Monday, May 15, 2006

Mass Producing PocketMods For 200+ People

I first heard of a PocketMod from Scott Hanselman. You know, he's the guy who only has to mention the name of a product or idea in brief passing, and suddenly there's 1000's of people doing it.

But, I saw it really put to use when Jim Holmes used them as handouts for the Dayton-Cincinnati Code Camp. Inside, he included the schedules for the different tracks that they held, and it worked great!

Well, while planning Day of .NET, we decided that we HAD to do the same thing. So, Josh got the template from Jim, along with instructions for using PDF2POCKETMOD to produce the final result. Nothing is ever easy, and producing our PocketMod was no exception.

Long story made short: I gave up trying to get PDF2POCKETMOD working, and decided just to make my own Microsoft Publisher template. For the upside-down pages, just create everything normal, group all of the objects, and then flip them by using the rotate grab handle at the top (the green ball).

In the interest of giving back to the community, I've provided a blank template (except for the individual page numbers) and the actual Publisher file that was used to print our event's PocketMod:

Now, a tip for folding hundreds of these:

I won't go into the actual instructions--those are available on the PocketMod site. However, being the amateur industrial engineer that I am, I'm always looking at ways to make tedious tasks more efficient.

When folding these things, get yourself a good straightedge. I found my office paper cutter very useful, because it has a flat surface, but a raised straightedge at the top. Also, don't prepare each PocketMod individually. Instead, set up an assembly line and do each step on all of them before proceeding to the next step.

Use the straightedge to help you line up the paper without necessarily spending a lot of time looking at it. Put both edges against the straightedge, hold it there with your fingers, and then use your thumbs to make the crease.

With all of the first folds done, you can then proceed to make the next two folds on the entire set. Repeat the straightedge trick for both sides of the paper (end result is that you'll have a fanfold).

I was able to get the first 3 folds of 200 PocketMods completed all by myself in about 30-40 minutes. After that, it was just a matter of making the cut, and then the final fold (which you can do without the straightedge).