New Beginnings

As many readers know, my son and his family lost everything in the Washington, Illinois tornado of Nov. 17, 2013. We recently helped them move into a new home. I wanted to thank everyone who has been so generous with their time, money, and other assistance. This short video is my initial thanks to everyone (until I have a chance to see you in person again). I really appreciate how much so many have done to help in our time of need. I hope this short video conveys a small level of the gratitude my family and I feel.

Behind the screen – SnagIt

I am continuing to focus on various tools I use to help students better understand various concepts and tools. This week, I focus on SnagIt (from Techsmith). Essentially, this tool allows you to take screen captures. Ok, I already know how to use the PrntScrn key (including the Alt+PrtScrn to capture only the currently active window). Why in the world, would I need to purchase a separate product? Yes, I had those same thoughts until I won this software at a conference I attended a few years ago. I don’t know how I ever managed without it. Yes, it is that much an improvement over the PrntScrn key. I even obtained a copy for my Mac. Read more »

2014 Illinois Web Design Contest

The 2014 Illinois Web Design contest was held in Springfield on April 4, 2014 (with a briefing of participants on April 3). This represents the 14th year I have supervised this contest. Many thanks to Jonathan Worent for his help in the supervision of this contest and for portraying the hypothetical client. As we have done before, the focus of this contest dealt with the process of designing a website (along with demonstration of a solid understanding of core web technologies). These days, anyone can create a website [there are numerous tools to assist]. However, demonstrating you understand the requisite business processes to develop a site centered around the user experience is not as easy. As we have done in some earlier competitions, we also focused on web accessibility this year. As always, we strive to help participants understand what practicing professionals encounter on a daily basis. For those who are interested in observations gleaned during this competition… Read more »

Behind the screen – Presenter

This is the second part of my attempt to share some of the technologies I use when teaching online classes. I previously briefly reviewed Adobe Connect. I thought it might be helpful to next focus on Adobe Presenter. I use this tool periodically to introduce a topic. Students in my classes know that I don’t believe it is appropriate to do a full hour “lecture.” Given the rapid pace of change with web technologies, I have found myself spending a tremendous amount of time just updating my materials to reflect the latest changes (in software and approaches). I prefer to point students to resources that already exist. After all, we live in the age of search engines and numerous online videos/ tutorials to help us understand a topic. Instead of spending a tremendous amount of time developing a “lecture” that few would listen to in its entirety (yes I have measured this previously), I introduce a topic and point my students to pertinent resources and usually have an associated lab or project to reinforce the concepts we are learning. Let’s examine the PowerPoint plugin part of Adobe Presenter (this is how I began using this tool). There is also a separate Presenter Video Creator tool. I may cover that in a future weblog post. Read more »

Photoshop Generate

I never cease to be amazed at the capabilities and options available in tools. Options that I didn’t know about or overlooked. Yes, working with web technologies, one is constantly learning. I recently completed a course at lynda.com dealing with Adobe Generator by Chris Converse. I simply didn’t realize this feature was included in Photoshop. Essentially, you activate this feature (it is a toggle switch) and you can then seamlessly create graphics (or an Edge Reflow project) from Photoshop. We can do this from any layered Photoshop file. Let’s see how this is accomplished… Read more »

Funk’s Museum of Mineralogy

This week, I move away from technology and focus on one of the interesting spots in central Illinois. I have visited the Funk’s Museum of Mineralogy before and thought this time I would take some video to share the experience with others. Of course, this was filmed using my iPad and was also created using an app on my iPad. I broke the presentation into several segments so you can watch those sections you find interesting. I think this is a hidden gem in central Illinois (yes, that was a pun). Read more »

Photoshop and 3D Printing

I recently took the time to learn the fundamentals of 3D printing using Photoshop. Yes, I feel like I am using a replicator from the Starship Enterprise. I have actually created some items and shown them at our local Web Professionals and Adobe User Group meeting on March 11. I thought it might be helpful to review the overall process. Keep in mind I am still learning about this so there may well be additional capabilities that I discuss in future weblog posts. I thought it might be appropriate to start with a blank canvas in Photoshop and create something new. Keep in mind I used the most recent version of Photoshop CC for this discussion. Read more »

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