How to better use the Adobe Connect features and do tweaks for your virtual events

Below is a running list of tips and tricks for getting the most out of your Adobe Connect sessions.

Hosts, presenters, and meeting attendees alike, can better their virtual meetings’, events’, and courses’ experience using these tips. Use the share buttons to help your network increases the mileage they get from Adobe Connect.

Meeting experience

  • For a smooth experience, connect using a wired Internet connection and close unnecessary VPN connections or proxies, WiFi hotspots, etc.
  • To know the quality of your network connection, click on the green button on the upper right corner of the meeting window. (More help.)
  • Use a solid-colored background image in an Adobe Connect room. Use your logo, if any, but do not use an image. Click Meeting > Preferences and then General. (More help.)
  • Avoid awkward silence in the room while you wait for the quorum, by uploading some music in MP3 format to a Share pod. (More help.)
  • Stop mousing around and prevent RSIs by knowing your way in an Adobe Connect meeting room using the keyboard. Click on Help > Keyboard Shortcuts in a meeting room. (More help.)
  • When ending a meeting, you can customize the message that is displayed to the attendees. You can use basic HTML tags in this message to format it. This is specially useful, when you want to leave the participants with a follow up action item, key takeaway, or your contact information after a session.
  • When ending a meeting, enter a URL in the Open This URL For Everyone field. It’ll open in the browsers of all the attendees, as soon as you end the meeting. You can direct participants to a resource page, your social media channel, a page seeking poll or feedback about the session, donation page, etc.

Pods

  • Before clearing your chat or Q&A pod history, you can email the contents to your email ID. (More help.)
  • While presenting you can turn off the chat notifications, to do a distraction free presentation. If possible, have a co-presenter monitor the chat or Q&A pod. (More help.)
  • To extend the functionality available in your Adobe Connect sessions you can create extensions or use the existing ones. See a list here.
  • You can delete all types of unused pods in one go. Go to Pods > Manage Pods, click Select Unused, and click Delete. (More help.)
  • Drag and drop a supported type of content on the Share pod to upload and share it quickly. (More help.)
  • If you do not want to have a webcam feed in your meeting room, say to conserve bandwidth, upload a photograph in a Share pod so everyone can see you.
  • If you wish to share some content across multiple meeting rooms, upload it to the Content Library and then share. Content added to a Share Pod is available only that particular meeting room.
  • Change the default color for your messages in the Chat pod. This helps others easily locate your messages from all the chat happening in the pod. (More help.)

For the Presenters

  • To change a layout during an ongoing meeting, use Prepare Mode. The preparation does not impact the live meeting. (More help.)
  • If the design of your slides is supported in Adobe Connect, upload it to a Share pod. If fonts or animations are not supported, then sharing the screen with PowerPoint open. It gives better quality & occupies less bandwidth. (More help.)
  • Presenters can use more than one Chat pod. Use a Chat pod in the Presenter Only Area (POA) to share information only between the Presenters. (More help.)
  • You can unsync you presentations or longer PDF files or quizzes to allow participants to absorb the contents independently, at their own pace.

Recordings

  • To edit the meeting recordings precisely and place your in and out markers accurately, pause where you want to place the markers and double click the marker. (More help.)
  • To get different chapters in the ‘TOC’ of your recording, use different layouts for logically different parts of your meeting. See the tip about renaming layouts.
  • When you are not sure of your audio set up, say when using UV and telephony, do a test recording of a few seconds before the actual virtual session by logging in from multiple devices and using all possible scenarios like speaking into the microphone, using mobile devices, and from a telephone. Revisit the recording to check for echos and to ensure that all audio streams are present in the recording.

In-meeting audio

  • To ensure clear audio through your microphones, especially when your seating, environment, or hardware changes, use the Audio Setup Wizard from the Meeting menu. It detects background noise and adjusts your audio accordingly. (More help.)
  • To avoid ‘echo’ or feedback, request participants in advance to not use a speaker and a microphone adjacent to each other. For example, a computer speaker and a mobile phone’s microphone or a computer speaker and a headset mic. When the speaker will blare out audio, the mic will pick it up and you’ll have feedback in the meeting room. You can test your own set up by either joining as a participant from a second device or by recording a 10 second meeting and listening to the recording. Also, a host can create a Notes pod in a meeting room that contains just this request for the participants.
  • You can selectively mute one or more attendees, without stopping or muting the audio conference. (More help.)

