Digital TrendsCamarillo, CA – October 2017: Almost three years and over 40 articles later, I have covered numerous products and technology news for the immensely popular online digital technology magazine, Digital Trends. My beat covers all aspects of computer-related news and reviews. For example, my first few articles included information about DDR4 memory, USB 3.1, Sata Express, and Nvidia G-Sync, .

But since then I have covered everything from mouse and keyboard combos to 4K 360 degree digital cameras, and everything in between. My two latest news stories at Digital Trends cover Bluetooth Mesh technology and the latest, fastest Wi-Fi technology, 802.11ax.

You can get a complete list of my articles on Digital Trends here.


 

As versatile as the World Wide Web is, it sure doesn’t support very many graphics formats—only three, in fact. (Aside from Scalable Vector Graphics, or SVG, supported by HTML5, but that’s another story.) Internet browsers support only three bitmap image formats: GIF, JPEG, and PNG. The type you should use depends primarily on the type of image (its content), you are saving.

The following description of each file format contains information sometimes critical to achieving the best possible quality, information such as the file’s properties, and its best uses. But first, here’s a word about compression.

BUSINESSES, CYBER SECURITY FIRMS ARE COMING UP WITH CREATIVE WAYS TO FIGHT HACKERSHackers continue to play havoc with our computers and networks. Many viruses and other traps are designed primarily to damage your system in some way—by, say, corrupting your data, scrambling the operating system, or crashing the system somehow.

Then there are the more nefarious forms of hacking that entail exploitation, by either accessing his or her financial data and using it to embezzle funds, or by encrypting or removing data from the victim’s PC and then holding it hostage, refusing to restore the data until a fee is paid.

One of the most nefarious of these viruses is Cryptolocker, a nasty little piece of ransomware that, though it has been around for a while (and therefore it’s “treated” by most antivirus software), PC and computer security technicians report that they are still treating CryptoLocker-infected machines.

Read the entire review at Digital Trends.


 

Intermediate Flash CS6(Camarillo, CA, March 22, 2013) William Harrel and ed2go.com announce Intermediate Flash CS6, the follow-up course to Harrel’s popular Introduction to Flash CS6, launched earlier this year. When completed, a little later this year, the course will be offered at over 2,500 colleges and universities.

If you have a basic understanding of Flash techniques and you’re eager to create more sophisticated and powerful Flash movies and applications, this course will take your Flash skills to the next level.

You’ll start by examining the versatile Movie Clip symbol, using it to create Flash movies—animations and special effects—inside other Flash movies. Then you’ll delve into ActionScript and learn how to turn your simple SWFs into epic Flash masterpieces. For example, you’ll learn how to write a single script that controls hundreds (even thousands) of objects based on user input.

Interactivity that goes beyond simple buttons is crucial to many types of Flash applications. In these lessons, you’ll find out how to use ActionScript to develop interactive courses, surveys, quizzes, and tests, using scripts that make decisions, count and keep track of user choices, and tally up and report the results. In addition, you’ll learn how to compose and use external ActionScript Class files to extend Flash’s capabilities. External ActionScript files allow you to use the same scripts across multiple SWFs, as well as to create SWFs that load and interact with other SWFs—the secret to creating in-depth, multifaceted Flash applications.

While this course is heavy on useful, everyday ActionScript examples, it’s not just about programming. You’ll also try your hand at advanced Flash animation techniques, learning high-end Motion Editor skills for creating artistic transitions and other animated effects. In addition, you’ll discover the secrets for creating intriguing Flash effects with advanced Bone tool features that make your IK bones appear more lifelike and believable, as well as the Deco tool, Spray Brush tool, Layer Masks, Onion Skins, and other techniques for creating professional-grade graphics and animations.

And that’s not all! You’ll also explore Edge Animate, Adobe’s new no-scripting, HTML5-based application for creating user interfaces and JavaScript animations. And you’ll finish up with an examination of Adobe AIR, which allows you to create full-blown desktop applications that install and interact with computer operating systems just like traditional computer programs.

