Two Printses

There's two kinds of idiot. Those who think they know everything and those who can't do anything. The arrogant and the reliant, the worthless and the helpless, the penpusher and the eternal helpline user.

The latter couldn't find their arse with both hands, the former...are the arseholes. Fortunately, this post is about the ones with searching hands. I like searching hands.

I got a call yesterday, from a company that prints greetings cards, menus, invitations and the like. They'd been sent a PDF from a customer - who'd asked that it be amended, urgently, before printing. So the shop wanted to know how to open a PDF, how to edit a PDF, and by the way what was PDF anyway?

PDF is Portable Document Format, and it's the format of choice for ebooks. You open it in Sumatra if you like small simple programs, Foxit if you want something a little more sophisticated, Adobe Reader if you like pointlessly bloated software, and Adobe Acrobat if you're rolling in cash and you really need to edit the document.

If you do want to edit the document - the one you've just created in a word processor - you should go back to the wordprocessor document and edit that, before turning the result into a second PDF. Or if you're a stupid and lazy customer, you ask the print shop to do some free graphic design for you. In this case, the print shop that doesn't know what a PDF is - and calls me to ask.

So what is this document anyway? It's a list of names - some of them with grey boxes drawn around them, probably put together in ten minutes by someone running MS Word 2000.

I use Word 97 myself - it's small, fast, almost never crashes, looks good and does everything I want. And Windows 7 can't run it - just another small reason to hate Windows 7.

So, after ninety minutes and three telephone calls the man in the print shop finally agreed to do what I initially suggested - politely ask the customer to spend thirty seconds changing a name in a wordprocessor, or if they can't manage that, get their permission for the shop to forward the PDF to, um, an external contractor with a name starting with K, who will attempt to use software he's inherited but never used to change the frelling PDF.

The man in the shop decided on...the latter course of action. Sigh. And that's the last I heard.

The list was for a wedding. I bet they get lost trying to find the church.


  1. I think we should load all the idiots on this planet onto spaceships and shoot them into the sun.

  2. Seeing as it's piloted by idiots, they'd miss the sun. Though seeing as it's built by idiots, it probably won't take off.

    (Captcha: Shent, which sounds rude, somehow)

  3. Yeah, that's the problem with idiots... they're so idiotic that sometimes they're brilliant (although not very often).

    Next time someone asks you what a PDF is tell 'em it means Pretty Dumb Fucker.

  4. I hate being contentious, especially with you, but PDF is not the format of choice for ebooks (not mine, anyway). ePub is by far the best, as it's designed to reflow - unlike PDF which often doesn't.

    And a printer who doesn't know what a PDF is, is ... pants!

  5. @Household Goddess:

    The thing about trial and error is...trial works better.

    @Camy: PDF is not the format of choice for ebooks (not mine, anyway).

    I take your point. I should have said something like "PDF is the most commonly used format for ebooks" - which I'm pretty sure is still true.

    There's so many ebook formats - from Microsoft's useless .LIT to good old .TXT (in Project Guttenberg) to endless proprietary formats used only on one obsolete ebook reader...I gave up trying to keep track of them all.

    And the shop should indeed be called PantzPrintz.