The 2009 archive

These comments and polls appeared on the home page of during 2009:

December 2009

The poll: Are you a computer junky?

It has been raining or snowing for weeks now. I find myself in front of a computer screen both during the day and most of the evening. Here is how many hours per day other visitors to spend in front of a computer screen.

How much time do you spend in front of a computer screen each day?

  • 8 to 10 hours (32%, 169 Votes)
  • > 10 hours (28%, 148 Votes)
  • 6 to 8 hours (21%, 112 Votes)
  • 4 to 6 hours (11%, 58 Votes)
  • < 4 hours (8%, 40 Votes)

Total Voters: 524

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PrepressPete is tweeting

JOY is having a back-up but not telling the sales idiot that you could recover the report that he once again ‘accidentally’ deleted.

A look back at 2009

For the printing industry, the past year hasn’t exactly been a good year. My history of prepress page about 2009 mainly talks about the economic crisis.

Meanwhile 2009 has been an excellent year for this site. I’ve added and updated loads of articles, enjoyed doing so and learned a lot along the way. Monthly page views tripled to 100000 views per months. Below is a list of the 20 most popular pages of 2009. Consider it a ‘recommended reading‘ list.

The Prepressure home page





I like Windows 7

So much in fact that I have creating a Working with Windows 7 in prepress page which lists some tips and tricks as well as recommendations.

PrepressPete is tweeting

I saw one of our pressmen stare at a press sheet for several minutes. Woohoo, we have a printer that can read!

Mmmm…. Windows 7

I recently upgraded my home PC to Windows 7 Ultimate, after hearing Bill Blynn praise the system so much in his Techbyter podcasts. I find it to be the best Microsoft operating system since Windows 2000 and would like to use it at work as well. Unfortunately our IT-department is probably stuck in XP-land for another year or two. Here are some of the reasons why Windows 7 is an interesting operating system for prepress operators:

  • Grab a window and move it to either the left or right hand side of the monitor, until the cursor touches the edge of the screen. The window automatically resizes to half of the available screen space. This makes it easy to put two windows next to each other to compare stuff. This is useful when comparing a PDF to ripped data or when comparing the content of two folders.
  • Microsoft seem to have taken a good look at the OS X dock. The Windows 7 taskbar allows you to permanently ‘pin’ programs to the taskbar. As with the OS X dock, an application gets highlighted whenever it is running. Right-clicking such an app takes you to a list of recently opened documents. Hover the mouse over an active application and you get to see all of its windows. This is especially useful when copying files: once you start a big file transfer, you just need to move the mouse over the Explorer icon to see how far along the file transfer is.
  • Windows 7 ships with 235 fonts. Compared to OS X there seem to be more non-latin fonts in it and less ‘classics’. Even though there is already a page on Windows 7 font management on this site, I still need to dive a bit deeper into this matter. I am not entirely happy with the way Windows 7 handles font anti-aliasing by default. Text is a bit thin and has a slightly colored edge to it. Fortunately the bundled ClearType Text Tuner application can be used to tweak the settings. Font management tools for Windows 7 is another topic that I still need to look into. Compared to the OS X Font Book application, the Windoqs 7 Font control panel is pretty limited.
  • As with OS X, you can use the search tool to start applications, which is very handy. I do miss the dictionary that is built into OS X.
  • Yet another practical little thingy that was borrowed from the Mac: sticky notes! I like having the possibility of adding to do notes to the desktop. By hitting CTRL+B or CTRL+I with text in a note selected you can make it bold or italic. CTRL+SHIFT+L creates a bulleted or numbered list. To change the font size, highlight text, hold down the CTRL key and roll the mouse wheel. It is a pity you cannot change the default font though. Deleting the Segoe Print font seems to be the only way to force the system to switch to MS Sans Serif.
  • My existing applications run fine. I did check the compatibility of all of them before doing the upgrade – especially because I went from a 32-bit OS to the 64-bit release. Norton Anti-virus was the only incompatible app which required a payable upgrade. Fortunately Microsoft Security Essentials is free and seems to do a reasonable job according to the reviews I read. If you’re also contemplating a move to 64-bit (which is necessary if you want to use more than 3.5 or so MB RAM), make sure that there are compatible drivers for all your hardware.
  • I use SyncToy to back-up data and had to wait for version 2.1, which fixed some compatibility issues. Regarding security: creating an emergency recovery disc proved to be remarkably easy in Windows 7. Just go the the backup control panel and use the ‘Create a system repair disc’ function. Do it as soon as you installed the OS. This is one of those things that don’t get done afterwards and at some point in time, you might desperately need such a disk.
  • I used Vista for 6 months and hated it. Most of its glitches seem to have been fixed in Windows 7. The system feels faster. With my Vista set-up my user profile would not load properly once every two weeks or so, forcing me to restart the machine. That problem is gone in Windows 7. Every now and then my monitor would revert to a lower resolution in Vista, causing the taskbar to disappear. The exact same video driver works fine in Windows 7.
  • There is a video training about Windows 7 on which I can recommend. Watching videos is an easy way of learning things. Unlike classroom training, you can skip any part that you are not interested in. Working in the printing industry, I should also recommend a book or two but I haven’t gotten round to reading a Windows 7 one yet. I think the video tutorials makes introductory books irrelevant and those giant ‘Ultimate Guide to…’ books which I used to buy in the past seem to always remain unread for the most part. O’Reilly’s ‘Windows 7 Annoyances’ and ‘Windows 7 Administrator’s Pocket Consultant’ might be worth a look.

