This is my little piece of the world. I'm a relentless tech junkie and prepress guy ...these are my ramblings and useless swill.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Crayon Physics is Coming!!

Crayon Physics is one of my kids favorite games to play on my jailbroken (shhhh) iPod Touch. Enter firmware 2.0, that is all gone. Well now I can be excited again as Crayon Physics will be officially released for the iPod and iPhone on 2009... Yeah!!! The kids will be so pleased!

Update: Here's a Youtube Video of it in action. WOW

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

95 Old School Video Games

Want a blast from the past.... The you need to check out this website.

What's you favorite? Its a toss up between 1942, Defender and Galaga.

Enjoy this....

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I Loath You Snow Plow

Die, Die Die...

Why can't you just post a schedule of when you will go by...

Don't you know I just finished plowing the driveway from the last time you went around the block. You are so inconsiderate!

I remember back in the day when I was growing up a snow plow just like you kept taking down one of our neighbors mailboxes... Then one spring afternoon I came outside to see the neighbor sinking an I-beam in 6 ft of concrete and adding plywood to disguise the masterpiece. New Mailbox...Bingo!

Fast forward to the next winter. I come strolling out of the house to find the right "wing" of the local city snow plow sitting there attached to the "mail box"...hydraulic fluid and some twisted fittings on the ground.

I just smiled!

Photoshop Evolution

Here is a great picture of the 20 years of Adobe Photoshop tool pallet evolution, Thank you Gizmoto
I remember using Photoshop back at version you?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snowplow Priorities after Snowfall

This totally made me smile knowing all the snow we have had in Appleton so far this year... over 35 Inches and this is the first day of winter. Thank you GraphJam

Friday, December 19, 2008

Reloading Windows

What is the hardest part about reloading MS Windows? I say its the drivers. Collecting all the drivers and updating to make sure you have the latest and greatest. This great article over at digital inspiration has a great article on the steps to make reinstalling a no brainier. One key here as they point out is collecting the drivers. This great tool called DriverMax takes all the leg work out of this for you. It checks drivers for updates, backs them up even has a web interface to track your drivers and configurations. It's pretty slick. I just love google reader for finding all these tasty tidbits...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

12 Things You Didin't Know About A Christmas Story

I loved a Christmas Story! What a riot. I know I have seen it over 25 times myself... and I think I have it down word for word...well not all of it.
Here is a listing of 12 things I bet you didn't know about this great movie! Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Running on Empty

I'm on a kick today and its not good... Let me set the stage for you.

We have this support issue with one of our trusted vendors. They have this system that we use and they support it remotely. Well it's not just a system, its our huge workflow system here at the plant and throughout the whole org. In the old days they used to support it via 56K modems and this was way too slow. They kicked up their support offerings a notch and now they can access all their installed machines via something I like to call the world wide web. Faster, better, SUPER!! Well this is true for all the 4000 other systems they have ever sold except for the systems that are installed here at the little place I like to call work!! Why is that you ask? Well for some reason our technology staff does not like something about the way the remote connection software works. They say it goes against SOX rules and it rubs the "governance" people the wrong way. What the? Do they have any clue how much longer support takes at 56K vs T-1 or T-3 speeds? Certainly all the "governance" people do not use dial up at home do they?

So thinking I was so smart, I took a stab at this and called some lower level tech guy to see what the "H" was the matter with him. I was respectful and tactful but this guy was not hearing anything I had to say. It was going in one ear and out the other. All I heard was "back of the hand", this rule, that rule, this wall, that wall... nothing doing! I really felt like John Candy in Uncle Buck as he talked to his girlfriend on the phone. The vid quality stinks, but you get the idea of how the conversation went. I could not get in a word edgewise at all.

"Okay, that didn't go well!" as I hear my boss routinely say after a thrashing of a conference call.

How can these people run on empty like this and hide behind all these rules? I'm not trying to cause trouble, I just want to do what an honest EDUCATED answer to my inquiries. I'm just asking the question... a few "Why'"s and then I'm be on my way. Why can they not answer me in a civilize manner, instead hide behind PDF files and corporate websites. I know, they have no clue and this is the only way to get me off their that it?

