Software Upgrade – Adobe Acrobat XI: Product Review

It works, finally!

When Acrobat Pro X was released, we bought it without a second thought. Acrobat Pro 9 was such a nice improvement over Pro 8 we thought X would bring even further refinement of Acrobat Pro’s features, and hoped that the accessibility components, in particular, would be improved. We were disappointed on both fronts.

On the accessibility side, Acrobat Pro X arrived fundamentally broken and couldn’t be used effectively.

Acrobat X Pro

Features the art department needs (basically, an easy way to re-save a PDF so that clients can use Adobe Reader’s commenting features) were moved from the now-removed Advanced menu into the File menu and buried into a sub-submenu, turning what was once a simple task into something onerous. And to add insult to injury, viewing a comment list became even slower and checkbox filtering just didn’t work. We banished this defective software from our hard drives and went back to using Acrobat Pro 9.

The Bad News

Enter Acrobat Pro XI. Given how unfortunate Pro X’s release was, we were at once skeptical, but hopeful, that Adobe had fixed it. Our skepticism was not helped by the fact that Adobe insists users allow them and various unnamed companies with whom they say they work to send us commercial emails as a condition of downloading the trial version. Basically, that means if we end up buying the software, we’ve paid Adobe to spam us. Cute

The Good News

Once we resigned ourselves to the idea that we are going to have to re-train our junk mail filters to weed out all those additional emails we won’t want, we got down to the business of evaluating the software. Which was in fact pretty good.

Accessibility is its own complicated topic, and requires more space than we can give it here. Pro XI looks like it has some editing features that will make it less painful to make simple corrections to a file, something the accessibility people here are often faced with, as clients often ask for small changes before we tag their PDFs.

XI-Standard in Box

But we were thrilled to learn that the production-flow features the art department uses have been revisited and fixed, and now work great. While the Enable Commenting feature is still buried two levels deep in the File menu, Adobe has provided a convenient way to access it via a custom toolbar icon we were able to find pretty easily. It’s now slightly easier to save out a comment-enabled PDF than it was in Acrobat Pro 9.

Acrobat XI is here!

We also like the comment list layout—introduced in Pro X—to the side rather than on the bottom. On a Cinema Display monitor, this layout approach makes a lot of sense and it’s much easier to navigate down the list and make corrections to a document now. Nice that checkbox filtering works with this release, too.

Pulling the Trigger

Still, is it worth the price of an upgrade? If we’re talking about a print-production workflow, probably not. It’s nice and all, but Acrobat Pro 9 still does everything the art department needs it to do, although the comment list layout tempts us. But since Adobe increased its upgrade pricing by fifty dollars to $199 a couple of years back, the whole upgrade carousel thing gives us pause. (We’re also not too enamored with the so-called Creative Cloud subscription software scheme Adobe would love us to adopt, but that’s another article altogether.)

Upgrade or fall behind (silly meme)

To tip the scale in favor of the upgrade, our accessibility people will have to let us know what they think of the software. But given the new PDF editing features, my guess is we’ll be upgrading soon.

Make sure to sign up for our newsletter if you liked this article, we will be providing an in dept section 508 accessibility review of Acrobat XI in the near future!




New Website Launch – WordWizardsInc.com Gets a Facelift

Just about a year ago, we launched a completely new design for our website. Our website development team decided to take wordwizardsinc.com and spice it up a bit,  focusing on ease of use, cleanliness, and simple functionality. Most of the structure and features are the same, but this time, our graphics design team has perfected the colors, graphic elements, fonts, and other visual aspect to deliver a much improved facelift.

The Old Word Wizards Website
The Old Word Wizards Website

Contrast and Color

The Site as of November 2011
WWInc.com 2.0 (November 2011)

One of our objectives since we launched wwinc.com 2.0, was to deliver our content with a bit more pop, while improving the overall contrast of background, text, and visual elements. What we came up with is nothing short of, well, sexy. Our lead designer, Andy LaGow, has over 30 years of experience with graphic design for professional media, in both the print and digital medium. We gave him the task of choosing the right mix of visual elements to deliver our content more clearly, while enabling us to call attention to any element of critical importance to improve the overall flow of our site.

