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Useful Shareware – Art Directors Toolkit

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Looking for a helpful tool to for designers? Then check out the Art Directors Toolkit. Although this handy application can't make you an art director for 40 bucks, it replaces a bunch of tools that always seem to get misplaced in my office. It's designed for print pros, but motion graphics and web designers will appreciate some of its key features:
- A Scale Calculator to help you determine percentages for resizing to a specific target.- A text-preview window so you can see source copy in a variety of fonts.- A symbol-conversion pane to unlock specialty characters in your fonts.- A Swatch Book for viewing Pantone colors and finding related colors.- A Blend window to find a third color that will work well with two others.- A Units Converter to calculate different measurement conversions.- A very robust RGB color picker.
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12 UAP - Perspective Cropping

Instructor Richard Harrington explains how to use perspective cropping in Photoshop to correct distortion that can occur in an image.



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Photoshop World Show Floor Action

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Planning on coming to Photoshop World in Vegas? Even if you can't attend the whole conference, you should check out the trade show floor. The Photoshop World Expo floor will be open to the public on on September 7th. The event is held at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and is a great chance to catch up on the latest in digital photography and digital imaging.

You can come check out many different vendors as well as attend free educational sessions. You can get your free pass by
signing up in advance or you'll have to pay $20.00 at the door.


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11 UAP - Nondestructive Cropping

The act of cropping is a destructive edit. Instructor Richard Harrington shows how to crop nondestructively in Photoshop, to preserve the cropped pixels so you can easily make changes later.



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10 UAP - Power Crop

It's very common to need to size and crop an image to a specific image size. Instructor Richard Harrington explains how you can do both with one step by"power cropping"in Photoshop.



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Omni Dazzle – A Great Tool for Teachers and Presenters

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What piece of Mac shareware has me most excited... a cursor enhancer called OmniDazzle. Yup... giggle if you want. But the Omni Group has released a killer program that has dramatically changed my teaching style. This useful application add several visual effects for the screen and mouse pointer.

Now some of them are downright cheesy, but educators should really check out the following effects:
Flashlight – Which points a spotlight on the area of focus and dims the screen
Focal Point – Which darkens all but the active UI element
Scribble – This gives you four colored markers to draw on the screen like a NFL commentator
• Zoom – My favorite, which lets you marquee a selection, which is then magnified full-screen

So yes... its version 1.0 and Mac-only (and requires OS 10.4.6 and Core Video)... its still worth checking out. It's $14.95 and you can download a demo from the
Omni Group website.
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New EVDO ExpressCard Arrives (and is Perfect!)

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So... you may have picked up on my love of all things EVDO. These great cards let the business traveler or mobile blogger kill off the expense of logging in at coffee shops, hotels, and convention centers (I've had months where access has run me $225). Unfortunately, the new Macs and Dells required an ExpressCard (which was not available until today). But I have mine, and thanks to the card... I am mobile and plugged in (in fact that is how this very entry was posted!)

Hats off to
EVDO Info for shipping as promised and getting it to me overnight. Note, their website references a high demand... so if you need one... pre-order.

“The demand is huge for the ExpressCard.
We sold out of our first shipment (which is being sent out to customers on 8/11/2006). Our next shipment is currently scheduled for 8/23/2006.”

Boy... do I love wireless internet.... *GRIN*


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The Truth About Laptops, Cell Phones, and the TSA

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As a person living in target number one (Washington, D.C.) the news of a recently foiled terrorist attack greatly bothered me. As the frequent business traveler, I was stymied by the news reports that all sorts of items such as laptops, cell phones, and iPods were being banned. I thought... how could they? Could you imagine a flight where no business traveler got any work done no child could watch a movie, those of us who like quiet time couldn't ignore the world by drowning it out with an iPod?
Read More...
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Review – Color Theory and Color Theory Pro

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Although you may be able to match your own clothes in the morning, finding just the precise complementary colors is sometimes a pretty daunting task, or at least a time-consuming one. How do you pick out four colors that work with your client's logo?

