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Saturday, August 30, 2014

My Thoughts About Xara Designer Pro 10

Over the past few months, Xara has released updates to each of their products. If you have specific needs, they have a line of products to meet those needs. Each of them is listed below with a link if you'd like to download a free trial or purchase.
If you want all of the features of those products and more in a single product, then you'll want to get Xara Designer Pro 10. Today I'm going to give you my thoughts on Xara Designer Pro 10, though you'll note that some of these comments will also apply to the other products. If all you need is a subset of the features, such as Web design, then go for the product with just that subset.

For those who are already using Xara products, you'll find the familiar Xara desktop. This should help you get started quickly. If you are new to Xara, it is an intuitive interface that shouldn't take long to learn.

I love the integration of new content catalog as introduced in Web Designer 10. It provides a great array of new templates for whatever you need to design - print, web, vector, page layout, etc.

Xara Designer Pro 10 Content Catalog

The photo retouching gives sophisticated results with many creative controls to produce amazing images.

Vector tools are pretty simple with good fill options, resizing and duplication tasks as expected. I was able to draw pretty much everything I needed. The new snap features as you move objects around your designs make alignment very easy and intuitive.

Need to do page layout? Start with a template and off you go! The new page layout templates cover just about everything you need to put on paper or on a website.

Xara Designer Pro 10 Share OptionsThere were also some great surprises. The share option, shown at right is one of them. Select elements, choose your social media share, follow directions and instantly upload. For a business, with need for brand identification, this is an amazing feature. Granted, you can only upload to Facebook, Flickr and MAGIX, which is a very narrow field. Facebook, however, is the biggest player so to integrate quickly and easily is a big plus. In addition, you can keyword your uploads to increase SEO status—a business must.

I am a big fan of the snapping features which provide precision alignment of objects as you move them in relationship to each other. Makes page construction, aligning text with images and callouts very fast. Repeating items on pages was a real timesaver and I sometimes forget the power of this feature.

Previewing as a Web page is very handy, even if you are creating a document for print. Viewing work as a Web document is a great way to preview and see errors that you can miss viewing the standard composition screen.

It is rare to have a software package that can truly do it all. This one can. I give it a big thumbs up.  Xara Designer Pro 10 has a lot of high end features that were unexpected and useful. Speed not an problem, even when dealing with complex documents with many text and image variables.

Xara Designer Pro 10 is a great value for the price. It works for those who want to make great presentation, be it web, print or image, but not the time/desire/budget to master other high end graphic software. Either will take care of modest graphic needs with excellent results. You'll find it will also teach you good basics in both vector and pixel design if/when you make a jump to any software package.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Free Night at the Opera Font Makes You Sing Bohemian Rhapsody

Download Night at the Opera NF FontWhen I saw the name of today's font, I immediately thought of the classic Queen album by the name of Night at the Opera. Then I thought of the movie/play The Phantom of the Opera. While the free Night at the Opera NF font has nothing to do with classic music or theater, it would look good on the marquee outside of a show. Get your free copy!

Not sure how to download and install these free fonts? Make sure to read Downloading Fonts, Installing Fonts and Spam Filters for detailed instructions. Need help setting up an account for free stuff? Read Do You Have Account For Free Stuff On Graphics Unleashed?
Download Night at the Opera NF Font

Night at the Opera NF

Night at the Opera Character Chart
Downloadable Product
Download Free Fonts

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

CorelDRAW Home & Student Suite X7 Now Available

Corel has announced the release of CorelDRAW Home & Student Suite X7. I know some users will immediately see a lower cost and get very excited. There are limitations to this release when compared with the full product. You can install this version on up to three computers in a household. It is NOT licensed for commercial use. So if there is business involved in any way at all, this is not the version for you.

If you want to use macros, this is not the version for you as it does not include support for VBA or VSTA. It only comes in a 32-bit version. PhotoZoom Pro 3 is not included. Some color management and print options are disabled. The following features are not in this version: Color Styles, Object Styles, Color Harmonies, QR codes, Planar Mask tool in Corel PHOTO-PAINT, color proofing option, Undo dockers, Universal Laser & Roland color palettes, the ability to create left & right master pages, and custom placeholder text. Some file formats are not supported: DXF/DWG, DC S, CGM, JPEG 2000, etc.

Sorry for all the disclaimers, but many users ask me if this is a better option for them. For most users, it is not the right option. For most users, the full CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X7 is the better choice.

New CorelDRAW® Home & Student Suite X7 Offers Professional-Quality Design Tools at an Affordable Price

Latest Release Helps Students and Hobbyists Enhance Their Design Skills

OTTAWA – August 27, 2014 – Corel's Graphics Software group today released CorelDRAW® Home & Student Suite X7, the latest version of its Home & Student software package. With graphic design, illustration, tracing, photo-editing and web graphics capabilities, the suite offers a comprehensive design solution at an affordable price. As a non-commercial-use product, it helps students and hobbyists build a graphic-design career by giving them a starting point.

