Removing conditional text with ExtendScript in FrameMaker

November 27th, 2014

I’m currently cleaning up a bunch of conditional text in an Adobe FrameMaker book. I need to reduce eight conditioanl tags down to two. Because of the complexity of the content and the required updates, I can’t simply just delete the tags or the text en masse – I have to go through the book and figure it out item by item. It makes me pine for the Content Map feature of SmartDocs for Word, which wouldn’t reduce the manual processing, but would greatly reduce the time I have to spend searching for condition tags.

Coincidentally, I cane across a series of blog posts by ExtendScript guru. Rick Quatro, in which he explains how to manage conditional tags in ExtendScript. What he’s put together won’t help me in my current project, hut it does give me hope that he, or someone else, will be able to write an add-in for FrameMaker to make managing conditional tags easier.

It is easy to delete Condition Formats from a FrameMaker document in the interface. If you try to delete a Condition Format that is use, you will be prompted on what to do to the conditionalized text:

With ExtendScript, things aren’t so easy. If you delete a Condition Format programmatically, the conditionalized content is always deleted along with the format. There is no “option” on the Delete function to make the text unconditional. If you want to keep the text, you will have to remove the Condition Format from any text (and table rows) where it is applied.

DITA Open Toolkit 2.0 now available

November 26th, 2014

Robert Anderson has announced the availability of version 2.0 of the DITA Open Toolkit. From the dita-users list email:

Last week at the first DITA-OT Day, we were excited to announce the availability of DITA-OT Release 2.0. This release has been under development for a long time now, and comes nearly ten years after the initial release of DITA-OT 1.0.

DITA Open Toolkit Release 2.0 includes the following significant enhancements:

  • New dita command line tool provides a simple command interface
  • XSLT stylesheets have been converted to XSLT 2.0
  • Processing order of keys and conrefs has been changed to optimize processing speed for many documents
  • Initial preview support for many features from the upcoming DITA 1.3 standard
  • Major refactoring to remove unused, out of date, or deprecated code in Java and XSLT
  • Faster PDF output generation

For details on these and all enhancements and fixes, see the complete release notes at

I had a skim through the release notes and there are a lot of improvements and bug fixes.

Russia to launch new heavy-lift booster

November 25th, 2014

Russia is close to launching a new heavy-lift booster to replace the aging and failure-prone Proton. The Angara 5 is a completely new booster that uses new engines that are an upgraded version of those used on the Zenit and Atlas 5 launchers. Lets hope the engines are more reliable than the ones that the Antares booster used.

Weighing 773 metric tons (852 tons) when filled with kerosene, liquid oxygen and hypergolic propellants, the Angara 5 is the biggest Russian launcher to debut since the Energia rocket for the Soviet Union’s Buran space shuttle flew in the late 1980s.

The booster is formed of five rocket cores each fitted with an RD-191 engine built by NPO Energomash of Khimki, Russia. Engineers derived the single-chamber RD-191 engine from the four-nozzle RD-171 and dual-chamber RD-180 engines flying on the Zenit and Atlas 5 launchers.

When it is cleared for liftoff, the Angara 5 rocket’s five kerosene-fueled RD-191 engines will generate nearly 2.2 million pounds of thrust to power the massive booster off the launch pad at Plesetsk, a military-run space base about 500 miles north of Moscow.

Global warming may make our winters worse

November 24th, 2014

It seems counter-intuitive but global warming may be making our winters worse. The reason – the melting of Arctic sea ice is changing the path of the jet stream  – remember last winter’s polar vortex? It may become a permanent fixture.

Back in 2012, two researchers with a particular interest in the Arctic, Rutgers’ Jennifer Francis and the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Stephen Vavrus, published a paper called “Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes.” In it, they suggested that the fact that the Arctic is warming so rapidly is leading to an unexpected but profound effect on the weather where the vast majority of us live — a change that, if their theory is correct, may have something to do with the extreme winter weather the U.S. has seen lately.

In their paper, Francis and Vavrus suggested that a rapidly warming Arctic should interfere with the jet stream, the river of air high above us that flows eastward around the northern hemisphere and brings with it our weather. Sometimes, the jet stream flows relatively directly from west to east; but other times, it takes long, wavy loops, as in the image above. And according to Francis and Vavrus, Arctic warming should make the jet stream more wavy and loopy on average – some have called it “drunk” — with dramatic weather consequences.

Note that the article is from the Washington Post, hardly a source of left wing propaganda.

Old Time Radio Shows

November 23rd, 2014

Here’s a vast collection of old radio shows from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. The collection includes X Minus One, which featured much classic science fiction with stories by Robert A. Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Murray Leinster, Isaac Asimov, and many others. I remember listening to some of these when I was a child.

Unfortunately you can’t download the shows for offline listening, but they offer three players so you should be able to stream the episodes on most devices. Or you can download them from the Internet Archive site (the link is for X Minus One).

New online SF magazine

November 20th, 2014

There’s a new online science fiction magazine, Terraform, part of Vice’s Motherboard online site. They plan on publishing new short stories each week starting with stories by veterans Cory Doctorow and Bruce Sterling.  It’s a good start.