Category Archives: Tech Stuff

Facebook Cover Photo – Free Template

Have you seen the new Facebook Timeline yet?

Example from Introducing Timeline:

Facebook Timeline Cover Example

One of the first things that struck me when I upgraded my profile to Timeline in mid-December was how versatile the large cover photo could be for anyone who enjoys using Photoshop. Since it is also the first thing people will see when they visit your profile, why not personalize it?

Here is what I did for Christmas:
Facebook Timeline Cover Example

And then just a few quick changes for the New Year:
Facebook Timeline Cover Example

I have created a free Photoshop template to get you started in customizing your own Facebook Timeline Cover Photo. You can use it in the same way you would use a regular digital scrapbook template. Simply add your photos, background and embellishments and then upload to Facebook.

You can click on the preview below to be brought to my page of free downloads.

Facebook Timeline Cover Template Free Download

Once you have the Facebook Timeline layout, it is really easy to change your cover photo. Simply hover your cursor over your current cover photo and select “Change Cover/Upload Photo” and choose your new design from your computer.

How to change your Facebook Timeline Cover Photo

I hope you are having a Happy New Year!

Using Pinterest For Scrapbooking (and Other) Inspiration

When I feel like I am in a scrapbooking slump or when I am looking for some motivation to create a new layout, one of my first moves is to check out an online scrapbook gallery. Browsing through so many creative layouts often provides me with some inspiration or ideas to create a layout of my own.

If I run across a layout that I truly love, I find myself wanting to bookmark it so that I can return to it again in the future. I have tried several different methods of bookmarking my favorite layouts. First, I tried just using my browser’s bookmarking capability. That quickly became overwhelming, even after I created individual folders to contain them in. Next, I tried Delicious. I stuck with this one for a year or more and did appreciate that I could add and search on keywords for my bookmarks, but it was still cumbersome since I would have to actually click on each bookmarked link to open it up in my browser to view and see which particular layout it was. Then last year, I stumbled across Tumblr and was excited that each of my bookmarked scrapbook layouts actually appeared as an image. And I could follow other people with similar interests. I was with Tumblr for a year and thought I was happy…until a friend introduced me to Pinterest.

Pinterest has become a new online addiction for me. It does everything (and more) than I had hoped for from Tumblr and Delicious. If you haven’t heard of Pinterest, it is basically all about visual bookmarking. According to their website:

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.

Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

I can create and organize my own folders (called boards) of bookmarked images (called pins) in any manner I like. I have boards for scrapbook layouts, craft ideas, homeschool ideas, recipes, home decorating ideas, dachshunds and many more.
My Pinterest Boards

I can also follow people who have similar interests. Or if I choose, I can follow just their individual boards that I am interested in. For instance, Pam Beasley might have two boards on her profile. One of scrapbook layouts and one of sports. I am not a fan of sports but I like her taste in scrapbooking, so I can choose to follow only her scrapbook layouts board instead of everything she pins. All activity from the boards I follow will show up on my main page, where I can easily repin anything I like to one of my own boards.

All pins are automatically linked to the original website/blog where the image was located. For instance, if I pin a recipe I find online, I can click on the pinned image to be brought back to the website/blog where the image was pinned from so that I can read the actual recipe. (Note: be sure your pins are from direct blog post rather than the main blog itself so that you are brought back to the original post rather than only the top level of the blog.)

Pinning a photo from any website is so simple. Pinterest has a little bookmark you can put right on your browser’s bookmarks bar and when you are on the website that has the image you want to pin, simple click the Pin It bookmark and you can select the image and which board you want to add it to. Done and done. In fact, it is SO simple that I think scrapbook freebie finders could use it. Instead of them having to save and recreate freebie previews and links on their blogs, they could simply pin the freebies they find into a folder in just seconds. I’ve even started a freebies folder of my own.

You can assign keywords to your pins so that others can easily find them when searching. I try to always make sure I add the keywords of #scrapbook #layout to the layouts I pin.

As of right now, you do need to request an invite from Pinterest in order to create a profile and start pinning. I am not sure how long they are in getting back to you, so I would recommend having someone you know invite you so that you can get started faster. If you want an invite, just leave me a comment and I will be happy to send you one.

The Daily Digi has a great step-by-step beginner’s post on Pinterest here if you are interested in learning more.

Do you use Pinterest?

Follow Me on Pinterest

Photoshop – Automate / Crop and Straighten Photos

I just love when I stumble across something that makes my life simpler or easier. In this case, it is a Photoshop feature that I was unaware of until recently.

