Welcome to the new How To Gurus Blog

Where you can always find my latest Demos and YouTube Videos. You will find samples taken from my Training DVDs and also exclusive videos created specifically for my online audience.

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Do you recommend using ImageReady to create web pages?

I only use ImageReady to slice images. That was what it was designed for originally, to make Images Ready for the web, and that is still what it is best used for. Everything else I do in Dreamweaver. This is partly a personal preference and you can do quite a bit with ImageReady, but even Adobe has a different product for creating web pages in GoLive.

My personal preference is to use the best product or tool for the job.

My personal favorites are:

Photoshop for image creation

ImageReady, used with the Photoshop images if needed.

Dreamweaver for web development work

Flash for animations

Freehand for vector images (I like Freehand a lot better than Illustrator)

I have found that Dreamweaver has some problems with ftp access to some servers, so for those problem servers I use WS-FTP.

I also don't use any templates, I always create web pages either from scratch, or based on an existing web page that I built from scratch. I just prefer the greater level of control doing it myself.

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

How do I capture video from my computer screen?

I use a high-end professional screen capture and editing program, so that will not fit your needs. But there is a good, relatively low cost, product on the market that does a good job of capturing screen video. It is called Camtasia from Tech Smith. Here is their web site: http://www.techsmith.com/

Their Camtasia Studio costs about $300 but it is the best low cost solution that I am familiar with. There are probably others out there and a lot of times you will find software like this bundled with computer video cards.

As far as video format, I would recommend recording your videos as .avi files. This is an old standard and most video players can play this type of movie. I use avi myself because you can easily record larger videos, where some of the more modern video formats limit you to a specific screen size or resolution.
Also, to learn all there is to learn, just go to Google and do some searches. Try "video capture" "screen capture" "avi", I know you will think of some more.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

What is the difference between Photoshop 7 and Photoshop CS?

Photoshop CS is also known as Photoshop 8, but I personally would have called it Photoshop 7.5. It is not that big of an upgrade, mostly new tools as opposed to updating version 7. Here is a short list of what is new, there are other minor upgrades as well:

• The File Browser has been enhanced
• New Multi-page PDF and slide show tool
• Photomerge tool (useful if you do lots of panoramas from multiple photos, but not really necessary)
• Tracking Edit History (Useful if you need to document editing, scientific or legal uses)
• Crop and Straighten Photos (nice tool if you do lots of scanning)
• Versioning and Version Cue (useful in a multi-user environment)
• New Keyboard shortcut list
• Photo Filter Effects (not really that useful)
• Shadow/Highlight Corrections (really useful if you do lots of professional photo processing or scanning. For a professional this one feature would be worth the upgrade cost in time savings)
• Pixel Aspect Ratio adjustments (useful for video work)
• Match Color (useful when scanning)
• New Filter Gallery (if you use lots of Filters this can be a time saver)
• Lens Blur Effects (fun, but not ground breaking)
• Fibers Filter (useful if you like to create your own textures)
• Layer Comps (very useful. Allowing you to easily create several different versions in one file)
• Scripting (useful for batch automation)
• Text on a Path (I have this one as my online demo, useful if you do page layout in Photoshop. Personally I prefer to use InDesign CS for all my page layout)
• Custom How To links (useful if you manage Photoshop users in a business or school setting)

There are also some upgrades to ImageReady as well, the most important being that ImageReady can now make proper slices and tables. But I do all of that work in Dreamweaver MX 2004.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Load images in place of the Flash in the event a Flash player is not present

Question: I have successfully built a great new home page using both Dreamweaver and Flash - however, I need to have the page load images in place of the Flash in the event a Flash player is not present.

The Flash file will automatically check for the Flash Player and if it is not present it will attempt to download the Flash Player from Macromedia. So in most cases you do not need to worry.