We have a preferred vendor we spend millions upon millions of dollars with, plus we trust basically our entire workflow to them, BUT we do not trust them enough to have high speed internet access to their servers? I just do not get it at all. I feel like i'm banging my head against a wall when I talk to these people. Is it just me?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Little red car

After my Mission I had one dear Rochester friend that was truly amazing. She really inspired me and I feel it necessary to share....sorry again for the nostalgia post, I just can't help it. Growing up we lived a few miles apart and never saw each other as we each attended different LDS congregations and only saw each other for regional activities. I'm not sure how we actually became friends, I'm betting the LDS Hill Cumorah Pageant held each year had something to do with it.

She had a boyfriend who I worked with at a local gas and sip establishment and I hung out with them from time to time. She was my age but he was a few years my senior so it was cool to hang with one of the older crowd. He was a tech geek and that didn't hurt either, even though we both got mocked for liking technology... nothing seems to change now does it. It really never amounted to much, we just enjoyed each others company and could hang out. Heather as she liked to be called at that time, drove a Dodge Colt, red. It went everywhere. She was really into sign language and also moon lighted, my words not her's, as a nanny, or maybe it was the other way around..not a big point. Either way she was so amazing to me. Amazing why you ask? She not only took care of 2 girls as a full time nanny, but she watched over and cared for her mother who had failing health... oh and was one of my best friends too. Some people use their job or situations as a crutch to get out of social interaction, not Heather. It made her stronger and a better friend. She always seemed to put others first before herself. Case in point, the sign language. People who sign are helping others do something they can't do for themselves...hear. Signing is a skill that takes years and years to learn and frankly Heather is one of the best around. In the Deaf community, she may be considered the best. Heather always put others first. I remember her always coming way across town to pick me up and we could go to dinner or hang out... always in her red colt. She would drive and I would sit along side and we would just talk and talk and talk. Catch up from the days events and really talk about nothing, but we were both so happy to enjoy our friendship together. Heather and Scott had one of those off again, on again relationships, but in the back of my mind, I always knew they would be together. Sometimes I felt she really wanted me... but that would have ruined a good friendship :)~ While driving,  Heather would tell me of the ups and downs between her and Scott and I would tell her of the downs in my love life, which at that time, seemed the biggest topic. Sometimes friends just need time together and the rest of the conversation takes care of itself. I like that about friends.

Fast forward to January 1990. I was out at BYU and Heather decided to drive the red Colt out west for what reason, not quite sure. I just can't remember. At that time, Scott had not yet made his way out there. So it was Heather and I to hang out and do whatever. Dinner, dancing, hanging out and mostly reckless abandonment for school and all things studying were the order of the evening..most evenings in fact. I would always look for reasons to get out of school work to hang out. Heather was a teacher at the Missionary Training Center, teaching, what else Sign Language. As I remember it, she was the first, and probably only, teacher in the MTC to have never served a full time mission. But they needed good ASL teachers and she was the best. Here is yet another example how she put others first. Teachers always seem to put others first. There's a pattern here...can you see it?

Heather and I were the closest of friends. I was with her when she got married to Scott in the Toronto LDS temple. What a wonderful milestone in her life and one I will never forget. As a married couple, they indulged me when they both moved back to Utah to finish college, but a 3rd wheel sometimes isn't the best option when you are a newly wed... wink wink. I would still ask to borrow the red car from time to time as I met new people and worked on my own dating prospects. Once I started my family, I lost touch for some time but things seem to be back in swing, not full swing due to proximity, but its better. Heather and Scott have an great family together. One that is amazing to me.

Heathers undying love and service to everyone she came in contact with will be a lesson I will never forget. I think we should all take a lesson from Heather and see how our life can be blessed by taking  time to do things for others. The great Robert Wegman once said, "I have never given away more then I have received back. Words to live by in my book.

Sometimes I do long to say just one more time, "Hey Heather, can I take the red car tonight?"
"And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God."

Just Cool

How'd they do that?

A CFC in a regular light bulb?

Thank you Gizmodo

Friday, December 5, 2008

Welcome Back

This week has really been a heart warming week for me. I love FaceBook and it has always been a fun side project for me but this week it took a whole new twist. I have never been one really keep in touch with friends from days gone bye. I have always been the worst letter writer. Saying good bye sucks so bad!! I just can't do it. When I leave an area and move, I'm a total wreck. I have always been taught NEVER to say "goodbye", but to say "so long." or "see you soon." I have countless high school friends, mission companions and collage buddies that I have just lost track of cause I'm to darn lazy to write them. I'm just terrible in that regard.

