Tag Archives: Adobe Systems

Piracy Helps Some Countries Grow

One can only imagine Bill Gates’ discomfort: Standing silently as the Romanian president told the world that pirated Microsoft software helped his country become what it is:

Pirated Microsoft Corp software helped Romania to build a vibrant technology industry, Romanian President Traian Basescu told the company’s co-founder Bill Gates on Thursday.

“Piracy,” Reuters quoted him as saying during a joint news conference to mark the opening of a Microsoft global technical center in the Romanian capital, “helped the young generation discover computers. It set off the development of the IT industry in Romania.” True, but as Reuters points out, 70 percent of software used in Romania is pirated and salesmen still visit office buildings in central Bucharest to sell pirated CDs and DVDs.

(And to be fair to the prez, he did actually call piracy “a bad thing”, according to another report by the AP, and said that “became in the end an investment in friendship toward Microsoft and Bill Gates, an investment in educating the young generation in Romania which created the Romanians’ friendship with the computer.”)

Actually I’ve long had the sneaking suspicion that (a) this is true. In places like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines etc, the impressive and attractively priced range of pirated software available raises local savvy and interest in computing. When you can buy 100 software titles for the price of a Coke, what’s not to like? And this brings me to (b): the likes Microsoft, I suspect, actually don’t mind this situation too much, or at least may not hate it as much as they say.

I’m not the first to suggest this: Microsoft knows it can’t sell legit copies of Windows or Office to every user in these places. So it gives away what it can, or at least sells at a steep discount, to youngsters. Businesses it tries to wrestle to the ground. The rest it writes off. Sure, it would be great if lots of people bought legit copies, but better that younger people are getting hooked on it, rather than to the opposition (Linux, Ubuntu etc.) One day they’ll pay.

I’ve often wondered, for example, whether folk like Adobe and Microsoft actually aren’t at cross purposes. Sure, they’re both members of the Business Software Alliance, but whereas Microsoft know that it’s better to get a nation hooked on Windows even if it’s on pirate copies than to crack down and plunge it into the hands of the Open Source brigade, for Adobe it’s a different story. No one is really going to buy a copy of Photoshop ($400-$700), so the idea of getting them hooked doesn’t really count. Better to crack down as hard as possible, so those few who really do need it cough up. Better 10 legit copies sold now than 100 possible sales later.

Is that why Bill didn’t say anything?

Cutting Through The PR Dross

A hilarious Translation From PR-Speak to English of Selected Portions of Adobe’s ‘FAQ’ Regarding Their Acquisition of Macromedia by Daring Fireball, which blows a hole a mile wide in this — and all such — verbiage-laden press releases. This for example:

Do you anticipate a reduction in force as a result of this transaction?

When two successful growing companies join together, the result is a combined organization that creates new and exciting opportunities. The combination will lead to powerful new areas of innovation, new products and solutions, and an acceleration of our respective growth agendas. At the same time, there will be some duplication of employee functions between the two companies, and upon the close of the transaction, we anticipate some level of reduction in force. While we anticipate the integration team will identify opportunities for cost savings, the primary motivation for this acquisition is to continue to expand and grow our businesses into new markets.

[Translation] Yes.

Very good stuff. Unless of course you’re an employee of Macromedia or Adobe. We need more of these translations. In fact, why not set up a ‘press release translation service’ for everyone sick of reading PR dross? I’d sign up.

via Joi Ito, via Dvorak

Adobe Opens The Door A Crack?

Wired reports that the upcoming version of Adobe Acrobat Reader — the free version of its authoring software that lets folk read the resulting Portable Document Format, or PDF files — will let “users make comments or editing changes for the first time, if the original creator of the document uses Acrobat 7.0 and authorizes it”.

A more carefully worded version is on Adobe’s website that says that “when enabled by Acrobat 7.0 Professional authors, you can now leverage robust commenting tools and actively participate in document reviews.” What “leverage” means here is anyone’s guess, but it sounds like a weasel word that doesn’t quite mean “access” or “use”. (Interestingly, a longer piece on the PDF Zone makes no mention of this feature.)

Still, if true this is a great idea and long overdue, and while Adobe claims, Wired says, that it’s part of a “larger goal to turn Acrobat into a flexible platform for assembling documents from beginning to end, making it a more useful collaboration tool among workgroups”, it probably has as much to do with the burgeoning industry of third party tools that let folk make and alter Adobe documents quickly and more cheaply than the Adobe Acrobat authoring program allows ($450 for the Pro version, $300 for the Standard edition). If you want everyone in an organisation to use PDF, you can’t expect them all to shell out several hundred bucks just to add a few comments to a document as it passes their desk. (Check out my list of alternative Acrobat software.)

I’m a fan of Acrobat but hate the price, and also the interface, particularly the menus, which look like they’ve been put together by Martians. Adobe is apparently addressing that too, collapsing menu structures, according to TechSpot, “so you don’t have to go out through lots of different hierarchies”. Hear, hear.

