Taking a Breather

Weekday morning, pre-dawn hours. A lone figure sits in a darkened office space, lit from below by a pair of LCD computer screens, one the rich blue of the Microsoft pre-installation environment, the other a subdued white of a word-processing document.

Yep! I’m at the local Microsoft office, re-building my main development PC. Three weeks to the day after the HDD failed on my personal MacBook Pro, a similar fate befell my main work PC. Almost thirty years fiddling with computers and never had a hard drive die on me, until two this month. 🙁

So, since it’s probably inappropriate to bring my Mac into the office to work on strips during the network-boot rebuild, I guess I can use my Surface to blog!

Beginner’s (or sloppy/lazy person’s, like me) Lettering Tip!

If you do comic lettering with computers, you may use a font that has both serif and sans-serif versions of the letter “I”. As all good letterers know (I didn’t learn/realize it until the past year or so – I’m not a good letterer 😉 ) the serif I is reserved for the personal pronoun “I went to the cinema”. The “i” in “cinema” is sans-serif in an all-cap comic font.

I write my scripts very haphazardly – anywhere and anytime an idea hits me, and then I compile them in an Excel spreadsheet. Weird method, but it works for me. Sometimes I use sentence case (MS Word and my phone enforce this), sometimes all lower case (if I’m using Notepad or typing right into Excel). When I go to add the lettering to a strip in Photoshop, I use the following process to get the serif I’s in only the right places.

  • Copy the script and paste into MS Word or the free Notepad++.
  • Convert the whole script to lower case.
    • In Word, use the “Change Case”, found on the Ribbon.
    • In Notepad++, just select all the text and hit Control-U on the keyboard.
  • Do a global find and replace for any I’s followed by spaces. (Unless your script involves someone discussing their bikini, you are fairly safe.) The find and replace parameters should be case-sensitive, and replace the lower-case “I ” with the upper-case “I “.
  • Repeat the case-sensitive find and replace with any I’s followed by apostrophes.
  • Now your text is ready to paste into Photoshop (or whatever) in your chosen lettering font! Only the appropriate I’s will have serifs.


It’s funny when something causes you to look back on your life and you can see in retrospect a singular event that caused a profound shift in the direction of your life.

A co-worker who’s been at Microsoft way longer than me gave me a gift this week that represented such an event for me. Up until 2000 or 2001, my role in IT was that of a graphic designer, which was the natural career progression for me from having been a research chemist (story for another day).

Around that timeframe, Microsoft bought a small company called NCompass, to acquire their product, Resolution (news release). Resolution was an early-days web content management solution, which Microsoft rebranded as Content Management Server 2001. (Funny side note – I just discovered that their old site, ncompass.com, now redirects to Microsoft’s SharePoint site. Guess it ended up at the same place I did! 🙂 )

The company I worked for at the time had just bought Resolution 4.0 before the acquisition, so when we started using the product, it was by then called MCMS 2001. I was the web designer selected to do the UI/presentation parts of the CMS implementation, and along the way, I morphed into a web developer, ultimately became the CMS/SharePoint guy for the company, and eventually applied at Microsoft and got hired.

Sean found the internal MS “airlift” training disk for MCMS 2001, and gave it to me knowing my personal history with the product. If not for MCMS 2001, I doubt I’d be at Microsoft today! What a great birthday gift. Thanks, Sean!