I am in the process of scanning and editing my old baby photos from the late 1970s. The photos are pretty well stuck in their photo albums, making it difficult (if not impossible) to remove them without causing any damage. So instead of removing them, I have been scanning the entire page. This leaves me with a scan like this to work with:

I was then cropping each photo individually from the original scan and doing a Save As to begin my edits. Then, thanks to a Google search, I came across this quick automation feature in Photoshop. (I am using Photoshop CS3.)

  1. With the original scan of multiple photos open, go to File/Automate/Crop and Straighten Photos
  2. That’s it! Photoshop will automatically detect, crop, and straighten the photos from your scan. A new file is created for each of the cropped photos. (Please note that these new files are not saved to your computer until you manually do so.)

I have to say it does a pretty good job on the scans I have used it on so far. Here is a screen shot of the new files that were created from my original scan.

I am told that Photoshop Elements has a similar feature under the Image menu called “Divide Scanned Photos.”

An Aspiring Nerd…Maybe

As you may know, I like to dabble in techy stuff as it relates to the internet and web design. I know a bit of HTML and CSS (and want to learn more!) and I am definitely a very talented code copier and paster. (I am also a big fan of the “undoing” feature, CTRL-Z, so much so that I find that this undo mentality has leaked into my real life. I often catch myself thinking “oh, undo! Undo!” in regards to everyday life and things I have said. Oh, how I long for an undo capability in real life!)

I love my job. I develop online, automated forms for my company and my job role has lately also taken on the extra function of web developer. You surely don’t hear me complaining about that – I love it. I also am responsible for the support and training on those many forms and websites I have developed and do a little desktop support for users too when I can. For the most part, I look forward to going to work and I enjoy what I do there.

And my favorite thing to do when I have free time is waste that precious free time online. As soon as Adrianna’s precious little self is tucked safely away in her crib for the night, I am glued to my computer. And here I sit until way past my bedtime, as my dishes sit in the sink and our dirty laundry holds fast to its position on the floor in our bedroom. You gotta have your priorities.

All that said, when a fellow alum from Grace University, Jill Hart, recently started up a brand new blog regarding techy hints and tips for fellow dabblers and opened it up for guest authors, I jumped at the chance. So, all that to say that I am now a contributing author on a new blog called GodlyGirlGeeks.com. I have only done two posts so far, but I have had a lot of fun with them. This writing thing can be a lot of fun.

Google Analytics

Hooray, I got my invite for Google Analytics!!! Finally! I have been on the waiting list for months now. Google Analytics is a stats tool that I have been anxious to try out. I added the code to my pages yesterday and already I am enjoying the information that is coming back. My favorite features so far are the search/keywords that people use to find my site, a map that shows where all the visitors are from, and the most visited pages. I am also very into the nice charts and graphs. I am a visual person, so these are so much fun. 🙂

I love Google. They are slowly taking over my life (in a good way).

  1. I use Google Desktop at work ALL the time (it is a Google Search that searches your all your emails and folder systems on your PC which is so helpful)
  2. I love using Google Calendar to keep track of my day to day stuff. And it sends me reminders before events, which is really nice since I tend to be forgetful.
  3. I use their GMail (email), which is a great email program with great features and spam filters
  4. Google Chat
  5. Google Maps is overtaking Mapquest as my place to go for directions. Their new layout with a map and driving directions side by side is so helpful and user friendly.
  6. I am on blogger all the time commenting on the blogs of friends and family. Yes, did you know they own blogger? How cool are they?
  7. Picasa – a user-friendly photo-editing software that is FREE (like all of the Google services)
  8. And of course, the Google search engine!!

Sony’s Invasion of Privacy

I absolutely hate it when I download a program and it installs a bunch of extras on my PC. I downloaded Yahoo Messenger and got a bunch of extras along for the ride even though I clicked on several boxes to NOT install them. I don’t use Yahoo as my regular search engine, so I really didn’t want its little toolbar installed on Firefox. It installed itself anyways, but at least I was able to remove and uninstall it.

The big news right now is over Sony’s “rootkit” program, which installs itself on your PC when you insert a Sony BMG music CD. The Electronic Frontier Foundation states:

Using a program called a rootkit, inserting a Sony BMG music CD will now infect your computer with a nefarious program, burying it deeply and obscurely within your operating system. The program will monitor your computer activity in the name of preventing the so-called epidemic of “piracy” that results from people making extra copies of their music CDs or favorite songs. Worse yet, there is no “uninstall” feature on this program. It’s like the roach motel — once Sony BMG’s surveillance program checks in, you can’t make it check out without completely wiping your entire system clean. Such practices have been widely condemned in the computer world, even by Microsoft’s own research division.

