I've written a screenplay or two in my life. When the iPad was released more than a year ago, I imagined that it could eventually be a killer tool for reading and editing scripts, saving a trip to a printer or laptop. Well, so far, the iPad's been great for a lot of documents and publications...but a little slow on the uptake when it comes to the complicated formats of screenplays.
XPS files, where XPS stands for XML Paper Specification, define the layout, printing specifications, and other factors about a document. They're similar to PDFs, but are based on XML. Windows has a built-in XPS Viewer that opens automatically when you click an XPS file, but it's pretty basic. XPS Annotator is a free, full-featured, standalone XPS file viewer, document annotator, XPS-to-image converter, properties adder and editor, and digital document signing tool. It has familiar operations such as zoom, search, save, copy, and print to a variety of output options. It supports hyperlinks, too.
XPS Annotator is a compact … Read more
Longtime readers might remember the YouTube piano, an ingenious use of YouTube's deep-linking feature that turned a video with various keys on it into a working piano. This week its creators are introducing a follow-up that's slightly less interactive, but just as amusing, called YouTube radio.
Its function is to emulate an old radio with a tuning dial. Users can switch between the eight stations, which include pop, jazz, rock, and even one for cats (no, seriously). Each of these has been composed by musician Adam Ben Ezra, who was one of the co-creators of the piano project. … Read more
Mac users have several good choices available when it comes to bibliography-management applications. Bookends is among the best, and its trial version certainly merits a look from anyone who spends much time working with large numbers of academic and technical citations. This app makes it easy to search for, download, and organize reference materials, as well as quickly create tightly formatted bibliographies in a variety of word processors--including excellent integration with Mellel and Word 2008.
You can search across and save documents from any standard source, from PubMed, JSTOR, and the Library of Congress to Amazon, Google Scholar, and even … Read more
An interesting report from Princeton University regarding its pilot program to test Kindle DX units in an academic environment has revealed something notable: namely, that Kindles still feel awkward to students currently in college. Feedback from some students complained about the Kindle's annotation system being "too slow" to keep up with the thinking of a reader who wants to effortlessly mark up text. Others called the entire Kindle device "a poor excuse for an academic tool."
This matches a fear I've had since using my iPhone as a makeshift mini-Kindle, replacing my own reading of paper books for recreation and research: while I enjoy the portability and capacity that e-readers provide, their lack of tangible material creates a helpless feeling for those who enjoy note-taking, highlighting, or otherwise interacting with their books. Unlike my iPhone, however, the Kindle DX was intended to be a savior for universities, an educational aid to rival the old textbook industry. According to this first wave of Princeton feedback, however, it still has a long way to go.
Rather than focus on size or screens, maybe the real holy grail for e-readers of the future lies in finding ways to make digital text as easy to interact with as possible. Apple, we hope you're listening, because if the doorway's open for you to take over the e-reader industry with your magazine-redefining tablet, this might be the best path to true success.… Read more
PDF Annotator is a powerful program that allows users to make a variety of different kinds of notes on PDF documents. The program's many features and intuitive interface make it a great choice. We wish we'd had it when we were in grad school!
The program's interface will be familiar to users of Microsoft Office products. Nearly all of PDF Annotator's features are accessed through the program's customizable toolbars. Although it may not be immediately obvious what all the little buttons do, a few minutes of playing around with the program makes most functions clear. … Read more
We've been impressed with Diigo, a content sharing and bookmarking tool. It pulls double duty as a way to clip things from the Web, as well as share them with others. What makes the service really interesting is that you can use it to grab entire Web pages, and make annotations right on top of the content. Then you can share it with others, or view it even when the source site is no longer there, like a personal archive.
The service has a plug-in that lets you clip and save text from Web pages, or just page URLs … Read more
Webnotes, a service that lets you highlight and add floating sticky notes on top of live Web pages, now has a pro version. For $9.99 a month, users get the option to mark up not just normal Web pages, but PDFs too.
Some competing annotation services like Diigo and SharedCopy do not offer the capability to make annotations or leave highlights on PDFs, so this is a big deal for students and business users who are likely to run into them frequently while doing research.
If you come across a PDF you want to mark up, Webnotes can convert … Read more
Overlay.tv, a service that lets users add links, images, and even other videos on top of Web video has a new API for developers to build applications on top of its technology. The company has also put out a new labs page where developers can promote their applications and see what others have built.
One of the early stars of the bunch is a special YouTube uploader built using Adobe AIR. It lets you upload videos from your desktop without having to use YouTube's Web-based uploader. Once a file is up and hosted on YouTube you can then … Read more
In a move to make videos easier to understand without volume or for the hard of hearing, YouTube has given users the option of embedding closed captions that show up as semitransparent overlays. Caption files that have text dialogue synced up to the proper timestamps can be uploaded during the time of upload or afterwards, and YouTube has provided multiple language support to let viewers swap between different languages of a single video without having to leave playback.
Videos with closed captioning have it as an option in the lower right-hand corner menu; a part of the user interface that … Read more