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Updated: 2 hours 25 min ago

Adobe FrameMaker 12.0.3 patch released

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 05:34

I see that Adobe has released a new patch for Frame 12:

A new patch (12.0.3) has been released for FM12. It is available for direct download at:

For the 17 enhancements and 28 fixes see the readme file at: Adobe FrameMaker 12.0.3 ReadMe.pdf

I had a look at the PDF and there are some enhancements to the table feature: drag and drop rows and columns and navigation  with the arrow key (more)

Some grim thoughts on ISIS

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 05:50

Charlie Stross has a short and pungent post about the current situation in the Middle East that pretty much echo what I’ve been thinking for some time.  The whole mess is largely a result of the US invasion of Iraq in 1993. And it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

And you know something else? If George W. Bush hadn’t had such a raging hard-on for Saddam Hussein, if he hadn’t railroaded everyone into invading Iraq, this needn’t have happened. Al Q (more)

NYT recipe archive online

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 05:14

The New York Times has put its archive of recipes, some 16,000 of the them, online in an attractive and searchable web site. The site includes a recipe of the day and editors’ collections such as Meaty Main Courses for the Fall and Rosh Hashana Recipes. The search feature includes popular categories, such as gluten free, and there are many options for filtering results.

I like this site and I’ll definitely be coming back to it.


A useful Acrobat feature

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 05:47

The other day I created a PDF of one of our manuals so I could easily search through all of the files – something that I couldn’t do without otherwise creating a Word master document (and I don’t want to go there right now). The manual consists of 26 files plus a front matter file that contains the RD fields used to pull in the information for the table of contents and index.

Acrobat XI has a feature that lets you create a PDF from multiple files or a directory of files. It works fine, other than being a bit slow. However, because our manual’s file names don’t inc (more)

Chaos Manor Reviews is back

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 12:34

Jerry Pournelle has resumed publishing his computer review column, Chaos Manor Reviews, which was the successor to his influential Byte Magazine column. It’s been on hiatus for about three years, while he recovered from radiation therapy to treat a brain tumour. He’ll still be writing a monthly column, but it’ll be published in weekly installments.

Pournelle has been writing about computers for more than 30 years which brings a perspective to his column that many younger reviewers lack. While I don’t agree with his p (more)

The great 1952 space program

Sun, 09/21/2014 - 09:59

Here’s a largely forgotten piece of space exploration history. In 1952, the magazine Colliers assembled a panel of experts to develop a plan for the exploration of space, including trips to the moon and Mars. By modern standards, it was incredibly grandiose, and it probably wouldn’t have been practical, but it was certainly inspirational.

io9 has an overview of the series along with some of the wonderful illustrations. Horizons, the newsletter of the Ho (more)

U.S. to have two new manned spacecraft

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 18:00

NASA has finally picked the companies that will build capsules to carry astronauts to the International Space Station. Both Boeing and SpaceX have been selected. Having two different vehicles (and launchers) is a good thing.

After a four-year competition, NASA has tapped the commerical spaceflight companies SpaceX and Boeing to launch astronauts to the Internatio (more)

More worries about Ebola

Sun, 09/14/2014 - 18:44

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa continues to spread with no signs it is slowing down – indeed, just the opposite. Epidemiologists are beginning to get worried – seriously worried.

Some may ask why the United States should play this role. Well, no one country is doing enough. We have the expertise and the personnel to tackle this chall (more)

Some info on API technical writing

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 19:00

Documenting APIs (application programming interfaces) is one of the most difficult tasks for technical writers. But if you have the talent and some programming knowledge, it can be rewarding, both intellectually and financially. Writers who can document code are in high demand and are paid at the high end of the scale.

Sarah Maddox recently gave a talk about documenting APIs to the STC Silicon Valley chapter. She’s posted a lot the material from that talk online alo (more)

Franklin Expedition ship finally found

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 19:53

The big news today wasn’t from Cupertino. It was from much farther north. Much farther.

