Wacom officially runs spyware on your PC

Wow. Wacom actively spies on everything you open, according to a detailed report in The Register“Wacom tablet drivers phone home with names, times of every app opened on your computer”.

“Wacom’s official tablet drivers leak to the manufacturer the names of every application opened, and when, on the computers they are connected to.”

Both Mac and Windows are affected by this outright snooping. There is a way to turn it off, but then you have to keep on top of that as the drivers get updated…

“If you want to disable this snooping, open your Wacom Desktop Center, find the slightly hidden More link, click on it, go to the privacy settings, and opt out of “Wacom’s Experience Program.” Note that you may have to opt out again after updating your driver installation: this data collection is enabled by default.”

“A spokesperson for Wacom was not available for comment.”

Thanks goodness I uninstalled all old Wacom drivers when I got my Ugee pen-monitor, to prevent conflicts.

Microsoft Publisher: how to set a default Column Spacing

One of the problems with Microsoft Publisher, at least in its 2013 (v.15) version, is that having a default automatic setting for its Draw Text Box function is only partly possible.

While one can partly set this up via this official solution, and have the two-column choice ‘stick’, still the vital and related Column Spacing setting never ‘sticks’…

I always want 0.18, not the default 0.08 columns spacing. But the setting just won’t stick, and I used to have to adjust it manually every time I laid down a text box. Nor does changing the underlying Page Design | Grid | Grid and Baseline Guides… make any difference to this lack of ‘stickiness’.


The solution is to avoid such things altogether, and instead use Insert | Page Parts. To do this you first make a custom Page Part from a Text Box you’ve just drawn. This is how you do it…

1) Top menu tabs | Home | Draw Text Box. Draw and nudge the new text box until it’s exactly how you want it on the page.

2) Adjust the text box’s columns and column spacing. I use 2 and 0.18, as seen in the picture above.

3) Also adjust the box’s font type and size. These settings will also be saved into the Page Part.

4) Now carefully right-click on the outermost edge-line of your completed Text Box. Choose “Save as Building Block…” from the right-click menu…

For our purposes, a Building Block is the same thing as a Page Part. Which is a little confusing.

5) Choose a memorable name for the Page Part you’ve about to save, and save it for the General section of the Page Parts window. These choices will make it easier to find when you want it.

To use the new ‘Page Part’ containing your pre-configured Text Box, you now go to: Top Menu | Insert | Page Parts.

The text box then instantly drops itself straight onto the page, all set up.

However, if you have a double-page spread, the Page Part does not ‘know’ which of the two pages you want the part placed on. So it will appear directly centred in the middle of the spread.

One possible solution to this additional problem, for those working with magazine and newsletter layouts, is to set up a Page Part for twin Text Boxes. Placing this combo Page Part then brings the twin Text Boxes in. But they’ll be “Grouped”, and it’s then more than a little fiddly to “Ungroup” them, which rather makes the whole process pointless. Frankly, for those with creative and art-directed layouts it’s easier to go with the single-page option, and then manually grab and re-position the Text Box.

Finally, the other additional problem is that a colour-matching widget appears just outside the bottom right of such a Page Part, offering to “Match Publication Color”. If you click this option, any text in the text box vanishes! It’s not just that the text is made white, and thus seems to blend with the page background. It’s just erased. Not good. But it’s easy enough to ignore the widget, though.

That’s it. Enjoy your new time-saving insta-box!

The new 2019 Kindle Fire 10″

A quick digest of the differences between the 2017 Kindle HD tablet and the 2019 one now available for Christmas.

* Faster charging by USB-C, not micro-USB.

* A slightly less-bright 10.1″ screen than the 2017 model, as a trade-off for better battery life. Especially so on ‘binge-watching’ video playback.

* Much better FPS on 3D games. Amazon claims 30% faster. But if you don’t play that type of racer/shooter game, it doesn’t matter.

* A lot more expensive at present, at £150 inc. UK sales tax. I paid £109 inc. delivery for it, back in November 2017.

So in terms of the 10″ Kindle as an excellent comics and magazine reader, not much change. Just a slightly less bright screen at full brightness and better battery life for long journeys.

However, looking at the controls on my 2017 model, I find I’ve been running it at 50% brightness anyway, which is absolutely fine for indoor reading. Thus the slight drop on the 2019 model is probably only going to matter if you plan on doing a lot of reading in bright sunlight. But I have an older Kindle e-ink ereader for reading books under such conditions.

Last chance…

Last chance to grab some comics stuff for the Black Friday weekend. Blambot fonts are on a 30% sale on Monday. Poser Pro 11 is still $164 at Renderosity, a bargain for its Comic Book and Sketch rendering. Comic Life for Windows/Mac is 50% off. Clip Studio Paint (Manga Studio) is now 50% off for both versions. Reallusion has Cartoon Animator 4 for $129, though be warned that that can be a costly content-pack ecosystem to get hooked into. Wacom have some discounts on pads and pens.