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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Kurt Reviews GOgroove BlueSYNC DRM Portable Stereo Speaker

Many of us carry a collection of music in our pockets or in a bag of some sort. One way to listen to that music is via headphones, while another is to try to listen using the speaker built in to your smartphone, tablet or music player. Have you used the internal speaker? It might be better than nothing, but it isn't very good.

Another option is a sort of portable speaker. This is another item to carry, so you want something as small as possible. But if it is small, will the sound be good? And do you need to break the bank to get a good solution? Kurt von Behrmann has written a review of the GOgroove BlueSync DRM Portable Stereo Speaker and he feels there is pretty good bang for the buck. Read his full review and if it sounds good to you, you can pick one up for under $30!

GOgroove BlueSYNC DRM Portable Stereo Speaker

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Using The Proper Colors in CorelDRAW, Including Black

Even if you only output black and white to your laser engraver, it is extremely important to use the right colors and the right color management settings. Yes, there are different mixtures of black, white and every other color. In this tutorial, I'll go over the proper color management settings for the most common workflows for awards shops and we'll talk about ways to easily convert between colors (including black).

Color Management Settings

Color management is one of those topics that is often ignored by users because they feel it is too confusing. For those of you who do laser engraving, you may feel it isn't important to you. It is important for all users and it doesn't have to be difficult or confusing. You can get it set up for your needs in five minutes or less and never have to touch it again!

Now in order to make it easy and fast, it is extremely important that you are using CorelDRAW X5 or later. Corel made major changes (and huge improvements) to color management starting with CorelDRAW X5. Those of you who hesitate to upgrade should get current and take advantage of the many improvements, including color management. I cannot give an easy color management answer to users of the older versions as they don't exist. Keep in mind that CorelDRAW X4 has past its sixth birthday and that is ancient in the world of software!

The key is setting up the proper color management defaults and I'm going to give you the exact settings to choose. Select Tools | Color Management | Default Settings and you'll get a dialog box full of settings that you may not understand. I cover them all in detail in CorelDRAW X6 Unleashed (as well as the rest of the features in CorelDRAW) if you want a detailed explanation. For now, you'll simply want to choose the settings to match those shown in Figure 1 if you are using a laser engraver or Figure 2 for those using an ink jet, color laser or sublimation printer.

CorelDRAW Color Management Defaults
Figure 1: Default Color Management Settings suggested for a laser engraver.

CorelDRAW Color Management Defaults
Figure 2: Default Color Management Settings suggested for an inkjet, color laser or sublimation printer.

There is no way for me to say these are the perfect settings for all of you, but they are better than just using the generic defaults as they will give you more accurate color and color conversions. After selecting the choices I've shown, click the save icon just to the right of the Presets list and save the settings using the names as I've shown in my dialog boxes. This makes it easy to choose these settings in the future. I would also suggest you discuss the proper settings with the manufacturer of your device, though don't be shocked if they don't have experience with these color management settings and have no suggestions.

Find and Replace

A common situation you'll face in CorelDRAW will be using a file with objects either filled or outlined by a color that you want to switch to another color. The Find and Replace feature comes to your rescue and makes it easy to change even thousands of objects at once. While the feature exists in older versions, it gained an eyedropper in CorelDRAW X5 that makes it much easier to select the exact color you want to find.

To bring up the Find and Replace wizard, select Edit | Find and Replace | Replace Objects and you'll get the dialog box shown in Figure 3.

CorelDRAW Replace Wizard
Figure 3: Replace Wizard dialog box is the starting point for different find and replace tasks.

For the situation described above when you simply need to change one color to another, choose the top option labeled "Replace a color" and press the Next button. This brings you to the dialog box in Figure 4. Choose the color you want to find and its replacement with the two color selectors at the top of the dialog box. As mentioned earlier, newer versions of a CorelDRAW include an eyedropper making it easy to click on an object with the desired color in your drawing.