In each lesson, you’ll find practical, hands-on activities that allow you to practice the skills you’re learning. By the time you finish this course, you’ll know more than enough to confidently market yourself as a Flash designer.

Syllabus

 Week One
Wednesday – Lesson 01
Flash supports many ways to accomplish essentially the same tasks. Depending on your movie’s purpose and overall design, some techniques are much more suited to specific applications than others. In today’s lesson we’ll look at Movie Clip symbols—a powerful and efficient tool for creating rich content. While learning to create Movie Clips, we’ll go over some of Flash’s basic design and interactivity features, just to make sure we all start the course with a similar set of skills. Get ready to dive headlong into Flash’s intermediate-to-advanced movie design techniques.
Friday – Lesson 02
A design effect that at first looks complicated is the inner pop-up—a pop-up that loads and plays external content within the main movie Timeline. However, as with many techniques in Flash, creating inner pop-ups really isn’t all that difficult, once you know how to do it. While Flash supports many ways to accomplish the inner pop-up effect, an easy and straightforward method is to load and play an external Flash movie in the UILoader component. With UILoader, you can play any Flash SWF movie from your main movie’s Timeline. Designing movies this way helps keep your movies small and reduces download time. It also helps keep your main movie’s Timeline simple and easy to manage.
 Week Two
Wednesday – Lesson 03
As you tackle more sophisticated Flash movies and applications, the method of laying components out frame-by-frame on the Timeline simply won’t cut it. That’s when it’s time to unleash ActionScript 3.0. In this lesson, that’s exactly what we’ll do as we take on a more complicated project: building an online products and services portfolio that can showcase hundreds of products. You’ll learn to make a project of this magnitude manageable by using ActionScript 3.0 to call objects from the Library dynamically—without physically placing and positioning each one on the Stage. You’ll also learn the power of ActionScript classes and variables. By the end of the lesson, you’ll know how to write a single event handler that can call hundreds, even thousands, of external movies to the Stage.
Friday – Lesson 04
In today’s lesson, you’ll learn to use one of the most important tools in complex application design, the external ActionScript file. External ActionScript files not only help keep Flash files small and manageable, but they also expand your design options and can even increase your overall productivity. In this lesson, you’ll learn to write an external ActionScript class file that, when loaded into a Flash movie, will define a new class object. Then you’ll use the new class object to turn the user’s mouse cursor into an interactive paint brush.
 Week Three
Wednesday – Lesson 05
This lesson takes a straightforward procedure—loading an external image—and turns it into a multifunction chain of events. The simple event handler that loads an external file triggers other events that not only format and apply special effects to the new content, but also manipulate other objects on the Stage. First, you’ll learn how to format external text files with HTML tags and load the text into Flash. Then, you’ll start creating the cascade of events, which includes: using the List component to trigger a function that loads image files; which in turn passes the new content to another function that applies a tween to the images as they display; then the chain continues with simple, powerful If Conditionals that play Movie Clips—all based on the original data passed by the first event in the chain. To make all this possible, you’ll use AS3’s indispensable trace(); statement to find out what data your functions and statements are passing among themselves.
Friday – Lesson 06
When it comes to animation, the Motion Editor is one of Flash’s most useful features. It allows you to apply multiple transformations and effects all in the same tween. In this lesson, we’ll look closely at the Motion Editor, at all its various options and how they work. Next we’ll combine several objects containing Motion Tweens to create a sophisticated transition effect and subsequent animation sequence. Then we’ll use Flash’s built-in Timer to control when our animation sequences play on the Timeline. The resulting movie will be a rotating, never-ending banner similar to those you see on many of today’s more popular Web sites.
 Week Four
Wednesday – Lesson 07
