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October 23 2013

How to Record your iPhone or iPad’s Screen using AirPlay Mirroring

Display your iPhone or iPad Screen on your Computer using AirPlay Mirroring

Reflector App Tutorial

Reflector App Tutorial

Did you ever have something really cool on your iPhone or iPad that you wanted to see on your computer screen?


Maybe you want to:

  • Play a game
  • Watch a video or photo show
  • Demo cool new apps for people
  • Share a presentation

Well, you can and it’s really easy. I’m going to show how to display everything happening on your iPhone or iPad on your computer in real-time.

If you have an Apple TV, you may have used Airplay to share pictures, movies, or music with your TV. Well, an app called Reflector allows you to do the same thing with your Mac or Windows computer.

Installing Reflector Application on your Computer

Start by going to their website and buying the software ($12.99) from AIRSQUIRRELS.com

Reflector Website to purchase and download Reflector App

Reflector Website to purchase and download Reflector App.

Once you have the software installed and running, you’re ready to go.

Enabling AirPlay Mirroring on your iOS Device

You don’t need to install anything on your iOS device, Airplay mirroring is built right into the operating system.

Connect your iOS device to your wifi network.

Swipe your iOS 7 device up from the bottom of the screen.

Air Play link in iOS 7 Control Center

Air Play link in iOS 7 Control Center

Tap the AirPlay icon toward the bottom of the screen.

You will see a list of available AirPlay devices.

Select AirPlay Mirroring Device in iOS 7

Select AirPlay Mirroring Device in iOS 7

Select the name that you gave your computer in Reflector (Mine is NEW-MBP)

Select AirPlay Mirroring Device in iOS 7

Select AirPlay Mirroring Device in iOS 7

Then, slide the Mirroring switch to the right.

AirPlay Mirroring Enabled from iOS 7 Control Center

AirPlay Mirroring Enabled from iOS 7 Control Center

Tap the Done link.

Now, your device’s screen will appear on your computer.

When it opens up you can see whatever is on your devices screen displayed in real-time on your computer monitor.

If I open an app like Twitter, you can see it in real-time.

If I show a photo or video you can see it on the screen.

If I open up a Slide presentation I can deliver it on screen.

For things like Video or Slides, you will want to switch to Full Screen Mode

Select Device, then Full Screen from the menu.

You can also control how the device frame looks.

Select Device, then Frame Skin from the menu.

See the Reflector App Video Tutorial

The video tutorial below shows how to do all of the steps listed above.

So, that’s Reflector and some of the cool things you can do with it.

July 11 2013

How to Add Reminders in Evernote – Video Tutorial

Goal: Learn how to add reminder notifications in Evernote to manage your to do list tasks.

How to Add Reminders in Evernote

How to Add Reminders in Evernote

Manage your To Do List from Evernote

It’s been a loooong time coming, but Evernote finally added to-do list management capabilities to my favorite software/service.

You can add Notifications to notes and manage them like a typical to-do list. The process is pretty simple:

Create a new note

Click the Notification (alarm clock) icon

Assign a Date and Time for the Notification to go off

That’s it!

When the Notification goes off on your desktop or mobile device, you just open it and view the entire note. Then, you can postpone, complete, and/or delete it. Simple and practical.

View the video tutorial below to see how to create and manage Notifications in Evernote.

How to Add Reminders in Evernote – Video Tutorial

When you get a notification on your mobile device, you can just touch or swipe it to open the entire note.

iPhone Evernote Notification

iPhone Evernote Notification

When the note opens, you can manage the notification.

iPhone Evernote Note - Notification

iPhone Evernote Note – Notification

July 30 2012

Create a Content Marketing Campaign – Quickly, Easily, and Free

Leverage Your Existing Content to Grow Your Marketing Funnel

Overview: This tutorial shows how to create a quick, simple, free Content Marketing Campaign to draw people to your product or service.

content marketing tutorial 525x313

Content Marketing Tutorial Diagram

Every marketing site will tell you that “You have to do Content Marketing“. They all say how it’s the next great wave in attracting customers to your site, but precious few ever really SHOW you exactly how it’s done.This tutorial will show you how to quickly and easily execute a content marketing campaign for a page or product on your site.

Let’s say I have an Ebook that I want to sell. The Ebook contains a bunch of tips and tricks for using Microsoft Excel. I need a way to get visitors to my sales page and convert them to customers.

I will deploy a content marketing campaign that starts on my site and branches out to several social media locations. The campaign will use the following techniques:

  • Blogging/Article Marketing
  • Video Sharing
  • Photo Sharing
  • Document Sharing (Slides and Text)

Blogging / Article Marketing

I started by writing a very basic tutorial on how to do a Vlookup in Excel. This article has step-by-step instructions with screen shots that show how do this process. I placed a link in the article that goes to my Ebook sales page. I took the content and research for this article and repurposed it in several other quick and easy ways. I started out by recording a video screencast of the steps I covered in the article.

Video Sharing

I use a program called Camtasia by Techsmith ($300 Windows – $100 Mac). There are several free alternatives that you can also use. (http://alternativeto.net/software/camtasia-studio/) I took the video and shared it to sites like YouTube, 5min, x, x, etc. When I published the video I made sure to include a link back to the article with thorough title, description, and tags.

Finally, I embedded the video in the tutorial to make it that much more useful.

What does this do? Well, it puts a very useful/helpful piece of information out in the world that demonstrates my credibility and leads viewers directly back to my site.

Photo Sharing

Then I took the “feature image” from the article and share it on a number of image sharing sites like (Flickr, Picasa, Facebook, etc.) Again, when I publish the image on these sites I included a link back to the article with the accompanying title, description, and tags.Since I have a feature image for the article, I pinned the article on Pinterest. Make sure to include a graphic with text explaining the post in your Pinterest post. These really attract visitors well.

Document Sharing

Next, I took the text and images from my tutorial and pasted them into a PowerPoint presentation. Site’s like Slideshare have a ton of users looking for useful information. Make sure to add a link back to your site in TWO places: the description of the presentation and the footer of the slides. I also embedded the Slideshare presentation in the article to add even more value and interaction.There are a bunch of other places that you can post your slides: LinkedIn, Google Docs, Zoho, etc.

You can also take the information in you article and put it into a Word document that can be similarly shared on sites like Docstoc, X, X, etc.

Finally, you can post links to your article (and all of the places you posted the content) on your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Tumblr profiles.

There you have it. We created one useful piece of content, then repurposed it into several smaller pieces that can be published all over the web. All of these little pieces point back to your home base which funnels visitors to your sales page where they can be turned into customers.

See the Content Marketing Vide Tutorial

See how it’s done in the video tutorial below.

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July 10 2012

Master the Excel VLookup with this Simple Tutorial

Become an Office Hero with the Vlookup Function in Excel

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Over the years I have been the Excel tips guy in my office. There are so many amazing things that Excel can do, but the one thing I get asked more than every other feature combined is: “How do I do a Vlookup”. Mastery of the Vlookup seems to be the one Excel trick that people use to separate experts from novices. Well, guess what? It’s really not hard at all.

What Exactly is a Vlookup?

The Vlookup function in Excel is used to see if a value in one cell (or list of cells) is in another group of cells. (“V” is for vertical – you can use th Hlookup function to check horizontally too) Looks for a value in the leftmost column of a table, and then returns a value in the same row from a column you specify. Take a look at the data below. Column A has a list of people who have already paid their bill. Column B has a list of customers who received services. We want to find out which customers have paid and which still owe payments. This is a typical Vlookup scenario: compare two lists and identify the differences.


Naming a Range in Excel

Before you actually create your Vlookup formula, you should create a “Named Range”. Excel can take a range of cells and assign a name to it that can be referenced in functions and formulas throughout the workbook.

Select the range of cells that contain the values that you want to check against.

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TIP: If you have a list of values that may be added to, select a range that is bigger than your existing list. This way, when the list grows, the new values will still be included in your named range. After you select your range of cells, you are ready to give it a name. Right click on the highlighted cells and select Name a Range from the menu.

