Printed reference works – such as dictionaries, encyclopaedias, manuals, etc. –offer hostorically a sense of major quality and solidity, which is the reason why they are perceived as tools able to last over time. The purchase of a dictionary or encyclopaedia was based on the belief that future generations would benefit from it, and that kind of information would not have changed over time.

 

In fact, over the last few decades, reference works have evolved radically, in line with the great innovations that have affected the publishing industry: today there are available versions for computers, for mobile devices not to mention the myriad of online applications. However, despite the advantages offered by technology, certain crystallized habits remain difficult to scratch: if we need a dictionary, we are oriented to the traditional volume of paper in the bookshop, better if a well-known and consolidated author/publisher (it is useful, lasts in time, makes a good impression in the living room), while for the electronic version they prefer something free, often giving up quality.

Having worked for long time on the design of consultation tools such dictionaries and encyclopedias, it is very difficult to understand why it is better to spend more than double to use the same content, especially if we consider the pros and cons of the two alternatives.

Convenience

  • A dictionary/encyclopedia app offers the same content as the printed version, which is the result of years of work by the author, but costs less
  • An app can be installed on multiple devices (PC, smartphone, tablet, etc.) and is always available everywherever
  • Apps are generally updated periodically for free, while a new printed edition requires the purchase of a new volume at full price

Functionality

  • An app often offers the index of entries that allows you to search for matches by typing only a few characters
  • Search capabilities are much more flexible in apps. While on paper you have to browse hard, an app allows you to
    • Search for lemmas, also by approximation
    • Search the phraseology for all the entries in the work that contain the search criterion
    • Search for all text, finding all the entries that contain the criterion within the definition
    • Search selectively for scopes, for example, only in nouns or verbs
    • Store the history of searches made to quickly return to an item to be consulted
  • The interface of an app can be in multiple languages, allowing it to be used by users from other countries

A correct evaluation of these aspects should inevitably lead to the choice of an app compared to the printed volume, but the weight of the paper still contributes to distort the perceived value.

Times when computing was strictly reserved for IT gurus are far away. Increasingly powerful hardware has laid the groundwork for ever more intuitive user interfaces that allow to take advantage of the technology in no time.

However, this great user-friendliness is not much useful when it becomes necessary to go beyond the simple setup of a password, someone asks you to manually configure an email account, or you need to manage your ADLS router at home. The problem is that under this superficial layer of ease of use, there it is still a need to know the world of tech concepts that remain essential to use the myriad of devices that surrounds us. This is true for simple do-it-yourself tasks, but particularly to deal with study and work.

These are the basic principles that guided me in the design ” Informatica – Manuale di teoria ed esercizi ” for the series Hoepli Test, a book intended primarily for those who must prepare university admission tests, public or military competitions, but which is also characterized as a valuable reference tool to learn the basic concepts necessary to address the world of computing, both in terms of hardware and software.

The arguments are organized for large thematic areas balancing synthesis and completeness to provide an effective tool that allows learning all that revolves around computing science, from the developments of the first computers to networks, the internet and the latest communication tools.

Each area is accompanied by numerous practical examples. At the bottom of each area there is a series of exercises, always complete with commented solution, for a quick learning.
The book ends with a glossary of terms to recall all the main concepts that must be part of everyone’s computer baggage.

In recent years, we’ve seen significant progresses in the software: in many sectors, such as graphics and publishing, programs have been created that have redefined the standard in processing processes. However, all this power does not guarantee that those who use them are a good graphic or a good editor. The same happened with the Internet.

Having a site has become a must for bloggers, professionals and companies. To this end, there are numerous tools, platforms and templates that allow you to create sites with extreme ease and speed, with the result that many believe and submit themselves to professional web designers.

Actually, creating and managing a site effectively requires professionalism, experience and a combination of factors that involve various skills and abilities. Here are some questions to ask those who will have to make it happen

Layout: simple and immediate

Pages that are too crowded create confusion and frustration among visitors, forcing them to examine large amounts of links and images to find what interests them. Simplicity makes websites easier to use.

The first impression is always the one that matters, and also applies to websites. The choice of a good graphic design is essential to retain visitors and encourage them to continue browsing.

