“Learning by doing” Harry Dean

‘Learning by doing’ is a phrased taken to heart by my eldest offspring.

Not satisfied to be taught be someone else, he’d much rather have a go, make the necessary errors to learn the best way to do the job, and know what he’s doing next time around.

This week I need to be able to join a bunch of mixed files together into a .pdf file.  I knew it should be a fairly simple process, but it was outside my experience, and I didn’t want to have to ask for help, so I set off yesterday with a few sample files to see what I could achieve.

It took me most of the afternoon, one way or another, for what was essentially a two or three minute job, but I got lots of practice and now feel like when I need to stitch the real files together later in the week, it will be straightforward.

I found a nifty online tool called  Combine PDF, which essentially does everything for you – and it’s free, which is an added bonus. What I hadn’t realised until I tried to upload the first file, was that the system doesn’t support .xls files, so the first task was to convert the 12 files I’d chosen to .pdf format.

Actually, the first task should have been to double check that the files were exactly how I needed them to be so I didn’t get the . pdfs combined, then see the flaws – but that’s another story…..

Having converted the files to a usable format, all I had to do was drag and drop them into a box on the webpage, re-order them and press ‘combine’.

Easy Peasy – and it worked first time; except that one of the files had a rogue entry on page 2, which meant it spread onto another page.  Back to amend that file, convert to .pdf then do the ‘combine ‘ thing again.

Then when I went to check the resulting single file, I realised that i’d missed out step one – First check your files!  There were a couple of formatting issues, and some capitalisation errors that needed correcting. Frustrating, but great practice; by the time I’d deleted the whole lot, corrected the errors and gone through the ‘combine’ process again, I felt competent to do this another time without needing to ask someone else.

End result of the afternoon’s activity:

1 new skill learned

1 set of twelve Harry Dean files checked, corrected and combined into a single .pdf

1 happy bunny



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