I had this choice group of friends in collage. Ones that did everything together. We studied, hung out, went to dinner, midnight movies, comedy clubs, dancing, football games and basically meandered around aimlessly for hours together. It didn't matter what we were doing as long as we were all doing it together. Watching paint dry... we could make that fun. Anything! It was truly magic. Just enjoying each others company. They visited me and work and I them. We joked and laughed to all hours of the morning. We talked on the phone and goofed off like preschool kids. But it was my social circle and I loved it. They understood me and got me. I understood them and got them. We fought and cried and laughed and played as hard as we could. You know you really grow to love that interaction. Day in day out... 7 days a week we hung out together. We even traveled on a big trip to Vegas! Another cherished moment that will always be near and dear to me.

I still remember like it was yesterday, driving out of the Salt Lake valley leaving with my family moving to Wisconsin. I cried like a baby and had to pull over to get my self together... knowing all the great friends I was leaving behind. It was amazing knowing I needed to get on with my life, new job and opportunities, but the friends I had, pulled at my heart strings like a magnet. Not in a bad way, but the best of ways. I have always thought I brought out some of the best in my friends. Both near and far I have always wanted to leave a situation better that when I got into it. I loved my friends so much and moving on was hard.

Fast forward to this week.. like I said Facebook has never been a big deal. Its there and I use it a bit but I really never saw the true value till some of my best collage friends popped up. One right after the, bing, bing they started showing back onto the radar.. First there was one and I asked about others and they said they lost track....rats. Then one morning I wake and calling -- so and so has asked to be your friend in Facebook. "GET OUT!" I yelled, I smiled wide, I screamed inside... I even shed a tear. Its really amazing how this whole circle of life works. Years ago, during some newly found single-life, I took a trip back to Utah to see if I could find these old friends. I went to old jobs and old residences best as I could remember, but they had all moved on. Now certianly I didn't scour the place for them and it turns out that if I has just opened the darn white pages I may have found them... but I made an attempt and left empty handed and heart broken. I moved on. I hate dead ends, I hate goodbyes and I hate leaving words unsaid. I cherish every moment I get with friends and I really hope they get the same out of me, but these were not your run of the mill friends. It was different, so different. Hard to explain, but I'm trying.  Not knowing where they are and not knowing they are safe and sound and happy...that was a big deal to me. Were they married, kids, single, jobs, happy, healthy and  well...? I'm not sure I understood how great of friends they were.. but I do now.

So I have spent a few long evening chatting online with them. Catching up and showcasing my extended family, my Becky and my Emma and my Madeline, Clara and Tommy.  All my pride and joy and what life is worth living for. Its amazing to welcome these friends back into my life. I'm not 100% sure how they will fit, but one thing I do know...Thomas Robert Clifford, Jr's life is so much fuller knowing that these fine folks and people I call friends, are back in touch. Kinda like that blanket we all used to crawl up under while watching movies...there was always room for one more. Its been almost 14 years... I missed so much, for that I'm sorry. Tonight went through some old stuff and found the above picture; See the smiles...genuine and true. Magic! This is the essence of what I have been talking about. Friendship is a 2 way street and for the last years, its only been one way. I didn't hold up my end of the deal.  Its truly amazing to know where they are, to know they are safe and to know they are happy. Life is all about being happy, and each and every one of them have brought me so much untold happiness over the years. I wish I could in some small way, return the favor. I have time to figure that part out, but for now I know exactly where they are once I do. I love you all!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Calmness in our Lives

Recieved an email this am....

had to share...

Let me know if this helps anyone.

From: "xxxxxxx"
Date: December 4, 2008 11:55:48 AM EST
To: "aaaaaaaaaa"


I am passing this on to you because it definitely works, and we could all use a little more calmness in our lives.

By following simple advice heard on the Dr. Phil show, you too can find inner peace. Dr. Phil proclaimed, "The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started and have never finished."

So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and hadn't finished, and before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a bottle of White Zinfandel, a bottle of Bailey'sIrish Cream, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my old Prozac prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some Doritos, and a box of chocolates.

You have no idea how freaking good I feel right now!!!!

Pass this on to those whom you think might be in need of inner peace.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Now this is how its done...

So I'm reading my daily dose of internet swill and useless crap and I find this article about a company in Waukegan, Ill and some huge bonuses that were handed out. Oh course I turn to the article to see if it was more gouging going on..but to my eyes I find out it's a true, honest to goodness amazing story of a business who gave out 5 figure bonuses to the people who worked so hard to make them great. Amazing Christmas time story.