For more information on using Windows 7 in prepress, check out this page.

November 2009

The poll: Can on-screen proofing replace paper?

On-screen proofing has become popular in recent years. The diminishing use of paper proofs is however not necessarily driven by vast improvements in monitor and softproofing technology. The speed advantage of transferring electronic bits versus actual paper as well as the unwillingness of customers to actually pay for any kind of proofing are important factors as well. If you ignore these considerations and simply look at the quality of both types of proofing, what is your opinion on the use of on-screen proofing?

Can on-screen proofing replace proofs on paper?

  • No! (37%, 99 Votes)
  • Yes, for some jobs (35%, 95 Votes)
  • Yes, for most jobs (18%, 47 Votes)
  • Yes! (10%, 27 Votes)

Total Voters: 268

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Gotta keep learning new stuff

English isn’t my native language, which means I occasionally struggle with the names of fairly common objects. Take for instance that funny character that is used in most applications to indicate the end of a paragraph or the presence of a carriage return. I must have seen millions of these over the last few years. Never did I ask myself how it is called.

Pilcrow Sign
Pilcrow Sign

I finally learned its somewhat odd name while working on the page about the names of glyphs. Even if English isn’t your second or third language, you may want to check out that overview. Who knows which discovery you might make!

Another thing that I had already seen in the past but only learned about recently are QR barcodes. I should get some business cards with the Prepressure Quick Response code on them.

QR code for
QR code for

October 2009

We should move on

I’ve neglected this site a little over the past few weeks as my attention got caught by other stuff such as photography and enjoying our beautiful autumn. My wife even convinced me to visit the local fashion museum. It had an exposition on paper dresses, which were invented in the late 60’s by Scott Paper Company as a marketing gimmick. Apparently the trend took off and millions of dresses were sold in the next few years. Even famous artists like Andy Warhol got in on the trend. The museum had asked a few fashion designers to come up with their own creations, using today’s technology and materials. Below you see the rather amusing creations of Walter Van Beirendonck.

Designs by Walter Van Beirendonck
Designs by Walter Van Beirendonck

I was looking at these and wondering why our industry is reportedly ‘going down the drain’ while there are ideas like this that seem to remain stuck in museums. Instead of complaining about book printing being threatened by ereaders, catalogs getting replaced by web sites or people no longer being interested in newspapers, maybe it is time our industry started looking for some fresh new ideas!

