Printing to PDF without Opening Files

Challenge: I often receive Microsoft Word documents that I need to add to website pages. To make it easier for end users to view, I convert all of them to pdf documents. As such, I figured there was probably a way for me to bulk convert pdf documents; however, I wanted to find a way to do so without having to open Word.

Solution: I found an article over the summer that referenced the CUPS (Common Unix Printing System) PDF plugin and how to create a script to convert pdf documents without opening Word. While this solution worked for a while, my recent upgrade to Yosemite OS broke that workflow. I ended up switching to PDFwriter for Mac to resolve this issue. I had to recreate the workflow in Automator, but printing to PDF without opening files works again. If you want to do something similar, just following these steps:

  1. Install PDFwriter for Mac
  2. Open System Preferences -> Print & Fax -> Click the “+” button to add a new printer. Select PDFwriter as the printer.
  3. Open Automator and select Application from the listed options.
  4. Add Get Specified Finder Items and Printer Finder Items by dragging and dropping them from the left side of the Automator window to the main workflow area.
  5. In the details section of the Printer Finder Items action, select PDFwriter from the Print to drop-down menu.
  6. Save your new application somewhere handy (like the Desktop). Now you can drag multiple files at the same time (or individual files) onto it whenever you want to quickly save them as PDFs.

NOTE: The PDFs are saved in /Users/Shared/PDFwriter/username/, but you can move the files wherever you want. Alternatively, you could make an alias of the “username” folder (within /Users/Shared/PDFwriter/username/) and drag it somewhere handy (like your Desktop).

Continue Reading

Lync for Mac Issue with OSX Yosemite

I updated my Mac OS in the wee hours of the morning and, for the most part, did not run into any issues. I mention “for the most part” because I did encounter an issue at work with Lync for Mac 2011 – Version 14.0.9 (140606). My issue appeared when I attempted to sign in to Lync as it briefly displayed my Lync contacts before looping back to the sign-in screen. A Google search netted a successful resolution to this issue.

In short, I went into the Language & Region settings (within System Preferences) and did the following:

  1. Change the language from “English-Primary” to “English-US
  2. Reboot
  3. Change the language back to “English-Primary
  4. Reboot
  5. Open Lync and sign in

I’m not exactly sure why these steps resolved the issue, but hopefully it works for you too.

Continue Reading

Creating a Checkbox in Google Spreadsheet

I’ll admit that what I’m about to explain is a bit “geek speak,” but not too bad if you follow a few steps.

Problem: Within a Google Spreadsheet, I needed wanted a way to add checkboxes (or a yes/no selection box) in order to show completion of certain project tasks. You might think there is an easy way to do this; after all, most things with Google Docs or Spreadsheets are relatively straightforward. The key part of that was “you might think” as it seemed adding a checkbox (or selection box) was going to fall under the “not so easy” category. That said, I stumbled across a forum post with a similar need to add a checkbox function in a Google Spreadsheet.

Solution: There isn’t a simple “add checkbox” option in the text editor or menu. Instead, you can use “Data Validation” as a way to transform empty cells into check or selection boxes. The following steps will enable you to create them:

  1. Select the cell(s) where you want to add a checkbox or selection box.
  2. Under the Data menu, select Validation… to access Data Validation options.
  3. Select List of items within the Criteria area.
  4. In the empty field next to the Criteria dropdown menu, you will enter your options and separate with a comma (e.g., “Yes, No” or “X, √” or simply “√”). NOTE: You can copy and paste a checkmark/square root symbol (√) or use “option + V” on a Mac.
  5. Ensure Display in-cell button to show list is checked and then click Save.

This works really well when you need to collaborate with the rest of your team to easily display a completion status for a given task. If you simply need to add such a status indicator for your own purposes, though, you might opt for the super easy solution of using a Y or N (or using the combination of “option + V” on a Mac to add a checkmark) within each cell.

Continue Reading

Web Marketing & Communications Agenda

9:00-11:30 (2.5 hrs) – Marketing/Communication Focus

Branding via email and web presence

Introductions & Learning Outcomes (9:00-9:10)

Establishing Your Online Presence (9:10-10:30)

Break (10:50-11:00)

Desktop Publishing Flyers/Ads (11:00-11:10)

Apps/Other Software (11:10-11:20)

Wrap Up: Q&A/Best Practices/(11:20-11:30)

Continue Reading

Now You See It, Now You Don’t

I have been working on building images for our content management system. As such, I wanted unobstructed views of the front entrances. In order to do so, I needed to remove elements from the pictures (mainly flag and light poles). I also had to recreate lost portions where items were removed. As an example, the middle school had three poles that I wanted to remove. I wanted to maintain the shadowing, windows, and even the snow on the ground. Lastly, I gave the photo a color boost. The before and after follow:

WMS Original
WMS Original (click to enlarge)
WMS Photoshop Magic
WMS Photoshop Magic (click to enlarge)
Continue Reading