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Monthly Archives: April 2012

What do you get when you cross a smartphone with your computer? I’m not sure, but I’d bet it would look a whole lot like the new and upcoming Windows 8. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here’s a screen shot of the new Windows 8 “Metro” interface:

The word on the street is that you will either love it or hate it, with accompanying groans of dismay coming from the haters and giddy enthusiasm erupting from the lovers. The user interface will largely be through touch-screen operation (a la Tom Cruise in the movie Minority Report), with support for gestures, a mouse, and a stylus.

To get a better feel for it, check out this video from DigitalTrends.com. They put it together in March 2012, shortly after receiving a preview copy of the software. The video was shot on the fly in a hotel room in Barcelona, so it’s not as slick as some videos. Fitting for demoing a product that is still very rough and unfinished at this point – you’ll see that many features don’t yet work properly. Before you get too freaked out by this vision of the next version of Windows, I was happy to see at about the 2:50 point in the video that there is still access to the traditional Windows desktop interface (big sigh of relief). When the demonstrator starts to manipulate the Metro interface at about the 4 minute mark, I started getting excited about ease of use. Think “apps” — lots of highly customizable apps. So here’s the video. My apologies in advance for the mandatory 30 second commercial at the start:

When, you ask, will Windows 8 be the standard on new machines, and when will we no longer be able to get Windows 7. Good question. Microsoft hasn’t said yet.

Needless to say, this is a radical departure from “business as usual” and it will take some getting used to, but I’m hopeful that when we take the plunge we will wonder how we ever got along without it.

Learning a couple of keyboard commands can really speed up your work in Photoshop and save a lot of aggravation. Give these a try the next time you need to edit an image.

  •  To quickly increase the size of a brush, press the right bracket key — ]. To decrease the brush size, press the left bracket key — [ . The amount of increase or decrease depends upon the size of the brush before you start resizing it.
  • Do you hate changing tools every time you want to move an image or layer? Just hold down the spacebar. That changes your tool to the hand tool. Click and drag you image wherever you want it. When you release the spacebar, you go back to the tool you were originally using.
  • To quickly make any color within your image the foreground color, press I to use to the Eyedropper tool, then click on any area in your image. To select a new background color, still using the Eyedropper tool, hold down the Alt key when you click an area within your image.
  • Hold down the Shift key when you resize an element to make it retain its proportions.
  • To create the illusion of “depth of field,” outline, copy and paste the part of a photo that you want to draw the viewers attention to. Apply a soft blur to the background layer. The portion that you copied and pasted will now be in sharp focus against a blurred background.

Publishing Roadmap Overview
Writing and publishing a book is not the undecipherable mystery many people think it is. Yes, it is a process – one that we found much simplified after we flowcharted it. We’re providing that flowchart, or “roadmap” as we call it, as a resource to budding authors. You can download it below. You can also find it in the DDP Resources section of our website.

The graphic at the right shows an overflow of the process – the downloadable PDF greatly expands on it.

We find the roadmap to be an incredibly useful tool for explaining the publishing process to first-time authors as well as tracking our progress when publishing a new book.

If you’re even thinking about writing a nonfiction book, give us a call. It’s probably less expensive than you think and we can help every step of the way…that means from idea generation to writing to publishing (as an ebook or in print) to marketing.

Click here to download the DDP Book Publishing Roadmap.

 

What’s normal for some isn’t appealing to others. Case in point: the “Normal” text style in Microsoft Word. The Calibri font? Really? I don’t think so. So let’s do something about it.

To change the default “Normal” style in Word:

  1. Create or open a document that has two or more paragraphs made up of more than one line of text each. You’ll want to see how your new Normal style looks within the context of a multi-line paragraph and between paragraphs.
  2. Select two complete paragraphs of text.
  3. To change the font specifications, open the Font dialog box (Ctrl+Shift+F). Select the font and size that you want as your new default. OK it.
  4. With the two paragraphs of text still selected, right click within the text and click on the “Paragraph…” option. (Software trivia: Anytime you see a command that is followed by an ellipsis (…), that means that clicking on it will open up a dialog box).
  5. The Paragraph dialog box is where you’ll make changes to indentation, and spacing within and between paragraphs. This may take some trial and error to get the way you want it. Microsoft’s Preview pane that they include on their dialog box is pretty useless. You’ll have to OK your selection and go back to your actual page of text to see a live demo of your changes. Right-click back into the Paragraph… dialog to tweak it to your heart’s content. (Phil goes with the defaults for General and Indentation, but modifies the Spacing to Before = 0 Pts , After = 0.5 Line , and Line Spacing = Multiple at 1.2)
  6. Got it the way you like it? To make it so that this becomes your new “Normal” for every new document that you create (please note that this will not override styles applied in existing documents — this is just for new documents you create from now on), go up to the Command Ribbon and select the Change Styles drop-down box. From there, click on “Set as Default.”
  7. Hey presto! Now you’re stylin’ your own personal way.

