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By Greg Chow | Thursday, July 21, 2011

From the unemployment line to self-employed

Andy Brown posts an inspirational story of self-reinvention after being laid off from his job as an IT manager. We first saw this story via Twitter, where Andy wrote “From the unemployment line to self employed thanks to hard work and @lyndadotcom.” So naturally, we had to check it out. And while we’re pleased to get the mention, it truly is an inspiring story of reinvention. Get the whole story from Andy’s post, ‘Reinventing Yourself.’

By Nicholas Brazzi | Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Apple FCPX: Not what you think it is

Let’s come out and say it: The launch of Final Cut Pro X has been controversial. With FCPX, Apple has released a new piece of software that is not only different from its previous version, but completely different from any other application in its field. I wouldn’t dare tell you whether these changes are right or wrong for your editing workflow. I’m not a journalist or an evangelist. I can’t even say that I’m a video editor—I gave up the freelance editing life nearly three years ago. What I am is a teacher. This is a great time to work for lynda.com, because what editors need most right now is to learn what Final Cut Pro X is really capable of.

Lately, it seems like the Internet has gone crazy over FCPX. Initially, the word was that professional editors were angry about the drastic changes in Final Cut Pro X, while consumers and amateur editors were curious about this new editing tool. But in the last few days, I’ve seen that tide changing a little bit. Professional editors seem to be giving FCPX a bit of a chance. They are learning that it introduces incredible new tools like clip auditioning and connected clips. They are learning that some of the bad things they’ve heard are simply not true, like the rumors that said Final Cut 7 and FCPX could not be installed on the same machine or the rumors that said 3rd party plug-ins were not supported. They are hearing announcements directly from Apple saying that certain valuable features are going to be added via software updates, including Multicam and support for exporting XML.

As a lynda.com Training Producer, I’ve been working closely with author Abba Shapiro, feverishly pushing to record and publish FCPX training in the lynda.com library as quickly as possible. I’ve been learning incredible things about FCPX that have honestly changed my perspective. Abba knows things about this application that nobody else in the world knows about, short of the engineers that built it. I’m thrilled that he is working with lynda.com to get that knowledge out to the world.

Also, I just finished listening to episode #250 of the Macworld Podcast, hosted by another lynda.com author, Chris Breen. In this show, Chris interviewed Gary Adcock, a well known Final Cut and video production veteran. Gary paints a very enlightening and balanced picture of the FCPX release, the reactions of pro editors, and the true potential of the application. It’s clear from listening to Gary that the more professionals learn about FCPX, the more their attitudes are changing.

All of this leaves me with the following conclusion: I can almost guarantee that FCPX is not what you think it is. This is truly a case where learning everything you can about an application is one of the most valuable things you can do. I am extremely proud to be a software trainer right now, and to work closely with Abba Shapiro, an even better software trainer. It’s a joy to watch Abba assemble a piece of training that I know will immediately effect the lives and professional development of thousands of people. When we publishedCreating an Effective Resume, I felt the same way. Building something that will help people make the right choices in their professional lives is extremely rewarding.

I hope you check out our FCPX courses when they are released in the lynda.com Online Training Library®. And I hope those courses help you make informed decisions for your next video project, whether that be a feature film or cherished family video project. Abba Shapiro is working on two FCPX courses that will be released this month. Here is a quick look at the first one, Migrating from Final Cut Pro 7 to Final Cut Pro X.

By Michael Ninness | Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Final Cut Pro X (FCPX) ships; new features course in production

Apple shipped Final Cut Pro X (FCPX) yesterday—and for those of you wondering if lynda.com will be publishing training for FCPX, the answer is a resounding Yes. Our first course is in production and we are shooting to publish it by the end of July.

This isn’t simply a new updated version with new features—in many ways, Apple is positioning this as a brand new product. As such, existing workflows are likely to be dramatically impacted. We’ll cover all the new features and how existing users will be impacted in our upcoming Migrating from Final Cut Pro 7 to Final Cut Pro X course. Watch for sneak peeks here on our blog as we finish edits. Get more info about FCPX on the Apple web site.

By Cynthia Scott | Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Joomla! development news: an interview with Jen Kramer, lynda.com author

Learn how to make this web site in Joomla! 1.6 Essential Training with Joomla! author Jen Kramer.