CorelDRAW Replace Color
Figure 4: Replace a color in the Replace Wizard.

One important thing to note is that you can only replace fills or outlines, not both at the same time. Sure, Corel should make it possible to replace both at once, it just isn't available in the current versions. So if you need to replace a color in both fills and outlines, you'll have to run the wizard twice. After you've selected your colors and the desired options, click Finish and you'll get the button bar shown in Figure 5.

CorelDRAW Find and Replace Buttons
Figure 5: Find and Replace button bar.

If you prefer doing it the slow way, use any of the first four buttons. Most of the time you'll simply want to click the Replace All button and the requested changes will be made to all objects. If you have a large number of objects in a file, this may take a few seconds to complete.

Changing a single color can be important, but other projects will require that you mass convert all colors in a color model to a different color model. For example, you receive CMYK artwork and need it in RGB or vice versa. You can even convert a color graphic to grayscale with the wizard. Once again you'll select the same option in the menu and get the dialog box in Figure 3. This time you'll select "Replace a color model or palette" before clicking Next.

This brings you to the dialog box in Figure 6. I've always found that I want to keep the top option, "Find any color model or color palette" chosen. What varies is the option you choose from the "Replace with the color model" drop-down list. My most-used choices are either RGB or Grayscale depending on the project at hand. Just as with replacing single colors, you can only do outlines or fills but not both at the same time.

CorelDRAW Replace Color Model
Figure 6: Replace a color model in the Replace Wizard.

Just as before, you'll get the button bar in Figure 5 and you'll want to click Replace All. Keep in mind that the conversion between color models is based on settings chosen earlier in this article in the Color Management Default Settings. This is just one of many reasons it is important to get those defaults set correctly in the beginning. And for the engravers, this can also affect the conversion between black. If you don't have the default settings right, you won't get the black your laser needs!

In Closing

Even if you feel color management doesn't apply to you, I hope you now realize it is easy to set up correctly and it is involved in many areas of CorelDRAW. Take a couple of minutes to select the appropriate defaults for your workflow and you shouldn't have to worry about it again until you install a new version of CorelDRAW.

Get to know the options discussed for replacing either a single color or a color model. I find that I use these features multiple times a day. Trying to change the colors manually would be a very long and tedious job even if you have 15-20 objects. With this Wizard, it is just as easy to make the swap for 15,000 to 20,000 objects.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring Cleaning Spruces Up Old Tutorials

Some of you may have noticed that I didn't write any blogs over the holiday weekend. Like you, I decided to take a short break and enjoy some time with friends. While there may not have been any new blogs, I did do some spring cleaning on very old content on our site.

Remember, we first published a page on the Internet back in 1995. There are quite a few older tutorials written back in the 90s that haven't seen any changes to their Web pages since they were first posted. Because of the dynamic nature of the headers and footers on our site, it may have seemed that the old pages had been updated. It was all smoke and mirrors.

I didn't change the content of the tutorials so the instructions may or may not work in current versions of CorelDRAW or Corel PHOTO-PAINT. Yet I think there is still value in these tutorials if you are willing to read them carefully and adjust a few of the commands in the newer versions. One section that got some sprucing up are the tutorials from Mike Bresciani. I have included links to each of them below if you want to work through them.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Antiques in Wichita? Wichita Antique Free Fonts!

Download WichitaAntique FontsLoyal readers will remember last fall when the Cave Creek Geek Dined at Auntie Mae's Cafe. Of all the videos I've posted so far, that is one of my favorites since the restaurant is named after my mom. This week would have been her 85th birthday so it seemed an appropriate time to post the link again.

What the video doesn't tell you is that Auntie Mae's started as a consignment antique store in Wichita. Today's free font is WichitaAntique in five different weights. I couldn't think of a better time to choose this family of fonts. Get your free copy and start antiquing!

