Archive for June, 2010

How do you use bookmarks?

Published by | Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

We introduced our new Bookmarks feature in the Online Training Library® back in January, and we’re curious how you’ve been using them. How often do you use them to mark and tag courses, chapters, individual video tutorials, and to mark specific points in a video in order to find a topic or technique again later? Do you add details to your bookmarks by clicking on the arrow next to the bookmark icon, or add tags to make it easier to sort your bookmarks?

Once you’ve bookmarked a place in a course or tutorial, how often have you found yourself going back and referencing them? [Click on Bookmarks in the My Training menu to see all the items you’ve bookmarked.]

If you haven’t been using bookmarks at all, we hope you’ll try them out. Start by watching the movie on how they work. If you decide you don’t like them, you can always disable them under Preferences > Bookmarks. Note: disabling doesn’t delete all of your bookmarks, it just tucks them away so you don’t have to look at them if you don’t want to. They’ll come back once you re-enable them.

Leave us a comment and let us know how (and if) you use the bookmark feature.

Comprehensive FileMaker Pro 11 training

Published by | Monday, June 28th, 2010

In FileMaker Pro 11 Essential Training, Cris Ippolite demonstrates the principal features and functions of this popular database software, including creating tables and relationships, managing fields and records, and working with layouts. The course shows FileMaker developers how to find, sort, and share data as well as how to create reports, calculations, and scripts. It also covers brand new features in FileMaker Pro 11 such as the Inspector tool, charting, and portal filtering.

From animation to presentations: (re)visit our Creative Inspirations documentaries

Published by | Friday, June 25th, 2010

Watch (or rewatch) the very first Creative Inspirations documentary featuring tokidoki artist and designer Simone Legno.

Since January 2008, has been publishing the Creative Inspirations series of documentaries about people and agencies that inspire us. With a current total of 20 of these documentaries in the Online Training Library®, it seems a fitting time to re-invite you to view these timeless and motivating behind-the-scenes visits with renowned creative agencies, artists, animators, photographers, musicians, performers, and illustrators. All are around an hour long, and are worth every minute. Let us know your favorite(s) and how they’ve inspired you. Enjoy!

Bert Monroy, Digital Painter and Illustrator
Ze Frank, Comedic Digital Savant
Kit Hinrichs, Graphic Designer
New Deal Studios, Visual Effects
Mexopolis, Animation Studio
Trigger, Interactive Design Studio
Renegade Animation, Animation Studio
Duarte Design, Presentation Design
Rick Smolan, Photographer
Harry Marks, Broadcast Designer
Dale Herigstad & Schematic, Interactive Design Agency
Hot Studio, Experience Design
Troika Design Group, Design and Branding Agency
Jason Bentley, Radio DJ and Musician
Ron Crabb, Digital Illustrator
Margo Chase, Graphic Designer
Big Spaceship, Digital Creative Agency
Rick Morris, Motion Graphics Designer
Douglas Kirkland, Photographer
tokidoki, Character Illustrator

Office 2010 for Business: Focus on PowerPoint

Published by | Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010 has been rolling out courses on Office 2010 since the suite launched to business customers last month, and I’ve been talking with our Office 2010 authors about their experiences with this latest version. In today’s Q&A, I talk with David Diskin, author of PowerPoint 2010 New Features and PowerPoint 2010 Essential Training.

Q: PowerPoint 2010 released to the general public last week. Why should users consider upgrading?

A: There are actually quite a few reasons. In fact, of all the new Office 2010 apps, I think PowerPoint got the best enhancements. Features that a lot of users have been asking for are finally here. For example, one of the most common questions I get asked as a trainer is How can I convert my slideshow into a DVD or put it on YouTube? Before, you couldn’t without expensive, buggy third-party tools. Now, it’s built right into the Save menu and is super easy to do.

There are a bunch of other enhancements, too, and many of them are subtle. One of them is the new way transitions are rendered—transitions are the animations you see when going from one slide to the next. PowerPoint 2010 takes advantage of your fancy video card to make the movement smoother, less jagged, and gives you a bunch of new 3D options which are really neat to look at.

Q: What’s the best new feature in PowerPoint 2010 for making presentations more visually compelling?

A: Just one? Alright. It’s the new background removal tool for images. You know how you bring a photo or logo onto a slide, and it’s got a background that you don’t want—like a white square or other artifacts like a skyline or the rest of the scene? PowerPoint 2010 offers a slick new feature to remove the background from an image in just a few clicks. It lets you get really creative with your own photos, stock photos, or logos by removing the parts you don’t want. It’s amazing to see it in action and so easy to use.

Q: PowerPoint 2010 has new capabilities for sharing a presentation over the web. What are the issues to be aware of when using this feature?

A: That’s right, you can now upload your presentation temporarily to Microsoft’s servers and send a link to anyone you want for a live presentation over the web while you do a conference call. When you click next on your PC, everyone’s screen automatically slides forward too.

This feature has a few limitations, though. For example, it doesn’t yet work with embedded video or audio, and your transitions are all converted to Fade. Animations work, and so do all your images, graphics, charts, and diagrams. And there are no worries about fonts. But the problem most people will see right away is that your mouse pointer (plus the pen, laser, and highlight features) don’t broadcast. So, you can’t point with your mouse to the connected audience.

