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Stuart Turton

Into the bowels of hell with InDesign

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Hands bound by cordBefore we begin it’s important to categorically state that what I contribute here is a personal opinion. Not a review. Not a judgement on behalf of PC Pro the brand. They’re good people. They know stuff. Here’s what I know: every single day I work with InDesign is a living hell.

This is partially my fault. I use it for one week a month without any sort of training whatsoever. What I know about InDesign I’ve picked up through bloody minded necessity. A former technology journalist, I’m now a travel writer by trade, happiest knocking out Word docs and editing photos in Photoshop. InDesign is my life’s third wheel, and I hate every single moment I’m strapped to its rim.

I hate the way it lumbers across my machine, dragging its toolkit of horrific torture icons behind it. Do you want this pointer, or this other basically identical pointer? Tell you what; while you mull it over I’ll have a little crash, see how that goes.

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Posted in: Rant

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Surface is lovely, but not for people like me

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Microsoft Surface grey

Funny how things work out, isn’t it? Only a couple of days ago I was having a conversation with PC Pro doom-bringer-in-chief Barry Collins about Windows 8, which I may have passingly described as “a piece of utter [excrement]”.

It’s not like I haven’t given it a chance. I installed the Consumer Preview on my desktop machine, and since then I’ve been using it the way you’d use a badly put-together Ikea sofa. In doing so, I’ve reached two conclusions: Metro is lovely, but irrelevant to me – a stained-glass window in a car factory – while the traditional bit behind it performs like a naff beta of Windows 7.

But then Steve Ballmer knuckled his way onto stage the other night and introduced us to Surface, a tablet PC with a keyboard for a cover. Suddenly it all made sense. Surface explains Windows 8 in much the same way that a cup of tea explains a digestive biscuit. Windows 8 just doesn’t work properly without touch, and it was never meant to. Oh sure, you can get around it with a mouse, but then you can get around Tescos with a quad bike.

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Windows 8: welcome back Microsoft

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Windows 8 Start screen

Steven Sinofsky bring that beautiful, bald head over here so I can give it a kiss. I’ve just watched Microsoft’s Windows 8 reveal and I’m happier than all 15 of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s lawyers.

Last week I was whinging about how Ubuntu bored me. After promising bold reinvention, Canonical did the OS equivalent of rearranging its sock drawer. Well, that’s not what I wanted. I wanted Canonical to tip the drawer out; maybe throw some boxer shorts in there – hell, go mad, put the Spiderman Y fronts on hangers. Something, anything, that would make the OS market a little more interesting.

Well blow me down if Microsoft hasn’t done just that. Windows 8 in inheriting the Windows Phone 7 Metro UI, making it suitable for even the stubbiest of stubby fingers. (Incidentally, how on Earth has Microsoft R&D never got touch right in the past? Surely, if you’ve got the monstrous paws of sausage-fingered Steve Ballmer to work with, perfecting a touch interface everybody can use is a doddle).

Dave Stevenson on why Stuart Turton’s wrong: Windows 8 can’t work on desktops, laptops and tablets

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Why Unity made me fall out of love with Ubuntu

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Unity-home

I’m falling out of love with Ubuntu, which is strange because it’s as good as it’s ever been. And no, this isn’t one of those blogs. I’m not going to proclaim that it’s now too mainstream, or soulless or any other such tosh. It’s not. In fact, it’s very brilliant in many of the ways that matter, just not the one that matters to me. It’s simply not the Ubuntu I’d hoped it would become.

At the root of this statement is Unity. I’ve read all sorts of complaints about the new front-end, and to my mind they veer from wildly silly to outright daft. Quite frankly if you can’t suss out a new scrollbar, then evolution’s wasted on you.

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Textbook service from Kindle tech support

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Broken KindleCustomer service really is rubbish, isn’t it? I mean how often have you rang a support line, or stared into the glassy eyed bubble of human-shaped ignorance that is 98% of this nation’s support staff and seen nothing but the next ten minutes of your life being rolled up and thrown out of the window.

