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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Creating a Collage in Adobe Photoshop Elements


1. Search for images: Go to  to get images from the Life Magazine Collection that Google has digitized.

2. Now create a folder on your desktop and save the photos that you want to use for your collage.
  • Go to desktop of your computer.
  • Right click and choose NEW-FOLDER
  • Name your folder PHOTOS
  • Go to the link above.
  • Select 5 interesting photos or more
  • As you find them right click on each one
  • Choose SAVE AS and put them into your folder on the desktop.

3. Import those pictures into Photoshop Elements.
  • Open Adobe Photoshop Elements
  • Choose EDIT
  • After the window opens up choose FILE>NEW>BLANK FILE
  • Name your new file by typing in a new name at the top of the window that comes up.
  • Pull down where it says “preset” and choose “Photo” for size choose 8” by10” and resolution 300. Then Click OK.
  • You should see a large white space that we are going to use as the background.
  • Open the pictures you saved by choosing FILE>Open and finding the pictures you want to use. Highlight them and choose Open. You should see them open along the bottom of the screen. If you don’t see them go to the menu at the top called Windows and make sure there is a checkmark near Project Bin.
Creating your Collage

Put pictures onto the background that you created by dragging them up from the bottom of the screen.

Each time you add a picture a new layer is created. You can edit and move around each picture without changing any of the other layers.

 If you do something to a layer that you do not like look to the far right side of the Layers Window and click on the down arrow.  This menu will allow you to delete the layer. Start over by adding the picture back in with either FILE>OPEN and finding the picture or dragging and dropping the picture from the Project Bin again.

Use the tools to edit each of the pictures to make them look the way that you want them to for the collage. You can resize them, rotate them, crop them, or choose from the many special effects. See the next page for a summary of the tools.

When you are happy with the results you need to FLATTEN your picture which will paste all of the layers together making ONE picture and then save it.


You can use these tools to edit your photos. Any of them that have a small triangle at the corner have several options. Hold the mouse button down on them and wait until all of the choices appear.
Move Tool-You must have this to move the image or rotate it.
Hand Tool

Square select tool-hold the mouse on it to see it become the Elliptical Select Tool
Magic Wand Tool-Click on a part of the picture to select all of the part that is the same color.
Text Tool-Use this tool to create text on the picture,
Cookie Cutter Tool-This tool cuts out a piece of the picture in the shape that you choose.
Red Eye Tool-Automatically removes red eye from photos.
Clone Stamp Tool or Pattern Stamp Tool-This tool is very useful for editing a picture
Brush Tool-Several Brushes to choose from.
Paint Bucket Tool-Spills colors defined in boxes at the bottom.
Rectangle Tool-Has many other shape options.
Sponge, Dodge and Burn Tool
Foreground and Background Colors-Click on the box to change hem click on the arrow to switch between foreground and background.
Magnifying Glass-Option click on Mac or Rt click on PC to minimize.
Eye dropper tool-Use this to select on color from an existing photo. It becomes the foreground color
Lasso Tool-select a unique shape. Also has a Magnetic Selection Tool.
Quick Selection Tool-Try it!  You’ll like it!
Recompose Tool-Does amazing recomposing of pictures automatically!
Straighten Tool

Healing Brush Tool

Eraser-Hold down your mouse to see the special erasers. Try the Magic Eraser!

Smart Brush Tool

Gradient Tool

Blur, Sharpen, Smudge Tool

Adobe TV
There are video tutorials on these tools showing what they can do and how to use them.

Creative Commons You should always cite where you get your images from and be aware of the copyright. Creative Commons is a way to show that work can be shared in different ways. Everything you create is automatically copyrighted. People are not supposed to use your work without your permission. You can give your photos a Creative Commons License.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Searching With Images

I just learned something new and really interesting. You can search Google using images instead of words! 

You just go to and choose IMAGES from the top of the screen. The Google Images search shows up (like the one above). 

Click on the little camera in the window where you would usually type in a search term. 

Then find the image you want to use and drag and drop it into the spot that Google opens up for you.

The results are interesting. I found that Google matches the color of the image and finds other images that have a similar color palate.

Here is the image I used.

And here is the result:

Try it out! It is fun!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Getting the Most out of your iPad

Tomorrow I am doing an iPad seminar for Austin Computer Learning Center. I have created a handout for the session and I think it might be helpful to share it here. Please ask questions!  You can do it by pressing the word COMMENT at the bottom of the blog post and typing in the window that comes up. You can do it anonymously or sign up if you want to.

