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Archive for Technology Tips


Twitter in Plain English

Posted by: Char | Comments (3)

The team at Common Craft are at it again! They have produced another video that explains a technology tool in plain English – this time its Twitter. Twitter is a micro-blogging tool that fills in that gap between email and a blog post and allows you to have short 140 character conversations with your friends and follow the conversations of those who you find interesting.

Funny enough, I came across the video via a tweet from Mike Sansone of Converstations on Twitter. If you are on Twitter, you can follow me, too.

PS – Have you heard about SOBCon08 yet? It is part conference, part business school for bloggers, and will be the blogging event of the year. Check out the list of speakers they have lined up already – you do not want to miss it! I am competing in the SOBCon contest to go to the event for free – click on any of the SOBCon links (or the cool banner on the right) and help me out. You don’t have to do anything fancy, just click.

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Who would think that the history of the Internet could actually be interesting? Well, it is, and the Science Channel is running a series called Download: The True Story of the Internet this week. Told by John Heileman, this series of hour long shows about the real people and events that have made the Internet possible, is fascinating. Last night I saw the first two episodes – Browser Wars and Search – tonight I plan on catching Bubble and People Power.

Here are the basic episode summaries:

  • Browser Wars:  This episode is about the early days of the Internet, the rise and fall of Netscape, Microsoft’s entrance into the Browser Wars and the antics it used to acquire dominance.
  • Search focuses on the evolution of the search engines as we know them today – Google, Excite and Yahoo – and the players in their amazing growth.
  • Bubble (summary from the Science Channel): In an astonishing journalistic coup, the founders of the Amazon and Ebay, Jeff Bezos and Pierre Omidyar, tell the story of how their business grew from nothing to dominate the global economy and profoundly change the way we live our lives.
  • People Power (summary from the Science Channel): This is the story of how the internet has changed society and how a new breed of entrepreneurs are shaping our digital futures. It all started with Napster; a way of swapping music that was dreamt up by the teenaged Shawn Fanning.

If you didn’t get to watch the shows last night, it looks like the Science Channel is rerunning them all week. Set that DVR and catch up on the history of one of the most revolutionary advances of all time – the thing we call the World Wide Web.

Categories : Technology Tips
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PDF Basics and Essential Tools

Posted by: Char | Comments (13)

Converting a file to PDFAt least three times this week, the topic of converting a document to a PDF file has come up. The general web population has become pretty comfortable with downloading and viewing PDF documents, thanks to the free Adobe PDF Reader application, however, more users are finding the benefits of creating PDFs from their documents and they aren’t sure how to do it.


Created by Adobe Systems in 1993, a PDF, or Portable Document Format, allows you to share any document, created in any software with anyone, on any platform. Basically, it means if I create a document in PageMaker and you want to see it, you can – and you don’t need to have PageMaker to do it.

When the PDF application was first released, the only way you could read or create a PDF file was by using Adobe’s software, which is not always affordable for the average user. Adobe released a free version of Adobe Reader, which made it much more feasible for the general public to receive the PDF files.

So reading one is easy, but how do you create one?


If you need to create a PDF file quickly and just don’t have the time to research the best PDF creators, download software, or learn something new, Adobe offers a FREE trial of their online PDF creator. With the Adobe online PDF creator, you can convert your first 5 PDFs for free. If you think this is a service you want to use a lot more, you can get a subscription for it.

Other online options:


If you think you will need to create PDF files frequently, it is definitely worth downloading a PDF creator application, or if you need your PDF files to be high-end print quality, you might just need to fork out the bucks for the real thing. A lot of design software comes with PDF capabilities built in. If you are using any of them (like Dreamweaver came with Macromedia Flash Paper, a great PDF creator that I use daily), you may want to recheck your installation disks. You may have something already.

When using a desktop PDF creator, it is often as easy as sending a document to a printer. Instead of the end product being a piece of paper coming out of your printer, you will “print” the document to a PDF file that you can then email, upload or share with others electronically.

Other PDF creators give you a one-click conversion option as well. It is just a matter of reading the documentation and playing around with the software.

Adobe Acrobat Professional 8.0 is about $400, however, there are plenty of more affordable options (all under $100):

Free is good, too:

This was merely an introduction to PDF files and what they are. Depending on your needs or your end user needs, there are endless applications, add ons, additional capabilities and such you can get into. If you are sending files to a print publication, dealing with secure documents, multi authors, user interactivity and other challenges, it is well worth the investment into learning advanced PDF techniques.

And for all my readers who are already very adept with PDF conversion, I know there are other tools that are easy to use, powerful, and affordable. What do you use?  

Categories : Technology Tips
Comments (13)


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