Category Archives: Software

Do Not Blog Using Word

Think Before You Say Yes!

Think Before You Say Yes!

Lots of people hate Word.

I am not one of them.

I use Word constantly. I’ve studied it, written about it, taught it. I find that Word is much richer, much more versatile than most users imagine.

In short, I like Word.

But Word is word processing software. Word is not blogging software. Word creates all sorts of weird code in the background that tells Windows how to display and print MS Office documents. For instance, if you look at the code, you’ll see lots tags that begin “MSO”

MSO is not a tag that browsers understand. WordPress cannot parse it. Firefox cannot parse it. Even Internet Explorer chokes on it.

Software is code.

When you copy and paste a document written in Word directly into your blog editor, you are not just copying the words. You are copying the code. If you look at the HTML editor in WordPress after you paste in a Word document, you will see tons of awful code.

WordPress tries mightily to translate Office tags into PHP and HTML – but fails. Font sizes are changed from11 pt to X-small – and they look awful. Scores of nested div tags are broken or left open, so that only half the post is visible.

In extreme cases, your blog’s design is destroyed. Your sidebar may disappear, your header graphics may be displaced, your fonts may all suddenly change to Time New Roman 6 pt.

All this so you can use spell check?

Please – if you write offline – fine. Compose in Word, spell check in Word. But paste only plain text.

The simplest way to do this is first copy and paste your document into Notepad or some other text editor and then copy that document and paste it into WordPress. The add your formatting – bold, italics, etc – in the WordPress editor.

(You can also use the “Paste as Text” button on the TinyMCE visual editor.)


Get SnagIt For Free from TechSmith Until June 5

SnagIt

SnagIt

From now until June 5, TechSmith is giving a free, legal, licensed copy of SnagIt v7.25 to anyone who requests a copy – just for giving TechSmith your email address.

SnagIt is simply the very best screen capture program there is. The latest version is 9.1 and costs $50.00 – so for free, you’ll be a bit behind. But don’t wait – go now and download SnagIt if you don’t already own a copy.

If you have a web site or a newsletter – or if you are an eBay Education Specialist or any kind of teacher – or if you use PowerPoint or create info products – you need TechSmith’s SnagIt

First go here to request the software key:

http://www.techsmith.com/Covermount/covermount.asp?ID=8

Then go here to download SnagIt:

http://download.techsmith.com/snagit/enu/725/snagit.exe

(It is even possible that you will qualify for upgrade pricing to the latest version even with this free older version of SnagIt. What a deal.)

Easy, Free Tool To Create Scrollers For Your Website

Create Professional Scrollers Without Scripting

Create Professional Scrollers Without Scripting

Give Away of the Day is on a tear lately, with one great offering after another. Today, Monday, April 20, they have SoThink’s JavaScript Web Scroller Creator.

It creates horizontal or vertical image scrollers, news scroller, ads, events, image slide shows, etc.

You’ve seen similar scrollers on eBay (Auctiva’s scrollers are an especially popular way to showcase additional inventory) and Amazon (which uses scrollers across the bottom of the details page to highlight additional items you might want to buy). Scrollers are a great way to keep visitors on site and a great way to create no pressure upsells.

Web Scroller requires no JavaScript experience. The software has an easy to use graphical interface. All the scripting is done behind the scenes. Web Scroller integrates with Dreamweaver and FrontPage.  It can also be used as a stand alone application.

This is another piece of software worth downloading and activating, whether you need it today or not. Once you see how versatile it is, you will need it.

Save 40% and Get Better Pictures with Photoshop Elements 7

If you do any photo editing work – whether as a hobbyist photographer or as a web site owner – you know you need Photoshop Elements.

Photoshop Elements 7

If you’ve been waiting to buy – you are in luck. From now until April 23, Adobe is selling Photoshop Elements 7 for $59.99 when you buy direcly from Adobe. You won’t find it cheaper.

