Sunday, December 16, 2012

Three Screenshot Tools

It had been suggested that I make a tutorial about taking a screenshot that can be saved to the desktop or shared via email, etc. I have expanded on that slightly to provide a demo video of three different tools that can be used to do this.

Snipping Tool

The first one is the snipping tool which, if you are using a somewhat newer PC, you probably already have this. The snipping tool is an extremely watered down program with some very limited annotation tools.

A screenshot of the Snipping Tool in the menu.
This shot was taken and modified with SnagIt.
Snipping tool allows you to freehand draw or highlight and then save or email the final product. I took this particular shot with Snagit since getting it with the Snipping tool wasn't gonna happen. It allows for the ability to do freehand, window, and full-screen snips in addition to region snips as shown in the video but does not allow for snips that require more clicking to setup.

Greenshot

The second one is Greenshot which does significantly more things for the wonderful price of FREE. Below, you can see a shot of the image editor. This shot was taken and modified with the Greenshot tool. I tried to display a number of features available in the program.

The Greenshot image editor
As you can see in the screenshot - I can add text boxes, shapes, arrows, as well as freehand draw. I can also highlight and magnify and blur out other areas. Your capabilities with Greenshot are far greater than those of Snipping tool. If you want to do more with your image after it is captured, this is a great next step without any financial investment.

Snagit

Finally, we have Snagit. This product will cost some coin but if you do a great deal of this sort of work, I feel it is well worth the investment. Snagit will cost about $50 but will provide loads of other features that make the other two pale in comparison. Time delayed capture to allow you to setup a shot with menus and submenus, callouts, and hotspots just to name a few.

A view of the Snagit user interface when launched.
By far, Snagit is my favorite and certainly, I would recommend it for anyone that plans on doing a lot of this sort of thing. If you only need an occasional clipping and no need for powerful editing - the others would likely suffice. Unlike the other two - this one is also available for Mac.

Here is the video demo. Enjoy!


I know there are a lot of tools out there for this. Which one is your favorite?



Saturday, December 8, 2012

iTunes 11 and the Radio Feature

This morning I finally decided to update my iTunes to version 11 - yeah - a bit late getting to that but I do tend to wait a little bit before updating things. At any rate, I noticed after the update that my left side menu with the radio option was not there anymore.

iTunes 10.x showing left side menu
OK - if you haven't discovered iTunes Radio yet - you really need to check this out. I can choose from thousands of radio stations across the world to listen to. This is way better than my local options. Needless to say, I was bummed to see it was not going to be as easy to find. I immediately set about finding where it was moved to in iTunes 11.

Here is the video to help you find it.


Have an awesome day!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Tweak Your Auto-Correct Options on iPad

Recently, a friend asked about how the auto-correct feature of iPad could be adjusted to only highlight the words rather than make the fix automatically. I know from personal experience that I have not been fond of the fact that if I choose to ignore the auto correction pop-up choice it will place it there anyway - I have to stop typing and then cancel the pop-up before going back to typing which becomes an annoyance. This can be especially true if you intentionally spell something a certain way for a reason and iPad changes it for you.

At any rate, I created a short video on tweaking the settings to only highlight what iPad thinks is wrong about your typing without changing it.


Friday, November 30, 2012

An Innovative iPad Charging Station

Front view showing the whole unit
I was part of an IT group meeting today where one of the topics of discussion was about iPad management in the classroom. I was able to see a really neat, homemade charging and syncing station that was able to accommodate 24 iPads. This little beauty easily holds the iPads including their cases/covers and will sit on a table or desk nicely. Those of you that have done some shopping for iPad carts know that they can become very expensive. They can also take up quite a bit of space and are not always the most user friendly.



Closer view of the iPad bays.
Two iPads will fit in each bay.


This unit cost approximately $350 in materials and of course some time to build but the construction of this unit is not a complex one. It helps keep the iPad easy to get to and plug in for charging. Since there are power bricks all along the top of the unit, the cables reach nicely as you move down the station.





USB connections can be easily moved to
the powered hubs  for syncing

There are four powered hubs along the top near the power strip which allow for easy access when moving the USB cables so that the iPads can be synced up as opposed to charging. The design also allows the majority of the cabling to be nicely tucked out of view and out of the way.






Rear view showing power strip for hubs
and cable management

You can also see the iPad power bricks placed along the mounted  power strip on top of the unit. This larger strip has a long power cord that should be able to reach your available power outlet easily enough. Overall, I thought that this was a really neat and relatively inexpensive solution to an increasing need in our districts out there that are implementing iPad solutions. The largest expense was in the four 7-port hubs which ran about $40-$45 each. One would likely find a less expensive option here and save a bit more.



