[kwlug-disc] .ppsx to .pdf (oh the misery)

unsolicited unsolicited at swiz.ca
Sun Sep 26 02:14:13 EDT 2010


Johnny Ferguson wrote, On 09/25/2010 6:58 PM:
> On 09/25/2010 06:09 PM, unsolicited wrote:
>> Johnny Ferguson wrote, On 09/25/2010 5:35 PM:
>> - as other threads have noted, in some senses this is just good and
>> profitable business practices by Microsoft.
> 
> Unfortunately it's not working, because it doesn't really compel me to 
> purchase their products.

But you wouldn't likely have anyways, so ...
- and they should enable to use their products or the results of their 
development costs because ...

I take your point, I don't disagree, and yes it's bloody irritating.

>> This is likely PowerPoint 2007 or 2010.
> 
>  From what I've read I think you're right.

Office 2010 still in beta? I used it in my spring course, avoiding 
having to figure out how to work around a timed out trial version of 
Project. Unfortunately, no amount of beating about the head would 
convince my team mates that I can't read Word .docx files. It's not 
just the institutions at fault here.

>> Download powerpoint viewer from MS, write to pdf printer, under Windows.
>> Bite the bullet - such is the nature of the world. Oops - I forget
>> whether or not the viewer will let your print.
> 
> Is not the nature of the world influenced by what we find acceptable and 
> act upon? I might bite the bullet on a job (where I'm getting paid), but 
> to have to do so in education (where I'm paying) is a little much for me.

I believe you have some validity to your point(s) however, sadly, I 
have also learned:
- the institution itself must pay for the products, and are likely to 
acquire (read, be suckered) into the least cost possible (never mind 
the social ramifications that you're entrenching a proprietary product 
into the future workforce, and assisting MS in its quest for a 
self-fulfilling prophecy, even).
- From what Paul has said about the working centre, MS has made it all 
but impossible for him to prevent MS from taking over, due to costs.
- IIRC John noted (last year) that somehow MS had once again managed 
to come in and take over UofW. I had thought they were long gone - 
evidently not. Certainly the impression has been reinforced with what 
I found at Conestoga.

>> Or find a file conversion web site.
> 
> Not much luck with those, they don't like .ppsx
> 
>> Or try Google Apps - up as powerpoint, down as openoffice? Not sure
>> about that for power point. I've used it for Excel and Word.
> 
> Will definitely give this a try. I haven't used docs in a while, it'd be 
> optimal if it could just export PDF.
> 
> <snip />
> 
>>> I guess if no solution is available, I'll have to beg my instructor to
>>> click 2 extra buttons to make some PDFs (though I tried it with
>>> another, and he was resistant to the point of flat-out refusing).
>>
>> I've had success with this more often than not, at least with Conestoga
>> instructors.

Bear in mind - these are night courses. Which tend to be run by 
contractors, not by staff (unfortunately). Professional teacher did a 
better job in most cases. And the contractors tended to be more flexible.

I suspect the reverse is true, on both fronts, for daytime students.

>> If this is Conestoga, then you should also have access to their
>> computers, at least long enough to open the power point, and print to a
>> .pdf printer, perhaps via a web site.

Of course, the irritant is that if you have to download and install a 
local program to do the conversion, you'll have to reinstall it at 
every visit. The computers being reset to baseline every night.

> It is Conestoga. To give them partial credit, at least 1 of my profs 
> uses PDF, and another uses the open-source Moodle (nice to not have to 
> use ANGEL all of the time).

Yeah, well, Angle is a poor idea, poorly implemented. Which was 
apparently recognized very soon after conception, yet they went ahead 
anyways. And delivered 1 - 2 years later that they were supposed to. 
And didn't take into account staff training requirements ...

Somehow the social networking / facebook concept needed to be a wheel 
re-invention at the local college level. <sigh>

>> I've seldom not been able to get the prof to do this - the winning
>> argument always seeming to be that not everyone has MS Office, let alone
>> the later versions.
> 
> I tried that one, he told me to go buy the student version (which isn't 
> very helpful as I don't run windows).

Assuming you're allowed to. I wasn't.

