Archive for the ‘The Big Toolbox’ Category

Continuing my What’s In Your Toolbox? series, today I want to show you a few tools that make working with spreadsheets fast and easy. Whether you’re a basic table builder or a total Excel wonk, you’re going to love these tools.

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Follow my blog! There are lots more tools to come.

This is What’s In Your Toolbox?: Day 3 and we’re about to jump into my favorite application. Yesterday, we looked at some of the image editing features of PowerPoint, but ever since Word 5.0 for DOS (1990), Microsoft Word has been my “go-to” app for almost everything except making coffee. Today, I’m going to show you a few ways to work faster in Word. I can’t help with your typing speed, but after the document has been written, it’s time to edit and format…

Tomorrow, I’m going to show you some quick tricks in Excel. You can tame worksheets!

 

InauguralCover4Welcome back to What’s In Your Toolbox? Day 2.

Years ago, I used Adobe PhotoShop where I worked. I need to qualify that. I didn’t do awesome photo manipulations. I cropped, I recolored, I dropped out backgrounds, and retouched faces. Long before that, I put hair on a bald man, but I don’t even remember the name of the app (PhotoShop didn’t exist then).

Fast forward to 2013. I don’t need to do wild photo manipulations. I certainly can’t afford to buy PhotoShop to crop images, adjust the color, or lose the background. Welcome to PowerPoint 2013, the photo editor you may already have installed. This is one of those things where a picture is worth a thousand words. I apologize for the video quality, but I’m doing screen capture on the cheap (SnagIt for $30, academic pricing), don’t want to mess with my Expression Encoder tools and codecs, and WordPress limits how I include videos in blog posts.

I’m also doing some simple edits to give you the gist of it. I encourage you to go into PowerPoint and play with the image editing tools. You can save your work in .jpg format, and you’re good to go!

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Tomorrow, I’ll focus on something everyone should know to use Microsoft Word like a boss!

The Daily Prompt today is about confidence. I have absolute confidence in my ability to use what’s in my toolbox! http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/11/24/daily-prompt-confident/

Lately, I’ve been reading and participating in a debate about web apps – Microsoft Office Apps vs. Google Docs, which is an extension of the old debate between Microsoft Office and Open Office. True enough, the powerful features in Microsoft Office are wasted on the 90% of users who don’t use them. In fact, sometimes it’s the little things that can make you incredibly productive.

So starting today, I’m going to blog about some stuff that, if you make an effort to learn how to use just one new feature each day, you’ll find you’ve got some really powerful tools in your toolbox. Tomorrow, I’ll get into some of the other apps, but today, I’m going to offer a gift to my fellow bloggers… Windows Live Writer.

Download it (it’s free). Link it up to your blog account. Download your blog theme, and write like a pro.

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The ribbon shows you the styles associated with your theme, allows you to insert pictures from your computer or the web (they’ll be automatically uploaded to your blog image space) and create tables, enables you to set categories, tags, and even the post date and time. You can save drafts locally (really nice if your internet connection isn’t constant) or in your blog space. It even does spell checking and word counting for you.

Crazy enough, my favorite feature? When I get an idea I want to write about later, I just open Live Writer, type in a title and a sentence or two to jog my memory, then hit the Save icon. The draft is stored locally and displays a list for me to choose my next topic.

Word 2013 also has a blogging feature…

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The only problem is that you have to be careful with formatting and features because they may not translate well. But after you’ve written your opus, go to the File tab (backstage view), select Share, and go for it. You’ll notice that Word supports WordPress, Blogger, and more.

Now, aren’t you just done with the in-website editor?

Tomorrow, I’ll show you why you may not need PhotoShop… I invite you to follow my blog so you don’t miss a thing!

Daily Post prompt… I have a nerdy way of using play time… I teach! http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/11/23/daily-prompt-play/

If you use images for your business website or presentations, you want to be careful about copyright infringement (if you don’t want others to use your intellectual property, you need to respect their IP, too).

There are dozens of stock photo websites, but it seems that, with the exception of WikiMedia, they all require registration before seeing anything larger than a thumbnail. Grrr. I just want to see if the picture is suitable for my purposes before I sign up.

Search engines are good alternatives and the Bing.com search site just made image searches easier. Check this out:

Type in your search term. I’m doing a search for images of Abraham Lincoln. Right on the homepage, Bing asks what type of information I want to retrieve:

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If I choose images, Bing provides search results of websites that offer images of Abraham Lincoln, but if I click on Images at the top edge of the screen…

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Notice the gray bar beneath the search field. You can filter the 71,700 images to select Size (small, medium, large, wallpaper), Color (color, b/w, or a particular color, such as sepia), Type (photo, clipart, line drawing), Layout (square, wide, tall – to fit your project!), People (heads only, head and shoulders), Date (when images were posted), and (drum roll, please) License (yes, you can filter for images which you can modify and use in your project). I LOVE THIS FEATURE!

Google does offer some tools for filtering results, but the Layout and License tools are unique to Bing. Bing does provide a link to Creative Commons where you can learn more about various license types and proper attribution. Always be sure to give credit where credit is due. Now, didn’t that project just get easier?