A big thank you to Bruce Turner at the Spring Valley School District for showing us the wonderful idea.

A top-rear view


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Split Your Keyboard On iPad

Have you ever tried to hold the iPad with both hands and try to type using just your thumbs? Well, unless you have the keyboard split, that can be a pretty good challenge. Here is a way you can split that keyboard so it is a bit smaller and easier to reach with your thumbs.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Change Default Format: Microsoft Word 2013

There are a few people that just don't like the Calibri font that is now the default for Microsoft Word. If you just plain don't like it or if you just need to have a special setup - this will show you how to go about making the changes.

Hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Keep Friends Off The Ballot

Here is an example of a small project created with PowerPoint that utilizes the technique demonstrated in the Remove Background tutorial for PowerPoint.

Remove Background Using PowerPoint 2010

Here is a fun and simple technique for removing pieces of the background from photos that you put in your PowerPoint presentations. It is quite fun and does not take a great deal of time or skill to accomplish. What's more is that you can create some amazing effects this way that just might "Wow" your friends.

If you try the technique - feel free to share some of the examples you come up with.



 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Dissecting a Message: A Lesson on Spotting Spam

Introduction

Ugh! Don't you wish that you could cut the spam completely out of your daily e-mail? Simple junk mail is one thing but sometimes the spam that shows up at the electronic inbox can be harmful to your computer, your pocketbook, and even your credit score depending on what you do with your spam.

Avoid troubles caused by spam.

Spam can also show up in more places than just your e-mail inbox. Spam can be found on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, discussion forums, wikis, in text messages, your voicemail, and even your 'snail mail' box at the front door.

What is most important for you is that you know how to spot the spam and deal with it appropriately to minimize your risk of getting a virus, being tricked into spending money, or worse - having your identity stolen.

To help you look for clues to identifying spam and other malevolent messages, I am going to use an example of one that I received today on my Facebook wall. If you haven't noticed, Facebook is a real popular place and that makes it a prime target for people to spam because they have the potential for a greater "return on investment" so to speak due to all the traffic.

Waking up

One of the very first things I do in the morning is check my e-mail. Facebook is kind enough to let me know when someone interacts with my page and guess what? One of my friends commented on a picture that I posted yesterday!

Cool! Someone commented on my photo! Hey, wait a minute...

I noticed, however, upon further inspection of the e-mail, that the message was more than a bit peculiar. Here is what I noticed.

  • Spelling and grammatical errors

Look at the message...

  • webb site

  • delivred

  • quotes on their own line - who does that?

Now granted, there are many people who don't give a rip about spelling or spell check but know that this is very common with spam messages. This should be throwing up some red flags for you.

  • An offer that sounds too good to be true

A glitching website that is giving away iPads? Sure, I would love a free iPad - who wouldn't? Wow! What great fortune! How can I pass up this opportunity?

  • A call to quick action!

A frequently used tactic is to use a great sounding deal like free iPads to trick people into acting before thinking things through. Sad part is... they have your money or personal information by the time you realize that the shiny new iPad will never even make it to the UPS truck much less your doorstep.

Other Subtle Clues

You should be always on the lookout for things that logically just don't add up. Here are some things that just didn't add up in my scenario.

  1. Recall that someone commented on my photo... I did post a photo yesterday so it is not surprising that someone might have noticed it and made a comment. However, the comment itself has absolutely nothing to do with the photo.

  2. What I have not mentioned yet is that the email notification came at 4:30 in the morning - A time when I know my friend is fast asleep instead of commenting on my photos.

  3. You have to take into account who the message is from. Do you know them? If you never heard of them - be skeptical! In this case, it is one of my Facebook friends so I do know them but I also know that I seldom get comments from them - so this post, especially based on content, becomes out of character.

  4. This message does not ask for any personal information but I am pretty sure that if I were to visit the link provided in the message that I would not only be asked for my address to send the iPad but possibly even get a free "gift" in the form of a virus or malware that would keep sending sweet offers.

  5. In e-mails, look for Re: in the subject line. If someone responds to an e-mail that you sent them, you will most likely see the Re: along with the same subject line you wrote in the original e-mail. So ask yourself - Did I send Jimmy Joe an e-mail asking about that 20% off sale on Rolex watches?

  6. Consider the quality of the writing - if you know the "author", you may have an idea of how well they write/type. Does the message look like something they might have crafted? For example, I would be skeptical if a message from my grandma was full of text speak or language uncommon to her generation.

Why comment on THIS pic about some iPad giveaway - even if it were true? Doesn't make sense.

