Posts tagged ‘PDF’

Software Patent Horror

Ever since Amazon managed to patent one-click ordering, I have been skeptical of software patents.  When I was in the Internet field, I saw companies patent some, uh, patently obvious stuff, roughly akin to patenting an on/off switch.  Or even worse, multiple companies would get patents for the equivalent of an on/off switch, with this company claiming it has the patent for on-off switches for lighting, and this one for appliances, and this one for all electrical devices, and then all three end up sitting in court for about 10 years arguing about who has the patent for turning on the bulb in your refrigerator.

Kevin Drum brings us an amazing horror story of a patent that apparently I owe licensing fees for -- and probably you do too.

Vicinanza soon got in touch with the attorney representing Project Paperless: Steven Hill, a partner at Hill, Kertscher & Wharton, an Atlanta law firm.

"[Hill] was very cordial and very nice," he told Ars. "He said, if you hook up a scanner and e-mail a PDF document—we have a patent that covers that as a process."

It didn’t seem credible that Hill was demanding money for just using basic office equipment exactly the way it was intended to be used. So Vicinanza clarified:

"So you're claiming anyone on a network with a scanner owes you a license?" asked Vicinanza. "He said, 'Yes, that's correct.' And at that point, I just lost it."

Drum has a good discussion, including some prior art with which he actually participated.

Government Oversight Worse Than Private Alternatives

Via Overlawyered:

As part of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), Congress mandated that the CPSC create a "publicly available consumer product safety information database" compiling consumer complaints about the safety of products. Last week, by a 3-2 majority, the commission voted to adopt regulations that have dismayed many in the business community by ensuring that the database will needlessly include a wide range of secondhand, false, unfounded or tactical reports. The Washington Times editorializes:

"¦[Under the regulations as adopted last week] anybody who wants to trash a product, for whatever reason, can do so. The commission can leave a complaint on the database indefinitely without investigating its merits "even if a manufacturer has already provided evidence the claim is inaccurate," as noted by Carter Wood of the National Association of Manufacturers' "Shopfloor" blog"¦.

Trial lawyers pushing class-action suits could gin up hundreds of anonymous complaints, then point the jurors to those complaints at the "official" CPSC website as [support for] their theories that a product in question caused vast harm. "The agency does not appear to be concerned about fairness and does not care that unfounded complaints could damage the reputation of a company," said [Commissioner Nancy] Nord.

Commissioners Nord and Anne Northup introduced an alternative proposal (PDF) aimed at making the contents of the database more reliable and accurate but were outvoted by the Democratic commission majority led by Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. Nord: "under the majority's approach, the database will not differentiate between complaints entered by lawyers, competitors, labor unions and advocacy groups who may have their own reasons to "˜salt' the database, from those of actual consumers with firsthand experience with a product."

Any number of private actors have already tackled this problem. Amazon.com has probably the most comprehensive set of product reviews, and has taken a number of steps (e.g. real name reviews) to increase trust in their system.  Reviewers who are shills (either for or against a product) are quickly outed by other reviewers.   Another site whose reviews I rely on a lot is TripAdvisor, which has hotel and other travel reviews.   TripAdvisor allows the reviewed hotels to respond to individual reviews in a way that the consumer can see to get both sides of the story.

Apparently, none of this back and forth will be allowed in the CPSC data base.  The Democrats who wrote the process only want bad stuff in the data base, so it will not allow manufacturer responses or even positive reviews to appear.  The only possible justification for the government to run this database would be for the government to take a role in investigating and confirming or overturning claims and complaints, but it is clear it won't be doing this either.   This will just be a location for disgruntled people to drop turds on various manufacturers, all with the imprimatur of the government.  I can't see consumers finding much value here compared to the alternatives, but I can see the value in a courtroom to be able to stuff a government site with unsubstantiated claims and then use that site to say that the "official" government site is full of criticisms of the product.

I Need Some Help on Alternative Energy Subsidies

Next week I am on a panel talking about alternative energy.  These guys have already told me they don't want to re-fight the global warming science battle at this venue, and my guess is that there will be a lot of pragmatist corporate types who won't really care about individual liberty or role-of-government issues  -- they will only care if there is money to be made, even if it is by rent-seeking.  My best bet, I think, will be to discuss why alternative energy is a bad investment.  My sense is that it is a bubble investment, like goofy Internet stocks in the 1990's or housing in the 2000's.  Already, I think we see the crash in the corn ethanol business.