Not sure how to download and install these free fonts? Make sure to read Downloading Fonts, Installing Fonts and Spam Filters for detailed instructions. For those of you using Internet Explorer for your browsing, please read Microsoft Internet Explorer 11 Is Evil and How To Fix It! so you don't have any problems when getting your free fonts. If you get an error message when trying to login, Internet Explorer is the problem!
  • 1 year ago, the free font was Boston.
  • 2 years ago, the free font was Tangle.
  • 3 years ago, the free font was Tara Bulbous.
Download WichitaAntique Fonts


WichitaAntique Character Chart

WichitaAntique Light

WichitaAntique Light Character Chart

WichitaAntique Medium

WichitaAntique Medium Character Chart

WichitaAntique Bold

WichitaAntique Bold Character Chart

WichitaAntique XBold

WichitaAntique XBold Character Chart Downloadable Product Download Free Fonts

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Heartbleed Bug and Graphics Unleashed

Heartbleed BugThere is a lot of talk in the last few days about the Heartbleed Bug. It is a coding error in the OpenSSL protocol that can leave a hole for hackers to steal information. If you want to read all of the technical details, you can visit The Heartbleed Bug Web site.

The Graphics Unleashed Web site does use SSL (secure socket layer) encryption on pages when payments are involved or with other information that should be protected. We do NOT use the OpenSSL library on our site and therefore our site does NOT have this vulnerability.

As with most sites on the Internet, we are connected with many other sites and services. For example, many of you receive our blog posts or newsletter via the FeedBlitz service. We can happily report that FeedBlitz does NOT have this vulnerability either. To date, we are not aware of any service we use on our site that is affected.

This doesn't mean that you won't visit sites that are affected. Those sites aren't bad guys, they just happened to use a programming library with a vulnerability in it. Many sites have already installed a updated version of OpenSSL to resolve the vulnerability. Until it was patched, there was a slim possibility your data could have been at risk. In short, be aware and vigilant, but no need to freak out about this issue.

One thing you should consider is changing your passwords, especially if you often use the same password. For example, you may have your login credentials stored at site A which had the vulnerability. If those credentials were compromised and you used the same login credentials at another site that didn't have the vulnerability, the bad guys could still login to the site without the vulnerability. I can't stress enough that you shouldn't be using the same login credentials at every site. It is extremely important to have unique (and strong) passwords at each site.

I wrote a detailed post entitled Choosing Strong Passwords and Remembering Them Easily last year so I encourage you to read it immediately. It is not hard to create unique and strong passwords. You can also remember them very easily if you use a tool like Roboform. Of all the utilities I use on a daily basis, it is one of my favorites.

Spend a little time investigating sites you visit where your information may have been at risk. Then go change your passwords! If you are ever worried about the password you are using in the Graphics Unleashed Shopping Cart, go to My Account and click the Change Password link in the Account Information section. Just please use a strong password and let Roboform remember it for you!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Kurt Reviews HTC One Max Smartphone

HTC One MaxMost of us are on our second or even our third smartphone at this point. Others may be investigating their first one. I know that I will soon be trading in my current phone for what I find to be the latest and greatest.

Kurt von Behrmann has reviewed the HTC One Max, one of the top entrants in the world of phablets. They are so named because their large screens make them a mix between a phone and a tablet.

In my mind I have gone back and forth between a "phablet" and a large phone as far as what will next be my mobile communication device. I think the only way for me to decide is to hold both in my hands to see what feels right.

Give Kurt's review of the HTC One Max a read to determine if it might be the right smartphone for you. For more reviews, go to Kurt's page where we've archived all of the reviews he's written.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Blood Moon, GodMode Folder, Clipart on DVD? and Seamless Textures Collections

I wanted to share some of the posts that have appeared on the Graphics Unleashed Facebook page in the last week. If you are reading via e-mail, you'll have to click on the posts. Each of the Facebook posts is fully embedded if you are reading this post on the Web site.