Warm Apple CrispOur brainstorming meeting to find a new name for our eNewsletter was great fun Wednesday night. We’ll unveil our new name when we publish our next issue in a few weeks, but I thought I’d share some of our rejected ideas:

  • DDP Hotspot (we thought our signature blue colors didn’t fit the name)
  • DDP Libra (ok, not many of us got that one)
  • Pulp Friction (uh, no – some of us loved it but – no)
  • Don’t Read This! (reverse psychology says you’d have to open it)
  • The Data Dump (again, uh, no)
  • News You Can Use (we all liked it but it’s overused)
  • Eco Pages (“No trees were harmed in the creation of this product….save the planet, recycle the ideas in this newsletter”)
  • The DDP Staple (not bad, but it didn’t make the cut)
  • Chips & DiP (if you have to explain it, it doesn’t work)
  • The Publishing Algorithm (actually, several of us really liked this but we figured it was too intellectual, aka boring)
  • Warm Apple Cranberry Crisp (wait a minute, that was the dessert menu…well, by then we were throwing out weird ideas…I personally liked “The Crème Brûlée” – yeah, we could make that work!)

Heard around the table:

“How do you teach a duck to do that?”

“See, they always go straight to the booze.”

“I’m totally de-ticked.”

“People are delicate flowers.”

“The gooner has gotten out!”

“Now that’s how you do a tagline!”

You had to be there to make sense of it. Many thanks to all who participated.

And to file under “Did you know”…

…that Kristi Yamaguchi is not only a world-class Olympic skater and a Dancing with the Stars champion, she’s also a competitive eating champion!

BTW, despite all our brainstorming, we’re not confident that we’ve struck upon the name. If you have any ideas, please email me at sandy@DataDesignsPublishing.com.

If you’re a Mac user, you are probably quite familiar with the Stickies widget. PC users – I’m betting you’ve not heard of the PC program by the same name. Let me introduce you. Stickies are essentially digital Post-it® Notes and I’m starting to think that no properly dressed PC should be without them.

Stickies automates the manual Post-it management method. “Management method?” you say. Yes, some people manage by Post-its. (You know who you are.) It’s not really a method I subscribe to, but I do agree that Post-its come in handy at times. Getting that morning phone call about something that needs to happen at 2pm can be a perfect Post-it application. The problem is, Post-it Notes don’t stick to my monitor very well. And when they do stick, they’re always obstructing something I want to see. Putting them anywhere else, however, risks me not seeing them at the appropriate time. I’ve found that computer alarms aren’t effective and my smart phone may not be near me when the alarm is scheduled to go off.

Enter Stickies  – a free software package developed by Tom Revel of Zhorn Software. Stickies has a ton of features, outshining the physical Post-its by a mile. Once downloaded and installed, it puts a small yellow icon in your system tray (the bottom right area of your screen, just to the left of the clock). When you click on the icon, a yellow Stickie appears on your screen. You can type any kind of note into the Stickie, create checkbox lists or bulleted lists, label the Stickie, change the color of the Stickie, or add images. After creating the Stickie, you can move them anywhere on your screen, have them appear on top of any program you have open or simply sit on your desktop under your open programs. You can put your Stickies to sleep for a period of time (it’s like hitting the snooze button on your alarm – it gets them out of your way while they’re sleeping, but they pop up on top of your open documents when they wake up) or schedule them to pop up at recurring intervals.

Stickie Samples

The image at the right shows some examples of Stickies. The top one has a graphic in it. The Stickie automatically expands to the size required to hold the image. Below the graphic are two Stickies titled “Tuesday 6-Things.” That’s my “6-Things” to do list for the day. They are copies of the same Stickie, because I wanted to show you the capability of rolling up a Stickie (i.e., the top one) or unrolling it (i.e., the bottom one). Notice in the bottom Stickie that you can create checkboxes and check items off as completed. The Stickie at the right has a link to the Stickies website where you can download the program (or click here).

