Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How many .nu domains are registered?

I have always had a soft spot for .nu domains. They were one of the first CCTLD's to be sold for other purposes and I registered hudson.nu in 1998. This means I have had the same email address for 14 years along with a short, memorable, web address - although most of my web pages have now been folded into www.ecalpemos.org and hudson.nu may be email only by the end of the year.

The advantages of .nu include that the public whois does not list the registrant, but it does list accurate technical information. It also has a low tolerance for spamming and reasonably high registration fees which means it is a clean name space with high availability of good names.

I notice from the whois lookup at domaintools.com that there are 49,242 domains associated with support[at]nic.nu.

 I don't know if this is the total figure, but it gives some indication of how small .nu is. There are over 100 million active .com domains and over 9 million .uk ones.

Friday, January 27, 2012

How to get Microsoft Publisher files printed by a commercial printer

I recently had to get a leaflet printed without having the time or budget to go to a designer. Normally I would have done this using colour digital printing, but 10p per sheet it was too expensive for a run of 2000 or so. My usual designer uses Adobe Indesign which is the standard these days for graphic design. All I have is Microsoft Publisher 2010 and professional printers can't handle publisher files so I had to find a work around.

The solution turned out to be to design the leaflet in Publisher and output it in pre-press PDF format. This does not compress images like a normal PDF and it will embed font files (where this is possible). To do this requires using a printer who can print from PDF so I settled on www.1-2-print.co.uk who are based in Germany, but deliver to the UK. I paid £99 for 2500 double sided, full colour, A5 leaflets on 170gm paper including delivery and a £10 charge for checking my file for errors before printing.

The leaflet was designed normally in Publisher, but with bleeds set (so the background colours would go over the edges of the paper).

The first thing you need to do is set the document to use process colours - CMYK - not the default RGB. RGB is fine for screen images and some desktop colour printers, but commercial printing uses a four colour process. To do this, start a new document or selct an existing one, go to the file menu, click on info, then commercial print settings. Select "change color mode" and select CMYK.

Setting CMYK as the colour mode in Publisher 2010

Now design your publication as normal. When you are finished save it as a publisher file (so you have a back up in editable form) then go to file > save as and select PDF:

Click on the Options button which opens up the following dialogue box.

Select Commercial press and click on "Bitmap text when fonts may not be embedded".

Commercial graphic design packages use Postscript fonts which can be embedded in a pdf. Whilst Truetype fonts can be embedded, very few have their right set to allow embedding. By choosing to bitmap the text you are turning it into an image and you don't need to embed the font. The results will not be as crisp, but they will be very close to the quality of an embedded font.

Now click on the Print Options button:

Tick the box marked "Allow bleeds" but do not tick the one marked crop marks or bleed marks. If you do that then you may get the lines intruding into the publication.

Make sure the page size is the same as your document. if you have set it to A5 with a bleed area then you will need to select custom size and enter the full size of your document.

Now you can save the document. It will be a larger PDF file from those you are probably used to seeing. You can open it in your usual PDF viewer to check it and generate a new PDF if you want to make changes in publisher.

This method gives charities and voluntary groups the opportunity to improve the quality of their publications while saving money on digital printing and colour photocopying costs. I have had good results, but it requires careful colour management. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Climate Change becomes the new Evolution for America's Christian Right

According to the Los Angeles Times:
Texas and Louisiana have introduced education standards that require educators to teach climate change denial as a valid scientific position. South Dakota and Utah passed resolutions denying climate change. Tennessee and Oklahoma also have introduced legislation to give climate change skeptics a place in the classroom.
The full article can be found here.

Although it states:
Attacks on evolution come largely from conservative Christians who believe in a literal reading of the biblical creation story. Climate change denial is mostly rooted in political ideology, with foes decrying it as liberal dogma, teachers say. The NCSE's Scott said that made it much harder to use the courts to protect climate science education.
it is known that many evangelical Christians are opposed to action on climate change, including our old friend Grady McMurtry, whose diatribe against "environmental terrorists" can be read here.

For those who are interested in the mainstream Christian view on climate change I would suggest reading Christian Aid's material on Climate Justice.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Starbucks Price Increase for Loyal Customers

The price of coffee as a
commodity rose and fell
 during 2011
Starbucks has restructured its UK Starbucks Rewards Card programme and removed the "tall filter for £1" part of the offer. Now, customers will pay £1.50 but receive a free coffee for every 15 purchased. Customers on the old rewards card scheme have been put on gold level meaning they retain the other free extras they used to get, but my guiess is that most regular customers will now be out of pocket with, what is in effect, a 40-50% price increase.

My initial obserrvations is that Starbucks has got quieter at peak times in the morning and afternoon.

The price increase has been caused by sharp rises in raw coffee prices and reflects price increases by Starbucks in other markets recently. Prices for coffee peaked in October after a sharp rise over the summer, prompting retailers to increase prices Prices have since fallen back to a lower level. It remains to be seen how Starbucks will react to the price fall.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Capital punishment possibly not being restored.

Just noting that Paul Staines' petition to have a parliamentary debate on the restoration of capital punishment has only reached a quarter of the 100,000 signatures required with only four weeks to go.

25,956 votes out of a population of 62,218,761 means that, in spite of the impression given by many popular newspapers after some heinous crime has been committed, there is no widespread support for even discussing the issue in parliament -  let alone actually restoring the death penalty.

Hopefully Mr Staines will accept the vote of the public come February 4th.

Update 17th Jan 2012
According to an article on the Liberal Conspiracy blog, Paul Staines has been stopped from running a misleading ad in support of the campaign by the Advertising Standards Authority:
The assertion was stood up by taking figures from 1964 – which was the date of the last hanging, and not the date of actual abolition, which came in 1969.
Moreover, the period on which Restore Justice is basing its claim ends in 1997, which is fourteen years ago. Murder rates since then have not been considered by the campaign.
Does this matter? Well, yes it does: in 2008/9 the UK recorded its lowest murder rate for 20 years.
The intentional homicide rate for the UK fell from 1.71 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2000 to just 1.17 in 2009. By contrast, the USA, where many states still execute, went from 5.5 to 5.0 in the same period, while Russia, which also executes, went from 28 to 15.
This article bears out my Twitter tirade against Staines last July when I queried his position after reading the latest Home Office statistics.

You can follow the Restore Justice campaign on Twitter here, but they have not posted anything since last November.

*My tweets on this issue from the start of the campaign in July 2011 (click on image to see full size).