Shared editing is still hard – why?

Having coordinated the editing of a shared document with about 100 pages I still wonder why I have not come across a really good solutions that work in a real life context. We were 10 people working on the document which also contained about 100 references various tables and graphs, which originated in spreadsheets. Our solution using (different version) of Microsoft Word and Excel on different platforms (Win and Mac) was at best sup-optimal. Track changes works great if I write something and someone else corrects it – but with a larger number of people creating and reworking the document just seems unmanageable.

We tried google-docs before, which is nice for joint editing but lack essential functions and is to my experience unreliable. We lost most of the document we created at some point. The same happened to one of our students writing up his project…

The purists argue that Latex and SVN is the solution – however if you have ever worked with real people outside the geek world you will know that it is not :-) and it would question if there was any progress in text processing in the last 20 years at all.

Is it only me who does not see the solution? Here are the requirements:

  • Shared editing of a document of considerable size (100+ pages)
  • Functionality required for larger scientific documents such as styles, (cross)-reference, creation of tables, etc.
  • Comfort functions in editing, such as spelling and grammar checking, auto completion, tracking of changes
  • Works in a heterogeneous environment including Macs and Windows and across administrative domains (e.g. people can be behind different firewalls)
  • Automatically creating a backup of the document every few minutes
  • Integration of other media (e.g. images) and data sources (e.g. spreadsheet tables)

What is your solution? I think mine (email and copy and paste) is not really the optimal one….

In comparison to some years ago awareness, video and audio conferencing with skype works very well – but again for application sharing I have not seen a perfect solution that works in real live – any suggestions?

PS: our final and printed document missed 115 spaces (a known error from exchanging docx between Windows and Mac)

Shared editing is still hard – why?

Having coordinated the editing of a shared document with about 100 pages I still wonder why I have not come across a really good solutions that work in a real life context. We were 10 people working on the document which also contained about 100 references various tables and graphs, which originated in spreadsheets. Our solution using (different version) of Microsoft Word and Excel on different platforms (Win and Mac) was at best sup-optimal. Track changes works great if I write something and someone else corrects it – but with a larger number of people creating and reworking the document just seems unmanageable.

We tried google-docs before, which is nice for joint editing but lack essential functions and is to my experience unreliable. We lost most of the document we created at some point. The same happened to one of our students writing up his project…

The purists argue that Latex and SVN is the solution – however if you have ever worked with real people outside the geek world you will know that it is not :-) and it would question if there was any progress in text processing in the last 20 years at all.

Is it only me who does not see the solution? Here are the requirements:

  • Shared editing of a document of considerable size (100+ pages)
  • Functionality required for larger scientific documents such as styles, (cross)-reference, creation of tables, etc.
  • Comfort functions in editing, such as spelling and grammar checking, auto completion, tracking of changes
  • Works in a heterogeneous environment including Macs and Windows and across administrative domains (e.g. people can be behind different firewalls)
  • Automatically creating a backup of the document every few minutes
  • Integration of other media (e.g. images) and data sources (e.g. spreadsheet tables)

What is your solution? I think mine (email and copy and paste) is not really the optimal one….

In comparison to some years ago awareness, video and audio conferencing with skype works very well – but again for application sharing I have not seen a perfect solution that works in real live – any suggestions?

PS: our final and printed document missed 115 spaces (a known error from exchanging docx between Windows and Mac)

>Shared editing is still hard – why?

>Having coordinated the editing of a shared document with about 100 pages I still wonder why I have not come across a really good solutions that work in a real life context. We were 10 people working on the document which also contained about 100 references various tables and graphs, which originated in spreadsheets. Our solution using (different version) of Microsoft Word and Excel on different platforms (Win and Mac) was at best sup-optimal. Track changes works great if I write something and someone else corrects it – but with a larger number of people creating and reworking the document just seems unmanageable.

We tried google-docs before, which is nice for joint editing but lack essential functions and is to my experience unreliable. We lost most of the document we created at some point. The same happened to one of our students writing up his project…

The purists argue that Latex and SVN is the solution – however if you have ever worked with real people outside the geek world you will know that it is not :-) and it would question if there was any progress in text processing in the last 20 years at all.

Is it only me who does not see the solution? Here are the requirements:

  • Shared editing of a document of considerable size (100+ pages)
  • Functionality required for larger scientific documents such as styles, (cross)-reference, creation of tables, etc.
  • Comfort functions in editing, such as spelling and grammar checking, auto completion, tracking of changes
  • Works in a heterogeneous environment including Macs and Windows and across administrative domains (e.g. people can be behind different firewalls)
  • Automatically creating a backup of the document every few minutes
  • Integration of other media (e.g. images) and data sources (e.g. spreadsheet tables)

What is your solution? I think mine (email and copy and paste) is not really the optimal one….