CorelDRAW X7 Home Student Boxshot"Learning is one of the most important aspects of a designer's career," said Gérard Métrailler, Vice President, Product Management, CorelDRAW. "Our goal is to make sure the learning process is accessible to those entering the design world. With CorelDRAW Home & Student Suite X7, students and hobbyists have access to a comprehensive solution that allows them to practice and develop their skills, without the cost of a commercial design package."

No matter what level of design experience a user has, they can express their unique creativity using this intuitive graphics software. This new version features advanced photo-editing tools, a redesigned user interface and powerful fill capabilities, all in an easy-to-learn environment. It creates a comfortable learning space for editing photos and creating reports, drawings, flyers, logos and more.

New and Enhanced Features in CorelDRAW Home & Student Suite X7:

  • NEW Redesigned and Customizable Workspaces: Choose between Lite and Default workspaces, and customize the workspace to fit a specific workflow
  • NEW Fountain Fills: Get total control over fills and transparency; create elliptical and rectangular fountain fills, control transparency within the individual colors of a fountain fill, repeat fills within objects and adjust a fill’s angle
  • NEW Advanced Character Tools: Easily find and insert certain characters with the revamped Insert Character docker
  • NEW Photo-Editing Tools in Corel® PHOTO-PAINT™ Home & Student: Create unique images with pressure-sensitive liquid tools (Smear, Attract and Twirl) and camera effects (Bokeh blur, Sepia Toning and Time Machine)
  • NEW Alignment Guides: Position objects quickly and accurately with suggested alignments to nearby objects
  • NEW High DPI Support: Get a consistent appearance across devices with high DPI monitors; the interface is easily adapted for touchscreen capability, making it compatible with the latest PCs, laptops and tablets
  • NEW Multiple Document Interface: Work with and switch between numerous documents, across multiple monitors, in a tabbed view to streamline any project
  • Built-in Content Exchange: Collaborate easily by sharing vector, bitmap and fountain fills with the community through this online repository, integrated with Corel® CONNECT™

CorelDRAW Home & Student Suite X7 Includes:

  • CorelDRAW® Home & Student X7: Intuitive vector illustration and page layout
  • Corel® PHOTO-PAINT™ Home & Student X7: Powerful image editing
  • Corel® PowerTRACE® X7: Accurate bitmap-to-vector tracing
  • Corel® CAPTURE™ X7: Simple screen capture tool
  • Corel® CONNECT™: Instant content finder
CorelDRAW Home & Student Suite X7 also provides access to 1,300 high-quality and digital images, 100 high-resolution digital photos, 125 fonts, 75 photo frames, over 100 professionally designed templates, 100 fills, an Online Quick Start Guide, over 2 hours of training videos and much more.

For a full list of everything included in CorelDRAW Home & Student Suite X7 please visit www.coreldraw.com/homestudent.

Availability and Pricing

CorelDRAW Home & Student Suite X7 is now available and can be downloaded at www.coreldraw.com/homestudent. It is available for $129.99 USD.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Corel PaintShop Pro X7 and Corel VideoStudio Pro X7 Now Available

Corel has announced new versions of Corel Paint Shop Pro and Corel Video Studio Pro. The full press release is below with details on the new software and links to either download a trial version or purchase full/upgrade versions. Along with the individual products, there is also an update bundle. Pricing details for all products are found at the end of the release.

Corel® PaintShop® Pro X7 Offers New Professional Creative Tools, Redesigned for Faster Results

New editing tools, faster brushes and modern UI updates make PaintShop® Pro X7 the affordable photo and design choice for creating stunning images and projects

Ottawa, ON – August 27, 2014 – Corel's Photo Editing group introduces Corel® PaintShop® Pro X7 and Corel® PaintShop® Pro X7 Ultimate, the latest editions of its professional quality photo editing and design software. Photographers and designers can achieve their best work faster with the new content-aware Magic Fill, extensive user interface improvements and brushes that offer a 30% performance boost. Giving photo pros and enthusiasts an image editing application that's affordable and easy to use, Corel PaintShop Pro X7 delivers the impressive feature set and power expected from a professional caliber software package.

"With the new PaintShop Pro X7, we're continuing our commitment to give photographers and creative users the tools they need to create their best-ever work. X7 offers more creativity, speed and productivity to help you achieve amazing results, faster," said Greg Wood, Senior Product Director for Photo Products at Corel. "This array of creative possibilities is available for just $79, making PaintShop Pro X7 a must-try app for anyone who's felt the sticker shock from subscription or high license pricing."

