Forms are the key to Acrobat 8.0 Professional

As I am no longer “inside the Adobe-loop”, I found out about the announcement courtesy of Robert Scoble’s post. Of all people!

My first question: where is the beta of the Reader? With Acrobat 7.0, the beta Reader shipped very close to the announce. Also, Intel Mac users; I am assuming its Universal binary, as the system requirements clearly mention “Intel” processors. There are still too many Windows-only features for a denizen and poster-child for cross-platformness (read Forms Designer).

OK, onto the good stuff. Forms are the bane of everyone’s existence. Even lawyers.

Every paper form that I have to fill out I cringe. Purposely, I filled in the last Census online.

All forms should be online/digital/electronic.

They should be smart, and know who I am. There have been some attempts at getting browsers to remember data.

They don’t have to match printed forms; if a physical (or wet) signature is required: I should be able to just print + sign. Smarter forms will let me fill in online and submit online or via email. Securely.

Adobe Acrobat 8.0 Professional:

Enable advanced features in Adobe Reader

Enable anyone using free Adobe Reader software to participate in document reviews, fill and save electronic forms offline, and digitally sign documents.

If you are small organisation, and just want to collect data quickly, it looks like Acrobat 8 (Professional) is going to help out. The Datasheet has a footnote “For ad-hoc forms distribution and data collection for up to 500 people”

One of the most frustrating, and therefore commented on missing abilities has been for people to be able send out forms, and have anyone with the free Reader fill it in, and send it back. Previously, the only mechanism has been to purchase a big block of code called “Adobe LiveCycle Reader Extension Server

This lead to all sort of hocus-pocus Javascript libraries, and server-hackeries. Thankfully, software is making it simpler. Like it should be.

I note with interest that guys at in Melbourne has missed this one as at 6:30pm AEST.

Vista RC1 OK on Parallels 1896.2 (and Acrobat 8)

Watching the Parallels web site, I noted that the engineers had posted some more info, and a later build. 1896.2 I don’t know what the .2 means; probably that .1 wasn’t quite right.

Waiting for a better video driver (to use up the 256Mb of the MacBook Pro, without resorting to Boot Camp)


Vista RC1

Is Vista RC1 build 5600 installed and launched OK. Office 2003 installed perfectly on RC1; now I am hunting down an installer for Office 2007. Dontcha just love software?

Beta Technical Refresh 2 on Beta 2 on Release Candidate 1 on build 2 of Release Candidate 2 on MacOS 10.4.7. Schwarzwaelder Kirschtorte.

Speaking of cakes, Acrobat 8.0 is announced. I don’t have Acrobat 8 in any form, so I cannot add the cherries.

Watching the Language Wars

Today, at least in the US, it is Programmer’s Day.

Maybe it should be called “International Programming Language Peace Day“. The level of advocacy for various programming languages reaches rhetorical heights last seen during the one of the not-so-successful 18th century revolutions.

When not speaking to humans, other programmers to reading the latest advocacy on their language of choice: programmers stitch together the wild thoughts of others to munge data into information.

Programmers are the people who use computer languages, in their various forms, to get computers to do cool things. From blikenlights to cool online maps: there are a pyramid of programmers responsible for your computer experience. A programmer is behind the “ding” in the lift you used this morning; and the software that validated your ticket on the bus ride to work.

The beauty of computer languages is that they never seem to stagnate: like modern, spoken languages: they evolve as the world changes. Except those that are abandonware.

Microsoft has recently released my current favourite programming language, Python, as a CLR/.net language: IronPython. This implements Python as a dynamic language on the CLR engine.

C# is the language of implementation for CLR, as is Sun’s Java is for the JVM. A# (Ada), B#, D# F# (OCaml), G# (Generative language), J# (Jsharp), P# (Prolog), L#. More sharps than Beethoven.

The language wars has returned to an old field: dynamic languages. The grand-daddy of dynamic languages, LISP, has received some recent positive PR. One person, Paul Graham, is the poster millionaire for LISP. Lazarus of LISP.

This week, Sun Microsystems parried Microsoft’s IronPython by hiring the team behind JRuby. The aim here is to implement the Ruby dynamic language on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). Some months ago, this team was able to get a Ruby on Rails working on the JVM.

Whilst the big language guys battle it out, is Erlang the next Ruby, or is it just a viking proto-language with the best non-pun name? The Erlang community is starting to come out of their telephone exchanges.

No language has deemed to have arrived in the 21st Century until there is a web framework written around it. C# is ASP.NET, Python has Dyango, Ruby has Rails, Erlang has Jaws, Scheme has Magic… and so it goes on.

This broken thing called Javascript that has been reborn with AJAX, and is receiving daily blood transfusions of new features.

All of these languages just remind me of my personal alltime favourite language love of my life: Hypercard’s HyperTalk. As Hypercard is no longer sold, and “Classic MacOS” is a battle to get going on my MacBook Pro – sadly it is a language as useful as Cornish.