As part of our ongoing training courses on content management systems, we’re soon to release a new course, Joomla! 1.6 Essential Training. If you’ve been watching Joomla! 1.6 Beta Preview, that course will be coming off of the Library soon and replaced with Joomla! 1.6 Essential Training.

I had a chance to catch up with author Jen Kramer to talk to her about her experience with this software. She described the planned evolution of Joomla releases. I thought our members would like to hear about this unusual development plan.

Q: So what you’re saying is that Joomla 1.6 will evolve into 1.7. Then, Joomla 1.5 and Joomla 1.7 will merge together into Joomla 1.8. Is that right?

Well, not quite. Joomla’s development path has become considerably more complicated than it has been in the past.

These are all individual releases. Each release builds on the one before it. Joomla 1.5 will continue, parallel to Joomla 1.6 > 1.7. Then they will merge into 1.8

A full description of Joomla’s release plan is available at http://developer.joomla.org/strategy.html

Up until the release of Joomla 1.6, Joomla based their releases on feature sets. When the features were done, the software was released. Unfortunately, in an all-volunteer community (no one is paid for Joomla core development at this time), this lead to a very long time between releases. Joomla 1.5 was released in January 2008. Joomla 1.6 was released in January 2011—three years later.

Joomla has now moved to a time-based release cycle, which includes short-term (STR) and long-term support (LTS). Short-term releases will be in active development for 6 months, then reach the end of life 1 month after the next version’s release. Long-term support means the product will be good for a minimum of 15 months. The previously supported long term release will be supported for 3 months past the release of the new long term release.

Here’s a table describing key dates over the next year for Joomla’s release and support cycle.

Release NameType of ReleaseRelease DateEnd of Life
Joomla 1.5LTSJanuary 2008April 2012
Joomla 1.6STRJanuary 2011August 2011
Joomla 1.7STRJuly 2011February 2012
“Joomla 1.8”LTSJanuary 2012Unknown – at least 15 months

“Joomla 1.8” is what many people are calling the next LTS version of Joomla, but it’s not known what its exact name will be.

Q: What should people think about if they are deciding between Joomla 1.5 and Joomla 1.6 at this time for a new web site?

I would point to the schedule, and be very sure to factor this into your thinking. August is not far away (even though it feels like it, due the many feet of snow on the ground here in New Hampshire).

I have talked with a number of people in Joomla’s leadership. They have stated that migration from Joomla 1.6 to 1.7, then 1.7 to 1.8 will not be that difficult. They have also promised a migration tool for Joomla 1.6 to 1.7. There is no official Joomla migration tool available for Joomla 1.5 to 1.6 from Joomla.org; however, there is a third party tool available (http://www.matware.com.ar/joomla/jupgrade.html).

Easy migrations, unfortunately, are not borne out in past history in the Joomla project. I do not want to be in a position of building a site for a client in Joomla 1.6, only to tell them a short time later that I must upgrade their site to a new version—at some additional, and potentially significant, cost. If that cost is small, I’m fine with it, but again, the history points to difficulty in migrating.

If you’re building a new site in Joomla, and you really need one of the major new features in Joomla 1.6, you should definitely consider building there. In my mind, those new features are ACL (Access Control Levels), significantly improved accessibility in Joomla’s back end with the Hathor template, or possibly some of the templating features. The nested categories feature is flagged as a major new feature, but you can replicate that functionality easily in Joomla 1.5 with K2, Zoo, or another CCK (content construction kit) extension. If nested categories is all you need, I’d stick with 1.5.

I have said publicly, on my blog, that my company is still building sites in Joomla 1.5. That is not because Joomla 1.6 isn’t a great product. It’s got some absolutely fabulous new features we would love to use. But due to our concern over future migrations and support for them, we will stick with Joomla 1.5 for now.

Q: What should people think about if they are deciding to migrate a site from Joomla 1.5 to Joomla 1.6?

If you have an existing Joomla 1.5 site, and it’s working great for you, I would tell you NOT to migrate to 1.6. There’s absolutely no reason to do so in February 2011. However, you should be planning for February 2012, when you should definitely be migrating your site to Joomla 1.8.

