Archive for August, 2012

Highlighting row differences in Excel

Published by | Monday, August 20th, 2012

Curt Frye is the author of over a dozen lynda.com courses and more than 20 books on Microsoft Excel, including Microsoft Excel 2010 Step by Step for Microsoft Press. He is also a popular speaker, presenting his Improspectives® keynote addresses and workshops for corporate clients.

 

Recognizing when your numbers don’t add up is key to successful operations management, which is why organizations of all types and sizes use the Excel spreadsheet program to manage their operations and inventory. A real-world example of this might be conducting a monthly inventory analysis that compares the number of products in your system with the units counted in your warehouse.

In Excel 2007 and 2010, you can quickly check for differences between these two inventory numbers. First, you select the numbers in your worksheet. 

Excel spreadsheet with two rows selected

Next, go to the Home tab on the ribbon, click the Find & Select button, and then click Go To Special.

Selecting row differences in the Go To Special dialog box in Excel

Your Excel data is laid out in two columns, so you want to look for differences between the two cells within each row (A2 compared to B2, A3 compared to B3, and so on). To do this, select the Row differences radio button in the Go To Special dialogue box and click OK.

When you click OK, Excel examines the selected cell range for differences between cells in the same row and highlights cells in the right-hand column that are different from their mates in the left-hand column.

 Excel spreadsheet highlighting the rows where cells contain different values

In this case, cells B4 and B7 contain values that differ from their mates in cells A4 and A7.

If your data were arranged in rows, you could highlight cells with different values by selecting the data cells in the worksheet and clicking the Column differences radio button in the Go To Special dialog box.

The Go To Special dialog box is often overlooked by even advanced Excel users, but it’s worth exploring all its useful options.

 

Interested in more?
• All Business courses on lynda.com
• All Excel courses on lynda.com
• All courses by Curt Frye on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Up and Running with Office Web Apps
• Excel 2010 Essential Training
Excel 2010 Power Shortcuts

 

Featured Five free videos: A first look at Microsoft Windows 8 and Office 13

Published by | Friday, August 17th, 2012

A new version of both Windows and the Office suite are on the way later this year. Last week, we released two new courses designed to give you a glimpse into these latest offerings from Microsoft. Right now, you can download preview versions of Windows 8 and Office 2013 to try out. So for this installment of the Featured Five, I’ve chosen five free videos from our new Office 2013 First Look and Windows 8 Release Preview First Look courses. In each one, author David Rivers gives you a look at what’s to come.

A first look at Windows 8 and Office 13

1. Understanding the different versions of Windows 8

Windows 8 is planned to release in October and, as with previous versions, there are various editions to choose from. In this video from the Introduction chapter of Windows 8 Release Preview First Look, David goes over each edition of Windows 8 and its intended audience: Windows 8 (consumers and home users), Windows 8 Pro (tech enthusiasts), Windows RT (those who buy it preinstalled on ARM-processor), and Windows 8 Enterprise (bulk business customers).

2. Using gestures and touch in Windows 8

One of the real paradigm shifts in the way Windows 8 works is the ability to use touch, or what Microsoft calls gestures, whenever you’re using a touch screen, mobile device, or in some cases a mouse. Some of the gestures are intuitive if you’ve been using a touch-screen smartphone with any regularity. Other gestures may make sense only after David shows you how to use them. This video from chapter one of Windows 8 Release Preview First Look, introduces Windows 8 gestures, how they look in action, and how to use them to navigate the Windows 8 interface with ease.

3. Working with the Photos app in Windows 8

One of the features of Windows 8 is a home screen with app icons that look similar to those you’d see on a mobile device. One of those apps, Photos, helps you organize and view your digital photographs, regardless of whether your photos currently live on your camera, hard drive, Flickr account, SkyDrive, and so on. In this video from chapter two of Windows 8 Release Preview First Look, David shows you how the Photos app works.

4. Integrating Office 2013 with the cloud

When you’re working with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or other Office 2013 applications, the default location for saving your documents will be the cloud-based SkyDrive. Of course, you’ll still be able to save things to your local hard drive, as David demonstrates in this video from chapter one of Office 2013 First Look.

