If you work with PDF documents regularly then maybe you’re already aware of batches in Acrobat and what a life-saver they can be. I’d like to take that a step in a different direction and enable PDF manipulation directly from Windows Explorer.

PDF-ShellTools does just that, it adds a section to your right click menu in Windows Explorer with a lot of functionality. I use it to set open options for lots of PDFs at once without opening Acrobat. It’s also been very helpful in adding or viewing metadata. Did I mention it’s free?

Here are a list of features copied from their site:

  • PDF-Anonymize – Remove all the metadata traces from the PDF files.
  • PDF-Split/Extract – Extract pages, or range of pages, into new PDF documents.
  • PDF-Merge/Rearrange – Merge several PDF documents, or rearrange source file pages structure, into a new PDF document.
  • PDF-Insert/Append – Insert one, or more, documents pages after, or before, a specified page number of another PDF document.
  • PDF-Attachments – Add, remove, consult and extract PDF file attachments.
  • PDF-Set Open Options – Configure the initial view of PDF documents. Can set, full screen mode, initial page, initial magnification, layout, page mode, etc.
  • PDF-Set/Reset Password Security – Control the access to the PDF documents contents using password protection.
  • PDF-Stamp/Watermark – Stamp text, images and shapes into PDF documents pages.
  • PDF-Extract Text Content – Extract the PDF documents text content into text files.
  • PDF-Renamer – Rename, and organize by folders, the PDF documents using its metadata information as source to compose the file name or folder structure.

Lately there’s been buzz on the inter-web about a new phone service option, Ooma. Their idea is to provide phone calls utilizing a peer to peer (P2P) network. That means everyone on the Ooma platform will end up sharing some bandwidth to facilitate calls.

Ooma The business model is different in that new customers will pay about $400 up front for the device and thereafter will be able to make calls for life within the United States without any additional charge. International rates are promised to be pennies per minute.

I have a couple of thoughts on this approach. First, I wonder what happens when the company distributes enough of its hardware and sales begin to slow. They’ll be making some money from international calls but will it be enough to sustain continued growth and innovation? Anytime there’s a steep up-front fee I’m a little hesitant, especially after my experience as a refugee from VoIP provider Sunrocket’s bankruptcy.

The difference here may be that the hardware will be independent and won’t require maintenance on Ooma’s part, which is the concept behind most modern P2P applications.

Another concern is with the competitive landscape. A product like this challenges the fundamental business model of traditional telephone companies and I would expect a strong response first with some sort of patent lawsuit, and later with innovation.

If you’d like a first hand account of what setting up and using the service is like check out Stephen Shankland’s post, My so-so Ooma setup experience on CNET.

image Everyone has a topic they’re passionate about. Whether it’s talking about combating global warming or brewing a perfect latte, opinions can be difficult to share with larger groups and finding an interested audience is one way to make sizeable impacts.

Here’s a platform to make that easier. Change.org allows its members to post information about things they’d like to change and these are published publicly. There are also ratings of popular (or unpopular depending on who you ask) politicians and nonprofits, records of what actions members are taking, and a mechanism to donate toward causes.

Lots of people are talking about how the Internet is connecting presidential hopefuls more directly with their audiences and this is another great example of that same concept in action. Change.org provides a summary of what its online population is thinking and will only become more accurate as more people join the community.

The advent of blogging has created an immense opportunity for traditional companies in the form of free buzz. It’s a way for corporate decision makers to connect directly with their employees and customers with casual dialog. Of course, the expectation is that when people share their opinions a company will take action based on their feedback.

The Way Forward One way to work through this without the same level of expectation is by encouraging employee blogging. This will help build a good online presence especially if employees are happy where they work. However, if negative blog posts are surfacing about your company that’s an indication there are internal problems in need of quick attention.

Essentially, blogging holds a company accountable to the public. Treat employees and customers fairly and this will work positively.

That said, it’s important to give would-be bloggers a few tips, which essentially become the company’s blogging policy. The points below are written from the perspective of an employer, please feel free to copy and modify them to fit your needs.

Are there important points I’m missing? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Blogging Policy Template:

Many people participate in blogging for business and pleasure. metaViper recognizes that your time outside of work is your own and that topics you choose to blog about during that time are independent of company domain. That in mind, we would like to recommend a few good practices:

  1. If you identify yourself as an employee of metaViper it’s important to distinguish your opinion from the company’s.
  2. Blogging about metaViper is encouraged with the first premise in mind.
  3. In fact, here are a few things you might be interested in blogging about: metaViper’s focus on quality content, our relaxed culture that encourages diverse and collaborative independence, or some of our most recent articles.
  4. Personal blogging at work shouldn’t interfere with your job. Microbreaks are important but make sure your work gets done.
  5. Information posted to the blogosphere is public and will be accessible for years as part of your online breadcrumb. Remember this when sharing your opinions.
    Read the rest of this entry »

iPhoneThere’s a lot of hype on the inter-web about the iPhone and like many I’m tempted to buy one. That prompted me to do a little research on the pros and cons of the iPhone, like with any other new gadget. Most of these points are obvious and my only goal here is to create some clarity about whether or not it makes sense to hand out $500 plus $60/month for a service contract to buy a new iPhone.

