Baby Breeze

Sarah O'Keefe / OpinionLeave a Comment

Adobe announced the availability of Acrobat 8, which now includes Acrobat Connect, the Product Formerly Known as Breeze.

The Product That Formerly Had a Non-Dorky Name is (or was) an online meeting/collaboration/elearning tool. But ex-Breeze (now Connect Professional. Boo) is quite expensive.

With Acrobat 8, though, Adobe is offering a low-end version of Connect, which Claudia McCue promptly dubbed Baby Breeze. For $400 per year, you get an “always-on,” unmetered meeting room for up to 15 people. And a static URL. And a free conference bridge line.

We tried it out last week, and it is very very nice.

I’d like to see the ability to record meetings added to Baby Breeze. Other than that, I’m very impressed.

Right now, Adobe is offering a free trial (and if you convert to a paid account, you keep the URL you establish). If you have any need for web conferencing, take a look.

Source, please?

Sarah O'Keefe / OpinionLeave a Comment

The DITA hype continues.

The announcement for Arbortext 5.3 is almost completely focused on DITA, and in places reads more like a description of DITA than a press release about a new product. And in the middle, we find this item:

“PTC believes that by the end of 2008, up to 80% of all new XML publishing installations will be based on DITA.” (press release at ptc.com)

Is there research to back this up?

I find it very hard to believe that DITA is appropriate for 80 percent of all XML publishing implementations. Just consider the textbook and magazine publishing industries. Aerospace and pharmaceuticals both have non-DITA standard requirements.

(h/t Gilbane Report News)

Online learning isn’t just for colleges

Alan Pringle / Opinion1 Comment

A recent study found that the number of students in online college classes is still rising:

Roughly one in six students enrolled in higher education – about 3.2 million people – took at least one online course last fall, a sharp increase defying predictions that online learning growth is leveling off.

Cost savings play a big part in the continuing upswing for online learning at the college level, and that is true of our online classes, too. Neither the students nor the instructor need to book flights, rental cars, and hotel rooms, and those costs can be considerable. The financial incentives go a bit deeper than that, though. Each day of our online classes is about 4 hours (2 hours of interactive instruction and 2 hours of “homework” for the students), so students still have time to handle other job responsibilities. It also means our instructors have time to do other work here at our office. (And let’s not forget the wear-and-tear associated with travel today: spending a lot of time on airplanes packed like sardine cans is no one’s idea of fun.)

Overall, we’ve been pleased with our first year of online teaching. Even though having an instructor with you in the same room is probably the best way to learn software and technology, the cost of classroom training eliminates it as an option for many folks. We recognize that, and that’s why we decided to offer online classes. Based on our experience so far, we feel they are an excellent compromise between do-it-yourself learning through books and the classroom experience.

New York Times covers Target accessibility lawsuit

Sarah O'Keefe / NewsLeave a Comment

This is the first mention that I’ve spotted in major media (my scans of said media are pretty spotty, though).

Again, the reporting seems to break down to, “What [censored] was Target thinking?”

Most online stores go to great lengths to make sure that their sites are accessible to people with disabilities, simply because it is good business to allow as many people as possible to shop. And online-shopping technology specialists say it is not so difficult or costly a task.

About halfway through the article, it suddenly switches over to discussing accessibility in online education programs:

The issue has become critical because many online-only schools became eligible this summer to receive federal student aid. But to get such funds, organizations must adhere to regulations in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which has been updated to say that all Web sites of groups receiving federal money must be accessible to people with disabilities.

Lots of interesting new information in the article. Read the whole thing.

I’m not alone in my obsession…

Sarah O'Keefe / News1 Comment

This blog features occasional digressions in ancient manuscripts, printing, and the like. So I’m delighted to find a similar tangent on words / myth / ampers & virgule:

“The Museum Plantin-Moretus (Moretus was Plantin’s son-in-law) houses the oldest extant printing press (amid several other presses that are not much newer), punches cut by Claude Garamond himself, over six hundred manuscripts dating back to the ninth century, the company’s nearly complete business archives, and other treasures that earned the museum the designation of a world heritage site.”

Yes, Garamond was a person before he was a font name.

Get heard by Adobe

Sarah O'Keefe / NewsLeave a Comment

[updated to strip nasty Word HTML “tags”]

I received a request from Adobe today to distribute a questionnaire:

The Product Management team at Adobe is working towards defining the future roadmap of its leading Technical Communication products.

For this purpose we are trying to collect ideas, feedback and inputs from the technical communication community. This is to request your help in tapping your network to collect some responses to the attached questionnaire. It would be very helpful for us, if you could make this questionnaire available to your clients, users and network.

It should take around 15 minutes to fill the questionnaire. The respondents can fill up either the PDF form (compatible with Adobe Reader 7) or type their responses in the MsWord document. The responses can be sent to me at aseem@adobe.com or Mahesh@adobe.com

Do you have feature requests for FrameMaker or RoboHelp? Here’s your chance to send your complaints to someone who can do something about it:

Word version of survey
PDF version of survey

Closed captioning in online video

Sarah O'Keefe / NewsLeave a Comment

The Wall Street Journal, of all places, has a detailed article about online video and the lack of closed captioning.

Though television networks and movie studios are rapidly expanding into Internet distribution, few online videos offer the closed captioning that companies are required by law to offer to TV viewers. (link, will expire in about seven days)

Unlike TV broadcasts, closed captions are not mandatory for online video, and the major broadcasters are currently choosing not to provide them for the shows they are putting online.

As a result, online video represents a step backward for hearing-impaired viewers–it’s essentially unusable.

I expect that this loophole will be closed rather swiftly.

Project Mars — not chocolate?

Sarah O'Keefe / NewsLeave a Comment

The announcements just keep coming from Adobe today:

Mars is the code name for technology being developed by Adobe that provides an Extensible Markup Language (XML)-based representation of Portable Document Format (PDF) documents. (Mars page at Adobe Labs)

In the long term, I think this means the Death of Distiller. Other than that, I think my brain has gone into information overload.

Any thoughts on where this is going?

Rethinking the periodic table of elements

Sarah O'Keefe / NewsLeave a Comment

[heavy blogging. I must be trying to avoid some unpleasant task.]

Most of you probably don’t know that I spent the first two years of my college career as a chemistry major. When push came to shove, I decided that I would rather serve as editor of the science magazine than take analytical chemistry (which was notorious for an all-consuming laboratory component). And really, who could find working in Gross Chemistry Laboratory appealing? (To add insult to injury, the approach to the chemistry building was a set of steps that were completely unusable by humans, as each stair required about one-and-a-half strides. The joke on campus was that the civil engineering department had designed the stairs. “But Duke doesn’t have a civil engineering program.” “Not any more.”)

In any event, here is a fascinating new look at the periodic table, as a spiral. (h/t New York Times via Feld Thoughts)