Planet PDF's AcroPDF Weblog
A daily chronicle of Acrobat/PDF-oriented newsbits

For week beginning 29 April 02
By Kurt Foss, Planet PDF Editor

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday

NOTE: Previous Weblogs will be archived at the end of each week, and start fresh here.


PDF for Scholars: In 1990, Charles Bailey published the first issue of a scholarly electronic journal titled "Public Access Computer Systems Review" on the Internet. "It was difficult to find literature about this somewhat esoteric topic during this early period," he later wrote, which he says inspired him to begin maintaining an informal bibliography on scholarly electronic publishing in article format. Bailey, with the University of Houston Libraries, continued tweaking the format and content over the ensuing years, until 1995 when "the electronic publishing literature was growing rapidly, reflecting both the intense activity in the field as it matured and the catalytic effect of new, more sophisticated distribution tools." By 1996, Bailey made a more significant change, launching the "Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography," adopting a book format. That publication is still going strong today -- the 131-page version 42 update was posted April 19 with the following description of its current status:

"The Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography (SEPB) is an electronic book that currently presents citations for over 1,400 selected English-language articles, books, and other printed and electronic sources that are useful in understanding scholarly electronic publishing efforts on the Internet. (1) Most sources have been published between 1990 and the present; however, a limited number of key sources published prior to 1990 are also included. Where possible, links are provided to sources that are freely available via the Internet. There is no charge for accessing the bibliography."

The primary version -- a series of linked HTML pages on the Web -- was difficult for users to print, according to Bailey's recent chronology "Evolution of an Electronic Book" published in the December 2001 issue of The Journal of Electronic Publishing. Thus, a second version -- in Microsoft Word's .DOC format -- was added. But since not everyone had Word, he chose to add a third format -- Adobe PDF -- thereby also adding some duplication of effort and complication to the every-other-month publishing process, as Bailey describes:

"Of course, publishing the bibliography in three formats made the production of each new version more complex and time consuming. The creation of the Acrobat file from the Word file was not as effortless as I had thought it would be. The formatting of the Word document had to be very precise to properly generate an Acrobat file, and it made a difference what Acrobat tool was used for the conversion process. Unlike the Acrobat PDFWriter program that was initially used, the Acrobat Distiller program created files that faithfully replicated the pagination of the Word document."
User preference eventually helped to resolve the predicament.

Create Web Links

According to the SEPB Weblog on April 19, coinciding with the release of version 42: "Use of the SEPB Word file has been declining in recent years, while use of the Acrobat file has been steadily growing. The Word file has been discontinued in this version." HINT: Although the PDF version is clearly intended for print use, you can quickly add 458 active Web links (to version #42) with a single menu selection (in the full version of Adobe Acrobat): Tools > Locate Web Addresses > Create web links from URLs in text.


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An e-Cookbook or a Cooking eBook?: We've heard a lot about the so-far mythical 'Paperless office,' but are you ready for the almost paper-free kitchen? The folks behind the E-Cookbooks Library hope so -- and if so, they're ready to help with the transition. All you'll need is a copy of the free Adobe Acrobat Reader (not the Acrobat eBook Reader). If you need convincing, they offer the obviously self-serving treatise "The Top Ten Reasons Why E-Cookbooks Are Better Than Paper Cookbooks." Among them, you'll note, is evidence that you still haven't seen the last of paper:

"Just browse through the recipes, click and print! Work off of only one sheet of paper in the kitchen."

Their obvious preference is that you'll go for the idea bigtime and thus want to join -- paying a modest one time, lifetime fee to gain access to all of their PDF-based cookbooks. But they're also realistic enough to realize that most kitchen commandos will want to try before they buy, both to test the practicality and the content of the group's online cookbooks. Accordingly, they currently offer a selection of free samples covering a diverse range of cooking styles and preferences. One example -- the free E-Cookbooks International Recipe Sampler e-Cookbook is an almost A-to-Z (actually "Australia - Lamb Shank Pie" to "United States - Flag Cake") assortment of favorites and unknowns from around the world. Other free-to-download topical samples include barbecue/grilling, sugar-free cooking, authentic Chinese, Fish and Game, Salad recipes and more.


