Thought: The Art of the Workaround

Working at the Learning Zone I have also been able to deploy and improve my problem-solving skills, especially workarounds.

From a recent example:

  • A student comes with a PDF file that will not print on the computers and the ‘media is not supported’.
  • I open the file in Adobe Acrobat and lo and behold it is entirely blank.
  • Open the same file in Photoshop and the assets are all there but in front of a transparent background.
  • I create a new plain white layer underneath for both files, save as PDFs.
  • Open in Acrobat to combine the two and save the final, two page PDF with all the elements correctly showing in Acrobat.
  • Place this file on the USB stick and send the student on his way.

There may have been other ways to do this, but this seemed the most logical to me, and I go by the theory of ‘If it works, it works’.

Workarounds are an invaluable approach to problems, as it often involves approaching the issue from a whole new perspective and trying very unconventional routes to try and get things to work. And, well, if it works, it works.


Similarly, I was once working on a Premiere Pro File where the soundtrack that someone in the group had painstakingly created and matched with the video clips across multiple channels, suddenly was not making any sound. The eventual technique that worked, select every single video and audio clip in the timeline with cmd+a and copy and paste them into a new project file. It worked a charm.

Knowing how to achieve the desired result quickly is often better than working out how to do it correctly in time-sensitive cases. Working with the tools more and more will allow for eventual working quickly and correctly but while I’m gathering enough knowledge to make that happen, getting the best result possible will work just fine.


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