Q: What kind of projects would be best for Joomla 1.5 versus Joomla1.6?

If you have a site that needs to comply with certain accessibility guidelines like Section 508 or WCAG, Joomla 1.6 is the way to go, no question. This is particularly true if the back end of the web site must meet accessibility guidelines. My good friend Andrea Tarr, who created the Hathor administrator template, tells me that it meets the WCAG 2.0 AA specification.

If you need the ability for many groups of users to see different content on the front end of the site, or if you need fine-grained control over who can create/edit/delete which content on the back end of the site, I would also go with Joomla 1.6. The new ACL (Access Control Levels) system is extremely powerful. (In fact, it’s so powerful that it’s possible to lock yourself out of the back end.) There’s not much documentation for ACL at this time, so be careful if you need to use the system. However, you can make Joomla do whatever you want where this is concerned.

Finally, if you have a project with fairly complicated templating, including a number of different variables for look and feel, you might be better off with Joomla 1.6.

Joomla 1.5 did a great job with templates, allowing you to override core output via a template override. However, a template override affects all views tied to that look. For example, if you override the look of a category blog, then every category blog on the site takes on that new look.

Layout overrides, available in Joomla 1.6, allow you to override the look of a specific instance of a category blog (or anything else).

You’ve always had the ability to set up parameters associated with your template. For example, you could configure a color style (tied to a specific stylesheet), configure a logo or title for the site, things like that. These vary with the specific type of template installed. You can see an example of this if you look at Joomla’s core rhuk_milkyway or JA_Purity templates in Joomla 1.5.

Template styles, new in Joomla 1.6, allow you to configure these parameters for specific pages. Now you have an easy way to make these pages red, those pages blue, and other pages green — all from a single template source, and all completely configurable by your client. You can assign a template style in the menu item for a given page, so your clients can handle setting up new pages with styles you configured for them. (Combine this with ACL, and you can lock the clients out of the template area, so they can’t change your configuration settings.) So if you’re building a template with a theme that lends itself to parameters and options, then Joomla 1.6 is also a good choice for you.

Q: What are some of the most engaging uses of Joomla you’ve seen?

Joomla is in use in 20 million sites worldwide. It powers 2.5% of the web. So that’s a pretty tough call, determining which sites are the most engaging.

If you’re looking for great examples of Joomla websites, check out the Joomla Showcase, which features sites built by community members in a variety of areas and languages.

Steve Burge has done a series of blog posts profiling some big names using Joomla for their sites, including eBay; General Electric; Palm; the governments of the UK, Australia, Mongolia, and Ethiopia; Pizza Hut; McDonald’s; and many others. You can read more at http://community.joomla.org/labels/joomla-portfolio.html.

Q: What foundation skills would people need to get the most out of Joomla! 1.6 Essential Training?

I’ve targeted Joomla! 1.6 Essential Training to those who have some experience building websites before, whether that’s with Dreamweaver, FrontPage, or another CMS. Mostly, that’s due to the language I use in the course. For example, I assume you know what the words HTML and CSS mean, if I used those terms in a sentence. However, there’s little coding in this title. Mostly it’s button-clicking, showing you how to set up a site from start to finish.

Q: What other related courses do you have in the Online Training Library®?

I have some other titles that may interest readers. They may already be familiar with Joomla 1.5: Creating and Editing Custom Templatesand Joomla 1.5: Styling with CSS.

My favorite title is Web site Strategy and Planning, which covers how to plan a web site before you ever start clicking around.

And Preparing CMS Web Graphics and Layouts Using Open Source Toolsshows all of the prep work, getting a comp ready for conversion to a CMS template or theme, using GIMP (an open source substitute for Photoshop) and KompoZer (an open source substitute for Dreamweaver).

Q: One question I’ve always wondered about. Why the exclamation mark?

Yeah, they weren’t really thinking clearly when they did that. In general, people use the exclamation point in the titles/headlines of articles, but not in the main text.

Author Jen Kramer will be hosting Joomla User Group New England on April 2, 2011 at Marlboro College Graduate School. You are welcome to join members of the Joomla leadership, business owners and instructors to learn the latest skills and techniques used in Joomla 1.6. For more info, go to www.joomladaynewengland.org.

