Posted by: Bruce Allen | May 15, 2008

OmniFormat– REVISITED

Consumer Price Index, Real Terms, 1913 - 2007

Since I posted this article on May 15, I’ve been unable to get OmniFormat to work at all.  Worse yet, one of the screens freezes on my computer, necessitating a full re-boot to eliminate it.  I’ve removed the software and re-downloaded it, reinstalled it, and nothing helps.  I’ve cleaned my registry.  Either I have some corrupted files in my machine, a distinct possibility, or the downloads have changed, or the company wants you to go straight to the paid product.  I really miss OmniFormat, and hope the company is still offering this great little free tool.

(Ahem) This is my very first post that might be even a little bit helpful to you readers. I’m blushing.

One of my struggles getting established in this line of work has been securing, preparing and/or stealing brilliant graphics intended to bolster my arguments, however weak, and which are properly formatted to upload to my blog. WordPress wants .gifs and .jpgs, in a world full of .pngs, .mhts, and .pdfs, not to mention .docs and .xlss. Sure, there’s probably software out there available for purchase that will convert all of the formers into the latters. But I’m interested in the free stuff. Free stuff for free people, just like in the olden days of the 60’s.

It’s pretty easy to convert most stuff to .pdfs, as there are a host of freeware packages available via your basic Google search. But .pdfs don’t get you showin’ off on WordPress. Getting stuff to convert to .gifs and .jpgs has been, up until now, a struggle.

For the most part, with a small grain of salt, the struggle is now over, thanks to a product called OmniFormat. The downloads are numerous and silly, and you are forced to look at a screen commercial, toggling a time-out window, until it boots up. This is the price you pay for free stuff. If you upgrade to the paid version, you don’t have to sit there listening to your whiskers grow. Cheap SOBs like myself will wait the bastards out, until I start generating more volume, at which point I will happily upgrade. Here’s how it works.Nominal vs Real Crude Oil Prices 1946 - 2007

Go to omniformat.com. Download the OmniFormat Version 8.3. Then, download the two part (!) PDF995 junk, (stuff you don’t really need if you’re already capable of printing .pdfs) to your desktop. Open all three icons, install everything, and delete the icons. From your Start menu, go to your Program list, find the new OmniFormat file and open the program.

Here’s where it’s no longer really free. Here’s where you need a cup of coffee, a phone call you must make, a grocery list to prepare, etc. At this point the free version of Omniformat will make you sit there and wait, deleting a pop-up that will, if left unattended, reduce the speed of the non-load from glacial to zero. You probably have to kick it 10 times before it’s done. And it messes with you, too, starting out fast, slowing to a crawl, speeding back up a little, teasing you, then the progress bar stretches a little, and so forth. It probably takes around 90 to 120 seconds to finish. Do yourself a favor–only open it once a day. Collect a folder of files you want to convert, then open the program once. Maybe leave it open until you log off, just in case.

It’s worth it. It is virtually seamless in converting whatever you got into whatever you need, including all our digital file types, Office extensions, etc. Now, I can create a spreadsheet in Excel, graph it, convert it to a small .jpg file, open it in Microsoft Office Picture Manager, crop it, etc., and then save it in the destination file of my choice. Being careful of copyright violations, it is literally possible now to capture any image, convert it to a blog-friendly file format, put lipstick on it and hit “publish”. And it’s really fun if you’re creating your own stuff, for instance, to use in your ongoing alarmist shrieking about oil prices, inflation and interest rates.

Here’s the best part. Once everything is up and running–all downloads, installs, waiting around, everything is done–OmniFormat works in a truly magical, almost childlike way. You drag and drop a file or a bunch of files into the sinister sounding OmniFormat Watch File. Once assembled, you specify the type of output file you wish. Then, you choose whether to Start Monitoring the files, as if they’re trying to sneak off, or the Single Pass, which always seems to work for me. You close the file, hit the button, and watch another progress bar, but this one only takes 10 seconds. You re-open the file, and, as if by magic, all of your files are there, but they are now all .jpgs or .gifs or whatever you wished for. You fished your wish!

CPI Inflation vs GDP Growth 1950 - 2007

Now that I know I can post the work I do in Excel, plus the stuff I steal online (lol), I must start taking better care to produce charts with clear legends and graphics. Watch out, Investopedia, I’m getting my numbers together. There are some resolution issues to deal with, but the hard part is done. It’s OmniFormat, available almost for free, today.


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