Tag Archives: printing

Just in!

Earlier this year my parents celebrated their wedding anniversary. They were married in 1962, and had been together for 50 years—a milestone to be admired as well as celebrated.

I was deputed as official photographer at the celebration party. Those images came out well enough, but I wanted to make something more memorable. I decided a one-off self-published photo book would be just the ticket.

I persuaded my Mum that I should pay a visit with my scanner and laptop so I could scan the original wedding photos, as well as the scrapbook from the event—Mum is a great one for scrapbooking such things: she has scrapbooks covering most of their major wedding anniversaries as well as other significant events in their lives together.

I won’t say I slaved over this book. I will say it took me ages to figure out how to join the two sets of images together in some way that made sense. In the end I hit on the idea of including information about 1962 and 2012 that would let someone looking at the book in say another 50 years understand the period, and some of the changes that happened between them.

There is a page—you can see a segment in the above image—which has each decade between 1962 and 2012. I felt this was a good way to segue between the “black and white” early 1960s to the ”technicolor multi-channel” 21st century. I spent a while picking out historical, social and family events that marked each decade, and put them across the page in a kind of grid.

I designed the book using Blurb’s book design template plugin for Adobe InDesign. This sets the page size and layout for you, with some basic instructions on making sure you have even numbers of pages and so on. Once completed, the plugin then provides a cover template design based on the number of pages and the chosen paper stock. The output was to a Blurb-specified PDF, which was then uploaded to their web site. All in all, a seamless and relatively painless process, even if the 130MB PDF took a while to upload!

I went for a hardback cover with wrapped-around colour image and reasonable quality paper stock for the insides. It’s not a fat volume, but it looks very smart indeed. Sadly, I made a silly error which resulted in each page being one place forward of where they should have been, which meant some of the spreads haven’t worked as intended. While a nuisance, and something I ought to have spotted, I am still chuffed to bits with the finished book. I hope my parents love it just as much as I do!

The Paige Compositor

Enter James William Paige. Paige, from Rochester, NY, patented a machine in 1872 that could set agate (5½ pt) type.4 In 1877 he went into partnership with J. M. Farnham and the Farnham Typesetting Co in Hartford, CT with the intention of combining his typesetter with their distributor.5 This turned out to impractical and soon Paige began work on a completely new design – the Paige Compositor. By 1878 he had a (barely) working prototype.

In my younger days, I worked in a design studio attached to an offset litho printing works. I have nurtured an interest in printing technology ever since, even to the extent of harbouring a desire to get into proper letterpress print.

The story of James William Paige tells of dogged determination in the face of insuperable odds. In some ways, I wish Paige had succeeded in his desire to perfect the automatic compositing machine, but it must have been painfully obvious he was destined to fail spectacularly.

It ain’t pretty…


…but it works.

The ongoing saga of my ancient laser printer entered a new chapter today. The network card has been squiffy for a while, essentially randomly disconnecting itself whenever it felt like it. 

Fed up with marching to and fro, cajoling and applying percussive maintenance, I decided to get to the bottom of the problem. I reasoned the issue was with the RJ-45 connector alone, and I looked at the possibility of replacing the component.

That proved impossible, and another repair also looked unlikely, namely tweaking the little sprung contacts. After about an hour of further investigation, it became apparent that once connection was made, any movement of the printer—even just the movement made when the print engine kicked in—was causing the cable connector to shift micrometres and disconnecting.

In desperation, and not wishing to buy another used JetDirect card which may end up with the same “fault” I resorted to wedging the connector in the socket with folded bits of paper. This survived the “thump and bash” test to my satisfaction.

As I said, it ain’t pretty, but it works. Old Faithful lives to fight yet another day.

Related: Hello, old friend! / Farewell, old friend