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Archive for September, 2009

Alternatives to Microsoft Visio: Dia,, OpenOffice Draw

If you’re an IU community member and go to IUWare to download Microsoft apps, you will not find Microsoft Visio.

Um, what’s Visio?

Visio is a Microsoft desktop application geared for building informational, structured graphics, like diagrams, flowcharts, hierarchy structures, and so on. Since those terms may not mean a whole lot to you, let’s look at some examples of things you might create in Visio:

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Fun Free App Friday:

Way back in the day, when there were endless deep piles of snow, uphills both waysCreate a font from your own handwriting, and lunchpails filled only with scraps, people used writing instruments known as “pens” to inscribe letters and words onto dead trees, known as “paper”.  Once the person was finished inscribing, s/he would fold up the paper, tuck that paper inside other paper, and inscribe more words on the front as a means of addressing (kind of like an email address, but way more complicated, taking up three lines or more!)

This whole process was known as “writing and mailing a letter”. Nowadays, of course, this antiquated technology has been surpassed by IM, texting, Twitter, and status updates on Facebook. I think we can all agree that there is nothing that needs to be said if it can’t be said in 140 characters or less! But let’s say for a minute that you wanted to “write and mail a letter, ” but didn’t want to go all the way back to 1920 to do it. Read the rest of “Fun Free App Friday:” »

Web Standards Smackdown: XHTML2 vs. HTML5

Standards Smackdown: XHTML2 vs. HTML5Way back in July, the W3C (the governing organization of web standards) announced that it was not going to renew the charter of the XHTML2 working group. In non-bureaucracy speak, that means the W3C has stuffed XHTML2 standards development into a bottle and chucked it out to sea, where it will spend the rest of eternity bobbing on the waves and following the thermal currents. The W3C did this so that it could focus all of its attention on developing HTML5.

“Wait a minute, ” one might shout on hearing this news, “I thought XHTML was the wave of the future, and HTML was what Cro-Magnons used to code their web pages??? What’s going on?”

Its easy to be confused, and, yes, even a little bit alarmed by this news. But, in essence, the labels here don’t really represent what you think they do: XHTML2 isn’t really XHTML as you know it, and HTML5 encompasses a lot more than HTML4.01. Here’s what you need to know about both of these standards: Read the rest of “Web Standards Smackdown: XHTML2 vs. HTML5” »

More Photoshop Tips

Recently, Andy Hunsucker wrote an article on his favorite Photoshop keyboard shortcuts. If you like keyboard shortcuts and other Photoshop tips, enjoy this entertaining video, “101 Photoshop Tips in 5 Minutes,” by Deke McClelland for Adobe TV:

IT Training at Tech Fest ’09

NOTE: This event has ended.

IT Training & Education is at TechFest ’09 all day today in the Wells Library Lobby.

Come check out our table and all the interesting displays in the lobby.

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Getting Ready for Windows 7

Note: Windows 7 has been released to IU students faculty and staff earlier than anticipated.  This article has been updated to reflect the new information.

Windows 7 is now available to IU students, faculty and staff, so it’s a good time to think about whether or not you will want to upgrade, and start taking steps to prepare for the upgrade.

In this post, we’ll examine some resources you can use to help make your decision, and try to answer some common questions that might arise.

How to get Windows 7

At IU, you can go to any IU Bookstore to purchase the Ultimate edition for $20.  As of now, only the Ultimate edition will be available, but both 32-bit and 64-bit versions will be available.

32-bit or 64-bit?

The difference between the 32-bit and 64-bit versions will not be apparent just by using the operating system.  From the end-users perspective, they are identical.  However, the 64-bit version of the OS allows Windows to use greater amounts of memory.  A 64-bit operating system requires a 64-bit compatible processor.  If your computer was built in the last 3 years, it is likely capable of using a 64-bit operating system, but check with your computers manufacturer to be certain.

32-bit operating systems have been the default version for a long time, and if you purchased a computer more than a year ago, it likely had a 32-bit OS installed.  The monikers ’32-bit’ and ’64-bit’ refers to the size of the numbers your computer can keep track of.  For lack of a better analogy, it determines how high your computer can count.  With 32-bit addressing, the computer can count as high as 232. For a long time, this was sufficient for computers.  However, as memory requirements get larger, computers have run into a limit.  Your 32-bit computer can only keep track of about 4GB worth of memory, and because of other limitations, even if you have 4GB of RAM in your 32-bit machine, it is probably only utilizing about 3.5 GB.

Should I move to 64-bit?

If you plan on adding 4GB of RAM to your system, then moving to a 64-bit OS would be a good idea.  However, you cannot simply upgrade your OS from 32-bit to 64-bit.  You must do a completely clean installation, which requires some planning and forethought, not to mention time.

Computers that can have more than 4GB of RAM installed in the system are just starting to become common, so if your computer is more than a year old, it is likely it is not possible to install more than 4GB of RAM because of various technical limitations.  Still, you will likely see a performance boost by moving from a 32-bit to a 64-bit operating system.

Be aware that you will need new drivers for your hardware that are specifically written for a 64-bit operating system, but these are fairly common, and shouldn’t be hard to find.  You might also notice that some software manufacturers release ’64-bit’ versions of their applications.  Most of the time, you can still use the 32-bit version, as the OS will be backwards compatible, but after moving to 64-bit, you should choose the 64-bit version of software when applicable.

The bottom line: If you are upgrading and doing a clean install anyway, there’s no compelling reason not to move to 64-bit if your hardware can handle it.  However, moving to 64-bit should probably not be your only reason for upgrading.

For more information on 32-bit vs. 64-bit, including ways to tell if your machine can run a 64-bit OS, see this help article from Microsoft.

Preparing for Windows 7

Now that we understand how to get the software, and which version to get, let’s talk about preparing your system for Windows 7.

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Extending STEPS with – Use Photoshop blend modes for color and contrast correction

You may already know that Photoshop blend modes can immeasurably enhance your creativity and playfulness. You may be familiar with the artful aspects of blend modes; however, most Photoshop users don’t know they are corrective, too. Understanding how they work is a key to using them to your best advantage.

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Extending STEPS with – Illustrator CS4 Essential Training

You may have attended the IT Training & Education STEPS workshop, “Adobe Illustrator CS4: The Basics,” and would like to learn more. Make your personal trainer! If you would like a little review of Illustrator followed by more advanced concepts, see Mordy Golding’s Illustrator CS4 Essential Training.

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Examples of Video Clips With Different Compression Settings

Several months ago a student stopped me after I taught a workshop at IU and she wanted more information about frame rate and display size as it relates to Web video. I did a quick Google search to try and find some examples of videos that I could use to illustrate a point that I was trying to make. I came across an excellent site from the University of Texas at Austin that I have bookmarked and used many times since then. Links to over 30 video clips are provided, and an easy-to-read matrix provides complete details about the compression settings that were used for each.

If you are interested, go to:

Thanks U of T. Great job!

Use Excel’s Table Feature for Quick Calculations

In Microsoft Excel 2007 when you convert a range of data into a table, you will have access to some great features. You can summarize data in a column simply by clicking a button.  In addition, you can create structured formulas within a table without creating range names. Since the table will have a name, you can refer to the data within the table by using the table name and/or the column headers.

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