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Archive for April, 2009

Are There Laws That Govern Web Accessibility? Yes, read on!

A number of laws have established precedence in issues of web accessibility. These laws continue to evolve and face legal challenges to establish benchmarks of web accessibility. Some laws related to web and information accessibility apply to just web sites and publications of the federal government. Others apply more broadly. Below are portions of the laws that may apply to web accessibility and higher education.
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Recycle Your Old Electronics for Free

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 30th through May 2nd, IU departments, local businesses and the general public in Bloomington and Indianapolis all have access to a free Electronics Recycling day.  Thursday and Friday are reserved for businesses, schools, universities, and non-profit organizations.  Saturday is open to the general public.

All sorts of equipment will be accepted, and it’s a great way to get rid of the electronic clutter without filling up the landfills.

For full details and to check out the website to see what kinds of equipment will be accepted here:

http://indiana.poweron.com

Businesses and IU departments need to pre-register.

NOTE: This event has ended, but keep an eye out for future eWaste recycling days.  And remember, in Bloomington, the Monroe Country Solid Waste Management will accept electronic items for a fee.  See their website for details.

Insert Video Footage from a Flip Camera Into a PowerPoint Presentation

Today a colleague of mine emailed me with a question about using Flip camera footage in a PowerPoint 2007 presentation. He was attempting to use the raw video files from his camera in a presentation but couldn’t get them to work.

PowerPoint 2007 allows users to import the following video file formats: .asf, .avi, .mpg or .mpeg, and .wmv. Since the Flip camera produces an uncompressed .avi file, we should be able to import it. Right?

Wrong. The fact is that even if your video file has the correct file extension, it may not play correctly if the correct version of the codec is not installed on your computer, or if the file is not encoded in a format that is recognized by your version of Windows.

The Flip camera captures video in MPEG-4 Advanced Simple Profile format and saves the video as an .avi file. So, then, perhaps we just need to download a codec and then it will work in PowerPoint?

No, wrong again. The Flip camera video uses the 3iVX codec. It can be downloaded free from a number of different sites on the Internet, and it is also included when you download and install the Flip camera software. But, even after installing the 3iVX codec, it isn’t possible to insert Flip camera clips into a PowerPoint 2007 presentation.

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You got UNIX in my InDesign!

NOTE: Special thanks to Jacob Farmer from Identity Management who helped extensively with the regular expression portion of this post.

If you missed the Adobe Infoshares with Adobe Senior Solutions Engineer Tim Plumer on Tuesday and Thursday, you missed a lot of great information.  Even someone like me, who thinks they know everything learned a thing or two about a thing or two.

One of the things that jumped out at me was GREP Styles in InDesign.  If you’re not familiar with grep(traditionally spelled in all lower case on UNIX-based systems, but listed in capital letters in InDesign), it’s a pattern matching tool used mainly in UNIX, but InDesign has added it’s functionality to the Paragraph styles panel. grep allows us to search for a piece of text within a file, like so:

grep Adobe indesign.txt

The line above would search for the word “Adobe” inside the text file called “indesign.txt”. Things get much more complicated when we involve regular expressions.  Regular expressions allow us to search for more specific information by including various symbols within the text.  For example:

grep ^Adobe

Would search for the word Adobe, but only at the beginning of a line(indicated by the ‘^’ symbol). This is an incredibly simple example, and regular expressions are almost a programming language unto themselves.  For example:

\b(\w+)\s+(\1)\b

This regular expression will match duplicate words separated by any amount of whitespace. Often times, regular expressions are described as “Write once, read never” because they are so difficult to decipher once they are complete.

So why would an InDesign user care?

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Choosing Between Microsoft Excel or Access

Are you confused about whether to use Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Access to manage your data? This is understandable since both applications can perform similar functions. If you’re having trouble choosing between Excel and Access, then this short video will help you get the right answers to the right questions. It will emphasize the best features of each and let you decide which of these programs will best meet your needs. To view this video, click here.

Note: Thanks to Ashley Endemann for recording this video.

Grouping Worksheets in Excel

In a recent training session on Excel basics, one panicked participant reported that she was suddenly unable to access or use any tools on the Insert tab of the ribbon. The majority of the icons there were gray. When the workshop assistant arrived on the scene, the participant and the assistant discovered the reason for the problem by looking at the top of the Excel window. The status of the worksheet displayed in the title bar:

ExcelGroupedSheets
 
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Calculating Elapsed Time in Excel

Let’s say that to make a point about the relationship between hot water usage and the size of the utility bill, you want to track how long your teenager spends in the shower. Or, in planning for a lawn care business, you want to track times required to mow lawns of various sizes. Excel would be a good tool for these kinds of tasks.
Excel’s ability to perform complex calculations is well known, but asking it to return simple time calculations can produce confusing results unless you understand all the factors involved.

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The Green Bar of Go: A Cascade Server Blog Column

Publish Message Sent Successfully

This is the first of what will be a regularly appearing column on the IT Training Tips blog.  The focus of this column will be to convey tips and tricks concerning IU’s newly purchased WCMS. This week, being the first edition, is going to be pretty brief.

For those of you who are wondering what Cascade Server does, this column probably isn’t for you, but I will at least tell you that Cascade Server is a Web Content Management System produced and sold by the Hannon Hill company in Atlanta Georgia.

For more information about how Indiana University is using Cascade Server, check out the Web Content Management Initiative site: http://www.indiana.edu/~wcms.

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Sound Effects for everyone in Soundbooth CS4

One of the most challenging aspects of being creative is finding all the assets that one needs to put together an impressive project.  Some are easier than others.  If you need a picture of a tree in your project, you probably have a camera, and a tree nearby to get the job done.  If you need a sound clip of someone speaking, you might have a microphone and just do it yourself.

But what if you need the sound of a helicopter flying by?

Well, Soundbooth is here to help us out, through it’s Resource Central panel. In Resource Central in Soundbooth, hundreds of incidental and strangely specific sound files are available for download for use in your project, with few restrictions. (Read the Terms of Use here)

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No-Thinking File Synching for Free! *

* Well, up to 2 gigs of space for free

Photo of Warehouse Storage Space For a moment, think of your worst nightmare. The imagery that rouses you out of a slumber with teeth clenched, clutching the bedcovers. No, not the bad dream where you find yourself at your high school reunion standing on the stage wearing only a cereal bowl for a hat and barking like an apoplectic prairie dog. (Um, that’s actually kind of a funny dream, isn’t it?)

The other dream, the one that perhaps you’ve had while awake, where that paper/dissertation/project that was on your hard drive/flash drive/friend’s computer is suddenly corrupted/not there/gone/wait/what?!?!?!

“Oh, noooo!” you’ll cry. “I knew I should’ve backed that up!”

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