Hurricane's Hints

Everything you always wanted to know about Web Design, PhotoShop and Flash .... but refused to buy the book! A collection of helpful hints, tips and tricks for creating stunning computer graphics and keeping your computer running smooth.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Straighten up with the Measure Tool

Here's an easy way to straighten up those crooked scans or images.

Instead of rotating an image by trial and error until you get it straight, you can do it quick and easy with the measure tool.

If you have a crooked image that you want to straighten up quick, just get the measure tool (you'll find it hidden under the eyedropper tool). With the measure tool active, drag a line across the crooked edge of the image or object you want to straighten up. Then from the image menu, select, rotate canvas, arbitrary, and hit enter. Viola! The image will automatically be straightened up.

Another quick and easy time saver

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Friday, September 02, 2005

Quick fill in PhotoShop

Did you know you can fill a selection with the foreground or background color in PhotoShop with a single keystroke?


Once you have a selection, just press Alt-Backspace to fill the selection with the foreground color, and press Ctrl-Backspace to fill the selection with the background color.

We don't need no stinking menu options! Hotkeys rule!

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Merging a composite layer in PhotoShop

I don't know about you, but I have a habit of doing things the hard way, and when I find a real time saver, I like to spread the word. I'm sure to many experts, this is no secret, but for me, it was a revelation.

If I had a multilayer PhotoShop file, I have always been taught to never throw anything away, so I would make a copy of each of my important layers, and then merge the copies into a single composite layer. You know, duplicate layer, duplicate layer, duplicate layer, duplicate layer, merge linked layers.

Well, there's a much easier way.

You don't have to duplicate those layers at all.

Simply create a new empty layer, then link all the existing layers you want to be in the composite layer, and with the new empty layer active, press control-alt-E, and viola! You now have a composite layer consisting of all your linked layers, without having to take the time to duplicate each layer, and still preserving the individual layers in the event you have to go back and edit them later.

Quick and easy, and it has saved me lots of time and trouble. I hope it will do the same for you.

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Thursday, September 01, 2005

Cache or charge? - How and why you should clear your cache frequently.

Many annoying computer problems and costly service calls can be avoided by simply clearing your cache.

What exactly is a cache, and why do I have to clear it?

Whenever you are connected to the internet, your computer stores temporary copies of the webpages that you visit on your computer. The storage area designated for these temporary files is refferred to as your cache.

The theory behind this was that a page you visit often could be called up from your hard drive cache faster than if it had to be downloaded from the web each time. If you use dial-up or have a slow internet connection, this can be very helpful, but if you have a faster connection such as DSL, Cable or another Broad-Band connection, it is less important for you store pages on your computer.

After a while, your hard drive will begin to fill up with these temporary files and it can cause a number of annoying problems. One of the most common complaints is that your browser may not always be viewing the most current version of the page you are visiting (instead you are viewing an old version that had been stored in your cache). If you have an older computer with minimal ram and a small hard drive, you may notice that your computer is sluggish when the cache is full. I have also seen a full cache cause printing problems or it can disable some features in your browser, such as the ability to view source code. All of these problems, and many more can often be eliminated by simply clearing the cache, so, before your call the help line, try clearing the cache.

The proceedure for clearing the cache will vary from one browser to another (Internet Exlorer, Netscape, AOL, Mozilla, etc...), but they all have a menu option that does it. You just have to find it. Here's the proceedure for Internet Explorer 6:

First, open the Internet Properties Tab on your Browser:

From the desktop, right click on the Internet Explorer Icon and select properties, or if your browser is already open, from the Tools menu, select Internet Options. (All other browsers should have an options or properties menu item as well).

In IE6, there are 3 buttons in the Temporary Internet Files section of the Properties Tab. Start by clicking on the Delete Cookies Button. It should only take a few seconds for the cookies to be deleted. Then click on the Delete Files button. The longer this operation takes, the more urgently your computer needed you to clear the cache. If you've never done this before, it could take several minutes. If you get into the habit of doing this at least once a week, it should only take a few seconds.

That's pretty much it. Delete cookies and delete temporary internet files. Easy huh?

If you want to go a step further, you can check and adjust your settings by clicking the settings button.

On the settings tab, you have 4 options of how you want your computer to "check for newer versions of stored pages" in your cache. The Windows default is set to automatic, but I suggest you change this setting to "every visit to the page", which means your computer will only look for a newer version if you happen to visit the same page again, this way none of your computer resources will be wasted looking for pages that you rarely or never visit.

The settings tab also gives you the ability to adjust the amount of disk space that is allotted for the cache. The default is around 350MB, which is OK if you use dialup or have a slow connection, but if you have broadband, you can lower this setting to around 50MB.

Follow these simple tips, and help preserve the sanity of a computer technician near you.

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