5. Tracking changes and conversations in Word

Although you may have used Track Changes in previous versions of Word, there’s a new option called Simple Markup that makes reviewing changes a much less cluttered experience. As David shows in this video from chapter two of Office 2013 First Look, when changes are made to a document using Simple Markup, a simple red vertical indicator appears to the left of a text area that has been revised. Then, to see the changes made, and who made them, the red indicator line can be clicked to reveal the details of an edit, one edit at a time. This new tool lets you see changes, and keep track of editing conversations, but it also lets you scan through a relatively clean document.

Members of lynda.com can watch the complete versions of both Windows 8 Release First Look and Office 2013 First Look in our library.

Which features do you think bring the biggest potential change to your work?

 

InDesign Secrets: Five features to include in new InDesign documents

Published by | Thursday, August 16th, 2012

In this week’s free InDesign Secrets episode, David Blatner offers a list of five Adobe InDesign features that, when added at the beginning of your InDesign project, will improve the long-term efficiency, organization, and collaborative potential of your project. Although some documents (shopping lists, quick flyers) may not need all five of these features, their addition is critical for efficiently working on professional documents such as books, magazines, and brochures in InDesign.

In the video, David gives you a quick overview of his five suggested features, and why each has the potential to make your InDesign workflow easier. Since several courses in the lynda.com library also provide more information on how to use these features, I’ve also provided links to related content as applicable throughout the text below.

Five elements to include in your Adobe InDesign document

1. Layers
Ever inadvertently move a background image on your page when you’re trying to resize a text frame? By keeping each type of element on a different layer, you stay organized and keep everything in its right place. For more on creating and using InDesign layers, check out Chapter 10 of David’s InDesign CS6 Essential Training course. (David’s layer discussion is in Chapter 10 of his CS5 version of the course as well.)

2. Paragraph styles
Sometimes it’s tempting to intentionally avoid the creation of paragraph styles and simply let everything in your document default to the Basic Paragraph style. But if you give yourself actual working, aptly named styles, you can not only save yourself manual labor each time you want to apply the same set of formatting options, but you also have a handy mechanism for changing those options all at once if you change your mind. Alter the style, and every instance where that style is applied will update automatically. You can learn more about creating, applying, and benefiting from paragraph styles in the first four chapters of our InDesign Styles in Depth course with Michael Murphy.

3. Character styles 
Creating a character-level style that you can apply and reapply (as well as update) is particularly helpful for character-level treatments like bold and italic. As with paragraph styles, this feature is covered extensively in InDesign Styles in Depth.

4. Object styles 
Crafting an object style not only lets you apply strokes, insets, and other settings to graphic and text frames, it also means you can set default text or graphic frame features that are automatically applied every time you create such an object. To learn more about character styles, check out chapter five of InDesign Styles in Depth for an entire hour dedicated to creating and employing object styles.

5. Master pages
For those elements and features you want to apply to every page in your document (or just recurring types of specialty pages, like a chapter opener), master pages are very useful. If you’re interested in more information on how to use master pages, check out our Using InDesign master pages Featured Five blog collection for five free Master page tutorials.

For members of lynda.com, there’s also an exclusive InDesign Secrets movie this week from David’s partner in InDesign secrecy, Anne-Marie Concepción, called Forcing EPUB page breaks with invisible objects.

Interested in more?
• The entire InDesign Secrets biweekly series
• Courses by David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepción on lynda.com
• All lynda.com InDesign courses

Suggested courses to watch next:
• 
InDesign CS6 New Features
 InDesign CS6 Essential Training
• 
InDesign Styles in Depth

Five features that make it easier and more efficient to create professional documents in Adobe InDesign

Businessweek.com highlights lynda.com business model

Published by | Thursday, August 16th, 2012

lynda.com is featured in a Bloomberg Businessweek story about company founders who hire a CEO to manage their businesses. The article, in the site’s Small Business section, describes how the owners of fast-growing companies bring in outside managers to help run the businesses they created. Author Karen Klein writes that after hiring Eric Robison as the CEO of lynda.com, company founders Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin “work as a team with Robison but focus on what they love: expanding curriculum, coaching new teachers, and creating value for students.”

Maya Essentials training series is now complete

Published by | Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

If you take a look at our list of Maya courses, you’ll see six new Maya Essentials titles designed to introduce the basics of Maya in simple installments. Together, these six courses provide a more flexible approach to learning Maya.

In the series, I cover the nuts and bolts of Maya, from the interface, modeling, and materials, to rendering and animation. This modular series is divided into six courses, each no more than an hour or two long. Start at the first course and work your way to the end, or watch one course that interests you. The Maya Essentials courses are available to watch in any order at any time, so it’s your choice.

