Author Archive

May 30, 2008

Don’t Get Caught with Your Digital Pants Down – Add a Watermark in Acrobat

Nobody wants to get caught with their “digital pants” down. Unfortunately there may be times when you accidently send out a document to the “big cheeses” while it is still in draft form. Stamping “Draft” on every page of a document can help save you the embarrassment of sending the wrong file…and possibly your job!
If you choose to use the stamp tool you will have to tediously visit each page of the document. Imagine having a 50 page document that needs a “Draft” stamp on each page…not much fun. However, adding a “Draft” watermark to the document would be far more efficient method of adding the document’s review status.
1. Open the document in Adobe Acrobat
2. click Document > Watermark> Add
3. Type “Draft” in the text area
4. Adjust the opacity of the text using the Opacity slider
5. Add a bit of Rotation using the Rotation radio buttons
6. Click OK
To remove the watermark click Document > Watermark>Remove

10:31 AM Permalink
May 22, 2008

Create an Acrobat Print Button

I have to admit, for a long time I thought that Acrobat was a boring (but useful) application. Acrobat sat on my computer like an obedient dog and, on my command, turned my Word and Excel documents into PDFs. Boring…but useful.
As I started to learn more about Acrobat I realized that it contained a slew of “hidden gems” under the hood. I also learned that you can make a button in Acrobat that can do just about anything.
– Submit a form via email
– Print button
– Open a file
– hyperlink to a web site
– Play, Pause, and stop a movie
– and more…
To get you started here is a simple tutorial for creating a print button:
1. Open or create a PDF document
2. Click Tools > Forms > Show Forms Tool Bar
3. Click the button tool (the “OK” button)
4. Drag out a button onto your document, the Button Properties dialogue will open
5. (General tab)Name the button – this is not the label that will appear on the button
6. Click on the appearance tab and select desired colors
7. Click on the Options tab and add a label – this is the text that will appear on the button
8. Click on the Actions tab. Make sure the “Select Trigger” dropdown displays the “Mouse Up” value
9. Make sure the “Select Action” dropdown displays the “Execute a menu item” value
10. Click the Add button and choose File>Print
11. Click the OK button and click the Close button.
12. DONE! Test the button by clicking on the Hand Tool (it looks like a white glove)
13. When the end user clicks the button the print dialogue should open, just as if they clicked File>Print

8:25 AM Permalink
May 5, 2008

Enable Typewriter Tool for Acrobat Reader

For some reason, educational institutions don’t like to take the time to run Form Field recognition before publishing PDF forms. Adobe Reader users will not be able to digitally fill out the form unless the form has had the fields added in Acrobat. Using the Form Field Recognition tool is ridiculously easy (Forms > Form Field Recognition).
If you don’t take the time to run FFR, at least activate the Typewriter tool for your Acrobat Reader users (Full-blown Acrobat users can activate the Typewriter tool anytime). The Typewriter tool allows text to be typed anywhere on a document.
To activate the Typewriter Tool for Acrobat Reader users:
1. Open Adobe Acrobat 8
2. Click Tools > Typewriter > Enable Typewriter Tool in Adobe Reader
Useless bit of information – The longest word that can be typed using only the top row of alphanumeric keys is “typewriter.” (I know your testing it out…now get back to work!)

