Digging Deeper into the Manifestos

January 27, 2016

“Reading comprehension,” Wikipedia tells us “is the ability to read text, process it and understand its meaning” (emphasis mine). I remember in Grade 5 at St. Anselm’s School when Mrs. Webber introduced our class to SRA cards, a ground-breaking reading comprehension game that help teach kids that reading wasn’t just mouthing the words and stringing the words together in sentences, something beyond “Dick and Jane Jump and Run.” (more…)

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Barnes & Noble Marries Microsoft

April 30, 2012

The deal announced this morning between Barnes & Noble and Microsoft is one of the more curious tech deals of the past decade. (more…)

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Think Good Thoughts About Adobe Acrobat

February 11, 2011

(The title of this post is inspired by one of my favorite books of cartoons by one of my favorite New Yorker cartoonists, George Booth: Think Good Thoughts About a Pussycat.)

I’ve been using Adobe’s Acrobat technology forever, and I’m a huge fan of the underlying technology. The user-facing software, however, stinks.

It’s the same problem that you find in Microsoft Word, or in web portals: when you try to be all things to all people you end up being valuable to none.

This is now a big intractable problem for the folks at Adobe and at Microsoft and at Yahoo. The future of software is dedicated apps, just as the future of publishing is targeted, contextualized content. The days of all-purpose software are evolving to a close.

Right now I’m trying to scan a nasty IRS income tax notice into Acrobat X (pronounced “Ten”). The #1 reported feature of Acrobat X is its new, simplified user interface. I always have trouble when engineers decide to simplify interfaces. One person’s simplification in another person’s leap into the obscure.

I’m trying to use Acrobat “Actions” to scan. Actions simplify the interface by combining several steps into a single action. Good idea! But there’s no preprogrammed action for scanning. There are actions for several things I’ll never do, so I decide to create a scanning action. Of course the Action interface is relatively complex. AND I can’t find even the menu item for scanning as it’s now buried deeply under the simplified UI.

Oh well. There are simple and free third-party tools to achieve the same goal. Adobe is a great company with great technology and some powerful but tough-to-learn software. Which third parties greatly appreciate.

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Customer Service and the Future of Publishing

February 7, 2011

Communication is as challenging as it ever was.

The exchange was prompted by a post on Dan Gillmor’s excellent journalism blog on Salon.com. When I saw Dan on the Mac version I did the requisite Google search for an answer and got the usual spam-filled and out-of-date search results.

Like David Pogue at the New York Times I’ve been using Dragon Naturally Speaking since before Nuance bought it (he wrote Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, Second Edition using Dragon on Windows). Unlike David Pogue, I could never get it to work satisfactorily. Until Version 11. It’s amazingly good. I’m 99% happy with it (the accuracy could always be better, but it is still miraculous). At the same time, I’m continuously besieged by my very-well-meaning Macintosh buddies to return to the Apple fold. I think they’re right, but after struggling with Dragon for a decade, I don’t want to step backwards. (Would the Windows version work just as well on a MacBook Air?).

Update, February 8, 2011:

Update, February 11, 2011:

After receiving today the comment from Gene Gable (below) it struck me as odd that I’ve not received a response from Nuance. The new rules of engagement for companies in this era of social media are to respond quickly to blogs, tweets, Facebook postings and comments about your products. Last September I posted a very minor complaint about the company on Amazon, and Peter Mahoney, SVP & GM, Dragon responded the same day. When I later commented on the product, ditto. It appears he still works there, so why doesn’t Nuance’s electronic press clipping service pick up on this post? (As you see above, it’s cross-linked to Dan Gillmore’s far-more-popular blog, so it shouldn’t be tough to find.)

My guess is it’s mainly because Google is now worthless for most product searches: it has been too thoroughly gamed by the SEO hordes. A Google search of blogs on “‘Dragon Naturally Speaking’ AND Nuance” produces just garbage and noise.

(When I Googled “too thoroughly gamed by the SEO hordes” to find an appropriate link, I found that search had been gamed as well, and most of the links were to “gaming”.)

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Adobe Photoshop Day Cream

July 13, 2010

The secret of great models everywhere:

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Source: Technosexual Monkeys

And it was used even before Photoshop was invented:

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Source for image above and next image: Giopet’s Graphic Art blog (Italy)

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A favorite of La Wanda Gastrica!

And of advertising agencies everywhere.

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