Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The mysteries of technology

As you may have gathered by now, I rather love my iPad and use it all the time. When, for example, I get sent proofs of my books to check through as PDFs, I tend to fling them over to the iPad and read them on there, as I find it much easier to read a document that way than on a computer screen. But the only danger is that you are at the mercy of the quality of the software interpreting the PDFs, which don't have as straightforward a file format as an image file. I discovered this recently when I was looking at the proof of a page from an illustrated book I've got out later this year. Part of one of the pages looked like this:

You can see there's a statue of Galileo to the left and to the right, bleeding across to the next page is a strange bit of hieroglyphics like something out of the Da Vinci Code. Very nice, I thought, but what does it mean? 

So I sent a note to the editor, who came back swiftly, something to the effect of 'Isn't it obvious? It's Galileo's signature.' Well no, it wasn't obvious. But then I was struck with one of those IT inspirations. I thought I'd take a look at the same PDF on my computer. And this time, this is what I saw:

Now this is exactly the same file. All that I have changed is the device I'm looking at it with (and hence the software interpreting the PDF).

I'll continue to use the iPad to read PDFs as it is so much better an experience than doing it on a conventional screen. But in future, if anything looks strange, my first port of call will be to check what it looks like back on the old dinosaur machine.

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