Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Clairvoyance
Posted by Sam at 1:17 PM

Let's talk politics, graphic design, and fortune telling for a bit.

Today, something remarkable happened. QuarkXPress, the industry standard page layout program (although InDesign, Adobe's underdog application, rocks my world. It should rock yours too.), released an updater to their flawed program. QuarkXPress 6.1 became 6.5. Do you care? I didn't think I did either until... well, let me back up for a moment...

One of my major frustrations with QuarkXPress 6.1 is its refusal to meet the needs of its users. Any piece of software will only succeed if it does, without difficulty, what its users require. Quark is known for its stubborness. Quark was also one of the last major applications to become OS X compatible (Adobe's InDesign was among the first).

The design application hadn't really changed all that much from version 3 either. Sure, it's shiny and wrapped in nice little OS X skin now, but it's the same buggy piece of software from 10 years ago.

My biggest complaint however, is printing from Quark. QuarkXPress creates layouts for print. That's what it does. That's what it was built for. The one thing that it should be able to do flawlessly, is print... Firstly, Quark could not print to a non-postscript printer until very recently. This means that most inkjet, bubblejet, and non-laser desktop printers where incompatible with the most widely used graphic design application. That's moronic. Secondly, QuarkXpress has never been able to print to my workplace's postscript level 2 laser printers. There's no explanation or reason. I've struggled to find a one... but none exist. Yet many other users were experiencing similar frustrations. Stubborn stubborn stubborn!

Back to the story:

When today's 6.5 release was announced, I was anything but excited. "It will most likely just add more problems," my coworkers and I discussed. As I was installing the updater, I made the following statement (by the way, I'm a realist... or pessimist... depending on your definition of those terms.), "If I can print successfully from the updated version of QuarkXPress, John Kerry will win the presidential election." My coworkers laughed with/at me. We all knew that the chances of a QuarkXPress updater solving a long term and well documented problem was as likely as... well, John Kerry being elected to the White House. A.K.A. not very likely. Not very likely at all. No chance in hell. But, being a good sport, I sent something to print... something challenging too. It had lots of photos and complicated font layering. If Quark was going to fail, I wanted it to fail hard. I wanted to say, "Stupid Quark" and "We're all doomed" simultaneously. Conversely, If Quark was going to succeed, I wanted it to be glorious. I wanted to be able to proclaim, "Quark isn't broken anymore!" and simultaneously "America isn't broken anymore!"

So, I pushed "print."

And I watched as the binary data flowed to the rip station.

And then I heard a beep. The triumphant beep of a potential victory. The beep that signifies that something is about to print.

Lo and behold, in the paper tray mere moments later, were two sheets of tabloid size paper. I held the pieces of paper in my hands. I looked at the monitor. QuarkXpress was the foremost application. The document that I had just sent to print was still visible on the display. I looked at the papers in my hands. The printed image was the same as the display. Quark had done it. Quark had printed. "I printed from Quark," I whispered. My coworkers looked up. "I printed from Quark." I said confidently. "I printed from Quark!" I exclaimed. "John Kerry is going to win the 2004 Presidential Election!" I shouted, as I crumpled up the QuarkXPress printouts into a ball and spiked it onto the floor as if I had just made the winning touchdown of the super bowl. And then I did a dance. And then my coworkers asked me to stop dancing.

I don't really believe in things like the Ouija board, tarot cards, palm reading, or any other fortune telling device (don't get me wrong, I love all of those things. I just don't really believe in them). But this... this is different. This, I would have never expected in a million years. Quark fixed a huge problem. On election day. And now I'm confident that the American people will fix a huge problem. Today, November 2, 2004. Go America, go!

Comments: 2 | Post a Comment | Permalink

So...ya vote yet. Anyone vote? Huzzah to Quark, clever app and voting prediction software!

Comment By Blackwatch on November 02, 2004 1:29 PM

Oh man, and I wasted my vote on PageMaker!

Comment By Anonymous on November 03, 2004 12:39 AM

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Sam Who!?
Sam is an amazing and humble guy. Once, he rushed into a burning building, up six flights of stairs to save a kitten from certain death. He speaks eight languages, has mastered three varieties of martial arts, is a wine expert, and is a pulitzer prize winning author. Sam is an international heart-throb who prefers a quiet evening at home knitting afghans for the homeless, to the go-go, glitz and glamor of the party scene. I think the day he won the silver medal for ballroom dancing at the 98 olympics was the happiest of his life. Pretty impressive for a guy who never finished the 8th grade. - Carrie, 04
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