Is anyone at my work listening to this? Granted I'm very lucky to have a job, but how much better would my luck be with an extra 5 figure bonus check to boot? I remember a 20/20 story years ago about some company in the south that gave out 6 and 7 figure bonuses when the owners sold the company, made hundreds of millions and paid each of their employee's a million plus and get this...they paid the taxes too. How great would that be?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Black Friday Lines

So the kids and I decided to adventure out to return a few movies and then drive by our local Best Buy and Circuit City stores to see what the lines were like. The results were pretty amazing... See for yourself.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

When thinking of Thanksgiving travel...

Watch more Megavideo videos on AOL Video

I'm SO Thankful

This Thanksgiving season, I would like to post what I'm thankful for. I'm thankful for so many things and I hope that if you didn't make the list you don't feel bad. Either you didn't make the cutoff or your bribe wasn't large enough. There's always the 2009 listing. I'm thankful for people, places and things. There are so many things that help archive happiness. Certainly material things don't ultimately make one happy, but as the say going..."it sure helps!!" Its the entire package that makes life worth living. Also, this listing is in no particular order...

What I'm thankful for
  1. Emma
  2. Tommy
  3. Madeline
  4. Clara
  5. Becky
  6. Flip Mino Camcorder
  7. Jody & Mike
  8. iPod Touch
  9. Twitter
  10. Trans-Siberian Orchestra
  11. Diet Mountain Dew
  12. History Channel
  13. A GREAT Job
  14. Wendy & Jack
  15. Heather & Scott
  16. Snowblowers
  17. AppleTV
  18. Rochester, NY
  19. eBay
  20. 325 Horsepower
  21. 4 Wheel Drive
  22. I'm thankful to know the purpose of life.
  23. Kevin, Bruce and Brian
  24. Discovery Channel
  25. 52" HDTV
  26. Good Food
  27. Mac OS X
  28. My Marriage
  29. The ability to serve others
  30. Good Music
  31. A sence of humor
  32. Google Reader
  33. My Pearl
  34. Grandparents near and far
  35. Yellowstone National Park
  36. Youtube
  37. Drudge Report
  38. The Graphic Users Association
  39. Great work and personal friends
  40. Kelloggs Fudge Pop Tarts
  41. Income Tax Refund Checks
  42. Buffalo Wild Wings
  43. Naps
  44. BYU Football
  45. New York City's Times Square
  46. Meebo
  47. Jamoca Almond Fudge Ice Cream
  48. IPTV
  49. Firefox
  50. Christmas time family vacations

20 Top Optical Illustions

Love this...
Thanks Terry for turning me on to this...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dancing Cliffords

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Friday, November 21, 2008

BASE Jumping Off the Burj Dubai

INSANE!! Over 2000 ft. up. WOW

Thanks Gizmodo

Friday Funny - Can I have your Number?

This is classic from MadTV

Perfect Holiday Gift


Looking for that perfect holiday gift for your main man? Look no further. Forget Car and Driver, or Popular Science, get him a subscription to Whipped.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Flip Mino HD Vs Kodak Zi6

Here is a great side by side look at both the Flip Mino HD and Kodak's Zi6. I'm looking at getting a Mino HD, but may be looking elsewhere...

Flip Mino HD vs Kodak Zi6 from Fork You on Vimeo.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I'm all about Charts...

This just makes me giggle...

song chart memes

song chart memes

song chart memes

song chart memes

song chart memes

song chart memes

song chart memes

And this last one just rocks! So true!

song chart memes
more music charts

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Blast from the Past - Tech Edition

These are just great and I found them over here.  Not sure I 100% like the name of the blog, but this article just tickled me.
  1. Franklin Ace 1200
    Tagline : 13 good reasons to buy the Ace 1200
  2. Atari 800
    Tagling : More capabilities than any other personal computer under $1,000
  3. Compaq
    Tagline : Feature for feature, it’s hard to beat the Compaq Portable
  4. MicroAce
    Tagline : For just $149.00, you get everything you need to build a personal computer at home…
  5. Macintosh
    Tagline : Introducing Macintosh. What makes it tick. And talk
  6. IBM PC
    Tagline : The quality, power, and performance of the IBM Personal Computer are what you’d expect from IBM. The price isn’t
  7. TRS-80 Color Computer
    Tagline : Radio Shack’s $399 TRS-80 Color Computer - Innovation at it’s very best!
  8. Amiga
    Tagline : Amiga under $2,000. Anyone else up to $20,000
  9. TI-99/2
    Tagline : TI’s new basic computer. The one to start with and get smart with
  10. Hewlett-Packard HP-85
    Tagline : Introducing HP-85. A new world of personal-professional computation

Do You Pass the Geek Test?