Don’t like the look of these generic Stickies? You can create your own Stickie skins or download skins that other people have created. Here are some of the skins available:

Stickie Skins

 

Like I said, a ton of versatility is built into this free download. Most capabilities are available from right-click context sensitive menus. There’s even a Stickie management window that allows you to see all your Stickies by category. And should you run into any problems, there’s a Stickie forum. Check out this useful program. You may never buy Post-its again! OK, you probably will because Stickies can’t be slapped on the folder you’re taking to your next meeting. There’s room in this world for both Post-its and Stickies.

[Post-it® is a registered trademark of 3M, St. Paul, MN.]

Did you ever wish you could browse a website from a place where you had no Internet access? Here’s a slick way to do it.

If you have Acrobat Pro, you can create a PDF of a website page or all the pages of an entire website with just a few easy clicks. The PDF file can be saved to your computer with all the text, graphics, and links intact. This is a new feature that I’m excited about. New to me, that is. I’m not sure when it was introduced, but I’ve just discovered it. Why, you ask, would you want to create a PDF of a website? I can think of a couple of good reasons.

  • While we we’re in the process of upgrading this website we found it to be much easier to markup or annotate changes on the PDF of the website than trying to describe the changes in an e-mail or Word file.
  • You can read, use, and demo a website anywhere, even if you don’t have Internet access. You can create a PDF of the site and show it on your tablet or laptop (or even your smart phone if you like really small images). The links will even work, so long as they are linked to pages that you have PDF’d.

Here’s how to do it. Looks complicated, but it’s really a piece of cake:

  1. From Adobe Acrobat Pro, click the File menu.
  2. About a quarter of the way down you’ll find the command “Create PDF”. Click it.
  3. One of your menu options is “From Web Page…” Click it.
  4. You’ll be prompted to enter the address (URL) of the web page.
  5. Then click on the button that says “Capture Multiple Levels.” You will be able to enter as many levels of the website that you want to capture. Capturing more levels means that the process will take longer but you will have a more complete PDF of the website. If you want the entire website, click the radio button to capture the entire site.
  6. If you want to explore options, feel free to do so. That’s more detail than we’re going to include here.
  7. Click “Create.”
  8. Wait. Your patience will be rewarded. A file of the website will open in Acrobat. Save it and take it with you anywhere you go.

We were pleased and surprised at how small the file size was. This is a feature we’ll use. Could I have that website to go, please?

The Melrose Grill, Mapleside FarmsWe’ll Provide the Drinks and Appetizers Needed to Get Your Brain Working

Our eNewsletter needs a name! Any ideas?

We’ve scheduled a  get together to hash out a name – and since you’re part of the family, you’re invited. Drinks, appetizers and friendly brainstorming will commence at 5pm on Wednesday, April 11, at the Melrose Grill at Mapleside Farms in Brunswick.

Let me repeat – Yes, you’re invited! Yes, it’s our treat.

Email Sandy Hooper (shoop@DataDesignsPublishing) to let her know you’re coming. We’ll be there until about 7pm, so don’t be shy about joining us late.

We’d love to have your ideas thrown into the mix. No ideas? That’s OK, join us anyway!


Adobe Design Premium CS5

The outcry from users has caused Adobe to revised its upgrade policy through the end of 2012. We reported in our December newsletter that users of CS3 or CS4 had only until December 31, 2011 to upgrade to CS5.5 if they wanted to be eligible for future upgrades at upgrade pricing. The Creative Suite users community voiced their concerns (outrage in many cases) to Adobe and they have responded with a revised plan.

While their policy hasn’t changed (see below), they are offering, according to their website, “special introductory upgrade pricing on Creative Suite 6 to customers who own CS3 or CS4. This offer will be available from the time CS6 is released until December 31, 2012.” That’s quite generous. CS6 is anticipated to be released in April or May.

Adobe’s upgrade policy is consistent with the industry – they offer upgrade pricing that reaches back two releases. In other words, if you were purchasing CS5, you could upgrade from CS3 or CS4. What has changed is that they are now making incremental releases of their software (e.g., CS5.5) and those incremental releases are now considered in the upgrade policy. What that means is that, were it not for the special offer in 2012, users would only be able to take advantage of upgrade pricing for CS6 if they had purchased CS5 or CS5.5

So…enjoy your upgrade. And thank you, Adobe.

I’m always surprised to learn that people don’t use Windows Explorer. We use it everyday. It’s one of the programs that is always open on my computer. Check out this introduction to it.

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