But ... if you're going to be there for some while yet, like more than 
a year, it is indeed worth your while (time saving wise) to get the 
student win OS version, and Office, and load 'em up in a virtualbox 
vm. You can keep fighting, but I found it to be a time-consuming 
losing battle that I no longer had time for. So, didn't have to go 
that route, but never admitted that, either. (-:

>> A similarly useful and usually successful argument is to have the guy
>> save as a PowerPoint version you can use (Open Office can take .ppt, up
>> to 2003?) The argument being not everyone has the latest Office. At
>> least once I've got in in OpenOffice I've gotten where I needed to go,
>> in the past.
> 
> I'll see if I can coerce him.

Given Paul's comment ... (latest versions output to PDF) - the 
instructor has even less excuse.

Given that the college also has Linux courses, and at least one lab at 
Waterloo campus has dual-boot (Fedora) machines, it would be 
worthwhile for you to complain to the student association about this. 
Keep talking it up.

>> If anything, the reverse has been true - there is a perception that .pdf
>> is less copyable, and frequently I can't get the original slides - so I
>> can print them 2 up, duplex.
>>
>> Often they will print (export?) the slides to 2 up, but the slides are
>> really small with the useless lines on the side for making notes with.
> 
> Definitely an issue, but more so with the person exporting than the format.
> 
>> I've had some success with referring the instructor to
>> http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/ (the problem usually being
>> the instructor has no way to make .pdf's, unlike OpenOffice), or
>> http://products.softsolutionslimited.com/ - IIRC, the latter has both a
>> local and a web conversion facility.
> 
> I thought the newer versions of Office could export to PDF out of the 
> box. Good recommendation regardless.

Somehow, the college can keep providing the latest and greatest MS 
Software (although perhaps not office 2010 yet), but only teach 
courses on versions 2 revs prior. It's crazy.

As one prof. said - he took the time to develop course content, and 
had to do it on his own time and at his own expense. Now they want him 
to repeat and revamp for the next version of Office (this was MS 
Project, and the next version introduce the ribbon, lost 
functionality, and introduced Project Server), gratis. And now another 
new version is out (soon?). So, they expect you to buy and use the 
latest and greatest, do so for their own staff, but teach courses 2 
versions out of date ... (because their own staff won't create the 
course content) ...

>> There is an argument here to keeping a Win vm kicking around, if you
>> want to get on with your day. Perhaps with a student version of MS
>> Office for $10 - if you can arm-twist Conestoga into selling it to you.
>> I was never successful - and it took 2 years to get anywhere with MS
>> Project.
> 
> I've tried using virtualbox in the past without much luck. It'd just be 
> nice if I didn't have to go to such efforts (while my mind is on other 
> things). Perhaps there should be an academic standard requiring anyone 
> publishing in proprietary or unconvertible formats to additionally 
> provide a PDF.

I only tried virtualbox for the first time this (last?) year, and it 
was quite nice. It may be worth trying again. VirtualBox under windows 
- no, in my experience (slow); fine under Linux. Since VirtualBox 
reads vmware (server/workstation/player?) files, I built a vm in 
vmware player under windows, copied it to ext3, and just opened'er up 
under virtualbox.

For that matter, you could do it on a usb key. Even better, if you 
have an sd slot in your laptop. On mine it runs MUCH faster in the 
slot that on a key - which means, I assume, the sd is wired as another 
disk on the pci bus, not as an external device on the usb bus.

> In lieu of that, thanks for the recommendations. Looks like I'm stuck 
> dealing with the devil for now (or taking a hike to his open-access labs 
> for a few printouts).

I'd love to be able to tell you not to give up fighting the good 
fight, but sadly, in my experience I can't. It may well be worthwhile 
barking up the chain of command - be it the department, or the student 
association.

Arguably - the college should be sourcing a converter, or providing a 
linux reader of the files. (Good luck with the latter.) The college 
has network drive capabilities accessible from home (let me guess, 
Windows, or Internet Explorer only?) - arguably they should have 
within that facility (it's not angel, a novel web client?) a file 
conversion utility.


Last time I looked at live (as in live.ca), they seemed to have some 
document or collaboration facilities. Any chance it will read the 
file, and let you bring it back as something you can use? Be it 
openoffice compatible .ppt, or .pdf?



</'rant' off - with apologies to the list on disgorging Conestoga 
'issues'.>



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