How do you measure up on the "geek-ness" scale? How many of these have you done?

1. Install a hard drive in a laptop
2. Perform a clean OS install on a machine with two OSes
3. Swap out the battery on your iPod/iPhone
4. Jailbreak an iPhone
5. Wire your house for Ethernet and Coax cable
6. Use BitTorrent and RSS to automatically download new shows from trackers
7. Use an A/V receiver to its fullest capability (every port is taken)
8. Calibrate an HDTV without the manual
9. Use a DSLR in full manual mode
10. Hack the encryption and mooch your neighbor's Wi-Fi
11. Solder cleanly enough to get around a circuit board
12. Use your 3G phone as a Wi-Fi access point
13. Shove the guts of a modern game console into a retro game console
14. Design a webpage in HTML by hand that features a picture of your cat
15. Use Photoshop to imperceptibly doctor a photo
16. Abstain from buying extended warranties
17. Know where to buy cheap cables and accessories
18. Fix your parents' computer over the phone without looking at a computer
19. Enter the Konami code
20. Comment on Gizmodo from your phone
21. Type quickly using T9 texting
22. Program a universal remote
23. Contribute code to the Linux kernel
24. Hide porn from your significant other
25. Avoid DRM on everything
26. Know how to back up your data to networked storage—and actually do it
27. Watch TV shows on the internet for free
28. Edit together digital video ripped from YouTube
29. Play any SNES game on your computer through an emulator
30. Reset expired trial software by messing with the registry
31. Hackintosh your PC
32. Download pre-release movies from Usenet
33. Hack the Wii to play homebrew games
34. Get around web content filters on public computers
35. Get into a Windows computer if you forgot your password
36. Securely erase your data so it can't be recovered
37. Share a printer between a Mac and a PC on a network
38. Build a fighting robot
39. Write your own Firefox plugins
40. Navigate and reorganize the files on your computer in DOS
41. Get something on the front page of Digg
42. Get through to executive customer service
43. Rip a CD to V0 quality MP3s
44. Rip a DVD to DivX
45. Build your own computer from parts
46. Swap out the hard drive in your DVR for a bigger one
47. Get an NES cartridge working again by blowing in it
48. Calibrate a 7.1 surround-sound system
49. Play downloaded games on a Nintendo DS
50. Talk about things that aren't tech related

thanks Gizmodo

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Is It Just Me?

For those of you who are in the prepress industry, dealing with customers and their myriad of issues is a daily if not hourly occasion. I get phone call after phone call and email after email from CSR's asking for kindergarten level prepress information. Do they soak in anything from day to day operations or does it all just bounce off? Is it just me?

I love it when a 25 year Customer Service Representative veteran calls me asking "The customer sent in files all set up as RGB, what should I do?" Or here's a classic... without any prior knowledge or information regarding a situation, a CSR will pull this one "Tom, I have a customer on the line who is unhappy with something we did to their files, can I connect them, click..." And there I am, knee deep in a customer situation I have no information on, lovely! 

Or the another ditty, "Sparky, (my nickname at work) I have a customer who sent all their files with type less then a quarter inch from trim, what do I tell them?"


I don't make enough money to do your job and mine at the same time. Do you ever get this? "Tom please call this customer and help them solve this issue?" I hate that with a passion. How can a CSR learn anything if they pawn everything off on the tech staff? I always insist that the CSR set up and listen in on the conference call..with high hopes they will learn something...rarely happens that way!!

I also love, love, LOVE IT when CSR's send strings of emails back and forth to their customer, wasting time and energy, instead of just picking up the phone and making a simple phone call. Where has the service gone in the customer service rep?

Does it seem like we have more customer expositors then customer service people around? I can pay someone $7.50 an hour to open FedEx boxes and shuffle work around. That's easy. What we need are people who can make decisions and work by themselves. I need good people to block and get things done, not forward emails and put customers on hold so they can ask someone else's opinion on the matter.

