A place for SGML and XML application developers.

December 29, 2015

Removing the right hand pane in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC

Filed under: Rants/Musings,Software — cangione @ 9:09 pm

The right hand pane in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC takes up a ton of room and is irrelevant to my life. Here is a hack to stop it from appearing:

  1. Go to the install directory, i.e." C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Acrobat Reader DC\Reader\AcroApp\ENU".
  2. Create a new subfolder (I used "Disabled").
  3. Move 3 files from the "ENU" folder into the new "Disabled" folder:
    • AppCenter_R.aapp
    • Home.aapp
    • Viewer.aapp

August 29, 2009

Full Screen mode in Firefox with the Windows toolbar present

Filed under: Rants/Musings,Software — cangione @ 5:54 am

I've always been a big fan of Firefox. The Firefox full screen (F11) mode that covers the Windows toolbar at the bottom of the screen and removes the top window bar is great when reading space is at a premium like on a small laptop. There are times when I want the same look as the Full Screen mode but want the Windows toolbar visible at the bottom so I can quickly switch tasks.

I added a plugin called userChromeJS that allowed me to get rid of the top window bar but leave the Windows toolbar at the bottom. Once you install the plugin add the following function to the userChrome.js file.

function hideChrome() {
if (navigator.platform == "Win32") {
// preserve small area for taskbar to appear
window.resizeTo(screen.availWidth, screen.availHeight-2);
} else {
window.resizeTo(screen.availWidth, screen.availHeight);

userChrome.JS is located in your userprofile\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\.default\chrome directory.

October 12, 2008

The Digital Realm and Digital Experience – A Ten Year Review

Filed under: Rants/Musings — cangione @ 1:23 am

I have a slide show widget that runs on my desktop side bar. The slide show gets pictures from the "My Pictures" folder which contains images from the last ten years. I was an early adopter of digital photography and bought my first digital camera on Guam before a trip deeper into the South Pacific.

Funny story. The first use of my new digital camera was to send pictures back to my company headquarters documenting the horrible shape the equipment we were working on was in! There had been a complaint from the customer about the extra money required to bring things back into operational shape. No more complaints once I sent in the pictures! I knew back then that digital photography would be a powerful medium!

One of those early pictures flashed across my screen tonight and I went to enlarge it. It was taken at a resolution of 640 x 480. Back then you were an advanced user if you were at 800 x 600 on a laptop screen and a picture at 640 x 480 looked pretty good!

When viewed on a modern laptop at 1280 x 800 that same picture looks grainy and like a postage stamp! It is amazing how fast the world has changed from film photography to digital.

Kwaj Sunset 1998
Kwaj Sunset 1998 @ 640 x 480 - 96 dpi

I wish I had my modern day digital camera 10 years ago. The color and depth of the pictures through several zooms now is amazing. I feel like I can crawl into the shots and look around. The shots I took ten years ago are a good test of my memory and imagination without zooming at all. To crawl into those shots and look around, I need to close my eyes and remember what it felt like to be there first hand.

Mount Wire 2008
Mount Wire 2008 @ 3072 x 2304 - 72 dpi

We are in the midst of an incredible revolution with digital High Definition photography and video. It takes the old photo album to a level where we can actually imagine we are there without leaving our living rooms.

I'm all for digital progress and photography yet believe there is something to be said for actually living outside the digital realm every once and awhile. I will cherish both the photos shown here because I was there in 1998 and 2008. For those that did not have these experiences, I still hope you enjoy the photos!

-C. Angione - 1998 & 2008

September 29, 2008

Using UML to describe DITA Specializations

Filed under: Rants/Musings,Software,XML — cangione @ 11:29 am

As a consultant, I'm often parachuted into complex projects and need to be able to appear intelligent in a short period of time to both technical staff as well as business people. In setting up a publishing system based on the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA), I'm faced with trying to communicate the specialized structures and element names needed by an organization.

One of the most important principals of DITA specialization is the concept of inheritance. Inheritance allows you to use the structures and semantics previously defined by others as a starting point for your specializations. But how do you communicate this idea in a repeatedly simple clear concise manner during the design process? If a picture is worth a thousand words, a UML model is invaluable.