Setting up your iPad

The set up icon looks like this and can usually be found in the bottom row of icons.

Use settings whenever you want to set something up. 

Under the category of General you can find:
  • eMail
  • Clock
  • Calendar
  • iCloud
  • Gestures
  • Brightness and Wallpaper

There is also set up available for all of your apps. It is a good idea to click into all of these and see what they can do for you. You can always get back to the original setting if you change anything by accident (or on purpose!)

Getting Around

The HOME Button - Whenever you are done with an app click on the home button to return to the desktop with all of your apps.

This does not close the application. To do that you need to use 4 fingers and slide the screen up. All of the applications that you have used should show up there.

Hold your finger down on one of the icons until all of them start jiggling and have the red minus sign next to them. Completely close the programs by touching the red minus sign one at a time. To get rid of the - signs click once on the home button.

What is on my iPad?
The iPad comes with some interesting apps.

  • Weather
  • Clock
  • Map
  • Contacts
  • Safari
  • Calendar
  • Notes
  • Camera

In the session I will take a little time to show each one of these and answer any questions.

The Search Window

When you are looking for an app, but do not see it you can just swipe to the right to get the search window. Type in the name of what you are looking for and it will show up in a list.


Anytime you click on something and have a cursor the keyboard opens up. The keyboard is sensitive and takes some getting used to.

If the keyboard is in the way just press this key and it will disappear. 


You must turn this on in settings. Under GENERAL. It is called Multitasking Gestures.

Use different numbers of fingers for different effects.
  1. One finger to scroll up and down and to click on things.
  2. Two fingers to pinch and make something smaller or to move out and make it larger.
  3. Three fingers to tap the screen for it to temporarily enlarge the print. Tap again the same way to return to normal.
  4. Four fingers to scroll up to see what programs are open.
  5. Four fingers and a thumb to close an app and go to the desktop.
Setting up an account

In order to download anything, even free apps, you must have an account with iTunes. This will help you keep track of what you have downloaded so if you lose your device or it gets erased for some reason you can download them again. You should sync with a computer on a regular basis, so that it keeps a record of what you have downloaded.

To get an account:

  1. From your home screen click on settings and then choose store.
  1. Choose "create new account"
  1. Choose your country, then tap "next"
  1. Choose to agree to terms
  1. Fill in your email, a password of your choice, and question to be a password hint. Click next
  1. Put in your billing information. Once it is in there you will not have to type it each time. This info has to be in there even to get a free app.
  1. Click done and check your email account for verification.
After you have verified this you can try logging into make sure it works.

Downloading apps
  1. Find the App Store icon
    The little red number in the corner is the number of apps you already have that need updates.
  2. After you click on it several choices will appear at the bottom of the screen.    
  3. For this example I am going to use Web MD because I have heard good things about it.  Type it into the search window in the App Store.
  4. Notice it is free and has been rated with 4 stars. 
  5. To get it I just click on the word FREE. 
  6. After I click on the word "FREE" it changes into the word INSTALL.
  7.  When I click on the words install app it asks for my password. 
  8. When I put it in the app starts to install. 
  9. You have to put your account password in even when something is free. 
  10. Once I put a password in the app downloads right to my iPad.
Apps to Share

  • Web MD for iPad
  • Crossword Puzzles/Word Search Puzzles
  • Skype
  • AARP magazine
  • Flight Status
  • Silver surf-high contrast
  • Mobile me gallery
  • ABC
  • Netflix
  • NPR
  • Google Earth
  • Pandora
  • Smule Instruments 

    There are so many cool and helpful apps. What is your favorite?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Technology-A Foreign Language

People who are very successful with technology often speak a language that is difficult to understand for anyone who is new to technology. Don't fear! You can learn this foreign language at least well enough to understand what is said to you. There are even places where you can look up words you do not understand.  This blog post will be a lesson in speaking Techeze.

Basic words and concepts:

