Thursday, June 28, 2012

Work Tools

I work in a cubicle on the 18th floor of a modern glass-and-steel building in downtown Chicago. I do not like fluorescent lighting and during most of my career was able to avoid it. The lighting here is indirect: rows of fluorescent lights but pointing toward the ceiling, aligned above the walls of the cubes so the light reflecting off the ceiling falls on the occupants. I'm happy.

I have some great tools to play with. I use all three of the major browsers--IE, Firefox, and Chrome--to handle my communications and work. I have Adobe Design Premium, which for me is a bit overkill on the Web editing, since I would prefer to work in code and not use so much overhead that Dreamweaver provides. Particularly when using an older Windows XP-based, Pentium DC desktop computer--it can take a long time to load. Codelobster would be just peachy. I have grown to appreciate the Search/Replace tool that allows handling very long strings and multiple documents, however.

For cropping and resizing pictures, my old standby LView Pro would be wonderful but Microsoft Office Picture Manager is fine, and if I have to save in a particular format, MS Paint is good in a pinch. So Photoshop only opens when I accidentally try to Preview a PNG or BMP file. BTW, at home, as mentioned in a previous article, I have a new laptop and because I couldn't find my registration number for LView Pro, I checked out a new down'n'dirty 64-bit paint program called Paint.Net. Since I know I've got at least two registration numbers on file with the LVP people, I was disappointed in not hearing from them when I asked them about telling me my numbers. Bad customer service doesn't get rewarded. And Paint.Net is very cool. Will write more later.

For the heavy lifting of content management, we use Adobe's CQ5. Next to Sitefinity, which I have mentioned elsewhere, this is a very good program for handling a huge Website. I like the separation of asset files--graphics, multimedia, documents--in their own database that can be shared by the organization. I have only two complaints that just make me shake my head in wonder at the arrogance of large companies like Adobe. CMS programs are not new anymore. I cannot imagine any excuse for allowing either of these limitations (see the screenshots below) to exist when charging a premium fee for the honor to be frustrated by them. Yes, there are work-arounds for them but I want to hear the reasons why these defective features are allowed. So far, I am deafened by the silence!

The file selector for the DAM (document asset module?) doesn't get any wider than this despite plenty of room for doing so. WTF? Can we spell laZy a$$ progrAmMing?

This is the editor for CQ5. As you can see, there's a lot of white space under it. Those seven lines of text is all you get to look at no matter how wide or deep you open that window! Any significant editing requires you to go into HTML mode and copy and paste to your editor of choice, and then paste it back. As a frustration bonus, any time you paste in text, the window pops you to the top line of text and you have to scroll to find where you were working. There's no excuse for this, srsly.

If it had been up to me, I would have gone with an open source CMS like Drupal, which is much more user friendly and feature rich.
We also use Listserv Maestro for handling high-volume html-based emails. Learning to use it has been easy, although it, too, has some questionable quirks. I can understand why they've done templates in such an elaborate fill-in-the-blank way but it doesn't meet my particular needs very well.

One great thing we have here is good support. It's an interesting approach but there's a digital marketing side as well as the IT side, for handling problems or needs like creating short URLs or consulting on best way to handle Web projects. Much more transparent than my last situation.

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