My two assumptions are

  • I can't think of any industries that were initially heavily subsidized that eventually found their way to competing successfully and growing without subsidies.
  • With the exception of agriculture, the public's tolerance for growing subsidies to a single industry eventually wanes.

I would love for commenters or emailers to send me contra-examples if they have them to either of these assumptions.  In particular, can you think of an industry that could not have grown initially without subsidies eventually prospering without subsidies.

To the second point, I looked at the numbers two ways.

  1. In Germany, which is often held up as the model, feed-in tariff subsidies are between $0.06 (wind) and $0.50 (solar) a Kwh.  If the US reached a goal of 20% of its production in wind and solar (total production today is about 4000 billion KWh) then the subsidy would be between $50 billion and $400 billion a year.  It is hard to imagine these remaining popular for any period of time.  (lots of German numbers here and in the linked PDF)
  2. Venture capitalists and investors are expecting the growth stocks they invest in to grow at, say, 30% a year.   Let's assume alternative energy companies grow at 30% a year and the number of companies, attracted to the growth and subsidies, doubles every two years.  In this scenario, assuming unrealistically that the supply curve for alternative energy is flat rather than upward sloping, the amount of subsidies to support this growth would have to nearly double every year.  They would increase 21-fold in five years and 440-fold in 10 years.   In fact, given the shape of real supply curves, new more expensive capacity at the margin is replacing cheaper and cheaper alternatives, resulting in the need to grow subsidies even faster to keep up.   Never has happened, never will.  Once the industry outgrows the government's willingness to grow subsidies, the whole thing crashes.

(PS - the subsidy could also be in the form of taxes that increase the cost of alternatives, or production and/or import restrictions on the alternatives).

Any help along these lines in the comments is appreciated.

Update: This seems relevant:

First Solar shares skidded 8% Friday to close at $116 after the company issued a murky business outlook beyond June. Until then, however, "orders look very strong," First Solar CEO Robert Gillette said in a post-earnings conference call.

This commentary, along with price pressure and expected subsidy cuts solar panel makers get from the German government is making investors a bit more wary of First Solar, whose shares have been on a bumpy ride the past 18 months....

First Solar, helped by government tax credits extended to businesses for using solar power, has rewarded its investors since going public in November 2006 at $20 a share. The stock peaked at $317 in May 2008. But the shares have been skittish ever since.

Germany, the world's biggest solar market, is weighing a 15% cut on so-called solar feed-in-tariffs. This could make solar installations less attractive.

First Solar projects 60% of its 2010 sales from German-related contracts, according to Wedbush Securities analyst Christine Hersey.

Remember from above, the German feed-in tariff for solar is around $0.58 per KwH, or fully $0.50 above the price paid for the fossil fuel base load.  At this subsidy level, the US would be paying $400 billion a year in subsidies and/or higher prices.

First Solar has grown at over 150% per year for the last 3 years so the 30% assumption above is conservative, as is the assumption about the number of competitors doubling every two years.

Another interesting note - First Solar makes a pre-tax margin around 33% of sales, which is over 6x larger than health insurance companies make (and are excoriated for).  Is it any wonder Germany no longer wants to keep subsidizing First Solar's bottom line to levels far above most equipment manufacturing companies.

Downfall, the Sequel: Arpaio and Thomas Go Into the Bunker

These guys have totally lost it. OK, they have always been bonkers, but they have finally lost their ability to paper over their nutty paranoia and quest for power in the media.  Remember I told you the other day that Arpiao and Thomas keep filing wider and wider criminal conspiracy charges against their critics.  Basically anyone who criticizes them or seeks to keep their power limited within Constitutional boundaries is a criminal in their eyes.

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas called for investigations into the chief prosecutors of two neighboring counties on Thursday because they publicly criticized him and Sheriff Joe Arpaio earlier this week.

Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk and Pinal County Attorney James Walsh sent separate letters to the Arizona Republic, criticizing what they called "abuses of power" by Thomas and his close ally, Arpaio.

Polk, a Republican who described herself as a passionate believer in limited government, accused the two men of "totalitarianism" and said they have become "a threat to the entire criminal-justice system" because of a series of a investigations they have launched against their foes.

In recent weeks, Thomas and Arpaio have announced more than a dozen criminal investigations into public officials who have criticized them in the past. The pair has said their fellow Maricopa County officials are engaging in a massive conspiracy to obstruct justice and limit their power. The investigations have resulted in criminal charges against two elected officials and a judge.

Now, Thomas wants a former state Supreme Court justice to investigate his neighboring prosecutors as part of what he calls "an orchestrated campaign to pressure law enforcement in Maricopa County to drop charges against influential criminal defendants and suspects."...

In his request to McGregor [PDF], Thomas ... accused the other prosecutors of essentially breaking the law by criticizing him and the sheriff. He said the pair violated rules for attorneys in Arizona, as well as tainted the pool of possible jurors in the ongoing cases....

In his request for an investigation into the comments, Thomas alluded to a supposed campaign to enlist these attorneys "and possibly other third parties" to criticize him and the sheriff.

Arpaio is the same paranoid who cost the County hundreds of thousands of dollars when he demanded extra security because he believed himself to be an assassination target.

If it wasn't so overdone, I would do another Downfall mash-up on this for YouTube.

Not Good

From CBS News, Via Matt Welch:

In a case that raises questions about online journalism and privacy rights, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a formal request to an independent news site ordering it to provide details of all reader visits on a certain day.

The grand jury subpoena also required the Philadelphia-based Indymedia.us Web site "not to disclose the existence of this request" unless authorized by the Justice Department, a gag order that presents an unusual quandary for any news organization...

The subpoena (PDF) from U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison in Indianapolis demanded "all IP traffic to and from www.indymedia.us" on June 25, 2008. It instructed Clair to "include IP addresses, times, and any other identifying information," including e-mail addresses, physical addresses, registered accounts, and Indymedia readers' Social Security Numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and so on.

This is remeniscent of the indimidation subpoena and later arrests at the Phoenix New Times orchestrated to stop the paper from criticizing Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The Productive Worker Exodus

Well, Arizona nativists are getting what they wanted:  Productive workers who don't happen to have been licensed by the government to work here are leaving in droves  (via Disloyal Opposition)

Unable to find jobs, or fearful that their loved ones will be caught
and deported, illegal immigrants and their legal friends and relatives
are fleeing the state in what the press has dubbed "Hispanic panic." In
a state where illegals make up better than 10% of the workforce,
the exodus promises to have a major impact. The vacancy rate in
Tucson-area apartment complexes favored by illegal immigrants has
jumped dramatically since the law went into effect....

Of course, advocates of the sanctions law will say that this is exactly the result they were hoping for; they want Hispanics to flee the state (usually, they'll claim that they just want the illegal
ones to leave). But with workers leaving Arizona, taking their rent
money, mortgage payments and shopping dollars with them, and with state
employers facing rising labor costs -- if they can even find workers --
the economy is likely to take a major hit. In fact, the University of
Arizona predicts a $29 billion economic loss if illegal workers are successfully purged from the state (full report here in PDF).

Social Security Ripoff

A few weeks ago I got my annual "Your Social Security Statement" from the government.  This is a statement carefully crafted to look like it's telling you a lot while at the same time covering up Social Security's dirty little secret.  But with a spreadsheet and 5 minutes of work, one can figure out what is really going on.

The statement shows the total of my social security taxes paid into the system, including the employer share.  It also shows my taxed earnings per year, and my "benefits."  The main benefit is the monthly annuity payment Social Security will make to me after I retire.  My statement shows that $140,139 total taxes have been paid into the system on my behalf over the last 25 years.  Based on these taxes and (this is important) the assumption I and my employer will continue to pay in at least $7440 per year until I retire, I can expect an annuity at retirement age of 67 (under current law, which the statement makes clear can be changed at any time) of $1,985 per month.

So I built a spreadsheet (click to download excel file), going back to my first year of employment.  Each year, I added the social security taxes to savings, and grew the accumulated balance by some interest rate.  For past years I used actuals from the report, for future years I used the $7440 tax number the report uses to calculate the social security payout. 

This allowed me to answer a question:  If I had been able to take these social security taxes and instead put them in a savings plan, and then took the accumulated balance out at age 67 and bought an annuity (at current rates), what would be my monthly payment?  Well, assuming a very conservative after-tax rate of return of 5%, I would have $1,077,790 at age 67 to buy an annuity, which at current rates quoted on the Vanguard site, would give me $7,789 a month until I die.  This return is just about four times the amount I get from having the Social Security Administration manage the money for me instead. Ugh.  Also note that I did not assume "risky" equity investments or whatever straw man anti-reformers are using nowadays.    If I assume a higher return of 8%  (the stock market in the 90's returned something like 18%) then my annuity will be $17,860 per month, or 9 times the Social Security payout.  Double ugh.