For the average amateur photographer, Photoshop Elements offers almost unlimited possibilities, without the steep learning curve and complexity of the full version of Photoshop.

Would you like to create a banner or a Web 2.0 style Buy Now button for your web site? Elements is the program that can do it. Maybe you are a scrapbooker, looking to showcase old and new family photos. Then you’ll want to try out some of Elements many templates. Or maybe, like me, you just take photographs that are OK, but never quite as good as I’d hoped. Photoshop Elements can add vibrance and depth, contrast and color correction with just a few mouse clicks.

Once you’ve used – or played with – Photoshop Elements for awhile, you’ll never believe you got by without it.

Below is a photo effect I created in Elements.

 

Frame Break Out Effect Created with Photoshop Elements

Frame Break Out Created with Photoshop Elements

Wouldn’t you like to delight your family and friends with vacation pictures that looked like this? You can – it only took about 5 steps in Photoshop Elements.

Remember – the sale is a limited time offer directly from Adobe. Celebrate the end of tax season and have some fun using Elements 7 to stretch those dollars.

stretched dollar

 

Original dollar bill by Stewart Altered under Creative Commons License

How Much Does Free Really Cost?

Are the savings real?

Are the savings real?

Have you calculated the Total Cost of Ownership for your free software?

Are support calls killing you? Did your upfront savings turn into a downstream nightmare?

If so – you’re not alone.

When you start a new business, it is not only normal, it is necessary to count every penny, to try to find less expensive alternatives for costly software.

If you need to buy 3 or 4 licenses to Microsoft Office at $125.00 each, it is perfectly reasonable to at least look into using Open Office instead. The savings can be real and substantial.

If you need to produce only 2 or 3 PDFs a month, a free alternative to Acrobat, like as PDF995, might do the trick.

But what if you are printing your first book with Create Space? Can a free PDF program meet the printing requirements? Can you turn out a professional layout without professional layout software?

Assuming you are starting from scratch, a full, standard license for Adobe Acrobat costs about $300.00. A full retail copy of In Design runs about $700.00. Will that expense turn your experiment in publishing into another financial black hole?

How do you balance the need for professional level software and support against the need to pay the bills?

There is no simple formula, unfortunately.

But there are a few common sense questions you can ask yourself:

  • If this doesn’t work immediately, right out of the box, do I have the technical skill needed to troubleshoot the problem? If not – how much will it cost to hire a specialist? Would it be cheaper to just buy the expensive thing to begin with?
  • If I need to share my work with others, will this software be compatible? Will non-standard file formats make me look unprofessional to my peers? Will it cost me work and hurt my reputation with clients?
  • What happens if I upgrade my operating system and my free applications stop working? Will I be locked into programs with no upgrade path?
  • Will learning to use this software require special training? Is there any kind of documentation available?

You may find that a suite like Open Office meets your needs. It is upgraded frequently and documents created by it can be shared with others running traditional Microsoft Office applications. The interface is familiar enough not to require retraining. There is an active online community for support. If you are comfortable with it, Open Office could be a great way to save on software licensing fees.

On the other hand, you could find that the “free” software you built your business around is a bottomless money pit.

I know one business owner who has invested at least 10 times the cost of good, professional CRM software in a custom database. After years of tweaking, the database is still buggy. Client information is still difficult to access. Queries and reports are unreliable. At this point, even if the business owner never spends another dime, he loses. He’s lost time, he’s lost money, and he’s lost customers.

There is no magic bullet, no one solution that’s right for every business or every problem. But as a business owner, you must know when to fold a losing hand.

Track your costs. Be sure that free alternatives are not slowly bleeding you dry.

When the Total Cost of Ownership for free software nears or exceeds the TCO of  paid software – don’t hesitate. The situation will only get worse the longer you wait. Don’t try to find ways to recoup the money you already invested. It is gone. Instead, be damned and determined not to waste another dime.