Intuitive navigation and consistency

Nothing is more frustrating than the impossibility to find what you are looking for on a website. The pages must be well organized, with an optimized hierarchical structure that allows easy access to the various sections of the site.

The visitor should not feel like visiting a new site every time he opens a page. Consistency is essential as a reassuring factor and helps to make navigation easier.

Responsive or not?

Web sites can be accessed now from any device: computer, smartphone, tablet, etc. It is therefore essential that the site appears correctly on every device and on every screen, making sure to implement a responsive style.

Contents are critical

As beautiful as it is, a site with confusing and unclear contents is just an empty shell. It is essential to know the purpose of the site well and to create targeted content in line with the message to be transmitted. Always remeber that the mouse is like a remote control …. just one click to go elsewhere.

And the contents must be regularly updated and refreshed.

Testing, indexing and search engines

Clicking and seeing the famous “404” page not found is the first step to get visitors away. Each site must be checked and tested thoroughly with appropriate tools and with a certain frequency.

Added to this is the targeted selection of keywords to promote the site in search engines, a task that often requires the involvement of specialized companies.

Social and security

Sharing the contents of the site or blog requires the configuration of all necessary accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and a corresponding effort in these areas to promote it with further effectiveness.

Also extremely important is the security of the site. Avoiding spam and attacks of any kind is essential to prevent this from being blocked or used for other unwanted activities.

Then…

These are just some of the key aspects to create and manage a good site, enough to understand that improvisation does not pay. Of course, anyone can decide to use a template or the wizards made available by hosting sites, but if we want a quality result, managed continuously, there is no doubt that it is better to choose experience and professionalism.

 

The word “encyclopedia” has now become synonymous with “Wikipedia”, and vice versa. In less than two decades this extraordinary reference tool has become the most important source of knowledge on the Internet. Unfortunately, for many people it has also become the only one, obsuring a loto of other works with a long history of excellence and quality. This evolution has also hampered the very concept of the encyclopedia and its function.

An encyclopedia is a reference work that contains information about a wide variety of topics or even just about specific subjects. The goal of giving a systematic form to human knowledge makes these tools the ideal vehicle for many study and research activities.

 

Academic Research

Traditionally, scholastic research involved a lot of consultation work accomplished between school, home and library. Today, these activities are increasingly limited to searching and printing a Wikipedia page at the expense of any further investigation. In fact, an encyclopedia should be a starting point, not the final one, offering good insights into more specific works. The best-known and accredited encyclopedias provide the opportunity to add more legitimate sources to research, presentations, and theses. Credibility is important because very often online sources have not been accurately verified.

Personal Research

Good personal culture is not only useful in lounges conversations, and encyclopedias are an ideal tool to develop and expand it. In addition to general works, there are encyclopedias about specific areas such as medicine, law, music, history, and so on. The latter provide more in-depth information than the general ones, while the former are an excellent starting point for venturing into greater depths.

Professional Research

General encyclopedias provide a comprehensive view of a wide variety of topics, while subject-specific ones provide detailed information on specific areas. Any profession that requires frequent consultations has certainly a dedicated encyclopedia. There are, for example, encyclopedias about psychiatry, law, economics, medicine and many other subjects. Professionals use it to control data, facts, events or to get more information on particular topics.

Not only paper…

The encyclopedia displayed in the living room library is a thing of the past, but it is important to remember that these reference tools have not lost their function. Each public and school library offers numerous works of this type. Moreover, over the last decades, technology innovoations allowed to completely change the way we access the knowledge. Traditional books are now offered in form of CDs / DVDs and online versions that make the consultation much more fast and efficient.

However, on the Internet we can find everything: works with a respected and consolidated name, and other more improvised ones that have the sole purpose of attracting visitors but which are often susceptible to inaccuracies, partiality and poor reliability.

Some good news

Talking about works with a long story of success and quality, I’d like to point out the release of some encyclopaedias in form of mobile apps. These apps can be used on a variety of mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Kindle) as well as on Windows 10 systems, they can be accessed offline (Internet connection not required), making them flexible tools to always bring with you.

Enciclopedia dell'arte
le Garzantine - Antichità classica
Enciclopedia dell’Arte
la Zanichelli 2017
Antichità classica
Garzantina Economia
Garzantina Filosofia
Garzantina Letteratura
Economia
Filosofia
Letteratura

An increasing number of users prefer using online dictionaries than traditional printed versions. This figure is confirmed by the continuous decrease in the sales of these works in bookstores.