In fact, this all opens up the obvious question, what actual rate of return is Social Security paying out on your "premiums?"  Well, in fact we can calculate this with the same spreadsheet.  I plugged in 2% for the interest rate.  No go -- resulting annuity is to high.  Then I plugged in 1%.  Still too high.  Could the government be paying you 0% on your money?  I plugged that in.  Still too high.  In fact, the implied rate of return on my money in the Social Security system is -0.8% a year.  In other words, not only is the government not paying me any interest, they are charging me to hold my money.

Social Security defenders insist that it is not a welfare program.  For example, Kevin Drum quotes this with approval:

The men in my family of my father's generation returned home after serving
their country and got jobs in the local steel mills, as had their fathers and
their grandfathers. In exchange for their brawn, sweat, and expertise, the steel
mills promised these men certain benefits. In exchange for Social Security taxes
withheld from their already modest paychecks, the government promised these men
certain benefits as well.

....These were church-attending, flag-waving, football-loving, honest family
men. They are rightfully proud of providing homes and educations for their
children and instilling the sorts of values and manners that serve them well as
adults. And if I have to move heaven and earth, now that they've retired, the
Republican party is NOT going to redefine them as welfare
recipients.

Fine, let's call it a retirement program.  Well, as a retirement program, it is a really, really big RIPOFF.  Ever worker in this country is being raped by this retirement plan.  In fact, it is the worst retirement program in the whole country:

  • As we see above, it pays a negative rate of return
  • It is not optional - you go to prison if you choose not to participate
  • Unlike a private annuity contract, the government can rewrite your benefits level any time, and you have to take it.  In fact, my statement says "Your estimated benefits are based on current law.  Congress has made changes to the law in the past and can do so at any time.  The law governing benefit amounts may change because, by 2040, the payroll taxes collected will be enough to pay only about 74 percent of scheduled benefits."
  • There are no assets backing this annuity!!  An insurance company that wrote annuities without any invested assets backing them would be thrown in jail faster than Jeff Skilling.  The government has been doing it for decades.

A couple of months ago, news-hog Eliot Spitzer had a well-publicized (what else?) suit against H&R Block for not providing high enough returns in its low-income retirement savings accounts.

New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer [official website] Wednesday launched a $250 million lawsuit [complaint, PDF] against H&R Block
[corporate website], the largest tax preparation service in the US, for
fraudulently coaxing its customers into a retirement account plan that
lost them money. Spitzer said that money in the retirement accounts
decreased over time because the low interest rate did not cover the
fees associated with the account.

Doesn't this exactly match the situation in my social security spreadsheet?  At least H&R Block's customers had a choice whether or not to sign up.

Postscript: As is usual with retirement issues, tax is a messy topic, so I mostly left it out.  My spreadsheet is correct if you call it an "after-tax" rate of return.  This may mean the nominal rate is higher, but it got taxed, or it could posit some tax-free savings alternative to social security.  Note also that we pay income taxes on the amount that gets taxed by Social Security (at least our employee portion).  This means an IRA type replacement for social security would actually have higher returns and dollars at retirement than those in my spreadsheet, because it would eliminate or at least defer income taxes on the premium.

Also note that the analysis is all in nominal dollars, because that is the way the dollars are on my SS statement - there are not inflation escalators in the program.

Postscript #2:  When last social security was a national topic, opponents of reform got a lot of mileage out of the 2001-2002 bear market in stocks.  They would ask, what if people had invested in stocks, they would have lost their money.  Well, as of today, if you had invested every dollar of your retirement savings on the worst possible day, the 2000 peak in the Dow, you would still be up 5% today.  This is a disappointing  return of less than 1% annually, but is STILL higher than the negative return in social security.  And remember, we are using nearly the worst five year before and after dates in this generation.  A real-world steady investment in stocks over the last 20 years, with equal amounts each year, would be way up  (anyone with an exact number is welcome to post it in the comments).

Postscript #3:  In an earlier post, I took on Social Security as intellectual welfare:

Advocates for keeping forced savings programs like Social Security in
place as-is by necesity argue that the average American is too stupid,
too short-sighted, and/or too lazy to save for retirement without the
government forcing them.  Basically the argument is that we
are smarter than you, and we are going to take control of aspects of
your life that we think we can manage better than you can
.  You are
too stupid to save for retirement, too stupid to stop eating fatty
foods, too stupid to wear a seat belt, and/or too stupid to accept
employment on the right terms -- so we will take control of these
decisions for you, whether you like it or not.  For lack of a better
word, I call this intellectual welfare.

