occasionally have to make a few changes. (35%, 45 Votes)
  • Yes - they are usually ready to go with few problems. (8%, 10 Votes)

Total Voters: 127

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Not seen one of these, yet

Via the Booksprung blog, I learned about the Espresso Book Machine. I haven’t seen one of these presses yet and there only appears to be a single install in Europe. It does make an interesting addition to the history of prepress pages.

PrepressPete is tweeting

Boss just tweeted about our Facebook page which links to our site where we apologize for spam emails that our Linkedin fans accidentally got

February 2011

Old but still true

In an old issue of PrintWeek I found this quote from Modern Printing, published in 1900: ‘Requests for estimates from unknown persons that call for tedious calculations, and that seem to be made to satisfy vague curiosity, should be regarded as professional work, to be duly paid for’.

January 2011

The poll: what about 2011?

I recently read that in 2009 596 magazines disappeared in the USA. Last year there were only 17 casualties. Most pundits believe business will recover even more in 2011. I asked visitors for their opinion about2011 – will it professionally be better than 2010, about the same or worse?

Are you optimistic about 2011?

  • Yes, looking good! (58%, 563 Votes)
  • Worse than 2010 (24%, 232 Votes)
  • The same as 2010 (18%, 180 Votes)

Total Voters: 975

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PrepressPete is tweeting

Fun quote: There are 3 types of companies – those that make things happen, those that watch things happen & those that wonder what happened

Site summary

2011 was a pretty good year for the site. For the first time there were days with over 10 000 page views. There were over 230 000 page views during the year. The most popular sections, in order of importance, were:

  1. PDF
  2. Library (mainly due to the popularity of the page on the EPS file format)
  3. Fonts
  4. PostScript
  5. Design

Despite all the work I put in the prepress and printing dictionary, it still didn’t attract many visitors. After an initial slow winter around 260 pages either got added or were updated during the year. During the Christmas holiday I also updated the site to HTML5 and CSS3.

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