September 2009

The poll: upgrading to Snow Leopard

I upgraded a test machine the week that OS X 10.6 became available. What did you do?

Will you upgrade to OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard?

  • I just did/am about to (50%, 191 Votes)
  • I won't (19%, 73 Votes)
  • I'll wait (for 10.6.1) (17%, 64 Votes)
  • My Mac doesn't support it (14%, 55 Votes)

Total Voters: 382

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PrepressPete is tweeting

No time to tweet while working on an important low-budget job with flexible deadlines that is supposed to be an exact reprint with changes.

Font of the week: Univers

For years I used Univers for many of the little jobs that I created myself. It has a clean, modern look and my AgfaType library included a wide variety of faces. Today I might pick another interesting font …or maybe not, after all ‘Old love never dies’.

Univers 55 Roman
Univers 55 Roman

August 2009

The end of prepress evolution?

Prepresspilgrim pointed me to an interesting discussion on the PrintPlanet forum about the end of prepress evolution. I contributed a post but need to think this through a bit more. This site finally has a separate (as yet nearly empty) Prepress section and now people tell me that we are all doomed? No, thanks!

PrepressPete is tweeting

Of all the people that have nothing to say, the ones that keep quiet are the most enjoyable.

The poll: How do you send and receive files?

Long gone are the days of Syquest cartridges and ZIP drives. In my case they have been replaced by FTP and e-mail attachments. Most people still prefer to send me DVDs as soon as the amount of data exceeds half a gigabyte. Below are the poll results about data transfer mechanisms.

How do you frequently send or receive graphic files?

  • FTP server (31%, 50 Votes)
  • Email attachment (29%, 47 Votes)
  • CD or DVD (15%, 24 Votes)
  • Free web service (10%, 16 Votes)
  • Web portal (10%, 16 Votes)
  • Other solution (5%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 103

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Font of the week: Bifur

This typeface was designed by Adolphe Mouron Cassandre, a commercial poster artist who later also created Peignot, another interesting and well-known typeface. Bifur created quite a stir in the typographic world when it was released in 1929.


July 2009

PrepressPete is tweeting

I spent all afternoon struggling with an evil Garamond typeface. ‘Font’ is indeed a 4-letter word that starts with an ‘F’.

An impression from the ‘Historische drukkerij’

I recently visited this cosy printing museum in Turnhout, Belgium and took a bunch of pictures. Take a look if you’re into hot metal type, 150 year old Marinoni presses and other ‘old stuff’.

The front page of a newspaper
The front page of a newspaper

If you like looking at historic prepress and printing equipment, also check out the pages on the Kaartenmuseum and the Plantin-Moretus museum.

June 2009

PrepressPete is tweeting

My daughter was mightily impressed when the elephants were fed in the local Zoo. Obviously she never saw us feed the Rotoman!

The poll: When do you calibrate?

Calibration is a bit like back-ups. For some it is a daily routine while others will only spend time on it after they have run into their first major disaster. This poll asked how often people have a go at calibrating or linearizing output devices like a platesetter, a printer or even a monitor?

How often do you calibrate or linearize output devices?

  • Never (23%, 20 Votes)
  • On a daily basis (22%, 19 Votes)
  • Every week (21%, 18 Votes)
  • Once every few months (17%, 15 Votes)
  • Only during tech support visits (13%, 11 Votes)
  • Every month (5%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 87

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Me print guy, me web stupid

I have a nice page on paper sizes, that until recently was pretty popular with visitors to this site. Some weeks ago I read some recommendations on the use of proper URLs so that Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines actually find such gems. So I optimized the URL. Virtually immediately a mere 4 people still found that page each day! Apparently this has to do with the links that others, such as maybe you, created to this page. Do me a favor please and update or add the link to the new page on your site! The new super optimized URL is
Now that you are at it, I am also still looking for some fun anecdotes for my jokes pages, especially about printers. Share your fun!

PrepressPete is tweeting

We don’t have the ‘Aureole’ font a customer wanted us to use. I told them it is popular in porn magazines. They let me switch to Helvetica.