Photo by AlexK100 Released under Creative Commons License

If You Must Work – Work From Anywhere This Holiday Season

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays from Information Sells

Don’t be tethered to a desk. Give yourself a Christmas treat while indulging your geeky cloud computing cravings this holiday season.

LOG ME IN

Do you need remote access to your PC? Do you use LogMeIn? If you use anything except LogMeIn, you are paying too much. LogMeIn is free and it is safe, secure, and time tested.

I’ve been using it for at least 3 years, and I can recommend it unreservedly.

And here’s a great Christmas bonus to give yourself: if you have a free LogMeIn account, until Dec. 31, you can upgrade to LogMeIn Pro for half price. That’s an entire year for only $40.00

The Pro version adds remote printing (open a document on your PC in Timbuktu and print it on your printer in Katmandu) and file sync, file sharing, and a few other nice features.

The Pro features aren’t essential – but at $40.00 they are hard to pass up.

LIVE MESH

When it comes to online file storage and file sharing, Microsoft can’t make up its mind. First they bought FolderShare, then they renamed it LiveSync.

Somewhere along the line, they introduced Live Mesh.

I tried FolderShare in the past, but I’ve switched almost entirely to Mesh now. You get 5 GB of storage for your documents. You can use it to keep PCs, mobile phones, and even Macs all in sync. You can share and collaborate on documents in your mesh. And it gives you access to your remote desktop, so you can grab even documents you haven’t synchronized.

Like Log Me In, it’s free.

WINDOWS LIVE PHOTO GALLERY

If you are still using Windows XP, but you’ve cast a covetous eye on Vista’s Photo Gallery – you don’t need to upgrade to experience all those fine, new features. Live Photo Gallery is part of Windows Live Essentials. And it is free.

The downloader includes the entire Live Essentials family, so be sure you only install the parts you want.

If you want a photo organizer but would rather stick a fork in your eye than download a Microsoft product, try Picasa 3 from Google instead.

Both Live Photo Gallery and Picasa include simple photo editing and web albums for sharing your pictures online.

ENJOY YOUR MUSIC, TOO

It’s hard to imagine not having space for an iPod, but if you are netbook user, you might not have room for iTunes. Forget the iPod and tune in to Pandora, the internet radio station that only plays what you want to hear.

Pandora let’s you pick the songs and artists that you enjoy and, based on your selections, suggests other music you might like as well. Their predictions are, in my experience, quite good.

It’s not only a way to listen to your favorite music – it’s a great way to discover new music.

And it’s free and available on any computer connected to the internet.

Photo by Kevin Dooley Released under Creative Commons License


Prices Keep Dropping

Amazon dropped the price of Sony Vegas Movie Studio 9 Platinum Pro Pack to $70.00.

This version is bundled with

  1. Vegas Movie Studio9 Platinum
  2. Sound Forge
  3. Cinescore themes
  4. 1001 Sound Effects
  5. Various NewBlue 3D transitions and special effects

If you plan to shoot and edit in high definition, this is the package you need. It’s on sale for almost 50% off. Unless you use the full version of Vegas, you are unlikely to find better editing software.

Free eBook Cover Generator

eCover Engineer for Product Box Shots

eCover Engineer for Product Box Shots

Today only- Friday, Nov 28,2009 – Give Away of the Day is offering eCover Engineer.

If you make and sell information products, you know your conversion rate is much better if you have a graphic that looks like a physical product.

For ebooks, you want to create something besides a flat “cover.” Even for CDs and DVDs, which are physical products, you need some sort of picture of the case and disk that gives the product a 3-D look and feel.

At GhostLeg, we use True BoxShot or Quick 3D Cover, along with Photoshop.

However, if you are not ready to invest in professional box shot software, today’s offering from GAOTD is for you.

eCover Engineer isn’t the best or most flexible cover program available – but it has a nice selection of templates available from the manufacturer and – for free – it more than pays for itself with your first eBook sale.

Note: This software creates online box shots for web pages, not printed covers for you DVDs or CDs. It is a sales tool. Also note that it comes packaged with Paint.net, a free graphics program for those who may not own Photoshop or PaintShopPro, etc.

