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Posts Tagged ‘New Horizons Computer Learning Center’

Prevent or control use of USB flash drives

February 1st, 2012 No comments


Tiny flash memory drives that fit on a keychain (sometimes called thumb drives) are inexpensive and convenient for transferring files between computers that aren’t on the same network– but they can also present a security risk for your organization. They can be used to bring viruses and unauthorized software in, or to smuggle sensitive information out. Luckily, there are software products, such as GFI’s Portable Storage Control (PSC), that let you control the use of these devices on your network.

For more information on how it works, see www.windowsecurity.com/articles/Review-GFI-LANguard-Portable-Storage-Control.html.

View security classes offered here.

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Categories: security, Tips & Tricks

Great photo restoration begins with a great scan

February 1st, 2012 No comments

In this article, we offer you, in no particular order, seven tips to help you capture the best scan possible when restoring your old photos:

Clean the scanner. Make sure your scanner bed is free of dust and lint. Your old pictures have their own dust and scratches—no need to introduce more during the scanning process!
• Clean your photos. Inspect your photos for dust and dirt and gently wipe them clean with a soft cloth or lint-free photo wipe.
• Capture in color. For optimum results, scan your old black and white photos using one of your scanner’s color (RGB) settings. You’ll acquire more pixel information when you do so, and you can convert photos to grayscale after you make your edits. With sepia prints, however, you might get better results if you scan in grayscale or convert the image to black and white before you edit. Test and try it both ways. Reason: It’s easier to correct the image and make all tonal adjustments in grayscale, and then convert it to sepia in Photoshop.
• Scan at a high resolution. Scan photos using at least print resolution—300 ppi for most images, or up to around 600 ppi. You won’t obtain too much image detail beyond 600 ppi. Tip: Don’t scan higher than your scanner’s optical resolution because your scanner interpolates anything beyond that resolution.
• Double the size. When working with small photos, double their size when you scan them. For instance, if you have a 2-inch square photo, scan it at 200% so your scan size is 4-inch square. You’ll have more real estate to work with and can always downsize the image later if you need it smaller.
• Line it up right. If your photo has a tear or crease, line the crease up in the same direction your scanner scans. So if your scanner scans from right to left, align the tear or crease so it lays horizontal on the scanner bed to minimize the effect.
• Keep it low-contrast. As a general rule, don’t adjust the photo’s contrast with your scanning software before scanning. When you scan at a high contrast, any clipped highlight or shadow pixels won’t capture in your scan. If you must adjust the contrast before scanning, do so only to the point of achieving a moderate- to low-contrast image.

View upcoming Photoshop classes here.

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Categories: Adobe, Tips & Tricks

For more understandable error reporting, use the JavaScript console in Gecko-based browsers

February 1st, 2012 No comments

 
When you encounter JavaScript errors in Internet Explorer, they’ll be in your face (as long as you select the Display A Notification About Every Script Error check box which is located in the Browsing section on the Advanced tab under Tools | Internet Options). That’s good for catching them in the first place (in Netscape, you might never notice the errors). However, when it comes to figuring out what the error is, Netscape beats IE in spades. Case in point: IE gives you messages such as “Expected identifier” and “Object expected.”  So, what’s wrong with the code?  How do you fix it?  Who knows?

Compare this with what we see when we open the same error-ridden file in Netscape Navigator or Mozilla and navigate to Tools | Web Development | JavaScript Console. The messages say things like “missing variable name.”  There’s nothing like good ‘ole English! And certain error messages even show pictures of your code with an arrow pointing to exactly the character that’s incorrect. What’s more, instead of a flurry of confusing dialogue boxes, you see the errors in order.  That makes it much easier to figure out what’s wrong.

Browse our upcoming Java classes here.

