15 March 2013


My son's school, Bay Academy of Brooklyn, is pretty high-tech, in the sense that homework etc are mostly assigned online.  The students would log on when they get home and mostly print out the assignments for the day.  In some instances, they would update the documents electronically before printing them out for handing in the next day.  There are assessment exams that the students can even do totally online, nothing to print from start to end.

It is not perfect, of course.  Certain web pages just could not be printed properly, perhaps because of the use of frames.  Simply copying the relevant text to memory then pasting the result into TextPad or NeoOffice would take care of the problem.  Windoze users probably use WordPad or whatever word-processing app they have.

Ideally, everything to be downloaded or printed should be in a universal format like PDF.  To many people though, Microsoft Office is everything there is to know in the world.  To these people, it's either Word, Excel, Powerpoint, or nothing else.  While most company offices do have MS Office, not all of them have the latest and greatest version.  At home, I think MS Office ownership is even lower.  In the early days of computing, MS Office would be bundled with the computer but these days it has to be bought separately.  Some people make do with open source software like NeoOffice or OpenOffice.  Neo has been working fine for me with handling the various file formats in MS Office, but a recent document my son tried to open kept crashing it.  The file's extension is docx, so it is supposed to be the new Word 2007 document format.  I thought of checking NeoOffice for updates there and then, but my son was logged in with his account, things may get too complicated when I try to update via his account.  Better to have every updating done from my admin account.  What I did was to first download the file.  By default, clicking on the file does download it but the action also tries to open the file with the default associated app, NeoOffice in my case.  Next, I uploaded the file to Google Drive, which is updated a lot more regularly than the NeoOffice app on my hard drive.  From Google Drive, I tried to print it, but what it really did was generate a PDF locally.  Actually printing the document would then be another step away.

Like I said, PDF should be the default format for all documents.  Not everyone has MS Office and the different version of Office file formats can throw people off even if they have Office.  To add insult to injury, the document in my case is actually a PowerPoint slideshow that just happened to be saved with a docx extension.  Just stick to PDF, people.  On the Mac, the ability to generate PDF is built into all apps.  Anything that can be printed is just a quick selection of Save As PDF away to generate a PDF file.  On Windows, people either don't know about their options regarding PDF-creation or don't care.  I am glad I'm technologically-abled to handle these problems my son had and cannot help wonder how the other parents fare.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Qap - long time no comment !!!!
    It is the same with my classes. We still have to attend lectures which are available on the Blackboard for review before class. The file then could be saved on USB for review at exam time. Assignment, quizzes and finals are on-line with deadline. Assignments are posted on Blackboard and completed homework is saved as rtf. or Word format. I agree pdf. is the best format. Take it easy "Mac-head" - don't let Bill Gates get to you ;>)
    Have a good weekend,