On the other hand, it is understandable that in the face of an expense that often exceeds 100 euros, many prefer to use the online or electronic versions, which are often free or available at much lower prices. However, putting aside for a moment the economic aspect, no wonder that the introduction of electronic and online dictionaries offers a true alternative to the traditional printed offer. Let’s see some pros and cons that may help to clarify tihis development.

Reference

dizionari-copiaIn a printed dictionary, the search for a lemma requires a certain mental and physical effort. You have to flip through the pages to find the correct section in alphabetical order, then you must scroll through the items until you find the one you want. This reading work can be tedious and time consuming, but often helps you to also find other terms in the context, making easy to learn new words, and helps you to keep your mind working, similar to “do mental arithmetic and not with the calculator”.

Searching an electronic dictionary is much quicker, often you can just type a few characters to go directly to the desired entry. You can also do full search text for phrases or idioms to find all matching entries. This is a very useful option for those who travel abroad and want to find local idioms leveraging the phraseology.

Convenience

A printed dictionary does not require electricity or an Internet connection, and it does not crash due to software or hardware problems. Moreover, it is useful in many circumstances, for example, where specific regulations prohibit the use of electronic devices, in locations without Internet coverage, on planes that prohibit the use of electronic devices, while conducting tests, etc.

By contrast, an electronic dictionary can be brought anywhere, on a PC or a smartphone, without the weight and bulk of a volume of thousands of pages. Not only, the amount of information that it can provide is absolutely greater than that of a printed dictionary.

Cost

The problem of the cost has certainly contributed to the significant decrease in sales of the traditional printed volumes. A good dictionary can still cost more than 100 euros, although there are often pocket versions available at a lower cost.

In the electronic world, there is an extremely wide range of free or cheap dictionaries. Just connect and you can quickly download a dictionary in a few seconds to find what you’re searching for, not to mention the continuous availability of multilingual dictionaries online.

Updates

The traditional printed versions were updated with new editions published after many years, often just before the exhaustion of stocks.

An online dictionary can be updated in any moment, both in terms of software and content. The wide spread of social media helped to increase the interaction with the users, so they can contribute to the development of the content with comments and suggestions, or by creating specialized or custom dictionaries (unfortunately, not always with satisfactory results).

Quality

All the best printed dictionaries were created by experienced teams of linguists through a long and accurate editorial work. Important authors (and publishers) have helped to create works recognized worldwide for their quality. This is confirmed by the fact that dictionaries are often known by the name of the author (some examples: “Zingarelli”, “Gabrielli” or “the Devoto Oli”) which immediately denotes the content (Italian rather than English Dictionary) and consequently the reliability of the content.

In the case of electronic and online dictionaries, it is often not clear who is the author, who chose and edited the entries and what sources were used. Much of the free offers is made with the sole purpose to get the largest possible number of users to whom pouring out banner ads. Even the social media impact, mentioned above, and the development of online communities contribute to a greater confusion: the higher interaction with users can help and accelerate the content creation, but often this is not subject to adequate quality control procedures.

Fortunately, all the historically printed material accumulated is not wasted and the same versions of the dictionaries that are on paper are now being increasingly transformed into reference tools available on the Web or in the form of applications for the various operating system platforms. These proposals often have a cost, which, however, is generally lower than the corresponding printed version, and is certainly compensated by the quality of the product.

An example of an online offer is the one proposed by the Italian eLexico.com website, where you can find the leading dictionaries published in Italy. A subscription allows access at any time to the desired dictionary with the possibility to also download an offline version.

Another interesting initiative comes from our collaboration with Edigeo, who is publishing many of the best known Italian dictionaries and encyclopedias (check out the catalog) in the form of app for Android and iOS mobile devices, and PCs and smartphones using Windows 10. The apps are available in major online store and offer an interesting solution especially for those who make intensive and professional use of these reference tools (translators, students, travelers, etc.).

One of the areas that has experienced, and is experiencing a radical change as a result of the technological advances that have occurred in recent decades is certainly the publishing industry and the professionals roles that are part of its supply chain, such as, editors, translators and graphics.