Pro Con
  • Mashup of cell phone, iPod, and digital camera into one small package
  • Social status symbol
  • Svelte design
  • Visual voicemail
  • Safari browser which potentially could enable easy integration of new webware from third parties
  • Syncing music on the iPhone from multiple computers can be painful as it requires playlists to match exactly.
  • Confined to the AT&T network with a 2 year contract. Widespread reports indicate browsing the Internet away from a hotspot is painfully slow.
  • Battery may be difficult to change

A couple of features that I’m finding anecdotal evidence for on both sides include: image quality of the iPhone’s camera, and whether or not using the on-screen keyboard is quick and intuitive.

What other iPhone pros or cons can you think of?

Toyota PriusGoing green is prime time buzz right now and more businesses are looking at their sustainability practices, questioning what they can do better and how to cash in on the trend. The automotive industry is very visibly working through this transition and there are now many hybrid options available.

 Been thinking about buying a hybrid but not sure how to decide between them? Research now will pay off later, here are some sites that will help.

Think of a site that’s missing? Put it in the comments.

  • GreenHybrid boasts a “Real Hybrid Mileage Database” chart front and center, which graphs out mileage data entered by its users. Very active forums, a buying guide, current news, and appropriately placed ads make this a great place to begin your research.
  • HybridCars provides some great news articles (including some speculation about the next generation Prius). A gas mileage calculator will help determine whether or not buying a hybrid makes sense financially. There’s also some great writing on the history and culture of hybrid technology.
  • Hybrid Center presents a sophisticated comparison engine to mash up features between the models. Their buyer’s guide is also detailed and will help determine cost differences between a traditional and hybrid vehicle.

Text is great. It’s one of the technologies that our species has used stretching into antiquity with the advent of the alphabet. It enables one human to express meaning to another human with a sense of permanence, and with boundaries limited only by the imagination.

Even so, sometimes an image conveys meaning more quickly than writing an entire paragraph or even pages of text. Creating a pleasant visual flow is part of good design and adding images helps do this by encouraging a shift in how the eye greets the screen.

That in mind, where can we find high quality images that add to the quality of a well designed web presence? I suggest visiting YotoPhoto. It’s an image search engine that provides results in the creative commons licensing space. That means the creator has granted use of his or her images as long as they aren’t a primary profit driver. YotoPhoto searches Flickr, Wikipedia, Stock.Xchng, Morguefile, Pixelperfect Digital and OpenPhoto all at once and provides aggregated results as linked thumbnails.

YotoPhoto Advanced Options It’s also possible to search for a specific hexadecimal color using YotoPhoto. So if you’re looking for a bright green colored car, head to the advanced search page and search for car and to the lower right use color 00ff00. It’s a great way to work within color schemes and pump up how creative your pages look.

Once in a while nature’s call is too powerful to ignore. For bathroom warriors everywhere here’s a site for you: MizPee. The site claims to find the nearest and cleanest bathroom, then provide entertainment for the duration.

image

It was only a matter of time before the last captive audience space was targeted.

I can certainly see the merit of an idea like this though I’m not sure someone in the throes of a “near-accident” would think to pull out their mobile phone and type in a search for bathrooms. More likely they would look for a nearby gas station, store or fast food restaurant.

But, for people who think ahead a little or who have exacting bathroom requirements this may solve their need.

Apple are you listening? Pulling out popular songs by number of times played on the iPod is good. Giving me a list of my own top rated songs is great too. But I want even more.

First, I’d like you to equalize the volume of all the tracks I add to my iPod on the fly so I’m not wildly adjusting volume from track to track. That’s hard to do when I’m in the middle of a pull-up!

Second, after you do that I’d like you to keep track of which songs I turn up regularly because there’s probably a good chance I like the song if I’m pumping up the volume.

Anyone who works in the world of updating web sites and coordinating changes between stakeholders is familiar with the need to document change requests. As Web Worker Daily points out, there’s a new tool called Taskee that organizes this communication back and forth with the addition of a few lines of code.

After installing the code on any given page,Open Button an Open button will appear at the top. When a person on the project wants to leave a comment all they have to do is click on that button, log in and begin leaving comments. Access is restricted via an approved list of usernames and passwords managed by the project admin.

My background is in a corporate environment and I can see this being useful here as much as for freelancers. Often I’m working with several internal customers, other teams that must come to consensus, and a management team that has to approve each project. This would centralize all of that communication and provide greater accountability for change requests.

I also agree with Mike Gunderloy from Web Worker Daily, this tool would take a leap forward by adding a page-level annotation tool.

Reading Taskee’s blog it looks like this will be a free product during beta with tiered paid options available in the future.