The Unified Modeling Language (UML) is a graphical notation that is particularly good at expressing object-oriented designs. UML went through a standardization process and is now an Object Management Group (OMG) standard.

I like using UML because it allows me to communicate certain concepts more clearly than alternatives like natural language. Natural language is too imprecise and subject to interpretation by the reader. A DITA DTD or Schema is very precise but not something that should be created during the design process. So I use UML to communicate and keep track of the important details like inheritance.

A lot of people talk about the learning curve associated with UML. I'm not advocating that team members need to be exposed to all that UML can provide. Only the parts necessary to convey the important details of the moment.

Let's say that we want to build a new type of DITA topic for creating slide presentations. The following diagram conveys a lot of information:

Slide Example UML Diagram

My conversation with the assembled audience of technical staff and business users would go something like this:

Each green ellipse represents an element already in existence. Each yellow ellipse represents a proposed element. The double angle brackets in the ellipse are used in UML to define sterotypes. A sterotype is the vocabulary extension mechanism built into UML. In our case we are using sterotypes to indicate which organization (DITA or SGMLXML) an element reports to. The dotted lines represent which elements are included in others and which elements extend a base type (inheritance).

Once the audience agrees that the model is correct, it can be included in the specifications and developers can create the new elements and the properly-formed class attributes required.

In our example the definition of the class attributes in the resulting DTD would look like this:

Class Attributes

Besides communicating DITA specialization information, I also use UML for other aspects of my deployments such as use case design, system deployment and various activity diagrams. No single model is sufficient to build the system but by using the same modeling language for all the models, it is easy to impart all of the important analysis, design and implementation decisions that must be made by an organization before deployment.

-Charles Angione

September 17, 2008

Advise & Consent

Filed under: Books,Rants/Musings — cangione @ 10:33 pm

It is very rare that a favorite book of mine passes muster as a movie. It is even rarer that the movie is better than the book!

My favorite Allen Drury book Advise & Consent (1962) was made into a movie that is now available on DVD. When I was in high school, I was part of Mock Congress debates. We followed Senate rules (parliamentary procedure) during those sessions. I wish I had read this book or watched the DVD before I was in some of those debates!

I don't care if you are Liberal, Conservative, Democrat, or Republican. You can empathize with all points of view by the end of this movie.

I can't think of a more perfect movie to watch in this political season.


August 21, 2008

Recent Blue Screen of Death Sightings

Filed under: Rants/Musings,Software — cangione @ 2:58 am

There have been a couple funny Blue Screen of Death sightings that have appeared in the press recently that I just couldn't pass up sharing.

The first was a Wired article about the Sheraton Hotel chain rolling out the Microsoft Surface table. While this might not be a true Blue Screen of Death it sure looks like it!

Microsoft Surface Blue Screened

The second Blue Screen sighting was reported by Gizmodo about the torch lighting at the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. Good thing this computer wasn't controlling anything critical!

Torch Lighting Blue Screen

August 5, 2008

Partly to Mostly Cloudy

Filed under: Rants/Musings,Software — cangione @ 9:19 pm

I'm moving further into the cloud. The internet cloud. Wikipedia is defining Cloud computing as a style of computer "where IT-related capabilities are provided as a service".

I started with Google Docs. Storing my checkbook register (an excel spreadsheet), some Power Point presentations and some PDF white papers I always find myself looking for. I want access to these documents quickly and easily from any and all computers I might happen to have available to me even if only for a few minutes.

My move further into the cloud happened when I had to decide if I was going to put additional Network storage on my home network or lease secure disk space somewhere in the cloud. We're at 2 terabytes and climbing at home already. Some of the disks have been spinning for a few years so I wouldn't trust critical or archive data to them. Truly archiving data means having it mirrored on at least two different disks if not on a DVD as well.

I decided to roll with the Amazon S3 service instead of buying more disk that I have to maintain. Amazon S3 is a simple web service that can be used to securely retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web. Amazon does not provide a front end to the S3 web service. It is intentionally built with a minimal feature set.