Scribey’s Last Stand

Since our founding in 1982, we have use an etching of a 16th century scribe, lovingly known as “Old Scribey,” to represent our logo to the world. In WWInc.com 2.0 we x-rayed his colors in an attempt to give him some new life. At that time we liked it, but as we cleaned up our design we realized that the time had come for Old Scribey to end his exuberant mid-life crisis and return to his black and white roots. Contrast is the key! As you can see while browsing our site, or by the screenshot of the homepage below, this most recent iteration of our website is much more readable because of the contrast between background and text, with a splash of color in key areas for pop. Please leave a comment if you have anything to tell us about the new design, and remember, we can do one just as good for you too!

Word Wizards, Inc. New Website
WWINC.com Most Recent Website Version



The iPhone 5 First Look – Features, Not Fluff

Most articles about the new iPhone 5 seem to focus on how the new mobile device will stack up against its competitors, or how it will impact Apple’s stock price. On a different note, today, I will explore some of the new features of the iPhone 5 for what they are. The iPhone 5 marks the first full iPhone version upgrade since the passing of Apple’s founder, Steve Jobs. Its time to open the wrapper and see what technological wizardry Apple has come up with this time.

Horizontal profile of the iPhone 5

Trim The Fat

The first feature of notice is the impressive but non-intrusive redesign of the iPhone’s physical profile. The iPhone 5 is reported as being 12% smaller in volume, 18% thinner, and 20% lighter. Apple has always made its goal to design simple, elegant technology, and it seems that they have continued with this tradition once again. If only I could shave off the weight like the iPhone can…

Jared lost weight!
The iPhone 5 lost weight, so did Jared, why cant I?

The comfortable and familiar horizontal width of the iPhone has stayed the same, keeping your hands happy. However, the vertical height is slightly longer in this iteration. iPhone 5 has achieved a a perfect balance of compact ergonomics while extending the vertical length of the screen to a full 4-inches. Did someone say screen, like… retina screen? That seems to be the perfect place to proceed with my analysis.

Click here for details about the design of iPhone 5

Feast Your Eyes

The iPhone 5 retina display

Retina display makes colors brighter, pictures more expressive, movies more life like,  yada, yada… The new iPhone is obviously designed for premium quality visual stimulation, boasting a stellar 1136-by-640 resolution. The new screen is designed to play HD movies without annoying letterboxing, solving one of my long time grievances with the iPhone line. Despite these improvements and changes, the iPhone 5 looks almost exactly like the iPhone 4S when seen from the front, which, depending on who you ask, could be a good thing or a bad thing.

Finally Faster – LTE and the Legend of 4G

Comedian Louis C.K. does a bit about how impatient we are with mobile devices that I find hilarious, “Just give it a second!”. I wont go there for now… but the point is that a large group of people just like myself were tired of our 4G friends who use other devices gloating about how fast they can surf the web, download apps, and watch streaming videos. The updated LTE capabilities of the iPhone 5 mean that the new iPhone now can operate on the fastest available mobile networks.

Don’t ignore that the wireless capabilities also got a speed boost. With the new Dual-band 802.11n capabilities, Wi-Fi data transfer rates on the iPhone 5 can reach up to 150 Mbps! That’s bloody fast… Speaking of fast, lets move on to the heavy-duty brain of iPhone 5, the incredible A6 microchip.

One Chip To Rule Them All – The A6

The One Ring

Complaints about the speed of previous iPhone models was not just limited to internet limitations. It seems that we have become so accustomed to lightning fast computing devices that mere milliseconds of waiting time are too much to bear anymore. With iPhone 5, noone should ever have to complain about a slow smartphone ever again.

The A6 is a monster and masterpiece of microchip technology. Faster processing and graphic response often come at the expense of your battery life. Not so with the A6, it is designed to deliver breakneck speed while maintaining an impeccable battery life. These improvements in efficiency and raw power sooth many of the most common complaints about older iPhone models, how much faster can these things get?

Sounds Like Progress

Out with ear buds, in with EarPods! EarPods are a long awaited upgrade to the included earphones that come with a new iPhone. As an audio snob I have a simple but effective rule, don’t believe it until you hear it. That being said, I can’t wait to get my hands on a pair of these to see if the claims of comfort, stability, and clarity live up to the hype. Until then I will just say that when it comes to subtle innovation, this was a big move that some of my fellow bloggers out there have missed as important.