But in case you want to have an alternate image here are the steps:

You need to create a second html page, one that does not contain Flash and has the alternate images instead (one page with Flash, one page without)

Open the Flash page in Dreamweaver.
Go to Code View.
Click anywhere inside the main body section of the web code.
Open up the Tags palette on the right side of Dreamweaver.
The Tag section heading should say Tag body
Click on the Behaviors tab
Click on the + button
In the popup menu select Check Plugin
The Plugin should say Flash, if not use the drop down menu and select Flash
Leave the "If found, go to URL:" line blank.
In the line that says "Otherwise, go to URL:" use the browse button and click on your non-Flash page.
Check "Always go to first URL if detection is not possible"

That should do it.

Personally I prefer to have the visitor download the appropriate Flash player instead of sending them to a non-Flash page, so I don't do these steps on my sites.

You can find a sample from the Flash set here: http://www.howtogurus.com/video/flash-demo.html

Friday, August 19, 2005

A Message from George Peirson about Identity Theft

Some info on credit card security and identity theft.

Using credit cards online is about the safest way to use credit cards, as long as you can trust the company. Most major companies online are very reliable, including the two that I recommended. The reason online payments are so safe is all the security features built in to using a credit card online. Everything is handled using encryption and the actual credit card number is only shown to the credit card company. The online seller actually never sees your full credit card number, they only get a verification from the credit card company.

The least safe way to use a credit card is in a restaurant, where the waiter takes your card away to get it approved. During that time your credit card is in someone else's hands and you can't see what they are doing. Most credit card theft comes from restaurants, stores and other outlets where you hand someone your card and they walk away with it. The second most common way to have credit card numbers stolen is by having your credit card bills stolen out of your mail box. Online credit card use is considered the safest way to use a credit card.

Identity theft is a whole different issue and if you are using eBay you will start getting emails that are termed "phishing" emails. These will look like they come from either eBay or PayPal and ask you to update or confirm your identity or information. EBay, PayPal and all banks will never send you an email asking you to update your information. All of these emails are fakes and are trying to steal your info. Be very careful about these. They usually look just like authentic emails and they have links that take you to fake sites that look just like the real sites, but their sites only have the page that asks for your information, any other link on that fake page will take you back to the real site, making them seem even more real.

The rule of thumb here is to never click on any email you were not expecting from eBay, PayPal or a bank. The only emails from eBay that will have valid links in them will be for auctions that you bid on or know you won and were expecting. To be safe you should always to go eBay or PayPal by typing in the address in your web browser. Simply type in http://www.ebay.com for eBay and https://www.paypal.com for PayPal. If you are unsure about an email from either eBay or PayPal you can forward it to them and they will let you know if it is genuine or not. Forward to one of these addresses: spoof@ebay.com or spoof@paypal.com

Believe it or not, I get about 20 of these fake emails a day and always forward them onto eBay and PayPal so that they can track down the crooks.

What programs do you recommend for new Web Designers?

Here is what I recommend Web Designers should know:


These are the core programs and will handle 95% of your needs.

You may want to add in Flash training, and if you decide to create web sites for other companies you should learn either PHP or ASP (web programming languages)

As in anything else, the more you know the better off you are. I don't have any specific recommendations for books, except the Photoshop Bible by Deke McClelland.

A great source for free information on HTML and JavaScript is http://www.internet.com/

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

What are Unique Visitors to a web site?

Unique visitors are figured on a daily basis. So if one person went to your site 10 times in one day he would be listed as 1 unique visitor. If he came back the next day he would again be listed as a unique visitor.

Saturday, July 9, 2005

How do I get my site to the #1 position in Google?

Search engine placement is more of an art than a science. Do a search for Search Engine Optimization or SEO, look for the several different sites that have newsletters and subscribe to a few. There is no way to guarantee a top placement position on Google, unless you pay for placement using their Adwords system. Getting a high placement takes lots of time, means constantly changing and updating your site, keeping a constant eye on your competition who are trying to do the same exact thing, and to be honest a little bit of luck.

But with that said the main things to do for Google placement are to make sure your keywords are used frequently in the first 200 words of the page. Make sure that there is no bad code that could be blocking the search engines from properly indexing your site (such as using white type on a white background, or repeating your keyword over and over). Make sure your site is written in plain English with the keyword scattered throughout the text. If you read the text out loud and it doesn't sound like how someone would normally talk, it will get you a lower placement. Frequently setting up bulleted lists will help. Aim for only one keyword targeted per page. If you want different keywords for the same page, you should break that up into several pages, each page focusing on only one keyword.

