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Martini Hour approaches

Never fear, more dekePods are in the works.

In the meantime, we have something special ready to go live this coming week.

Its format will be an audio-only podcast.

And its content will be Colleen and I kicking back with an adult beverage or two in the dekeLounge. We invite you to do the same as we discuss all things graphics and imaging to the dulcet stylings of Buddy and the Pims Quartet. It's name:

Martini Hour Read more » 

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lynda.com Does for Video Training What Spinal Tap Did for Rock 'n' Roll

If you're of a certain age (and I really don't know what age that is), you may recall the movie This Is Spinal Tap. I love the 1984 movie, especially in its rare appearance as a low-resolution (and now out-of-print) Voyager 1994 CD-ROM. Because the CD-ROM was searchable. You could enter a string, such as "stonehenge" or "puppet show" or "Nigel Tufnel" and get not only the movie file where that reference occurred but the exact timecode as well. It was like some kind of wonderful movie index.

In walks lynda.com, the most amazing video training site on the planet. When LDC elected to close-caption most of its movies in 2008 and all of 'em in 2009, the company's intention was to make its content accessible to all. But in doing so, they also made it searchable to all. Which was when lynda.com suddenly became the awesomest 21-century heavy metal band on the planet, as I have diagrammed below.

Trust me, this is good. Read more » 

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Channels & Masks Video Lesson 6: "The 25 Standard Blend Modes"

I personally find Photoshop blend modes to represent one of the secret handshakes of the Obscure Brotherhood of Photoshop. There's no reason based on name or description that you would be able to intuitively know what these mathematical mixings of pixels will do to your image layers. But in this latest video from Deke's new book Photoshop CS4 Channels & Masks One-on-One, Deke gives you a darn good run down on what the 25 standard blend modes actually do and how to think of them in groups for better predictive behavior. If you've always wanted to know what to expect from blend modes (you know, something more sophisticated than randomly clicking through them), this will help get you started.

If this whets your appetite for more, as it darn well should, the book is available now, and it contains exercises that allow you to put this revealed knowledge to use in real-world projects. Ah, Enlightenment. Read more » 

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Welcome to Paradise

Of all the vacations available to you, the Tropical Cruise ranks among the most surreal. Like a casino lost at sea, the shining multitiered ship promises excitement, wraps you in comfort, and imprisons you in tedium. At any moment, there are 7 events eager to dazzle -- miniature golf, anyone? climbing wall? ice skating?! -- and 11 waiters killing each other to attend to your temporal needs. We were fortunate in that our waiter was none other the President of the United States Barack Obama (see below). If his leadership skills turn out to be anywhere near as good as his beverage-fulfillment abilities -- and I for one have high hopes that they will be -- this country is in great hands!

In fact, the whole cruise experience goes swimmingly so long as you kick back and let it happen. Imagine your grandmother's idea of "island time." But God forbid you should happen upon an actual objective. (The need to catch up with two darting children, for example.) That's when you encounter your fellow travelers: vast, entitled, largely immobile souls, plugging the narrow corridors like inoperable arterial clots. Until the seas get rough, when they list like rudderless dirigibles, blocking even the most adept student of the old dodge-and-weave.

Such is the nature of paradise: A garish blend of reservation-style gambling, 24-hour buffets, formal dress-ups, poor-folks' paparazzi (photographer's hound you at every turn), shitty art auctions, and a dozen other glitzy attempts at some sort of eternal New Year's Eve celebration. All made somehow palatable by salt breeze, rum drinks, and the convenient appearance of a new port-of-call every morning. Toss in the occasional oil derrick, some overcast skies, and sudden explosions of relentless rain, and you have a blissful week in the Western Caribbean, the left edge of the most beautiful ocean-filed impact crater on Earth.

Permit me to elaborate, not to mention annotate with lots and lots of full-color photographs, all captured in glorious JPEG with an Olympus Stylus 1030 SW. Read more » 

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R & R in the R-Rain

Hey, gang. Just a quick note to let you know that I'm back from my week-long Caribbean cruise along the Yucatan as far as Honduras and back. On the plus side, we had a great time, filled with rollicking adventure. On the minus, we experienced a few "showers." At least, that's how the cruise directors described them. At the risk of sounding contrary, I might argue they were more akin to monsoon-style deluges. This thru-the-cab-window shot in Mahahual, Mexico on the way back from the coldest dive of my life pretty well sums up our bright shiny vacation:

Mahahual showers

That's it for now. Will fill you in with pics and details in a day or two. Read more » 

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