We’re also exploring the Essentials format for other large software packages, so let us know what you think of this new format. Your feedback is always appreciated.

 

All six Maya Essentials courses:
Maya Essentials 1: Interface and Organization
Maya Essentials 2: Polygonal Modeling Techniques
Maya Essentials 3: NURBS Modeling Techniques
Maya Essentials 4: Creating Textures and Materials
Maya Essentials 5: Animation Tools
Maya Essentials 6: Lights and Rendering

Deke’s Techniques: Drawing a perfect spiral in Illustrator

Published by | Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques video, Deke McClelland shows you how to create a spiral in Adobe Illustrator. Actually, he shows you how to make a couple of different spirals. One is a logarithmically defined spiral created with the Spiral tool (in other words, the kind of spiral that Adobe engineers may think you want). The second is an arithmetically defined spiral created with the Polar Grid tool (or, the kind of evenly spaced spiral that Deke set out to create in the first place).

Side by side comparison of an engineer's spiral (logarithmically defined) and Deke's spiral (arithmetically defined)

To orient you to the swirling mass of spirals, Deke explores the built-in Spiral tool and demonstrates some of its limitations, for instance showing that the point where you begin your spiral has no predictable bearing on how your spiral takes shape in a document. You’ll also see which keyboard commands are available for swiftly changing the size and shape of the spiral swirls.

The logarithmic spiral—where the distance between the curves changes as the spiral moves outward—is not what Deke had in mind. Rather, he was on a quest for what mathematicians (and diligent readers of Wikipedia) call an Archimedean spiral, where each curve is the same distance from the next along a polar axis.

To tackle the Archimedean spiral, in the second phase of the video Deke creates a set of evenly spaced concentric circles using the somewhat obscure Polar Grid tool. After ungrouping the bottom half of the circular grid from the top, he then deftly moves the bottom half of the grid over one circular increment, reconnecting concentric circle number 13 on the bottom half to concentric circle number 12 on the top half to form two intertwining, evenly spaced spirals that would make Archimedes proud. After selecting one of the spirals and setting the stroke to red, Deke arrives at this mesmerizing effect:

Final black and red Archimedean spiral made by offsetting two intertwining, evenly spaced spirals

For members of lynda.com, Deke also has a movie available in our library this week called Drawing a perfect nautilus shell in which he shows you how to create another type of spiral from a single triangle, with this result:

Nautilus shell-inspired spiral made from a single triangle using Adobe Illustrator

See you back here next week when Deke returns with another spiral-inspired Deke’s Techniques tutorial.


Interested in more?
• The entire Deke’s Techniques weekly series on lynda.com
• All Illustrator courses on lynda.com
• All courses by Deke McClelland on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Fundamentals
• Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals
• Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials

 

lynda.com to host a free webinar on online learning

Published by | Monday, August 13th, 2012

This week, lynda.com presents a free webinar for educators as well as corporate and government trainers. In Online learning: How video changes and enhances the way we learn, discover how a great online video addresses the “why” of each lesson, presents the big picture of the subject matter, and supports the big-picture idea with granular details and steps.

In the last three decades, education has moved beyond the four walls of the classroom to the infinite possibilities of the Internet. Training resources using rich media are everywhere: YouTube, Vimeo, Open Education Resources, lecture capture inside learning management systems, and third-party rich media libraries.

Educator and digital media expert Laurie Burruss leads our free webinar, explaining how these factors affect our learning:

• transcripts and closed-captioning

• playback controls

• anywhere/anytime access

• personalization and customization

• repetition and failure in a private setting

 

Webinar details:

When: Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cost: FREE

Choose your time:

7 to 8 a.m. PDT

10 to 11 a.m. EDT

Register for time-slot one

 

11 a.m. to noon PDT

2 to 3 p.m. EDT

Register for time-slot two

 

How to build a list-based app with jQuery Mobile

Published by | Saturday, August 11th, 2012

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how easy it is to create a list-based app with the jQuery Mobile framework in just a few minutes, and hopefully encourage you to give it a try.

jQuery Mobile is an excellent way to create web applications for mobile devices, but it suffers from a bit of a PR problem. When I first learned about the framework, I put it on my list of technologies I should investigate, but I figured that because it’s based on jQuery, I’d have to be a jQuery expert before I could use jQuery Mobile. I found that nothing could be further from the truth.

