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Friday, October 03, 2003

Convention Report (Part II) 

Well, the bulk of things are done. This morning I have to be a warm body at a press conference, but beyond that, the issue is printed and delivered and we just have to wait until it's late enough to break down the racks, figure out what to do with the issues that haven't been taken by then, pack up the car, and drive back to D.C. And L--- says I look sicker today than at any other point during the show (I feel okay; I think it's just the skipping sleep is catching up with me and it's over, so I can let myself fall down a little.)

Last night turned into a real pain. I knew that Mac OS X was a complete do-over of the Macintosh system, and we've run into some small problems in the office with outside contractors having more up-to-date Mac gear than we do, but it was getting ridiculous at some points last night.

Things actually started off looking good: deadlines were being hit; the one big controversial story was approved quite painlessly; for the most part, stories were fitting on page (although I had to savage one a story I wrote and that I liked a lot ...). By the time we ran through final proof, we were running later than out ideal time to get out the door to the printer, but well ahead of our we're-later-than-we-want-but-not-really-late time.

Then the problems hit. We'd realized earlier that the version of Adobe Distiller we brought with us wouldn't work on the rented OS X machine, but we figured we could backsave the file to Quark 4 and shuttle them on a Zip disk to the laptop (OS 9.2) to make PDFs for the printer. After two lockups and a bit of frustration, we discovered that the OS X machine didn't want to communicate with our Zip drive (it took about 6 minutes to transfer 9.1 megs of files). To get the 100-plus megs of files we needed off the OS X machine, we decided to burn things to CD quickly to get them to the laptop and then use the Zip to get the PDFs back to the OS X box.

Of course, the version of Toast (5.0.2) we'd installed on the OS X box couldn't find the DVD writer. After more looking around on the machine and a call to rental tech support that didn't reach anyone, we found the preinstalled version of Toast (5.2) which did work -- another case of OS X and backwards compatibility. Until we figured this out, we were considering just taking the entire computer to the printer and hoping they'd have some cabling, software, and/or expertise that would solve things.

Okay, so files quickly transferred, PDFs made, and then shuttle the Zip drive back to the OS X box to burn a new CD of the PDFs to electronically ship them to the printer. And nothing. The Zip drive locks up the OS X box again; it won't work with the laptop anymore. We throw the CD with the Quark files into a bag, force the Zip disk from the drive, and head to the printer. We're at least 90 minutes late at this point.

We finally get to the printer (about a 40 minute drive from the convention center) and run through a few quick checks of things only to discover the Zip disk is corrupted. So it ends up in the trash, we borrow a new disk to transfer files from the laptop and the game is back on ... We got to rest a little bit while waiting for the proofs and, to make a long story short, the issues were delivered in time and they look great. And I am so ready to get home ...

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