This lesson explores some advanced Bone tool techniques. The Bone tool uses an animation technology known as inverse kinematics (IK), which simulates the movement of animate objects, such as people and animals with skeletal structures. IK is also used in the science of robotics. This lesson assumes some basic experience with IK chains and builds on that experience, teaching you how to modify IK chains to make their movements appear more realistic. We also look at making IK chains interactive, so that your users can manipulate them at runtime. Then, we go animating IK chains with ActionScript. The lesson ends with a short demonstration on using Movie Clip symbols with the Spray Brush tool to create special effects, such as twinkling stars or rotating planets.
Friday – Lesson 08
Flash is by far not just an animation program. Many application developers use it to create sophisticated programs that do all sorts of things, such as building online courses, creating shopping carts for online stores, and just about everything else you can think of. In this lesson, we create a self-scoring quiz, or test, where users answer a series of questions and are then given their scores at the end of the test. To accomplish this, we’ll revisit the oh-so-powerful external class file, taking the technique further by creating multiple class files that reference one another to make decisions. You’ll learn to use several common and highly useful programming concepts, such as Arrays, Sprites, ints,for loops, Boolean operators, radio button groups, and several others. After completing this lesson, you’ll have a basic understanding of creating applications with Flash, as well as an all new understanding of the power of ActionScript.
 Week Five
Wednesday – Lesson 09
Flash designers typically enjoy creating content in Flash Professional’s visually-oriented authoring environment. Many designers do not, however, care for coding, or writing the necessary ActionScript to create interaction. New to the Adobe CS6 suite of applications, Edge Animate allows you to create simple, interactive animated interfaces without coding. You design the interaction and animations visually, and Catalyst writes the code for you. This lesson introduces you to Edge Animate. We start with an Illustrator artboard, import it into Edge Animate, and design a Web interface from the Illustrator content—a completely visual and automated procedure devoid of manual coding. Since Edge Animate creates projects compatible with the HTML5 environment, your animations will be more compatible with mobile devices.
Friday – Lesson 10
Many Flash applications, such as games and quizzes, call for advanced user interactivity—providing the user with control of various objects on the Stage. Some movies, for example, call for allowing the user to drag and drop objects, or move them from one spot to another. Other applications call for allowing the user to rotate, resize, and recolor objects. All of this interaction is accomplished with ActionScript. In this lesson, you’ll learn to write scripts that turn control over important functions to the user. First, I’ll show you a simple set of scripts that allows the user to drag and drop an object on the Stage. Then we’ll look at creating sets of buttons that allow users to rotate and resize objects. After that we’ll look into allowing users to change not only the color of objects on the Stage, but also the Stage itself—all with the use of a handy little component known as the Color Picker.
 Week Six
Wednesday – Lesson 11
In this lesson, we look at a few of Flash’s lesser-known, but highly useful features. First, you’ll learn how to create layer masks for producing display effects from objects you draw with Flash’s drawing tools. Then, I’ll show you how to build an image list—a list consisting of images—with the TileList component. Finally, the lesson ends with an in-depth look at Flash’s metaphorical equivalent to the days (not all that long ago) when animations were created one drawing at a time on translucent sheets of paper, stacked one on top of the other—a process known as onion skinning. Flash’s Onion Skin feature can help you significantly when developing simple frame-by-frame animations.
Friday – Lesson 12
A relatively new addition to the Flash platform, Adobe AIR allows you to create stand-alone desktop applications with Flash Professional—fully functional applications that access and utilize system resources, such as the clipboard, system menus, Minimize, Maximize, and Close buttons, print functions, and many others. AIR applications are platform-neutral, meaning that you or your users can install them on any Windows, Mac OS, or Linux computer. Any existing Flash movie can be published as an AIR application. In this lesson, you learn how to create system-level functionality (unavailable in Flash documents destined for Flash Player), and how to publish and install AIR applications—yet one more way you can utilize and capitalize on your Flash skills.