So, for a short period of time it is back to one of HyperTalk’s children: Applescript. Basketweaving for the mind.

Google Inside your Business

Google and Intuit have announced a major partnership. Along with the Google Maps changes this week where an organisation can advertise at a location – the world of web applications and deeper connection between the desktop and information – is at hand.

It would be extremely unlikely in the near-term that a web-based accounting application for small businesses would fly – as financial information is the holy-of-holies for business. One can just imagine the privacy watchers having a field day arguing against sensitive numbers being scattered through the tubes.

In my mind, being more connected with this information aids the flow of business. The less paperwork in the world is a good thing. But my mind is a not a safe place for ideas such as this.

Back onto Intuit: recently, Australian retailers such as OfficeWorks and City Software have been advertising Quicken for AU$0.00 (after $99 cash back). Everyone in marketing knows that there is never a 100% redemption on these cash back offers; but still the numbers seemed “odd” to me – didn’t add up to being beneficial to Intuit at all. If the redemption rate drifted above 70% (that is, 70% of purchasers sent in their Intuit coupon, the each unit sold would cost more than they received in revenue in direct costs)

There are secondary revenue opportunities: post-sales support agreements and the ability to direct-mail market future upgrades to the users who have redeemed their cash-back.

With the Google announcement, it all falls into place: the revenue is either from support agreements you would purchase to help you determine whether something is an asset or a expense. The second revenue source is online, in-your-face, in context advertising.

Accountants and bookkeepers the world over are now going to see multiple advertisements whilst sending out the day’s invoices.

As the world of pure-in browser applications moves to richer client applications, the new revenue stream open to smaller developers is enticing.

Getting marketing people into the application as an advertising “platform” is the challenge. Interesting world.

Parallels 1884 Vista Quick Notes (and update)

Download the 21Mb update to Parallels (to build 1884)

Boot Windows XP to ensure all is OK before I install Vista. Windows XP “seems” to boot a little faster. Unable to quantify exactly how much.

Backup existing 15Gb Windows XP .hdd, just in case. Create a new 15Gb image to install Vista into.

Pararllels settings:

Parallels settings

Install into the fresh 15Gb image, 1024Mb of RAM allocated to image. Vista is marked at (experimental) as OS. Installing onto a MacBook Pro with 2Gb of RAM and MacOS X 10.4.7

  • Beta 2 Build 5384 DVD (thanks, Frank Arrigo at Microsoft Australia)
  • Started install at 11:05am
  • Vista install auto-restarted at 11:35
  • Vista install auto-restarted at 11:43am
  • Questions (location, time, username) at 11:46am
  • Vista install auto-restarted at 11:47am
  • Into Vista Beta 2 at 11:50am
  • Install Parallels Tools from the Parallels VM menu. Note that these don’t seem to be signed drivers, so ignore all the warnings and install away
  • Manual Vista Restart
  • On restart, if the “Welcome Center” doesn’t appear, choose it from the Start menu. Click on Add Hardware.
  • Vista found network card, and automatically configured network. Also note that Vista also finds “PCI Bridge Device” which I asked Vista to ignore
  • Restart; Vista found network card, and automatically configured network. Note that the Network Adaptor settings for the Parallels VM set “Bridged” worked OK

In short, it works. Note that I haven’t stress tested this; and the Parallels guys say its experimental. Beta OS on experimental hypervisor virtualization. Your mileage may actually turn into inchage quickly.

vista login

Vista Desktop first questions

RC1 Note from 8:20pm

You cannot install Vista RC1 on Parallels. Bugger. ISO, DVD burnt or upgrade from Beta 2 to RC1. None of these paths work.

***STOP: 0x000000A5 (0x0001000B, 0x50434146, etc)

The ACPI Bios in this system is not fully compliant to the specification. Please read the Readme.txt for possible workarounds, or contact your system vendor for an updated bios.”

FreeDOS and Parallels

File this into the why basket.


FreeDOS works with Parallels. So now for the full 1987-1992 retro-experience, the MacBook Pro can learn about HIMEM.SYS, FAT32 and other evil that Windows has shielded us from.

How to:

  1. Download FreeDOS ISO image
  2. With Parallels, create a new VM (virtual machine), Hard drive
  3. Set the CD as the boot device, and select the VM
  4. Start the VM
  5. Follow the onscreen install instructions: note, be careful erasing your hard disk image!

The VM settings screen will look something like this:


Uptime: 22 days. And I run Windows XP SP2.

I am not a Mac fan-boy. Been there, done that. And to be truthful, I think I am a little too old for zealotry. The innocent dogmatism of youth has been replaced with that pragmatism to the point of pessimism middle age.

My 15″ MacBook Pro runs MacOS X 10.4.7. The last time I rebooted was the installation of the MacOS X 10.4.7 update. That restart was so long ago, I honestly cannot remember rebooting.


Pop over to a Terminal window, uptime: up 22 days.

