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A Sorry Tale of Cross Incompatibility
Contributor: Mike de Sousa, Director, AbleStable®

A friend of mine recently fulfilled a life long ambition by cutting a commercially released audio CD of his music. The CD was pressed and the sleeve artwork was printed after approval and all appeared to be running smoothly.

My friend received a copy of the completed CD through the post. He pulled open the heat-sealed cellophane rapping, clicked open the jewel case and
started reading the CD booklet. Every apostrophe was replaced with a small square.

My friend contacted the graphic designers/printers immediately and asked 'What the hell is all this? This wasn't in the proofs...'. The designers/printers said, and I quote 'what do you expect when you use Arial as your main font?'. The upshot was that the printers had to meet the additional costs incurred for reprinting the booklet.

The point of recounting this sorry tale is to illustrate how creative professionals still do not check and double check for cross compatibility. Always test on PC and Mac if you're a creative professional exchanging digital files. I was staggered at the arrogance of those designers/printers and the unnecessary costs and inconvenience they caused by their thoughtless action and poor customer relations.

The central message all of us have to take on board is to acknowledge we do not all speak the same digital language. We live in a digital tower of Babel. Anyone who's used the web browsers Internet Explorer and Netscape, realise web pages can look remarkably different depending on your point of view.

Although PC's and Mac's run entirely different operating systems, it is possible to achieve a cross platform solution (and that includes your web site). Solutions of this kind are always a compromise, but don't fool yourself into thinking compromise equates with less. Many of the best solutions have arisen out of compromise, compromise encourages creative problem solving, compromise is what the web is all about.
Authors background
Mike de Sousa is the Director of AbleStable®. Mike has been commissioned as an artist, music composer, photographer, print and web site designer, and author.

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