2:08 PM Permalink

Extracting Non-Sequential Pages from PDF’s

I often find it necessary to single out various pages from a PDF document and combine them into another. For example, I may need to combine pages 3, 5, and 10 from a fifty page document into a new PDF.
Acrobat provides an “extract pages” option that allows you to extract a range of pages, but this option does not allow for the combination of discontinuous pages. However, you do have a couple of options.
Option 1 – Use the “drag and drop” method as described by the Acrobat for Legal Professionals blog.
Option 2 – Use the “Create PDF from Multiple Files” option using the directions below (my preferred method)
Directions for Option 2
1. Open Adobe Acrobat 8
2. Click on the Create PDF button
3. Select the “From Multiple Files” option
4. The Combine Files dialogue box will open. Click the Add Files button
5. Find the PDF file with the pages you wish to extract and click the Add Files button
6. The PDF will appear in the Combine Files Dialogue, now to select the specific pages.
7. Click the Choose Pages button
8. The Preview and Select Page Range dialogue box will open. This will allow you to type in both a range of pages and non discontinuous pages. For example, if you wished to include pages 1 through 5 and pages 10, 11, and 15 you would simply select the Pages radio button and type 1-5,10,11,15. Cool!
9. Acrobat also provides a Preview tool to help select the correct pages.
10. Click the OK button.
11. The Combine Files dialogue will open and provide an overview of the pages that you selected.
12. From here, decide if you want to combine pages from another document or proceed forward by clicking the Next button.
13. Make sure the Merge files into a single PDF button is selected and click the Create button.
14. Sit back and watch Adobe Acrobat works its magic!

11:26 AM Permalink
April 21, 2008

Photoshop Elements 6 Earth Day Tutorial

Photoshop Elements is an amazing program and once you get the basics down you can really “go to town” on your photographs. This short tutorial will demonstrate a few tips and techniques based around an Earth Day theme.
•Text Effects
•Text Tool Tips
•Drop Shadow
•Quick Selections

9:30 AM Permalink
March 27, 2008

Photoshop Express (Beta)

This morning Adobe launched a public beta of Photoshop Express. Photoshop Express is aimed at the casual user who is interested in performing fast edits. Along with the basic editing tools (think crop, resize, and rotation), Express comes with the “Tuning” and “Effects” tools.
Tuning allows you to adjust white balance, highlights, sharpen the photograph, and even apply a soft focus.
If you are feeling creative try applying an effect or six. Express comes with six effects that can easily be applied to an image. Use the “Pop Color” effect to make a specific color…well… “pop”, or apply one of the neat “Distort” effects. The other effects include sketch, black and white, hue, and tint.
Express also integrates with Facebook, Photobucket, and Picasa as well as offers an Adobe gallery for sharing photos straight from Express . You can also rate your images, add captions, and create albums.
All you need is an Internet connection and the Adobe Flash player (a bit of creativity helps). So…what are you waiting for? Go sign up!

8:31 AM Permalink
February 21, 2008

2008 Adobe School Innovation Awards Competition

Adobe just released information regarding the 2008 Adobe School Innovation Awards. The theme this year is “My Community – My Planet – My 21st Century.” The competition is open to high school students in grades 9-12.
Students can submit entries in three categories:
-Web Design & Development
-Film & Video
-Graphic and Print Design
Prizes include software, cash, a laptop computer, and a trip to NECC being held in San Antonio, Texas.
For more information…

10:52 AM Permalink
February 15, 2008

What if…you could Photoshop your way into the Googleplex?

Well you can! That is if you are a K-12 student and live in the United States. Google is currently running a competition to design a “Google Doodle” that embodies the spirit of “What if…?”
Not only can you win a pass into the Googleplex, but you can also win a $10,000 college scholarship, a laptop computer, and a t-shirt that sports your doodle. If you are the grand prize winner Google will also hand over a $25,000 grant towards improving, or establishing, a computer lab at your school (sure to put a smile on your principal’s face).
Crayons are acceptable, but Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Illustrator, and Fireworks are way cooler! They even have provided a digital template to get you started.