The free give away is today, Friday only. And you MUST download from GAOTD, not from the manufacturer. You can visit the eCover Engineer website for more information and to download more templates, but be sure to download and activate eCover Engineer itself from the download link at Give Away of the Day today.

Save Big Money On Phone Bills

Save Money - Use Skype

Save Money - Use Skype

If all the doom and gloom economic forecasts are true, now is the time to take a good hard look at business expenses. Where can you save, what should you dump, where should you expand?

If you are like many small business people, your cell phone is your lifeline. You may be on the phone with clients while you drive, while you shop, while you walk the dog. Maybe you use your phone to check auction listings or sell through rates or the going prices of second hand books on Amazon.

Cell phones become such a normal part of doing business that we just accept the sky high rates as inevitable.

True story: I used to work for a business where employees sitting at their desks would call other employees sitting at their desks in the same building on cell phones, because it was convenient and because reaching for the cell phone was a habit. At the end of every month, this company would waste the better part of one person’s day trying to determine why the cell bill was so high.

For the self-employed, breaking bad habits is not only necessary – it’s rewarding. You’ll see the difference in your bottom line.

SKYPE AND VOIP

With a Skype Unlimited Subscription – which is actually limited to 10,000 minutes (about 167 hours) per month – and a headset, you can call any landline or cell phone number in the USA from your computer. You use your broadband internet connection to bypass the phone company’s charges entirely. If your cell provider or your landline service charges for long distance calls, Skype, at $3.00 per month, will pay for itself almost instantly.

Skype has come a long way since it was a computer to computer chat service. Even if it doesn’t replace your landline phone service entirely (and for many, it just might), it can cut long distance bills to almost zero. You can also call between offices without a complicated PBX phone system. Just install Skype throughout your computer network (even if your network is just the packing room in the garage and the computer you use to list on eBay in the den), add a cheap USB microphone or headset to each PC, and you’ve got instant, free, voice communication.

If you source your products internationally or if you sell to a large international clientele, Skype’s low international calling rates will probably save you money as well.

LOWER YOUR COSTS – NOT YOUR SERVICES

When finances are tight, you need to control costs closely. But now is not the time to cut back on customer service. In fact, now is the time to reach out to your customers in more creative ways. Find ways to promote yourself without spending a bundle. Look for alternatives like Skype to replace some old high-priced habits. And if you find real savings – pass the tip on the your customers. They’ll be glad to know you’re looking out for them.

Google Calendar And GMail Together At Last

Display Google Calendar in GMail Sidebar

Google Calendar Can Be Displayed in the GMail Sidebar


Do you use GMail and Google Calendar? Are you tired of flipping between tabs to check your appointments when you check your email? You can finally stop grinding your teeth. The long wait for an integrated calendar is over.

When you are in GMail, click on the Settings link in the top right hand corner of the screen. Then click on the Labs tab (which is probably the last one). Scroll down to Google Calendar Gadget and click enable. Your Google Calendar will now be displayed (in a squished format) in the left hand sidebar of GMail, below Labels.

LOTS OF GOOGLE LABS GOODNESS

Google Labs has been adding new features to GMail at a pretty good clip lately. Keep an eye on the Labs tab for new gadgets and improvements. (For instance, have you noticed that you can now add any Google Gadget to GMail?) Do keep in mind that many of these new features are truly beta, and therefore unreliable, and may stop working or may even interfere with your access to GMail at some point.

If a Labs feature breaks your access to GMail, set your browser to

https://mail.google.com/mail/?labs=0

This will temporarily disable all Google Labs add ons to your account. You’ll then be able to disable the offending app.


If you want to learn more about GMail, you might enjoy the previous post in this series, GMail Reads All Your Mail, which explains how to read and write email from any email account without leaving GMail and GMail Predicts Your Future, which explains how to use GMail’s Canned Responses feature