How I read Swedish documents

So far I’ve been getting along pretty well in Sweden. Learning my way around Stockholm, figuring out how to do things, picking up some Swedish words and phrases… The one thing I can’t come close to doing yet is reading large blocks of text. Most of the time, this isn’t really a problem. Context gives you a lot and some Swedish words are somewhat similar to words in other languages that I actually do know (especially if you sound them out).

What kills me is official documents that I actually need to understand, not just get the gist of. Like the documents that came with my phone or from my bank. Some of these I can hand to someone at work to translate for me (if I am very nice about it). That doesn’t work with sensitive documents or when I’m not there.

I got my new ATM card tonight along with a raft of rather important instructions that were all in Swedish. I tried downloading some iOS apps that claimed to OCR and translate. Those were useless.

I ended up with the following process instead:

  1. Connect iPhone to my computer over USB
  2. Take shots of the text as straight-on as possible, with flash
  3. import to the desktop using image capture
  4. import to Photoshop
    1. auto-tone
    2. auto-contrast
    3. rotate (if necessary)
    4. convert to black-and-white
    5. change to 144 DPI *
    6. Save
  5. import images to Acrobat as a single document
    1. OCR document with Swedish hinting
  6. copy/paste into google translate
  7. read (finally)

This is an insanely painful process and not worth it for less than the most critical things. It will get easier when I get my scanner (currently on a boat), which will cut out steps 1-5, but that is still sucky.

If someone could get this working with 70% accuracy in a single iOS app, I would gladly pay $75 for it. I would work on this in my copious free time, but it would probably be more productive for me to learn to read Swedish.

Making a big change

Keep Calm and Revel On
I didn’t make this poster, but I love it.

Coming to Adobe was a dream come true for me. Someone first showed me Photoshop on a Mac SE after hours at the Center for Art and Technology at Carnegie Mellon back in 1989 or 1990. It was captivating to a computer science student with a deep interest in imaging and graphics. I knew that someday I would work there. It wasn’t a direct path, but I did get there eventually.

In my nine years at the company, I have been able to work on some intensely cool projects: Adobe Image Foundation, Pixel Bender, and Revel. Each have been technically challenging, but each have also had an impact for Adobe customers. Solving cool technical problems is fun, but doing it in a way that millions of users can benefit from is massively rewarding. I am grateful that being at Adobe has allowed me to work on such personally and professionally gratifying projects. I am also grateful that I have been able to work with some absolutely stellar teams.

Adobe is the best company that I have ever worked for, but it is time for me to make a change. This will be my last week there.

To all of Adobe’s customers: I hope that my work has helped make the tools you use a little bit better, faster, and more stable. It has been a joy to build stuff for you. Thank you.

Now, I’m looking forward to my next adventure. I will be joining Spotify in Stockholm as Director of Engineering in a few weeks.

This is my new dream, and I am incredibly excited about it. The people that I have met at Spotify are intelligent, creative and passionate. They are working to change the world; making available all the music in the world to anyone, while making sure that the people who create the music that we love can do it as a profession. This has been my mission multiple times in the past, in the days before I came to Adobe. I’m excited to pick up that banner once again and do my best to help it become a reality.

Things are gonna get interesting, stay tuned.

Good Review of Windows 8 Usability

This sums up a lot of how I felt when I first starting using Win8 on a non-touchscreen laptop. It was even more painful when using it through a virtual machine. I’ve found it a bit better when using it on a surface, but there are still so many weird UI choices and odd edges that are continually ruining the experience. I can actually use it to do things, I just don’t like to now. Microsoft really needs to fix this.

Technical Debt

something I said in an e-mail thread today that I thought was worth reposting here:

The biggest part of paying technical debt is letting the dev team know that they are empowered to fix things and that they can take the time to do things right. Good developers hate looking at crappy code, their first response is always to fix it. If they don’t believe that they can (and are expected to), they will just hack around bad code with more bad code.

From the VHS archive

been digging through some old video tapes while VCRs still exist. Found a few things so far that I’m not completely embarrassed to share with a wider audience…

7:1 from Kevin Goldsmith on Vimeo.

A seven-mile, 60-second journey through early the early 1990s industrial wasteland areas of Pittsburgh with an original soundtrack blatantly ripped off from Shadowy Men From a Shadowy Planet. A student film for a class at Carnegie-Mellon University. Digitized from a 2nd generation VHS copy. Pardon (or embrace) the Lo-fi.

Intonarumori Performing Constant Bit Select of a Vector Net Live – 1991 from Kevin Goldsmith on Vimeo.

This was the performance of the track "Constant Bit Select of a Vector Net" whose recording was later released on the Intonarumori album Sound Collages 1991-1994 (Unit Circle Rekkids). This was recorded as part of the Carnegie Mellon University Electronic and Computer Music Concert Series. Regrettably, the video recording starts mid-way through the piece. For more information on the album see: for more information on Intonarumori see: