Display archivesMicrosoft: goodbye PowerPoint, hello Sway

November 19th, 2014
PowerPoint became a victim of its own success and ubiquity. So Microsoft, under new CEO Satya Nadella, is making another big change: they are introducing an online, multimedia-rich presentation application called Sway. Sway will compete with Prezi, which got to this market, first. Sway is still in beta, but you can get an invitation to try it for free at www.sway.com.



Display archivesEasy way to send & receive money electronically with your smart phone

November 5th, 2014
When you want to send money to someone electronically, it can be surprisingly difficult. If you aren’t lucky enough that your bank and the recipient’s bank have compatible payment systems, your bank might end up sending the recipient a paper check. If you both have PayPal accounts, that also works well. Other than that, there’s no universal process.


The Square app (iOS and Android) is great for this, though it’s mostly geared for businesses to use as a cash register. And you either need the small card reader, or you have to key in a credit/debit card number. But Square just introduced the Cash app, which lets you send money with a text message. The money goes directly into the recipient’s bank account in seconds, compared with several days when using PayPal.


The transaction is free for the sender, and 2.75% to 3.5% for the recipient. Pricing details are here. For more info, see www.square.com/cash.



Display archivesNew Windows will be called Windows 10

September 30th, 2014
The new version of Windows (code-named Threshold) that will be released next year will be called Windows 10, and will run on multiple hardware platforms. Microsoft is skipping the name “9″ as a way of showing that this will be the last major release of Windows. Future releases will be small updates. Read more on ZDnet.



Display archivesNew user of spreadsheet programs? I have a course for you.

September 10th, 2014
If you’re new to the whole concept of spreadsheet programs, check out my new course, published by Tuts+: Intro to Spreadsheets. It’s not Excel, only!


Of course, Excel is the 800 lb. gorilla in this category, and most of the course focuses on it, but the course will also help if you’re using other applications, like Google Sheets, Apple Numbers, LibreOffice Calc, and the web and mobile versions of Excel. You can finish the course in about a day. Exercise files are included.





Display archivesHow to prevent Illustrator from combining layers when you group or paste

August 21st, 2014
When you copy and paste objects that are on multiple layers, or when you group objects that are on multiple layers, Adobe Illustrator will combine everything onto one layer. It’s probably not what you want, and can be frustrating. Here is how to fix both problems.



My full-length Adobe Illustrator CC and CS6 courses are at TotalTraining.com.



Display archivesInstantly turn any YouTube video into an animated gif

August 17th, 2014
Depending on whether you love or hate animated gifs, this will be either excellent or horrible: to turn any YouTube video into an animated gif without having to download anything or mess with any application, substitute the “youtube” in the URL with “gifyoutube“.


For example, I’ll take this video of Felicia Day (creator of The Guild and Geek and Sundry) flying on a trapeze:


…and change the URL into this:


Enter a title for the gif (title is truncated, below), drag the video’s play head to the time where you want the gif to start, then set the number of seconds the gif should run, with a maximum of 10 seconds. Click the Create gif button on bottom, and it instantly creates the gif and gives you a URL that you can use.




The gif I created above has a URL of:


(And if you want to see Felicia Day doing a lot of other fun stuff, check out her channel, The Flog.)