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Monday, September 20, 2010

People will always use the tools they know

My son's school sends out a weekly PDF document of activities. I thought it looked a little odd but was not too worried about it. This week it came as a MS publisher file because they said the scanner was broken. From that I deducted the following steps were happening each week:

1) Create the newsletter in MS Publisher
2) Print it
3) Scan it as a PDF
4) Email it

Not everyone can open a publisher file, the PDF format is the way to go as the reader is free. Same reason I sent out our Christmas letter in PDF format. The oddness came from the PDF I got being scanned. I knew it looked grainy but was not sure if that was a look they intended. Some like the whole retro thing.

I sent the principal a note that they can just get a free printer driver allowing you to print from any program directly into a PDF skipping steps 2 and 3 plus giving you a much nicer looking final product for the email. He just responded that he downloaded the program and it worked like a champ so they will start doing things that way from now on.

Happy to be able to help the school out as they do so much for my kid and all the children that attend.

It always amazes me to what extremes people will go with the tools they have. Not every fix involves a download of something either. Just knowing a different formula in Excel can save hours of manual labor.

I photoshopped a picture for my son's birthday cake. They said bring in the picture, I asked can I bring in a CD or a USB key. I was told they can only scan images so I had to bring in a hard copy picture. I have a feeling that is not really how it has to work but I gave up and printed the picture and gave them that. The cake came out fine, a printed image slapped on icing is going to look fuzzy anyway but I have a feeling there is a way to pull this off without a scanner. Silly image ends up as a JPG in there somewhere why not just start out with that as the source?

Not that I have never done the same sort of thing, taken way too many steps to do a simple process when someone that is an expert in that area could have trimmed it down to two mouse clicks. I bet I did a lot wrong during my photoshop session with the picture. Happens when you don't do something very often but as so as I have to repeat a process the first thing I think is "Computers are meant to handle repeating tasks, I will figure out a way to bend a computer to my will" and I usually do. Sometimes you give up totally, other times you give up and then one day read something on the internet that reminds you of how stupid your process is and you fix it.