It is just me?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Not on My Watch

How many of you parents out there watched your kids comb through bags and bags of Halloween candy to find that some people are giving out 3 Musketeers bars?? Ew! I too had to deal with this issue and I'm not happy about it.. I could not believe my eyes. People are still buying that candy bar? ...or better yet buying it and "re-gifting" to other people's kids? Do they have no shame? Was the store all out of perfectly good Snickers, Hershey Bars or Peanut Butter Cups? I'm not sure where you were brought up, but in my home town of Rochester, NY passing out that type of poor candy choice was deemed as cruelty to children and punishable as such. I heard one story of a parent losing their kids to foster care for a whole week cause they purchased this candy for them. Some people find this a bit harsh, not me.

Have you ever eaten one of these candy bars? A 3 Musketeers candy bar is just a chocolate wrapper on marshmallow fluff nastiness, no peanuts, no crunch, no nothing. Parents should never let their kids eat this candy. Never, never never!!

So the next time you are in the Clifford household, you will never find a single 3 Musketeers candy bar... not on my watch!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

An Invite to "The Business"

So about a week ago I heard from a long lost friend that I hadn't seen or heard from in months. We had a quick short exchange after a church meeting before going our separate ways. Its always fun to catch up. Our families had hung out from time to time. No more then a week later do I get this great looking thank you card from him thanking me for the reunion. It was curious in quality and had his picture on the inside. Interesting, toss, rock on. Well that wasn't the end of it. I get a call fro him a few days ago telling me he has this great business opportunity he wants me to listen to. "Oh no" ...I'm thinking on the fly. "How do I get rid of this situation." I love this person, but I hate being propositioned like this...

This takes me back to a day where I had the grand daddy of all conversations and what I consider an "inside the park home run." Here goes.

9 years ago I get a strange phone call on my cell phone. The sweet female voice on the other line introduces herself and says she would like to meet with me for a few minutes. She said that she had heard about me and my abilities. "What abilities I thought," but lets let that go for now. She said things to me like "You seem like a real go-getter" and " I like your style"... and financial freedom and independence..."okay" I thought. She then went on to talk about how she had this "business opportunity" to share with me. Immediately red lights, flares, buzzers and civil defense sirens start going off in my mind. "Is this lady really cold calling me to set me up with some sort of multi-level marketing scam?" "No way!!" Well I called her on it and asked what "the business" was. I love it how when speaking in code, "the business" automatically referrs to Amway or some other multi-level marketing engine. Guaranteed, every time. I'm sure I know why they don't just blurt out the name of the company, but then if they did...nearly no one would be working for them. She never actually said Amway, but I assumed it. So she goes one at great length I may add explaining all the capabilities I have that she is looking for. I let her go on for about 10 minutes then I stop her and say

So I had to be somewhere and I know exactly what would end the conversing in a hurry. I asked her if "the business" opportunity she wanted me to hear was Amway? She said yes it was and asked me if I had heard about Amway. This is where I snapped into action. I told her the biggest of lies..but trust me, it was worth it. I went on to tell her that I had been involved with Amway since my early college days where some roommates and I started out as a distributor for some extra cash. I told her how I worked my way up, quit college and focused on building "the business' full time. I used terms like Diamond, and Double Diamond and Crown levels. I told her of cars unnumbered, trips with the family and boats. I told her that a few months ago I sold "the business" for 25 million and I'm now retired.


More silence

Then she spoke "I'm not sure what to say," she said. "It's an honor to speak with someone as successful as you." She went on to say that she had never talked to someone who had reached my level before. Clearly the tone of the conversation did an instant 180 and I was giving her something she wanted instead of visa versa. I gave her encouragement and told her to reach for the stars.

Funny how things change with a few industry code words.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

There's a Buzz in the Air

There is a buzz in the air this time of year in the printing industry. Yes its fall in the Midwest and the temperature is getting colder and the leaves are turning brown and falling from the trees. But that's not the real reason there's something in the air. The reason is Graph Expo. Graph Expo is the one a year printing fiesta held in windy Chicago, Il in the heart of the good old USA. Hosted at the McCormick Place, Graph Expo is just HUGE. Almost 500,000 sq feet of printing goodness. I get to see full scale running presses, binding lines, proofing devices and all the booth babes you could ever want.... All under one roof. What a great country I say as I stroll from booth to booth just wandering, faking interest in other people wares. Oh yes I have some things I truly am interesting in and want to get the 411 on, but I love just browsing and seeing possibilities. Just to tuck away in the memory banks cause you never know when you might need to say "Oh yes I saw that at Graph Expo" in some random meeting... just to impress your boss. You know what I'm saying!