You also should try and get other sites to link to your site, but these links should be from highly ranked sites, not link farms. It can take you years to get the quality links you need this way. You have to "sell" each site that you want a link from on the idea that putting a link to your site from their site is a good idea. Don't ever be tempted to add your link to one of the many link farms out their. There are lots of companies who allow anyone to place a link on their site. Google knows this trick and it will send your page to the bottom of the stack.

Again, this is more of an art than a science and you will need to do lots of continuing research and work on your site to get and keep a high search engine placement.

I have several articles in my articles section on search engine optimization

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Can I set up a web page to allow users to pick their own color scheme?

On allowing a user to pick a color scheme, fairly easy to do, but it does take a full understanding of using Cascading Style Sheets to do it. Basically you would set everything up on the web site using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) including all the color settings. You would then link to the CSS as an external file (easy to do). Then all you need to do is to first create several different CSS files, one for each color scheme you are offering (the color schemes would need to be set up before hand by you). Then you would need to write some JavaScript that would use a link on the web page to select the different CSS files. Not impossible, but it would also take a good understanding of JavaScript coding to do this part of it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

How do I add page counters using Dreamweaver?

Most counters are little bits of JavaScript code.
Adding JavaScript to a Dreamweaver page is covered in my Dreamweaver training.
You should be able to find lots of these page counters over at http://www.javascriptsource.com/

Saturday, July 2, 2005

How do I display the current date on a page using Dreamweaver?

What you need to do is to first become familiar with the Dreamweaver Extensions. You will find it under the Commands menu, click on Manage Extensions. This opens up the Extension Manager. Click on the help file and read through the instructions on using Extensions. Real easy.

Now that you are familiar with Extensions, go to the Macromedia site, http://www.macromedia.com/cfusion/exchange/ You can also open Dreamweaver, click on Insert, then click on Get More Objects at the bottom of the menu. This link will take you right to the correct section. Or from the Macromedia home page click on Developers and then Exchange. Here you will find lots of new Extensions, most are free, some cost. Look through the Dreamweaver Extensions section and you will find 2 or 3 Extensions for putting in a Date field on a web page. This is the easiest way to do it.

I think you will also find some other Extensions that you will want to add to your Dreamweaver as well, so spend some time here and see what is available.

Friday, July 1, 2005

How can I align 3 rows of 3 images with captions under so that the pictures and captions line up?

The easiest way to align images and text is to use a table. What you would need for that page is a table with 3 columns and then 2 rows for each visual row. What you do is to put the image in one cell, then put the text in the cell directly below. You will then have all of your images aligned and all of your text aligned, plus you can use the alignment functions of the cells to further control the alignment.

On table size, the table will stretch to fit the text. To keep one line from stretching the table, all you need to do is break that one line up into a couple or three lines and it should prevent it. So make sure that your lines have breaks in them to keep each line no longer than the picture length. You may need to do some tests to get the lenth correct.

To align the cells in Dreamweaver, click in the table cell, then in the Properties palette use the Horz and Vert drop down menus to adjust the placement within the cell.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

In Dreamweaver how do I make a page open in a new window when clicking on a link?

Real Easy, Put your cursor on the link on the page, then in the Properties Palette, just under the link you will see a drop down list named Target. Set that to _blank and you are all set.

You will find that the Target dropdown menu is in a different place in the Properties Palette if you are working with an image that has a link attached to it, but same _blank will do the trick.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Do you have Mac versions of your software?

We are coming out with Mac compatible versions later this summer. But the videos in the current versions are able to be played on a Mac using QuickTime. You can find out more information on using the current titles on a Mac at www.howtogurus.com/support.html

Friday, June 24, 2005

I did an 8 page spread in InDesign, when I print on our office machine to make the book the pages print out of sequence.

The mixed up page order comment you just left gives me an idea. The problem may be in how you have laid out the pages. If you set up your file with the pages in sequence, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 etc. then try to print the layout you will have the pages all out of order. The reason for this is that the pages should not be printed in order if you want the type of layout you mentioned.

