electronic joy

One of the reasons OS X is great is because it has PDF conversion built right in, you simply save to PDF in the Print dialogue and you’re done. And Preview is faster than Acrobat Reader at rendering and viewing PDFs too. Unfortunately, the PDF functionality beyond saving and viewing is pretty bare bones, requiring you to resort to the command-line or various shareware products to combine, remove, or reorder pages in a PDF (or get Acrobat, of course).

The problem with a lot of these shareware products is that they ask $30-80 for their suite of functions, when all you want is just one part. This morning I was given a high-priority task to take a bunch of Excel spreadsheets and put them in a single PDF, so I went out on the web to find something to help.

I downloaded a few different ones, and found a few that I thought would meet my needs, but little did I realize I would find a product as sweet as Combine PDFs. It does just what it says, allowing you to take multiple PDFs and put them in one document, reordering or removing those pages you don’t want, all in a nice and simple UI.

This app, simply put, rocks.

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ipod in macworld keynote

I’d like a portable mp3 player but the current prices are just a little too much for the time being. As an idle fancy, I’ve been following the rumors that Apple would release a sub-$200 ipod at Macworld this year and when Jobs’ keynote included reference to a $250 4GB mini-ipod, the bulletin boards erupted in absolute horror that Apple priced it beyond what most of the rumors had pegged it at.

I think they’re mostly misinformed–$250 is still an incredibly good price and the smaller size (business card!) increases complexity too–but when they say that it won’t improve Apple’s marketshare, I say, who cares?

After all, as John Gruber points out, Apple targets the creative workers, a small subset of business in general. BMW seems perfectly happy filing a smallish niche in the auto world, and I think Apple would rather be the BMW of the computer world rather than the GM.

Although the cost of the new ipod’s doesn’t completely disuade me, my biggest question is whether the smaller form-factor negates my biggest issue with the ipod: as a hard-drive-based machine, the bumps and jiggles that come from exercising force frequent hard resets, making it nearly impossible to use while running. (Okay, so I don’t run but having such a sweet player might almost get me to start)

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Season’s Greetings

Got our yearly Christmas card up and out the door today.

Enjoy: www.ideoverse.com/xmas2003/

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Canon A60 and video

Okay, so the digital camera we have has the ability to record video, something a lot of digital cameras (and PDAs and cell phones and…) are able to do. But I’ve never really messed with it because of the less-than-stellar results of trying to use our DV video camera to take digital stills (poor color, grainy picture, and it takes 6 seconds to show the pic in the viewfinder). It’s always been my experience that any product with cross-functionality tends to be either mediocre in both or good in one and just plain horrible in the other (look at cell-phone cameras, fax-printer-copiers, and cross-trainer shoes).

So it was with great joy to use the Canon A60 to record Ali laughing. It was super easy; the camera records in .avi, I dumped it on the Mac using USB, and iMovie added the fades and export to Quicktime. And the results are pretty impressive. Judge for yourself:

www.ideoverse.com/alison/video/ali-laugh.mov Quicktime, 2.3MB

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