From:         Patrick Douglas Crispen 
Subject:      Tourbus -- 5 Jun 03 -- Frogger / PDFs / UCE Study


The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved

Howdy, y'all, and greetings once again from deep behind the orange curtain in beautiful Irvine, California, a South American plant widely cultivated for its starchy edible tubers.

I want to thank the folks at the Alabama Educational Technology Conference [AETC] for inviting me to speak at their conference next week in Birmingham. That's right, folks, I'm going back to Bama! I may even have to dust off the old Southern Word of the Week next week to celebrate the occasion.

Anyway, if you're going to be at AETC, stop by and say hi. I'm doing nine, one-hour concurrent sessions and a six-hour hands-on Macromedia Dreamweaver workshop, so I'll be kind of hard to miss. I'm the one with the big ears: .

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On with the show ...

-------- Frogger! --------

Growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I spent many an afternoon in The Big Cheese Pizza at 41st and Garnett playing video games. And while my friends played Galaga, Defender, and Joust, most of my quarters went into the Frogger machine. I can't explain it, but there was something fundamentally cool about helping pixilated, low-resolution frogs cross five lanes of traffic and a river with a truly bizarre turbulent flow.

So you can imagine my excitement when I recently discovered that Frogger has been ported to Shockwave. That's right, folks: If you have Macromedia's free Shockwave player -- and you probably do -- you can play Frogger online! And I'm not talking about some cheap Frogger knock-off. No, this is the original, official arcade version. No quarters required!

Just point your Web browser to

An added benefit of visiting this site is that it will check to see if you're running the latest version of Macromedia's free Shockwave player and help you automatically download the new version if you aren't. Since Shockwave is a pretty useful plug-in, and since Macromedia released a new version just the other day, visiting Froggyville kills two birds (or frogs) with one stone: you'll update your Shockwave player AND get to play a classic 1980's arcade game for free.

If you've never played Frogger, the rules are absurdly simple. Just use your arrow keys to move your little froggy to one of the 5 inlets at the top of the screen without getting smushed by traffic, eaten by the alligators, or drowned by the river. Oh, and if you take too long, your froggy dies of old age.

That's it. Those are the rules. Kind of makes you long for the simple days when video game instructions didn't require an MA in electrical engineering, doesn't it? :)

Create Cheap PDFs

Talking about frogs, by now you've no doubt encountered a squillion Adobe Acrobat PDF files. [Yes, I know. I *really* need to work on my segues.] PDF files preserve the layout and appearance of an original document and, with Adobe's free Acrobat reader, can be viewed on almost any type of computer imaginable -- PCs, Macs, *nix boxes, handhelds, etc.

How do you create PDF files? Well, if you can afford it, the best way is to purchase Adobe Acrobat 6 from your local mom and pop computer shop. The street price for Acrobat 6 Professional is US$449 and the price for Acrobat 6 Standard is $299. Educators and students can get Acrobat 6 Professional for just under $100 from your college bookstore or

But what if you can't afford to buy Acrobat? Are there any other options? Yep. If you "compute with fruit," Mac OS X comes with built-in PDF functionality. Just choose Print Preview from any Mac application and then choose Save as PDF.

If you don't have a Mac, or if you only have a couple documents you want to convert, check out

All you have to do is create a free Adobe login and then upload up to five documents that Adobe will automatically PDF-ify for you. It's that simple. And since this service is Web-based, it doesn't matter what type of computer or operating system you have.

Once you have converted five documents, though, you have to subscribe to Adobe's PDF Online service for US$9.99 a month ($99.00 a year), buy your own copy of Acrobat, or download a shareware PDF printer driver like pdf995 for the PC at

or PrintToPDF for the Mac at

Neither printer driver is tremendously expensive. pdf995 is "annoyware" -- you can use it for free, but each time you do it will open a sponsor page in your Web browser. For US$9.95 you can disable this little "feature." PrintToPDF is $20, and works in Mac OS 7, 8, and 9. [PrintToPDF *kind* of works in OS X if your applications are running in "classic" mode, but why bother? OS X already ships with built-in PDF-making functionality.]

Another way to create free PDFs, one that borders on the dishonest [but is recommended by many research universities and national laboratories], is to print the document you want to PDF-ify as a Postscript file and then convert that Postscript file to a PDF using GhostScript. I think.

Robert Steinmetz posted some instructions (in PDF format, of course) at

but I don't pretend to understand how these instructions work. In fact, unless you are REALLY techno-savvy, this doesn't look like it is a particularly easy thing to do.

I hope this helps! :)

Update: UCE Study

After manually sorting 3,797 emails in order to investigate the impact of replying to unsolicited commercial email, I have come to a startling conclusion: your fearless bus driver REALLY needs to get a social life. No, really. I mean, COME ON: Who in his right mind would deliberately hand-sort 3,797 emails?!

Anyway, I haven't crunched any of my data in SPSS yet, but if you want to see a draft of what I have so far, point your trusty little Web browser to

The layout for this page was stolen directly from Yale professor Edward Tufte [see], so let's keep this between you, me, and the squirrels/frogs that taunt me so. :P

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That's it for today. Have a safe and happy week, and we'll talk again soon. :)

.~~~. )) (\__/) .' ) )) Patrick Douglas Crispen /o o \/ .~ {o_, \ { / , , ) \ `~ -' \ } )) AOL Instant Messenger: Squirrel2K _( ( )_.' ---..{____} Warning: squirrels.

The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved
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