Brother MFC-J6520DW Review and RatingsWith its Business Smart, Business Smart Plus, and Business Smart Professional Series families of printer, Brother was one of the first printer makers to support wide-format printing in a big way in multifunction inkjets for consumers and small businesses. Whether it’s simply printing the occasional oversize document, or delivering the ability to scan, copy, fax, and print them, a subset of these business-oriented all-in-ones (AIOs) adroitly handle tabloid, or 11×17-inch, pages at prices usually reserved for models that support paper no larger than letter- or legal-size.

The topic of this review, Brother’s $229.99-MSRP MFC-J6520DW, is one of these wide-load-capable models in the Brother line. A Professional Series model, the MFC-J6520DW does it all. It not only supports printing to tabloid-size stock, but because the scanner and the automatic document feeder (ADF) also support 11×17-inch pages, you can also scan, copy, and fax pages that big. (When you fax, of course, the document gets reduced on the receiving end if need be, since most receiving fax machines will be letter- or legal-size only.)

Brother MFC-J6520DW (Intro)Unlike the other major makers of inkjet printers, which by now have all come out with a wide-format model or two of their own, nearly all of Brother’s business-centric models support tabloid printing. We’ve reviewed several of them, including the MFC-J6520DW’s higher-volume sibling, theMFC-J6920DW, a late-2013 Editors’ Choice recipient that’s still going strong on the market.

Over the past couple of years, though, we’ve seen business-centric wide-format models from both Epson and HP, such as the WorkForce WF-7610 All-in-One and Officejet 7610 Wide Format e-All-in-One, respectively. (Canon’s most recent wide-format inkjet model, the Pixma iX6820, is a very different animal, a single-function photo printer.) However, while these two machines have several features in common with our Brother machine under review, they also differ in some very significant ways.

Both the Epson and HP wide-format models, for example, additionally support a slightly larger page size, the next size up from tabloid at 13×19 inches, also known as “supertabloid” or A3+. (We say “slightly larger,” but the fact is that supertabloid pages contain 60 inches of additional surface area versus tabloid.)

While support for these even larger papers may not matter to everybody, a feature we really like about this Brother multifunction model is its low per-page operational cost—the cost per page, or CPP. As you’ll see in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on, compared to other wide-format printers, this one is relatively inexpensive in terms of ink upkeep, making it an ideal candidate for high-volume print runs of both standard letter-size andtabloid pages.

Unlike the costlier MFC-J6920DW, though, we had a few concerns about this model that left it just shy of a Computer Shopper Editors’ Choice high-five. As we discuss in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on, there are some significant, perhaps obvious, drawbacks to a wide-format printer with only one paper-input tray. In addition, the MFC-J6520DW doesn’t print photos as well as some of the other wide-format models we’ve talked about here so far.

Brother MFC-J6520DW (Intro 2)But, then again, reconsider that this printer is part of Brother’s Business Smart Professional Series, as we mentioned earlier. Not all business printing calls for stellar photograph reproduction, and, frankly, this printer’s low CPPs, as we see it, should make stomaching the slightly subpar image rendering easier.

Overall, we liked this printer, but its somewhat limited paper-handling abilities might make it a better pick as a dedicated tabloid printer for light-to-moderate oversize output, as opposed to a general-purpose office machine. In any case, the MFC-J6520DW prints wide-format pages on the relative cheap, and that should be attractive to a wide range of small offices and workgroups.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper


 

When we talk about photograph printers, it’s good to start out with the understanding that there are several different kinds—from amateur, to hobbyist, to professional. That said, then, you’d think that photo printers would come in three basic types, and, well, sort of, they do. But often the lines between the different categories of photo printers are difficult to discern. It’s a good idea to have a good idea what your needs are before setting off on your mission to find a photo printer.

Near-dedicated photo printers differ from dedicated photo printers in that, of course, the latter prints only photographs, as opposed to near-dedicated models that can also print documents, such as, say, presentations, business letters, reports, and spreadsheets. Dedicated photo printers, on the other hand, are typically limited to a maximum paper size of 2 by 3, 4 by 6, or 5 by 7 inches (or panoramic variations on these sizes), and the printers themselves are small and portable, with an emphasis on ease-of-use and, in most cases, printing directly from the camera or its media, instead of printing from a PC.

Then, too, there are the higher-end, more-costly professional photograph printers, such as Epson’s $1,095 Stylus Pro 3880, or even HP’s $2,449.99 DesignJet T120 ePrinter. Here, though, we’re talking about consumer-grade photo printers, most of which can also double as document printers. However, as you’ll see in a moment, using them as such can be, compared to using their business-centric counterparts, an expensive proposition, in terms of cost per page.


 

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.

Introduction to Flash CS6We are happy to announce the latest installment of William Harrel’s popular Flash Professional courses at ed2go.com, scheduled to start sessions in early 2013.