The New Name menu will open. Type a name in the Name field. You can modify the actual range of cells (now or later) in the Refers to field.

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Click the OK button.

Now you can refer to this range (Paid) anywhere in this workbook.

Creating the Vlookup Formula

Now that we have a range of data to check against, we are ready to build our formula.

Click to the right of the first value that you want to check.

Click the formula builder button (fx) to search for the Vlookup function.

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Select the Lookup & Reference category and scroll down to the VLOOKUP function.

Click the OK button.

The Function Arguments wizard will open.

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The Function Arguments wizard lists what the overall function does below the fields. When you click in one of the fields an explanation of what goes into that field is displayed. There are four fields to populate:

  • Lookup Value
  • Table Array
  • Column Index
  • Number Range Lookup

Click in the Lookup Value field and enter the cell for the value that you want to check against the range (B2 – Allan).

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Click in the Table Array field and enter the name of the range that we want to search for the Lookup Value.

Type “paid” in the Table Array field to reference the named range of values. Notice how the values in the named range appear to the right of the Table Array field.

Click in the Column Index Number field.

The range that we named contained all of the values in one column (A). If we had a range of data that resided in more than one consecutive column, we could specify which column’s value that we wanted to return to the formula cell. Since we only have one column, type “1” in the field.

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Click in the Range Lookup field.

There are two values that you can use in the Range Lookup field: TRUE or FALSE. True will find the “closest” value in the range and False will only find EXACT matches. Typically I want an exact match.

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Type “FALSE” in the field and click the OK button.

If the value is in the range the value from column 1 will be displayed in our cell.

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Extending the formula down the rest of the list

Just copy and paste the formula you built (C2) and paste it down the rest of the list.

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All of the remaining values will be checked against the range.

If a value is not found “#NA” will be displayed. In our case, we will know that those people did not pay yet.

Since we made our named range a little bigger that the existing data, we can add more data to the empty cells in the range and have them rechecked.

The example below shows that as long as we type into the range that we created it will be included in the formulas that reference it.

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Using a Multi Column Named Range to Extend your Vlookup

We used a single column range in the example above. Multi Column named ranges allow you to do some more interesting things with your Vlookups. I added an extra column to the spreadsheet that lists the amount that each person paid.

Then, I edited the range (Formulas tab> Name Manager> Select Paid> Edit button> Change range from “A29” to B29”)

This included the Amount column as the second column in the range. You can add several columns if you like. Now, when I find someone that already paid, I don’t want to return their name (I already know their name) I want to know how much they actually paid. (Column 2)

Reopen the Function Arguments wizard and click in the Column Index Number field.

Type “2” in the field and click the OK button.

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Re-copy the formula down the list.

Now, you’ll see who paid, how much they paid, and who still owes money.

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That’s it – you can do the Vlookup with the rest of the Excel gurus out there.

Excel VLOOKUP Video Tutorial

See how to do all of the steps listed above in this video tutorial:

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March 08 2012

Making a Mackbook Pro that Kills Apple’s for $790 Less – Part 3 Finishing Up

Moving your Mac’s Home Directory to another Hard Drive

upgrade macbook pro for hundreds less tutorial part 3 system preferences move mac home directory move home directory mac maintenance

This is the 3rd article of a 3-part series on Making a Mackbook Pro that Kills Apple’s for $790 Less

Read the entire series:

  1. Buying Your Macbook Pro for Far Less Money
  2. Adding an SSD Drive and Upgrading your Memory to your Macbook Pro
  3. Moving your Mac’s Home Directory to another Hard Drive

OK, so you have your new hard drives and ram in your computer, so you’re done right? Almost, but not yet. The SSD drive has fairly limited space, so you probably don’t want to store your data there. You’re going to need to move the Home directory to the mechanical hard drive.

  1. Turn your computer back on.
  2. Open Finder and copy the Users folder from the SSD drive to the SATA drive.
  3. Open your System Preferences app.
  4. Click on the Users & Groups icon under the System heading.
  5. Click the Lockicon in the lower left corner of the menu to unlock this user profile
    1. You will need to enter your system password to continue
  6. Right click on your profile and select Advanced Options.
  7. Click the Choose button next to the Home Directory field.
  8. Browse to the Users folder that you just pasted to the SATA drive.
  9. Click the OK button.
  10. You will be prompted to restart your computer. Do this.
  11. When your computer comes back on, your Home drive will be relocated.
  12. One last thing, delete the old Home drive from the SSD drive.

Video Tutorial – See it in Action

The video tutorial below shows you all of the steps listed above.

This is the 2nd article of a 3-part series on Making a Mackbook Pro that Kills Apple’s for $790 Less

Read the entire series:

  1. Buying Your Macbook Pro for Far Less Money
  2. Adding an SSD Drive and Upgrading your Memory to your Macbook Pro
  3. Moving your Mac’s Home Directory to another Hard Drive

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March 07 2012

Making a Mackbook Pro that Kills Apple’s for $790 Less – Part 2 Installing the Upgraded Components

Adding an SSD Drive and Upgrading your Memory to your Macbook Pro

upgrade macbook pro for hundreds less tutorial part 2 upgrade mac ram upgrade mac memory upgrad mac hard drive tutorial replace hardware apple

This is the 2nd article of a 3-part series on Making a Mackbook Pro that Kills Apple’s for $790 Less

Read the entire series:

  1. Buying Your Macbook Pro for Far Less Money
  2. Adding an SSD Drive and Upgrading your Memory to your Macbook Pro
  3. Moving your Mac’s Home Directory to another Hard Drive

Step 1 – Cloning the Hard Drive to the SSD Drive

Now that you have your new Macbook Pro and all of your upgraded components, you are ready to get your hands dirty. You will learn how to replace the hard drive, add a second drive, and replace the memory chips.

Here are the specs before we get started.

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Before your install the SSD drive, you’ll need to clone the Operating System from the Hard Drive (boot drive).

  1. Start up your new Mac and install SuperDuper, the FREE backup/cloning software. (Free hard drive cloning software.)
  2. Connect the SSD drive to your computer using a SATA to USB cable upgrade mac ram upgrade mac memory upgrad mac hard drive tutorial replace hardware apple . (You can get a Cable for about $15 or a USB External Enclosure upgrade mac ram upgrade mac memory upgrad mac hard drive tutorial replace hardware apple $15.)
  3. Make a clone of the entire Hard Drive to the SSD drive using SuperDuper.
    1. SuperDuper Main upgrade mac ram upgrade mac memory upgrad mac hard drive tutorial replace hardware apple
  4. Shut your computer down and unplug the power cable.

Video Tutorial – See it in Action

The video tutorial below shows you all of the steps listed above.

Step 2 – Swapping the Hard Drivies

  1. Open your laptop’s case.
    1. Flip it over
    2. Unscrew the 10 screws around the case’s perimiter
    3. Lift off the case bottom
  2. Before you touch anyting, REMOVE THE BATTERY CABLE.
  3. Remove the Hard Drive.
    1. Unscrew the mounting bracket
    2. Remove the SATA cable
  4. Connect the SSD where the Hard Drive used to be.
    1. Reattach the SATA cable.
    2. Place the drive in the empty space.
    3. Screw the mounting bracket back on.
  5. Remove the DVD drive.
    1. Remove the three cables attached and push them back out of the way.
    2. Unscrew the three phillips screws
    3. Unscrew the three torque screws
    4. Pull the DVD drive caddy out.
  6. Place the Hard Drive into the mounting caddy upgrade mac ram upgrade mac memory upgrad mac hard drive tutorial replace hardware apple ($15 +/-) and connect it where the DVD was located.
    1. Place the old hard drive into the caddy
    2. Attach it to the SATA adapter
    3. Place the caddy into the empty space
    4. Screw the caddy back down to the case.
    5. Reattach the three cables.

Step 3 – Upgrading the Memory in your Macbook Pro

Now that the drive are in place, you’re ready to install the new memory chips.

