30 Aug

Efficiency Expert

“Efficiency Expert” by Edgar Rice Burroughs is a very entertaining story. I recommend reading it. More importantly, I recommend downloading it from the above link and using Microsoft Reader to read it for you.

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Look, there’s a lot of stuff out there that I’d like to read, but who has time. My employer seems to think that I should be doing the work they want me to do for like, what, 8 or 10 hours a day? I mean, in the face of these unreasonable demands upon my time, what kind of investment can I really make to books?

Well, Microsoft has come to the rescue. You have no idea how desperately you need Microsoft Reader. Seriously.

I can honestly say that it can make the most mundane administrative tasks whiz by. Whenever I’m faced with hours of brain-dead configuration or editing, I fire up Reader and put on my headphones. The odd Microsoft voice actually does great with pronunciation (better than the LH voices, IMHO), although it does take some getting used to…However, after a few minutes I don’t even notice. And with an endless source of free novels from The Gutenberg Project, I’m set.

Except for one thing. Gutenberg stuff comes down in ASCII text. And I need a .LIT file.

Well, with Microsoft Word Plug-in for Reader, I can reformat the text to LIT in a matter of minutes. I really need to create a macro to do this…matter of fact, I may do that and post it later.

Anyway, download a book from Gutenburg, and open it up in Word. Since this is for my own personal use, I strip out the legal stuff from my lit files. The examples I provide here, by the way, are NOT for distibution–and PLEASE don’t create them this way if you wish to distribute them later. Now then, on separate note to the Gutenburg Project: Please get it together. Place all that junk at the end–PLEASE!!! It is only of interest to those within the project team–the rest of us just want to read the story and hate looking for the beginning amidst a blithering onslaught of comments and notations.

And quit with the carriage returns!!! What is this, 1992? Sheesh!!!

Secondly, I select all and change the font to a Times New Roman. Please stay clear of the sans serif types, they look cool, however, for long term reading fonts with a serif are easier for the human eyes to identitify–thus upping the reading WPM.

Now, to deal with those carriage returns.

Click on Edit | Replace or Ctrl + H. Ad the parameters ^p^p in the Find field and /az/ in the replace field. You can use whatever you like there, however, /az/ is unlikely to be found in the “wild”, so it’s a safe bet. Click Replace All. This marks the place of all the actual Paragraphs.

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Now we will take out all the extra line feeds and replace them with spaces. You can’t see it from the picture, but there is a “space” in the Replace field.

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Next, we’ll put the paragraphs back in. Find all the /az/ placeholders we put in, and replace them with a ^p^p. That gives us a pleasing double-space between paragraphs.

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Cool. Do any other editing you like…but you’re kinda wasting time if text-to-speech is the goal. Now we’re ready to convert. Click the little reader icon that was installed from the Word plugin of which I spoke earlier.

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Fill in the information correctly here or it won’t appear in the Reader library properly. Annoying.

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And we have an ebook, folks. No flash photography, please. Put on the cans, and hit the play button. Now I’m ready to change a single parameter on several hundred servers…one-by-stinkin’-one. Or install my monitoring package to each machine on a new customer’s network.

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BTW, I highly suggest the Martian Tales of Edgar Rice Burroughs as well. Pure, fun, ray-gun science fiction. Have fun.

5 thoughts on “Efficiency Expert

    • or the kind that can even type complete sentences. Does that make me a candidate for microsoft reader?

  1. Thanks Joe! Enjoyed the book, I’ll have to check out Gutenburg. Is there a place to get better voices for Reader?

  2. Just a little side note: I’m not sure whether changing the font in Word has any bearing on the end result. I mean, the .LIT file might just be ascii text and Reader does the conversion to a easier-to-read font. I still do it because I hate Courier and I can’t be certain what might happen if I use the file on some other platform…

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