Word of the day: hickey

English is not my native language. While listening to a podcast of Sandee Cohen, author of ‘From design into print’ I learned that there is such a thing as a hickey. It is a small non-inked circle or spot that appears in print on images or flat tints. Hickeys are caused by dirt, paper fibers or hardened specks of ink on the printing plate or blanket. Of course once I knew the English word for them, I started seeing hickeys everywhere. Here is a nice example of 4 hickeys circling the face of Buzz Aldrin, the astronaut. Don’t they look just like little satellites?

4 hickeys
Found the fourth hickey yet?

PrepressPete is tweeting

“Print is dead,” my buddy mumbled – wearing a screen-printed Tshirt, with a 6-color bag in one hand and a lottery scratch card in the other.

May 2009

PrepressPete is tweeting

Kodak tidbit: Last summer if you had paid as much for gasoline as you do for printer ink it would have cost $400,000 to fill a gas tank.

The poll: print, web, or both?

Many companies nowadays offer both print and web services. Sometimes the teams that handle these tasks are completely separate. There are also places where you are expected to do both kinds of jobs. In this poll, I asked visitors if they are only working on print or on web stuff as well? Or do people move from one to the other, depending on the work at hand?

Does your job involve both print & web stuff?

  • No, 100% print (33%, 101 Votes)
  • Mainly print, some web stuff (27%, 85 Votes)
  • About 50/50 (18%, 57 Votes)
  • More internet than print (13%, 40 Votes)
  • Web only (9%, 27 Votes)

Total Voters: 310

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PrepressPete is tweeting

I had to chuckle when I got an email today from a customer who complained about ‘a tipo’.

April 2009

PrepressPete is tweeting

My wife dislikes Twitter: “How are you going to make a living once the entire planet uses 140 characters to express themselves?” Mmmm….

Are we prepress dinosaurs?

During my Easter holiday, I spent some time updating the history of prepress pages. I wanted to add a bit of background information on the years preceding the DTP revolution. Two things took me a bit by surprise.

First of all, it was amazing how little information is available on the web about this fascinating era when photocomposition revolutionized the industry. There are many single pages with some information but surprisingly few sites that offer anything substantial. Most pages document the big picture but few offer any in-depth information. Usually, it is the other way around on the web; lots of nerdy details but no context or overview. That felt weird!

As a ‘Mac guy’ I was also amazed at how much changed in the sixties and seventies. When I entered the graphic arts industry, it was with the confidence of a newby who ‘would teach the old farts a trick or two’. Apparently those old farts had already done the same thing themselves in the previous decade! I still remember looking at an old Scangraphic machine that we were about to replace by a few Macs and QuarkXPress. I popped an 8-inch disk out of one of the drives, waved it and puffed ‘Phew, it is hot in here’. The operator who had probably worked for a decade on that machine got angry by my lack of respect. He told me ‘N’oubliez pas monsieur, chaqu’un son epoque!’, which loosely translates to something along the lines of ‘each man his own era’. Every time I think back on this, I wonder if I have indeed already become a dinosaur. A prepress dinosaur, ready to be eaten by the web predators. Scary!

PrepressPete is tweeting

John wrote ‘CSI’ on the job card because it was an InDesign job – The boss now thinks we consider ourselves a bunch of detectives!

PrepressPete is tweeting

– Going to a CS4 seminar next week. I’ll wear an old QuarkXPress t-shirt to annoy the Adobe zealots – finally a useful Quark product!
The CS4 show: 4 hours of AIR Flash Web Push Xml RSS Yada Yada Yada… Print got mentioned twice, once by accident. What a waste of time!

PrepressPete is tweeting

Reply of my boss when I mentioned looking into web-to-print solutions: “What’s the point of web-to-print? We’re a sheetfed shop!”

Font of the week: Arial Unicode MS

While Arial itself is a fairly controversial font, the Unicode MS version is an interesting implementation since it contains over 50000 glyphs.

