Acrobat, Canberra, Microsoft

Having presented for Adobe over the past 8 years, I get a little touchy when someone attacks technical presenters. It’s like being a part of a fraternity. Round up the wagons!

Demonstrating software: the collection of skillz are not taught by Toastmasters. Nor most Presentation Trainers. It is a set of unique techniques, that are generally nutured and passed on from master to trainee; generation to generation.

You need to have your eye and ear on the audience; the setup for the next joke is on your mind; you need to be “on message”, the software needs to be working: and most importantly, what you are showing is getting through. In these days of instant blogging, everything you say is public property.

So, Eric’s comments on the Acrobat 8 roadshow in Canberra are interesting. Mark, the Adobe presenter has responded.

Sometimes to communicate a story, words and phrases are used that may be a little too combative. Yeah, I’ve dissed non-Adobe software vendors in presentations: usually to sell a point or get an emotional response from an audience. This style only works with medium sized audiences. My favourite was playfully dissing Microsoft whilst presenting at Microsoft.
Onto the Facts.

  1. XML does NOT magically equal a smaller file size; in fact the reverse is probably true. In the case of PPT in PDF, the file size benefits of PDF accrue from image compression (including gradients/blends and reused elements). Other benefits are cross-platform packaging (especially typefaces) and security (ensuring people cannot change the presentation)If you were sending a document to people expecting changes, PDF is not the answer.
  2. Outlook PSTs suck in a cross-platform world. And let’s face it; in the future no matter what platform you are on, everything is a legacy platform.I have 6.5Gb of email locked up in PST files containing 6+ years of email history. Searching these involves launching Outlook, loading the PST and doing a slow search. Thank goodness for Google Desktop search if you are a Windows person. You’re stuffed if you spend most of your time outside the mono-culture. Putting emails into a standard published and open file format, say PDF/A, for future reference is something many people care about.
  3. Mark covered this Fact in his blog. There is a law of entropy working here. Once data is squeezed out in PDF, getting back a fully working, semantically rich document is going to be difficult. In the case of Office applications, PDF is not an editable exchange format. The getting data back out of a PDF is best a utility; and included in Acrobat 6, 7 and 8.
  4. Launch Acrobat 6 and compare/contrast the Acrobat 7 and 8 launch times; even the Reader. There is a world of difference even without Windows caching the application in RAM (something you can turn off with a few Registry entries on Windows). Adobe has dramatically improved the launch time from a woeful Acrobat 6 (launch times sucked)

I didn’t attend the Canberra launch; only the morning session of the Sydney Acrobat 8 launch. Splitting the group into two “halves” is a recognition that Acrobat has two large audiences: one creative and the other standard office style users. Canberra has always been a tough demographic to get right audience-wise for Adobe. I agree with Eric: 20 people is not good: the whole tone of the presentation changes with less than 50 people.

Also, in the modern highly connected world – it is my opinion that “Launch” style presentations with too much sales hype are a thing of the past. People need content, and lots of it. Conversations such as blogging post conference are excellent mechanisms of making the content more relevant.

Google, Lookout, PocketPC

google motherload: Google Advanced Search Operators. Just like “photoshopping” images, googling for information is almost a verb.

There are two major applications I live in: Excel and Outlook. Lookout is a plugin/extension to Outlook that permits very fast, intelligent searching across your Outlook folders. This saves me many minutes per day.

Another recent addition to the gadget list is a Pocket PC. Being able to browse the web and mail from a very small handheld.