For a front end to the S3 service I decided to use Jungle Disk. Jungle Disk supports Linux, Max, and Windows (including Vista) platforms as well as USB sticks. It makes the Amazon S3 service appear as a network drive on your machine where you can drag and drop or copy files.

One of my major complaints with approaches like this in the past has been that passing lots of info or large files over the network takes time and can be process intensive depending on your OS (this is really the kindest way I could put this without saying Windows slows to a crawl). Jungle disk has solved this. It caches the files local on your machine and slowly feeds the bits to the S3 service as CPU and bandwidth are available (configurable). To the end user it makes the copy to the Network drive look instantaneous. The software also comes with a backup routine where you can backup selected folders. The software is 20 bucks with life time upgrades.

You pay for the Amazon S3 service monthly. The rates are reasonable. Storage is $0.15 per GB-Month of storage used. You also pay a small data transfer fee for incoming and outgoing data transfer. Amazon provides a fee calculator to figure out your approximate costs. If you think about what hard disk space costs to install and mirror (for a true archive) as well as administer, the fees keep looking better and better! I'm willing to pay for good service and zero headaches!

So what's left on my Network Storage at home? VMware images. Lots and lots of VMware images. Large files that are I/O and bandwidth intensive are not the type of thing I'm looking to store out in the least not yet. Next thing on my list to explore is Amazon EC2. The topic of a future post I'm sure.


July 30, 2008

Goodbye Old Friend

Filed under: Rants/Musings,Software,XML — cangione @ 6:46 pm

The Arbortext crew in Ann Arbor is getting a new workspace. As I write this, many hardworking and dedicated employees at 1000 Victors Way are packing up their offices and preparing to move down the street to a new building.

Victors Way — what a noble address! I first came to the four-story building 11 years ago as a potential customer. It was the middle of the December, and I was meeting with a sales rep and some lead engineers to show them a proposal featuring Arbortext. I remember Ivan, my sales rep, later telling me that everyone was eager to meet someone willing to come to Ann Arbor in December!

1000 Victors Way

I came back to Victors Way the following year for the Annual Users Group Conference (AUGI) held in Ann Arbor. What a fun and memorable event! Arbortext made sure that just about anyone a customer might want to speak with was at the conference. I remember watching the trepidation on the faces of some engineers as they walked across the street, their eyes full of dread and looks that said, “Oh no! I have to talk to a customer!”

But that kind of openness and innovation is what gave Arbortext the reputation it maintains today — fiercely dedicated to standards and open at all levels of the organization, from the CEO to the engineer that built a feature.

Eventually, I joined Arbortext as a consultant, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. In addition to an amazing career, I’ve gained a wonderful extended family. When I came in for my job interview, it took my interviewers 20 minutes to get me to the conference room because we kept running into people I knew along the way!

Ever since I became part of the Arbortext team, returning to Ann Arbor (no matter what the season) has always felt like coming home. I see friends that I stay in touch with but don’t get to visit with in person very often. I make sure to stop by every office, no matter what floor, and chat with people that I’m genuinely happy to see.

One of my earliest major assignments at Arbortext involved creating one of the first linkbases in existence. At that time, the XLink standard was brand new. During those early days, I often found myself standing outside in the middle of the night next to one of the walkway lamps that light the entranceway. I’d look up at the ARBORTEXT sign on the building while I smoked like a chimney and prayed that the application would actually work! Eventually it did work, but only after some pain and suffering.

The four floors of 1000 Victors Way represent more than a decade of my life. Although the facilities in the new building are far superior for the Ann Arbor crew of today, I will always look back at the Victors Way building with fondness, and I will stop by when I’m in town. The Ann Arbor crew and Arbortext customers should be proud of what was accomplished within those walls, and I hope they are as excited as I am about what will come out of the new facility.

I can’t wait to reflect on what happens during the next decade.

