Converting Images into Shapes

A title image that states "Converting images into Shapes: Using Photoshop" that displays a bracket shape and an image of a dog being merged into one image/shape.


Whether you’re writing a blog post, creating an awesome poster with Beth, or simply making a scrapbook to save your memories, being able to turn your images into fun and funky shapes is always a blast. No matter what shape you want to put your image in, it’s instantly going to be more fun and graphically pleasing–don’t get me wrong, this isn’t for every person and every project. But why not loosen up a bit and make some super cool shaped pictures of your puppy.

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Take Control of Your Phone by Automatng Your Android Device with Tasker

Image with a photo of the Android alien and the Tasker icon. Text and images read "Basics of Automation Android & Tasker" The Android robot is reproduced or modified from work created and shared by Google and used according to terms described in the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License.

You may be enjoying Jessica’s series of posts about simplifying your tech life. I read the most recent post in the series (Simplify Your Tech Life – Tip 3: Pool) and thought “I should write about Tasker.”

There was a time when I was a die-hard Apple and iOS fan, but I decided to change things up a little bit. That change was to the Android platform, specifically as close as I could get to un-modified Android, a Google Nexus phone and tablet. Since then, I’ve started to unlock the potential of my devices by automating tasks that I found myself repeating over and over. After reading about recommendations for apps all over the net, I discovered Tasker.

Tasker is an application that runs in the background of your Android device and can set values of variables and control parts of your system based on the criteria you choose. Today, I’m going to show you some of the profiles and strategies that I find most useful.

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Real-time Collaborative Editing in Word, Excel and PowerPoint

Go Paperless! IT Training can help!


This is part of a series of articles that will appear over the next few months as part of the Go Paperless initiative at Indiana University.

When multiple individuals provide their separate contributions to a single document, this is termed as collaborative editing. Having the ability to allow more than one person to update the same document is often as essential as it is advantageous. Until recently, collaborative editing of Word, Excel or PowerPoint files had a major restriction in that only one person could work on a single file at a time; otherwise, it was necessary to keep multiple versions of the file and reconcile them all into a single file. This restriction can be a bottleneck since only one person may edit the file at a time, additional effort is needed for version control and coordination between contributors, and reconciling between multiple files requires additional effort and increases the risk for missed updates.

Collaborative editing technology, however, has matured significantly over the past few years through the use of cloud storage services. By leveraging cloud technologies, collaborators now have access to a number of tools that help streamline collaborative editing. Of specific interest to Office users, synchronous or real-time collaborative editing is now possible, which allows several people to work on a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file at the same time. Let’s take a brief look at this real-time collaborative editing provided by Google and Microsoft. Before we start, please note that Google Drive and Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage services are not supported by IU and are not suitable for storing or sharing institutional data. However, this information may be of use for personal projects.

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Co-Editing Documents Online in SharePoint 2010

Go Paperless! IT Training can help!

This is part of a series of articles that will appear over the next few months as part of the Go Paperless initiative at Indiana University.

Scenario Setup

Let’s suppose I’m sharing a description of one of our IT Training workshops with my colleagues and I need some quick feedback to help finalize it.

I’m sharing with colleagues in my IU staff department who know how to use SharePoint 2010, because our intranet runs on SharePoint. The information I’m sharing is work-related. The file I am sharing is a Word document less than 1GB.

SharePoint would work well, in this case. So would Box. But let’s also suppose we keep all of our workshop descriptions in SharePoint. Point SharePoint—for the win!

But. Let’s also suppose that everyone I want to share with is at a conference, and I know they just have their tablets with them—all different kinds of tablets.

What now? To the Internet!

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Creating a Basic Syllabus in Canvas

Go Paperless! IT Training can help!

This is part of a series of articles that will appear over the next few months as part of the Go Paperless initiative at Indiana University.

A course syllabus is like a road map. It shows your students what to expect in the course and what is expected of them. In the courses I’ve taken at IU, I’ve found that instructors deliver syllabi in different ways. In the days of Oncourse, some would type syllabus content into the Syllabus tool. Others would link to a separate Web page or Word document.  I found it annoying when I had to leave Oncourse to view the syllabus. When Canvas came along, I had an instructor who used the Oncourse Syllabus tool and then Canvas for everything else. Some instructors like to print copies of the syllabus to hand out on the first day of class. That’s okay, but if they don’t plan to go over what’s on the syllabus that day, they may have wasted a lot of paper. As an instructor, you can do what works best for you. I’m writing this post to show you how to create your syllabus in Canvas.

For this demonstration, I’ll pretend I’m teaching a Dance History 101 course. (I have a M.F.A. in dance, so I know a few things.) Read the rest of “Creating a Basic Syllabus in Canvas” »

Presentations: A Learning Path

Learning paths road sign.I need to create a presentation for one of my classes.  I used PowerPoint in high school, but I haven’t used the newest version. I’ve also heard that there are other good applications available for creating presentations. What courses or workshops would you recommend?

