pdfsam/ PDF Split and Merge: Download without Adware

PDFSAM or PDF Split and Merge is a wonderful tool for working with PDF files (e.g. split one PDF into multiple files, join multiple PDFs into one file or reordering the pages within a PDF file).

Unfortunately, the default installer available from their home page or source forge comes bundled with some ‘free tools’ to improve your browsers search bar. Some adware scanners might thus strongly discourage you to use this otherwise awesome applications.

Thankfully there the developer also provides a download link for an installer without Adware. Just download any of the files from the link below and be sure not to install any unwanted additions:

https://github.com/torakiki/pdfsam-v2/releases/

You also have an option to leave a donation for the developer here.

The Delicate Balance Between Want-To and Have-To

Organizing tasks is no small effort as anyone who has tried surely knows. While a simple list of tasks suffices for a few days (the good, old To Do list), such lists customarily outgrow their format; there’ll simply be too many items and the list once devised to make our life more structured and organized becomes the very evidence that it isn’t.

However, there is a remedy to this situation and that is to devise some form of system according to which our tasks can be organized. Some common dimensions considered in such undertakings are given in the following:

  • Urgency: Can the completion of this task wait or does it have to be done right now?
  • Importance: How important is the result of the completion of the task for us?
  • Risk: How big is the risk associated with doing the task?
  • Resources Required: How much time and other resources are required to fulfil the task?

After we would have categorized tasks according to these dimensions, we could pick the most important, most urgent, or less risky tasks – which can be very useful. However, the more dimensions we consider in the system, the more complex and potentially unmanageable this system becomes. Thus, it is very important to focus on the dimensions which help us achieve our goals in the best possible way.

I assume here that the underlying goal in trying to organize our tasks is twofold: firstly, to get more things done in less time, and, secondly, to be able to live a happier and less stressful life. I want to argue that, in regards to this goal, the single most important dimension to consider is that between ‘want-to’ and ‘have-to’.

Evidently, there is no other sensible reason for us to engage in an activity apart from us having to do it or us wanting to do it. Unfortunately, it is often not obvious into which of these categories a task belongs.

Take for example brushing teeth. You might truly hate brushing your teeth and consider it an utter waste of time. Thus, come morning, evening and after lunchtime (if it were up to your dentist), the task of brushing your teeth easily falls within the ‘have-to’ category. But ask yourself the question WHY do you have to brush your teeth. If you are a child, clearly because your parents tell you to. But what if you aren’t? Maybe you want to feature a fresh mouth odour, maybe you want to avoid a painful procedure at the dentist, or maybe you want to have beautiful, white and shiny teeth.

You can do this exercise with any other chore of your choice. Think about something you have to do long and hard enough and you will surely discover that you only have to do it because of something you want.

Therefore I suggest here as the ultimate measure to become the master of your tasks rather than be mastered by them to identify their ‘want-to’ distance.  For all things on your lists of tasks you dread doing, think about how they are related to what you want to do.

This doesn’t help you to find out which tasks are important and urgent – but chances are you intuitively know what is important and urgent anyway and thus there is little value in writing this down. However, determining the ‘want-to’ distance of your tasks accomplishes something of far more value: it implicitly but inescapably reveals there are no ‘have-to’s in your life.

With this insight, you can do what you need to do with purpose – the strongest force known to make our lives successful and fulfilled.

 

Writing Tip: Portfolio of Questions

One of the beauties of most forms of written text is their linearity; that everything has a place between the beginning and the end provides a great aid for our mind to comprehend complex information. Our mind loves shortcuts, and taking messy, multidimensional reality into this compact single-dimensional form has therefore a tempting appeal.

We are often led to think of the process of writing as guided by the linear form of its end result. While there might be some enviable writers, who will start with character one on page one, to then proceed character by character to the last page; these are certainly the exception. After all, the process of writing almost always starts within the mess of reality; which staunchly resists to be packed into the linear shape we envision.

Bringing things into logical order from A to Z is an ability mostly associated with our slow, conscious logical mind. This mind, unfortunately, is not up to the infinitely complex task of creating beautiful and inspiring prose. This makes it so unpleasantly hard to write a text in that ultimate logical order.