New ed2go Adobe Muse course announced

(Camarillo, CA – March 22, 2013) Journalist, author, and online course instructor William Harrel and eClasses (eClasses.org) have teamed up once again to announce a new online course. This time, the subject of the class will be Adobe’s new WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) Website design app, Muse.

The first session starts on April 1, 2013 and you can sign up or get additional information here: Introduction to Adobe Muse.

Harrel teaches Website design and animation at over 3,000 colleges, universities, and other online outlets, and eClasses is one of the world’s largest and most successful online course publishers.


What is Adobe Muse?

Adobe Muse software enables designers to create HTML websites for desktop and mobile devices, without writing code. Design web-standard sites, like you design print layouts. Use familiar features, hundreds of web fonts, and built-in tools to add interactivity.  Then, publish with the Adobe Business Catalyst® service and redeem site hosting support, or publish with any hosting provider. (Source: Adobe.com)


Course Overview

This new course, which is under development now, will be entitled: Websites without Coding with Adobe Muse, and will consist of six-week sessions (two lessons per week) covering the following material:

Lesson 1: Getting Started with Muse

  • Overview: Designing Websites in Muse
  • Plan Mode — Starting a Website in Muse
  • Design Mode — The Page Design Interface

Lesson 2 : Creating a Basic Site in Muse

  • Mastering Master Pages
  • Working with Boxes
  • Typography: Working with Text

Lesson 3: Using External Content with Muse

  • Using and Formatting Word Processor Text
  • External Graphics and Images
  • Digital Sound, Video, and other Media

Lesson 4: Working with Widgets

  • Creating Compositions
  • Web Forms
  • Making Menus

Lesson 5: More Widgets and Templates

  • Creating Expanding Panels
  • Slick Slideshows
  • Using Templates with Muse

Lesson 6: Using other CS6 Programs with Muse

  • Using Photoshop and Fireworks with Muse
  • Using Photoshop Buttons with Muse
  • Using Edge Animate with Muse

Lesson 7: Interactivity: Triggers and Targets

  • Making Mouse States
  • Interactivity Triggers
  • Page Navigation with Targets

Lesson 8: Creating Sites for Mobile Devices

  • Repurposing Existing Content
  • Formatting Content for Smartphones
  • Formatting Content for Tablets

Lesson 9: Stylizing Type with Typekit and Web Fonts

  • Decorative Type with Typekit
  • 3D Type and other Special Effects
  • Working with Web Fonts

Lesson 10: Advanced Web Design Techniques

  • Accommodating Flexible Browser Widths
  • Embedding Google Maps
  • Embedding HTML Code

 

Lesson 11: Working More Efficiently in Muse

  • Getting the Most from Master Pages
  • Sharing Content between Pages and Sites
  • Sharing Muse Content between Media Types

Lesson 12: Publishing Your Muse Websites

  • Publishing to Adobe Business Catalyst
  • CMS Integration on Adobe Business Catalyst
  • Publishing with FTP

Check back with us for updates and projected course release dates.

Introduction to CSS3Several years ago, cascading style sheets (CSS) revolutionized Web design. CSS freed Web designers from depending on woefully inadequate HTML tables to create highly stylized Web pages. It provided us with the means to format and reformat multiple pages from one single set of styles, thereby liberating us from the tedious task of formatting one page at a time. Enter CSS3, the next generation of Web design. Special effects, animations, transitions, gradients – all the content we’ve traditionally fallen back on graphics and animation software to achieve are now at our fingertips through CSS code. CSS3, the first revision to cascading style sheets since the advent of handheld smartphones and tablets, is here, now, ready for prime time. Don’t miss William Harrel’s Introduction to CSS3 eClasses.org. The first session starts April 16, 2012. See you there!

This is a complete, hands-on class in creating Websites with CSS3. Here’s what we’ll cover:

Syllabus


Week 1 – Introduction to CSS3

  • What are Styles?
  • What are Style Sheets?
  • How do Style Sheets Cascade?
  • Evolution of CSS
  • CSS and HTML
  • CSS—A  Bunch of Rules
  • The Anatomy of a CSS Rule
  • Why CSS3?