  1. Open your laptop’s case.
    1. Flip it over
    2. Unscrew the 10 screws around the case’s perimiter
    3. Lift off the case bottom
  2. Remove the two existing Memory chips.
    1. Pop the clips off the sides of the chips
    2. Gently tilt the chips up on a 45 degree angle.
    3. Slide the chips out of their slots.
  3. Place the two new Memory chips into the empty slots.
    1. Check for the alignment slits.
    2. Gently slide the chips into the empty at a 45 degree angle.
    3. Push them down flat.
    4. Clamp the side clips back down.
  4. Reattach the battery cable.
  5. Close the case back up and Restart the machine.

Video Tutorial – See it in Action

The video tutorial below shows you all of the steps listed above.

Here are the specs when we are done.

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What Should You Do Next?

This is the 2nd article of a 3-part series on Making a Mackbook Pro that Kills Apple’s for $790 Less

Read the entire series:

  1. Buying Your Macbook Pro for Far Less Money
  2. Adding an SSD Drive and Upgrading your Memory to your Macbook Pro
  3. Moving your Mac’s Home Directory to another Hard Drive

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January 31 2012

Create a Windows, Mac, Linux Super Computer Using Synergy

This tutorial will show you how to use Synergy to Control Multiple Computers with One Keyboard and Mouse

control multiple computers using synergy

OVERVIEW: You will learn how to use Synergy, a free software application to control multiple computers with one keyboard and mouse. These computers can all be running different operating systems.

What Is Synergy?

Synergy is an open source software application used for sharing a single keyboard and mouse between multiple computers. One user can control several computers in the same physical area, with a monitor connected to each. The “server” software runs on the computer with the keyboard and mouse connected and the “client” software runs on the computers that are being controlled. Synergy can run on all of the popular operating systems (Windows, Mac, Linux, and UNIX) at the same time. This means that you can move your cursor from your Windows desktop to control a Mac, and a Linux machine without batting an eye.


Why I Use Synergy

I constantly need to use and document applications in Windows, Mac, and Linux environments. This requires me to have at least one machine set up running each of those operating systems. I currently have three laptops on the desk in my office running each of those systems. Synergy allows me to line them up next to each other and use my mouse to bounce back and forth between them as if I was using a single, very diverse computer. The best part of it is that there is a common clipboard that allows me to copy pictures and text from any machine and paste it on any other machine, as if I was pasting from MS Word to PowerPoint on the same computer. (Regardless of which operating systems.) I could also see this being powerful for someone running a computer room at a data center.

Getting Synergy on your Computers

If you’ve read this far, I’m assuming that this sound kind of interesting to you. Well, enough sales, let’s see how to make it happen. Start off by downloading and installing the software on all of your machines. FYI – there are a few different variations of the Synergy software/project available, but they all play fairly well together, so just pick one that you’re happy with.

Windows: Synergy, Synergy-Plus, Synergy KM, Quick Synergy

Mac: Synergy, Synergy-Plus, Synergy KM, Quick Synergy

Linux: Go to your distribution’s Applications installer, then search for and install Synergy and Quick Synergy. (Synergy is the service and Quick Synergy is the GUI that let’s you configure the service.)

The steps differ slightly based on the specific software installed on each operating system, but the concepts are the same. I will include links for each application’s specific instructions below.

Configuring Synergy

Once you have the software installed on all of your machines, you are ready to begin configuring your systems. The biggest decision is which computer will have the keyboard and mouse physically connected. This will probably be based on some sort of unique personal preferences. The computer with the keyboard and mouse physically connected will be the “Server”.

selecting the synergy server

Before you go any further, find the Internal IP Address and Computer Name of all of the machines that you are going to control.

Configuring the Server (Computer sharing its keyboard and mouse)

You need to tell the server which computers it is going to be controlling and where they will be physically located (to the left, right, above, diagonally above, etc.).

Enter the computer names of each machine and place them where they belong. As you can see in the image below, I have three computers set up, with “christopher” in the center, “Laptop” on the left, and “cm-mac” on the right.

synergy sever client machine arrangement

The interface will look slightly different on each OS, but they are conceptually alike.

Configuring the Clients (Computers “borrowing” the Server’s keyboard)

Now that your server knows about the other clients and where they are located, you need to tell the clients to allow the server to take control of them.

Select the Use Another Computer’s Keyboard and Mouse option on the client machine. Then, add in the Server’s Internal IP Address. If you set a password on the Server, enter it on each client machine. (Use the Advanced button below.)

configuring synergy client machine

Once you have your client(s) configured, click the Start button to give control to the Server’s keyboard and mouse. That’s it! Now, just move your cursor across the edge of your monitor onto the next machine. The cursor will instantly start to move on the client machine and anything that you type will be happening on the client machine. If you want, you can select and copy text on that machine and then move your cursor to one of the other machines and paste it in seamlessly. Pretty cool and simple, right?

See Synergy in Action

The following video shows how to configure Synergy to share a keyboard across Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. It also shows you a simple example of what you can do once you have everything set up.

Alternatives

There are of course a several available options for working with multiple operating systems. I actually do use a few of them when the situation lends itself, but none of them give you the most power and features of each OS all at the same time. Let’s take a look at some of the alternatives and their pros and cons.

Option Description Tools Pros Cons VNC Virutal Network Computing- Use VNC to remotely connect to and control other computers (typically not in the same physical location). Chicken of the VNC, RealVNC, Remote Desktop Protocol, TightVNC, UltraVNC, Virtual private network, X Window System, X11vnc,  Comparison of remote desktop software Can connect from anywhere in the world.
Uses very little resources on either machine. Can’t copy and paste between machines.
Multiple computers share one monitor’s space.
Can be a “glitchy” user experience. Virtual Machine This creates additional “virtual” computers on a computer so that multiple computers and operating systems can run on the same machine. Parallels, VMware Fusion, VirtualBox, Windows Virtual PC You only need to have one machine.
Cheap and space efficient. Puts a HEAVY bourdon on your computer.
Physical and Virtual systems run slow.
Two machines sharing one monitor’s space.
Takes up a lot of one machine’s hard drive. Dual Boot/Multi Boot Partition the hard drive on one computer so that multiple operating systems can be installed. When the machine is started, you can select which operating system to “boot”. Boot Camp (Mac), Dual Boot Runs at the machine’s full speed. Can’t work simultaneously on multiple OS’s.
Too much time watching the rebooting screens.
Takes up a lot of one machine’s hard drive.

What are your thoughts?

What do you do when you need to work on multiple machines and operating systems? Please let me know in the comments. If you have a cool solution, I would love to feature it in a future article.

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January 22 2012

Sync Files on Multiple Computers Using DropBox

Always Have Your Important Files

Overview: Learn how to keep your files in sync across multiple computers with this Dropbox Tutorial.

sync files with dropboxDo you work on multiple computers during the day? Perhaps one at work and one at home? Maybe one is a Mac and another is a PC? Well there are a lot of files that you may create or update on one machine that you suddenly need on the other. Sure, you could use a USB drive, but that is very manual and error prone.
If you need to have a common collection of files that are synchronized and instantly available everywhere, you should use Dropbox – Secure online file sync
. DropBox is a service that allows you to sync files between multiple computers via their servers.

I have a few computers in my house: A windows desktop in my Office, Windows laptop downstairs, a Linux Laptop in our Bedroom (My Wife’s) and a new MacBook Pro where I do most of my writing now. I have some files on my old Windows desktop and laptop that I need on my MacBook and newly created files that I want back on my PCs. The other problem is that I need to work with certain Windows or Mac only apps at different times. This allows me to move all of the files that I need back and forth to the machine where I need to work in “real-time”.

If I do a Screencast on my PC, I just put it into my DropBox and upload it from my Mac when I’m ready. If I make something in iMovie on my Mac, I just drop it in and open it on my PC later.

What exactly is Dropbox?