This tip provides one strategy to break away from the linear output of the text while retaining some necessary structure and direction for the process of writing. The strategy is as follows:

  1. Start to build a portfolio of questions, you would like to be answered by your final text.
  2. Pick whichever question has the most appeal to you and write an answer.
  3. Constantly revise and extend the portfolio of questions to keep up with the sophistication of your understanding of the text.
  4. When all questions are answered to your satisfaction, compose a neat linear article from your answers to the questions.

If you find in step 4 that you cannot assemble a neat linear article from the answers you have composed. Then, go back to step 3 and create new questions or revise the existing ones, or go back to step 1, since you might have chosen a topic, which does not lend itself to logical linear discussion at this point in history.

Please note that the questions should not only be intended to form the body of your text but the combined answers should be able to form the entirety of the text to be written; including introduction and conclusion etc. Of course, coming up with such a set of questions is a skill in itself.

As for all writing tips, the observation of yourself is the key ingredient to success. What kind of questions particularly tempt you to write beautiful prose? With what scope of questions do you work best; with those requiring answers of half a page, or one page, or two pages?

All good writing is like a conversations. Putting questions into the center of organizing your text puts the reader in this center, too; since, in a good piece of writing, the questions your text answers should be the questions a reader asks.

Xtend Error: Cannot find class Consumer

Problem

When deploying you Xtend application to a different environment than your development environment you might encounter an error such as:

[ERROR] symbol: class Consumer
[…]
[ERROR] cannot find symbol

Solution

This error is caused by Xtend trying to use Java 8 features. It does so when your development machine runs Java 8.

For eclipse, you can fix this by using a Java 7 JDK under Window / Preferences / Java / Installed JREs. Then ‘Clean’ your project and all references to the Consumer class should be obliterated.

For Maven, you can find more information on this page.

Windows Explorer New: Add File Types and Templates

Right clicking within a folder of the Windows Explorer allows access to a convenient way to create new files through the context menu:

This post discusses a number of ways how this context menu can be changed.

Edit Menu With Handy Tool

ShellNewHandler is a useful tool to ‘clean up’ the ‘New’ context menu. Just download and run the application and deselect the options you do not need:

Edit Menu Through Windows Registry

Search for ‘regedit’ in the windows search and open the Registration Editor. The relevant entries for the ‘New’ context menu can be found under ‘HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT’.

Specifically, the relevant information should be under the key ‘.[filetype]/ShellNew’.

Set various values within this key to control the behaviour of the New context menu.

  • Adding a value with the name ‘NullFile‘ (and no value) will create a new empty file for the extension if it’s selected from the new context menu.
  • Adding a value ‘FileName‘ with a value of a path to a file will use the pointed to file as a template for creating new files.

References

Add file types and templates (Windows XP)

Reference for Registry Entries (Windows 95)

ShellNewHandler: Useful open source tool to remove entries from the ‘New’ context menu

SSL Certificate Comparison

With recent developments brining Internet security into the spotlight (such as heartbeat), SSL certificates are easily one of the cornerstones of any Internet-enabled application.

Unfortunately, a simple Google search does not easily reveal the best options for obtaining SSL certificates. Thus, I have compiled a small list of popular SSL certificate providers.

Free

StartSSL seems to be the way to go to get a free SSL certificate. Their desktop browser support seems reasonable but there might be problems with some mobile browsers and applications.

Low Price < US$10

Low price SSL certificates (for domain validation) can be obtained from resellers. GOGETSSL and namecheap seem to be good options. In my understanding, these issue essentially identical certificates to those obtained directly through RapidSSL or Comodo.

Medium Price < US$100

Further popular providers for SSL certificates are GoDaddy, RapidSSL and Comodo. All of these offer solid certificates trusted by most browsers and platforms (though, at present, GoDaddy certificates are not supported in the latest JDKs).

This list is specifically about the most basic form of SSL certificates, which only validate your domain and not your business name. However, I think for most applications these are more than enough. While for domain-only verification I would recommend the low-price options listed above, for business name verification I would recommend going directly to a more established provider.