PaintShop Pro X7 offers new tools and redesigned features to deliver an unmatched photo editing experience:

For Photos That Matter
  • New! Make it vanish with Magic Fill: The new Magic Fill provides content-aware editing that works with your favorite selection tools. Erase an unwanted element in your photo and seamlessly replace it with content that matches the background area—even if it's textured or varied.
  • Improved! 30% faster brush performance: Enjoy more responsive brushes, including the Paint Brush, Airbrush and photo retouching brushes that are up to 30% faster. Plus, 64-bit power means you can achieve results quickly.
  • New! Text and Shape Cutter tools: Instantly create a unique photo object by using text or shapes to clip underlying photos or imagery. Paste or drag the resulting photo object to any image to build a collage. More than professional-quality photo editing, PaintShop Pro X7 is also a powerful design program for any visual project.
  • New! Materials Palette featuring Color Harmonies: Find the color, texture or pattern you want more quickly. Easily sample colors with a Dropper tool and create your own custom palettes to keep track of your favorite color combinations. New in the Materials Properties, Color Harmonies help you create a custom palette for your creative projects. Select one of the preset color harmony settings to see color suggestions and choose colors that look great together.
  • Enhanced! Popular effects are easier to use: Enjoy easier photo editing with a redesign of our most popular tools, including Selective Focus, Vignette, Retro Labs, Graduated filters, Depth of Field, Smart Photo Fix, Red Eye Removal and Digital Noise Removal.
  • New! New image dialog: Get started quickly by simply clicking File, New Image, choosing your desired project dimensions and making your customizations. Choose from common canvas sizes for photos, print, web, graphics, multimedia and more.
  • New! Smart Edge: Now it’s easier to keep your brush strokes "inside the lines" when painting and drawing around objects.
  • Enhanced! Streamlined Layer workflow: PaintShop Pro X7 gives you even more control over your layers by letting you drag a layer from one image to another and drop it between or above a specific layer in the Layers palette.
  • New! Support for XMP: PaintShop Pro now reads and imports data saved in XMP files, making it easy to exchange files and work with other photo management applications like Corel AfterShot™ Pro.
PaintShop Pro X7 enables you to learn as you go with built-in training tools, including the award-winning Learning Center and video tutorials. With RAW editing, an enhanced layer workflow, HDR and more, PaintShop Pro X7 is the photo-editing and digital design software that's ideal for any project. For users looking for a total photo editing, design and RAW workflow solution, PaintShop Pro X7 is the ideal complement to Corel AfterShot Pro 2, the industry's fastest RAW converter and photo management software.
New Release! Photo-editing software

Take your creativity even further with the new PaintShop Pro X7 Ultimate which also includes these valuable add-ons:

  • Perfectly Clear by Athentech Imaging: award-winning intelligent photo correction
  • Reallusion FaceFilter3 Standard: versatile photo retouching for beautiful portraits
  • Creative collection: dozens of brushes, textures and over 100 royalty-free backgrounds

Also introducing Corel Photo Video Suite™ X7

Corel VideoStudio Pro X6 Video Editing Software Corel also today announced Corel Photo Video Suite X7, delivering PaintShop Pro X7 and VideoStudio® Pro X7 for photo and video editing in one complete package.

Pricing and Availability

Corel PaintShop Pro X7 and Corel PaintShop Pro X7 Ultimate are available now in English, German, French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Chinese Traditional and Japanese.

Suggested retail pricing for PaintShop Pro X7 is $79.99 (USD/CAN)/ EUR 69.99/ £59.99 (inclusive of VAT, where applicable)/ $99.95 (AUD). Qualifying registered users can purchase for the upgrade price of $59.99 (USD/CAN)/ EUR 49.99/ £44.99/ $69.95 (AUD). For more information, please visit www.paintshoppro.com.

Suggested retail pricing for PaintShop Pro X7 Ultimate is $99.99 (USD/CAN) / EUR 89.99/ £79.99 (inclusive of VAT, where applicable)/ $129.95 (AUD). Qualifying registered users can purchase for the upgrade price of $79.99 (USD/CAN) / EUR 69.99/ £59.99 (inclusive of VAT, where applicable)/ $89.95 (AUD). For more information, please visit www.paintshoppro.com.

Suggested retail pricing for Photo Video Suite X7 is $129.99 (USD/CAN) / EUR 99.99/ £89.99 (inclusive of VAT, where applicable)/ $179.95 (AUD). Qualifying registered users can purchase for the upgrade price of $99.99 (USD/CAN) / EUR 79.99/ £69.99/ $139.95 (AUD). For more information please visit www.paintshoppro.com/photovideosuite.

