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Adobe Illustrator Tips from an Expert on Twitter

This week on Twitter, my friend Jean-Claude Tremblay took the initiative of spending almost a full day posting tweets about Illustrator tips, tricks and techniques under the hash tag #AITTT. There is a treasure trove of useful tips and techniques in there and, if you use Illustrator at all, you owe it to yourself to go through them and learn from his experience. That will save you time in your work and you will discover features you probably didn’t know existed in Illustrator.

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2008, The Year of Freelancing and Twitter

I am a bit late with the 2008 yearly reviews but this one will be shorter than last year’s. As 2008 has been a very big year for me I wanted to blog about it for posterity and this post will focus on basically 2 things. I’ll probably post more about specific discoveries (software, sites, etc) later but for now…

Freelancing

As everyone who reads this blog or follows me on Twitter knows, I quit a 20 years job last August to pursue my career as a Web design professional. It’s something I’d been doing for over 12 years anyway, slowly building up my skill set and client base. Once I felt ready, the decision to dive into the great freelancing unknown was surprisingly easy and I’ve never been happier in my life!

My work and my relationships with my clients make my job the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Music used to be the center of my life and had been for more years than I care to know… but since I decided to move on from it in 2000; I’d been missing that intangible but very strong sense of purpose in my life. That strong sense of purpose is back now and is driving me to try and become better at what I do every day. It had been a long time since I felt that way, like I’m really making a difference for the better in my clients’ lives. It’s a fantastic feeling but with it also comes a great sense of responsibility.

However, not everything in my new career is easy every day. I have to learn to deal with new kinds of stress like the lack of a steady weekly pay check. I have not lacked any money in the last 5 months and new projects keep coming to me but I’ve certainly worried about it more than I used to. Budgeting is the key that keeps my financial life sane.

The other major issue that I’m facing in my freelancing career is related to the other side of the working alone coin. On one hand, I love working from home in peace and making my own schedule but some days I really miss the social interaction of working in a “real” office…

Twitter

I’ve actually stated using Twitter last June before I started freelancing full time. Like I explained in my previous 2 posts on the issue (here and here), I’d resisted it for a long time and didn’t see the value at first. I’ll talk later about more technical aspects of Twitter like desktop clients and the like but for now, I’ll concentrate on the social aspects.

I have tried other social sites but Twitter is the only one I’m really sticking with for a couple reasons. The first is that it became a “presence” in my life. Unlike many people I am not afraid of solitude but, working alone day in and day out can become boring and lonely. I usually keep TweetDeck running on my laptop at my side while I work on my desktop. So when I need to take a short mental break, I stop my timer and check out what’s being talked about in my stream. I may shoot off a few replies, tease some of my friends or quickly follow-up on an interesting topic.

Other times, I may stumble upon a technical issue or have an idea I’d like to bounce off someone else. I just tweet about it and within minutes and sometimes seconds; I get useful answers and move on with my work. In short, in the last 5 months, Twitter has become an invaluable resource for me on many levels. Despite some of the technical difficulties the service runs into at times (fail whale!), to me it is the most successful social media service I’ve come across so far and I couldn’t go without.

In short, 2008 has been a very big year for me and 2009 is starting great as well. I’m learning all about faith. Faith in myself but mostly faith in life and its ability to bring me what I want and need. I wouldn’t have it any other way. For the first time in my life, I feel truly free…

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Twitter One Week Later

It’s been a week since I signed up on Twitter now and, in spite of my expectaions I must say I’m loving it. There are a lot of very helpful people there and it makes me feel like I’m more part of the community.

As I said before, the experience is made a lot more enjoyable by using a good Twitter client instead on the Web interface. I still use Twhirl which I mentionned in my last post and it works great for me. Seems popular too. But the one thing that is really annoying is the limits Twitter puts on the number of “API requests” such clients make. For some reasons, this number is set to 20/hour these days (usually around 70) so I can’t get as frequent updates as I did last week.

Twitter’s infrastructure seems quite fragile and is frequently overloaded which is too bad because the service is great and far more useful than I expected (more on that later). So it seems I’m there to stay…

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Now on Twitter

I resisted for a long time as I didn’t see the usefulness but I am now on Twitter and posting once in a while. My Twitter page is http://twitter.com/pixelyzed

I would have given up almost right away if i’d had to do it through the Web interface but I found a great Twitter client called Twhirl based on Adobe Air which makes the experience a lot more fun for me.

I’m planning a design refresh of this site (as well as my professional freelance site) and I may add the Twitter thing to it then but I’ll see.

In any case, Twitter turns out to be far more interesting than I expected so I’ll stick to it for now.