Nearly ubiquitous in universities and on corporate computers, PowerPoint is one of the most widely used presentation creation tools in the world. It has been around since 1987, and it has come a long way. Today you can add video, audio, animations, transitions, WordArt, Charts, Tables, and more. You can also co-author presentations through Windows Live and share your slide shows via the web in real time. If you’re looking for a robust, tried and true application with lots of flexibility and functionality, PowerPoint is the best bet.

If you are a Mac user, you need to know that PowerPoint is not cross-platform. While there is a Mac version, it is not exactly the same as the PC version. PowerPoint for Mac contains most of the same functionality as the PC version, but the user interface is slightly different. When selecting your training options, keep this in mind. Mac users may also want to consider using Keynote, which is a popular and easy to use alternative to PowerPoint from Apple’s iWork suite.

If you want to create a presentation that looks entirely different than the ones your classmates put together, you might want to use Prezi. This new cross-platform, cloud-based application uses a canvas instead of slides, and makes use of zooming and panning to provide interest. While prezi does not include nearly as many features as PowerPoint, it can be used to create a unique presentation. Prezi is also a good choice if you do not own (or have access to) a copy of PowerPoint. The free version of prezi provides all the features you need to create an impressive slide show.

There are currently 4 different paths that you can take to learn to create a presentation.

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Animated emoticons take over Lync

Recently, my copy of Lync 2013 updated itself into something called Skype for Business. Many of the functions I use with Lync have remained exactly the same, but there are some notable differences. For one, in my task bar, my Lync icon now appears with the Skype S:

Skype for Business icon

Interestingly, the program itself still says “Microsoft Lync (Lync)” at the top. (Don’t ask me why they feel the need to repeat it.) If you’d like to learn more about the changes, you can visit the Discover Skype for Business site here.

The change I find most distracting, however, is the addition of the Skype emoticons. Or perhaps I should call them emoji? (I’ve consulted this article from the Guardian to try to understand how to use the terms, but I’m still not quite sure:

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Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate: A Learning Path

Learning paths road sign.I am interested in becoming a network or computer systems administrator, a computer network specialist, or a Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA). Does IT Training provide coursework that would help me reach this goal?

Earning an MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification qualifies you for a position as a systems administrator or computer network specialist, and it is the first step on your path to becoming a Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA). The MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification is intended for information technology Professionals who have knowledge and experience working with Windows operating systems and who want to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to install and perform the initial configuration of a Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2 server in an existing Windows server environment.

There are currently 2 different paths that you can take to earn this certification.

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Creating a Research Poster: A Learning Path

Learning paths road sign.I need to assemble a research poster – how do I get started, and what programs can I use to make a poster?  And how do I make graphs to display my data?

With programs like InDesign, Illustrator, and Microsoft Publisher, with a little help from Microsoft Excel, you can create an eye-catching poster to showcase your research project.  Illustrator and Excel can be used to create attractive graphs to display any data you wish to share, and you can pull everything together in InDesign or Publisher and lay out the contents of your poster.  Before you start building your poster, there are a few steps you can take to help get things rolling.

Photograph of a pad of paper, with a rough design for a poster sketched out on it.Having a general idea of how your poster will look will help you get started – think about how things will be laid out on the page, what colors you’ll be using, and what fonts you’ll be using for your poster.  A rough sketch of what you want your poster to look like when it’s finished may be helpful, and you can use that as a road map of where things should end up on your poster.  Make notes about the colors you might want to use, and fonts you might want to use for headings and body text – when you start building your poster, you’ll have everything you need planned out already and can focus on laying things out.  You’ll also want to make sure to collect any images you want to include, the data you want to present, and the text of your poster in one location before you start working.  Once you have those items together, the following learning paths will help you create your poster.

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Learning Paths: An Introduction

Learning paths road sign.In the coming weeks and months, you will begin to see several posts titled “Learning Paths“. Our goal is to use these posts to illustrate the sequence of workshops, webinars, and other training resources we recommend to accomplish a particular goal.

A learning path poses a question. For example:

I need to create a presentation for one of my classes.  I used PowerPoint in high school, but I haven’t used the newest version. I’ve also heard that there are other good applications available for creating presentations. What courses or workshops would you recommend?

It will then go through several ways to get the training you need. There may be IT Training workshops or webinars, or training from one of our outside providers available to help meet the needs identified in the question. For example:

Path ##

If you don’t have access to PowerPoint, or if you prefer to use a cloud-based application that will allow you to create a unique presentation with a different look and feel, you can take the following IT Training webinar to learn everything you need to know about the newest, hippest presentation software currently available:

This workshop is 2 hours long and gives an overview of all features available in the application.

We will start with some of our most requested learning paths and expand from there. We will start with the example used in this post! To see how to create presentations, check back on Wednesday!

As always, we value your input. If there’s something specific that you would like to see, leave us a comment and let us know!