This is how DropBox describes their service:

Dropbox is the easiest way to share and store your files online.
Works like you do
No complicated interface to learn. Dropbox runs in the background on your desktop.
Worry-free syncing
Sync your files automatically to your computers and the web.
It’s everywhere you are
Sign in and access your files from any browser or mobile device.
Easy sharing
Sharing files with your friends and family is just two clicks away.
Photos
View your photos in a gallery and share them easily with anyone.

How to Use DropBox


  1. The entire process is incredibly quick and simple.
  2. Create an Account on www.DropBox.com
  3. Download and Install the DropBox software on your computer.
  4. Select a location for your DropBox folder. (I use the Desktop)
  5. Move the desired files/folders into your DropBox.
  6. Wait for blue arrow icons to stop spinning and turn into a green check icon.
  7. Move any desired files/folders from your other computer(s) into your DropBox.
  8. Repeat steps 3 through 5 on all of your computers.

There is a free account which limits your DropBox capacity to 2 gigs. You can add more capacity incrementally with a paid account.

Sharing Files via DropBox:

You can share your DropBox with other DropBox users via your “shared” folder.

  1. Log in to your DropBox account on their site
  2. Click on the Share tab at the top of the page
  3. Give the share a name
  4. Enter the email addres(es) of the people you are sharing with
  5. Go back to your File Manager and drag files into the “share” folder
  6. The recipients will receive an email allowing them to access the the shared files
  7. You can delete the “share” when you want to stop sharing

This is very convenient if you’re working with a client or coordinating on a project with a colleague, client, or friend.

See How to Use DropBox in this Video

Conlclusion:

I use DropBox every day on both of my computers at home. This is about the simplest way to synchronize files between your computers, no matter which Operating System(s) you use.

Note: May not work behind some firewalls.

The past few articles have covered using some web/computer based productivity tools. Stay tuned for the next article where I show you how to extend these systems by using your phone and Dial2Do to get things done.

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December 27 2011

How to Create a Bulk Software Installer

The Super Fast Way to Set Up a New PC

OVERVIEW: You will learn how to install dozens of awesome, free applications on your computer in 5 simple steps. No money, 200 Point IQ, or Back-Breaking Labor required!

bulk software installer

Once you get past the excitement of getting a new computer, then the aggravation sets in. You have to download and install all of the software that you need. This can take hours and hours even if you’re organized.

You can spare yourself so much of the pain involved with this process by using a bulk software installation tool. I recently found a tool that creates an installer that automates the process of installing multiple applications.

Ninite.com gives you a selection of close to 100 free or open source applications that can be added to a 1-click installer. Some of these are my absolute favorite apps of all time. (Firefox, Skype, Digsby, Notepad++, DropBox, Evernote, and many more.)

Follow the steps below to create and run a Bulk Software Installer.

UPDATE: Wanna see how to do something very similar for Mac OS computers? Click here to see The Quickest Way to Set Up Your New Mac. (Jan. 5, 2011)

Creating the Installer

Open your browser and go to http://ninite.com.


You will be able to select from a large collection of free/open source applications that are grouped into several categories.

Select the checkbox next to all of the applications that you want to include in your installer.

selecting-applicaitons.jpg

After you select all of the applications that you want to include in your installer, scroll to the bottom of the page and click the button.

You will see the Download page. This page will display all the icons for all of the applications that you selected for inclusion in the installer. The click here to change apps link will return you to the previous page, where you can add or remove applications.

Your download should begin automatically. Use the click here to retry the download link if your download does not begin right away.

You can use the permanent link to get a link to the installer download page. This is convenient if you want to share this collection of apps with other users or computers.

Installing Your Collection of Applications

You can either save the installer file to your computer and launch it, or let it run automatically from your browser.

Saving the Installer to Your Computer

The installer’s file name will include the applications that you selected.

Double click the installer file when it has finished downloading.

Automatically Running the Installer When it Finishes Downloading

If you elected to automatically run the installer when the download finishes, you will see the following window.

Click the button to launch the installer.

This is actually the last action that you are absolutely required to take. Everything else runs on its own.

Monitoring the Installation Process

The installer file does not actually contain each applications installation files. It downloads them when it is run.

Click the Show details link to monitor the progress of your installation process.

You will see the list of applications that you included in the installer. You will be able to follow along and see which applications have been downloaded and installed.

When all of your applications have been installed, you will see the following confirmation.

Click the button to exit the installer.

That’s it, all of your applications are installed and working as if they were each installed manually.

Printable Instrucitons

Click to Download a Printable Version of these Instructions.

See How it’s Done

The following video tutorial shows how to Install Multiple Applications using a Bulk Software Installer.

What Applications Do I Bundle?

I put a huge list of applications by category at the bottom of this article. (I didn’t want to break up the flow with a huge list.) You can also check out one of my lists of my favorite free applications:

22 Most Useful Free Applications for your PC (2009)

26 Best Free Mac Applications (2009)

32 Free Applications that I Could Not Live Without (2008)

What Applications Would You Put in your Installer Bundle?

I would love to hear what you think. Let me know what applications would you include in a Bulk Software Installer in the comments below. (List OS, then Apps.)


List of Suggested Applications to Include

Here is a list of some of the availabe applications that I highly reccomend:

Web Browsers

Google Chrome

Opera

Firefox

Messaging

Skype

Pidgin IM

Digsby

Mozilla Thunderbird

Media

iTunes

Songbird

Hulu Desktop

VLC

Winamp Lite

Audacity

Spotify

Imaging

Paint.NET

Google Picasa

GIMP

IrfanView

Inkscape

Documents

OpenOffice

Foxit Reader

CutePDF Writer

Security

Microsoft Security Essentials

Avast

AVG Free Anti-Virus

Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware

Spybot – Search & Destroy

Runtimes

Flash

Flash Player 10 for other browsers

Flash Player 10 for Internet Explorer

Java JRE

Microsoft .NET

Microsoft Silverlight

File Sharing

uTorrent

eMule

Utilities

ImgBurn

CCleaner

Launchy

Revo Uninstaller

Defraggler

RealVNC

TeraCopy?

CDBurnerXP

7-Zip

Dropbox

Evernote

Google Earth

Steam?

Developer Tools

FileZilla

Notepad++

UPDATE April 29th, 2010

Just found out about another very similar service AllMyApps.com. They have a nice collection of apps for Windows and Linux.

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July 18 2011

Save Tons of Time Using Automator for Mac – Video Tutorial

How to Make Automator Workflow Applications

OVERVIEW: Learn how to create sophisticated workflows using the Macintosh Automator tool in this step-by-step video tutorial.

Apple automator tutorial

The Right Tool for the Job

The Automator tool, which is built into the Mac operating system is one of those underused, under-appreciated gems that can save you time and hassle. You can click and drag a series of handy actions into a workflow that allows you to create your own mini-programs to handle tons of tedious tasks.

Every time I sync my digital camera to my computer, it creates a new folder and loads it full of my recent, unsynced pictures. This is a handy way to get the images off my camera, but scatters leaves a huge mess of subfolders full of a few images all over the place.


Finder folders

I decided to use Automator to create a little script to help me get this mess under control. The script needs to get all of the files out of the “daily” subfolders and move them up to the parent folder.

I opened up Automator and selected a New Workflow.

Automator new menu

When you start creating your workflow, you will see the following screen:

Automator menu options

There are a series of actions on the left side of the screen that you can add to your workflow on the right. If you click on Library you will see all of the actions arranged alphabetically. You can also see them grouped by logical categories below.

I needed to perform the following steps:

  1. Accept a parent folder that I dragged onto the workflow
  2. Save the location of the parent folder for later use
  3. Get all of the files out of the subfolders
  4. Move them to the parent folder

I used the following items to build this workflow:

  • Get Specified Finder Items (step 1)
  • Set Value of Variable (step 2)
  • Get Folder Contents (step 3)
  • Get Value of Variable (created in step 2)
  • Filter Finder Items (Get only files, but not folders from step 3)
  • Move Finder Items  (created in step 4)

This is what the workflow looked like when I finished.

