Another in the ‘just because I can’ series of articles.
I mentioned a few days ago about my sojourn with Gmail and how I was entering all my business cards in there. I finally finished this morning (until I find more scattered around the house or until I attend another networking event) and I have a few thoughts about business cards to share with you for no other reason than I can, I know it has nothing to do with books but that’s tough. I understand if you click away now.
Business cards are an entry into your world and while they should reflect you and what you do they should also be readable. You need to find that line between the amount of text and the amount of white space as well as finding the fine line between the size of the text and the amount of white space, not forgetting the balance between the font, the colours and the cardstock. Let’s have a look at some of these in more detail.
This is the space around the text, called white despite the background sometimes being some other colour. It helps with readability, if you have no white space it’s more challenging to read and if there is too much white space your eyes are drawn to the space rather than the text. Look at your favourite magazine and see how much text there is as opposed to white space, you’ll notice a band of white space around the edges. If you find a page with a number of small articles you’ll notice some white space between each article.
Size of Text
Some of the business cards had plenty of white space but the font size was far too small, even with my reading glasses on I had to get out a magnifying glass to be able to read them, with small amounts of text there was more white space than text. Think of the footer you use on your regular documents where you’re putting the page numbers or the file path of the document, that is generally done in 8pt and it’s challenging to read but it is something one doesn’t need to read too often, the text in the body of the document will range from 10pt to 12pt. I suspect some of these cards were done in 6pt, hence the magnifying glass.
You do want people to be able to read your cards, they need to be able to read them relatively easily otherwise your card is likely to end up in the bin and they’ll never use your services. Finding the balance between readability and getting all the information on the card is challenging, when I was designing my Send Out Cards business cards I went for a slightly larger font as I like to make it easy for people and I’m wondering if it’s a little too big.
This is an awkward one as you don’t want the same font everyone else has, you want to get away from Arial or Times New Roman but you do want it to be readable. Have a look at some different fonts and ask yourself how readable they are. Some of them are very beautiful and would look fabulous on a poster, in a large pt size of say 70 or 100 or even more they’re quite easy to read but make them small and the curly bits make it hard to read.
While I love the different colours on anything sometimes people’s choices are problematic. You need to look at the contrast in the colours and shades. If you’ve chosen an orange background then you need text that will stand out against that and not blend in, black works well with orange but some other colours don’t. I had a couple of cards where the text blended into the background and was far too hard to distinguish. Don’t put yellow on white and dark grey on black will also not work.
Some cards were printed at home on photo paper, inventive but not terribly professional looking, others were on much heavier cardstock. Having a card that’s a little larger or an irregular shape will make it stand out but will also give problems fitting it into wallet.
Some of the cards had typos which reflects badly on your business, it makes it look less than professional. I know it’s not just me being judgemental as I’ve had conversations on this topic with other people and we’ve all agreed. If you’re not certain make sure to get it proofread by someone skilled in that area or just ask someone you trust.
Check your card for content
This is a big one. My first card didn’t say what I did, it had all the contact details but neglected to say anything about books. People need to know what you do and they need to know how to contact you. One card I had only had a phone number, not necessarily a bad thing but I always remember there are people who are deaf, they’re not going to ring you and need an email address. I once worked for the Department of Social Security, now called Centrelink, one of my co-workers was deaf so he had a TTY machine, one day I had to answer his phone and managed to make it work with his machine so I could ‘talk’ to the deaf person on the other end but emails are so much more convenient.
This one could just be me being judgemental but if you have a website you’ll look that much more professional if your email address matches.
So, having bored you all with talk of business cards I’m now signing off for the weekend. Be safe.
Jeffrey Beall is a blogger who keeps track of those publishers who have been less than ethical and have taken money to say articles have been published, it’s not entirely clear if those articles have actually been published and are available for purchase or viewing but it’s indicated that they aren’t. One of those publishers is now sueing for $1m. Beall has kept clear records so it’s going to be an interesting court case. Not sure yet whether this is going to go ahead in the US or India. It will certainly be something worth following.
A series of books written by J. P. Martin and Sir Quentin Blake and published in the 1960s and 1970s will be republished thanks to a crowdfunding through Kickstarter. There will be lots of new material and old illustrations. Instead of paying $USD1702 for pre-loved copies you’ll soon be able to buy the whole set for only £37 plus postage.