I can well understand that Acrobat is great for pushing documents through organisations where lots of people need to throw in their tuppennies’ worth. But I guess for most people what is really needed is a three stage process: a good, clean, intuitive editing environment, a good, clean intuitive commenting environment, and a straightforward document lock-down, where the final document looks the same on all computers, all printers but can, where relevant, be easily accessed and the contents copied and pasted elsewhere. To be honest, I’ve never found any of these stages particularly easy with Acrobat. Is it just me?

Acrobat Converting Software

Here’s a list of services and products that create documents in Adobe’s  “Portable Document Format” (PDF). (Much of this is drawn from Merle’s article on WebProNews)

Software that creates PDF files from other files

  • PDFMoto: A Web publishing system that converts documents you create in any Windows application into PDF. They offer several different versions, so pricing varies, but they do offer a free version that is limited to 50 documents.
  • PDF995 : Free software that allows you to create PDF documents as easily as hitting the “print” key from within any application. The free version has an advertising splash page that comes up everytime you run the program but you can purchase “keys” for $9.95 each to remove them if they bother you.
  • Txt2PDF: a Perl 5 program that converts your old text docs to PDF format. Runs on any platform that supports Perl. From $40.
  • Gymnast: freeware text to PDF creator for Windows.
  • CutePDF Printer: totally free. This software has no annoying ads or banners. Choose print from within any application to create a PDF instantly.
  • Win2PDF: Windows NT, Win 2000 or XP. From $35 to $70.
  • PDFCreator: an open-source project on SourceForge.net, installing as a printer driver. (Thanks cmswire for this one, and pointing to the original story.)
  • pdfFactory: quite advanced PDF creator, including multiple documents into one PDF, preview and font embedding.

Suites that include PDF conversion

The following office suites include PDF printing as part of the standard package:

Other products, such as PaperPort ($100 to $200) and PaperMaster Pro ($200) will allow you to scan or convert a file to PDF as part of the program’s overall document management system.

Online Services

  • Adobe Look in the left hand column for the button that says “create PDF online.” You can create up to five documents free; after that you’ll need to pay $10 a month or $100 per year for unlimited usage.
  • GoBlc Free online conversion service that will email you the results.

Software to convert PDF files

Software that turns an Acrobat file into something you can edit in another program:

  • PDFConverter: converts PDF to Microsoft Word (this won’t work with scanned image PDF files) ($50)
  • OmniPage: converts any kind of PDF file into an Office document; will also scan or convert an existing document into PDF ($600).

Going To PDF And Back

Here’s a list of services and products that create documents in Adobe’s Acrobat “Portable Document Format” (PDF). (Much of this is drawn from Merle’s article on WebProNews)

(This list will be expanded on and updated at loose wire cache, this blog’s more permanent library.)

Software to convert files to PDF

Software that creates PDF files from other files:

PDFMoto: A Web publishing system that converts documents you create in any Windows application into PDF. They offer several different versions, so pricing varies, but they do offer a free version that is limited to 50 documents.

PDF995 : Free software that allows you to create PDF documents as easily as hitting the “print” key from within any application. The free version has an advertising splash page that comes up everytime you run the program but you can purchase “keys” for $9.95 each to remove them if they bother you.

Txt2PDF: a Perl 5 program that converts your old text docs to PDF format. Runs on any platform that supports Perl. From $40.

Gymnast: freeware text to PDF creator for Windows.

CutePDF Printer: totally free. This software has no annoying ads or banners. Choose print from within any application to create a PDF instantly.

Win2PDF: Windows NT, Win 2000 or XP. From $35 to $70.

PDFCreator: an open-source project on SourceForge.net, installing as a printer driver. (Thanks cmswire for this one, and pointing to the original story.)

pdfFactory: quite advanced PDF creator, including multiple documents into one PDF, preview and font embedding.

Suites that include PDF conversion

The following office suites include PDF printing as part of the standard package:

OpenOffice

StarOffice

WordPerfect Office 11

Other products, such as PaperPort ($100 to $200) and PaperMaster Pro ($200) will allow you to scan or convert a file to PDF as part of the program’s overall document management system.

Online Services

Services that

Adobe Look in the left hand column for the button that says “create PDF online.” You can create up to five documents free; after that you’ll need to pay $10 a month or $100 per year for unlimited usage.

GoBlc Free online conversion service that will email you the results.

Software to convert PDF files

Software that turns an Acrobat file into something you can edit in another program

PDFConverter: converts PDF to Microsoft Word (this won’t work with scanned image PDF files) ($50)

OmniPage: converts any kind of PDF file into an Office document; will also scan or convert an existing document into PDF ($600).

Software: Acrobatics on the Cheap

FinePrint, who do an excellent printing program that prints multiple pages on one sheet and saves paper, also do some great software for generating Adobe Acrobat (PDF) files (those documents that look the same whatever computer you view them on, or whatever printer you print them off). It’s a cheaper alternative to buying Acrobat itself, and as someone who spent much of the afternoon having to reinstall his copy of Acrobat, I have a feeling pdfFactory may be a better bet.

Anyway, the good news is that in its August 5, 2003 edition, PC Magazine named FinePrint Software’s pdfFactory Pro as its Editor’s Choice from the twelve applications it reviewed for its “PDFing Cheap”. Crack open the champagne.