All that is needed to use the framework is some basic HTML knowledge. In addition, because the framework is built on top of jQuery, you get all of the functionality of jQuery in a way that is easily accessible.

What is the jQuery Mobile Framework?

jQuery Mobile is a framework for developing web applications for touch-optimized devices. A framework gives you a structure or methodology for doing something—in this case, for developing web applications.

Although you can use HTML and JavaScript to develop mobile-optimized sites, you’ll quickly run into some serious problems: Different devices and browsers treat your code differently, so you have to write a bunch of JavaScript to overcome device orientation and other issues. You also have to create styles for different items like list views, dialogs, toolbars, and so on. jQuery Mobile does all of that for you. It creates a code base that handles differences between devices with support for a large range of devices.

A quick example: a list-based app

So let’s get started with a quick example. I’m going to build a list-based app that will show a selection of photos. I’ll start with some super basic starter code for a normal page:


<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <head>
    <meta charset="utf-8" />
    <title>ListApp</title>
  </head>
  <body>
  </body>
</html>

This is pretty standard HTML code. Let’s add a header section to our body:


<div id="header">
  <h1>My Photos</h1>
</div>

And of course, we’ll need a footer. I’m going to add a navigation with fake links to some other potential pages:


<footer>
  <nav>
    <ul>
      <li><a href="#">Home</a></li>
      <li><a href="#">Photos</a></li>
      <li><a href="#">Info</a></li>
    </ul>
  </nav>
</footer>

Now we need some content. To keep things short for this article, I’m going to add just two photos to the mix, but you can add as many as you like. Since this is a list-based app, I’ll put the photos inside a list.


<article>
  <ul>
    <li>
      <a href="#">
      <h1>Miniature Doberman Pincher</h1>
      <img src="images/doggie_tn.jpg" alt="Min Pin" />
      <p>This is what happens when a
      friend brings a dog to the studio.</p>
      </a>
    </li>
    <li>
      <a href="#">
      <h1>Gummy Bears</h1>
      <img src="images/gummies_tn.jpg" alt="Gummy Bears" />
      <p>Three different poster boards...mirror for reflection,
      black for background white for highlights</p>
      </a>
    </li>
  </ul>
</article>

We encased our list inside an <article> tag, and inside each list item we have a link, which will eventually take us to a large version of our image and then a headline, a thumbnail, and a short description.

HTML site before adding jQuery Mobile.

So far this is just a regular HTML page. Let's now add the jQuery library. Since the app is based on jQuery Mobile, we’ll need to add that library too, as well as some styles that the library needs. The easiest and recommended way to do this is to copy three lines of code from the jQuery Mobile Download page.


<link rel="stylesheet" href="http://code.jquery.com/mobile/1.1.1/jquery.mobile-1.1.1.min.css" />
<script src="http://code.jquery.com/jquery-1.7.1.min.js"></script>
<script src="http://code.jquery.com/mobile/1.1.1/jquery.mobile-1.1.1.min.js"></script>

You can put this code in between the <head> tags in your document (not to be confused with the <header> tags). These three lines tie in the CSS, the jQuery Mobile library, and the jQuery library. If you preview the page now, you’ll be able to see some slight differences in the look of the page. The background will be gray, and the fonts will be different. Not too exciting, but it means the library is already working. Here comes the exciting part.

Formatting a list view

Modifying our list so that it gets mobile device functionality is super easy: we just need to modify our <ul> tag to read like this:


<ul data-role="listview">

Your page should look something like this:

Mobile page with a formatted list view made using jQuery Mobile.

From someone who has written the CSS necessary to make a list look like this photo, this library has already saved me a ton of time.

jQuery Mobile uses the data-role tag to assign roles to regular HTML elements on a page. The reason it can do this is because of a really cool feature in HTML5: the ability to add a data-whatever attribute to any tag and store information that you can use to style elements and create interactivity.

Making the list searchable

For an even more impressive example of what the library can do, try modifying your <ul> tag like this to make your list searchable:


<ul data-role="listview"  data-filter="true">
 

You should see a search box appear on top of your list. Start typing the word gummy into the search box and you’ll see that the list only displays one item (the one with the text gummy bears in the title). jQuery Mobile does all of that for you automatically.

jQuery Mobile list view screen with a searchable list field.

