13 April 2013

Adobe quackery

I recently bought a software license for Adobe Acrobat XI Pro. This version does have a few minor evolutionary improvements in comparison with older versions, but that is not the subject here. The subject is a small message that appeared today when I started Adobe Acrobat XI Pro, as can be seen in the picture.

It struck me, because of the sheer uselessness of it. Anyone who has bought a scanner in the last decade or so, knows that 'scanning to PDF' is about as standard an option as it gets. It is quick if your scanner is quick, and it is accurate if your scanner is accurate. So what's the big deal? I decided to click on the 'Learn How' link to find out what they had to say.

This took me to a web page with the title 'Scan to PDF' and the subtitle ''Leave a shorter paper trail by
 scanning to PDF'.

Better still, there was also a video on the page. It was called: ''Video demo: Scan paper documents to PDF". The text below it encourages one to view this video. Just look at the picture.

Why do I post this on House Of Quack? Because scanning paper documents to PDF is what this video does not show.

The person in the video shows how he converts a blog post into a PDF file. The person says that he can create a PDF from a scanner but, curiously, simply shows the menu option and does not show how, nor does he show the results.

On the other hand, he does show how to open a TIFF file and make it into a PDF. He also claims that, in Acrobat XI, the content is now editable and that he can reuse it.

The demonstration finishes with the person saying that any document he can print, he can turn into a PDF, and demonstrates it with a notepad document.

Strangely enough, while Adobe does not seem to have the energy, time or courage to show how they 'Quickly and acurately' scan paper documents into PDF files, it does have time and space to include a testimonial, as can be seen in the picture, and what does this remind us of? Yes, indeed. Quackery. Snake oil.

The testimonial is interesting, because it is both inaccurate and incoherent. Yes, an assistant (and a boss as well, if he/she is intelligent enough) can scan paper documents within minutes. The condition, however, is that these documents consist of no more than a few pages, or that the scanner is much faster than most scanners. Indeed, scanning more than 2 pages a minute is quite a challenge on most scanners that cost less than a thousand dollars, and requires a set of very nimble fingers indeed.

Worse, while faster scanners do exist, they will only do so for standard documents, not the smaller, oddly shaped, ultra-thin, folded, curled... documents one finds in real life. Acrobat is a piece of software and it will not make it possible for your scanner to undo these mechanical problems. In other words, Acrobat will only scan easily, quickly and accurately in conditions where not using it is almost guaranteed to be faster and easier than using it.

This means that the second sentence: 'Previously, someone might have spent hours assembling case documents.' is either irrelevant, or incompatible with the claim of the first sentence.

There seems to be something interesting about Margaret DiBianca, besides her writing of irrelevancies. Her name occurs 319 times on adobe.com. While this is not hard proof of anything, it certainly suggests some type of unholy relationship, yes?

Why is Adobe talking about this and then not showing anything? I don't know. Incompetence, maybe? Or could it be something more sinister?

In any case, while Adobe Acrobat XI Pro is a useful programme for certain applications, if scanning paper documents is the only thing you need, you do not need this programme at all, and Adobe's information is not helping to change anybody's mind.

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