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Categories: Tips & Tricks

Stop micromanaging your Excel tables

February 1st, 2012 No comments

Balance row and column sizes in 3 clicks

Working with tables can mean a lot of tweaking and fine-tuning while you adjust the look and fit of your rows and columns. To balance your table’s appearance, click on the table and then select the rows or columns you want to adjust. Select the Layout tab from the Ribbon, if necessary, and choose Distribute Rows or Distribute Columns on the Cell Size panel. These commands uniformly distribute the sizes of the selected rows or columns without affecting the size of the table itself.

View upcoming Excel classes here.

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Categories: Microsoft, Tips & Tricks

Comments in CSS and HTML

January 27th, 2012 No comments

GUEST BLOGGER: Cristian Easterly, Applications Instructor

When working with any kind of code, you may come to a point where you need to label certain lines. You may want to stop and come back to work on the code another time and leave yourself a note so you don’t have to read through each line to make sure it is correct. You may also want to write yourself notes if you are a beginner and need to refer back to that text document to know what each line of code means/does. Another reason for adding comments would be if you were sharing your code with someone else. They need to know why you wrote the code that you did and what it is actually doing.  I am going to show you how to write a comment in CSS and HTML. They are slightly different but will do the same thing. It will allow you to write anything you want in your text document without affecting the code itself.

HTML:

 <a href=”index.html”>Home</a>

<!– Link to Home page –>

<a href=”contact.html”>Contact</a>

<!– Link to Contact page –>

The red text shows the comments in HTML. It starts with “<!–“ and ends with “–>”. You can write anything you want between them. The purpose of comments is to write something without changing your code at all. I even like to add fun little comments if I am sharing my code with someone else because I know that whatever I write will NOT show up on the page.

CSS:

p {

            font-size: 24px;

            /* 24 is also the current font size for the content section on the home page */

}

This is what a comment will look like on your CSS style sheet. It looks a little different than a comment in HTML, but it acts the same way. You can write whatever you want without changing your code. Start with “/*” and end with “*/”. It’s as simple as that.

These comments can go anywhere in your code. Just make sure to use the correct format for the type of code you are working with. Remember that the comments will not be interpreted, so you can write in any format you want to.

View upcoming HTML classes here.

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Reusing Slides in a PowerPoint Presentation

January 27th, 2012 No comments

GUEST BLOGGER: Susan Strandberg, Instructor

 

PowerPoint is such a wonderfully useful tool when we want to present information to a group of people.  We work hard to create interesting and inventive presentations that will grab and hold our audiences attention.  Many times, if we have to create a presentation quickly we try to reuse slides from previous presentations. 

How do we go about putting a slide from an existing presentation into a different presentation? 

Open the presentation that you are working on.  On the Home tab in the Slides group click on the bottom half of the New Slide command. 

      

 

At the bottom choose Reuse Slides.  This will open the Reuse Slides task pane on the right-hand side of your PowerPoint window.  Click on the Browse button and choose where you would like to look for the PowerPoint presentation that contains the slides that you want to reuse.

Once you have selected the presentation with the slides you want to reuse click on Open.  You should now see the slides from that presentation in the Reuse Slides task pane.  If you hover over the slides you will see a larger version of that slide so that it is easier to determine which slides you want to use.

 

If you click on a slide it will insert that slide into your current presentation while matching the theme/design that you have applied to your current presentation.  If you want to retain the theme/design of the original presentation when inserting the slides you must check the box at the bottom of the Reuse Slides task pane that says Keep source formatting.  That will insert the slide exactly as is in the original presentation.

When you are done inserting slides into your current presentation you can close out of the Reuse Slides task pane by clicking the x in the top, right corner.

Check out upcoming PowerPoint classes offered by New Horizons here.

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Know your HTML tags

January 26th, 2012 No comments

GUEST BLOGGER: Cristian Easterly, Applications Instructor

If you have ever worked with HTML, you know the frustrations that come with setting up each page and making sure they all link together. I am going to show you how to understand how the pages link, and we will break down the line of code to understand what each part means.  

The first thing we want to look at is the basic structure of the link itself.