Automator move files

This works great. It found all of the files and moved them up to the parent folder in about 2 seconds.

A Little Bit of Cleanup

So far – so good, right? Well there are a few other issues that I want to address. I would like to rename the files to something that makes sense to me. I just like to name them after the month, with a sequence of numbers after. I also want to automatically get rid of those old empty files to keep things nice and clean.

This just involves throwing a few extra steps into the workflow.

After the Move Finder Items task executes, I need to:

  1. Rename the moved files
  2. Re-identify the folder where the files are
  3. Get the contents of the folder
  4. Filter so that only the Folders are selected
  5. Delete the Folders

I used the following items to build this workflow:

  • Rename Finder Items (step 1)
  • Get Value of Variable (step 2)
  • Get Folder Contents (step 3)
  • Filter Finder Items (step 4)
  • Move Folders to Trash (step 5)

This is what the workflow looked like when I finished.

Automator rename and delete

Now I can just drop a parent folder (month) onto the workflow and run it. This will clean up the folder in a few seconds.

The last step is to save the workflow to someplace on your computer. I saved this one into my “Pictures” folder, because I’ll always remember that it’s there.

Automator Workflow Video Tutorial

If you would like to see the entire process in action, watch the video tutorial below.

What’s Your Best Automator Tip?

If you have any really useful tips on using Automator, PLEASE let me know in the Comments below.

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June 17 2011

How To Set Up a WordPress Blog

Step-by-Step Instructions with Video Tutorials

Set Up a WordPress Blog Tutorial

Creating your own Blog

So you want to share your thoughts with the rest of the world? Well, starting your own blog will give you the power and flexibility to publish text, photos, video, and much more to the Internet.

Now, you’re probably thinking that all of this power and flexibility comes with a high price tag and steep learning curve. Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

I’m going to show you how to go from someone with interesting ideas to share, to a full-fledged blogger in no time flat. You will learn how to perform every single task involved in creating, configuring, writing, and maintaining very own fully customized blog.

Best of all, it will cost you *nearly nothing. ($5.00 or less per month)

Every bit of the process is covered through step-by-step explanations, annotated screen shots, and video demonstrations.

Why you should own your Blog

Many people have free blogs on sites like Blogger, Tumblr, or WordPress.com. These free services have simple, effective functionality, but they don’t have the flexibility and power that you may need. You can’t have your own domain name on these services, or customize to your heart’s content. Even more important; you don’t own your data.

If you want to have a blog that you own, has your own domain name, and allows you to make unlimited customizations, you need to host your own blog. This tutorial will show you how to install, configure, customize, and publish your own blog using free software and inexpensive web hosting.


Getting Started

Before you get started with software, servers, and writing, you need to get organized. You need to know what you are going to be doing. Let’s look at a few things that you need to consider before writing your first brilliant article.

Start by asking a few very basic, but critically important questions:

  1. What is your blog about? This is the very first thing that you should consider.
  2. What ideas and concepts are you going to write about? Laser focus or potpourri?
  3. What categories will you use to group your articles? (Music, Art, Politics, Sports, etc.)
  4. What interesting features do you want to have on your blog? (Photos, video, reader polls, etc.)

Once you’ve hammered that out, you should start to generate a few ideas for names.

What You Will Need:

You will need a combination of services and software to perform all of the subsequent steps in this tutorial.

Getting your Domain Name and Hosting

After you determine your concept and topics, start to brainstorm good domain names. Yes, the first few good ones that you come up with will already be taken. You should make every effort to get a domain name that is ends in .COM (.NET is worse, but acceptable) Try to make the name short, with keywords that relate to your topic. By all means, DO NOT get a domain name with a HYPHEN in it!

If you want to think long term, you may want to spend a few extra dollars to grab the .NET and .TV versions of your name too. This will allow you to extend your offerings down the road.

You can buy your domain name from lots of places. It will be less than $10 for the year. Many web-hosting companies give you one free domain name as part of your hosting package. (I would recommend this route.)

Web Services

Web Hosting: You will need to pay a web host to store your site’s pages and files on a server. There are thousands of web hosting companies available from $5/month on up.

Select one that has the following options:

  • PHP Server: (this is the server software that processes the commands that make your blog work.)
  • MySQL Database Server: This is the free, open source database that runs just about every blog on the internet
  • FTP Server:  This is the service that will allow you to move files from your local computer to the web server.
  • Scalability:  If your website takes off, you may need to move to a bigger server. Make sure that your host has several packages so that you can gradually move up the ladder as needed.

Desktop Software

Once you buy your domain and web hosting, you will need to set up your FTP software. Just about every web-hosting provider has a Help or FAQs section that will show you how to set up your FTP client. Follow their instructions so that you will be ready to start working.

  • FTP Software: Your web host will have an FTP service that will allow you load your files to their server. You need an FTP Client (software on your computer) to connect to the server and move the files. There are several FTP clients available. Some are free and others are not. Every one has a camp of supporters and detractors, so I’ll just recommend the one I use. I like Filezilla, because it is free, Open Source and works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. (Get Filezilla here.) If you don’t like it, just search Google for another one that meets your specific needs.
  • Zip Software: Most of the files that you need to set up a WordPress blog are contained in a Zip archive. You need an application to open and extract files in Zip archives. Mac and Linux have them built in. If you are on Windows, download 7-Zip. It’s free and works very well.
  • Text Editor: The beauty of working Content Management System is that inexperienced users don’t “have to” get their hands dirty in any code. However, advanced users still have that option. You should still always have a good text editor at your disposal, ‘cause ya never know. All three Operating Systems (Windows, Mac, and Linux) come with built-in text editors, but there are better ones available for free.
  • Windows – NotePad++
  • Mac – Smultron or Text Wrangler
  • Linux – Emacs, Vim, or Gedit
  • *I’m sure that there are even better choices available, but these should handle your needs just fine.

Blog Software

Blogs are run on Content Management System (CMS) that store, organize, and display your information. The CMS software will reside and run on your server.

  • WordPress: The Content Management System (CMS) software that will run your blog. WordPress is free, open-source software that you will download and set up on your web server.

Click here to see even more information on the next page; including multiple video tutorials.


June 01 2011

Controlling the Look of a WordPress Blog Using Themes

Making your Blog Beautiful was Never So Easy

When you start writing articles on your WordPress blog, you’ll probably want to change its appearance. The look and feel of a WordPress blog is controlled by Themes. A WordPress theme is a collection of files that include PHP Pages, images, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and other files. These files create the pages that display the contents of your blog and apply styling and other functionality to the content.

Working With Themes in the WordPress Dashboard

You can easily control, add, and delete themes from the Themes Manager menu.

Click the Appearance heading on the left side of the Dashboard.

install themes menu wordpress

You will see the themes the “Default” and “Classic” that were installed with your WordPress software. You can activate a theme by clicking the Activate link under the theme’s thumbnail. If you want to see what the theme will look like first, just click on the theme’s thumbnail.

manage themes menu wordpress

A preview of your Home page will display reflecting the appearance of that theme. There will be an Activate link in the upper left corner and an “X” in the upper left corner of the theme preview.

wordpress theme demo

Click the “X” button to reject the theme or click the Activate link to apply this theme to your blog.

Once you activate a new theme, just go to your blog’s Home page and Refresh your browser. You will see the new theme applied to your blog.

Getting More Themes for Your Blog

When you install WordPress, there are two themes “Default” and “Classic”. They’re both boring and lame. You’re going to want to get yourself some new themes. WordPress.org has thousands of free themes that you can easily install on your blog.

Click the Add New Themes link under the Appearance heading on the left side of the dashboard. This will open the Install Themes menu.

install themes menu wordpress


can find new themes using numerous techniques. The default Search allows you to search by Color, Layout Options, and Other Features that a theme has. You can also view themes that are Featured by WordPress, along with New or Newly Updated themes. I like the Featured option because they are usually really nice themes.