Formatting Headers and Footers

Let’s add some of the other tags that tell jQuery Mobile to format things in a more mobile-friendly fashion.

Content in jQuery Mobile is normally placed inside a data-role="content" section. We can add that to our <article> tag.


<article data-role="content">

Let’s also fix up the header. We’ll use data-role="header" in the <header> tag.


<header data-role="header">

Next, we'll fix the footer. Modify the <footer> tag like this:


<footer data-role="footer" data-position="fixed">

Not perfect yet, but this shows a big improvement. Our header looks like a mobile device header, our search bar and list are nicely formatted. Notice that I’ve added the data-position=“fixed” attribute to the footer. That places the footer at the bottom on mobile devices. Our footer looks good, but the links could look better. Let’s make them look like buttons on a mobile device.

Modify the <nav> tag in the footer to read like this:

  <nav data-role="navbar">

jQuery Mobile list view page with search field and formatted headers and footers.

Our application is looking great; however, we could really use some icons on the navbar links. jQuery Mobile lets us easily add icons by adding a data-icon attribute to links by modifying our list items like this:


<li><a href="home" data-icon="home">Home</a></li>
<li><a href="Photos" data-icon="grid">Photos</a></li>
<li><a href="Info" data-icon="info">Info</a></li>

jQuery Mobile list page with added icons on the header and footer.

With just a few attribute tags, we’ve added mobile functionality to a page that would have taken hours to write and style otherwise.

Multiple Pages

So far, we’ve built a single page app. If you want to create an app with multiple pages, you have to wrap each page with a tag, use the data-role=“page”, and add an id so that we can link to that page.

Before the <header> tag add the following line of code:


<div data-role="page" id="photos">

And don’t forget to close it underneath the <footer> tag:


</div><!-- Page Photos -->

I always add a comment because when working on a large jQuery Mobile project, I use a lot of <div> tags and it’s nice to know what the closing tags belong to.

Now that we have a page, let’s add a page for each of our photos:


<div data-role="page" id="dog">
  <header data-role="header">
    <h1>Min Pin</h1>
    <a href="#photos" data-icon="grid" data-iconpos="notext">Photos</a>
  </header>
  <img src="images/doggie.jpg" class="fullscreen" alt="Min Pin" />
</div><!-- Page Dog -->

<div data-role="page" id="gummies">
  <header data-role="header">
    <h1>Gummy Bears</h1>
    <a href="#photos" data-icon="grid" data-iconpos="notext">Photos</a>
  </header>
  <img src="images/gummies.jpg" class="fullscreen" alt="Gummy Bears" />
</div><!-- Page Gummy Bears --> 

The code is pretty similar to the photo list page with some important changes. First, there is no footer on these pages, since they will just display the photos. Second, we added a header with a link back to the home page—note the data-iconpos attribute on that link. You can control the position of the icons on buttons with this attribute, or you can turn the buttons off altogether using notext as a value. The button on the header is linked to our photos page.

I’ve also added a class of fullscreen to my photos. This is not a jQuery Mobile class, but something I’ve added manually because I want the photos to display full screen, so eventually I’ll add some CSS for that further down. First though, we need to link the items in our list view page to our new pages. Modify the list like this:


<li>
  <a href="#dog">
  <h1>Miniature Doberman Pincher</h1>
  <img src="images/doggie_tn.jpg" alt="Min Pin" />
  <p>This is what happens when a
  friend brings a dog to the studio.</p>
  </a>
</li>
<li>
  <a href="#gummies">
  <h1>Gummy Bears</h1>
  <img src="images/gummies_tn.jpg" alt="Gummy Bears" />
  <p>Three different poster boards...mirror for reflection,
  black for background white for highlights</p>
  </a>
</li>

Our app is almost done. Now, right before the closing </head> tag at the top of our document, let’s add the style to make sure our photos fit.


<style>
  img.fullscreen {
    max-height: 100%;
    max-width: 100%;
  }    
</style>

jQuery Mobile list app modified to show fullscreen images.

Our app is now ready. You can take a look at the finished jQuery Mobile app here.

 

Interested in more?
• All web + interactive courses on lynda.com
• All courses from Ray Villalobos on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:
• jQuery Mobile Web Applications
• jQuery Mobile Essential Training
• Mobile Web Design & Development Fundamentals
• HTML5: Structure, Syntax, and Semantics