It’s often very useful to distribute your Word documents in the PDF file format as not everybody has Word and the same fonts you’ve got on your computer.
If you had used an early beta version of Microsoft Office 2007, you will have noticed there was a built in feature to export your documents into Acrobat PDF files or Microsoft’s obscure XPS (XML Paper Specification) format. That disappeared in the final version of Office 2007 but it’s available as a free plugin. According to Microsoft, it’s compatible with:
- Microsoft Office Access 2007
- Microsoft Office Excel 2007
- Microsoft Office InfoPath 2007
- Microsoft Office OneNote 2007
- Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007
- Microsoft Office Publisher 2007
- Microsoft Office Visio 2007
- Microsoft Office Word 2007
This is a really useful plugin. Sending your documents as PDF has a lot of benefits: recipients won’t inadvertently edit them and the document will look more like it is supposed to (fonts are embedded for example). Especially as Office 2007 users have new fonts such as Calibri and Cambria which many people may not have, this comes in really handy.
Once installed, save as PDF by going to Office Button > Save As > PDF or XPS.
If you want to save as PDF from other programmes, the best thing to do is to get a PDF printer. I personally use PrimoPDF which is totally free and works really well. For open source junkies, PDFCreator does a pretty good job too – although I had issues with certain documents.
Far Afield is a fascinating soundscape compilation album which is free to listen to and download from the Internet Archive.
Similar to the Birdsong DAB radio station that I’ve mentioned in the past, Far Afield consists of field recordings of sounds from both natural and artificial sources. But the recordings don’t turn out as walls of random noise because the recordings are specifically focused around using the rhythms and melodies as focal points.
Curator Fred Yarm says:
The results that I received were astounding. The tracks represent everything from highly composed tracks telling stories or capturing the essence of far away locales to straight field recordings that the artist felt did not need any processing to demonstrate the beauty of the situation. Cracking ice on a lake, cicada songs, rusty gates, dripping water, moving trains, and a handful of other captured sounds provided the instrumental palettes for these compositions. Many thanks are to be given to the artists who accepted this challenge to coax such delightful music and beauty out of unplanned and un-orchestrated events.
It’s well worth downloading this CC-licensed album, putting it on your iPod and having a listen. In our daily routines: the commute to work and the incessant ringing of the phone in the office, we’re all too used to hearing the same sounds again and again. Far Afield can immerse you in an altogether different place.
Personas for Firefox is a really nice extension for Firefox which adds lightweight theming without having to restart your browser.
I’ve been using it several months now and it’s really nice so I really recommend having a look. There are a dozen Foxkeh themes which are pretty cute too.
Personas was recently updated so the theme could be dynamic web content. People have started to play around with this feature: for example theming the browser with a live webcam from Germany.
Find out how to create your own Personas. The team hope to release the final version of Personas in time for Firefox 3.
The Coffee Replacement MP3 file is a sound file which claims to "keep you in an energizing state giving you a ‘caffeine’ energetic boost". There is an explanation to how it works; and it does sound pretty new age to me. I’m not sure if there is actually any scientific proof of how it works. According to the website:
When the brain is given a stimulus, through the ears, eyes or other senses, it emits an electrical charge in response, called a Cortical Evoked Response. These electrical responses travel throughout the brain to become what you "see and hear". This activity can be measured using sensitive electrodes attached to the scalp.
When the brain is presented with a rhythmic stimulus, such as a drum beat for example, the rhythm is reproduced in the brain in the form of these electrical impulses. If the rhythm becomes fast and consistent enough, it can start to resemble the natural internal rhythms of the brain, called brainwaves. When this happens, the brain responds by synchronizing its own electric cycles to the same rhythm.
See the theory page.
You can make your own brainwave sounds using the BrainWave Generator. It comes with built in brainwaves such as creativity increase, meditation, headache control and sleep induction.
If you want, you can also generate your own brainwaves – you can add things such as background sounds (I used the Yes No Yes sound from Even Stephens) and customize all kinds of parameters such as frequency and type of wave.
From the programme, you can then export your brainwaves as a WAV file. The website does make some pretty silly claims such as that it can help you quit smoking or drinking. I’m certainly not a big believer in solutions such as this but, regardless, it’s a bit of fun.
Disclaimer from Website
The following people should not use brain entrainment:
- People subject to any forms of seizures or epilepsy
- People using pacemakers
- People suffering from cardiac arrhythmia or other heart disorders
- People taking stimulants, psychoactive drugs, or tranquilizers
Via Download Squad.