Fall Into Savings: InDesign Promotion

We have a promotion on all of our hands-on InDesign classes. You must register by October 15th, but you may take the class at any time. Please contact us if you would like a custom discount code to register.

Our Adobe Authorized In-Depth classes always include a free 8 month retake policy that includes the new version, and the guarantee of 10 students or less. We offer the following InDesign CS5 Classes:

Adobe InDesign CS5 Level 1: Fundamentals to Intermediate
Adobe InDesign CS5 Level 1: *Accelerated Pace* for Current InDesign Users for Former Quark Users
Adobe InDesign CS5 Level 2: Advanced Master Class
Adobe InDesign & XML: XML for Designers

The InDesign Conference Comes to Chicago!

Ascend training and Mogo Media are proud to announce the internationally acclaimed “The InDesign Conference” is coming to Chicago November 2-4th, 2010. All 3 day attendees receive a $400 credit towards hands-on training at Ascend Training. Learn about our Adobe InDesign training.

Getting a New Computer Without That Hefty Price Tag

As much as I love the applications included in the Adobe Creative Suite I sometimes wonder if my computer is going to make it through my next Flash project or if it will even be able to open the flier I am editing with InDesign. So, seeing as the computers I own are getting on in years, I’ve been thinking it is about time for an upgrade. Now I have always been a Mac guy myself, but their prices are getting more and more outrageous. To get the power I want in a desktop without breaking the bank, I am in the process of choosing parts for a computer I intend to build myself. Now this may sound completely beyond your knowledge and skills, but surprisingly enough its no more complicated than my Lego Death Star I built in the 4th grade. All you need is proper manuals, here is a useful site that will tell you the necessary components and how to choose the correct ones. There are many more tutorials to be found by simple Google searches. Buying your own components and building your own computer will give you about twice as much bang for your buck. Yeah, the jig is up Dell and HP.

That being said, I have a few tips to save you even more cash. When it comes to computer hardware, take your time, you don’t want to get something that’s outdated but also don’t want to be spending too much on a piece of hardware that you could find on sale or cheaper elsewhere. If you are unfamiliar with Gizmodo, this site is your best friend when it comes to tech deals. Each day, Gizmodo will post an article called Dealzmodo that lists the best deals of the day for primarily tech items. There are always hardware deals on Gizmodo. Newegg is one of the best sources in general for hardware, everything you need will be on Newegg at reasonable prices. For in depth reviews of hardware, tomshardware.com is the place to go. One last thing, and this should go with out saying, avoid ebay. As appealing as some of those prices are, this is fragile technology and I, for one, would not trust ebayers with this stuff.

lego death star

On second thought, building a computer may be less complicated than the old Lego Death Star. I must’ve had a lot more patience back then.

Thats all for today,

Adobe CS5 Free Shipping Ends May 31st

Adobe is offering free shipping on CS5 until May 31st, 2010. Adobe Creative Suite 5 is turning out to be one of the best upgrades since Photoshop version 3. Some of the new features to Photoshop are:

  • Better RAW processing
  • Content Aware Fill
  • Auto lens correction
  • Expanded painting effects
  • Advanced HDR processing

If you’re confused about pricing, Adobe has a great chart for you to examine the different applications and the best suite for you. Ascend is offering CS5 classes starting in June, but will continue to offer CS4 as long as there is demand.

Reliance on the Digital World: Voice Recognition Software

To be honest with you, there were days that I want to go back to a rotary phone and a typewriter. Things seemed so much more straightforward then. That is, until I broke my finger. REALLY broke my finger, to where my neighbor came over to assist and SHE nearly passed out. I wish I had a good story like snowboarding, skydiving, but I simply tried to open the back door at an odd angle, and voila–emergency surgery.

The point is, that when I woke up with a full arm cast on Monday, I realized that I had 9 days ahead of me of complete uselessness. You see, I have to admit that I am right handed, completely and utterly addicted to my digital life, and had no right hand to facilitate any of this. Of course, when in a crisis in my neck of the woods, you call Tristan who usually has the answer and is kind enough to make that answer happen. Tuesday morning he showed up with MacSpeech Dictate. I ensured him I could set it up–I do teach Photoshop so that should guarantee I have SOME technological skills.

I went through the install, and had to spend about 15 minutes speaking paragraphs so that it could get to know me and my speech patterns, then I was on my way. Similar to the automated voice at United or American Airlines, I found that when I spoke too slowly, it was confused. I had to entrust that the software actually did listen to me, and I didn’t have to speak as if I were talking to a 2 year old.

  Amazingly, it did interact quite well with Photoshop, Mail, Word, and iChat among other things.  As the week went by, there were absolutely many times I had to go back and “Hunt and Peck” on the keyboard so I didn’t come across as a lunatic in email correspondence. The end result was that yes–as an alternative to not being able to communicate, it was an essential, wonderful tool. Does it replace the quickness of my typing–no, but I certainly am grateful that this kind of technology exists.

– Jori Curry

Quark 8 Chases Adobe InDesign

QuarkXPress is doing everything it can to regain its’ luster from the early days of the 90’s. A snappy new website, a new Quark Version 8 with the gun directly aimed atInDesign–but are any of these things enough to pull users away from Adobe?

Quark 8 has added Bézier curves, a Picture Content Tool for scaling and cropping pixel-based images, and a polished new interface. In addition, the new version has more “Standard”keyboard shortcuts designed to reach those that are familiar with the shortcutsfrom other programs. They have even added web features such as SWF authoringand export to HTML and PDF.


While these things all sound good on paper, some of remember the release of QuarkImmedia which was supposed to be the revolutionary way for Quark users to publish to the web in a “truecross-media solution.” I can tell you personally that sitting in on a demo ofthis in 1998 still hurts my brain. Moving print to the web has never been aneasy task, and Quark does not have a solid track record in this area. Quark has been the veritable one-trick pony for a long time, and deviating from the publishing arena with QuarkImmedia was truly the beginning of the end. We mustask ourselves if we were saddled with Quark 3 for so long because all energy was spent on moving towards the web?

Another stumbling block is that younger users have never even heard of Quark, let alone used it. Adobe has invested a vast amount of time, money and energy into reaching younger-audiences, such as the Adobe Interactive Video Wall to promote the Creative License campaign. People were able to interact with a slider on the wall tochange the video montage in front of them, which lended itself to the hip image and culture that Adobe has achieved.  Adobe Video Wall.

 wall1.jpg wall2.jpg

In the early days of InDesign, it was the end user pushing for the move. Now, it has also become an accounting decision. To buy Photoshop and Illustrator separately totals $1248.To buy the Creative Suite (CS3) is $1199 that includes both Acrobat and InDesign. Quark expenditures on the corporate level are being denied partially because of the attitude of “You have InDesign on your computer already, why are we spending $799 for a full version, or $299 for an upgrade?”

While the changes in Quark 8 are commendable, the publishing ship has sailed, and InDesign has left Quark far behind. But we also said the same thing when Quark took over from Pagemaker…

– Jori Curry 

Ascend Training Website 

Freelancer Fiesta!

Join us for a freelancer extravaganza on July 21st! Ascend Training and the Chicago Area Adobe User group will enable freelancers and those looking for talent to come together and share their samples and upcoming projects. Ascend has served the Chicago creative community for 10 years, and The Chicago Area Adobe User Group is the longest-running user group in the area. Held at the Ascend Chicago facility at 410 S. Michigan Ave. Those using Adobe Flash, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, InDesign or other creative applications are encouraged to attend.