  Conclusion

I think it is very good to have a healthy dose of skepticism with you when engaging in online activities. Whether you are researching a topic of curiosity, responding to e-mail, or just hanging out with friends on Facebook - there will be a risk of spam, scams, viruses, and less than honest individuals looking to take advantage of unsuspecting surfers of the Web.
Take some advice on the threats that come in the form of messages. They can be e-mails, comments on your blog or Facebook page, tweets, or replies in your favorite discussion forum. Look for clues to let you know that it is time to be careful.

Are there lots of spelling and/or grammatical errors?
Does the post ask you to act fast?
Is there an offer that sounds too good to be true?
Does the message ask you for personal information?
Is the sender's name unfamiliar to you?
Is there something about the message that just doesn't seem right?
Does it say Re:(insert subject of your choice here) but you didn't send them anything?

If you can answer yes to any of these questions - BE SKEPTICAL!

Below are some things you can do next after encountering creepy spam or other scams. If you are uncomfortable performing any of the tasks or are unsure if it is necessary, ask for help from someone who is OK with handling it for you.


Steps to Take


  1. Please - do not click on any links in a suspicious e-mail or message post.

  2. Delete the message if possible.

  3. Contact the person that the message appears to have come from if you know who they are. Let them know you got a strange message with their name on it and verify whether or not they really sent it. If they deny it, suggest that they scan for viruses and malware and recommend to them that changing their account passwords might be a good idea.

  4. Scan your own computer for malware and viruses. You never know when odd messages might have something embedded in them that placed itself on your computer.

Hopefully this was helpful in some way.
Stay safe online!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Limit Ad Tracking: iOS 6

OK - so here is a story that is getting some buzz lately. It is about the new iOS 6 ad tracking that has been re-introduced. Unknown to most of us, after the upgrade to iOS 6, apps started tracking our behavior and delivering ads to us based on that behavior. Now, granted there is no personal information being tracked but it is possible for that information to be obtained through some other indirect means because the device information is linked to some personal information.

At any rate, here is a walkthrough on how you can stop apps from tracking your behavior - you are still gonna get some ads but at least the apps won't be tracking what you do online.



 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Copy and Paste Using Your iPhone/iPad

I don't know about you but sometimes I think it can be tough to type on the virtual keyboard, especially if you are constantly going back and forth between numbers, symbols, and letters both upper and lower case. In those cases, I like to use the copy and paste features built into your device.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Turn Off Mail App "Conversation View": iPhone/iPad

A short while back we did a tutorial on how to turn off the conversation view in Gmail. This tutorial will show you how to turn off that conversation view within your native mail app on the iPhone or iPad. What a gem!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Show Home Button: Google Chrome

OK - so I remember installing Google Chrome some time ago and not being able to find the home button. WHAT?!! No home button? C'mon - there has to be a home button, right? Why am I not seeing it?

The short answer is yes, there is a home button but the long answer is that you have to basically turn it on in the browser settings yourself.

This video will show you how to do that. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Using Checkboxes to Select Multiple Items: Windows 7

In this video, you will learn about how to enable or disable the ability to select multiple items using checkboxes in Windows 7.



Hopefully this feature is helpful to you or if it is something that bothers you - you can turn it off now. Either way, have a great day!

Please let me know if there are other specific tutorials that you may be interested in.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

BSOD - Where Did That Error Message Go?

Have you ever had your computer crash on you? UGH, and then that blue screen of death (BSOD) shows up for a fraction of a second and disappears as your computer reboots. OK - I don't know about you but I like to scan through the BSOD for clues about why my computer crashed and quite frankly, I just cannot read that fast. I like to use the clues I get from the BSOD to Google solutions (Yeah, alright, I know the clues we get from the BSOD are as clear as mud but Googling them can yield a great deal of useful things.)

At any rate, this video will show you how to disable the auto restart feature when the system crashes. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

ZoomIt: A Free Magnification Tool

I like free tools - especially when they work well. I have tried many times to use the built-in tool for magnification on Windows but have been left wanting more. I found ZoomIt to be the tool I like best after trying many of them. Here is a short video about ZoomIt and if you want to give it a try for yourself, here is the link to the website where you can download it.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb897434


Copy and paste the link above or click here


Not sure why this isn't the default tool that comes with Windows but alas...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Turn Off Conversation View: GMail

Have you ever been using GMail and wondered - "Where did that email go?"

I know I have from time to time and I have worked with many others who have experienced that same frustration. Rather than using the search feature that the search engine giant provides us with, most folks generally just scroll down through the inbox looking for that recent email from a certain person. No need to search, right? It should be right here on the first page - I just got it...