Once you locate interesting theme, you can Install or Preview it effortlessly.

wordpress install themes choices

Previewing a WordPress Theme

Click the Preview link under the theme’s thumbnail.

preview theme selection wordpress

close preview theme wordpress

Click the Install Now button to install the theme or click the “X” button in the upper left corner to exit the preview without installing it to your blog.

install wordpress theme now button

Installing a New Theme

Click the Install link.

A pop-up window will open that allows you to complete the installation.

install wordpress theme now button

Click the Install Now button.

The theme will be installed on your WordPress server.

wordpress theme options

You will have a choice of Actions that you can perform now that the theme is installed.

Click Activate to apply the theme to your blog.

Go to your blog’s Home page and refresh the browser to see the new theme in action.

wordpress active theme

Manually Adding Themes to WordPress

WordPress themes are each contained in their own folder. These folders are located in the “wp-content/themes” folder of your WordPress installation.

wordpress themes tutorial

You can manually upload themes to this folder from your desktop using your FTP software. These themes will then be available the next time you go to the Theme Manager.

Finding High Quality Themes on the Internet

In addition to the thousands of free themes that are available on the WordPress.org you can find tons of great free and paid themes on the Internet. Just go to Google and search for something like “free premium WordPress themes”. You can also find numerous professional themes that will cost money by searching for “premium WordPress themes” or “professional WordPress themes”. They typically cost $20 to $100. (Sometimes more if you hire someone to design and build you a custom theme.)

See it in Action

The following video shows all of the steps in the process of Using Themes to Control the Look and Feel of your WordPress Blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

See the Rest of This Series

This is the 6th article in a 7 part series of tutorials on Creating a WordPress Blog. View the rest of the series:

  1. How To Set Up a WordPress Blog
  2. Configure the Settings on a WordPress Blog
  3. Writing a Blog Aritcle Using the WordPress Web Interface
  4. Controlling the Look of a WordPress Blog Using Themes
  5. Adding Extra Features to a WordPress Blog with Widgets
  6. Extending WordPress Functionality with Plugins
  7. Publishing WordPress Articles Using Third Party Applications

 


May 30 2011

Supercharge your WordPress Blog with Plugins

Quickly and Easily add Unlimited Functionality

wordpress plugins tutorial

Plugins are tools to extend the functionality of WordPress. This article contains a list of plugins by category, and links to other plugin repositories. The core of WordPress is designed to be lean, to maximize flexibility and minimize code bloat. Plugins offer custom functions and features so that each user can tailor their site to their specific needs.

Plugins can extend WordPress to do almost anything you can imagine.

Managing WordPress Plugins

You can manage your blog’s plugins from the Plugin menu via the Dashboard.

From the Dashboard, click the Plugins heading on the left side of the page.

The Plugins Management panel will open.

wordpress plugins tutorial

You will see all of the plugins that are installed on your blog. There are only two that are installed by default:

Askimet: Eliminates spam from your blog’s comments. Probably the most useful plugin you can have.

Hello Dolly: Displays lyrics from the stupid song “Hello Dolly” on the top of your Admin pages. It is useless and must be deleted at once.

You can perform the following actions from the Plugin menu:

  • Activate Plugins: Turn on plugins that are already installed.
  • Deactivated Plugins: Turn off plugins that are installed and activated.
  • Delete Plugins: Remove all the plugins files from your server.
  • Add New Plugins: Load the files that power a plugin onto your server.

wordpress plugins tutorial

Let’s see how to perform each of these tasks.

Activating Plugins

When you open the Plugins Panel, you will see all of the plugins that are installed on your blog. There is an Activate link next to any plugins that are not already activated.

Click the Activate link to turn on a plugin.

Deactivating Plugins

When you activate a plugin, you may decide that you want to turn it off. This is simple. Any plugins that are activated will have a Deactivate link next to them on the Plugins Panel.

wordpress plugins tutorial

Click the Deactivate link to turn off a plugin.

Adding Plugins to Your Site

The two plugins that are installed on your site by default won’t get you very far. There are literally thousands of plugins available that will add just about any functionality imaginable to your blog. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that you can add new plugins to your site.

Adding Plugins from the WordPress Plugin Directory

WordPress.org has a massive directory of plugins that you can search, install, and research.

http://WordPress.org/extend/plugins/

The best thing is, you can search and install them right from your WordPress Admin Panel.

Click Plugins> Add New

This will open the Install Plugins page.

wordpress plugins tutorial

You can search or browse WordPress’ massive directory using the following methods:

Search for a plugin by name, description, or keyword.

Browse by Featured, Popular, Newest, Recently Updated, or Tagged criteria.


Once you find a plugin that you want to install, just click the Install link to the right of the plugin’s description.

wordpress plugins tutorial

A popup window will open displaying information and instructions about the plugin.

wordpress plugins tutorial

Click the OK button to complete the plugin’s installation.

Now you can Activate and Configure the plugin on your site.

wordpress plugins tutorial

Click the Activate Plugin link.

 

The plugin will be activated.

wordpress plugins tutorial

Adding Plugins from Other Web Sites

You can also find plugins on numerous developers’ sites. You can download these plugins to your computer as zip files.

Once you download a plugin, click the Browse button on the Install Plugins page.

wordpress plugins tutorial

Navigate to the zip file on your computer and click the Install Now button.

The plugin will by uploaded, unzipped, and installed on your site. Now you can Activate and Configure the plugin on your site.

Adding Multiple Plugins using FTP Software

You can also upload multiple plugins to your site from your computer in one step. Let’s say you have a bunch of plugins that you test on a local server. Once you determine the ones that you want to use on your web server, you can upload them all using your FTP site.

Plugin files are located in the following location on your Web server: Site Root> wp-content> plugins

Open your FTP client

Navigate to the Plugins directory on your web server

Select the desired plugins on your computer

Drag the plugins to your web server

If you are setting up more than one WordPress site or relocating an existing one, this can save you a lot of time.

Removing Unwanted Plugins

If you install a plugin, but no longer have any use for it, you can remove it in a few simple clicks.

Go to the Plugins Panel

wordpress plugins tutorial

Deactivate the unwanted plugin

There will be a Delete link next to the Activate link.

Click the Delete link.

A window will ask you to confirm your intention to delete the plugin.

wordpress plugins tutorial

Click the Yes Delete the Files button.

The plugin and all of its files will be deleted from your server.

See it in Action

The following video shows all of the steps in the process of Using Plugins to Extend the Functionality of your WordPress Blog.

See the Rest of This Series

 

This is the 5th article in a 7 part series of tutorials on Creating a WordPress Blog. View the rest of the series:

  1. How To Set Up a WordPress Blog
  2. Configure the Settings on a WordPress Blog
  3. Writing a Blog Aritcle Using the WordPress Web Interface
  4. Controlling the Look of a WordPress Blog Using Themes
  5. Adding Extra Features to a WordPress Blog with Widgets
  6. Extending WordPress Functionality with Plugins
  7. Publishing WordPress Articles Using Third Party Applications


April 29 2011

How to Use BitTorrent to Download Large Files

Sharing is Caring

Overview: You will learn how to download large files from the internet using a BitTorrent client.

Using bittorrent tutorial

Do you ever need to download huge files from the internet? Maybe you even want to pause and restart the download process. That’s what BitTorrent is made for.

What is BitTorrent?

BitTorrent is a way to transfer files of just about any size quickly and efficiently. It works by breaking files up into small pieces. The file is downloaded piece by piece from one or many different sources. It’s efficient because you get faster downloads using a lot less bandwidth. Other users (refered to as “peers”) have pieces of the file. Those peers also share the pieces they get with even more people who are also trying to download the same file. This sharing makes the file easier to download as more parts become available from multiple sources. Since the file is broken up into small pieces, little bandwidth is used to do the overall transfer. Once the file is finished downloading, the client software continues to share the completed file (becoming a “seed”) with others looking for it. This also means the file can still be downloaded long after the original poster has stopped seeding the file.