Week 2 – CSS3 and HTML5

  • What is HTML5?
  • HTML5 Page Structure
  • HTML5’s Built-In Containers
  • Create an HTML5 Page
  • CSS3 and HTML5 Working Together
  • CSS3 and Earlier Versions of HTML

Week 3 – In Depth CSS

  • Class, Type, ID and Compound Selectors
  • Inline, Internal and External Styles
  • CSS Containers
  • CSS Rules for Adapting to Display Size and Device Type
  • CSS Print Media Formatting

Week 4 – Formatting a Page with CSS3

  • CSS3 Page Sections and Includes
  • Format Boxes with CSS3
  • Format Text with CSS3
  • Format Images and other Media with CSS3

Week 5 – CSS3 Special Effects

  • CSS3 Shadow and other Text Effects
  • CSS3 Box Shadow and other Box Effects
  • CSS3 Color Gradients and Fills
  • CSS3 Menu and Navigation Formatting Effects
  • CSS3 Background Effects
  • Use WebKit, Mozilla and other Browser Extensions with CSS3

Week 6 – CSS3 Animations, Transitions and Transformations

  • Create and Animate Simple 2D Shapes
  • Create Page and Object Transitions
  • Create Object 2D and 3D Transformations
  • WebKit and other Browser Extension Transformations

Week 7 – CSS3 and Mobile Devices

  • CSS3 Formatting Based on Screen Size and Device Type
  • Integrate CSS3 and JavaScript
  • Integrate CSS3 and jQuery
  • Media Quires
  • Viewport
  • Device Orientation

Week 8 – CSS3 Advanced Techniques

  • Fluid, Multicolumn Pages
  • Stylized Links
  • Format Form Fields with CSS3
  • CSS3 Sprites
  • CSS3 Drop-Down Menus

 

HTML, CSS and JavaScript Development for Dummies at Amazon

If, nearly 20 years ago, when I first started designing Web sites, you’d have told me I’d be writing a book about designing World Wide Web pages for cell phones, I’d have told you to lay off the crack. In those days, cell phones did nothing other than make and receive calls. (Besides, very few people could afford them.) The Internet, which most of us accessed through dial-up modems over inadequate copper phone lines, was a slow and temperamental Never-never land.  I, like everybody else writing about information technology (we didn’t call it that then), was still amazed when my mobile calls connected.

But here we are sliding through 2011 with a round of mobile devices that can handle the Internet nearly as well as full-blown computers. Mobile Web surfers have become a force to contend with. It’s time for Web designers and the companies they work for to make their Websites mobile-device friendly. In this new Dummies book, available at Amazon now, I’ll show you how to do that.

William Harrel – www.williamharrel.com

 

This tutorial shows you how to fade several objects onto the Flash stage at once. You can use this technique in all versions of Flash, except that in versions of Flash prior to CS3, Classic Tweens are called Motion Tweens. The following video was done in CS4, but, again, the only difference between Flash versions is the change of tween names.

The following steps fade several objects onto the Stage at the same time. These instructions assume that all the objects you are animating are currently on the same layer. If you already have your symbols on separate layers, skip the steps for distributing the symbols to layers. For this procedure to work, all objects you animate must be symbols.