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Increase Your Memory With Fast G.SKILL Ripjaws RAM

On the last couple of Wednesdays, I've given you two very important building blocks for a new screaming-fast computer. If you've missed those installments, go back and read Intel i7-4790K Processor Heartbeat of Computer and Users and Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD5H Motherboard Perfect for i7-4790K CPU.

Now that we have a CPU and Motherboard, we need to load up our system with RAM. There are four slots on the motherboard. So if each module is 4 GB, you can put a total of 16 GB in your system. Want even more? Use 8 GB modules and the system will have a total of 32 GB when fully loaded!

G.SKILL RAM Modules

I selected the G.SKILL Ripjaws 240-Pin DDR3 PC3-12800 at 1600 MHz. Each of the kits listed below contains two modules. So if you want to fill up your machine, you'll want to get two kits.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Special Savings For Loyal Readers

I wanted to do something as a thank you for loyal readers. After bouncing a few ideas around, I was told it just wasn't enough. A suggestion was proposed but it was just too crazy to list in the blog. Therefore I am going to give you the details to get this amazing deal without listing the specifics.

First, click here to add the mystery product to your shopping cart. You'll then see the product listed with the regular cost. Now comes the fun part! Enter the coupon code and see a crazy discount. You can either do this in the left sidebar (shown at left) or you can do this on the shipping details screen as shown below. I've put the word COUPON in the spot where you'll type the code then press the arrow or Verify to have it applied to the product.


The coupon code for this crazy deal is CRAZY-01. That's a ZERO in the code. I'm really afraid I'm going to lose a lot of money on this one so the coupon will automatically expire after a small number of uses. If you want to take advantage of this crazy deal, do it immediately or you may lose out!

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Single Sized Graphics For Multiple Methods of Output

During a CorelDRAW Unleashed Training Session last week, I was working with clients who hoped to create to export a single file from CorelDRAW for all methods of output.

4:3 RatioEach of the files originates in CorelDRAW and it is exported as a PNG file for use in a printed book, a PowerPoint slide show and various electronic training tools. All of the files are designed in a 4:3 ratio and the size when placed in the printed books is 3.6 inches wide. If we output the PNG files so they are exactly 300 dpi for printing, the width would be 1080 pixels.

Prior to the training, the PNG files were output at 2250 pixels wide. All of the detail was wasted when printing. It also make PowerPoint slide shows with 300 or more slides much larger than needed. We debated long and hard to find the perfect bitmap dimensions and the final result was 1280 x 960 pixels. It is still more than 300 dpi for printing, but will dramatically drop the size of the PowerPoint files. We strongly considered 1024 x 768 but worried it might not provide enough quality for the PowerPoint files projected at higher resolutions.

We also decided the page size in CorelDRAW should be 8 inches wide by 6 inches tall. As the vast majority of the graphics are designed completely with vectors, the PNG files can always go to a larger size in the future as needed. In the graphic shown above, I've listed a variety of measurements that fit perfectly in the 4:3 ratio. Not only did the training improve the proficiency in CorelDRAW, it developed a complete workflow for the graphics they create.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

How To Test if Your CorelDRAW Includes VBA

CorelDRAW CalendarIf you have looked into most any macro for CorelDRAW, you'll probably see a note somewhere about how that macro requires VBA. I was working with a client on a Hire The Geek session and I was asked how to test and find out if VBA was installed.

While there are probably some boring technical ways to find out, the easiest is typically to run one of the macros included with CorelDRAW. I should say it is included (and functional) if you have VBA installed.

That macro is the Calendar Wizard and I have a free tutorial at The Easy Way to Create Calendars in CorelDRAW showing you how easy it is to use. The calendar you see at right was created in only a couple of minutes!

For those who want even more power, there is a commercial version available. Many users are served just fine by the free version that has been included with CorelDRAW for quite a few versions now.

There is one minor difference in the instructions. Older versions of CorelDRAW required you to select Tools | Options | Play to bring up the dialog for launching macros. Newer versions changed the command to Tools | Macro | Run Macro. If those commands aren't showing up in your menus then most likely you have a version without VBA. That can include Academic versions, OEM version and other versions offered by Corel at a significant discount. Once you discover the power of macros, you'll undoubtedly look for even more macros to increase your productivity!

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Cave Creek Geek Takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Unless you've been on a deserted island for the past couple of weeks, you've undoubtedly seen a number of people taking the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I'm sure that many of you have even taken the challenge yourself. Sure, the water is a bit cold, but it is for a good cause.

I was challenged and put on my Cave Creek Geek persona to film my video. I tried to add a few unique touches as I doused myself. You can watch it on the Cave Creek Geek page or it is embedded below for those reading on the Web.




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