See how it works in the video below.

 

BitTorrent, Explained. from BitTorrent, Inc. on Vimeo.

Benefits of Using BitTorrent

There are some very good advantages to using BitTorrent over typical “HTTP” downloads. Here are some of the biggies:

Having large files distributed across numerous users eases the processing and bandwidth resources on websites and content providers

Users can stop downloads in-flight and resume them at more convenient times

BitTorrent supports several ways to automate file downloading like RSS subscriptions

Is Using BItTorrent Legal?

Yes! It is merely a tool that efficiently moves data between computers. You can share “legal” data that you own like documents, videos, applications without any issues. However, you can also share copy written data illegally (as many people do). That is obviously something you do at your own peril. The following instructions are intended for downloading “legal” content.

What you need to Start Downloading Torrent Files

First, you will need to install a BitTorrent client on your computer. This is a bit like picking the right pear of jeans; they all do the same thing, you just need the best fit. I use uTorrent because it has an app for Windows, Mac, and Linux that all work pretty similarly. Since I bounce back and forth between all three systems, it’s easier to keep some things consistent.

Picking the Right BitTorrent Client

There are several other great clients available for each operating system, just use Google to find one that you like.

Installing uTorrent

  1. Download uTorrent software here.
  2. Run the installation file on your machine. (This is very simple on each operating system.)
  3. Select a folder where the downloaded files will go. (Screenshot below is the Mac version. Windows & Linux look similar.)

Utorrent download folder

That’s it! You’re ready to start searching for Torrent files.

Finding Torrent Files

Again, there are tons of torrent search engines out there and your guess is as good as mine for which is best. The one that I have consistently had the best experience is BTjunkie.org.

Btjunkie search

Type in the name of the file that you would like to download into the Search field and click the Go button.

You will see a list of results.

Btjunkie search results

Click on the highest quality, most relevant result to view its information.

Download torrent file

The torrent file will download to your computer. When you open the torrent file uTorrent (or whatever software you installed) will launch. The torrent file only contains the information that uTorrent needs to start downloading pieces from other peers. You can follow the progress of each download in the uTorrent menu.

Utorrent file download progress

You can adjust individual downloads via an options menu (RIGHT CLICK).

Adjust utorrent downloads

Some downloads don’t start right away. The Force Start option is frequently just the nudge that they need.

If you want to speed the download or conserve bandwidth for other applications, you can adjust the speed allotted to each download.

When your file is fully downloaded, the link will turn green.

Utorrent file completed

You can go to the download folder and use the file(s) now.

That’s it, you’re done!

Video Tutorials for using uTorrent to Download BitTorrent Files

If you want to see it in action, play the video tutorial below. All of the steps are demonstrated with explanations.

Good luck and download responsibly.

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April 04 2011

Make Windows Run Better than New with TuneUp Utilities

Keeping your Computer Running Like a Top

Overview: Learn how to clean, optimize, and repair Windows to better-than-new using TuneUp Utilities software.

TuneUp Utilities Software Tutorial

How to Battle Windows Bit-Rot

TuneUp Utilities 2011 is an very thorough suite of Windows Cleaning, Repair, and Optimization tools that can get just about every aspect of your Windows PC running even better than the day you took it home.  First the bad news: the application costs $49.95 retail. I like to recommend as much free software as possible on this site, but this one might be worth using a crowbar on that old wallet. I have set this up on my parents’, aunts’, cousins’ and neighbors’ computers and they have all be extremely happy.

Disclaimer: The link is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy it, the folks at TuneUP will buy me a flying car or something. That being said, I have purchased it myself and convinced numerous friends and family members to buy it too. It’s really that good! I will never recommend a product that I don’t think is awesome, I promise.

Now, let’s see all of the great things that you can do to keep your system humming along.

Download and Install TuneUp Utilities


The first thing that you need to do is download a copy of TuneUp Utilities 2011 and install it on your computer.

TuneUp Utilities Installation Wizard

The whole process takes a few seconds and is guided with a simple wizard.

The first time the system runs it will check for any available updates.

TuneUp Utilities Check Updates

1-Click Maintenance

TuneUp initially runs its’ 1-Click Maintenance routine which automatically checks and repairs a bunch of common issues. You should go back and run this again periodically to keep things healthy.

TuneUp Utilities 1 Click Maintenance

TuneUp will check through several areas that typically can have problems.

TuneUp Utilities Analyze PC

When the analysis is finished, you will see an explanation of any problems that were discovered.

TuneUp Utilities Analyze PC

You will be prompted to let TuneUp correct the problems. Just a few clicks is all it takes.

TuneUp Utilities Analyze PC

TuneUp Utilities Main Menu

The main menu of TuneUp has a series of tabs that allow you to maintain, adjust, and optimize just about every aspect of your computer.

TuneUp Home Screen

If you want an overview of what all of the functions actually do, you can click the Overview of all functions link at the end of the row of tabs. This will show you all of the functions.

Functions Overview

Click on any of the entries for an explanation of what it does.

Status and Recommendations Tab

The Status and Recommendations tab give you information on the Maintenance Schedule (enable this), Performance settings, and Immediate problems.

The Increase performance wizard allows you to configure settings that match the way that you want to use your computer. (Lots of bells and whistles vs. lean and mean.) If you have an older system, you can tune it to take it easy on your old hardware.

Increase System Performance

Run through the tabs and make the recommended enhancements.

7 TuneUp Home Screen

Optimizing your System

The Optimize System tab allows you to remove applications and processes that will place an unnecessary burden on your machine. You can also manually run any of the steps performed by the 1-Click Maintenance routine.

Optimize System Tab

If you really want to go lean and mean, try the Turbo Mode button.

Gain Disk Space Tab

The Gain Disk Space tab will allow you to check and clean your hard drive. This will allow you to make the most of whatever space you have. Again, just a few quick clicks and it’s done.

8 1 Optimize System Tab

Fix Problems Tab

The Fix Problems tab allows you to diagnose and repair some simple problems with your registry, security settings, and hard disk.

Fix Problems Tab

The Disk Doctor will check and repair any issues automatically. Very nice.

10 Disk Doctor

Customize Windows Tab

Everybody wants their environment to look and work in a way that makes sense to them. There are a series of options that let you tweak and customize the look and feel of your Windows interface. It even gives you choices like appearance vs. performance.

11 Customize Windows Tab

TuneUp Utilities 2011 Video Tutorial

See how to use the most helpful feature of TuneUp Utilities 2011 in the video tutorial below.

Conclusion:

If you have a old Windows computer or a new one, you can use TuneUp Utilities to optimize, clean, and repair just about everything that goes on. This application is the best tool that I have used for keeping Windows in perfect running condition.

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February 12 2011

WordPress Ebook Video Tutorials

Video Support for My WordPress EBook

This collection of videos shows how to perform all of the tasks outlined in my WordPress: From Beginner to Expert ebook. You will learn everything you need to know to create a customized, professional blog using WordPress. Create your very own professional, customized blog from scratch.

How to Download the WordPress Software

This video shows all of the steps in the process of Downloading the WordPress Software.

View the rest of the videos in the series:

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December 13 2010

Share Every Open Browser Tab in 5 Seconds – Tab Bundles Tutorial

Chrome + Tab Bundles + Bit.Ly = Browser Tab Sharing Perfection

Overview: You will learn how to create one link to every open browser tab in 5 seconds using Tab Bundles and Bit.Ly URL Shortener.

Tab Bundles Tutorial

Save Time Sharing Links

When I am researching something on the Internet I usually have several browser tabs open. I recently found a handy tool that lets me save the URLs of every open tab in a single click. The Tab Bundles browser extension for the Google Chrome Browser gets the URLs of every open tab, and puts them on a single page. The Bit.ly URL Shortening Service then creates a short link to this page. Now, you can Email, FaceBook, Tweet, or Bookmark this collection of pages. The whole process takes about 2 – 3 seconds. Really, it’s that fast.