Courses and curriculum

  • When you add or remove items from a curriculum it impacts learner transcripts. If you really have to change curricula after enrolling learners, let your learners about the changes. Learners must log in to the curriculum to update their status.
  • If you are creating e-learning content using Adobe products, know that Adobe Presenter is best suited for rapid e-learning content based on Microsoft PowerPoint and Adobe Captivate is best suited for creating training materials or screencasting demos.
  • If a learner takes a course outside of a curriculum, ask the learner to log in to the curriculum once. The course completion status available in the curriculum is automatically updated.

Share the tips and tricks that you use with the wider community–post a comment below or blog your tips and share a link below.

Adobe Acrobat quick tips and best practices for Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

In this rolling set of tips, I am sharing tips and tricks to use OCR in Adobe Acrobat.

  1. First tip has to be about the wonder called OCR! You can make your scanned images searchable by running OCR on them. Also, you can extract text from ‘image PDFs’ by doing so.
  2. Before you scan a whole lot of documents to OCR later, scan one paper at different settings and run OCR to see how the results are. Use the settings that gives you the least number of OCR suspects.
  3. To get the best results from OCR, use ClearScan. It generates smaller file sizes and looks better at a given DPI. For an in-depth description, see this article.
  4. When scanning documents customize the options to improve the quality of the scan and hence the quality of OCR. The settings I find useful are highlighted in the following screenshot. See this help article for more details.
    My Acrobat scan options in Configure Presets
  5. Create as high quality scan as possible. Expect a good OCR if the image is 300 dpi or better. 600 dpi is good enough for most common purposes.
  6. Acrobat cannot OCR a page that is more than 45 inches in any one direction.
    Maximum PDF page size for Adobe Acrobat OCR
  7. You can add files other than PDF documents by selecting ‘In Multiple Files’.
    OCR on multiple files in Adobe Acrobat
  8. You can run OCR on an entire folder by selecting ‘In Multiple Files’ and then ‘Add Folders’.
    OCR on a folder in Adobe Acrobat
  9. You can disable OCR when scanning files. You may want to do so, when scanning many files and you have limited computing power! In the Configure Presets dialog for scanning, deselect ‘Make Searchable (Run OCR)’.
    Configure scan presets in Acrobat for scanning
  10. If you have a choice, do not use text over bright or dark graphics in the source to be scanned. Such text is not recognized properly during OCR, as the contrast between the text and the background is not high enough.
  11. To enhance contrast, and hence the probability of a good OCR, turn on the darkness of the text and the lightness of the background to maximum, while scanning. Also, use a black and white setting, instead of color or grayscale scan.
  12. Make sure the printed paper is lying flat on the scanner bed and aligns with the edges of the bed. Former may lead to folds and hence distorted text in the scan. Latter may lead to text at an angle in the scan. Both types of scans are not a good source to run OCR on.

More Acrobat and OCR resources:
Help and support page for official content: https://helpx.adobe.com/acrobat.html
Acrobat user community: http://acrobatusers.com/

Share as comments, the OCR tips from your experience.

Launch multiple instances of Acrobat Professional

You are running some complex work flow or Action on a large PDF document in Adobe Acrobat Professional and it hangs preventing you from working on another PDF document, in parallel.

Your Acrobat process crashes (feel lucky for being an audience to a rare phenomena 🙂 ), taking down unsaved work and you wish you could ‘sandbox’ the critical work from the regular work.

Because of a troublesome PDF document, you have to end the Acrobat.exe process using the Windows Task Manager. You wish other open PDF documents remain open and unaffected.

You are commenting in and annotating one PDF, while referring to another and do not want your comment to auto-close.

If  you relate to such instances, launch multiple instances of Acrobat, as different processes using acrobat /n command.

Command to launch multiple instances of AcrobatAnd if you are wondering if these really are different instances/processes and not just different windows, see the following screenshots.

Acrobat multiple windows

Acrobat multiple windows

Multiple Acrobat processes in Task Manager

Multiple Acrobat processes in Task Manager

Checking specific content across multiple guides in a documentation suite

If you have multiple documents in a doc suite and wish to check one or more content strings across them, read on to find out how you can do it using Adobe Acrobat.

Possible scenarios when you may need to do this are locating mentions of:

  • Product terminology for editorial or legal review.
  • Companies’ trademarks and third-party terms to check if proper symbols are applied or not. Or to apply them in the first place.
  • Product name/version in all docs, to update branding/versioning.
  • A feature or a keyword to do bug fixes across documents.
  • Keywords and related words for SEO purposes.
Use cases for searching content across docs napkin

Use cases for searching content across docs

Following are the various methods I use to achieve the search, indexing, and exporting search results for further action.

Method1

The simplest possible method is to dump all the files in a parent folder and run full text search from Windows explorer on the parent folder. Things to remember:

  • Entire content of plain text content like TXT, XML, and HTML files can be searched directly.
  • To enable indexing of various other file formats, install the corresponding iFilters. Get the download links from this Wikipedia entry.
  • On Windows 7, full text search is the default behavior. For Windows XP, to install Windows search 4.0, see this article. Some tips for advanced search are here.