Apple Ear Pods

Face it, ear buds sucked… They hurt after awhile, they sound bad after a few loud songs, and they generally feel cheap and sound cheaper. Hopefully EarPods will do my snooty ears justice, we will just have to see about that…

While were on the subject of sound, I would like to add that they have revamped the microphone system on the iPhone 5 as well. In an attempt not to butcher the technological blah of how these microphones are better than before, here is a quote directly off the Apple website.

“It’s designed with three microphones: one on the front, one on the back, and one on the bottom. The front and back mics work together to achieve beamforming — a technique that helps iPhone focus on sound from the desired location for clearer audio. New noise-canceling technology reduces background noise.”

Sounds interesting, pun intended… I have always thought that the sound quality of iPhone calls was better than your average smart phone, so we shall see if this offers improvement or not.

iSpy iSight

iPhone 5 Panorama

One of the seemingly most important features of any smartphone is the ever increasing camera capabilities. It seems that along this trend, the iPhone 5’s beefed up still and HD video cameras do not disappoint. Lets face it, the new panorama capability is way cool. I know that there has been an app that does this for ages, but now its a fully integrate feature of the phone and works instantly and seamlessly with the swipe of your touch.

The camera is apparently faster, clearer, and more stable. Upgrades that allow it to satisfy the urgent needs of all the gadget lovers out there who must own the best camera phone in the world or they will cease to exist.

The HD video capabilities is no longer limited to the back, allowing you to chat in face time HD for the first time. I still don’t think its possible to record from both cameras at once but I guess I am the only one that wants that feature…

Connect the Dots – Introducing The Lightning Connector

The long awaited “lightning connector” has arrived with mixed feelings from Apple enthusiasts and critics. I am not sure how I feel about it, but it seems that the old 30-pin connectors just couldn’t keep up with how thin the iPhone 5 has become. That’s like buying a new pair of skinny jeans after shedding 20 pounds. The question is, does Levy’s want you to loose weight for your health, or so you have to buy new jeans, belts, and other waist dependent accessories?

Either way its seems pretty cool, I cant find much on their site about how functionally different it is from the old connector, but hey, it looks cool and its reversible.

Where Am I?

My personal favorite new iPhone 5 feature is all in the maps and navigation. Google maps on iPhone was a horrible mistake, biz 101, never partner with your rival, it generally doesn’t end well… I almost perished on the road many times because of the weak interface, shoty click through directions, and generally poor functionality of iPhone map system of the past. It reads the directions to you, enough said!

Click to find out how Apple Maps will save us all

Apple Gets Siri-ous

I am very excited to play around with the improved Siri features on the iPhone 5. Last time Siri proved to be a bit lack luster, she still wont tell me how to play a B minor fith chord like in the commercial. Apparently she cant handle more requests, provided better results and works faster and perkier than before. This is going to be one thing that needs to be tried before opinions are formed.

Click here for more about Siri

iOS 6

I could write an entire article about iOS 6 I will just refer you to Apple for now on this one… I will add one point of warning however… When I upgraded my iPhone 4 to iOS 5 last year, it slowed way down. If you are not going to upgrade you phone, don’t be shocked if your old phone starts to drag.

Learn more about iOS6 on Apple’s website

iCloud

iCloud on the iPhone 5 seems to be getting closer to a complete cloud based entertainment and lifestyle solution. I never really got the iCloud bug but hey maybe thats just me. Anyway there some really cool new features here, including shared photo streams, find my iPhone, and iCloud tabs.

As always, refer to the source for details  about iCloud

Additional Features

Here are some more cool features to explore within the new iPhone 5!

That should keep you satisfied for now. Check back to our blog for our expert revie once we get our hands on the new iPhone 5. By the looks of the lines it could be a while!




New Service Launch: CloudScript – Transcript Media Player

Early this month, Word Wizards began introducing our existing clients and friends to our new service, CloudScript. CloudScript is a simple tool that allows a user to sync a transcript with time code to a media player. In seconds you can have a transcript that allows you to click on any time code in the document and jump immediately to that point in time.

CloudScript - Transcript Media Player

Professional Applications:

Here is a scenario, your writing a final script before sending your raw footage to editing. You have found a quote in your transcript that says exactly what you need it to say. Under normal circumstances, you would have to pull up a media player, and use the scrub bar to manually locate the point in time that your transcript says will contain that video clip. Once you find that spot, you need to somehow figure out if that audio and video is consistent with the rest of your production. There is no easy way to do this for a few or  especial hundreds of independent clips, well there WAS no easy way, until CloudScript came along.