  1. SHIFT + click all the objects you want to animate.
  2. Right-click one of the selected objects and choose Distribute to Layers.
  3. Clear the frames on the new layers. Flash will insert new keyframes in the frame directly behind the last cleared frame on each layer.
  4. In the top layer of the group of layers you want to animate, click the animation end-point frame to select it, and then, on the bottom layer of the group of layers, SHIFT + click the animation end-point frame. This selects all the frames in the animations’ end-point columns.
  5. Right-click the selection and choose Insert Keyframe from the pop-up menu.
  6. Click the animation start-point keyframe on the top layer of the group to select it, and then click the Pasteboard to deselect the  symbol. (Deselecting the symbol here is necessary because, while Flash does select the symbol when you click the frame, the selection is not in the correct state to apply an Alpha affect. The purpose for clicking the start-point frame was to get us back to that frame.)
  7. SHIFT + click each of the symbols you want to animate to select them.
  8. In the Symbol Properties panel, under Color Effect, click the Style drop-down and choose Alpha.
  9. Set the Alpha percentage to 0.
  10. Click the end-point keyframe on the bottom layer to select it, and then SHIFT + click start-point keyframe on the top layer to select all the frames on all the layers you want to animate.
  11. Right-click the selection and choose Create Classic Tween from the pop-up menu.

Intricate stuff, huh? Your objects should now fade onto the Stage. I probably don’t need to point out here the necessity for precision. But I’ll do so anyway. It’s important that you follow these steps exactly. I suggest you watch the above video.

You can learn this and many other Flash techniques in William Harrel’s introduction and intermediate Flash courses over at Ed2Go.

William Harrel – www.williamharrel.com

Formatting Two Columns with CSS Widget

Two Column Widget

 

 

If you want you pages to appear magazine-like, displaying text in a two column format, you can use this HTML and CSS page to achieve the two-column effect (simply replace the boilerplate text with your own):

The code:

The code for creating a two-column Web page with CSS

Simply change the CSS to modify columns, text, and background color.

Posted by WilliamHarrel.com

Introduction to Flash Course at ed2go

The much anticipated launch of William Harrel’s Introduction to Flash CS5 was announced at over 2500 colleges and universities this last Monday, January 11th, 2011. The wait is finally over.  Hundreds of students have taken Harrel’s tremendously successful Introduction to Adobe Flash CS4 course and they continuously rave about how well -written the course is and how much about the program they learn in six short weeks. “The new CS5 course,” Harrel says, “is even better. While I have taught digital design in several traditional classroom settings, Flash CS4 was my first online course. The CS5 course incorporates what I learned the first time out and the valuable feedback from students.”

Typical Student Review

“I have enjoyed taking this class and learning how to use the Adobe Flash program. I plan to practice the skills I have learned in the Introduction Class, then sign up for the Intermediate Class. I also liked the online learning, so I could access and complete my work when I had time. The lessons were well written, not easy by any means, but thought provoking. I had to really think through the instructions and redo until I got it right. Thank you for the opportunity to learn Flash.”

Find a School Near You

Exciting new CS5 features, such as Code Snippets and TLF Text are covered in the CS5 course. Interested students should check with their school.  To find a school near you offering Introduction to Flash CS5, click here.  To find a school offering Introduction to Adobe Flash CS4, click here.

Intermediate Courses Offered Now

Look for Harrel’s Intermediate Flash CS5 and CS4 were released in Spring, 2011. Here is a short course description:

It’s time to take your Flash design skills to the next level! In this course you’ll learn how to use Movie Clip symbols to create movies inside movies, and how to use ActionScript to control Movie Clips and the objects inside them. Then, we’ll go over how to use external ActionScript class files to draw and animate graphics dynamically. Then, we’ll look into how to load and format external content, such as text and images, on the fly—techniques for keeping your lengthy SWFs lean, mean and responsive. This course is full of ActionScript examples for performing all kinds of animation and special effects. You’ll also learn how to use ActionScript to create Flash applications that make decisions based on user input. The course is not all programming, though; we’ll also get into sophisticated Motion Editor, Bone tool, Spray Brush tool and other animation and special effects techniques.

To find a school near you offering Intermediate Flash CS5, click here. To find a school near you offering Intermediate Flash CS4, click here.

Note: If either of the above links take you to a course catalog, rather than a course description and a school near you, the course has not been published yet. Please check back in a week or so. The CS5 course is slated for mid-Spring.

William Harrel – www.williamharrel.com