In comparison to some years ago awareness, video and audio conferencing with skype works very well – but again for application sharing I have not seen a perfect solution that works in real live – any suggestions?

PS: our final and printed document missed 115 spaces (a known error from exchanging docx between Windows and Mac)

What portion of research time is spent writing proposals?

The next European deadline is close and hence everyone is writing proposals…

I wonder if someone has assessed how much work goes into proposal writing on a European scale. On one hand I see the value of forcing researchers to write proposals and to articulate their ideas but on the other hand it seems a great lot of research could be conducted if senior people would use this time for doing actual research. In proposals formulating the actual core of the research idea is exciting (often even more exciting than carrying out research) but this is only one part of proposal writing. But what would be an alternative for deciding what research to fund?

Having spent a 30 hours in Lancaster improved our idea and we got a good step forward…

PS: Birthday is a perfect day for finding out which companies have you on your mailing list

What portion of research time is spent writing proposals?

The next European deadline is close and hence everyone is writing proposals…

I wonder if someone has assessed how much work goes into proposal writing on a European scale. On one hand I see the value of forcing researchers to write proposals and to articulate their ideas but on the other hand it seems a great lot of research could be conducted if senior people would use this time for doing actual research. In proposals formulating the actual core of the research idea is exciting (often even more exciting than carrying out research) but this is only one part of proposal writing. But what would be an alternative for deciding what research to fund?

Having spent a 30 hours in Lancaster improved our idea and we got a good step forward…

PS: Birthday is a perfect day for finding out which companies have you on your mailing list

>What portion of research time is spent writing proposals?

>The next European deadline is close and hence everyone is writing proposals…

I wonder if someone has assessed how much work goes into proposal writing on a European scale. On one hand I see the value of forcing researchers to write proposals and to articulate their ideas but on the other hand it seems a great lot of research could be conducted if senior people would use this time for doing actual research. In proposals formulating the actual core of the research idea is exciting (often even more exciting than carrying out research) but this is only one part of proposal writing. But what would be an alternative for deciding what research to fund?

Having spent a 30 hours in Lancaster improved our idea and we got a good step forward…

PS: Birthday is a perfect day for finding out which companies have you on your mailing list

Finishing my term as External Examiner at Trinity College Dublin

Over the last three years I have been regularly to Dublin to act as external examiner for the Ubicomp MSc course. For me this was a good experience to see how serious The School of Computing at Trinity College takes external quality control and how well processes are managed. And besides the administrative part I saw a great many interesting MSc dissertations over the years. Even though the term has come to an end I hope to travel to Dublin in the future too – perhaps on Holiday to see more of the city (which I did not really manage …)

PS: recession seems to have hit Ireland – I have never seen such short queue in Dublin airport – and it is definatly not the selfservice machines that reduced the queue …

Finishing my term as External Examiner at Trinity College Dublin

Over the last three years I have been regularly to Dublin to act as external examiner for the Ubicomp MSc course. For me this was a good experience to see how serious The School of Computing at Trinity College takes external quality control and how well processes are managed. And besides the administrative part I saw a great many interesting MSc dissertations over the years. Even though the term has come to an end I hope to travel to Dublin in the future too – perhaps on Holiday to see more of the city (which I did not really manage …)

PS: recession seems to have hit Ireland – I have never seen such short queue in Dublin airport – and it is definatly not the selfservice machines that reduced the queue …

>Finishing my term as External Examiner at Trinity College Dublin

>Over the last three years I have been regularly to Dublin to act as external examiner for the Ubicomp MSc course. For me this was a good experience to see how serious The School of Computing at Trinity College takes external quality control and how well processes are managed. And besides the administrative part I saw a great many interesting MSc dissertations over the years. Even though the term has come to an end I hope to travel to Dublin in the future too – perhaps on Holiday to see more of the city (which I did not really manage …)

PS: recession seems to have hit Ireland – I have never seen such short queue in Dublin airport – and it is definatly not the selfservice machines that reduced the queue …

What did you do last Weekend: Soldering a radio kit and trying out a Sony Walkman

What did I do with Vivien the last weekends? We soldered a radio receiver kit (retro style) and it worked – there are still plenty of stations on the air all over Europe. Nowadays you have to make quite some effort to find interesting electronic kits – besides the radio we got a candle light simulator (it is an LED controlled by a PIC microcontroller that imitates a realistic flickering candle in the form factor a small candle).

Do you remember the Sony walkman? It was at the time quite a revolution – looking at it now it looks a bit bulky. The BBC4 program “electric dreams” featuring a fast-forward through technologies from the time I was born till now was very entertaining and it brought back a lot of memories … ups getting old :-(