Instant Media Referencing

CloudScript enables you to instantly jump to any time stamp in your transcript. No more scrubbing through hours of footage looking and listening for that perfect shot and or sound byte, its all right there and its FAST! Furthermore, say you took a look and listen to that quote you wanted and the audio was no good, or there were clouds in the sky and it wont work with the rest of the clips from that shot. Well using the “find” function, you can simply search for any keyword or phrase your interested in and quickly identify every part of your raw footage that is related to what your looking for. With just one click, you can see and hear everything that may contain what you need, now that is what we call optimized workflow.

Create and Study Rough Edits

Continuing with our example, you have identified a sequence of ten clips that tell your story the way you want it to, but your no sure the audio and video will flow with continuity and consistency because your ten clips are shot over 10 hours of raw interviews. All you have to do is copy the  time stamps you think are the best into a text file, and run it through CloudScript again. You have just created a rough cut that lets you click on each time stamp in the sequence and easily get a feeling for what the edited sequence would look like. Because CloudScript is subscription based, you can use it as many times as you want as long as your membership is still valid.

Additional Features

CloudScript allows you to sync a transcript with video hosted on the internet. Say you put up footage of an important conference on your website for people to see. Using CloudScript you can create jump points to any time in the footage. This allows you to create “chapters” in online video that can be hosted on your website. Say there were 10 speakers over 8 hours. Simply run your transcript through CloudScript and you can generate clickable links to the beginning of each speaker’s presentation.

CloudScript does not require uploads or downloads of the actual media files to work, that’s how it does its job so fast. All you have to do is simply provide your local file path for the media and upload the time coded transcript saved as a simple text file. Within 5 seconds you receive a media synced transcript that opens in your browser, and with your subscription you can use it over and over again!

Sign Up Now For A Free Trial

Want to see for yourself? Head on over to The CloudScript Homepage and check out our Demo video. If your interested you can sign up for a free trial and test it out yourself. So what are you waiting for, join the 21st century already and optimize your workflow!




Apple’s WWDC 2012 – Industry Impact

Que the trumpets and raise the banners, Apple has some important new announcements and once again the world will shudder under their unrelenting innovative dominance…

Apple's World Wide Developers Conference Logo

Well maybe it was not quite that dramatic, but they did have some good news to share! Today I am going to quickly review the new tech highlights released by Apple and comment on how we think it may impact businesses in the video, graphics, and web design industries.

Let’s Get “Siri-us”

Samuel Jackson Makes Gazpacho with Siri

We have all seen the ads, Samuel L. Jackson is in his kitchen making gazpacho, and it seems like Siri is his faithful companion. She seems to understand and indulge his every whim, with the level of service and care you would expect from a personal butler. As you may know, Siri is not yet so intuitive, in fact Apple has a few pending lawsuits for misrepresenting this product in such a manner. However, at this year’s WWDC Apple announced she will be getting a bit of a cerebral upgrade. In addition, for the first time, Siri will be available on the iPad, extending the range of possibilities with this innovative but raw new technology.

Impact:

Siri could change our industry by leaps and bounds if she ever gets herself working right. In my recent blog post Software – The John Henry Paradox I discussed how dictation and automated transcription software is a long ways off from putting us out of business. However, it does make an impact, and if Siri’s dictation functionality ever gets into shape, it will most defiantly have an impact on the bottom line of business that provide automated or human powered speech to text services. I look forward to trying out her new “revised” functionality once iOS 6 is released in the near future.

MacBook Pro, Whoa!

I once proudly considered myself a PC guy. A long long time ago in a galaxy called the Milky Way, Macs were a joke in my mind. Bad games, poor graphics, and a noticeable lack of any standard PC quirks, it just put me off. That was, until I got my first MacBook Pro in 2006 and became a born again Jobsian. The new upgrade to the MacBook Pro line is sweet, slim, and sexy. It will probably keep getting sweeter as producers of components and accessories start to catch up with the technology in these impressive new machines.

The New MacBook Pro

However this power is a double edge sword. I keep asking myself, where is the FireWire port? What do you mean you don’t sell a Thunderbolt adapter for FireWire until next December? Apple seemingly enjoys releasing new technology before anyone makes anything that uses it. I must admit that the power to interface with two Thunderbolt Ports and Two USB 3.0 ports pushes the boundaries of my imagination. Hopefully I will be able to use these to their full potential before they come out with the next MacBook Pro.