File Size - File size is measured by the terms below. They actually measure how much information in 1's and 0's is in each file. All computers are on a binary system meaning that every piece of information is only made of 1's and 0's.
Bits-The tiniest measure. This actually is measuring down to the 1 and the 0 
Byte-A byte equals 8 bits. It is not the term you usually see. 
Kilobyte - or KB If you have a file which is measured in KB it means that it is pretty small. Sometimes emails and word processing documents are this size. It is from 1-999 bytes. 
Megabyte - or MB From here on you just multiply by 1000 to get the next size. Megabytes go from 1000 to 999,000 bytes. 1000 bytes is the same as 1 MB. When you see anything with ,000 you know that the numbers before that will tell you how many megabytes something is. Things like photos are often measured in Megabytes and sometimes a photo is too large (too many megabytes) to be uploaded or used by a program. 
Gigabyte - or GB Multiply again by 1000 and you have gigabytes. One gigabyte is 1,000,000. Most computers and other devices that you buy now tell you how many GB of storage you are getting. Movies are measured in gigabytes.  
Terabyte - or TB Multiply again by 1000 and you have terabytes. One terabyte is 1,000,000,000. I only mention this because there was a time a few years ago when a Gigabyte seemed like an impossible amount of data for a computer to use, but now we think of it as normal. Right now I suppose that mainly large businesses, especially those that provide storage space for items (part of the cloud) use Terabytes as a measurement.

Cloud - The cloud is just what people are now calling the thousands of computers that store your data. This blog is stored somewhere on a computer that Google owns or the part of Google that does Blogger. If you use Picasa or Flickr to store your pictures they are also "on the cloud" or on a computer owned by the company.

Upload - When something is on your computer and you put it up onto another computer (the cloud) it is called uploading.

Download - This is more common. When you download a program or app you are just getting a copy of it from another computer. It comes "down" onto your computer.

Analog vs. Digital - Clocks can be analog (the ones with two hands) or digitial (using numerals usually). Many things that were analog are now becoming digital. Records that played on record players with needles were analog, CDs are digital. Movies on VCR tapes were analog, DVDs are digital.

Bluetooth - A way for one device to talk to another one without wires, similar to infrared signals. There are wireless printers that can communicate with your computer or iPad using Bluetooth.

Boot - to start up. Computers are actually pretty dumb. They don't even know how to turn on unless someone programs them to do it. When you press the on button on your computer it does a bunch of things in the background to turn on and work. That is why it sometimes takes a while.

Cache - This is a place where your computer keeps things for a short amount of time. One example is a list of what websites you have gone to. They are actually downloaded into the cache so when you go and do something else and then come back to that site it can work faster because it is already in the cache. The cache takes up some memory and so sometimes if your computer is running slowly you will be asked to clear the cache.

Crossplatform - A platform is a type of computer. I am writing this on a MacBook. This blogpost is crossplatform because it can open in a PC or on an iPad.

File Formats
.xls and xlsx - spreadsheet
.doc and docx -  document
.ppt -  PowerPoint project
.mov - Movie
.avi - audio or sound file
.png and .jpg - picture (these are the best formats for saving photos that you want to see online)
.gif - picture (this is used more for drawings or illustrations that have less colors)
.bmp - picture (these are HUGE files, but retain ALL of the information so that the picture can be worked on later without losing quality.

hard drive - The hard drive of the computer is the main place where all of the information is stored. Your programs and any files that you have saved are on the hard drive.

defragment - When your computer runs slowly it may need to be defragmented. Imagine that the information that your computer uses is stored in pie shaped pieces on the circle of the hard drive. However instead of putting the pieces back in slots right next to each other the computer leaves empty space between them. Defragmenting is like pushing all of the pie slices together so that there is more empty space. If you do not do this once in a while your computer may think that it is full when it is not!

domain - When you go to a website the domain is in the first part of the address. For example is the cnn domain. I have my own domain called I pay annually to keep this name (my domain name).

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

LAN - Local Area Network. This is a way of connecting computers and printers in a small area. For example a school might have a local area network where all of the computers and printers are connected to each other.

WAN - Wide Area Network. This is the way that computers are connected outside of the LAN. This means that the computers are connected to the Internet and other computers.

Safe Mode - Sometimes when your computer starts it will go into Safe Mode. There are lots of files that make your computer work. In Safe Mode most of them are not enabled so that you (or someone who fixes computers) can figure out what is going wrong and fix it without messing up all of the other files. Unless I am having the same problem repeatedly I usually choose to go ahead and do a normal start up. If I am having a bigger problem and my computer keeps going into safe mode I look for a real geek.

Sync - Now that people are using smart phones and iPads and other devices they often have more than one device with a calendar, email, music list, etc... Syncing is the thing that you do in order to get all of the SAME information onto all of the devices.

User Interface - You are the user and the interface is what you actually see when you use a computer. If you did not have an interface you would see code that stands for 1's and 0's and you wouldn't be able to make sense of it.

Well, That is only a beginning There are lots of lists of technical words on the internet if you need to look something else up!


These all come from the same site, but they are divided into different categories.

Finally, if you still don't understand something you can type it into a Google search and you should find lots of results that may help you understand it!