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)


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!”


Create a Gantt Chart in Excel

A Gantt chart is a horizontal bar chart that can display tasks that are scheduled for a period of time. There is not a specific Gantt chart type in Excel, but one can be customzed from a stacked bar chart. If you set up the data properly with start dates (or times) and time durations, Gantt charts can be created fairly easily to show the length of each task  and those that overlap, if there are any.

Here you see a Gantt chart that displays four scheduled tasks:

Gantt Chart

Restore Arrangement of Desktop Icons After You Make a Remote Desktop Connection

I love being able to work from home. Since Windows Vista contains the Remote Desktop Connection feature, it is extremely easy to remote in to my work computer. This gives me access to all of the files, applications, and network resources that I have when I am actually sitting at my desk in my office.

Every time I connect to my office computer from another computer, however, it messes up the icons on my desktop. (more…)

Make Data Entry Easy in Excel

Using a data form in Microsoft Excel can make data entry easy, especially when the spreadsheets are quite large. This data form works with either a data range or with a range that has been designated as a table. Just be sure that your data is arranged properly in rows and columns with column headings.

The data form will look something like this:

Data Form

The command to access the data form is not on the Ribbon by default, so you will have to customize the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT). In the Customize panel of the Excel Options dialog box, select Commands Not in the Ribbon from the Choose commands from drop-down list. Then choose Form and click the Add button. Close the dialog box, and the Form icon appears on the QAT.

Be sure to click somewhere in the data range before selecting the Form button on the QAT. When using this data form, you can navigate through records, add new records, edit or delete records, restore field data, and set criteria to find specific records. However, one disadvantage using this data form is that if a cell contains a formula, the formula will appear as text and cannot be modified in the data entry form.

Make a Remote Connection with Windows Vista

Remote Desktop Connection is a technology that allows you to connect to a second computer and take control of it. This makes it possible for you to connect to your work computer from computers at other locations and have access to all of your files, programs, available networks, and resources, or to connect to a friend or family member’s computer to do some troubleshooting when they are having problems.

Windows Vista comes with the Remote Desktop Connection installed, so you don’t have to buy or install any special software.

To make a connection, you must first enable Remote Desktop Connection on the remote computer (the one you want to connect to.) (more…)

See How Your Website Looks Cross-Browser and Cross-Platform for FREE

Generic Website Design Template

Design First, Then HTML-ize

If you’re new to the web design game, developing a new website (or redesigning an old one) is much like starting a new job: there are a thousand small details competing for your attention and its difficult to know how to proceed in a relatively efficient fashion.

One typical workflow, especially for smaller sites that only have static HTML pages, is to design the appearance of the site first. Some folks sketch designs on a pad of paper, others use a graphics program like Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Fireworks to lay out how the site will look. In fact, there’s been more than one great website design where the impetus came from cocktail napkin scratchings at a Friday night happy hour.

The Challenges of Translating Your Design into HTML


Enhancing Sound in Soundbooth CS4

Recently, while working on a project, I had need of a creepy bit of music.  I didn’t have an orchestra at my disposal, and I’m not a composer, so I used what I had:  a couple of acoustic and electric guitars, a little bit of creativity and Soundbooth.  With that, I came up with my final sound:

creepy effected.mp3 – The final sound

Soundbooth is an audio editing and creation program that is available through the Adobe/IU licensing agreement.  It is part of the Production Premium suite.  It can record, edit, and add effects to sound files.

Starting out, I decided since I was very out of practice with guitar, I’d just record a simple three note phrase.  I practiced with some different arrangements and ended up with what I thought was a suitably creepy beginning.  To make sure I had a good amount to work with, I played it three times into the microphone. Here is the sound that resulted:

creepy.mp3 – Feel free to download and follow along in your own copy of Soundbooth CS4.


Undo Send Now Available In Gmail

Ever hastily typed up an email, clicked the Send button, and, in the very next nanosecond, shouted, “Ohhhhh, nooooooo!”?

The mistakenly-sent email has happened to all of us – whether from distraction, anger, inebriation, or other happenstances out of our control – the end result is the same: a sinking feeling of self-reprobation (“How could I have been so stupid?”) or even just mild regret (“I just sent an email to a hundred people about my party, but I didn’t tell them what day or time.”)

Gmail’s recently added a feature that, if you catch your mistake within 5 seconds of clicking the Send button, will allow you to pull back the email before it’s sent. This new feature is called Undo Send, and here’s how you can add it to your Gmail account: (more…)

Web Accessibility Made Easy Part 1: Mythbusting

This is the first in a series of posts about web accessibility that will give an in-depth look at the topic, using IU’s guidelines, as well as the web accessibility standards documents from which they were derived. Through these posts you can learn correct and easy ways to make your websites accessible so that they can be used by everyone.

Web Accessibility Myths:

1. The BIG one: Making a website accessible is a long, involved and costly process.

This is half-true. If your current web site is not accessible, it can be a lengthy process to make it accessible. But, if from the beginning, your web development work incorporates the techniques described in these blog posts, creating an accessible web site will add little time to the design process.

2. Web accessibility can be validated with an automated process just like HTML.

This is also half-true. Many web accessibility guidelines can be tested using automated validators. But this does not tell the whole story. For example, just because an image on a web page has an “alt” tag does not mean that the tag provides helpful, relevant information. Keep in mind that retroactive fixes to an inaccessible web site will take extra time. Including web accessibility in the design from the beginning will take no time at all. And a site that is accessible is will be more usable for everyone.

3. No one with a disability uses or visits my site

While this could be true, there is no way of verifying this statement. For one thing if an individual with a disability cannot successfully use a web site, they will quickly seek alternative web sites. The major disabilities are impairment of hearing, seeing, thinking (cognitive), and mobility. Some disabilities are visible, some are hidden. Some are permanent, some are temporary. 18.7% or 54.4 million people in the US report some sort of disability (US Census Bureau [pdf]). With these statistics in mind, it is fair to conclude that someone with a disability has or will try to view your site.

4. A text-only version of your web site is a great accessible alternative.

Does reading the book that a movie was based on give the same experience? Probably not. A text-only version is accessible and does meet some of the guidelines, yet the experience is not the same. And more importantly, while you may remember to update your web site with current information, maintenance of a current text-only version is often forgotten, creating unequal information access. Today most assistive technology programs today work with CSS, can access Flash movies and can deal with JavaScript. As a result, users with disabilities can access content that is correctly coded. So why limit them to a text-based version of your site?