ColorTheory from Digital Anarchy provides a pretty quick answer. The interface is clean and simple, but generates powerful results in a variety of color schemes. The Pro version adds the ability to load a source graphic in to compare with your colors. It also adds the ability to run ColorTheory as a plug-in from Photoshop or After Effects-compliant hosts.

The product is priced at $49 for the Standard version and $99 for the Pro.


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09 UAP - Scan, Crop and Straighten, Part 2 of 2

Instructor Richard Harrington shows you how to put the tedious work of cropping and straightening multiple scanned images behind by using Photoshop's automated"Crop and Straighten Photos"feature. Part 2 of 2.



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Microsoft Kills Virtual PC for Macintosh

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Microsoft has a bad habit of buying technology... then killing it. It'd not really their fault... they've got all of that cash just lying around. The recent victim is Virtual PC. Originally developed by Connectix, it was sold to Microsoft in 2003. In a statement today Microsoft said it "has made the decision not to move forward with a Universal version of Virtual PC at this time."

At this time is corporate speak for never, in fact never ever. Recent competition from Parallels and VMWare have made the Windows on a Mac space a bit cluttered. Additionally, Microsoft alluded that rewriting Virtual PC to run on Intel Processors would mean having to essentially rewrite the program.

"The (Macintosh business unit) still recognizes that customers need access to Windows applications from their Intel-based Macs and feels confident that alternative solutions offered by Apple and other vendors, combined with a fully packaged retail copy of Windows will satisfy this need," the company said.

Anyone else find it ironic that Microsoft which started as a company that made Mac software, has decided that it is too difficult to get their software to run on Intel chips. Go figure. Guess they're too busy getting Vista out the door.


For more details, head over to
CNET.

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Game On – The History of Video Games

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If you happen to be traveling through the Pacific Northwest any time soon, I recommend a stop at the Pacific Science Center. They have an in-depth exhibit on video games. It focusses on the technology, as well as the art and cultural issues. Seeing that the video game industry is as big as the feature film marketplace, its important to keep an eye on. This exhibit explores the field through all aspects and offers a chance to get hands-on with a wide range of games.

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T.W.O.M. - August 2006

page16_blog_entry46_1Welcome to our new series... Technology Word of the Month. I encounter a lot of overly plugged-in folks each month and they often have their own language. In my efforts to keep you a member of the techno-elite, I bring you the word of the month for August.

MACDINKED – verb: When a designer (or client) continues to tweak a project beyond an appropriate level because they are technologically capable of doing so.

This word was brought to my attention by my Dad (and yes... I felt slightly aghast that he was more plugged in). Feel free to comment or add your own.
Email submissions welcome and there will be a prize for the best word each month.
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The Experience Music Project

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I've been meaning to visit the Experience Music Project museum for some time. Started as a shrine to Jimi Hendrix by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen, the museum offers much more. I particularly enjoyed exhibits on the early years of Rap music, as well as an in-depth exploration of the history of guitars.

Designers will throughly enjoy two temporary exhibits, on one
concert posters allows for great exploration of typography and print-making, while Double-Take counters classic artists like Van Gough to moderns such as Lichtenstein. The museum also offers some innovative computer technology that allows all-ages to get hands on with instruments as well as receive some digital tutoring in musicianship.

The building itself is even a piece of art and is a
Frank Gehey master-piece that encourages you to explore. Even if you're not a passionate audiophile, the technology and design aspects of this museum make it a must-stop for those passing through Seattle.


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Your Voice Matters - Computer Hardware Survey


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Many of you voted in our survey last month about computer hardware. The results were very interesting with Macintosh taking a strong lead. In fact we weren't the only ones who were interested in your future technology plans. Inside Mac Radio featured the results of the survey on the daily Macintosh podcast for August 3. You can listen to it here if you'd like. Be sure to vote each month as your input affects the coverage of this site as well as which training products we release.

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New Resource Page - Free Images

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We've added a brand new page to our Resources section. Come search for “free” images at various government agency sites. Several websites offer images that are either public domain or have very generous usage rights. Be sure to read usage terms at each site.

