PDFs. Why do we use PDFs? It's a question I've asked myself time and time again during the following scenarios: my default PDF reader crashing my browser whenever I erroneously click on a link to the blasted extension, an image- or page-packed PDF consuming all of the system resources on my work machine, and while I'm spending extra time to convert a perfectly likable file (.doc) into a new format that's compatible with even more people. At least, I think that's the reason.
But really, though, why do we use PDFs? Perhaps it's the wrong question I should be asking, however. Sad to say, PDFs are here to stay. And I must confess, filling out a PDF form has a certain elegance to it (and built-in digital signature support) that you just can't find in a standard text file or Word document (or OpenOffice.org document).
So instead of asking ourselves how we can rid the world of PDFs, we should really be thinking about the various ways we can improve our interactions with PDF files. That's where this week's Freeware Files comes into play. I'm going to show you five freeware or open-source apps that'll hopefully ease the burden you face when you're trying to manipulate this quirky file format. As well, I'll show you a few more features and tricks you can use to turn your own PDF routines into nothing short of a master class.
A thousand pardons! I got so caught up in various bits and pieces of the weekend that I completely forgot to grace Maximum PC with a Web App of the Week for last week! It's a real shame too, as I was totally proud of (and wasted a lot of time playing with) last week's big selection.
I won't put off the details any more than necessary with my usual rambling introductions. The app's called Codeorgan and, like the name implies, it's an excellent fusion of raw geek Web construction with music--truly, my two passions.
So what is Codeorgan? You'll find out pretty quickly as soon as you hit up the main Web site. In short, the Web app uses a fairly complicated algorithm to scan the behind-the-scenes HTML content of any given Web page. It then takes this information and automatically crafts up a little synthpop-style piece of music that's somehow related to the coded mumbo-jumbo. Your results will vary (extremely). However, the beauty of the app isn't necessarily for the music it creates. Rather, it's just a great example of how data in one construct--Web creation--can be parsed out to a completely different form and function--music--with a touch of engineering prowess.
That, and Codeorgan will waste two to three hours of your day as you frantically leap about the Web trying to find the coolest automatic construction of a song that you can lay your hands on. I had great results with CNN one day, yet found the song lacking as the news updated throughout the next few hours. If you find a relatively static site that delivers a rocking beat, do be sure to leave it in the comments!
It's been a busy week for BitTorrents! I've showed you how to download them, how to tweak the heck out of a great program you can use to download them, and how to remotely access your BitTorrent downloads through Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. You, young padawan, are now fully grounded in the ways of the torrent. But you are no Jedi yet...
The final task that awaits you isn't so much related to the act of downloading information via BitTorrent as it is contributing to the cloud of data that you're usually pulling from. Yes, that's right. You're going to learn how to make your own .torrent file for distribution via your tracker of choice. While I realize there's a handy feature in uTorrent that allows you do this rather effortlessly, you're limited to working on one torrent at a time via this method. What if you want to make a whole bunch of .torrent files corresponding to a larger number of files you want to make available for download?
In that case, you're going to need the Download of the Week: MakeTorrent. Click the jump to see how it works!
By now, you've surely checked out Mark Soper's excellent guide for creating PDFs by using a multitude of applications, editing steps, and detail settings. If not, you owe it to yourself to give the article a scan so you're as well-versed as he when it comes to transforming ordinary files into these kinds of feature-packed super-documents.
As he correctly puts it, Adobe ain't the only game in town when you're trying to turn the contents of something you're looking at into this trusty, cross-platform format. Let's go one step further. Installed programs aren't the only way to create a PDF, period.
If you're on a new computer (or, for that matter, your boss's computer), you might not want to fire up the ol' Adobe installer just to be able to gain the right to transform your screen into a PDF. And sure, there are plenty of freeware opportunities out there that will allow you to print to a PDF. But that's still too many steps in the process. It's 4:59 on a Friday: You want to make a PDF, hit the power button on your PC, and be able to drink one-third of your "it's the weekend" celebratory iced tea before your monitor goes black. What are you going to do?
If the answer is "cry," then you have failed this exercise. But let it not be said that my heart is two sizes too small. For a little Web app exists--conveniently called PDFmyURL--that does exactly that. Provided the subject of your affection is a Web page of any size, shape, or extension... you will be able to transform it into a downloadable PDF as fast as you'll be able to finish reading the rest of this sentence.
Sometimes, you just need to make some folders--a lot of folders. More than 5 folders, more than twenty folders, more than a hundred folders--you need to generate more folders than you've ever created in a single setting. Maybe this is for work, maybe you're finally getting organized with all the pictures you've taken over the past five years, or maybe you just like makin' folders.
Either way, the typical folder creation process goes a little something like this: you find an open directory, you right-click somewhere, you select "new folder," and you repeat this process a thousand times (with a few extra hours thrown in for renaming).
A handy little application has just come to my attention and, by handy, I mean, "it saves you countless hours of having to repeat the aformentioned frustrating process." If you've ever needed to create and customize a number of folders in a single sitting, then you'll definitely want to click the jump and behold the wonders of this week's top download: New Folder Wizard!