Friday, August 29, 2008

A 15 cent Lesson

I swear Bell is working hard at losing customers. In June I received yet another annoying taped telemarketing message. Noticing the phone number was local, I hung up and called back. Instead of a person answering, I heard a recording asking me to leave a message. I did just that, politely asking them to remove my phone number from their list, then forgot about the incident...

...until my July Bell bill arrived. It had a mysterious 15 cent charge for “Universal Messaging” with no hint as to its purpose other than a now forgotten local phone number. Carol asked me what it was for and I was stumped. I went to the Bell web site where I found a page that “explained” my bill in great detail - but not the 15 cent charge. I resorted to a Google search and there buried in a CRTC report from a few years back was the very charge - turns out it is a charge to leave a message on a phone number which has no voicemail. Worse, if the number is international, the charge can exceed $2.00. No hint of this when I dialed the number. No identification that made sense on the bill. Nothing on the Bell web site. Great customer relations!

You've come a long way, little logo

About fifteen years ago, I had a call from Larry Boccioletti. He wanted me to use the tag line “The Big One” on our poster to differentiate our fair from new ones that had sprung up. I was using a page layout program on my Amiga called PageStream - long on promises and woefully short on delivery. One of the few things that did work was a primitive means to force a font to follow a curve or a shape. I used that feature to transform Larry’s tag line into a logo. By 1998 I had to abandon the Amiga, which had spiralled down into bankruptcy, and decided to build a WinTel machine using Windows 95 - an OS disaster compared to the Amiga OS. I was able to convert the logo vector file into a wmf file and move it to Windows. I initially used Microsoft Publisher, but soon tired of its cartoonish icons and gee-whizz antics. Then I accidently came across the very first release of InDesign at Future Shop - bargain priced for users switching programs - and it could read my wmf file. Last summer, when I wearied - really wearied - of Windows, I moved to a Mac.

A few weeks ago, I volunteered to help Bob Lansdale by doing a full page poster insert for the journal. Since I had a few weeks grace, I put on my thinking cap while doing chores around the yard and came up with a fresh design. I had the bright idea of using the logo as a mask in Photoshop on a crowd scene. I was very surprised to find the original wmf file in the stuff I moved over from Windows and even more so when Adobe Illustrator converted it to a format that Photoshop could read. The result worked out just fine for our new fall 2008 fair poster. The little logo has happily jumped platforms and formats once again - a little bit of the 1990s Amiga has survived through stops on various Windows machines to arrive on an iMac running a modern OS.