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Adobe Moves Closer to Online Office Suite with Presentations, Spreadsheets, Premium Plans for Businesses

Adobe Moves Closer to Online Office Suite with Presentations, Spreadsheets, Premium Plans for Businesses

Lifehack_Presentation

    Long-time readers of Lifehack know of my ongoing love affair with Adobe’s online word processor Buzzword, since last year part of the Acrobat.com suite of online applications. “Love affair” is not too strong a phrase, either – I like the interface and ease of use so much that I was inspired to write a book, Don’t Be Stupid: A Guide to Learning, Studying, and Succeeding at College, just for an excuse to have something to use Buzzword for.

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    Last year, Adobe integrated Buzzword into Acrobat.com, adding online file storage and sharing, an online meeting space, and a file-to-PDF convertor, all accessible either through the website or through a very slick AIR application that runs on your desktop.

    I’ve been waiting for Adobe to take the next step with Acrobat.com by adding spreadsheets and presentations, and now they have. As Acrobat.com comes out of Beta, an online presentation editor and spreadsheet has been launched in Adobe’s Acrobat Labs.

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    Adobe has also announced premium plans for businesses, offering unlimited PDF conversion for their Premium Plus subscribers and 10 conversions a month for Premium Basic users (free users are limited to 5files per month), the ability to host larger meetings using ConnectNow (up to 20 for Premium Plus, 5 for Premium Basic users, and 3 for free users), and an unspecified (as far as I could find) increase in ability to store and share files. The rates are a little steep: $15 a month for Premium Basic and $35/month for Premium Plus – I think we have to assume that more features will be available down the line for business users.

    Presentations and Tables

    I won’t be upgrading to a Premium plan, since I’m just a guy, you know? I will be looking rather closely at the spreadsheet and presentation editors, though – that’s something I can use! Currently I use SlideRocket for presentations, and was hoping that Adobe would being something like SlideRocket’s very Adobe-esque interface to the Acrobat.com suite, and from first impressions, it looks like they have. It’s quite similar to Buzzword’s interface, as is Table’s (Adobe’s name for the spreadsheet editor), and since that interface is a big part of my love for Buzzword, I think I’m going to like this. A lot.

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    Acrobat_Table
      Tables incorporates a bunch of automated features – for example, columns automatically inherit the data format of the first cell entered. Take that,Excel! Better yet, it offers great collaboration features. Several people can work on a spreadsheet at the same time, with indicators showing you which cells other people are working on at any given time. If you need to sort or modify a table, you can enter “Private View” so that your changes won’t be reflected in the table others are working on.

      Unfortunately, tables isn’t exactly a spreadsheet – yet, I hope. It’s an easy way to present and organize data, but there is no way to add formulas or automate functions. But it’s a great table editor – hopefully spreadsheet functions will be added soon, and it would be nice to see the table editor as it stands incorporated into Buzzword, too.

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      Presentations is a little more refined, with a good set of tools and themes for producing quality presentations. Unfortunately, you can’t export to PowerPoint, only to PDF. However, the built-in presentation mode is pretty slick, and you can share the presentation online with anyone via email. Collaboration is slick, as in Tables – several people can work at the same time with suitable safeguards to prevent conflicts.

      With Photoshop Express, Adobe is creating a pretty nice suite of online apps. They are by far the nicest-looking and most pleasant to use of the recent crop of Web-based apps. I’m still waiting for Buzzword to add support for styles so it can be fully compatible with Word, and for all the Acrobat.com apps to be integrated with the Acrobat.com file storage and sharing repository – it’s simply odd that documents created with Buzzword are saved separately from all the documents you’ve uploaded, or that documents you’ve uploaded can’t be opened in Buzzword.

      But all in all, Adobe is putting out top-notch apps and deserves a lot more attention than they’re getting so far. Try out this latest crop of applications and see what you think!

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      The Gentle Art of Saying No

      The Gentle Art of Saying No

      No!

      It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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      But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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      What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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      But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

      1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
      2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
      3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
      4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
      5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
      6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
      7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
      8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
      9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
      10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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