Friday, December 25, 2009

Using Scribd

Hi folks.

There's a major new series coming for the Race Engineer blog. We'll be covering setup sheets in quite a bit of detail.

And, we're going to offer content for download in the Setup Sheet series, as well as in future ones. I'll be using If you're not familiar with the site, it's sort of analogous to iTunes, only for documents instead of music and video.

Every document will be available free as a PDF, either to print or download. Not free beer, not free lunch, but the best I can do in a blog.

Many will also be available for purchase in the native format, which will typically be XLS. For forms with a lot of formatting and information, like setup sheets, this will save quite a bit of time compared to creating your own version from scratch. For real engineering tools, you get all the calcs behind the visible input and results.

I puzzled some over pricing. Some of this stuff is pretty simple, but some of it represents literally days, if not weeks, of work. Radiohead's pricing strategy of letting the user decide how much to pay was intriguing, but Scribd doesn't work that way. I do need to get something for my effort, but on the other hand I want to make this stuff widely available. In the end, I decided to make the forms $10 each, unless they are really simple. You're already paying that for an album download on iTunes or Amazon. And it's waaaaay cheap compared to the time you'd spend duplicating it. Real engineering tools will be priced according to their content.

The imbedded PDFs will display a frame from Scribd. Preceding each will be two links, one to the PDF, one to the native format.

Click the PDF link to print or get the free download.

Click the native format link to purchase. There will be a big yellow button "Buy Now" on the right side of the screen which takes you to the typical online purchase dialog to enter your credit card info.

The Scribd site asks you to register to get the free download or print. Wish they didn't do that, but at least it's free. Oh well...

As a sample, here's a setup sheet for an IRL car in 1998. Left or right click on the Scribd window to activate the various controls, zoom, and so on.

PDF - Print or Free Download
XLS - Purchase Download

Please drop me a comment if all this doesn't work correctly for you.

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