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Graphics on the Cloud

pwa-en_usI have slowly been moving onto the cloud. Thus far, I have starting using Google Docs and Picasa Web Albums (also Google). My motivation for using Picasa is to put all my graphics in one place. I have one too many computers each with too many  graphics. This includes family photos and e-learning graphics. So, what better than to consolidate and organize on the cloud. Plus, I can easily access and share them with others.

An online photo album is nothing new and Picasa has many features you can find on other graphic tools found on the cloud, I am sure. But here is something I really found convenient about Picasa, e-mail upload. Here is how they describe it:

Email upload

You can now forward photos to your online albums using email. Perfect for use on your mobile device, you can even collaborate with friends by submitting photos to one album with the same email address.

I am really finding this convenient. Through Picasa, I set-up a Picasa web address, then I just send the graphics to it as an attachment. It then ends up in my Picasa drop-box. Real easy. So, now if the graphic is on the phone, I send it in an e-mail and it is there. Found it on any of my computers…e-mail…and its there. And if someone sends it to me as an e-mail, I can just forward it onto the drop-box. I can also send others the address and voila, they put graphics in Picasa for me.

FYI:  If you use Picasa, you will find the e-mail upload listed under “New Features.” It will walk you through setting up the e-mail drop-box.

Characters

I absolutely love using characters in my e-learning courses. They are great for gaining attention throughout the course, acting as training facilitators, or for playing a role in a storyline or simulation. Over the past five years I have created many characters in my courses. And since my current role is coming to an end due to the bank acquisition, I feel it would be good to pay a quick tribute to my fictional colleagues who have made training easier and funner over the years. FYI: The first 2 characters were made early on and are a combination of edited clip-art images. The rest are made from scratch within Adobe Flash. Please do not copy or use these images as they are copyrighted materials.

Captain Outlook

 

IRA - retiree who knows an awful lot about retirement accounts

Sam Price - known to poke around branches and learn a little too much

James Cyclops - Expert in One View software, but has also been seen playing the role of a persistent customer with many pertinent questions

 

And of course there's the bank's middle management

Well, those are some of my favorite characters I have developed over the years. I will be continuing as the e-Learning Designer with the newly merged bank and hopefully will develop many new and exciting courses and graphics.

Ben Franklin m-Learning Course

My Ben Franklin MinuteBio is finally complete and now available at MinuteBio.com. As with the others, this is made in Flash Lite (FL 1.1). It is a quick intro to Franklin. This one uses quite a few imported graphics making the file size quite a bit larger than prior courses (533kb), but still a very manageable size even for my Nokia S40. Please take a look. Any comments/feedback will be helpful and very much appreciated.

Ben Franklin m-Learning Course

Tracing Bitmaps in Flash

With Flash you easily convert your imported graphics into vector graphics. Once converted, you can manipulate the vector graphic from within Flash. For example, remove colors, add colors, distort shapes, etc.  This has been extremely helpful while working on a Ben Franklin course I am currently developing. I have been importing graphics of historical illustrations and artifacts (none with copyrights). In order to keep the same “cartoon” feel of the Minutebio courses, I used this method. Giving the graphics a more uniform, cartoon look, plus vector graphics scale up better.

Here’s how it works:

Highlight the imported graphic. In the menu, use Modify>Bitmap>Trace Bitmap.

The Trace Bitmap dialog box will appear. Color threshold and other parameters can be adjusted and previewed. Click OK and it becomes a vector graphic.

 

Tracing Bitmap
Tracing Bitmap

It can now be easily manipulated. In the example below, background colors have been removed, the shape of the arm has been changed and numerous colors have been added.

This example is from the Ben Franklin wallpaper and will also be used in the MinuteBio m-learning course (available soon).