By Cynthia Scott | Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Drupal training released on the same day as Drupal 7

Drupal 7 is scheduled to release today—and in a happy coincidence, lynda.com’s first release of 2011, Drupal Gardens Essential Training, with Tom Geller, was also released today.

Kirk Werner was the training producer for this course. The day we talked about creating this course he went out to test Drupal Gardens for himself. When I asked him about the software, he told me that he found Drupal Gardens to be an amazing CMS solution, giving people the ability to make a great looking, custom site in less than 30 minutes.

In this course, author Tom Geller demonstrates how to create and publish a complete web site with the powerful tools in Acquia’s hosted service, Drupal Gardens. The course covers how to leverage its pre-built page layouts and add custom styling without having to learn CSS, using the Theme Builder tool, integrate rich site features, such as forms, surveys, and media galleries, and how to push content to Twitter and Facebook. The course also shows how to transition a Drupal Gardens site to a self-hosted Drupal site.

I caught up with Tom to ask him about his course.

How is Drupal Gardens related to Drupal 7?

It’s real Drupal, only without the server maintenance hassles of traditional, self-hosted Drupal. Think of it this way: What the WordPress.com blogging site is to WordPress, Drupal Gardens is to Drupal.

Drupal Gardens also differs from the “core” Drupal by including a lot of extra pieces. I think Acquia did a good job picking which modules to add: They really give you features you want, but that aren’t in core Drupal. On the down side, you can’t add modules (as you can with self-hosted Drupal). On the other hand, you can always export your Drupal Gardens site if you outgrow its functionality.

What skills will people need to use Drupal Gardens?

Not nearly as many as for Drupal! If you’ve ever used a publishing platform — WordPress, Blogger, MediaWiki, or even services like Facebook or LiveJournal — you’ll feel comfortable publishing in Drupal Gardens right away. Now, you’ll only use five percent of its power at first: It’s really that much deeper than those other programs. But that just speaks to how far you can go with it.

In your opinion, what’s the most interesting feature in Drupal Gardens?

One feature? I’d say it’s the Theme Builder, which gives you incredible freedom to change your site’s appearance. You get pixel-level control over the theme’s Cascading Style Sheets without having to learn CSS — although knowing a bit about its structure sure helps. I give a brief background about it before showing how the Theme Builder works.

But what most impresses me about Drupal Gardens is the whole package. It feels solid; there are no loose ends. Given Drupal’s flexibility, that’s saying a lot.

Are there any key features that have been added since you recorded your course?

Yes! In late December, when the course was in post-production, Acquia added a neat data-collection feature called webforms. Drupal Gardens already had something similar — the Poll module that comes in core Drupal. But webforms takes that concept much, much further. As with the Theme Builder, they improved webforms by giving it a more click-and-drag interface than you usually see in Drupal.

Since we’re planning to update this course on a regular basis, I’ll be able to update the Drupal Gardens course to include webforms the next time I’m at lynda.com.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Just that Drupal Gardens really owes its life to two parties: Acquia, the commercial company that released it, and the Drupal community as a whole. It’s an excellent example of a community-built open-source project that’s been commercialized with intelligence and sensitivity. It sure helps that the same person created both Acquia and the original Drupal software.

By Michael Ninness | Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bert Monroy reveals his latest digital masterpiece, Times Square

lynda.com author and digital painter Bert Monroy with his latest work.

Today, lynda.com author and digital painter Bert Monroy publicly revealed his latest (and massive!) digital painting entitled Times Square at the PhotoPlus Expo conference in New York.

Bert Monroy's Time Square

Bert Monroy's Time Square.

Bert has been working on this hyper-realistic illustration for four years, and says he’s not quite done with it yet. It is the largest image he’s ever created, and it definitely pushed the boundaries of the software and hardware he had available to use. Every element has been meticulously created from scratch using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. The 5 foot by 25 foot image is filled with the likenesses of Bert’s family, friends and scores of luminaries from the imaging and creative industry—including our very own Lynda Weinman, Bruce Heavin, Deke McClelland, David Blatner, Chris Murphy, and Colleen Wheeler.

Standing next to John Loiacono of Adobe are our own Bruce Heavin and Lynda Weinman.