9:23 AM Permalink

Five Tips for Combating Home Movie Mediocrity

1.Tell a story.
Instead of simply burning a DVD of your kid’s soccer game (BORING) capture the highlights from the entire season and create a documentary. The NFL does a great job at this. They are able to take snippets of video throughout the season, add narration and music, and turn it into a compelling story. Of course having a voice like John Facenda (the voice of NFL Films) certainly helps.
2.Don’t Focus Only on the Positive
Success is great! Heck, who doesn’t like to succeed? However, some of the best selling NFL videos document football follies! Try incorporating a bit of life’s struggles into your videos; failure is often times waaaaay more interesting than success (at least on video).
3.Tell the “Rest of the Story”
Senior Jason McElwain scored 20 points for his high school basketball team. Big deal…that is until you hear the rest of the story. Jason was the team’s manager, not a player, and is autistic. His coach, Jim Johnson decided to add Jason to the roster for the last game of the season, entitling Jason to a basketball jersey and hopefully some play time. Jason went on to score twenty points in four minutes, and won his way into the hearts of sports fans across the nation. Without the details…you have no emotion!
– see the video on YouTube
4.Take the Road Less Traveled
My cousin invited me to watch a video of his honeymoon in San Francisco. I rolled my eyes, sighed, and prepared myself for home video boredom. It turns out that Matt and Julie are a bit more adventurous than your average honeymooners. At each location they would walk up to the locals and interview them (think Jay Leno’s “Man on the Street”). The best part of the tape documented Matt finagling a turn on a street performer’s drum set. It was both funny and interesting. It didn’t hurt that they spent a bit of time in post production cutting out the boring parts, adding music, and highlighting the interesting stuff.
5.Add Humor
I taught middle school and junior high science for six years. Hands down the best instructional videos were those starring Bill Nye the Science Guy. He seemed to have a short 20 minute, highly engaging video for just about every topic I taught. He incorporated humor and wacky (but relevant) experiments into every episode. The students and I loved Bill Nye.
So there you have it. My five tips for combating movie mediocrity. Anybody else care to share?

8:01 AM Permalink
February 13, 2008

TCEA Conference and Designing with Style Sheets (or not)

Austin is a great city. The music and food are fantastic, the people friendly, and the traffic…well; umm…they’re working on it. Last week’s TCEA conference lived up to the high Austin standards I have come to expect. The event was well attended, offered many great workshops, and hosted a football-sized field of computer and technology vendors. Of course Adobe had a large presence and their booth was always jammed full of conference goers hoping to learn about the latest Adobe magic.
I had the opportunity to present three Adobe-themed workshops: Dreamweaver, Acrobat, and Photoshop. Each session was well attended by a slew of enthusiastic educators chomping at the bit to add to their bag of tricks. Yep, it was one whirl-wind of a week, and judging from the twinkle in their eyes, I would have to say that their students are in for some exciting stuff.
Now that I have had a few days to recover from my “Austin experience,” I can’t help but to think about the strange transition that is taking place regarding web design in education. The professional design community has been going through the CSS change for about 8 years now, but designing pages using Cascading Style Sheets has only recently trickled down into the high school web and multimedia classes. In fact, many teachers in the session were not familiar with the term CSS or had only just begin dabbling with learning how to use Cascading Style Sheets.
I like to “feel out” the skill level of my audience, so when I started to speak about CSS and eyes started to glaze over, I quickly switched gears and started teaching table-based layouts. Yep…I sold out. Much like a science teacher refusing to teach that Pluto is now a planetoid, I sold out.
About two years ago I decided to ditch table based layout and go strictly with CSS. Frankly, the transition was not an easy one and the time investment was huge. Learning all about the different browser quirks and hacks was enough to pull my hair out. Most of my time was spent trying to figure out why one page looked good in “browser A” but was completely blown out in “browser B.” Learning the ins-and-outs of CSS took time…lots and lots of time (and coffee, and aspirin, and more coffee).
But in hindsight, I should have stuck with my guns. A good teacher finds ways to teach hard content. A good teacher finds ways to reach both the struggling newbie and the seasoned brainiac. A good teacher doesn’t shy away from a hard topic. Next year I’ll be teaching CSS layout…and sticking with my guns! Next year teachers will be walking out with a twinkle in their eye and some new CSS tricks in their toolbox!
So, what learning materials (websites, books, etc.) have helped you learn more about desiging with CSS?

10:23 PM Permalink