Browsing articles from "August, 2014"

Power to the people and an ROI to be happy with…

Aug 19, 2014
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Over the years Apple have offered us varying desktop units providing us the horse-power for high intensity creatives that spend their days in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Since the release of the first iMac, Apple has split its models between pro and consumer users.

The ‘then’

End of 2009 saw Apple release the first 27″ 2.6Ghz i5 iMac at less than half the price of the then Mac Pro 2.26Ghz quad core. Whilst a lower spec than the Mac Pro at that time, the new 27″ performed well for under the then Creative Suite version 4 (remember those days!). Since then both the iMac and Mac Pro and our creative suite tools continued to advance.

What can we report is that over this time the actual return on investment (ROI) from our customers investment in either iMac or Mac Pro hardware for their studio, has performed equally.
• Those that invested in the Mac Pro higher performing CPU generally saw a 5-7 year ROI, with the Mac Pro continuing to perform as the Creative Suite tools and operating systems advanced
• The iMacs generally reached a 3 year ROI before hitting a performance wall with the advancing Adobe software tools and the Apple OS.

The ‘now’

With the release of Creative Cloud for teams (CCT), and the continuing ‘free’ upgrades we now receive as part of our CCT subscription, we are already seeing even greater performance requirements of our creative Apple Macs – a need for high performing graphics cards, multi-core CPUs and RAM is escalating at a rapid rate. So how does this effect the ROI we receive from our new studio Mac hardware?

Unfortunately, the current 2014 27″ iMac performance is only a little further on from that of the 2012 model. Conversely, the release of the new Mac Pro has seen performance gains leap ahead significantly from its predecessor, and significantly greater than the current iMac. So, with our creative tools now requiring greater performing hardware the ROI we receive will vary significantly.

Today’s iMac will debatably manage under the current Adobe Creative Cloud version (we are already close to it’s limitations). Sure, we can increase our RAM to 32GB, but the graphics cards and CPUs can not be upgraded. With the ongoing releases under CCT subscription, the performance of the iMac will continue to dwindle and will unlikely provide us the 3 year ROI once experienced when running Adobe CS versions 4, 5 or 6. The new Mac Pro however has more than enough scope to deliver the same 5-7 year ROI experienced from its predecessor, assuming the hardware continues to live on during this time.

The ‘crystal ball’

In short, a 27″ 3.4Ghz iMac with 16GB RAM will start its life on the studio desk already maxed out under the new Adobe Creative Cloud. If we’re lucky we may achieve a 12-18 month ROI at best before the dwindling performance will see it heading for the window. At a cost of approx $2,800 this would equate to around $1,800-$2,800 per annum.

In comparison the new Mac Pro combined with the new Apple Thunderbolt display costs approx $6,100 and with a 5-7 year ROI equates to around $900-$1,200 per annum and during this time will be providing creatives significantly more power to explore and create using the new features of the Adobe Creative Cloud. Thats twice the ROI when compared with the iMac.

Spark Tips – Liam’s top 7

Aug 11, 2014
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Since our winter release of Spark has just been rolled out, we’ve extracted Liam’s top 7 Spark tips to take advantage of some of the new great features (and some of the old):

Tip 1: 
Created a purchase by mistake? Easily delete the purchase by removing the supplier within the Purchase Items tab – click Update and you’ll see a Delete Purchase button appear.

Tip 2:
Befriend opening multiple tabs in Spark. Command + click (or right mouse click and select Open in New Tab) to open multiple areas of Spark at once. Liam’s suggestion: you might want to have the following open all at once making navigation between them quick and easy:
• Spark Home page (for a broad view of all your stuff)
• Workflow -> Work in Progress and click Go (for a view of all WIP jobs on the go)
•  Time Entry (to add your time and materials entries onto jobs during the day).
As long as the tabs are different areas of Spark you can open as many as you like!

Tip 3:
Want to bring across on your purchase order something that was quoted as materials or option/s on your proposal? Easy. When in the Purchase Items tab of a purchase, click the reveal arrow to see items on your proposal and toggle them across using the arrows.

Tip 4:
Ah, the Home page. Set that you’d like to display items on your home page under User Preferences and it will show you a set number of:
• Pending proposals created by you
• Jobs assigned to you
• Not Started and In Progress tasks allocated to you
• To Do job changes allocated to you
• Your timesheet snapshot for the past 7 days

Another tip: use the reveal/hide arrows for each section if you wish and the section heading names will take you to the appropriate search in Spark with the full item list.

Tip 5:
Speaking of User Preferences, if you tend to always be looking for ‘your’ jobs, proposals, tasks etc in Spark, then set Use My Name in Searches to Yes.

Tip 6:
Did you know you can set up custom pricing for a customer? Go to the Custom Pricing tab of a customer record and add products you want to set alternative pricing for. 

Tip 7:
Use the Notes field of a customer/supplier record to add in extra detail and you can then search this field. Very handy if you are looking for a list of photographers that specialise in portrait work, or specific equipment that your printer suppliers have.

Remember, your Spark monthly fee covers all the training, advice and phone/email support as you like so ask away….

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