Creating a Tab Bundle

Let’s say you were researching which fancy new camera that a friend should buy. You narrow it down to 5 or 6 choices that they should consider. Let’s create a single link that will give them a brief overview of all of the pages that you have open.

multiple open browser tabs


Install the Tab Bundles Extension for Google Chrome

Start out by using Google Chrome to do your research. Then, go install the Tab Bundles extension in your browser.

You will see a small (tab bundle icon) icon on the Chrome menu. Click the Tab Bundles button.

click-tab-bundle-button.gif

A new tab will open to Bit.Ly, which is a URL shortening service.

urls-in-bitly-tab.gif

You will see the URL of every tab that you had open in a text box.

Click the Shorten button to create shortened links for each of the URLs.

Bit.ly will create a shortened link for all of the original URLs. You can copy any of the short links now, but what’s the fun in that? Let’s get create a Bundles that will hold all of these links.

Click the Bundles button.

create-bundle.gif

A new page will be created that you can give a unique title to before you share it. This page contains the Page Title, Page Description, Thumbnail Image, and of course a Link to all of the pages that you had open.

bundle-of-links.gif

Now, you can share a link to this page by copying the shortened URL on the right hand side of the link bundle.

share-bundle.gif

You can even go back there and view statistics on how many clicks each of the links received.

Track bundle link clicks

Once you learn how to do this, the whole process can go from a mess of tabs to one short Email, Twitter, FaceBook, etc ready link in about 5 seconds.

Possible Uses for Tab Bundles

OK, this all looks pretty easy, but what are some cool ideas for using Link Bundles?

  • Sharing any type of research with friends, family, and colleagues
  • Christmas & Birthday lists
  • Sending a bunch of restaurant choices for your friends to peruse before a night on the town
  • Sharing a several cool news article on a current story
  • Posting a Resource Roundup to Twitter and FaceBook

I would love to hear what you would do with a Tab Bundle. Put your amazing idea in the Comments below.

Creating Tab Bundles – Video Tutorial

See how to create your own tab Bundles in the video below.

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September 16 2010

How to Create an Interactive YouTube Video

Let your Viewers Create their Own Journey

OVERVIEW: You will learn how to Create an Interactive Video using YouTube’s Annotation links.

What are Interactive YouTube Videos?

YouTube has a feature called Annotations which allows you to create links from one video to multiple others. You can use this feature to create a sort of interactive navigation path through a series of videos. The whole process allows for a lot of interesting possibilities; such as interactive games, story telling, training sequences, or product overviews.

Creating an interactive video series in YouTube is actually pretty simple. You need to break the process into the key parts:

  • Sketch out a Story Board
  • Create your videos
  • Upload all videos to YouTube
  • Create Annotation Links between videos
  • Take viewers to your Starting Video

How Do Interactive YouTube Videos Work

Watch the video below to see a quick overview of the entire process.

Planning Everything Out

Before you create or upload any videos, you need to lay your navigation path out. I just start with a piece of paper and list out my individual videos. Then I decide where the Navigation Decision Points are located. For instance, when I get to the end of video 1 do I want to go straight to video 2 or give the viewer multiple choices? Do I want to let the viewer go back and review previous videos? What do I want viewers to do at the end (if there is one)?

Here is a typical Navigation Path drawing that helps me understand how my videos are going to work together.

interactive video navigation path

Notice how I show where I want the viewer go at the end of each video.

Creating the Videos

Now that you have your series all planned out; you’re ready to create your individual videos. Just remember to leave a "Decision Period" or 10 second block of time at the end of each clip. This is where you will place your Annotation Links that direct viewers along your path.

video decision time

Upload All of your Videos

When you are all done creating your individual clips, just upload them to YouTube. After all of your videos are uploaded and processed, you can see them on your My Videos page. Go to the top, right corner of the screen and click on your User Name. Then, select My Videos from the dropdown list. You will see all of your videos. (Newest to oldest)

I like to open all of the videos in the series in their own browser tabs and arrange them in chronological order. You are going to need the URLs from each of your videos to create the Annotation Links. I find it’s helpful to paste them all into a text file for quick copy and pasting later.

video url list

Creating Annotation Links in YouTube

Now you’re finally ready to link up all of your videos in YouTube. Go to your first video and click the Annotations tab.

youtube annotations tab

When you see the Annotations Settings screen, click the Add Highlight icon. This will place the Annotation Link tool on your video. Drag the larger, top box over the "click" area of your video. Then, populate and position the Enter Text area.

Adjust Annotation Link

There are yellow calipers along the timeline below your video. Adjust these to control the stop and start time of your Annotation Link. You will also need to put the URL of the video that you’re linking to into your Annotation. Click the Link icon on the link toolbar to enter your link.

Insert Video URL

Paste the URL of your destination video into the URL field and click the Save button. Your annotation has been added. You can add additional Links by repeating the same steps. When you have all of you links added, click the Publish button to make your Annotations live. Now, when your video gets to the point where your link is added, users will be able to click it and jump to the next video.

Publish Annotation Links

Just repeat this process to make your videos match up to your Navigation Path and your done. Now you can direct viewers to the first video in the series to let them start their own interactive journey.

See the Process in Action

Launch the following videos to see how to create your own interactive YouTube video.


See the Finished Product

If you would like to see the series of videos that I created while documenting this process, play the beginning video in the series below


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August 12 2010

27 Pages of Windows and Office Productivity Tips

windows productivity tips

Printable Productivity Tips for Your Computer

I had to do a Lunch & Learn session at work recently on Windows and Microsoft Office productivity tips. I covered a some of the following topics:


I put together a handout that showed how to do all of the tips that I was demonstrating. Everybody seemed to like it and find it helpful. I cleaned it up and made it into a PDF file that you can print out.

Download it, print it, use it, and share it. Enjoy!

Download the Windows And Office Productivity Tips Printable Guide

Windows And Office Productivity Tips Printable Guide

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July 22 2010

How to Create a Dropdown List in Excel

Why Type when you can Select?

OVERVIEW: Learn how to create a dropdown list that populates cells in Microsoft Excel.

how to create a dropdown list in excel

You know how e-commerce websites have dropdown lists to let you select data that they want to be valid? This is a pretty handy way of making sure that they get the correct data. Well, you can do this in Microsoft Excel too. The best part is that it takes a few seconds and it’s really simple.

Let’s go!

Creating Your Destination Cell

The first thing you need is a cell where the dropdown list will be placed. Here is a spreadsheet that I created where you can log products that were ordered.

excel spreadsheet

Pretty basic stuff, but I want to be able to populate the Product cells from a dropdown list of valid products.

That’s the other half of the equation – the list.

Creating the List of Values to Populate the Dropdown

Now, go to some blank cells or preferably a blank tab in your workbook.

Type in your list of values going down a column.

list of excel values

These are the only selections that I want to appear in the Product cells.

Now, let’s create the dropdown list.

Creating the Dropdown List

You need to go to the cell that you want to populate from the list (B2). Then, click the Data tab on the ribbon.

excel data validation button

Select the Data Validation dropdown list, then the Data Validation option on the list.

This will open the Data Validation menu.

excel data validation menu

You need to determine what values that you will allow in cell B2 using the Allow list.

Select “List” from the Allow list.

excel data validation menu populated

This will produce the Source field. Click in this field, then select the range of cells where you typed your list.

Press the Enter key on your keyboard to finalize the dropdown list creation.

Using the Dropdown List

If you click in the cell with the list (B2), you will see the dropdown arrow to the right of the cell.  When you click on it, the list of valid values that you created will appear.

excel dropdown list

Select your choice and it will populate the cell.

That’s it! Pretty simple, right?

Applying the Finishing Touches

You just added the dropdown list to one cell (B2). Copy that cell and paste it into the rest of the cells in the Product column and the list will work for every row.

The other thing that I would recommend is hiding the cells with your values. You can either Hide the cells or just place them on another worksheet.

See the Video Tutorial for Creating a Dropdown List in Excel

The following video shows the entire process.

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