Each year I drive to Chicago to stay the weekend and enjoy some of the finer things Chicago has to to offer. One of the finest and most emotional things to see is the Michigan Avenue Apple Store, or as I affectionately call it "Mecca." What would a trip to Chicago be without a stop there? It's amazing to walk through the doors, smell the sweet aroma of fresh new iPod, iPhones Macbooks and iMacs. Its truly electric. All the workers dressed in Steve Jobs issued black tee's with "back stage pass" looking name tags. Awesome! Lets not forget all the working Macs. Tables and tables and row upon rows of Apple treats. Not the crappy password protected models like you see a "Office Buy" or "Circuit Max" or whatever electronics store you shop. These machines are ready, willing and connected to the internet to do your bidding.. This afternoon when I go I think I'll make a small video for the kiddies back home and post it on YouTube. Certainly Chi-town has a lot more to offer then just a few Macs on Michigan. The food, the pier and the buildings, I love it all!

I love fall, I love Chicago, I love Apple but most of all, I love printing!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Digital Conversion PSA

This made me roar... :)!

enjoy courtesy of Gizmodo.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Growing up along side the Yellow Box

he Eastman Kodak I remember as a child growing up in a small suburb of Rochester NY is one that will forever be in my mind. When I was born I was given shares of Kodak stock as a birth gift, which I still have to this day. It just shows what a mark Kodak had in our community. I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s in a subdivision where almost all our neighbors were employed by the “Big Yellow Box”… as it was affectionately called back in the day. We always had a freezer in the basement stuffed to the gills with small yellow Kodak boxes and plastic black canisters. ASA 64, 100, 200, 400 and, oh, there was some 800 in there- maybe even a 1600 would sneak in there on occasion. We had color slide film, color print film, black and white, high speed, low speed, low light…that freezer stored hundreds of rolls of film. All chilled down to a nice 0 degrees to keep it all nice and fresh. We never purchased any as all our friends would give us gobs of film at holiday time…or any time really, as we lived in the town of milk and honey, or as we called it, Kodak film! How many times would my dad say, “Tommy! Go get your Dad a new roll of film.” And I would run to the basement freezer to grab a few rolls for good old Dad. Dad would shoot Kodak film with near reckless abandon in his Canon AE-1 knowing the processing was included in many of the pictures he would take. Our dear next door neighbors, the McAllister’s, would even take the rolls to work with them to get the film processed at no charge. What a great land we lived in. Free film and prints to boot!

I still remember the day when the shoe fell. It was a dark and stormy day… black clouds filled the sky. An edict came from on high at Kodak central, “NO MORE FREE FILM!” People walked the streets, bouncing into walls not knowing what to do. What once was free we now had to add to our budgets? Well, thankfully the Clifford’s had a freezer chock full of film, some of which remains there today.

We lived not too far from former Kodak CEO Kay Whitmore and once he took me on a tour of Kodak Park…from the CEO standpoint. Nice gig! I remember one afternoon Kay brought over one of the new “Kodak Camcorders”. It was the huge one that rested on your shoulder but also sat in a cradle on your TV and acted as a VCR. Great idea but didn’t last too long. What about Kodak batteries or that Disc Camera? Well… In 1984 that was the extent of the innovation that came from Kodak Park. Batteries, camcorders, and what about that Polaroid knockoff? Ouch! the lawsuit over that one.

Rochester NY is tied to the successes and failures of Kodak. Boy, where there some black Fridays when Kodak announced layoffs. 25,000, 50,000 even 75,000 people would lose their jobs worldwide with the brunt of the punishment coming to Rochester. Kodak really lacked consumer innovation back in the day. Where was good old George Eastman when you needed him? Some of the crap that Kodak came out with was really stunning. But on sheer size alone, they labored through the 90’s and early 2000’s like a sick elephant. Cutting and trimming what they could, but what they really needed was a culture shift. Film and print as we knew it was dying- and they knew it.

Enter Kodak the 2000’s. A portion of the yellow box is fading. Film is dying right in front of their eyes and there is nothing they can do to stop it. Kodak knows the secret sauce and everyone else has it except them. So they are simply buying it up! Kodak is purchasing companies as fast as it can. Kodak nabs Nexpress, ENCAD, OFoto, Scitex Digtal Printing and Creo. Kodak is a digital media giant. It is hip, cool and most of all fresh. Kodak has blogs, Kodak is using Twitter, and Kodak is on TLC with Trading Spaces. Kodak has a huge theater in Hollywood, home of the Academy Awards. Kodak has a CMOS that may be in the very phone you are using now… or will be soon. Does it get any more glam than that? Digital prepress, digital proofing, digital print, digital cameras, digital photo frames and high end digital imaging. its almost as if it is turning into a "Kodak World"...who said that on TV. I know.. I know! I had to say it. Sorry Jeff I like the motto that Gene so affectionately gave on Celebrity Apprentice. Kodak is back and the Big Yellow Box is in style and I love every moment of it.