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Rules are Meant to be Distilled: Not sure if it's more a statement on the state of television or the country when one of the most interesting and entertaining characters on either front is also the country's Secretary of Defense. A Donald Rumsfeld press conference isn't your typical government-on-the-tube fare; rather than appearing uncomfortable and out of place as many politicians do when the lights go on and the microphones and notebooks come out, Rumsfeld seems to revel in the opportunity to hold court. In his court, as soon is obvious, he rules -- and makes the rules.

Rumsfeld's Rules

In fact, if you don't know his rules, you can download a copy in PDF from the DefenseLink, the official Web site for the Department of Defense and a portal site for finding U.S. military information online. "Rumsfeld's Rules" is a compilation of wisdoms, witticisms and uncommonly common sense related to leadership that Rumsfeld began collecting in the 1970s. An official, copyrighted version was first posted online in January 2001, then updated in September. The collection includes quotations and advice on:

  • Serving in the White House
  • Keeping Your Bearings in the White House
  • Doing the Job in the White House
  • Serving in Government
  • Politics, Congress and the Press
  • For the Secretary of Defense
  • On Business
  • Life

The rules, applicable beyond government and politics, include:

"Learn to say 'I don't know.' If used when appropriate, it will be often."

"Don't blame the boss. He has enough problems."

"Beware when any idea is promoted primarily because it is 'bold, exciting, innovative, and new.' There are many ideas that are 'bold, exciting, innovative and new,' but also foolish."

"There are only three responses to questions from the press: (1) 'I know and will tell you,' (2) 'I know and I can't tell you;' and (3) 'I don't know.'"

"First law of holes: If you get in one, stop digging."

"If you develop rules, never have more than ten."

When a part of the Pentagon was destroyed in the September 11 terrorist attack, Rumsfeld reportedly "rushed from his office to the scene, through rubble and burning debris," according to newspaper accounts.

Rumsfeld's Rules

If the "Doc Info" data [shown above] on the PDF version of Rumsfeld's Rules is accurate, someone had just finished updating the file less than an hour before the hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon.


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FYI SDK: If you're an Acrobat developer who's used the Acrobat 5 Software Development Kit to develop an effective and creative solution within a corporate or enterprise setting, watch Planet PDF for an upcoming announcement of a special promotion. We have an interesting opportunity for you and your company to be recognized and rewarded for your development. UPDATED: Details Now Posted!


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Newsflash: Mouse Directs Rat: Nature is a publication, one presumes by its name, about things pertaining to the "real" -- aka 'natural' -- world. Yet the general theme in one of the featured articles from its May 2 issue, available online and illustrated in PDF, would appear to contradict what one might expect to observe under naturally occurring circumstances.

The premise is that a 'mouse' can be used to direct the actions of a rat. Logic prevails again -- at least to a degree -- when you realize that this is no ordinary mouse, but rather one tethered to a laptop computer as a navigation device. But by no means does that clear up all the illogical or seemingly unnatural aspects of the article titled "Behavioural neuroscience: Rat navigation guided by remote control."

The research profiled in the news brief brings new meaning to the term "rat pack" (or "pack rat" for that matter). It deals with experiments to 'virtually train' rats, or "ratbots," to take specific actions communicated remotely by means of electronic stimulation:

"We implanted stimulating electrodes into the MFB of five rats; the same animals also received electrodes in the right and left SI whisker representations. We then mounted a backpack containing a microprocessor-based, remote-controlled microstimulator on each animal. This allowed the operator, using a laptop computer, to deliver brief trains of stimulus pulses ... to any of the implanted brain sites from distances of up to 500 m away."

In case the applications aren't obvious, the researchers elaborate: "Combined with electronic sensing and navigation technology, a guided rat can be developed into an effective 'robot' that will possess several natural advantages over current mobile robots." The sorts of uses they foresee include using such controllable 'ratbots' to search for landmines or buried victims of earthquakes.

Nature provides unlimited online access for subscribers to its commercial print publication by the same name, but also offers a considerable amount of free content, updated weekly, to registered site visitors. Most articles are available in PDF, in part because many rely on precisely detailed graphics and illustrations. The site therefore suggests that "Figures may be difficult to render in a web browser. In such cases, we recommend downloading the PDF version of this document." If you need a copy of the free Acrobat Reader, use your mouse -- no rat needed -- to navigate to either the ePublish Store or download areas.


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