Take your graphics skills to a whole new level by adding Flash to your designer toolkit! In this course, you’ll learn how to create animated, interactive movies and mobile device apps in Adobe Flash CS6.

These days, Flash movies and apps are everywhere—including the Internet, films, TV shows and commercials, mobile device apps, and computer games. The skills you’ll learn in this course will get you started on your way to a lucrative career designing animated graphics, mobile apps and special effects for one of these fun and exciting fields.

During this course, you’ll create a full-blown Flash application, complete with animated text and graphics and interactive buttons. You’ll start by exploring the Flash workspace, creating text and graphics, and animating objects on the Flash movie stage. Next, you’ll look in detail at the anatomy of a Flash movie—how to use the Flash timeline, layers, and frames to control objects and timing on the stage.

While you can create an entire movie or app  in Flash, most often you’ll need to import graphics, sounds, and digital videos from other applications. While creating your first Flash movie, you’ll learn how to format and embed external digital media and how to make them appear or play at specific times. You’ll also learn how to control digital media based on specific events, such as end user mouse clicks.

Because no course on Flash is complete without an introduction to ActionScript, Flash’s powerful programming language, you’ll create interactive buttons with ActionScript 3.0. You’ll also learn to write scripts that control movie flow and scripts that call to and load external videos, Web pages, and other Flash movie files.

As you create your movie, you’ll find out how to design and animate 3-D objects, sync sounds with animations, and publish your Flash movies to the Internet and mobile apps. By the end of the course, you’ll know how to create and publish Flash movies and applications, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a Flash designer.

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

Click here to go to ed2go

The long-awaited Intermediate Flash CS5 and Intermediate Flash Cs4 courses at ed2go.com will be launched at over 2,500 colleges and universities on June 15, 2011. This is the sequel to William Harrel’s immensely popular Introduction to CS4 and Introduction to CS5 courses offered by ed2go for the past two years. These courses expand on the introductory topics taught in Harrel’s highly instructional introductory courses. Students will take what they’ve learned in the intro courses to the next level, with advanced instruction in ActionScript, Motion Editor, Bone Tool, Deco Tool, and other Flash features–allowing them to take their Flash skills to a marketable level.

“These two new courses will bring my students up to a skill level that will allows them to market themselves in a variety of Flash design markets,” Harrel says. “It’s personally gratifying to help them reach this level of design skills.”

Harrel’s ed2go courses have been very well received by his students, as demonstrated in the following student comments:

“I really learned so much in this course and the instruction was excellent. Hope to see an intermediate course to CS4.”

“I found the course to be highly beneficial and Bill Harrel does an excellent job of presenting complex information in an understandable fashion. Bill also gets top marks for responsiveness regarding questions.”

“Fantastic course! I went from knowing nearly nothing in Flash to feeling pretty confident that I can put together simple Flash movies. The subject matter was well illustrated and explained, and I felt the instructor was patient and thorough in responding to questions and problems.”

For more information on these new courses, please visit ed2go.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



 

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Yes, creating Websites is fun and rewarding work. And nothing is more fun and rewarding than creating Flash Websites, or other Flash applications, such as online movies or training courses. Nowadays, learning to use Flash is a must for student Website and Web application designers.

The Flash CS4 course at Ed2Go was so well-received that I am feverishly working to crank out a CS5 course. The name of the course is “Introduction to Adobe Flash CS5“. It is a beginner’s course on creating basic Flash movies and Websites with the latest version of Flash, Creative Suite 5.

ed2go is the largest online course provider, offering hundreds of courses through most major universities, colleges and other learning facilities.

Course Details

This twelve-week course will introduce students to the basics of using Flash, and will cover the following:

  • Getting to know the Flash interface
  • Workspaces
  • Animation and Tweens
  • Flash’s drawing tools
  • Flash’s text tools
  • The Flash Timeline and frames
  • Intro to ActionScript 3.0
  • Intro to 3D and Motion Editor
  • Using images, sound and video clips in Flash
  • And much more

The course is well underway and should be available is a few months.

Bill Harrel – www.williamharrel.com



 

Communications Technology Watch is pleased to announce that William Harrel has contracted with Ed2Go to create and instruct two intermediate-level Flash courses, Intermediate Flash CS5 and Intermediate Flash CS4. The upcoming courses are extensions of Harrel’s popular Introduction to Flash CS4 and Introduction to CS5, which are currently distributed through Ed2Go.com to nearly 2,500 colleges and universities. Hundreds of students have taken the CS4 course to date, and it continually receives high ratings from students. The CS5 course in nearing completion and will be released soon.

The new course will help students improve their Flash animation, design, 3D graphics, and ActionScript skills.

“We’ll look closely at Flash’s high-end design and graphics tools,” Harrel told us. “Especially, the Bone Tool, Motion Editor, and 3D tools. Oh yeah, and ActionScript 3.0–lots of ActionScript 3.0.”

As the courses develop and get closer to a launch date, we’ll keep you posted.