That was my attitude until last night, when I took out my Kindle to discover the top two thirds of the screen had frozen, while the lower third of the screen worked perfectly. It was the Dolly Parton of eBook readers, and I rang Amazon fully expecting to be ushered onto the usual treadmill of pointless questions and obfuscation.

Instead I got Rose and Simon. Not together. They weren’t dueting support queries or anything – though that would be awesome.

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Don’t send the developing world PCs: send them Kindles

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Amazon Kindle and booksI was in India recently, spotting tigers in the jungle. I was about five hours north of Nagpur in Central India, which is a bit like pointing to the moon and telling somebody to take a left. There was no internet access, my mobile phone worked sporadically, and the nearest village was so poor there was a hint of Hollywood to it. You know, the kind of place where you start thinking “children in rags carrying water home from a well 3km away, I’m not falling for that.” Or “fifteen people living in a house with their cow and chickens, pull the other one.”

Nobody’s that poor, not really, because if they were that poor Bob Geldof would immediately start singing at them, and if that’s not reason enough to be upwardly mobile then nothing is – I mean, look at Ethiopia. The entire country gave up famine just to get him to bugger off.

So I’m waiting in this village for my lift to arrive, reading my Kindle to pass the time, and all of a sudden I look up to discover about 20 kids stood in a big group, just watching me: big eyes, curious expressions, ridiculously cute and all intent on the Kindle.

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Stuart Turton’s Alternative Tech Awards of 2010

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

AwardsAs we usher in 2011, how better to reflect on 2010 than with some awards. To that end, I present the “Stuart Turton in association with PC Pro but not officially endorsed by them Awards”. For convenience sake, this will henceforth be abbreviated to the STIAWPPBNOEBTAs – which admittedly sounds like a gulag in Stalinist Russia, but will have to suffice.

So without further ado, it’s the first annual STIAWPPBNOEBTAs! Drum roll, please.

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Simple rules for stupid tech companies

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Fat businessman

I’ve decided to fix the tech industry. All of it, right now. Here’s how.

If it’s been done before, do it better

Company exec: I have an idea for an eBook reader. It’ll be like the Kindle, only rubbish and more expensive. Happily, our customers have the intelligence of drunken sparrows and are easily confused by colour. The Kindle is white, ours will be white. They’ll never know.

CEO: Sebastian, you’re a genius. The money I was going to invest in research and development I can now use to buy another yacht, from which I can sip champagne and watch as my company goes down the pan quicker than the contents of a banker’s pockets after a knock on the door from the fuzz.

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Scrivener: a word processor that makes you smile

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Research corkboardIt’s rare software makes people smile. Rarer still that it makes them want to hug their computer and never let go. Scrivener will do this, because Scrivener will change your life. And not half-heartedly, like having a child or getting married, but properly change it. It will open your head and spoon feed happiness directly to your brain. This will naturally make you more attractive, charismatic and fun. I confidently predict that by the time you’ve read this article and downloaded Scrivener you’ll be a 67% better person.

Bombast be damned, Scrivener is brilliant.

It’s a word processor. No wait, that’s like describing a waterfall as big, wet and noisy. Scrivener is a fundamental rethink of what a word processor should be. The idea is that instead of trying to plop all your text onto one page – like word diarrhoea on an endless sheet of literary loo roll – you create a series of smaller documents within Scrivener, then arrange these how you see fit, according to how you write.

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Why Mozilla needs to pick a new fight

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Firefox logo

One of my very first gigs when I started at PC Pro in 2007 was to interview Tristan Nitot, the president of Mozilla Europe. He was an affable chap, full of engaging answers to questions he’d no doubt heard a hundred times before. The interview practically wrote itself – though for the sake of appearances I held the pen.

Safari for Windows had just been released and I asked Tristan what he thought of it. “I want Safari to have a significant market share. We want choice, we want innovation, as a company that’s what we stand for,” he told me.

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