Tag, You’re It

Microsoft® Tag is a superset of Quick Response (QR) codes. Although Tag provides the same basic function as standard black and white QR codes, it’s a lot more flexible and offers a number of advantages.

Get the free mobile app at http://gettag.mobiOne of the obvious differences between Tag barcodes and standard QR codes is that Tag barcodes can be customized and full color, as well a black and white. Tag barcodes are eye-catching. For a quick video showing how Tag can be used, first download the Tag app using your smartphone and scan the Tag on the right.
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Kung Hei Fat Choy!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

恭喜發財 (Kung Hei Fat Choy)

'Gong Xi Fa Chai ~ Happy Chinese New Year' photo (c) 2012, prayitno - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ Today is the 2012 Lunar New Year of the (Water) Dragon, which is the Chinese year 4710, 4709, or 4649 depending on which version of the Chinese calendar is used. The Year of the Dragon will extend to February 10, 2013.

Coincidentally, today is also my wedding anniversary. My totally delightful husband and I plan to celebrate both momentous events with traditional excessive culinary enjoyment, in anticipation of which I’ll spend the day exercising and working diligently on this blog to burn as many calories as possible.

I wish all of you 雙喜 (shuāngxǐ) Double Happiness, health, and prosperity in the coming year.


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Understanding Intention

When writing or editing, we may think we’re communicating clearly, but in fact, we’re expecting our readers to make the same assumptions, conceptual leaps, and understand the same references that we do. In other words, we’re expecting them to understand our intentions — what we mean and not what we say.

There’s a slide titled “STUDENT WHO OBTAINED 0% IN AN EXAM But he didnt [sic] answer any question wrong!!”1 making the rounds on facebook. The questions and answers on this slide are undoubtedly parodies, but they’re also exquisite examples of the potentially wide gap that can exist between clarity and intention, a gap into which readers can fall.

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Mystery of the Disappearing Watermark

Originally, watermarks were faintly visible images or impressions manufactured into paper that identified its maker and/or quality. Today we use digital watermarks to provide an indelible message or identifier on electronic documents. Watermarks are useful because they are subtle and integrate with the contents of the document page. If you simply type the word “Confidential” in a page header or footer, the word can be digitally removed. However, if you apply a watermark of the word “Confidential” as the background on document pages, removing this classification becomes virtually impossible.

You can add a watermark to the pages of an Excel worksheet by inserting a picture field in the center section of the page Header. Sometimes, however, the watermark does not display in Print Preview or when the document is printed. You confirm that the picture field (&[Picture]) is in the page Header, so why doesn’t the watermark appear on the page?
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Stop SOPA/PIPA

This post will be visible at the top of this blog through the end of January.

I believe in protection of rights in authorship for people who create or own rights to original content in any media, and I also believe in the openness of the Internet that allows appropriate sharing of that information. Copyright law is already in place, but the protections offered by the current law aren’t always sufficient to prevent financial losses or dilution of value in intellectual property.

Nevertheless, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also known as House Bill 3261 or H.R. 3261 and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) take the wrong approach to supporting copyright owners, and offer solutions that can potentially cripple the Internet as we know it today. Even though SOPA has been delayed, PIPA will be considered tomorrow and I’m sure that this issue is not dead. Online piracy is a real issue that affects all content producers, including this site, and as an author of content, I’m concerned not only that someone may steal and benefit from my work but that I may inadvertently misuse the content of others. As stated on the U.S. Copyright Office site:

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Contemplating Templates

Have you ever seen a child about to put something in his mouth? His mother rushes to stop him and says, “Don’t put that in your mouth. You don’t know where it’s been.”

I feel the same way about using old documents as the starting point for new projects. It’s tempting to use a document with existing text, formatting, images, and other components to reduce the work required to create a document from scratch. But no matter how clean a document looks, it can contain hidden problems that add time and cost to a project. Similar problems can occur when multiple authors work on the same file because each author may have different, possibly incompatible, ways of achieving a desired look-and-feel.

You can, and should, still use templates for efficient document production, and here are some suggestions to help you decide what works best.
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Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent. — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This is a simple post in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He worked tirelessly for civil rights. The battle is not over. It starts again every day, and will continue until justice and equality apply everywhere. We honor Dr. King today in celebration of his birth, but we celebrate his life’s work in action to ensure the rights of all Americans, not merely protecting the rights of a few.

Print-to-PDF Doesn’t Work. What?!

Adobe® Acrobat®’s printer driver is frequently used to print files to PDF format. Usually, this is a reliable, quick, and easy way to create PDF files. Every so often, however, the resulting PDF just isn’t right. Text may wrap incorrectly around an image in Microsoft Word or may overlap a neighboring cell in Microsoft Excel, as shown in the figure below.

Text from One Cell Overlays Another

There is a relatively simple solution.
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Perfect Pitch – Guy Kawasaki on PowerPoint

Microsoft PowerPoint presentations are often ridiculed as pedantic and redundant. Frequently, these presentations consist of bullet points that are simply read aloud by the presenter. The PowerPoint slides are used like flash cards rather than egaging participants or adding value.

There are more effective ways to use PowerPoint, and I plan to present creative options on this blog. One of the first is an article by Guy Kawasaki, former chief evangelist at Apple, innovator, and venture capitalist. He lays out 11 topic slides and their relative importance in a pitch to potential investors.

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