Proof-listening

I’ve been writing a lot of reports lately at work. I’m a fairly good writer when it comes to this kind of thing. Like most people, I make grammatical mistakes and leave words out of my sentences every so often. Especially, when I’m in the zone with my writing and trying to get all my thoughts out before I forget them. I catch a lot of this stuff when I’m proofreading my work. Sometimes I would print out the page and read it like that. For some reason that helps a little. Another thing that helps is to let someone else proofread it for me. However, sometimes I don’t want to bother anyone else because they are busy too. Some kinds of mistakes are hard to catch. My brain knows what I want to say so if I skip a work or use the wrong one I sometimes won’t see it.

This is a little technique that I came up with back in college. I’m probably not the first one to ever do something like this I’m sure. I call it proof-listening. Adobe Reader has a nice little feature called Read Out Loud. By downloading a PDF printer and opening the document in Adobe Reader, you can use this feature to listen to your document and catch all of those silly mistakes.

Here’s what you need to do. Download a PDF printer. I mention BullZip PDF printer because its free. Install the printer when it gets finished downloading. Flip back to your document you are creating and go to the print menu. You should see the PDF printer and select that one and click print. Save the file to somewhere you can find it like your desktop.

Open you new PDF file in Adobe Reader. Under the View menu, go to the bottom where is says Read Out Loud. Select Activate Read Out Loud. Get some ear buds so you don’t disturb your coworkers and plug them in. When you click on a paragraph Adobe will read it back to you in a robot voice. Read along while listening and scan for hard to find mistakes. Fix the ones you find in the word document and print again if you need to. Depending on how much time you have, go through your document several times to get a flawless report or paper.

Hope this helps someone. Enjoy!

Crowdfunding The Future

The more I think about crowdfunding lately, the more I realize how good of a thing it is. If you are not familiar with crowdfunding I would like you to check out Kickstarter. Kickstarter and similar sites are doing something truly unique. They are letting people decide what kind of products, services, and entertainment they want in the world.

The way it works is there is a financial goal to do a project and a deadline to reach that goal. People go to the site and decide whether they want to fund your project and for how much. If the goal is reached by the deadline, then all of the money is billed and the project gets the money to make it happen. If it doesn’t reach the goal, everybody gets their money back.

The great thing about this is we are again using the internet and technology to take a middleman out from between what products go to market and the people who will consume them. In every industry there are people who are responsible for deciding what kind of content people will like and usually this input shapes the goods and services we have available. This is the recording industry, the movie industry, the gaming industry and so many more. Sometimes these people are good at their job and the world receives great treasures that are wanted and enjoyed. Its when they don’t that we get product that nobody wants. Then something even worse happens. The companies who make the rejected products try to cram it down the public’s throat or do forced marketing to try and make the products cool.

The world is always changing and people are changing. Big companies in charge of making money and staring at the bottom line don’t usually want to change what they are doing.

Crowdfunding is solution to some of these problems. It gives people what they want. Even if a large piece of the population is happy with what is given to them, there is always a subset of us who are wishing things existed. Crowdfunding is a solution to a problem that puts a sick feeling in my stomach. That is when a great idea is beat down by the money over everything mindset. I think this will push innovation and put those middlemen out of business. If not, at least get them listening to the people.

Cryptocurrencies

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One of the more interesting things I’ve seen over the last few years is the rise of cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin is the largest of the cryptocurrencies so far. It seems to be a natural progression that eventually the world will adopt digital and nation-less money. However, it is kind of interesting that we are hearing about all of these new cryptocurrencies all of the time. Some nations have come out and banned Bitcoin. Last year the value of the Bitcoin spiked and it brought a lot of attention to the currency.

Bitcoin got its start in 2009, but has really come into popularity in the last couple years. I don’t think Bitcoin is going to be around forever. I think Bitcoin is an innovative idea that is working to test ideas about the future of money. With the way technology is going and increasing, it just kind of seems obvious that the future of money is going to be in digital format. When everyone is carrying things like smartphones these days, I believe payment using devices like a smartphone will be eventually become a secure and regularly accepted way to pay for things. Our money is already basically in a digital format anyways. I basically never use cash ever. My check hits the bank on payday and the bank cards are used for every transaction. Whether I would be spending dollars or some sort of cryptocurrency would not really make much of a difference.

They are going to keep coming out with different versions of crytocurrencies, but I would not recommend buying into anything at this point. You would probably lose your money. I suspect some of these crytocurrencies are just short term financial schemes to pad the pockets of the creators involved. Even with Bitcoin being the first and largest, its value is still very volatile. Unless you are looking for some kind of short term risky investment, I would suggest staying away. I imagine one day the world can standardize something like this and agree on a currency acceptable all of over the world. I’m not an economist, but I imagine something like this could help stabilize financial systems over the world. Especially since one of the things about cryptocurrencies is that they are usually limited in the amount that can be circulated. This is to simulate the limited amount of precious metals and to solve some of the problems with currencies like the dollar. In the US, the currency is devalued when more money is printed. This has become a trend and is devaluing the money at a quick rate.

Again, I’m not an economist so do your own research and form your own opinions. I think cryptocurrencies will end up being a good thing when the time is right. I would not suggest being an early adopter. It is the wild west of cryptocurrency and it will be interesting to watch and see how everything plays out over time.

 

Photo Credit: Ava Callie Photography. Copyright 2014

Wearable Tech Vs. Privacy

There is no denying it. The internet of things is upon us. Wearable tech is inevitably going to be a part of our lives. Its already started and will be ramping up over the next few years.

People are already having fits about Google Glass and it hasn’t made it out of the paid beta testing yet. There was a story just last week about a man that was detained for wearing it into a movie theater. To the MPAA, this is about the equivalent of walking into the theater with a HD camera strapped to your head.

It may be a gray area as to whether you can use these devices in movie theaters, but are they going to be able to enforce a ban on these kinds of devices when they are released to the masses? Google Glass may not be the one to do it, but something like this will become popular in the near future. They will be bundling glasses when you buy your smart phone.

I’ve heard stories of restaurants and bars across the nation banning them also.┬áIn public where does your right to privacy end exactly? Someone could be recording just as easily with a smartphone, but it is only somewhat more noticeable. Being in out in public is exactly the opposite of privacy and it would be safe to assume that you have none and should act accordingly.

I believe people will push back for a while, but inevitably the technology will win out. The music industry did not beat the MP3 file and movie industry won’t beat this. We’ll just have to get used to the idea that we may be being recorded by somebody’s little device.

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