It is a little hard to explain, easy to show with a demonstration. Here is what you need to do. If your document is 8 pages and you are printing that yourself, then you should put together a dummy layout first. 8 pages would be printed on 2 sheets if you are folding the paper in half. So take two sheets of paper, put them together properly, fold then as the final would be done. You now have a blank book, but it is folded properly.

Now looking at the blank book, write the page number on each page. Page one is the cover, fold on left side. Then open the book and write page 2, then the next page is page 3, etc. Now take the two sheets of paper apart and you will see that the page numbers are not following in sequence. The inside page has pages 4 and 5 on top and pages 3 and 6 on the bottom, the outside piece of paper has pages 2 and 7 on top and pages 1 and 8 on bottom. This is how the InDesign layout needs to be done.

You also need to test your printer and see which sheets of paper it prints first and if it prints both sides, and when is the second side printed. For instance if it prints the inside first then your first page would be page 4, then page 5. If it prints the back side of the first sheet second then your next page would be page 3 followed by page 6. Again, a little hard to explain but if you play with a dummy layout you should see the problem.

If you were sending the document to a professional printer, they would do the rearranging to fit their printer and you wouldn't need to worry about it.

I use a Mac, in Dreamweaver can I drag a Word doc into Design view to add content?

On a Mac when you drag a Word doc into the design view you will automatically get a link to the document.

In the Windows version when you drag a Word doc into the design view you get a dialog box that asks if you want to insert the contents or place a link. What I normally do is to select the text I want in a Word doc, then copy and paste that text into the Dreamweaver page. This works on both Macs and Windows machines.

Unfortunately for Mac users Macromedia and Adobe have both put their main efforts into the Windows versions of their software, so the Mac versions frequently don't have all the bells and whistles. Nothing to do with the quality of the Mac as a computer, everything to do with their main market being Windows users. That aside Adobe is just about the best company out there for making their software run as close as possible on both platforms. Adobe just purchased Macromedia, so we will probably see improvements in the Mac versions down the road. (this also means that Adobe's GoLive will probably be phased out)

How do I make web pages in ImageReady and then use them in Dreamweaver?

ImageReady creates html pages, so all you really have to do is to open that new html page in Dreamweaver and you are set to go. When you click on Save Optimized in ImageReady it saves the html file using the same name as the original Photoshop file, then it also saves the images into the images folder (if one does not exist ImageReady creates one).

But this is not how I personally use ImageReady. I much prefer to create my tables or layers in Dreamweaver. What I do is to use ImageReady to slice the image and make the rollover images. It is also a great place to test the look of the rollovers. I then select File, Save Optimized As..., and save Images Only. This gives me the images and doesn't create the html page since I won't be using that. I then create a clean table structure in Dreamweaver and place the images into the new table manually using the insert commands in Dreamweaver. This is more work, and I frequently have to do some notes on a piece of paper first listing the sizes of my images before I build the table, but Dreamweaver gives me much more control over how the table is constructed, so that it behaves exactly the way I like.

I have found in general that it is often best to do things the long way with these programs and to bypass their quick solutions. I take ImageReady at its name, that it is a program designed to make Images Ready for the web, not to create final pages. You can create final pages and complete web sites in ImageReady, but the html code will not be as clean as what you would get if you did all your coding in Dreamweaver.

How can I speed up page load times on a page with lots of jpeg files?

The main thing that causes pages to load slowly is the size of the images. Try and compress your images as much as possible while still keeping a halfway decent quality. You will need to sacrifice some quality for a fast loading page.

There is an article about Image Optimization in our web site Guru Guides section.


How do I create Flash style scolling windows without using Flash?

You can create a similar effect using layers in Dreamweaver. Simply place a layer into your page (Insert menu/Layout Objects, Layer)

Click on the box in the upper left corner of the new layer. Then take a look at the Properties palette at the bottom. There you will find an Overflow field. Set that to Scroll and you are all taken care of. The content on the page that is visible will be controlled by the size of the layer bounding box. Any extra content in the box will be controlled by the Overflow setting.


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