I guess there’s no such thing as a secure PDF

I was reading the SCORM 1.2 reference docs today. I wanted to copy a passage for my notes, but the PDF is password-protected and prevents anyone from copying text. (REALLY irritating, considering the ADL is a quasi-government organization and the docs should be open to all.) What to do? Well, turns out there are at least two super easy ways to bypass the password protection: Upload it to Google Drive or import it to Evernote. Google Drive The Google Drive site includes a built-in PDF reader; when I opened the PDF in the web viewer, I was able to copy …

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Setting OS X Desktop Picture Based on Time of Day

I recently changed jobs (Hello, FireEye!) and was issued a new MacBook Air. I spend a lot of time looking at the screen and was getting bored with the supplied desktop pictures. I also start work very early most days (7am-ish), and thought it would be nice to have a desktop picture that matches the mellow-ness of such an early hour. Of course, this leads to daydreaming — “scope creep” in professional parlance — and next thing you know, I started thinking “well, maybe I could also set it to show a nice evening-themed picture at night”. Then “maybe I …

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Importing Google Contacts into iCloud

I signed up for the new iCloud service, and wanted to sync my Google contacts so they will show up on my various Apple devices. MobileMe, iCloud’s predecessor, had built-in support for syncing with Google accounts, so I assumed iCloud would be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, it turns out iCloud does not auto-sync with Google. Here are some instructions for manually syncing your contacts.

Loading Captivate files into an AS3 Flash SWF

Update April 7, 2008: I’ve written a new AS3 class named LegacyCaptivateLoader that uses ExternalInterface to bridge the AS3 SWF and the Captivate SWF. Check it out. I guess I’m late to the party, but I only recently realized that although a Flash Player 9 SWF can load an older Flash Player 6/7/8 SWF, it can’t communicate with it. (In my defense, since we haven’t really started using ActionScript 3 at work yet, I’ve been a bit slow in switching to AS3. The leap from AS2 to AS3 is pretty daunting, so I’m sure I’m not the only one dragging …

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Tip: Quick and efficient screenshots without special software

I’ve noticed many people use programs like TechSmith SnagIt to get screenshots. While SnagIt is a fine program, I think in many cases it’s overkill. Here’s a really simple way to get screenshots without needing any special software. Grab screenshot using Print Screen. Paste screenshot into Paint. Save in your preferred format (TIF, BMP, GIF, JPG, PNG, etc.). Note: Apple Macintoshes come with the utility “Grab”, which is pretty nice and easy to use. Print Screen In the old days, pressing the keyboard key “Print Screen” literally meant “make a printout of screen.” Nowadays, it means “take a snapshot of …

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A Tale of Two (or more) Computers

A computer is born, and another computer dies (“I’m not quite dead!” he says in his best Eric Idle imitation).

(Mac) Hi, I’m a Mac.
(PC) And I’m a PC.

LMSs are just websites… no, really!

Folks, it’s simple — if you have to paste a “this site works best with XXX browser” message on your site, whether it’s an LMS, an online course, or just a website for your mom’s knitting club, you’re doing something wrong. Do us a favor and stop it.

Assistive computer technology and web accessibility

Just thought I’d pass this link on: http://www.assistiveware.com/videos.php (short write-up here — thanks to Roger Johansson for the link.)

These are video profiles of people with disabilities — mild to severe — who use assistive computer technology to improve their lives. Some people use the computers to simply help them with their jobs (such as a blind person who is a professional French-to-English translator), while others use their computers as a lifeline to the rest of the world.
Armed with a basic understanding of accessibility, and with a little planning, a web developer can create courses and/or websites that contain rich content — even Flash movies and videos — while supporting a majority of assistive computer/alternative web browsing technologies.

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