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Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Optical Character Recognition With Google Docs

Google Docs is testing a biggie.....the ability to perform OCR of an image. All you have to do is upload a high-res image (JPG, GIF, or PNG) that is less than 10MB  and the Google Docs OCR technology extracts the text from the image. Currently it is slow, frequently reports errors and is buggy. If they can get this worked out, its going to be extremely popular since there are very few free OCRs on the market. I will definitely take advance of this since I have a ton of scanned journal articles that I couldn't find .pdf files of. 


Monday, 28 September 2009

Google Docs Improves Forms and More...

Recently, the Google Docs team added a few improvements to forms and the documents suite. Page breaks can now be added to forms and questions appearing on forms can now change depending on responses (this is known as logic branching). Besides this, subscripts and superscripts can now be placed in Presentations (a huge time-saver) and equations can now be added to documents with a LaTeX equation editor; this latter feature is not present in Presentations or Spreadsheets and is very limited compared to the Zoho equation editor. Also, the resolution of the equation is really low. So it still looks like Google Docs is playing catchup with Zoho. 



Google Docs Equation Editor

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Google Docs Gets A Viewer

Well, Google Docs finally got their act together and decided to put out a viewer. It's OK, and in terms of file types, it is very limited compared to Zoho; only .ppt, .tiff, and .pdf can be viewed with the Docs viewer whereas the Zoho viewer can view .doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx, .ppt, .pptx, .pps, .ods, .odp, .odt, .sxw, .sxc, .sxi, .pdf, .html, .rtf, .txt, and .csv. So the Docs viewer may be good, but is very far away from great.


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Saturday, 26 September 2009

Zoho's Document Viewer Gets Overhauled

Zoho's viewer, which is used to view and share documents online, recently got a few improvements. The biggest one is the list of files that can now be viewed online, quite impressive. For more details on this, simply check out the embedded document below (click on it to cycle through the slides). Zoho really does have a good thing going hey?

My Love of Online Office Suites

Approximately 2 years ago I was introduced to Google Docs, I was truly amazed with it!! I was overwhelmed with the fact that documents (no Presentations back then) could be edited and saved online. Since this introduction, I have switched from a mostly desktop user to a cloud (web) based one. I have fallen in love with accessing my documents from anywhere, having the ability to edit documents simultaneously with others, the ease of publishing documents to the web, not having to worry about backing up and creating copies of files, and the excellent price.....it's free!!! Like all cloud techies, I've been giving other offerings a try,  such as Zoho and Thinkfree (I'm still waiting on the web version of Office) and all have some very promising features.


So, this blog will cover all of the news regarding online office suites. I'll be talking about how it  works in the real world where some still haven't heard of Web 2.0 and some give a strange look when  the "cloud" is talked about. Hope you enjoy!!

Monday, 7 September 2009

Web Apps For The Upcoming Academic Year

The new academic year is getting erringly close, so instructors like myself will be looking at new programs/applications to aid in the teaching process. Here are few of the apps that I plan on using for the academic year:
  1. Prezi: Sitting through slides can get boring. Prezi, the "zooming presentation editor" provides a different take on presentations. All of your ideas/information are present on a large whiteboard, and as you go through your presentation, the app zooms into the appropriate content (see video below). Editing is somewhat basic, but the zooming effect is extremely visually attractive.



  2. Screen Capture Videos: Last year I tried to instruct new programs to my students by step-by-step insturctions on a webpage or by taking a trip to the computer lab. This year I'm going to abandon the webpage idea because it is just so time consuming. Instead, I'm going to create screen-capture videos with Jing, a simple program that easily captures screen movements, allows narration, and easily uploads to YouTube. Once on YouTube, students can view the instructions from anywhere and even on their mobile.

  3. Google Docs: This won't be a new app, but I am will be taking advantage of the new features like Drawings and Tables, and the latest revamp of forms will allow me to collect information, anonymously, on student backgrounds and their input on my instructing. I've also created a whiteboard page (almost completed) where students, teaching assistants, or myself can post questions, comments, or useful material. Finally, I'll be getting my students to use the spreadsheet mapper tool.
I'm most excited about Prezi. I feel that it's going to change the way presentations are given, and I think the major players in office apps will create something similar. It's going to be a fun year!!