We call them “free” as they were paid for with U.S. tax dollars (which means they are now free to use). Start to
explore now and find images for your next project (many of these are high-resolution as well!) Please share this page with your friends or students.

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Mighty Mouse Goes Bluetooth

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It was only a matter of (too much) time. First, Apple launched wireless mice and keyboards (for those who hate the clutter of cables). Then Hell froze over and Apple released a two-button mouse called Mighty Mouse (do they have to pay royalties to the cartoon character?). But it appeared the two products would never meet. But like all good mice, they eventually created off-spring, and the Mighty Mouse has gone wireless.

I am glad that this has finally happened for several reasons.
• When I use pro video and graphics apps the right-click is a huge time saver as it unlocks many features
• When running Windows on my Mac (don't hate the player) I find myself need to right-click a whole lot
• Trackpads aren't great for precise control such as illustration or design

So, is it worth buying? The short answer is yes (if you need a multi-button mouse). Getting the mouse to pair with a computer is easy (provided you have
Bluetooth). The tracking is accurate (with an improved sensor over original models) and the product appears to have good battery life. The buttons are programmable and most users will find the control button on top of the mouse useful for scrolling and panning. The only annoyance (which is an easy fix) are the side buttons. These are a bit too easy to trigger for my taste as my larger hands tend to trigger them easily. By default, this launches Exposé which will re-arrange your windows on screen. A quick visit to the Keyboard & Mouse System Preference Pane allows you to deactivate these buttons. If you need additional control, then pick this mouse up online or at your local Apple store.
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Mighty Mouse Goes Bluetooth

page16_blog_entry44_summary_1
It was only a matter of (too much) time. First, Apple launched wireless mice and keyboards (for those who hate the clutter of cables). Then Hell froze over and Apple released a two-button mouse called Mighty Mouse (do they have to pay royalties to the cartoon character?). But it appeared the two products would never meet. But like all good mice, they eventually created off-spring, and the Mighty Mouse has gone wireless.
Read More...
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Great Tool for Presenters Using Keynote

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I came across a great piece of software called ProfCast that lets you turn a Keynote presentation into an enhanced podcast. These podcasts are very small as it is jut an audio file, but when viewed on an iPod or within iTunes, the artwork changes for the slide. It's a pretty cool way for teachers to share their lessons, and the whole process is very easy for the mildly tech-savvy to perform. I covered how to do this very task using iWork and Garageband in the new iWork book, but this application saves several steps and is very pleasant to use. You can create a podcast directly, sent it to GarageBand or iWeb, or take it directly online to a user-specified server (.xml authoring for the feed is included). At $25 its an affordable tool all Mac-based educators or technical trainers should add.

UPDATE – The new version also works with PowerPoint
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Great Tool for Presenters Using Keynote

page16_blog_entry43_1
I came across a great piece of software called ProfCast that lets you turn a Keynote presentation into an enhanced podcast. These podcasts are very small as it is jut an audio file, but when viewed on an iPod or within iTunes, the artwork changes for the slide. It's a pretty cool way for teachers to share their lessons, and the whole process is very easy for the mildly tech-savvy to perform. I covered how to do this very task using iWork and Garageband in the new iWork book, but this application saves several steps and is very pleasant to use. You can create a podcast directly, sent it to GarageBand or iWeb, or take it directly online to a user-specified server (.xml authoring for the feed is included). At $25 its an affordable tool all Mac-based educators or technical trainers should add.

UPDATE – The new version also works with PowerPoint

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The Podcast is Live

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It’s time for an experiment. We are going to take some of our tutorials that are ‘in the can’ and launch them as a Podcast. We’ll release a new one each week, and it will stay live for just the week. When the new episode goes up, the old one will go down.

If the podcast proves popular (and we get enough viewer mail) we’ll start to produce an original tip each week. The podcast launched today, and you can
sign up here.
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08 UAP - Scan, Crop and Straighten, Part 1 of 2

Instructor Richard Harrington shows you how to put the tedious work of cropping and straightening multiple scanned images behind by using Photoshop's automated"Crop and Straighten Photos"feature. Part 1 of 2.



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Books.
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