One of the ships from the lost Franklin Expedition has been found. The announcement was made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. While admittedly, Harper is a history buff and is known to have a particular soft spot for the Franklin Expedition, the news was big enough to warrant his attention. After all, people have been looking for those ships ever since they went missing more than 170 ye (more)

11 CSS Learning Tools and Resources

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 05:18

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are one of the web’s most useful technologies. I have a nodding familiarity with CSS – I’ve been using them since 1997 or thereabouts, but the standards keep evolving. So I was glad to see this article from that lists 11 tools and resources for learning CSS. I doubt that I’ll ever use CSS 3d tansforms, but it is nice to know they’re available. For my purposes (tweaking the look and feel of my online help and documentation) the (more)

Facing a Waning Future

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 05:02

It seems that we may lose one of the great observatories – the Lick Observatory, currently run by the University of California. While the observatory’s main telescope, a 91 cm. refractor, has long since been surpassed by far larger telescopes, it still fulfills an important role in training astronomers and testing equipment that will be used on more modern telescopes.

However, the University of California plans on cutting funding for the observatory in 2018, effectively shutting it down. The Daily Californian has a long article (more)

Don’t worry about the holes

Sun, 09/07/2014 - 17:09

There was some buzz recently about strange holes found in the Siberian permafrost – giant craters (80 metres across, 100 metres deep). The most likely explanation was that they were formed by the release or explosion of large pockets of methane. There was some speculation that this could lead to increased global warming, because methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

It turns out that it’s not something we likely need to worry about, as (more)

Rdio worth checking out

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 20:07

I haven’t paid much attention to streaming music services as until recently, most didn’t have much to offer Canadian music fans. I did sign up with Rdio a while back, used it a bit, and forgot about it, until I saw this article on Mobile Syrup. They’ve updated their site, service, and apps (if you want to use them on mobile – I don’t) and now have quite a huge selection of music to offer Canadian listeners. Like most such services, they have (more)

No, Arctic sea ice is not recovering

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 19:38

Debunking an article about climate change in the Daily Mail is something like shooting fish in a barrel, but sometimes it just has to be done. Phil Plait takes on the task this time as he rips the Mail a new one.

David Rose is oftentimes the wielder of that sledgehammer. He’s written error-laden climate articles in the past, like saying that (more)

Battle of the Heavyweight Rockets

Tue, 09/02/2014 - 05:06

Last week, NASA received the go ahead to proceed with development of its Space Launch System, a bloated multi-billion dollar 21st century version of the Saturn V, designed to eventually launch a manned mission to Mars. It’s so expensive that they’ll only be able to afford to launch it once every two or three years, which doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence. Meanwhile, SpaceX is proceeding to develop a new high-thrust liquid oxygen/methane-based engine that will power its Mars Colonial Transport, an even more powerful rocket that will probably cost one tenth as much (more)

Falcon 9R failure due to faulty sensor

Fri, 08/29/2014 - 18:21

Last week’s explosive failure of a Falcon 9R test rocket was due to a sensor failure in one of the engines. The test vehicle didn’t contain the multiple sensor voting system used in the commercial Falcon 9 rocket.

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said in a statement Tuesday that the cause of the prototype rocket’s demise was a “blocked sensor port.”

Garrett Reisman, who heads SpaceX’s effort to develop a private space taxi for NASA astronauts, said Wednesday th (more)

More on Iceland

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 18:16

The situation in Iceland is getting worrisome. There are signs that magma is moving from the Bárðarbunga volcano to the Askja volcano. This means that both volcanoes could erupt. More information, and even more speculation, in the comments section.

More worrisome is the possibility that deep magma may be forcing its way to the surface and that could lead to a much larger (more)

Complete Feynman physics lectures online

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 06:23

The complete Feynman lectures on physics are now online in a multi-device friendly HTML5 format. The three volumes cover the core of physics and although some topics, like quantum physics, have advanced quite a bit since Feynman gave the original lectures in the 1960s, they are still a landmark publication. Fair warning: to really understand these, you’ll need to know some calculus and algebra – first year university level should (more)

10 tips to become a Wikipedia master

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 05:15

Although Wikipedia may not be a perfectly authoritative source for research, it is still an incredibly useful resource if you’re aware of its limitations. It’s also a very deep resource with many features that most people never touch. Gizmodo has published 10 tips that will help you master Wikipedia. For example, I didn’t know you could do this:

1. Create ebooks and PDFs for offline reading

Wikipedia has a built-in Book Creator tool that you can take advantage of (more)