Thursday, December 31, 2009

Free Images

I have written about the seriousness of using images that belong to someone else without their permission. We all like free stuff, but just because it is on your end of a Google search does not make it free for anything except for viewing. The copyright can come back to bite you BIG. Click to read the previous post.

I was looking for a free animated image to use to wish everyone a Happy New Year and I found a nice site in the UK that has a number of royalty free images. They give permission on the site for you to use them as you wish. Here is what their site reads "If anyone wants to use the free animated gifs on this site for your web site, powerpoint presentation or as animated avatars do feel free to use them and download them to your hard drive."

Give them a try. They are located at

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Which Browser Do You Use?

For a long time I was stuck on Internet Explorer. I guess I assumed if Microsoft made it then it must be the best to use for Windows. Wrong!

Well IE starting freezing up on me in different ways on more than one of my machines. I was getting tired of forcing IE to close and reopening it or even having to restart the machine to get it back working.

So I tried Firefox and was greatly impressed. It did everything IE did and seemed to do it better. At least it did not hang up on me. There were even some add-ons that IE did not have that are pretty cool.

Along comes Google Chrome, so I tried it as well. And I like it the best out of these three. Smooth to use, seems faster than either IE or FF, and it takes much less real estate at the top of the screen. I like the fact that the address bar is also my Google search engine. And when I type something like and hit enter, it knows to put in the http:// and open the site.

I have downloaded Opera and it looks fine, but I have been so pleased with GC that I have not spent much time with it.

One downside with GC is that there are some sites that will not work with it. For some of my emailings I have been using Constant Contact. It is a great service and reasonably priced. Much of it works with GC, but when I get to updating there are issues. I switch to FF and all the problems go away. Oh, IE will not work on that site either--editing issues.

Which one is your favorite and why?

Reducing File Sizes

You take a picture with your digital camera and then try to email it to a friend. It is so large that you can only attach one at a time. Even if you just want to upload it to Facebook, it takes a long time. Want to fix that problem? Read on.

Not too many years ago we were careful about the size of our files. We had to be or they would not fit on a 1.44mb diskette. Now our digital cameras create pictures over 1mb each. But with computer hard drives reaching into the terabytes, it is easy not to pay attention to the size of the files we save.

However, bloated files take longer to open and when located on a network drive they tie up bandwidth on the network as well as being slow to open. In our anxiousness, we often double-click two or more times on the same seemingly non-responsive icon only to wait and have multiple windows open, one for each of our frustrated clicks.

Why should we be concerned? The more bloat on the hard drive, the slower it runs and the more frustrated we become. We can control the size of our files and here are some examples of what we can do.

Click to read the complete white paper as a PDF

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Forwarding Email

I really dislike those emails I receive that have been forwarded a number of levels down and are filled with all kinds of junk. Do you feel the same way?

For the few I do send on to others, I spend the time to clean them up. This can be a simple task done right in the email program after I have clicked the forward button. Most often I have to select all of the body of the message and paste it into Word to clean it up. When I have finished the fixing, I copy and paste the results back to the email and send it.

This process works well, but it does take a little time. I have discovered a neat little program that is free and does the job well. Google emailStripper, and download it from its maker,

Here is what they have to say about it:

emailStripper is a free program for cleaning the ">" and other formatting characters out of your emails. It will restore "forwarded" or "replied" emails back to their original state so they're easier to read.

With emailStripper open, you select the body of the email, then on the emailStripper screen click Paste. Next click Strip It! and the email is restored to a readable format. You can make additional changes in the text, if necessary right in the emailStripper window.

When you have it the way you want, click Copy and the cleaned up text is placed on the clipboard. Return to your email screen, remove the existing body text, and then Ctrl+V to paste the cleaned up version.

The next time you click that Forward button, take the time to clean it up. Your email friends will appreciate it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Copyright Issues

I understand that when someone creates something, they own it and the copyright for it. Of course, if someone were to take that item and use it, they would be violating the copyright. But who would know?

Truth is nobody would know unless they came across the item and knew it was theirs or belonged to someone else they knew. When that is discovered, the original owner must be able to provide the proof that they do hold the copyright.

There are a couple of ways to copyright something. You can apply to the government for a copyright and it will be officially registered with the US Copyright Office. Another approach is to mail a copy to yourself and not to open the package. Tell the post office what you are doing and they will seal all the edges and hand stamp each seal. If you have to take someone to court about violating your copyright, you can produce the sealed package as proof you own it.