<a href=”index.html”>Home</a>

The parts of the link that are highlighted in red are the tags. You need one at the beginning, and one at the end to close the tag. It will not work unless you close the tag. This specific tag is an anchor. It is working to make the pages link together.

<a href=index.html”>Home</a>

This next highlighted part is the attribute. This attribute specifies the page that it will be linked to. So, if we were adding this line of code to our “About” page, this link would take us to the “Home” page (index.html).

<a href=”index.html”>Home</a>

Our “Home” page text file is called “index.html”. Make sure you put the exact name of the text file you are linking to or it will not recognize it and it will not work. Remember to surround it in quotes too.

<a href=”index.html”>Home</a>

For this example, I am linking my “About” page to my “Home” page. This line of code is in my “About” text file. The highlighted text is what will appear on my page when viewed in a browser. You can put anything you want here. Depending on how you style your links in your style sheet (CSS), the word “Home” will appear that way. None of the other text shown here will appear.

So there you have it! Linking your pages together is as simple as adding this line of code to your html text file and changing the names around. Now that you know all of the parts of this tag, it should make linking the pages together a little easier.

View upcoming HTML classes here.

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Visual Studio 2010: New Features

January 26th, 2012 No comments

Mark Rosenberg, 5 Time MVP. MCP, MCTS, MCPD, MCT, STEP

Last time I talked about Intellitrace in Visual Studio 2010.  This time I am going to talk about MSDeploy.  MSDeploy is a tool that will help you deploy web sites.  It was originally included in IIS7 and used to help deploy a website over a server farm.  The idea is you could copy the files and settings from an existing working web site from one web server, zip all that info up, take it to another server, and with one click (or a few clicks) install all the files and settings on the other server, including things like application pools and security settings from IIS.

Visual Studio 2010 has a front end to this tool and actually adds some functionality to it.  You get to the Package/Publish Web Site tabs by right clicking on your web project and either selecting Properties or Package/Publish.  You can choose to package all files in the project, or only the ones you need to run the web site.  You can also include or exclude the files in the App_Data folder.  There is a second tab called Deploy SQL which handles deploying a database.  You can package (and the tool will create the scripts) to include an entire database and all its data or just the database schema, or you can create your own scripts to run against the database to update an existing schema.

Another feature in Visual Studio 2010 that is included in MSDeploy is multiple web.config files. You get one web.config file for each configuration you have defined. By default you get debug and release, but of course you can add additional configurations. You can have entirely different config files, or you can use a simple langage to change parts of the file.

Finally, just like in IIS, using MSDeploy from Visual studio 2010 can retrieve things like application pools from IIS and package them with your web site.  All this information is put in a .zip file which you can then give to your IT staff to install in QA or Production. 

View upcoming Visual Studio classes here.

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Wireframing: Web Design to Save Time

January 24th, 2012 No comments

GUEST BLOGGER: Cristian Easterly, Applications Instructor

When designing a website, one of the most important things to keep in mind is, “Is this site easy to use?” There are a few ways to make sure your site will be easy to use for your target audience. First, you need to know your target audience. Who will be using your site? What will they be looking for? Is that thing they are looking for easy to find?

The next thing you want to think about is your color scheme. Are the colors too bright? Too dull? Do I have too many colors? There are a lot of ways to choose the color scheme for your site and a lot of helpful websites out there to help with this problem too. I know personally, I have spent hours finding the right color scheme for some of my sites. It can be a frustrating situation.

Even after you choose the right colors, you need the right font, layout, and navigation. The list goes on and on, but one thing you can do to make this all come together is keep things consistent. What does that mean? Don’t confuse your audience with a different layout, color scheme, and font choice for each page. They will find it hard to navigate through your site and they will leave.

When you start to design a website, the first step in the process (after brainstorming) is to create wireframes. You can do this on paper (graphing paper is best), or you can use a pixel based program on your computer. For this example, we will be using Adobe Photoshop CS5 to create a wireframe that stays consistent on each page. 