Arial Regular
Arial Regular

PrepressPete is tweeting

Had an early breakfast in a Swedish hotel when the newspapers arrived – The room smelled of bacon and print – Mmmmm….

A lazy afternoon at the museum

I recently revisited the Plantin-Moretus museum and took some pictures to test a new lens. Both the museum and the Nikkor 16-85  VR are pretty amazing!

The press room
The press room

PrepressPete twittered on April 1st

We got hold of a quote of a nearby competitor today and cannot figure out if it is an April fools joke or if they are really THAT desperate.

March 2009

PrepressPete is tweeting

Fun from the B4print forums: “Postscript is DEAD! I went to the funeral. It wasn’t an open coffin… PS had been flattened.”

The poll: is RGB OK?

Some printers seem to have pretty outspoken opinions when it comes to getting RGB-files. They refuse any files that require them alter the content of the data. Funnily enough some of those printers are perfectly willing to use ink saving software (and thus color management) when it can save them money. The March poll asked people about their shop’s policy on getting files with RGB-data in them. Do they accept the files or ask for a new file that is CMYK only?

Do you accept RGB-data or should designers supply CMYK-only files?

  • We accept RGB-data (58%, 74 Votes)
  • No, CMYK only (42%, 53 Votes)

Total Voters: 127

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PrepressPete is tweeting

Did a 7-year old do this? I asked. The customer was not amused, apparently his daughter is already 9.

Font of the week: Eurostile

Eurostile is a somewhat futuristic looking geometric sans serif typeface.

Eurostile Medium
Eurostile Medium

PrepressPete is tweeting

Increased press operator productivity by 20% today – Uninstalled Minesweeper and Solitaire on their control-PC – They hate me even more now!

PrepressPete is tweeting

Saw a waiter label me as a ‘weirdo’ when I pulled out a loupe to look at the printing on a bottle of beer.

The poll: preflighting PDF files

According to a recent study, a surprising number of PDF files never get checked properly before sending or after receiving them. This inspired me to add a page about preflighting PDF files to this site. At the same time it got me curious since the numbers in that study seem overly optimistic. That is why the poll asked whether people preflight incoming or outgoing PDF files. They could select more than one answer, to distinguish between data they send out or files that they get from others.

Do you preflight incoming or outgoing PDF files?

  • All incoming files (28%, 42 Votes)
  • What is preflight? (28%, 41 Votes)
  • All outgoing files (23%, 35 Votes)
  • Some outgoing files (8%, 12 Votes)
  • Some incoming files (7%, 10 Votes)
  • None of the outgoing files (3%, 5 Votes)
  • None of the incoming files (3%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 118

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February 2009

PrepressPete is tweeting

Got CorelDraw 4 file today – made customer eat all 14 floppies the software came on – problem solved

Font of the week: Optima

Optima became an instant classic after its release in 1958. Its design is based on some sketches on a 1000 lire bank note!

Optima Medium
Optima Medium

January 2009

2500 page views

Late January this site for the first time had over 2500 page views on a single day. The most popular pages were the ones on the EPS file format and how to edit PDF files as well as the home page.

The poll: the crisis

When I asked people in this discussion what the major trends of 2008 were, there were quite a few that mentioned the economic crisis and its impact on our industry. The press definitely do their best to paint a pretty black picture but is the company that you work for really affected by the current crisis?

Is the company you work for affected by the crisis?

  • Yes it is (43%, 59 Votes)
  • Slightly (22%, 30 Votes)
  • No (12%, 17 Votes)
  • Not yet (12%, 16 Votes)
  • Worst crisis ever (11%, 15 Votes)

Total Voters: 137

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A visit to the Plantin-Moretus museum

Some time ago I happily left the busy shopping streets to the Christmas crowds and spent a quiet afternoon in the wonderful Plantin-Moretus Museum.

Detail of a press that is still in use
Some of the presses are still in use

It is always nice to see how things were done hundreds of years ago.

Flemish blackletter
Flemish blackletter

Don’t forget to also look at my pictures of the ‘Kaartenmuseum’.

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