4 reasons your PDF report can't be read on a small device

Having waxed lyrical about the joys of reading PDF documents on my Kindle instead of having to lug around a load of paper (see 5 reasons that educators should use a Kindle), I had a rude awakening today. I downloaded a PDF research report and fired it off to my Kindle, with the intention of reading it on the train. Unfortunately, it proved to be unreadable on my Kindle, and trying to read it on my phone was not exactly an unequivocal success either.

Think mobile

Think mobile

Here are the reasons, which I suggest ought to be addressed by anyone who decides to create a PDF. Google penalises websites that are not mobile-friendly. PDFs that are not mobile friendly will be penalised simply by virtue of the fact that people won't read them or pass them on to others. So thinking mobile is important if you want your stuff to be read.

Font is too small

One of the drawbacks of reading a PDF on the kindle is that you can't alter the font size. So if the font is too small to start with, that's a big disadvantage. On a phone you can expand the text, but at the cost of having to scroll horizontally as well as vertically. It's not a great experience.

Poorly contrasting colours

Trying to read orange text on a white background is challenging at the best of times. Trying to do so on a Kindle that displays only in black and white is next to impossible.

White text on a black background

It might look good, but it's much harder to read than black text on a white background.

All capitals

IT'S PRETTY HARD TO READ TEXT THAT IS ALL UPPER CASE (ESPECIALLY IF THE TEXT IS SMALL, AND EVEN MORE SO WHEN THE COLOUR SCHEME IS POOR). WHY DO YOU THINK ROAD SIGNS TEND TO BE IN LOWER CASE? LOWER CASE AIDS READING BECAUSE BY SEEING THE SHAPES OF THE WORDS YOU CAN READ THEM MORE QUICKLY, AND IT'S LESS STRAIN ON THE EYES.

Conclusion

These days, a huge number of people access web-based content on a mobile device. According to a recent report, by 2017 mobile devices will generate 68% of internet traffic.

Unreadable PDFs, in which form is considered more important than function, really ought to be relegated to the dustbin of digital history.

Review of Amazon Prime

I thought I'd review Amazon Prime today because there are quite a few substantial discounts for members for today only. For example, something I've been cogitating on for a while has nearly 20% off today. I've only talked about the UK site in this article.

Read More

Teaching computing, assessing computing, and a lot more

I'm on the final proof-reading stages of the latest issue of Digital Education. It's a free newsletter for people with a professional interest in ICT and Computing in education, ed tech, digital skills etc. This issue includes an article by William Lau on the 5 mistakes he made when teaching Computing, and an article by Sam Hunter on the ladders approach to assessing Computing.

For more information on what the new issue contains, read on.

Read More

What I've been reading: Computers, they drive us crazy!

It probably won't have you clutching your sides and gasping for breath, but may bring a smile to your face.

It probably won't have you clutching your sides and gasping for breath, but may bring a smile to your face.

I don't need any excuse to leap into the nearestsecond-hand bookshop when I'm out and about, but if I were forced to provide one, it would be this. You occasionally come across some real gems.

My latest find is “Computers: they drive us crazy!”, by Helen Exley and Bill Stott. Having been published in 2007, this now officially counts as an ancient document. You can try purchasing a new copy from Amazon, if you're prepared to wait until the book is in stock, which could be never. Alternatively, you could pay anything from a penny to almost £800 to receive it very soon if your idea of deferred gratification is having to wait for the tea to brew.

Because of the difficulty of acquiring this book I thought more than twice about writing a review of it. So regard this as an exhortation to visit used book stores and a plea to give cartoon books like this a second glance.

It's a slim volume, consisting solely of wry comments on technology in the form of cartoons. It's thin enough to get through in a single sitting, and while the jokes won't have you visiting hospital with cracked ribs, they will probably bring a smile to your face.

These comments pertain to this particular book, of course, but I think they probably apply to many if not all such books.

Are they good value for money, these books? Strictly speaking, not really. At least, I tend not to buy such things for myself. On the other hand, as a small gift for the geek in your life, or a little extra on top of their main present from you, a book like this can be a nice touch.

Here's the link to this particular book on Amazon, just in case you can find a decently-priced used copy: Computers: They drive us crazy!