Update #1:  In response to some comments, the spreadsheet does work right, it is just labeled wrong.  The column that is labeled "investment income" is actually the saved balance to date plus the investment income.  The "End of Year" column is the correct balance at the end of year after investment income and new contributions.

Update #2:  A commenter reasonably points out that investment at the top of the market in the Nasdaq would still be way underwater.  However, I took this point investment on the worst day as an extreme example.  Even in the Nasdaq, which is still off 50% from its peaks, a steady monthly investment from 1997 or 1998 to date would be above water in total.  Leftists do a lot of bad things for the country, but trying to scare average workers away from equity investments for the long-term is certainly on of the most hypocritical.  I guarantee that every liberal politician has a big fat chunk of their savings in equities, because they know that is the way to create wealth over the long haul.

Update #3:  In a follow-up post, using this same spreadsheet, I conclude that only 17% of my Social Security taxes are going to my retirement while 83% are welfare for someone else.

Anti-Trust is Anti-Consumer

Yes, for those who are counting, this is something like post number 157 on the mismatch between anti-trust myth and reality.  The myth is that it is about protecting the consumer.  The reality is that anti-trust is an opportunity for companies to get the government to sit on their competitors:

In their new version of Windows dubbed "Vista," Microsoft has included a number of useful features that has several companies rattling the anti-trust sabers once again.

For instance, Adobe Inc., creators of the widely used PDF
document standard, object to Microsoft's built-in functionality that
gives users the ability to create PDF files without having to use
Adobe's own software.

Real Networks, per usual, is protesting that Microsoft is integrating media playback capabilities in the form of Windows Media Player 11, which competes directly with Real Player.

And now Symantec, developers of anti-virus software, is complaining that Microsoft will include their own firewall, which could lower sales of Symantec's own solutions.

And as mentioned above, all three of these firms are appealing to regulators to "solve" what they see as anti-competitive business practices to prevent their sales from eroding.

Surely then, it is only a matter of time before software firms that
make calculators or solitaire protest the inclusion of such services
into Windows. Is not the native support of the English language (and
dozens of others) a clear and present danger to third-parties eeking
out a living?

Soon thereafter, perhaps boutique's specializing in steering-wheels
and headlights may begin to sue automobile companies for integrating a
steering-wheel and headlights into cars. And no one should forget about
those built-in cassette and CD players.

It's hard to see how consumers are hurt by getting more free functionality in their operating system.  Of course, the companies above will work very hard to get the government to require that you pay extra for these components. 

Archiving Coyote Blog in Print Form

Recently, I just finished a two-book archive of the first year of Coyote Blog.  Today, I got the books (or blooks) in the mail and they look great!

Coyote_cover_1 Coyote_back_1

Why, one might ask, did I put my blog in a book, when everything is archived by pressing links right over there to the right of this page ------>

The first reason was for my dad.  My dad is 80-something and refuses to join the Internet age, but he would like to read my blog.  So, I produced a couple of volumes of my blog posts to give to him for Christmas.  (See, that's how confident I am that he is not reading this online -- I just published the contents of his present).

The second reason is based more on my having been a part of computers since getting an Apple II back in the late 70's.  Electronic media are not necessarily the greatest for archiving.  I wrote a lot of neat little games on my Apple II.  I wrote programs in college in pascal and assembly language on an S-100 bus C/PM computer.  I wrote programs in SNOBOL on cards for the mainframe at Princeton.  I received hundreds of emails on early CompuServe email.  Anyone know where all that stuff is today?  Neither do I.  Already I remember some cool web sites with content that seems to be gone from the Internet.   There is some kind of reverse-Moore's Law here that, if concocted, would say that the cost and complexity of reading and retrieving electronic files doubles every five years it ages.

So I decided to create a paper archive.  In the end, it cost me about 8 hours in formatting time and $30 in publishing costs to get the first year of Coyote Blog in book form.  For anyone who is interested, here is what I did:

First, I picked a printer.  It was important to do this first, since it determined what format and formatting I had to get the electronic files into.  I first considered BlogBinders.  The advantage of this service is that they can suck all of the content they need right off the web site, really making the process quick.  I decided not to go with them, because (at least 4 months ago) they did not retain any of the HTML formatting.  This means that the blockquotes I make heavy use of just became regular paragraphs.  As a result, a reader could not tell the difference any more between my writing and what I was quoting.  This caused me to look for another option, but you might still want to check it out -- I know their product is maturing so they may have more functionality today.  There is also a Beta going on right now at QOOP Blog Printing that might be a good option soon.