Well - yes - it probably is right there but we often miss it because it is buried within a conversation. A conversation is a group of emails lumped together sort of like a threaded discussion. Now - this can be nice for reading and following a particular email volley between two or more people instead of having to find them all individually - especially if the conversation takes place over several days. However, it can be tricky when trying to find a particular email that you remember from a certain person within the conversation that was not the most recent email in that conversation.

OK - it is confusing just to talk about it.

For the majority of folks that I have helped try to find an email - conversation view has been the culprit. Almost everyone I have spoken with does not care for this feature and like to have it turned off.

This video shows you quickly how to do that.

I hope someone finds it helpful.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Changing Your Account Information Using Your iPad

Woo Hoo! Here it is! This tutorial was created 100% with iPad apps/resources. I used a really awesome app called Explain Everything which runs $2.99 on the App store. I also used a free app called Cloud On to create the title page. Cloud On gave me a virtual PowerPoint environment to work in. The Cloud On app links with my Dropbox account for saving.

Using the PowerPoint title page and a handful of screenshots from the iPad, I imported them all into Explain Everything. Each slide can be manipulated and annotated on for visual clarity and for audio narration you simply speak normally and the mic on the iPad picks it up. When finished, I exported the movie to my camera roll where I then uploaded it to YouTube so that it could be embedded in this blog post.

I was very impressed with the Explain Everything app. I had a few blunders that I would have loved to edit out but overall it was not bad for the first run with this recording app.

I hope the tutorial is helpful for someone.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Setting Side Switch Function: iPad

I decided to try creating a video tutorial using the ShowMe app for the iPad. I wanted to see how well it would work along with providing a useful tip.

I was actually quite impressed with the capability of the app. I was able to swap out pictures from my library in mid-record and continue on. This was a limitation of the Screen Chomp app from Tech Smith. I really love Tech Smith products which is the company that makes Camtasia and SnagIt - I use those for making the videos on my PC - but had to defer to the ShowMe app for the ability to swap photos this time. The app does not provide any editing tools so this is what you get right out of the gates. Not bad, really - best "screen recording" tool for iPad I have seen so far. I honestly have to say that I have not looked for any others recently and there might be something new out there. I will have to investigate that soon.

Here is the video created on the iPad.



Edit: I took a look for another new tool for recording on the iPad and sure enough, there was one released in mid June 2012 called Explain Everything. It does cost $2.99 whereas ScreenChomp and ShowMe are free but I wanted to test it out so I bought it and will be posting a new tutorial next week using the new app.

Show Desktop Icons: Windows 7

I recall a while back when I did some Windows updates and rebooted my computer and found that all of my desktop icons were gone. At first, I was freaking out a bit, thanking Microsoft in a sarcastic way that didn't really make me feel any better. At any rate, I set about figuring out what happened to them. Turns out they were hidden on me - nothing was deleted - they were just hidden.

Whew! Well here is how you get them back - really simple actually. I am not sure WHY they are hidden after doing some updates - I haven't chosen to investigate that far.


Hope this was helpful for someone out there! If you have any comments or requests - feel free to leave them.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Insert A Screen Clipping: Microsoft Office 2010

Well, here is my first tutorial on the blog site. Again - my hope is to have a new one up each week. I started with a relatively simple task which is to add a screen clipping to a document, spreadsheet, or PowerPoint using the screenshot tool that is built into Office 2010.

Again, the task is pretty easy but I have run across a number of folks that did not realize that this was even possible so I thought it would make a good starter. If I start with several easy ones to begin with, I figure that I can make the weekly tutorials more of a habit so that I can do some more complex tasks for you.


Please feel free to leave any comments or feedback and if you have a suggestion for a tutorial please feel free to leave that too.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

New Blog Purpose

OK - so I have had this blog up for quite some time now and I have not really done a good job of keeping it full of entries. Part of that is due to the fact that I often feel as though what I have to say is either already out there or not important. That needs to be addressed before I am able to make this a decent blog site to revisit.

Here is what I decided. Despite the fact that there are tons of tutorials out there on YouTube and other locations - I want to make this blog focus on tutorials for how to do various activities related to technology. That is, after all, what K12 Tech Guy is meant to be about - educating in the area of technology. So that is the focus - that does not mean that I might not put some other random entry on the blog. I would like to try to have one new tutorial up each week to begin.

The hard part is making this activity a habit. I think that even though there are other tutorials out there that maybe mine could be helpful to someone anyway - maybe they didn't find the other ones or maybe, just maybe, they might like the way I do mine. Whatever the reason, I would just like my tutorials to be helpful.

Help me keep it rolling with some suggestions and if I can make one, I will give it a go.