Archive for May, 2013

PDF to Excel

May 29th, 2013

Nancy Owens from CometDocs approached me about writing a review of PDF to Excel, so here are my thoughts.

First off, I’m a fan of Zamzar, so that’s the baseline that I use for my file conversion experiences. (Check out CometDocs for file conversion AND file hosting, which is pretty cool.)

PDF to is a site dedicated to – you guessed it – converting PDF documents to Excel. At first I wondered why I would need something like that. For the most part, I just send Excel sheets to the people that need them. But then I realized that book orders, budget reports, and other documents that are sent by others as PDF files might be nice to edit on my end of things. The biggest benefit I could see would be to grab tables from a PDF and keep the rows and columns.

Like Zamzar, PDF to Excel has you select a file and then type in an email address to send the link to once the file’s converted. I did not download the Able2Extract app featured on the site; I just want the web-based tool. It was able to take a book order that I had submitted for a price quote and convert it into a pretty easily-read Excel file.

One of my complaints with Zamzar is the time that it sometimes takes to register that I’ve uploaded a file for conversion. With PDF to Excel, I got the email saying my file was ready in under five minutes. That may change as more people start using the site, but for now it’s something to capitalize on.

Nancy promised conversion for files up to 40MB – which, if you are trying to convert spreadsheets larger than 40MB, please contact me because I always enjoy hanging out with people from NASA. She also promised that the data gets deleted, which is a must, I think, when you’re dealing with spreadsheets. That’s why I chose a book order instead of something with personal information on it.

Moral of the story? Keep PDF to Excel in mind for that specific type of file conversion. It seems to be reliable for what it advertises to do. Check out CometDocs, as well, for a more Swiss Army knife approach.

Imagine a future where you print your food.

May 21st, 2013

So, you know how printer cartridges hold ink? What if the printer cartridge held proteins, sugars, and carbohydrates and then could layer them into food that is semi-recognizable? Anjan Contractor is working on that and has been awarded $125,000 from NASA to develop the food printer for space travel. Anjan has bigger plans than space travel, though. He wants to cure world hunger.

If the foodstuff was in powder form, it could last up to 30 years. That’s a long time and could help with portioning out the right amount to avoid waste. It’s a pretty ambitious and world-changing achievement to pursue. If it could be made cheaply, even better.

The next question would be taste…

Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Extra Credit by Tommy Greenwald

May 15th, 2013

I’m a fan of Tommy Greenwald’s realistic style and he continues his Charlie Joe success with Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Extra Credit. Charlie Joe is not a horrible student, but he does cause some trouble for himself that results in a lower report card than his parents had hoped. They threaten to send him to an academic camp over the summer if he cannot pull his grades up. Enter the extra credit.

Just like the Guide to Not Reading, Extra Credit has some funny insights into how extra credit is earned and how it is perceived. One of the things that is brought out is how extra credit is sometimes connected to how well the student is liked by the teacher, which isn’t fair to the unlikeable students or to the ones who did their work in the first. Charlie Joe has some insight, not just for students, but for teachers who offer extra credit.

While there are still the humorous scenes – Coach Rodonski is adamant that ambidexterity is the key to global domination – Charlie Joe is faced with tough decisions that most middle schoolers have to tackle and that’s why I appreciate the series. You can tell that Greenwald knows his audience. The series will get more serious as the characters mature, so it will be interesting to track the growth of Charlie as a character.

Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Extra Credit is a fun read and a great continuation of the series.

Search the Internet like an NSA agent

May 8th, 2013

The National Security Agency has a guide for how to use Internet searches in ways that you may not have considered. The guide was just released through the Freedom of Information Act and the NSA has posted a copy here. For anyone who loves thinking through how search engines actually work, it’s a fascinating read. As a tech instructor, I also am intrigued by how some of the best spies in the U.S. search for information.

So THAT’S what Battle School looks like

May 7th, 2013

Here’s the first trailer for Ender’s Game. Was it worth the wait?