The real message here is for you to make sure you are not violating someone else's copyright. It is a principle I speak often of when teaching Web Development classes. If you create it, you own it. If you Google it and copy/paste you are probably stealing it. Want to use a picture in your work, grab your digital camera and take it yourself. Do not grab it off the Web.

If you really like the work someone else has done, contact them and ask permission to use it. In most cases, they will grant permission. Sometimes they ask that you give them credit for it by including a link to their site or their email address. Do not just use their image and hope you do not get caught.

Of course, you can purchase thousands of royalty free images on CD's over on the Web and in your local office supply stores. These can be used without worrying about the copyright because when you bought the package you received a license to use the items that came with it. Make sure that license allows you to use it publically and not just on documents you print out. It will usually not allow you to use the items for sale to others.

A few weeks ago, I received a lawyer's letter telling me I had violated the copyright on an image used on one of my Web sites. This was a simple graphic I had added in 1999—10 years ago. The letter said I needed to prove I had a license to use the image or be prepared to be sued for up to $25,000!

I had no idea where I found that image. I could not believe that I found it on the Web and copy/pasted it into my site. This was against all I had been teaching for years. However, I could not remember anything about the image. Well, I removed it from my site and copies of it from my computers.

This was good, but they still wanted payment for its use. We negotiated down to a reasonable figure and were just wrapping things up when, in my work of cleaning out for our move, I came across a CD of royalty free images I had purchase in 1996.

You guessed it; the image was on that CD. I was able to prove I had a license to use it and did not have to pay any penalty.

So remember, if you use someone else's item like an image or picture, get permission in some form and SAVE IT where you can find it later. Ten years down the road you may be challenged and have to pay a huge penalty for not keeping good records.

I suggest keeping your documentation right in the folder you have the work (Web page, document, etc). If it comes from a CD, scan the license into a PDF and keep it in the folder. If it was an email giving you permission, save the email in the folder.

Be careful as there are people out their searching the Web for unauthorized usage of their work with the intent to collect large sums of money for your failure to abide by the copyright laws or being lax in keeping good records of your work.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Keyboard Shortcuts

Over the years I have accumulated a number of shortcuts I find useful in my everyday dealings with the commputer. This list is not in any particular order. I suggest reading it one at a time and trying them out. Start to use them a little at a time and you will be surprised how your productivity improves. These simple keyboard clicks save me time as I use applications daily.

Please let me know of others you may use. I always like to add to my toolbox.

Win+D - Minimizes all open windows so you can see the desktop. A second tap restores them
Win+E - Opens Windows File Mamanger
Win+F - Launches Windows search
Win+L - locks they keyboard and can only be unlocked with your windows password.
Win+Pause - Opens the System Properties
Win+R - Opens the Run dialog box
Win+Pause - Opens System Properties
Win+U+U - to shut down
Win+U+R - to restart
Alt+F4 - Closes the active window/application
Ctrl+Alt+Del - Opens the Task Manager
Ctrl+F - accesses the Find feature in the currently-running program
Ctrl+Shift-F9 - Removes hyperlinks in MS-Word (great for cleaning up pasted web pages)
Shift+Alt+D in Word pastes the current date in the default format
Ctrl+; in Excel pastes the current date
Shift+Ctrl+C in MS-Word copies the format (same as format painter)
Shift+Ctrl+V in MS-Word copies the saved format
Ctrl+1, 2, and 5 in MS-Word changes the spacing to single, double, or space and a half
Shift+F3 in MS-Word toggle the case from UPPER, to lower, to Sentance case
F4 in MS-Excel toggle $ in a cell reference
Alt+= in MS-Excel is AutoSum
Alt+F9 in MS-Excel to reveal the hidden programming behind the text
Ctrl+X, C, and V are used in most programs to Cut, Copy, and Paste to the Windows clipboard
Ctrl+H in Word opens Find and Replace
Ctrl+N in Windows Explorer 7 and earlier opens a duplicate window
Ctrl+S opens the Save dialog in most programs
Shift+Ctrl+S opens the SaveAs dialog in some programs
Ctrl+O opens the Open dialog in most programs
Ctrl+Z is undo in most programs
Ctrl+Y is redo in most programs
Ctrl+P opens the print dialog in most programs
Ctrl+A selects all items in most programs
F5 restores the current window
F2 opens the rename function for the selected item
F1 opens the Help function in most programs
PrtScrn causes the picture of the desktop screen to be saved in the Windows clipboard
Alt+PrtScrn causes the picture of the active window to be saved in the Windows clipboard
Ctrl+L, E, R, and J in MS-Word for aligning Left, Center, Right, and Justified
=rand(p,s) in MS-Word generates random text (p=# paragraphs, s=# sentances)