Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Alternatives to Adobe Suite CS5

Adobe has announced a new CS5 version of their Creative Suite. Even though educators can get a hefty discount for these applications, there is still a cost. Not only is there a cost, but like so many software programs, the Adobe suite products have become more sophisticated, which is good for professionals, but not helpful for individuals just wanting to complete a simple task. Some of the alternatives suggested below may be more complex (GIMP and Synfig as examples), but the rest offer a much easier path to accomplishing your goals in developing a website or publishing a newsletter than the Adobe CS5 programs. And, more importantly, they are FREE!

The idea behind Photoshop is to manipulate images and improvephotographs, a free alternative is GIMP. This application is about as difficult to master as Photoshop, but it has many of the Photoshop features. If you are simply looking to make some small improvements to a photo, youmay want to consider picnik or splashup(bothfree), but if you want some of the power found in Photoshop, you should look at GIMP.

A graphics editor that’s free and similar to Illustrator andCorelDraw is Inkscape. This application comes with several tutorials to help you learn how to use it, and a wiki where you can share ideas and learn from others. This program is Open Source and provides a well defined menu where you can easily find information about using Inkscape and locate free clip art.

Synfig is,” in their words, “a powerful, industrial-strength vector-based open-source 2D animation software package, designed fromthe ground-up for producing feature-film quality animation with fewer people and resources. While there are many other programs currently on the market to aid with the efficient production of 2D animation, we are currently unaware of any other software that can do what our software can.” It offers a free alternative to Adobe Flash but does not have all the features of Flash, especially the ability to move objects from Illustrator or Photoshop into Flash. It does do a very nice job with animation, and of course, the price is right—it’s free.

>A free, Open Source alternative to Dreamweaver is Nvu webauthoring software. They also offer hosting for a reasonable amount ($4.99/month). This program is a WYSIWYG that complies with W3C’s web standards so you know that your site will comply with their guidelines. This program is easy to use and will help you quickly develop a webpage.

For users of InDesign, or QuarkXpress, there is Scribus. This is a free, Open Source application available for both Mac and PCplatforms. Even though there appears to be no toolbars or palettes they are switched on from the Windows menu. TrustedReviews gives this application high marks (http://bit.ly/9Dnv4r).

Even though I prefer using the Adobe Suite, and now face learning the new elements in CS5, I share these applications that are free and somewhat easier to learn and use. I’m sure that there may be other equally useful programs in the Web 2.0 cloud. Please share them if you like.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

You can now make your photos talk. That's right, using an application called fotobabble you can add sound to your images. Go to fotobabble, sign up (remember our favorite word? FREE!), upload your image, record your message, then link it to Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or link it in an email or embed it in your webpage.

Here is a sample I did to see how easy it is. Click on the image above to see this sample. One other important feature--no download to your computer is required so it works with both Mac and PC.
This is something you could use in an online or web-supported class to show the class a photo of some relevant object or site that you narrate. And you can use it to send a virtual Mother's Day gift from your children to their grandmother. You can make a talking postcard. There are a lot of uses that you can find for this application.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Do you know that you can edit photos without learning Photoshop? That's right--there is a new Web 2.0 application that will allow you to take a photograph and easily remove wrinkles, blemishes, red-eye and glare with the click of your mouse. You can also add effects and make color adjustments. All this costs, well, you know our favorite word--FREE! You can do all this without downloading the application to your computer.
What is this application you ask, it's CITRIFY (click on the link or go to http://www.citrify.com/). It does come in a Premium version that will cost you $39.99, but the free version does everything you will probably need. Premium CITRIFY will allow work with larger images, is downloadable and provides technical support.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

There is now an alternative to PowerPoint Presentations? That's right, Prezi offers a way to do presentations that Harvard Business Review called "Insanely great," and Techcrunch said was the, "coolest online presentation tool I have ever seen."
Prezi is an application that has 3 positive features:
  1. It does not require you to download anything to your computer,
  2. You can link to any file you create,
  3. And my favorite, it's FREE!
This is an application that is easy to learn and can include images and videos in your presentations. You can click here to see a Prezi presentation I made on "Facebook and Twitter for Education." You can also go to http://prezi.com/ and watch the one minute video and look at the other examples.
Give Prezi a try and you might say goodbye to Powerpoint. As always, call if you need help with this or any other application that might help you in the classroom.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Did you know that you can take a PDF file, convert it to a document (either a .doc or .rft) edit it and save it as a PDF?
How many times have you had a PDF file that you wanted to edit and couldn't? Well here is a solution to this situation. You can use PDF to Word. It is a 3 step process:
  1. Select the PDF file
  2. Choose to convert it to .DOC or .RTF
  3. Enter your email address and click Convert
  4. Wait for the email
  5. Once you receive the email, open the attached document and make your corrections
  6. Then save the file as a PDF
No downloading is required and, remember our favorite word, it's FREE.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Have you ever tried to copy part of a webpage and printed a lot of pages you didn't need? Here a way to make any webpage print friendly, and save paper.  Go to

and enter the URL of the page you want to print and it will give you a print preview. Now just select the stuff you don't want printed, delete it, and print what you want.

Save a tree, lower your frustration, get what you ordered--use printfriendly.com.
And, like most of our tips, IT'S FREE! 

Monday, May 4, 2009

Adobe.com to find Adobe ConnectNow

Did you know that Adobe has a site where you can create PDF's for free, even if you don't have the Adobe Acrobat software? You can also use Adobe Connect to meet live over the web and share your screen with anyone.
That's right, at acrobat.com you can use several of Adobe's applications for free. You may have heard of Adobe Buzzword to share documents, well Adobe has added Adobe ConnectNow, Create PDF, Share (to send files to others), and MyFiles (to store your files online).
All you need is a User Name (email) and Password which are, as we always look for, FREE!  Also, if you have one of Adobe's CS4 applications you have the ability to share your screen with others. Look under File>Share My Screen... This will take you to a sign in screen where you log on and then email the person you want to share your screen.