Remember, your wireframe does not need color or pictures yet. The only thing you are doing here is planning out where all of your site elements will be. Here is an example of a wireframe for a website design:

 

You will notice that it is the most basic idea of what my site will look like. I used greyscale shapes and text to show where everything will be once I get to the designing phase. I put in photo placeholders so I can have an idea of what the final design will look like. I also added my navigation bar with my button placeholders. As a designer, you will start to see the final product as you move from this phase to the next. You will start to pick colors and font choices after each wireframe is designed. It is one step that will save you a lot of time.

As far as consistency goes, you will want to make sure most of these elements follow you from page to page. If this is my home page (the first page users will come to), then this will set the tone for the rest of the site. Users will get comfortable here and expect the same things to be on the next page they come to. The only things you will swap out are pictures and text (content).

The things that are circled in red should stay the same on every page. The user will get lost without these elements.

The first thing that is circled is my website title and logo. You want to remind the user where they are and show off that logo you spent hours working on. This is an easy way to keep your site design looking consistent. Again, it will make the user feel comfortable.

The next thing that is circled is the navigation. You never want to change the navigation. NEVER. If you move the navigation around on each page, the user will almost always get lost, get frustrated, and get out. This is another comfort issue that some designers forget. The user needs to know how to move from page to page. Even if the content changes, the navigation will always be there to help them out. Think of it like a tour guide for your website.

When designing a website, you can easily overwhelm yourself when you start thinking about all of the things you have ahead of you. Step one: breathe. Step two: think about your target audience. Step three: brainstorm and start wireframing those ideas out. Once you have the wireframes made, keep consistency in mind and start designing. Change the colors, add pictures and logos. Having the wireframe will keep you from losing your consistent design and keep you from losing users on your site.

Start creating your wireframes in Photoshop!  View upcoming classes from New Horizons here.

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Intellitrace- Visual Studio 2010

January 24th, 2012 No comments

Mark Rosenberg, 5 Time MVP. MCP, MCTS, MCPD, MCT, STEP

In this blog post I thought I would talk a little about one of my favorite features of Visual Studio 2010, Intellitrace.  Intellitrace is debugging on steroids.  In a regular debugging session you can see the values of variables at a certain time, but you can’t go backwards or see the state of the entire system.  This means that some bugs cannot be reproduced.

With Intellitrace a log file is created that allows you to debug the file.  This is similar to a dump but it has more information. When run inside Visual Studio it allows you to recreate (or at least see) the bugs that occurred on the other computer.  An example of this that you might read a value from an XML file when the application starts that is used much later, and only on a limited number of code paths.  If this value is not read it may cause no problems most of the time.  If after some work you narrow down that the problem is that the value is not there you would still have to then add a breakpoint where the read occurs and see why it was not read.  If your computer has the file but the other computer does not, that can add even more complexity to the debugging process.  With Intellitrace you can load the log file that was made on the QA machine and immediately go back to where the file was read and see what the problem is.

Intellitrace is available only in the Ultimate edition of Visual Studio 2010, but works on C# and VB .NET code written for .NET versions 2.0 and up.  Intellitrace does not support debugging in XBOX, script and Silverlight applications.  While Intellitrace does not support debugging applications running on another computer and attached, it does support opening a log file created in Visual Studio on another computer.  Intellitrace can also be run from Test Manager as well as Visual Studio Ultimate 2010.  Intellitrace also integrates with Team System allowing QA people to attach trace log files to work items that can then be assigned to other developers.

Intellitrace is always on be default but only collects minimal information, you can change the information Intellitrace collects by changing the settings in Visual Studio.  The events that can be collected by Intellitrace include debugger events (events that occur while you are debugging your application including the STEP event and hitting breakpoints), exception events, and framework events (these can be initiating a method call, or file access).

As you can see Intellitrace is a great tool for speeding up the debugging process and if used correctly can even allow you to go backwards through your code.  For more information, check out MSDN’s information at: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd264915.aspx

View upcoming Visual Studio classes here.

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