Now, it doesn’t matter how I feel on whether or not copying music is okay here. Either way, I don’t like the idea of Sony installing some spyware on my PC. Especially since it is uninstallable. It is an invasion of my privacy and my personal property and I think that is completely uncalled for, even if they do have some sort of “I agree” button that you have to click. Who reads through the entire thing of those legal mumbo-jumbo agreements anyways? They are usually so long that it would take at least 15 minutes out of my day. No, thank you.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a list of some of the affected CDs on their website. They also have a helpful way to recognize such CDs in the future AND best of all, a way to help protect your PC from such downloads in the future by disabling an autorun feature. I think I will have Greg look into this for my PC, just in case.

I am disappointed to see the Christian band Switchfoot listed, although I am not sure if they would have any say in such a practice or not. I am thankful that I do not own any of those CDs, as they would surely have been put into our iTunes.

Netvibes

I have quite a few blogs that I like to read, and the information can be quite overwhelming and hard to keep track of without an RSS feeder or website that tracks and identifies any new posts on those blogs. These types of services sure beat having to go to each blog individually every day just to see if there has been an update or not. I was using bloglines.com, but yesterday my husband Greg introduced me to a new website called . You can see his review on Netvibes here.

I am quite impressed with Netvibes. Apparently it has only been around for a month and a half, but already they have some great functionality going for them. I have already imported all the information on the blogs I enjoy into Netvibes. Being able to import them all at once is a great feature in itself, as it would have taken me at least an hour to do each one manually.

Here are my favorite features:

  • Easy to navigate and move your content wherever you want on the page just by clicking and moving the mouse.
  • The site differentiates between read and unread content
  • Collapsible and expandible boxes for each blog. Also able to collapse or expand ALL at once if desired.
  • Ability to customize how many posts you want to see for each individual blog. This is great for those blogs that are updated several times daily versus once a week.
  • You can add your GMail account right on the page. I haven’t actually used this yet, but just knowing the capability is there is pretty cool.
  • You can add “webnotes.” This is great for putting up reminders to yourself, especially if you make this your homepage in your browser which I fully intend on doing. And like the webpages you add, you can put it anywhere you like.
  • You can mark all posts in a specific blog as “read” at one time.
  • You can import the feed information from another feed reader, such as bloglines.com

Here is a print screen of part of my Netvibes.com page. It is small so it will still fit into my blog pages for those users with 800×600 screen resolutions. If you want to see a larger size, please click the image.
Netvibes Screen Shot

I have decided to replace bloglines with Netvibes. We’ll see how it goes, but so far I am happy with the results.

Picasa and Organizing Photos

Greg mentioned to me recently that a friend of his uses Google’s Picasa program to organize his photos and that he swears by it. Since Picasa is a free downloadable program, I figured I might as well give it a try.

What a fabulous program! I would especially recommend it for users who do not already have some type of photo editing program (i.e. Adobe Photoshop, etc). It would be perfect for people who like to email pictures to friends. Have you ever gotten an email with pictures from someone, and when you click on the picture it is SO huge that you cannot view it all in your browser? Picasa can automatically resize your photos for you before you email them. You just click on the photos you want to email and go to File/Email. Choose your Email program (Outlook, Gmail, or Picasa/Hello). Then you are brought straight to your email program with an email draft started, including the pictures already attached for you.

Picasa’s editing tools are also very simple to use. So much simpler for the average user than navigating through Adobe Photoshop. You can easily reduce red-eye, crop the photo, and straighten the photo – all with just a couple clicks of your mouse. I love the straightener! I had a couple pictures that I took while in Vancouver of a sunset that were just gorgeous. But Greg pointed out that my horizon was crooked, which it was. With just a couple clicks of my mouse I can fix them now.

For users on blogger.com, Picaso also has an easy “Publish to Blogger” feature.

I am still learning to use this feature, but already I have fallen in love with it. And you can’t beat the price! I love Google. Thanks to Graham (via Greg) for the tip.

Tech support pet peeve

One of my biggest pet peeves: Tech Support (or any type of support) not listening or reading my emails thoroughly.

Case in point: I had an issue deploying a new version of a form to our server. I emailed tech support and provided the exact error messages (word for word), what I was doing at the time the error messages were received, the steps I took to see if I could get around it or resolve it myself (in neat, organized bullet points), and informed them that I ftp’d the file to their site so they could look at it. I was not wordy in my email.

I got an email back from them asking if I had performed a certain step. This step was one of them listed in my original email. In fact, it was the very first bulletpoint of the things I had listed out as already trying. They also asked if I could send them the file so they could look at it. *sigh* So I responded that I had sent the file to them via ftp on Wednesday and that my original email also stated all the steps I had taken.

The most annoying thing about this is that I sent the information on Wednesday and they emailed me back on Thursday morning. Since I don’t work on Thursdays, their request for more information sat all day on Thursday, when if they would have just read my original email, it could have been possibly resolved by now. So much for meeting our release date on Monday.