The inclusion of a retina display is clutch, with such high resolution, MacBook Pros will continue to lead the way in laptop based media workflow both for professionals and amateurs. Don’t forget the screamin’ new Intel chip that pushes the performance of this incredible tool to unfathomed heights. While were on the subject of new heights, have you seen the price tag? By the time they come out with a FireWire to Thunderbolt solution, maybe I will be able to afford the new MacBook Pro (as long as Greece and the economy dont have anything different to say.)

Impact:

As an audio and video guy, the advent of Thunderbolt is paramount. FASTER, FASTER, FASTER! With this new technology video can render faster and look better, audio can be recorded with less lag time and higher resolution than ever before. There remains only one problem, nobody makes a Thunderbolt Audio Interface! I would love to take advantage of the speed of light capabilities for my audio production and recording needs if there were equipment that was designed to handle such raw unhindered power, but there’s not, yet (hint to all you manufactures out there…)

So us A/V guys have a new standard to dream about, what about the designers? Well for those who work in the field or in onsite applications. Having this type of power behind the acclaimed retina display will obviously be a plus. However, when I was speaking with our chief designer, who is admittedly a long standing Apple guru of sorts, he simply stated that lap tops are never ideal for precision graphics work, “there’s just not enough there.” Of course using Thunderbolt you can connect an external screen that is big enough to satisfy his lust for pixels, but then you have just undermined the retina display that you just bought, and that make MacBook Pro sad :(

Mountain Lions, Tigers, and Bears, oh my!

Mountain Lion hopes to put your head back in the iClouds. The new OS is swimming with new features and integration capabilities with the struggling cloud based file sharing system released by Apple early last year. Somehow Apple seems to make each OS release faster and better, and I do not expect to be disappointed this time. Mountain Lion I think will provide a full circle of integration, performance, and usability. There is something about Mac OS that still makes me say, PCs are never going to match this in a million years, even with the impeding release of Windows 8.

A Mountain Lion

Impact:

This remains to be seen. My expectation is to be blown away once again by the simplicity and speed of a new Mac OS version. But who knows, once in a while somebody makes a big mistake when trying to improve on perfection. This will be the first release of a new Mac OS without the direct insight and guidance of the dearly departed Steve Jobs, and hopefully it will not let his memory down, but you never know.

The Verdict

Apple is still innovating their way out of the proverbial paper bag, and we expect more to come at next year’s WWDC. Now, you may be saying, hey man why didn’t you talk about how disappointing it was to not get a hold of the iPhone 5 release date? To that I respond with a reminder that iPhone 4s only came out 9 months ago. If they released iPhone 5 now with only small unimpressive upgrades, you would all complain, and their stock price would plummet, and everyone would claim Tim Cook is incompetent, and ol’ Billy Gates would cackle into the night as he took over the world!

Bill gate young
Bill Gates as you have never seen him...

So be patient and have some faith that that Mr. Cook can hold it together…

Thanks for reading, and check back soon as we hope get our hands on some of this new technology and put it to the test!

 




CloudScript: The Future of Transcription Workflow

Word Wizards is proud to present our newest service, CloudScript!

Over 30 years of working in the media transcription industry has provided our team with rare and valuable insight into how and why people need our transcription services. We have noticed an important trend in the past few years, the name of the game these days is speed, convenience, and price. Production teams must to be able to work faster, more efficiently, and at lower operating costs than ever before to survive. Well, we have designed CloudScript to answer the call for a new solution.

Stated simply, CloudScript lets you click on any time code in your transcript and jump to that point in the audio or video file. Using a simple online form you can instantly convert any transcript with time code into a “media-synced” transcript. CloudScript is intended to make your workflow easier while writing, editing, producing or otherwise working with transcripts.

Watch our short video below for a quick demonstration!

Visit the CloudScript Home Page and Sign Up for your free trial Today!

 




Word Wizards Inc: New Website Launch

After over a year of development, Word Wizards Inc. is prepared to launch our brand new website. 100% of this website has been developed in-house by our highly skilled web design team. New design, new content, and new services are just some of the highlights of this important step for our organization’s future. We invite our clients and interested readers to explore our site and let us know what you think.

 


After!

 

Enjoy, and remember, we can do the same for your business too!