These were the only two direct print from blog options I found - if you know of others, please add them to the comments section.  So, I then turned to the print-on-demand self-publishing world.  CafePress has done a few things for me in the past, but I decided their print on demand was a bit too pricey for this.  Based on a few recommendations, I chose Lulu.com to publish.  I thought their pricing was reasonable, and I liked their royalty and pricing flexibility.  While I don't intend to sell the Coyote Blog archive, I am close to self-publishing a novel and I wanted to give Lulu a test spin.

Once I chose Lulu, I then needed to choose a format.  I knew I wanted a Perfect Bound book, and, scanning the pricing calculations, it was clear the cheapest option was to go for 8-1/2 by 11, since this reduced page count.  Having decided this, I downloaded their Microsoft word template, which made sure that I had all the margins and gutters and such right.

Now came the tedious part.  I wanted the posts to be in chronological order, but my blog displays in reverse date order.  I had to temporarily change the way the blog publishes.  Then, with the posts now in the right order, I just copied and pasted the text right off the site monthly archives into the word template.  I did some trial and error - cutting and pasting out of explorer gave different results than out of Firefox.  Pasting as HTML gave different results than pasting as rich text.  Eventually I got what I wanted.

Now came the really really tedious part.  I went through and did a few different edits, actually working in Open Office writer because I find it easier for this type work than Word:

  • I changed the font from sans serif Arial to a more book friendly serif font (patalino)
  • I deleted posts that had no value without the links (posts like "check this out") and some but not all my frivolous picture posts
  • I added monthly chapter headings
  • I played around with font size and line spacing for readability (remember, the first reader of this will be in his eighties)
  • I added an index with the page numbers for the monthly chapter headings as well as page numbers for may favorite posts.  I did the latter by setting the titles of my favorite posts to "heading 2" rather than "heading 3" for the other posts.  Both had the same formatting, but I told the contents to only index down through heading 2, but not heading 3.
  • I cleaned up a bit of spelling
  • When it was clear the whole was too long for one book, I broke it into two books

(update:  Several people have misinterpretted the "tedious" and "a lot of work".  This was really just minor whining.  The time spent taking the electronic material and finishing it out into a book was about 0.1% of the time it took to actually write the articles the first time around on the blog or that it would take to write a 800 page two-volume tome from scratch.)

Since I was using Open Office, it was easy to just save the final file as a pdf and upload it to Lulu.  Lulu also provided templates for the covers (front and back) and I did some simple work on the covers, uploaded everything, and two days later the books were in the mail.

I have posted excerpts from the files with links below, both word and pdf, so anyone who is interested in trying blog printing themself can see what I did. 

You can see the book here in my Lulu storefront, which has both the electronic and paper versions available for sale.  I am NOT recommending anyone buy it - I just wanted to test Lulu for future projects (verdict:  I was very happy with the entire experience).  The only reason you might buy one is to see a sample if you are considering a similar project.  The cover looks great, and the paper quality is first rate.  The text printing is good but the non-cover graphics printing leaves something to be desired, but that was probably the fault of the source file having low-res graphics.  (update:  Welcome to Blooker Award readers!)

As a final note, in the extended post I have put the text of my forward for the volumes which explains some of the shortcomings of paper blog publishing:

Continue reading ‘Archiving Coyote Blog in Print Form’ »

MS Office in some Trouble

Apparently, this is one of the top new features MS is touting to get people to pay hundreds of dollars a screen for MS Office upgrades:

The new version of Microsoft Corp.'s Office
software will let users save documents in the popular PDF format, as
part of efforts to broaden the appeal of the new Office product and get
people to upgrade.

 Office 12, which is due out by the end of
2006, faces some of its stiffest competition from existing users who do
not see the need to upgrade from previous versions. Microsoft is
aggressively touting new functions, such as the PDF support, to try to
spur upgrades and appeal to people who might otherwise not buy Office
at all. The Office suite retails for between $149 and $499, depending
on which edition a user chooses.

Oooo, that's really going to do the trick.  Kind of like urging you to trade-in your car because the new one has more cupholders.  Of course, Open Office is free, is working great for us, and already has a built-in export to pdf.