Creating a PDF

That is the trick, isn’t it? The solution we have here at the UUA is called PDF Creator and works something like this: it is a piece of software that pretends to be a printer. Suppose you have an Excel document open and would like a copy as a PDF. Good old PDF Creator is standing around shouting: Pick me! Pick me! I’m the coolest printer! Pick me! If you do choose to print to PDF Creator it will ask you to save a file (this is the part where you pick where you want the new PDF to end up). Then still fooling the other program into thinking it is a printer, PDF Creator will get all the data that would normally be headed off to the printer and instead turn it into a PDF.

If you don’t have PDF Creator installed you can get it here. PDF Creator is the only PDF method officially supported by ITS, but here are some other ones I’ve found handy:

  • Open Office: An Office Suite that can do many of the things Microsoft Office can (does some things better, does some much worse or not at all) and it can create PDFs. Just install it fire it up and open the document you want then look for a little PDF icon on the toolbar. Click on that and presto it asks you where you want the PDF to end up. If you want to give it a whirl you can get open office here.
  • Free PDF Convert.com: The way this works is you upload the document you want converted and they email you a PDF. The downside is they have your email and might spam it. You can find it here.

Portable Apps: Your Life on USB

Today I’d like to share something that has been incredibly useful to me. You may remember I recommended Rocketdock for its portability. That’s because several years ago I discovered portableapps.com. The site provides (free) software that can run from a USB jump drive. Think of it as carrying around all the programs you use with you. There are a million different ways it can be useful so I can’t go into all of them here, but I will say it is a very useful way to organize your digital life, not to mention get some use out of that old USB Key you have sitting around.

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Docks for Windows

As a poor Windows/Linux user I miss out on many of the joys of Mac OS X simply because I’m too cheap to buy yet another computer. However I have borrowed one of the better GUI (Graphical User Interface: Geek for what you see on the screen) elements that OS X has made popular. I refer of course to the Dock. I find it to be a useful (well and pretty) way to organize my shortcuts. Here are the two free docks for windows that I use:

Stardock ObjectDock

I install this one on all my desktops. It gives you lots of options (via right click on the dock) and has been very stable for me.

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Rocket Dock

The reason I use this one is for its portability, it doesn’t take as many system resources as Stardock and it can be run from a USB thumbdrive.

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