We had a beautiful clear sky in Arizona last night to watch the lunar eclipse and the blood moon. I love to take pictures, but my camera equipment pales in comparison to what NASA has available. Rather than post the pictures I took with the moon as a dot, we shared a series from NASA showing the blood red moon.

I was recently reminded of a post I wrote for the blog more than four years ago about a special folder available on Windows 7. Just a reminder that it definitely does not work on previous versions of Windows and we have not yet tested to see if it works on Windows 8.

Hopefully you've all heard that Corel released CorelDRAW X7 a couple of weeks ago. Just a reminder that we have a page on our site where we include all information we have on it. One of the decisions Corel made was to not include any clipart, fonts, photos and other content on the DVD. We asked for your thoughts on this decision.

It is a decision I find very disappointing as users have often shared how much they enjoyed received artwork with each version. I'm still a firm believer in providing DVDs of artwork to users and that's exactly what we deliver with our Bonus Content Packs. You might find you get a better value with our CorelDRAW Unleashed Bonus Content Mega Pack 1 as it contains more than 4200 pieces of clipart, 496 seamless textures, more than 2000 seamless stripes and more than 400 fonts along with some other goodies.

One of my favorite types of artwork to use in designs is seamless textures and thumbnails of all seamless textures from one of our collections was posted on Facebook.

Of course those are thumbnails from just one of the 13 collections (with more coming soon). If you haven't looked at these collections, please download the free PDFs showing all textures included in each collection. We have collections of wood, metal, more metal, stone, terrain, fire & ice, ground & plants, floor wall & bricks, fiber, tile & path, marble, crystals and technology. In short, there is a collection for everyone!

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What Can Designers Learn From Spammers and Scammers?

Teacher at BlackboardYesterday I told you about all the extra junk you'll often receive when you install free software. As designers, we can all learn something from the tactics used by the scams involved in getting you to install the extra junk. These lessons can also come from the spam that floods our inboxes every day.

Let's focus on how you are tricked into installing extra junk. Obviously the product you desire is marketed as free and that is the magic price.

The first thing you see on the Web page is a big green button with "Download Now" or some other verbage that is just begging you to click the link. Even though there is a text link just below the button where you can get the same software without the extra junk, very few users see it.

So if you are designing something and you want a specific action to be taken, make it as obvious as that big green "Download Now" button. Don't hide the desired action in the small print.

Even after you download the version of the free software with all the extra junk, you still go through several dialog boxes where you can choose not to install it. Except these dialogs are designed to convince you to install the stuff you don't want. How many times do you read the text in a dialog box with an "I agree" button at the bottom? Rarely does anyone read this stuff. The freebie software dialogs are designed so that you'll click I agree even though you have the option to click Decline.

People don't generally click Decline because they think it means they won't get the free software they desire. Yet if they read the small print, they'd realize Decline was the correct answer. I can tell you that even if the answers are provided, most people won't read the answer in front of their face. And those who do read often, often misinterpret to get the meaning they desire.

I'm not suggesting any of you create designs that will trick customers into doing something as scammy as with the free software installing extra junk or the spam that promises who knows what. The key is that even legitimate companies with legitimate products and services can create a design that guides their customers to the desired outcome.

On the note of designing to help potential customers, we've recently made a few changes to our Web site that we hope will simplify things for you. At the top of each page is a toolbar with three items (along with our name). First, a button that takes you to a page where you can get free subscriptions to our publications. We want you to subscribe and it truly is free. Next is a language selector. For those who do not speak English as a native language, this allows you to translate the page into the language of your choice. On the right is a search box where you can search our site for the answer you desire.

Along with the bar added at the top of the page, we also redesigned the drop-down menus at the top of each page to give you an easy way to navigate to the most popular pages and sections of our site. I hope that these two changes are both helpful to you. Of course we also hope that you find some products that will help you and that you purchase those products.


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