These figures, established over time thanks to consolidated processes mainly based on old analogic technologies, have been completely revolutionized by the introduction of a whole new world of digital tools. PCs, scanners, printers, and tablets supported by a myriad of programs and formats, not to mention Internet and new way to use related content, have led in recent decades a rapid evolution of the publishing production methods.

This requires new levels of expertise crossing traditional specialization barriers. An editor need to know the tools to use to produce a book on paper or an e-book, a translator must struggle with machine translation and cat tools, a designer may need to manage the same content for print and for the Web, with obvious differences.

redazione20

Two published works, edited by Edigeo on behalf of Editrice Bibliografica, describe this great transformation. The first volume, Manuale di redazione, was published in 1998, and constitutes a strong reference on the traditional editing techniques.

Faced with the changes that have occurred in recent years, it has set the need to propose a new instrument of knowledge that would address the many and varied topics, from the use of the Internet in writing to the digital document management, from image processing to development of digital products.

This new Manuale del redattore 2.0, also edited by Edigeo (with my contribution for some chapters), stands alongside to offer a roadmap in a world characterized by an extraordinary wealth of innovative solutions that change the way of work in the publishing sector. Its goal is to provide a useful insight of a changing world rather than answers that the rapid evolution of technology would make soon obsolete.

 

 

The extraordinary spread of smartphones and tablets is accompanied by an exponential growth of apps for these devices. There is no company that sooner or later do not take into account the idea of providing its customers with a new method for using services, information, entertainment, and more.

The phases of design, development, testing and commercialization of an app involve various professionals: web designers, interface designers, programmers, marketing experts, and so on. All this has costs, which can vary significantly depending on the choices of development and the type of app to accomplish.

Regardless of company size, the critical decision to be made concerns the approach to the development and update of the app.

Outsourcing? In-house?

Both approaches offer advantages and can produce good results, however the strategic advantage of each one is linked to the specific characteristics of a company and to the objectives of each project.

The app development with an internal team offers more control over projects, improved collaboration and greater responsiveness in addressing the problems that arise.

Choosing an external supplier instead offers clear advantages in terms of costs, resources, workloads, workflow management, allowing to focus on commercial and promotional aspects. The disadvantage is inevitably less control on the project and the risk of incurring the time of the external supplier at the level of updates, new releases, bug fixing, etc.

The answer to this dilemma is difficult, very often the decision depends on the type and number of apps that a company wants to deliver, the funds available and the skills that can be available.

Or…

There is a third alternative: achieving the right mix of internal expertise and outsourcing. Inside you use the minimum amount of resources required to define and monitor projects that are outsourced, progressively acquiring the know-how to assure the quality and support in case of problems with the supplier deliveries, updates and bug fixing. Outside you can choose the most appropriate supplier for the projects, using criteria such as costs, development platforms, experience, etc.

To do this, you need a role of coordination well acquainted with the entire life cycle of the app, from design to marketing on the online stores.

We can provide you this  role…

Generally, this issue is considered too late, when your computer has already been filled with huge amounts of data, but the question of the name to be assigned to the files is always a delicate and underestimated issue. Most users begin to create files by assigning often improvised names or names that are considered intuitive at the time, often they create folders without a precise order, maybe stacking files on the desktop in a disorderly way 8ever seen those terrible submersible desktop icons to bulk?).

The problem arises when at a certain point you need to retrieve a report or a photo taken a few years ago and you find yourself rummaging desperately in the big mess you have originated. Even if your operating system provides you a file search feature, the problem is often that you do not remember the name or even a part of the content. Worse still, if you’re searching for an image (which has no text content), the problem starts to become unpleasant.

IN the business world, things are still more delicate. Information must remain accessible over time, independently from the staff turnover, must be rapidly recoverable for any need or legal request. Furthermore, electronic archiving systems are becoming increasingly popular requiring you to choose the most appropriate criteria for classifying incredible volumes of data.

Properly organize files and folders by assigning appropriate names then becomes a requirement of productivity and farsightedness. It is a work that must be done in advance, perhaps as soon as you buy a PC, and requires consistency and accuracy in time. Some guidelines to tackle the problem in a rational fashion and commensurate to each specific need are summarized in the below ebook that you can conveniently view or download.

Read the ebook Linee guida per la denominazione dei file