Method2

If for some reason you cannot install/use indexing services on the OS, use a specific tool for searching. Like UltraFileSearch or WinGrep.

Method3

You need Adobe Acrobat and PDF documents to achieve this. This is my personal favorite as it gives a better user experience, is quite intuitive for anyone to follow, and fits well in the wider work flow. More details and video demonstration are in this post.

Method4

This is a subset of Method3 above. With free Adobe Reader you can run advanced search a folder full of PDF files. However, as the free Reader does not index PDF files, the search is slower.

See what works for you and let me know. Share you methods below.

Quick FrameMaker tips

Here’s a running list of FrameMaker tips I am compiling. I shall continue to update these, so feel free to bookmark and keep visiting this post 🙂

These are quick to read and are an immense productivity boosters. Happy authoring!

  • Refresh the display by pressing Ctrl+L, if the display doesn’t seem correct while authoring.
  • Create a new table row by hitting Ctrl+Enter.
  • Add a tab inside a table cell by pressing Esc+Tab.
  • Use FluidView format to preview documents. More info here.
  • Modify the ClipboardFormatsPriorities property in the maker.ini file, to change the order of Paste Special options or the default paste option. Use this Google search to find the relevant information.
  • Open the Paste Special dialog box, when pasting, by pressing Ctrl + Shift + V.
  • Apply character formats using Ctrl+8 or F8. See a demo here.
  • Apply paragraph formats using Ctrl+9 or F9. See a demo here.
  • Create a site dictionary containing organization-wide terms like, product names, company name, and so on. It helps all your writers use spell checking effectively. More info is here.
  • Run advanced searches in FrameMaker search window by using wildcards and some regular expressions. A list of wildcards is here.
  • Jump to hyperlinks and cross-reference destinations in a FM doc by holding down Alt and Ctrl while clicking an xref.
  • Lock or unlock a FM document using the shortcut Esc F l k. Or you can use the lock icon in the toolbar for Toggle View Only. Try this option if you suddenly cannot edit a document  in spite of having edit permissions on the file.
  • Use this desk pinup to quickly refer to keyboard shortcuts in Structured FM.
  • Use this mind map to quickly refer to keyboard shortcuts in Structured FM.

What quick tips do you have under your belt? Share them in the comments below. Feel free to add a link (or two!) for more details.

Analyze disk space usage and delete files to increase free space using WinDirStat

What would I ever do with this space?
I am not going to rip all my music CDs and keep them on the hard disk!
 
Low disk space error message on Windows

Low disk space error message on Windows

And then we get that dreaded pop-up balloon from the tray saying low disk space. Well, shit happens!

And while purchasing it, you wondered why would you ever need a 500 GB hard disk. Turns out, over a long time, your operating system or your software may end up doing what you resolved not to do–that is, fill up your disk space.

Many tools are available for analysis of disk usage. However, after trying a good number of those, I have settled for WinDirStat (WDS for short) for years now.

From its Wikipedia entry:

WinDirStat is a graphical disk usage analyzer for Microsoft Windows, notable for presenting a sub-tree view with disk use percentage alongside a usage-sorted list of file extensions that is interactively integrated with a colorful graphical display (a treemap).

Let me just share some salient points of WDS below:

  • WinDirStat allows you to not just identify the large files, but also delete them using something called ‘built-in cleanup actions’.
  • And all this while remaining extremely user-friendly. The generated views are sorted by file size, so that one can focus on the biggest offenders 🙂
  • Statistics about the file types help in quickly identifying the offending file types, as well.
  • It is completely free and available as a portable app too.

As an example, check below, an analysis my Windows 7 64-bit installation, which is ~1 year old now. 22.5 GB in just the Windows folder? Holy shit MicroSoft!

Space taken by Windows folder on Win7

Space taken by Windows folder on Win7

Format the date pattern in PDF forms using LiveCycle Designer

We have our own preferable ways to write the date format. Most of the great software honor this and allow users to configure the pattern of a date.

If you are creating a PDF form using Adobe LiveCycle Designer ES3, having a date format of your choice is a walk in the park. LC Designer offers many pre-defined formats for the purpose, and also lets you define your own custom formats using the building blocks, such as MM for month, YY for 2-digit year, and YYYY for 4-digit value of the year. Watch the video to see how do so.

For more information see the following links:
A complete list of Adobe LiveCycle Designer ES3 documentation.

Detailed information about date patterns in Designer Help.

Check out the Designer FAQ for more Q&A.