Qantas has decided to get on board with reading during flights and has had some books published which are designed to be read on the plane. They expect you should finish the book just as you touch down at the other end of your journey. Not sure if I’ll get to try these out the next time I fly Qantas as it seems to be for their members from Bronze to Platinum and I don’t think I qualify.
English is a mongrel language, it comes from many different places including three Germanic tribes, French, Latin, Greek and now computer speak. I took pause the other day to think about ‘lieu’ and ‘lieutenant’ and to wonder about whether they came from the same word.
I found they do come from the same root meaning place, from the Middle English liue, from Anglo-French liu, lieu, from Latin locus and was first used in the 14th century. With the tenant part coming from the Anglo-French tenir to hold, from Latin tenere. Confused? I was so I googled (love the way a noun has changed to a verb in such a short time) lieutenant and was sidetracked by its pronunciation.
‘Lieutenant’ looks like it should be pronounced the French way ‘loo-ten-ant’ but many English countries pronounce it ‘lef-ten-ant’ and the reason is unclear to me. It appears that the Old French word had a final ‘w’ which was often pronounced ‘f’ by certain areas even if it shouldn’t have been. That sounds like a logical idea and the one I like the most but I found several other thoughts.
1. A common English word for ‘toilet’ is ‘loo’ and they didn’t want to be derogatory towards the officers so they started pronouncing it ‘lef-ten-ant’
2. A deliberate Anglicisation of a French word. The English and French have been at odds for a very long time. When we were intending on travelling from England to France we were told we’d be fine if we mentioned we were Australian.
3. Someone thought it had something to do with Russian and German!
4. The letters ‘v’ and ‘u’ being almost the same in English they were swapped.
5. A mouth injury to a Lieutenant Lefting made it hard for him to pronounce his title and the ‘Leftenant Lefting’ stuck.
6. Noah Webster changed things a bit when he wrote his American dictionary.
7. The lower ranking officer walked on the left side of his senior officer and protected it, giving rise to the ‘left-tenant’.
8. In medieval times when people actually fought their own battles the Lord of the Manor would be in the middle with his Head Knight on his right and his Head Tenant on his left, when the Head Tenant had enough money he paid someone else to fight in his stead making him a ‘left-tenant’.
It’s all very interesting and that’s with only a half hour research. I do wonder how much more rubbish I could find if I took more time. I do love some of the inventiveness of these people. I leave you with a link to the History of English, it seems to be fairly close to what I already knew but I found someone disputing some of it. The joys of the internet.
It used to be that you could go your whole life without having to read and it was only the privileged few or the religious who could read but in Western civilisation it’s now imperative that you can read and write as we have forms to fill in, signposts to read, banking and so much more. How hard would it be for someone who couldn’t read to get around town, hold up a job…or more particularly, to get a job in the first place? How would they be able to fill in the forms for the doctor, dentist, Medicare, tax office? Sure, you can get someone else to do it for you but that can only last some of your lifetime, we’ve made it imperative for everyone to have to be able to read and write.
If you wander over to this link you’ll see an assumption that the prisons in England are full of people who can’t read or people who lack good reading and writing skills. I doubt this is true of everyone but certainly a percentage of these inmates are those who can’t read or write at all and programmes such as the Quick Reads initiative must help in part but do they help people to stop re-offending when they get out? Can’t answer that question but I certainly hope so. I love the idea of this programme, if you read to the end you’ll find they gave 300 copies of the new Doctor Who book to the prisons which I hope will help people to want to read. I’m a firm proponent of the ‘find the right book and they’ll start reading’ theory so it’s good to see they’re not just being given classics but are also being given science fiction.
A while ago I found a group of people in Melbourne trying to collect donations and books to lend to prisons, they were focusing on textbooks, dictionaries and encyclopedias, I managed to give them some books but the next time I had a couple of boxes of dictionaries looking for a good home I couldn’t find them again. I think the problem with that project was the cost of postage, it’d be much better if we could just give a set of reference books to each prison in Australia and then they’re there all the time and we don’t have to worry about storage or postage. Postage is fairly expensive here and reference books weigh a lot. I can send a parcel weighing up to 500 grams for $6.95 across Australia but only small dictionaries would weigh less than that, most of them would weigh more so it’s then more economic to use a pre-paid satchel for $13.40 but that only goes up to 3 kg, the good reference works would weigh more than that. If I want to send a 20 kg parcel to Perth it’s outrageous at $67.45! The problem is the vast distance it has to cover, to give overseas people some idea of how far it is, they’re three hours behind us, it’s over 2,000 miles or 3,400 km by road.
