I Refuse to Accept Limits!

WOO HOO! I DID IT!” Even though I was home alone when the last piece of my "impossible" puzzle clicked into place, I sprang from my chair and dashed wildly around the circuit of kitchen, dining room and living room a couple of times in a wild victory lap, waving my hands and yelling. Although I wasn’t sure my aging spine would take it well, I jumped for joy. Oh, sweet, sweet success. YES! YES!

My success was discovering a way to create flawless PDF (Adobe reader format) files for digital scrapbooks made from software you already have or can get for free. There are some pricey programs out there to help you lay out scrapbooks onscreen, but as far as I’m aware, they are all geared toward selling print services that will convert any cash in your estate into a legacy of glossy pages encased in premium bindings. I’m talking about eBooks that can be viewed on a computer and require an investment of nothing more than your time and maybe a blank disk.

The puzzle sprang from a discovery that any object with slight transparency acquired a nasty set of grid lines when converted to PDF format. By a convenient quirk of fate, I made this discovery as a cold and sore throat set in. Not feeling up to doing much else, I camped in my recliner with my laptop and delved into the matter.

For over two days, I Googled, I downloaded and test drove fifteen free or low-cost PDF writer programs. I put together a comparison chart to keep track of the results. Ultimately I discovered that not even the gold standard Adobe Acrobat was up to this challenge. I despaired. I almost gave up. But I was cornered. I’ve committed to demonstrating this magic at the Digital Imagers meeting on January 4, and cringed at the thought of having to back off in any respect.


There had to be a way, and I determined to find it! I joined a couple of user forums to ask for advice. While I waited, I decided to try the built-in PDF function in OpenOffice. I’d been using Word, because most people use Word, and I wanted to share the results of my discoveries. Well! OO does a stellar job. The problem lies not in the PDF programs, it lies in Microsoft’s software structure.

But my search was not over. OpenOffice was not perfect. On pages where I had a stack of objects (think of glass over a mat over a picture that’s mounted on floral background paper inside the mat) the bottom layer did not show in the PDF version if it had a patterned fill. Solid colors were fine. That ribbon at the end of the course was so close, but still out of reach! At that point both PrimoPDF and BullzipPDF, the two freeware programs that otherwise passed my testing, worked perfectly. My problem was solved. I burst through that ribbon and into song.

But the good news doesn’t end there. Later in the day I downloaded and installed the brand new OpenOffice version 3.0. Oh, my, Santa came early. I’m dazzled. It’s so hard to believe that such a polished software package is just sitting there for the taking. It has so many splendid new features, it’s hard to tear myself away to do real writing. And ... icing on the cake ... the upgraded PDF writer now catches all the layers.

Lest this all sound like nothing but crowing, bragging and crowing are good for the soul, in the right time and place, and this crowing ultimately relates back to life writing. It’s more about the packaging than the writing, but it does all fit together.

Write now: a story about some huge personal accomplishment that set your inner world on fire. It only has to matter to you, not be something anyone "out there" would even notice. And help Santa out by giving yourself the gift of a stunning new Office Suite that anyone can afford.


Pat's Place said...

Wow! I think the word "dogged" comes to mind when I describe your work on this project. Perhaps I can learn more about PDF--AFTER Christmas. Meanwhile I am overwhelmed with tasks that need to be accomplished in the next few days. Sigh!

Ritergal said...

Pat, you know about dogged. You got your book done. Except for the fact I did little else while tilting at what sometimes seemed a windmill, it's not that different.It's important to celebrate success, whatever, whenever and however.

Meanwhile, enjoy the season.