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

For week beginning 6 May 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.


Classy Cards for the Class of '02: If you know someone coming to the end of a key stage of his or her academic career, it's almost time again for the annual rite-of-passage rituals -- boring graduation speeches about the challenges ahead, one more shot at intercepting the obviously erroneous report card and last but definitely not least, tallying up the stash of cash included in the many celebratory cards from friends, relatives and anyone else interested in donating to a soon-to-be-needy cause.

Xerox Corporation recognizes the importance of the time-honored transition and is chipping in to help. No, they're not providing the highly desired dollars (or euros) many grads will be counting on to extend their pizza and beer allowances. But on its Color Connection Web site, The Document Company is offering a selection of ready-to-print graduation cards in PDF -- simply download, print and sign (cash supplement optional). Each of the four different designs comes in four different formats:

  • Folded Card
  • Notecard
  • A4 Folded Card
  • A4 Notecards

If you haven't got a color printer capable of doing justice to these cards, Xerox may not mind if you skimp a bit on the graduate and instead reward *yourself* with one of the printers offered on its Network Printers site. Just add a note to the graduation card: "Don't think of this as just a card -- think of it as your gift!'


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Remembering 'Mum's Day': The greeting card companies are revving up for a big week, with the annual Mother's Day holiday set for this coming Sunday (consider this a wake-up call for those who've missed all other indications). There's not a good enough excuse if you let Mom's day of tribute one fall off your personal radar. Even the masters of disrespect -- the folks at The Onion parody newspaper -- gave Mum deserving recognition in their latest issue.

On second glance, it's not actually 'mothers' being featured in the May 1 print and online publication -- it's the Queen of England, who'll of course be expecting the Royal treatment herself on the upcoming holiday from her King-Wannabe son Charles. This year it'll be a bittersweet affair there, no doubt, with the recent passing of her own centenarian mother, affectionately known as the Queen Mum. If you're unfamiliar with The Onion, you might think the special infographic -- available in PDF -- highlighting "The Queen's Golden Jubilee" was intended as a bona fide tribute. As the saying goes: 'Consider the source.'

Queen Mum from The Onion

This is the same publication that has featured 'exclusive' headlines such as "Clinton Deploys Vowels to Bosnia," "Hijackers Surprised To Find Selves In Hell: 'We Expected Eternal Paradise For This,' Say Suicide Bombers" and "Microsoft Patents Ones, Zeroes." All from the same outfit that regularly and proudly publishes what Entertainment Weekly Media Information calls "a blast of brutally irreverent fake stories." The reigning Queen Elizabeth II is given the same treatment as other lesser subjects in The Onion's analysis of how "the 50th anniversary of her ascension to the throne" should be commemorated. The eight bulleted suggestions include "Royal mirror held to queen's mouth" to verify she's truly breathing, and "ceremonial retouching of queen's 1977 silver jubilee portrait." (These are among the tamer ones).

You won't find the same 'news angle' in your traditional media sources. Each issue of The Onion features a special Infographic section, created in the same style and based on some newsworthy person or event, including a downloadable PDF version. A personal favorite from some years back -- still available on the site -- is "The Onion Guide to Human Interaction:"

"Despite the computer's ability to fulfill virtually every human need, human interaction is still occasionally necessary and unavoidable during the course of a day's computing. Here are some tips to help you navigate through the often-bewildering world of 'Actual Reality.'"

Among the tips: "Do not attempt to click on a person's face." Keep that in mind on Mother's Day.


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All the News Fit to Translate: For news junkies, going online opens up a World Wide Wonderland of diverse perspectives and sources -- not to mention a mix of fact and fiction (not always easily distinguishable). There are other limitations -- the opportunity to truly sample a variety of international news and opinions is limited by the number of languages you can adequately comprehend. It's a much smaller and narrower world if you're limited to perusing only English-language news sites.

If you're looking to branch out -- and are Adobe Acrobat or Acrobat Reader-aware -- you can expand your news-gathering universe by several countries by tapping into the "Global Roundup," a special global news project from the International Herald Tribune (IHT) newspaper. Self-described as "The World's Daily Newspaper," the IHT has establishing "publishing partnerships" with a group of disparate, international, non-English-native newspapers, each that publishes a daily (M-F) edition that is available in PDF from the IHT Web site. Each of the following offers a daily PDF edition -- downloadable as individual newspaper pages:

In addition, the IHT publishes a PDF version of its front page daily.

  pdficon IHT Israel Korea

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Flowers by PDF: Granted, it won't pass the sniff test, but if you've ignored our previous reminder and forgotten to pre-arrange for flowers on Mother's Day, you can still try replacing the never-scheduled FTD delivery with PDF. Hewlett-Packard doesn't pitch its line of floral-themed, PDF-based goodies designed for Mother's Day -- greeting cards (some in editable PDF format), photo cards, invitations, kitchen magnets, t-shirt decals and more -- as substitutes for the greenhouse-bred variety. That hard-sell job will be yours if procrastinating circumstances warrant.

Not unlike Xerox mentioned earlier in this week's Weblog, HP believes you'll get optimum color printing results by using -- aka 'purchasing' -- one of its line of printers. Not that it'll add any fragrance to the PDF bouquet, of course.

As long as you're visiting HP's well-stocked Printsville Web section, take note of -- and set a bookmark to -- the wide variety of other creative projects also available for download in PDF. Also like Xerox, HP offers a number of items on the graduation theme, too.

  flower flower flower

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Fast .DOC to .PDF: We receive a variety of file submissions -- news releases, product announcements, court filings, etc. Despite our "Planet PDF" name, a surprisingly high percentage -- considering nearly all have to do with PDF-related topics -- are in a file format other than PDF. A popular (at least among senders) format for submissions is .DOC, created with Microsoft Word. That popularity wains on receipt, considering that not all of us own and use Word, in part given our belief in PDF as the better way to exchange files.

We have various workarounds for converting marginally useful DOC docs to PDF, especially in situations where the submitted file is one we intend to offer for download from Planet PDF. Sometimes we simply want it in PDF -- quickly -- for our own internal ease of use. One solution we've been testing periodically is the online conversion service at Using a very simple interface, the site allows you to select a local DOC file for uploading to the Fast PDF service, then enter the email address to which you'd like the file sent. Moments later -- at least in our experiences -- an email message arrives with a link to where your finished PDF can be accessed.

If you examine the PDF file's "Document Info" fields, you'll note that it was created with GNU GhostScript 7.05. The site's FAQ explains some of the service's current limitations, and its use of the Open Source authoring tool:

"The team that built Fast PDF has been building fault tolerant, scalable solutions on the web since 1996. We're big fans of open-source software. We've built the Fast PDF conversion service using a combination of open-source software and proprietary technology that we've developed ourselves. This means that converting your document with Fast PDF may produce different results than converting it using other tools. We think this is a good thing - the PDF files we generate tend to be much smaller than when using any other tool we've seen."

Until recently, Fast PDF had been offering free trials of its service. It now has instituted a for-pay model, while still offering a free option -- as long as you're willing to accept a small watermark ad ("Converted from Word to PDF for free at Fast PDF --") within your finished PDF. Otherwise, it's now $1.99 per converted file; you also have an option of previewing the PDF (in .PNG format) before you purchase it via the Pay Pal service.

P.S. Moral of the story: If you've got something to send us, we prefer PDF!


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