A 25-foot light box was constructed to display the piece that has been printed on a new material being introduced by Epson called DisplayTrans Backlight Media that Bert helped develop. If you are in New York, you can get up close and the incredible detail for yourself by visiting the Epson booth at PhotoPlus Expo being held at the Javits Convention Center through Saturday, October 30, 2010. Alternatively, you can pan and zoom in on an online version of the piece.

Some interesting facts:

• The image size is 60 inches by 300 inches. • The flattened file weighs in at 6.52 gigabytes. • The painting is composed of almost 3,000 individual Photoshop and Illustrator files. • Taking a cumulative total of all the files, the overall image contains over 500,000 layers.

We are thrilled to also let you know that Bert will begin production on a Making of Time Square video course later this month, which is likely to be published early next year. Until then, you can find out more about the incredibly talented Bert by watching the Creative Inspirations documentary we published on him earlier this year.

By Michael Ninness | Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Avid dot-release for Media Composer 5 now available

Avid recently released an update to its popular Media Composer 5 video editing software that fixes several bugs, including:

1) Default Segment Mode setting The MC default for the timeline setting “Default Segment Tool” has been changed from overwrite to insert.

2) Copy/Paste Segment Mode fix When copy/pasting mark in/out with no segment tool active, the paste mode will no longer be the last used segment mode but the default segment mode. Most editors want to paste in insert mode so unless an editor changes the default (insert), MC will paste in insert mode. The only time MC will paste in overwrite is if the user has only the segment overwrite tool active when paste is executed, as in versions prior to 5.

3) Smart Tools auto selection bug A bug has been fixed that auto selected the default segment tool when an editor cut a marked in/out selection (Ctrl+X) with no segment tools active.

For information on how to obtain the 5.0.3.4 patch, go to Avid’s support area on its site: http://www.avid.com/US/support/downloads/

If you are a brand new user of Avid Media Composer 5, be sure to check out our crash courseAvid Media Composer 5 Getting Started with Steve Holyhead. For a deeper dive, Avid Media Composer 5 Essential Training with Ashley Kennedy is also available.

By David Gassner | Friday, September 10, 2010

Apple now permits third party development tools for iPhone and iPad

In a press release dated September 9, 2010, Apple Inc. announced that they are lifting restrictions they’d put in place earlier this year on which tools developers could use to create iOS apps for distribution in the Apple App Store.

A bit of background: Earlier this year, Apple changed the license for members of the iOS Developers Program (then known as the iPhone Developers Program), restricting developers from using anything other than Apple’s Xcode development tools and a small set of languages that included Objective-C and C++. This had an immediate impact on Adobe Systems and its Flash developer community; Adobe had created the Packager for iPhone, which supports compilation of Flash presentations into native iOS apps. Adobe Flash Professional CS5 was released with the feature intact, but it was suddenly clear that Flash developers who created iOS apps with this workflow would not have their applications accepted by Apple for distribution in their App Store.

That’s now changed. Developers using Flash and other tools for iOS app development (such as Novell’s Monotouch, Appcelerator’s Titanium, and the open source Phonegap) are now assured that their apps will be considered for inclusion in the App Store on an equal basis with apps built with Xcode and Objective-C. The developer licensing agreement, which previously set the restrictions on tools and languages, now simply says:

3.3.2 An Application may not download or install executable code.  Interpreted code may only be used in an Application if all scripts, code and interpreters are packaged in the Application and not downloaded. The only exception to the foregoing is scripts and code downloaded and run by Apple’s built-in WebKit framework.

This means that Adobe Flash Player still won’t appear on the iPhone and iPad, since it requires downloading executable code at runtime. That’s a separate issue that isn’t addressed by this licensing change. But applications that are compiled prior to posting in the App Store can now be built with the language and development tool of your choice. And we believe that choice is good!

In response, we’re revisiting our plans for offering training on using Flash Professional CS5 to create apps for iOS devices (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch). Content we’d already created forFlash Professional CS5 Essential Training, but didn’t include in the course’s initial release due to Apple’s licensing restrictions, will be added back into the course within a few days (check back frequently if you’re an Online Training Library® member). And if we hear from you, our members, that you want training in other development tools for iOS such as Monotouch, Titanium and Phonegap, we’ll seek out the best industry experts to create new courses.

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