Camera Lucida

September 24, 2006

What is wrong with corporate America

Filed under: Society, Software, Uncategorized — CL @ 6:48 pm

At a weblog called The Old New Thing, one of the MSDN weblogs, the author had this to say in a post dated August 2003 about how Microsoft responded to a complaint about its time zone map. Its response highlights a significant problem with how corporate America responds to adversity.

The Peruvian government complained to Microsoft that the border was incorrectly placed. Of course, if we complied and moved the border northward, we’d get an equally angry letter from the Ecuadorian government demanding that we move it back. So we removed the feature altogether.

Why in the hell would Microsoft worry about a complaint from Peru? The best response to that complaint would have been to ignore it completely. The next best reaction would have been a polite comment that “We do not attempt to ensure that this map is entirely up to date at all times”. It was a time zone map, after all, not a world atlas. But removing the feature altogether was the worst possible response. A feature that was useful to tens of millions of users across the world is removed because a couple of people in Peru made a complaint? This is an example of corporate wimpitude of the highest order.


July 5, 2006

Combining two tools, part 2

Filed under: Software — CL @ 7:54 pm

This time, we are going to look at methods of copying blocks of data (from a PDF file or from any Windows program) as images, and pasting them to Atlantis, a low-cost ($35) RTF editor.

As you are reviewing documents, medical records, drawings, handwritten entries, etc., you will find that there are certain entries that won’t lend themselves to OCR to get the text of the item into your word processor. Some items simply have to be included as images rather than as text.

Following the steps described here, clipped items are pasted as images in the target RTF document, and from there text annotations can be added as desired to provide comments, context or detail. What is very surprising (to those who have previously tried to paste images to Windows programs) is that pasting these images to Atlantis produces very small files. I have used the following techniques to paste ten or twelve different images to a single Atlantis document, and the end result still is only about 300-450 KB in size. 

If the desired source materials are found in a PDF file, the clipping can be done with Acrobat’s Snapshot tool, which is even available with the free Adobe Reader. Choose the Snapshot button and then use the mouse to choose the region that you want to clip. Then switch to Atlantis and paste. There you have it, ready for your comments and annotations. 

If the source materials are found in any other Windows program, the same capability can be found by using HyperSnap, the very capable and very low-cost (also $35) screen capture utility published by Hyperionics. The Capture menu item has a number of selections, one of which is “Capture Region” – keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Shift-R. You will need to change the default settings (Capture|Capture Settings) to enable the “Copy each capture to clipboard” option under the “Copy & Print” tab. Once you do that, then each successive clipping can be pasted to Atlantis, in the same fashion. As a bonus, each of the clipped items remains visible in one of a series of HyperSnap windows, where they can be cropped or modified as desired, and then saved in any of the standard image formats.

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