Up until May this year I had been a Windows person. Dell this, Windows that. A clean shutdown or restart at least once per week would keep the Dell going. After constantly sleeping/hibernating, things just didn’t feel stable anymore under Windows XP. Maybe it was all the weird VPN networking stuff that I had to run. Or memory not being freed up.

This MacBook Pro gets an equal amount of digital thrashing. It’s turned on and being used at least 14 hours per day. During the day, there are multiple shut-the-laptop lid hibernations, running multiple applications. Installing, launching Mac apps; de-installing (drag-install, drag to trash deinstall). Mad as hatter cats pulling out the magsafe power connector; Dashboard widgets are added, removed and refreshed. PowerPC (Rosetta) applications launching, force-quit Sheepshaver. Wireless network router reconfiguration. The screen in brilliant for spreadsheets – the performance on the Mac and Windows under virtualization are excellent.

During these 22 days I’ve booted Windows XP at least 15 times using Parallels. Most recently to run a TRS-80 emulator, and to take a look at a personal email in an archive .pst file. Even backing up the PC is easy. Drag copy the disk image onto our family file Debian server.

Under Parallels, everything I’ve installed has worked first time. Office 2003, Office 2007 Beta. Adobe Flex 2.0, Adobe Premiere Elements 2.0. Microsoft XML Notepad.

In a smartly organized corporate environment, and some smart configuration created by some smarter infrastructure cookies, a single standard Windows XP image could be created on a server. This could be pulled down when people come into work as their standard “office” suite. Separating the environments for executives could be a mechanism of saving costs.

Without the apple-coloured glasses, there are some deficiencies: the MacBook Pro has an integrated video camera in the lid but there are no device drivers for Parallels; and ACPI is yet to be supported under Parallels: so no Vista Beta/Vista SP1 yet. Not a big gamer thankfully as games performance/Direct3D sucks.

It’s still not a real Windows XP machine. There is no little laser-etched blue OEM badge (the Windows XP Professional installed is a box copy). So 22 days uptime or not, there is something that just doesn’t feel right: running Windows on a Mac is like listening to Country and Western in a Ferrari. You feel, well, dirty.

Still, this MacBook Pro has been the most stable Windows laptop I’ve had the pleasure of using. So, by definition – is the safest way to run Windows XP is under virtualization on MacOS X?

Kings of an Older Generation

Paul Brickhill, original Australian author of The Dam Busters may be turning in his grave. The master of fakery is now in charge of re-kindling the memories of the bravest men who never had the chance to pass on their bravery to younger generations.

The director of the longest movies I am thankful I’ve never seen: Lord of the Rings; Peter Jackson, is now remaking the classic 1950s British movie of the book of the famous raid on the dams of the Ruhr valley in 1943.

If he destroys this like he has decimated the love of his childhood, King Kong (1933) , almost as much as the 1976 version: I am going to be livid. This movie is not about ILM/Weta technical gee-whizzery. It is about the men who flew in World War II, and those who lost their lives on both sides for reasons the current young un’s have forgotten.

The Dam Busters movie/book is a salute to quirky English scientist (Barnes Wallis) and to the bravery of airmen of the Empire; in a time that the current generation has quickly forgotten. Richard Todd, himself a veteran, played Wing Commander Guy Gibson (Victoria Cross), who died in a de Havilland Mosquito in Holland, September 1944.

During the Dam Busters raid in May of 1943 Guy was in command, and merely 25 years old. I trust that an appropriate age (that is, young) actor is chosen to provide realism to what otherwise could go the way of King Kong.

We need to remember; and I hope the movie does for the airmen of the Empire what Saving Private Ryan has done for the veterans of D-Day. To remember, not be entertained.

Geotagging: Three Dimensions off our Virtual Future

Nick Hodge,, Geotagged: spent the greater part of today geotagging my images stored in Flickr. Geotagging is the addition of spacial or geographical metadata (that is: latitude and longitude) to my uploaded images. The four cameras I’ve used do not have GPS, so this geotagging caper is a manual post-processing effort.

The resolution of the Yahoo! Map Images for Sydney and London are excellent, the maps suck (unless you are in the US!). Even Tokyo’s map was strangely low resolution. At the time of writing, 600,000 images have a geotag according to Flickr. Microsoft’s Local Live and Google’s Google Maps are way better.

Why invest the time?

Somewhere, someday, someone is going to use this data to find out where someone was on a certain day. Or, some smart software is going to create an interesting view of our world.
Time has been a part of the EXIF camera data for many years. These two dimensions are excellent for locating on a simple 2D map, but do not give enough “resolution” to be for our Virtual Future. Apart from the height, the target, tilt and heading would provide more data: Imagine a Second Life in a fully imaged, geotagged, Microsoft PhotoSynth’d world. With the data out there in the cloud, we can live out our life in the virtualized clouds.
A most pleasant reason is to revisit your travels. Re-orienting yourself, remembering the streets of London without the 28+ hour flight. Fun. Reliving the past, virtually. The future will be more out there and immersive.