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This blog will be primarily aimed at innovative educational techniques but will however have the occasional post about education in general.

Friday, January 7, 2011

My Saga with SMART Notebook Document Writer

I am a huge fan of the SMART Notebook software from SMARTtech.  The software will work with any interactive whiteboard and it is very user friendly.  I have been using the software in my classroom for 3 years now and love it.  One of the “coolest” things you can do with this software is “print” anything you want to SMART Notebook.  Let’s say you have a PDF document that has a great picture of the human brain and you would love to be able to project it so all your students can see it and mark it all up using SMART Notebook.  No problem!  Go to “File – Print” and rather than printing to a “normal” printer, change the printer to “SMART Notebook Document Writer” and click print!  In moments, your PDF is magically “printed” to a new notebook!!  This will work with any program that you can print from.  Just change the printer to “SMART Notebook Document Writer” and watch the magic happen!!

I use this feature a lot!  Then, one day not to long ago…. tragedy happened.  When I would try to print to SMART Notebook, what I ended up with was a mess!  It appeared like the font was all wrong!  Look at the pics below:

The original PDF document:

image

What I got when I printed it to SMART Notebook:

image

As you can see it is not pretty.  After a few emails and a LOT of searching for a solution I almost gave up!  I thought to my self, “It worked before!?!?  Why does it not work now?!?!  What is different with my computer from August 2010 to December 2010?!?” I tried everything SMARTtech wanted me to do (make sure everything is up-to-date, remove and reinstall, try it on another computer, blah, blah, blah……) Then, late at night, it hits me…. What if it is not a SMARTtech problem but an Adobe problem? I have always used either Adobe Reader of Adobe Acrobat Pro to view PDFs, what if that was the issue? 

It was then that I remembered I had a PDF viewer on my PortableAPPs enabled USB drive.  I fired it up, loaded a PDF, printed to SMART Notebook, and crossed my fingers, toes and arms even though I really thought it wasn’t going to work.  And wouldn’t you know it? It worked perfectly!!!   Happiness and jubilations ran through me!!!  I knew I had to pass this on to other teachers, so I decided to find the PDF viewer I used.  It is called SumatraPDF .  I went to the website, found the download, installed it on my computer, and tried to print to SMART Notebook again.  Hitting the print button with complete confidence I was slapped in the face when it did not work!!  I got the same messed up font again!!?!  How is this?  It worked just minutes ago…. what is going on?!?!  After a brief “spaz out” moment (and a few words, because hey, it is getting late and I am tired) I took a closer look.  The version I downloaded was Version 1.2 and looking at my portable apps version it is Version 1.1!  OK, we are on to something here!!!

Back to the website, I found a link to download previous versions.  Clicked and “looky there”, Version 1.1!!  Downloaded it, installed it, fired it up, loaded the same PDF, print to SMART Notebook, and…….. Success and jubilations once again!!  It worked!!!

So, the only thing I can think might be happening is the PDF specification has “changed” and SMART Notebook has not “updated” it’s drivers. (NOTE: this is only my OPINION and in no way should this be taken as a derogatory remark about SMARTtech.  They are an awesome company and have high quality products and excellent customer service.)

In summary: if you are having problems using the SMART Notebook Document Writer follow the link below to get Version 1.1 of SumatraPDF and try it.  Hopefully it will work for you!

Sumatra PDF Version 1.1