This isn’t the Kodak of days old. It's been a fun, exciting, and amazing journey to watch. Look back at where they have come from.

“Hey dad, do you need another roll of film? I’ll get it.”

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Prinergy in a Cloud

With all the talk of virtualization in this world, I don’t see much action on the part of Kodak with regards to that. Now they may be working on this but not that anyone of us have seen. I know that prepress people buck the IT mindset as most of us are big Mac fans and its very “un-IT” to like the Mac. Some do, so don’t flame me, but generally, most do not. One thing that I have thought about over the past few weeks is what about Kodak offering a Prinergy in a cloud model.

What the heck is “Prinergy in a Cloud?” PIC as I like to call it, would be a Prinergy system hosted in one of Kodak high availability data centers running the latest and greatest versions of Prinergy and InSite software. They could offer preps licensing, RBA and all the tools of the trade, but from afar. You access all this via the internet through your company pipe and you are off to the races. No servers to install, no software to patch, no nothing.

Why would any company want to do this? Prinergy saturation is really reaching critical mass. Everyone knows Prinergy is the biggest and best, even though others try to compete, there really is no competition. Cost is one huge barrier to entry to this club. Even with Evo people are spending tens of thousands of bucks just to gain membership. Add InSite on top of that and the cost rises. Some licensing fees for an unlimited copy of InSite can be$30K or more. Plus you need a server room, you need storage to hold all the files, you need a beefy network infrastructure and a backup strategy. And I’m sure that’s not the half of the issues. What mom and pop outfit wants to get involved in that IT mess if they don’t have to?

Enter Prinergy in a cloud. Kodak can now offer end users a much less expensive point of entry into the workflow of their dreams. They can offer all the tools the big boys use, but at a much smaller foot print, and a pay as you go model. I’ll leave the pricing up to the brain trust in Rochester for that. Some changes would need to happen with Prinergy like new access rights in workshop where people who log in only see jobs that they are entitled to see, like in InSite, that sort of thing. How to access the storage over the internet would also need to be addressed, but bigger hurdles have been overcome.

Bandwidth is getting cheaper every day so that should not be an issue. Certainly you are not going to run a 1000 plate a day operation on this type of deal, but 50-100 plates…maybe. Kodak service would be thrilled about this. The RC is already in place and all you would need to do is place a call and the rest is up to Kodak. No Kodak RSS to install, no onsite visits. Think about prep houses or even comp houses that have no plating operations, even better. Upload your PDF files to the cloud, bing, bang, boom…you have a ripped, trapped, color managed PDF files in no time. Your files are ready to be approved by your customer via InSite, exported, and downloaded or whatever. No worrying about Prinergy upgrades, OS patches, virus updates or any of that nonsense.

Think about it and let me know. Kodak, do you have your ears on?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Change Taking Place

The only thing that is steady is that fact we need to deal with change. If it's not one thing its another. I just spent 3 long weeks at a sister plant dealing with systems and work flows and people who buck change. Really the floor people were all up for a huge dose of change, it's the management that held to their guns on this.The floor folks felt that they were not being listened to. Maybe management felt they could not implement sweeping change like that. But they could have listened a bit more. There were brick walls everywhere I turned. If I hear one more time "it's not my job" I think I'm going to scream! or how about "Well that's the way we have done it for the past XX years, we can't change now!" That person needed a huge knuckle sandwich for that one. But people feel that after hitting a wall for so long, why ask for change, it will just get refused. One group of technology minded folks told me... "Tom, if our floors could talk, you would be amazed at how many great ideas died right here cause we felt upper management would kill our idea's" How sad!! Do you really feel that no one listens in your job? Do you have great ideas that just die on the spot because you say no one will listen? At this plant, I had to go to the plant manager and the head of HR to get people to understand what was happening. Change does not happen overnight. This is a culture shift. But its happening. Slowly and surely its happening. I have seen great strides in the past 3 weeks. People opening up and talking, walls falling and ideas being shared.

It's really amazing what can happen if you bring people together.