You know those days when the memory clears and you finally remember that absolute gem from your childhood that is still on the shelf? I had one of those yesterday and quickly unearthed it this morning. As you can see from the photo it is J. R. R. Tolkein reading from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, it’s not the whole of the books but only excerpts as it was made in 1975 and is therefore on vinyl but it’s an absolute gem. I searched YouTube and found one of the excerpts for you:
It’s all of side A and is Tolkein reading Bilbo’s meeting with Gollum. The illustration on the front is an original picture by Tolkein of Smaug talking with Bilbo.
We’re gonna be The Producers!
I don’t write about every time I go out but it does look like it as I don’t go out very often. Last night was a special night as I’d managed to acquire tickets for the preview night of The Producers by JYM theatre co. We were in The Phoenix Theatre in Elwood, it’s a small theatre which they managed to make it work so well for them.
The Producers was released as a movie in 1968, written by Mel Brooks and with his voice over in the movie, the play and subsequent movie during the dance routine of Springtime for Hitler using the words ”Don’t be stupid, be a smarty/Come and join the Nazi Party”. It’s all rather irreverent and brings Hitler down to size.
I was never crazy about Hitler…If you stand on a soapbox and trade rhetoric with a dictator you never win…That’s what they do so well: they seduce people. But if you ridicule them, bring them down with laughter, they can’t win. You show how crazy they are. ”
Mel Brooks, in an August 2001 interview
The story is that of a washed up Broadway producer whose accountant suddenly realises it’s easier to make money with a flop than a success, thus begins the romp of a lifetime.
The play last night was a small scale version of the original. With a small cast, except for the leads, they all played multiple characters and the men often dressed as women. The walker scene where all the little old ladies are dancing with their walkers was made even more hilarious with the addition of the men in drag, some of the men hammed it up and enjoyed themselves way too much, total fun.
It was very polished and I have trouble believing it was the preview, there were very few gaffs and they were so minor such as dropping a champagne glass or having the adding machine fall off its perch. The scene changes were built into the play with the cast coming on in character and moving furniture etc around, I thought this very clever and managed to miss many parts as my attention was drawn elsewhere such as watching the tall, blonde, gorgeous man who was having way too much fun and hamming it up, I missed his name.
The performances as a whole were really great. The man playing Max Bialystock did a really good job as did the man playing Leo Bloom. For me, the stand out performance apart from the tall, blonde and did I say gorgeous? man was the man playing Roger De Bris, he had the most lovely deep voice and hammed it up to the max.
It’s well worth the money at between $35 and $42, rivalling the large and more monied productions which you can pay a mint for, if you can I really suggest you go, it has a short run starting tomorrow and finishing on the 25th May. Bookings can be made online here.
Just a couple of my favourite blogs.
Let’s start off with a little word play on Not Always Learning.
To err is human, to typo is anything but divine but it does depend on your point of view.
Over on Beattie they’re talking about The Railway Children. I recall seeing Jenny Agutter in this when I was young, some of the images have stayed with me for ever. I’ve mentioned The Railway Children by E Nesbit before as she has been accused of plagiarism.
Authors generally don’t make a lot of money, James Oswald agrees so he’s keeping his cattle and sheep farm going, partly because it gives him time to think and plot and partly for the money.
Leaving Beattie and going back to Not Always Learning we get some thoughts on discrimination.
There are many quotes that have been proven wrong over the years. There’s the one about the number of computers needed “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers” attributed to Thomas J. Watson of IBM which has been proven incorrect and there’s the one about not needing personal computers in the home, also proven to be incorrect as so many homes can’t manage without personal computers. This one:
“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.” Steve Jobs January 2008
should also be under fire. Steve Jobs was talking about the Kindle and I don’t know how much of this quote is was fueled by his rivalry with the company and how much was due to his business acumen but I’d say he’s wrong.
People are still reading and while we’ve got new authors coming up challenging us with their writing it will continue. Three authors I will name are:
J. K. Rowling
E. L. James
All three of them have written books which have got people reading, I can’t speak for Stephanie Meyer as I’ve never read her books but the others are not terribly good authors although Rowling stands out head and shoulders above James. I’ve written about both of them before, Rowling has great ideas and gets kids reading but her characters are not very complex while James just has poor writing, she’s been to the school of ‘tell all and don’t make the reader work’ using this to the full extent. I managed to make it through all of Rowling’s Harry Potter books but only made it through 80 pages of James first book, I didn’t even make it to the ‘objectionable material’ as the poor writing made me give up fairly early and never want to go back.