I think for their first attempt at something like this, they’ve done a good job, and I’m sure we can expect some enhancements down the road.

Q: In addition to training people in how to use Office, you help businesses craft PowerPoint presentations. What’s your top tip for making more effective presentations?

A: Keep the slides simple. I always see slides crammed with too much content and that just doesn’t work. The audience doesn’t know whether to listen to the speaker or read the slide. If you have a lot to say, summarize it on the slide and give the audience handouts or refer them to your website for the details.

Mastering your iPhone or iPod Touch

Published by | Monday, June 21st, 2010

In iPhone and iPod Touch Essential Training, Garrick Chow provides in-depth instruction on all aspects of the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch (OS 3.1): making calls, emailing, browsing the web, managing time, getting around town, taking notes, taking photos, and listening to music. This live-action course includes hands-on demonstrations of how to accurately type and efficiently use finger gestures, and includes tips for setting up the iPhone and iPod Touch so they behave as expected. An extensive section on troubleshooting helps when the occasional glitches happen.

Topics include exploring the touchscreen interface, setting up preferences, synching with a Mac or PC, typing with the intelligent keyboard, making phone calls and retrieving voicemail, finding a location with Maps, downloading and playing music and video, shooting photos and video, using accessibility features, locating a lost iPhone with MobileMe, and more.

Compelling, professional presentations with PowerPoint 2010

Published by | Friday, June 18th, 2010

PowerPoint 2010 Essential Training Course TrailerThis week, released PowerPoint 2010 Essential Training with David Diskin, adding to its list of Office 2010 training courses. David Diskin demonstrates how to engage an audience with images, video, sound, charts, and diagrams in professional presentations. The course also covers a variety of methods to share presentations with others, and provides comprehensive tutorials on how to design presentations that successfully deliver a quality message.

Want some presentation inspiration? Check out the Creative Inspirations Duarte Design, Presentation Design. Nancy and Mark Duarte, the wife-and-husband team behind Al Gore’s famous slideshow about global warming, have built a thriving business out of creating high-impact PowerPoint and Keynote presentations. Their company has become the go-to presentation resource for some of high technology’s most visible companies, such as Adobe, Cisco, and HP. Nancy will be the first to tell you that it’s not the technology that matters most, but rather the story. This installment of Creative Inspirations tells the story of how this power duo elevated lowly PowerPoint presentations to arguably the most compelling form of modern media.

Office 2010 for Business: Focus on OneNote

Published by | Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Microsoft finished rolling out Office 2010 to customers this week, making the suite available to purchase in retail stores and online. has been rolling out courses on Office 2010 since it launched to business customers last month, and I’ve been talking with our Office 2010 authors about their experiences with this latest version. Today’s Q&A features David Rivers, author of many courses including OneNote 2010 New Features and the upcoming OneNote 2010 Essential Training.

Q: What’s your favorite new feature in OneNote 2010?

A: I would have to say my favorite new feature in OneNote 2010 is actually two features that work well together. First, there’s the new functionality that allows you to share a OneNote notebook over the web. With your free Windows Live account, you can share a notebook using SkyDrive. With your notebook stored and shared on SkyDrive, you can access it from any computer that is connected to the Internet.

Second, with the new OneNote Web App, you don’t even need to have OneNote installed to view and edit the notebook shared on SkyDrive. You can even create new notebooks with the OneNote Web App.

Chris Orwig tours the new features in Lightroom 3

Published by | Monday, June 14th, 2010

Earlier this month, Adobe Systems shipped Photoshop Lightroom 3, the latest version of its photo-management software for Windows and Mac.

When I saw that Lightroom 3 had shipped, one word came to mind: finally. Lightroom 3 had been available through a public beta program for many months, and the thousands of photographers who downloaded the prerelease version had the opportunity to provide feedback and influence the final product. Having thousands of cooks in the kitchen resulted in a pretty impressive stew, and Lightroom 3 brings enhancements to every aspect of the photographic workflow. Importing is easier, thanks to a redesigned Import dialog box.

Asset management is more powerful, thanks to the ability to import and manage DSLR video clips and new features for organizing and categorizing your shots. And exporting is more versatile, with enhanced printing features and built-in uploading to Flickr. In between importing and exporting is the Develop module, the place where you enhance the appearance of a photo. This is where you’ll find some of Lightroom 3′s most impressive new features. Lens Correction lets you fix the distortion that’s present in many lenses and also makes it easy to fix perspective problems, such as the “converging verticals” that are common in architectural shots. Lightroom 3′s improved noise-reduction features make it easy to remove the digital noise that often plagues photos taken with high ISO settings. And if you prefer old-school noise, you can use the new Film Grain effect to simulate the look of film.

There’s a lot more to Lightroom 3, and you can download a free trial to see for yourself. After you’ve done that, check out our latest release: Lightroom 3 New Features, an in-depth exploration of Lightroom 3 from photographer Chris Orwig. Later this month, we’ll be publishing Lightroom 3 Essential Training, in which Chris takes you on deep dive to explore every nook and cranny of Lightroom 3. Watching this course come together over the last few months has made me all the more grateful for the opportunity to work with Chris, who is as talented a teacher as he is a photographer. While we put the final touches on Chris’s epic, check out the rest of his courses in the Online Training Library®.