The upper image shows the effect of lighting on an offset lithographic print when illumined at an angle of 45º. Underneath is the same image lighted straight on at 0º. It’s one of a number of visual comparisons that can be performed at the Graphics Atlas, an online resource in development at the Image Permanence Institute of Rochester Institute of Technology. The aim of this interactive archive is to help scholars and the general public learn more about the history and the characteristics of pre-photographic, photomechanical, photographic, and digital reproduction processes—15 classical and modern techniques in all. Besides being lighted from different angles, images from each process can be rotated, magnified, and even viewed edgewise. A scrollable timeline shows the processes in temporal relationship to each other. Also available is the Digital Sample Book, a precursor archive that offers side-by-side comparisons. What do small printers think of President Obama’s proposal to give a tax credit of up to $5,000 to companies for every new employee they add to their payrolls this year? Unlike partisan economists and politicians who have already made up their minds, they’re probably going to need more information and more time before they can say yea or nay. But, some opinions from the print community are already being aired in the media. According to the Los Angeles Times, printer Mike Zaya thinks the plan might be just the incentive that small businesses need. The story says that Zaya, who owns PrintRunner Inc. in Chatsworth, CA, would find it easier to hire up to 14 new people with the help of the plan (which also includes Social Security tax offsets for existing employees). “It’s essential that the government does something like this." Zaya is quoted as saying. We need every break we can get.” Less certain of the benefit, however, is Douglas May, proprietor of One-Step Inc. in Davenport, IA. Interviewed by WQAD-TV, he voices doubt about how much help the federal government can give when general business conditions remain poor: "Do I hire three people? And then will the taxes eliminate any benefit of the growth? You've got to balance that as a business person, and it's tough to balance the unknown." The story says that May finds the tax credit for hiring new employees less appealing than Bush Administration tax breaks that are set to expire. "When the government takes your money, then gives it back to you, as a business owner you have a hard time balancing that," he is quoted as saying. Joe Olivo, president of Perfect Printing in Moorestown, NJ. has become something of a media spokesperson for small-business interests in the Garden State. He’s been featured twice before in Virtual Press Clips for his quoted comments on the difficulty of obtaining business loans and on the burden of complying with regulations for firms doing business in New Jersey. He was heard from most recently in a story by NJBIZ about the crushing costs of employee health care for small companies like his. According to the story, Olivo faces a 25% increase in premiums this year despite having switched to new plan with lower premiums but higher deductibles. “Every year is a battle,” he says of coping with annual cost increases. “I’ve had to forgo employee pay increases in order to maintain some level of health care.” The company, which employs 40 people, offers health care savings accounts that let employees set aside up to $4,000 of their own money for medical expenses. According to The Hartford Courant, “Dan Hincks doesn’t need any State of the Union advice from President Barack Obama about creating jobs.” A profile of the Farmington, CT, entrepreneur describes how he bucked recessionary trends at his specialty printing business, Data Management Inc., partly by learning how to break into foreign markets. Hincks, who took over the business from his father in 1991, grew it at a rate of 10% per year after 2004 and increased the payroll from 31 positions to 70. Much of that growth came from the success of one of the company’s signature products, the Expiring Visitor Pass—a security badging system with a variety of features to prevent errors and misuse. The story says that Hincks avoided large layoffs during the downturn through a combination of pay cuts, furloughs, and work-week adjustments. He also hired an international sales manager who landed big orders in Europe for the Expiring Visitor Pass—a feat that has earned the company an Export Achievement Award from the U.S. Department of Commerce. “A sudden downturn in business and its impact on cash flow can swamp you even before you know it," Hincks is quoted as saying. “So our motto became 'aggressively address costs while investing in new products.'" SHORT TAKES: A video now playing at the web site of Litgistix tells how the Tulsa, OK, graphics firm (formerly The Copy Shop LLC) has rebranded itself as a provider of litigation support services as well as copying, printing, binding, and finishing. Law firms make up a large part of its client base. (source: American Chronicle) The Chapel Hill-Carrboro (NC) Chamber of Commerce has named A Better Image Printing the 2009 Progress Energy Sustainable Business of the Year. (source: 1360 WHCL) In Pittsfield, MA, Quality Printing Co. is one of seven installations taking part in a project to use electricity generated by solar photovoltaic panels. The company expects to offset about 18% of its energy load in this way. (source: The Berkshire Eagle)