Monday, May 22, 2006

Microsoft Reader disappoints

Monday 22 May 2006

"The Confessions of Street Augustine," says Microsoft Reader, reading to me from THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE.

A technology with, obviously, some rough edges.

After going to some trouble to install it, I found Microsoft Reader a disappointment, because the "largest" font is way too small for me to read comfortably on screen.

You have to take what Microsoft gives you and, if it doesn't suit, then tough.

I have a copy of Microsoft's Encarta encyclopedia on my computer, and, again, the problem is that the font options are way too small for me.

It's nice that the Reader can read aloud, but, since Adobe PDF files can also be read aloud, this does not, to my mind, represent a significant improvement.

When Microsoft Reader was originally recommended to me, I downloaded the free software, installed it, then found it required online validation.

Microsoft refused to accept my browser, demanding Internet Explorer instead.

Giving up, I abandoned Reader until a day when I was under less pressure. I had to change my Windows XP setup so web pages were automatically opened by Internet Explorer, and, having done that, tried to validate the software online.

But Microsoft rejected the version of Internet Explorer which came with the computer which I bought last year, so I downloaded and installed the very latest version.

Microsoft then went and installed a service pack on my computer. If I was asked if I wanted this to happen, the option of saying no escaped me.

With the basic package validated, I installed the supplementary package which makes Microsoft Reader capable of reading aloud.

Finally, I clicked on a Microsoft Reader file and was confronted by a totally cryptic opening screen. Pressing the PAGE DOWN key made the second page appear, and, at the bottom of this page, the reading controls appeared.

Having fooled around with the fonts and having found the size inadequate, I wondered if I could copy and paste the text into my plain text editor. This is my standard approach for dealing with Encarta articles.

I found I could use the mouse to highlight a portion of the text visible on the screen then copy it and paste it, but there did not seem to be any way to effortlessly copy the entire text.

Given a choice, I would rather have a book just as plain text, because then I can easily adjust the on-screen display or, using Open Office 2.0, make a pdf copy, if I prefer that option.

Having said that, messing around with Microsoft Reader has made me aware of the fact that there is a market of sorts out there, although how big it is I have no idea.

The conventional wisdom is that nobody ever made a commercial success out of the e-books route, but conceivably be something to investigate, when I have the time.

Time is in shorter supply than you might expect, given that I am not yet back at work. Today I made a first step, phoning up to answer one of the job advertisements in today's issue of THE JAPAN TIMES.

Meantime there is family life making demands on my time.

A crisis at breakfast today:

My daughter, two years of age, set up a piteous cry, declaring that she was hungry. In response, my wife asked if our daughter had finished her cornflakes. Answer: no. We adults, unimpressed, expressed our opinion that it was unreasonable to complain of hunger while being in the middle of an unfinished meal.

At this age, my daughter's default solution to the universe is to scream at it.

She has become a fan of the television novel screening on NHK at 0815 six days a week, a story in episodes of 15 minutes, which are about the length of her attention span.

Recently, eager for the program to start, she tried the screaming strategy, but this ploy failed to persuade NHK to advance its programming by the desired ten minutes.

She knows the word "piano" and has, in fact, hammered on the keys of at least two pianos that I know of, one being the instrument in my sister-in-law's house.


Blogger Deborah said...

Dear Cancer Bloggers:

This is a message to those of you who maintain/read/participate in blogs related to cancer. Might we request your assistance in an academic study about cancer blog usage?

My name is Deborah Chung, and I am an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications. My research focuses on the use of new communication technologies and their potential to empower information consumers. Currently, I am interested in examining how health information seekers, particularly cancer patients and their families/friends, adopt blogs.

I am teaming up with Dr. Sujin Kim, also at UK, who is an assistant professor in the School of Library and Information Science and has a sub-specialization in medical informatics. She has been working closely with the UK Cancer Center to build a biorepository information system (UK-BIS) for lung and ovarian cancer samples. Together, we would like to learn about how new information channels, such as blogs, are being used by cancer patients and their families/friends — specifically we are interested in their motivations, uses and consequences of using blogs.

As approved by our internal review board (IRB) at UK, this study is an anonymous survey that does not carry any risks to cancer patients. At the same time, we believe the information gathered from this study will greatly contribute to our understanding of the adoption of new communication technologies by cancer patients. This information will in turn assist in supporting the needs of cancer patients for future information technology and service development.

Thus, we would appreciate your participation in our survey. You can find the survey here. You might get a notice regarding the validity of the certificate. If that happens, please continue to proceed. If for some reason you cannot access the site, please try pasting the following address into your browser:

We appreciate your time, and thank you in advance for your help.


Deborah S. Chung, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
School of Journalism & Telecommunications
University of Kentucky

Sujin Kim, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
School of Library & Information Science
University of Kentucky

4:00 PM  

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