-Charles Angione

April 21, 2008

Social Networking and the Opt-in vs. Opt-out approach

Filed under: Rants/Musings — cangione @ 11:21 pm

Social Network sites like LinkedIn, Plaxo and Facebook need to figure this out quick! It's late and I'm pissed. Without explicitly throwing up a dialog in my face and asking me what I want, the default setting for blasting whatever the hell I'm doing  to the world should be Opt-out! Microsoft figured this out years ago. It is really annoying, but no one can claim they didn't ask if I'm really really sure I want to nuke a particular file! If I select all the defaults you provide me, whatever I'm doing should Opt-out of whatever magic updates you want to provide to the world.  It's a cop-out to have the Opt-in checkbox  checked by default and assume that I actually saw it! You will find most times I'm OK with the known universe knowing what I'm doing! I'm willing to Opt-in every freakin time I want said universe to know my actions.

What brought on this rant.....I'm sending an e-card to someone. WHY THE HELL DOES A SOCIAL NETWORK SITE THINK I WANT THE CONTENTS OF A CARD THAT I EXPLICITLY ADDRESSED TO A SINGLE FREAKIN PERSON BE BROADCAST TO THE ENTIRE FRAPPIN WORLD? It gets better...... This is a new behavior since the site in question decided it was a social networking site instead of being a contact aggregation site.

April 9, 2008

Trademarks and the R within the circle.

Filed under: Rants/Musings — cangione @ 2:38 am

I was working on a document today where I wanted to include Trademarks (what can I say?) but didn't understand the difference between using the TM symbol and the R within a circle. So after some research:

A trademark includes any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination used, or intended to be used, in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from goods manufactured or sold by others, and to indicate the source of the goods.  In short, a trademark is a brand name.

The federal registration symbol, the R enclosed within a circle, may be used once the mark is actually registered in the USPTO. Even though an application is pending, the registration symbol may not be used before the mark has actually become registered.

When you want to figure out if something has actually become registered try using the
Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). (Don't government search engines get cute names?)

Other sites of interest while doing my research:

March 17, 2008

The Word ‘Just’

Filed under: Rants/Musings — cangione @ 8:56 pm

'Just' is a four letter word that has no place on development projects.  That's right, I advocate an all out ban on the word! No exceptions.

When trying to estimate the amount of work it will take to complete something, using the word 'just' as a bridge makes it easier to estimate things optimistically.   A.H. Weiler once said "Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself". I would add the word 'just' is that man's best friend

I actually make a game out of banning the word on my projects or during conversations where I'm trying to get to the bottom of something . It is amazing to me how the conversation changes when descriptions  like "Then the file is just downloaded to the desktop." are not allowed. In this example, either the file is downloaded to the desktop or we are using the word 'just' to gloss over the fact that 5 other things need to happen to the file on the way to the desktop!

When you use the word 'just'  enough on a project,  it can make three years worth of work seem like something that can be accomplished in 3 months!  Kurt Alder said "Tradition is what you resort to when you don't have the time or the money to do it right". The quote works equally well with the word 'just' instead of 'tradition'

Don't fall into the 'just' trap!

November 28, 2007

The Wrong Side of the Road

Filed under: Rants/Musings — cangione @ 5:23 pm

Salt Lake City Airport  is in the middle of a large project to reorganize the airport parking situation. Instead of two lots they have consolidated long term parking into a single large lot with new shelters while you are waiting for the bus. The new shelters are beautiful in comparison to the old airy steel ones they used to have. The only problem is that they are situated on the wrong side of the road! So when the bus comes you have to walk across the road in front of the bus to board.

Rumor has it that the reason the shelters are on the wrong side of the road is because the company designing the new parking lot didn't bother to consult with the bus drivers and planned to have the bus start from the far side of the lot.....So before dropping off a single passenger in the lot, the bus had to drive 1/4 of a mile to enter the lot...... In practice the route didn't exactly work out very well. I don't think it even made a week. So now the buses enter the lot from the "wrong end"  but start dropping off and picking up passengers very quickly at the various stops.

Am I the only one that thinks some studies and modeling could have been done to have avoided this situation?  So as I stand at the nice new bus shelters on my way to a consulting engagement and before crossing the road to catch the bus, I always remind myself to make sure that I talk with the various end users of a system I'm designing! I hope this approach will ensure that none of my creations end up on the wrong side of the road!

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