What I wanted to say about these authors is that all three have made people read. I’ve seen many conversations on the internet surrounding them, discussing the books leading to the question ‘what else will I like?’ I’ve heard of bookshops being asked if there are any books of similar ilk and I’m sure if you were able to check the stats for online bookshops you’d see people buying more ebooks than before.
What quotes do you like that have proven wrong?
Last night I finally got to join the masses and watch The Hobbit movie on the big screen. Not sure how many ways I can say ‘I love it’ so I hope you’re counting although I will try to be balanced.
There are many differences to the book and some of them work for me while others don’t. The book starts off with a description of Hobbits and where they live, the movie starts off with some sweeping shots of Hobbiton, Bilbo’s house and then takes us inside. Bilbo sits down with pen and paper to start writing his memoirs which we hear as a voice over and see the history before our story begins, this is good as it gives us a good overview of why Thorin does what he does and how much emotional pain he’s in, something covered later on in the book. We move on quickly after Frodo’s been through and they’ve discussed The Party (Bilbo’s 111th Birthday from The Lord of the Rings), their relatives and then we move back 60 years to when Bilbo and Gandalf first speak.
In this early part, even through the party with the Dwarves, we don’t see Bilbo as being much of anything, he doesn’t appear to even have a sharp wit and doesn’t manage to rebut anything very cleverly at all. The Good Morning scene is funny though. The song is wonderful, just beautifully done and I loved how they threw all the plates around without dropping any (heavens knows how many takes they did or how much was CGI but I enjoyed seeing that scene). Later on, his wit seems to shine through, he’s the one who remembers Trolls have problems with sunlight and manages to delay proceedings until Gandalf gets there and assists the sunlight to hit the Trolls, so there’s been a little bit of rewriting of the story there.
The bit that interests me is where Bilbo actually makes up his mind to go on the adventure, this is so different from the book where he was caught up in the events of the night that he is eventually put to bed and Gandalf comes in the next morning to clean up and send him on his way. I think I prefer the film on this point, it doesn’t make sense for someone who is so wedded to his home that he has to be thrust out on an adventure to suddenly pluck up the courage part way through and be able to match wits, sword fight and generally get himself and his companions out of trouble, it makes far more sense for someone who’s chosen the adventure to do all that. I always wondered about that part in the book, just never really rang true to me.
Other bits I absolutely loved:
Rivendell – We see it from across the bridge and it looks super gorgeous as it should, although we don’t hear the elves singing and greeting the travellers as they cross the bridge and I was looking forward to that. We do get the singing later on.
The Stone Giants – Loved these! They seemed to have matched the images in my head reasonably well and then taken it to the next level, awesome!
Goblin Cave – The entrance to their cave was bigger than I’d imagined but it makes great sense as it had to shelter 14 people and keep them dry, I enjoyed the entrance as it opened up as well. Just before it opened up Bilbo was awake and starting to sneak off home which just seemed to make sense as if you’re not really invested in an adventure then until your emotions change you’re going to take every chance you can to leave. Absolutely adored what they did with the inside of the cave, it showed so, so many levels and so, so many Goblins, lots of depth here.
The music – didn’t notice much during the movie but afterwards there was stirring music by Neil Finn and Steven Gallagher.
The Eagles – always loved the Eagles and nothing’s changed. We don’t hear them talking in this movie and they drop the company off on a totally out of the way place instead of in their eyrie.
Dialogue – various parts of it were taken directly from the book, yes!
Things that were just totally wrong:
Bilbo wasn’t appreciably smaller than the Dwarves. In the book they’re able to carry him on their backs without slowing them down but as he’s the same size as they are that’s not going to happen in the movie. Several of them do seem able to pick him up by the shoulders but it’s not as described in the book.
Bilbo kicked Gollum in the head as he jumped over him to get to the exit of the Goblin Cave. That never happened in the book and I don’t feel it added anything.
This is long enough, suffice to say I loved the movie, thought it was a good rendition of the book, many of the changes made it make more sense and I loved how they managed to get into my head and bring those images onto the screen. Now I need the DVD so I can watch it again, possibly as many times as I’ve read the book, and also view the extras. One day.