Illustrator Image Trace Tutorial

By Moez Janmohammad

Most images come in specific sizes, where the file contains each pixel’s information. This means that when a user scales the image to be larger, the program “fills in” the missing information, often making it look blurred or pixelated. A solution to this is a vector image, which contains mathematical expressions instead of pixel data. It uses those expressions to “build” the image, and since it isn’t pixel-dependent, a user can scale the image to be larger or smaller while keeping the lines clean and crisp. An easy way to convert an image to a vector format is to use Illustrator’s Image Trace. With one button, a user can have a vector image from any source format.

Why is it So Difficult to Play a DVD? (Part 2)

In part one, we explained how to determine if the problems you have playing movies is the result of a faulty disc. Now it’s time to make sense out of the software that you’ll be using to play your movie. All of the computers in the Dedman College classrooms run Windows 7, and most of the time you will play DVDs using a program called Windows Media Player.

Here is the easiest way to start a movie:

1 – Turn on the computer and log in. (Do not put the disc in yet!)

2 – Wait until you are completely logged on and the desktop has finished loading. Now open the DVD tray and put the disc in.

3 – Wait. It can take a few seconds for the computer to respond.

4 – The Windows Media Player will pop up and try to play your disc.

Most of the time, the film starts playing automatically. It may bring up the disc’s main menu and you will have to click on the Play option, just like you would if you were using a DVD player at home.

Sometimes when you put the disc into the computer, you will be given a choice between different programs. Double-click on ‘Windows Media Player’ when this pops up, and you’ll see the movie start in a few seconds.

Windows Media Player
Windows Media Player

If nothing shows up automatically (or if you put the disc in the drive before you logged in), you can start the movie by clicking on the Windows Media Player icon at the bottom of thescreen. (It’s the orange circle with an arrow in it – like the picture on the right.) When the program opens you should see the name of your disc at the bottom of the left-hand side of the window. Double-click the title, and the movie will start.

If you’d like to see this in more detail, Microsoft has prepared a short video for you. Click here to see it.

 

The title of the movie will be at the bottom of the list on the left. (Click on this picture for a better view.)
The title of the movie will be at the bottom of the list on the left. (Click on this picture for a better view.)

Sounds simple, and most of the time it’s not complicated when you know the right steps. If the movie starts playing right away then the only problem you’ll be likely to run into is that the volume is not turned up. Read this older post to be sure you understand how to deal with that. (We have more calls about volume issues than anything else.)

What if this process doesn’t work? Sometimes, Windows Media Player cannot read certain discs. There are various reasons for this. A DVD of a different region is a common roadblock, and this usually happens when using with discs from other countries. Fortunately, we’ve installed a separate program to deal with these discs.

VLC_icon
VLC Media Player

On the desktop (or in the Faculty Applications folder on the desktop) you’ll see an icon that looks like an orange traffic cone (like the picture on the left) called VLC Media Player. Double-click this icon, and when the program opens navigate to Media in the upper left-hand corner, then click Open Disc. In the next window, click Play. This will start the movie. VLC Media player is not as user-friendly as Windows Media Player, but it will often play discs that have been stubborn and uncooperative in other players.

If you are still concerned about playing your movie, feel free to contact us at help@smu.edu and ask us to help you get it started. We will be happy to show up at the start of your class to make sure the movie starts easily and on time.

Camera RAW

By Moez Janmohammad

Introducing Feature of the Week, where we highlight a feature of a program and give a basic tutorial on how it works. This week we’re focusing on Camera RAW in the Adobe Creative Suite.  Camera RAW is one of the single most powerful tools in a photographer’s arsenal, and often one of the most overlooked tools in the Adobe Creative Suite.  It gives the user extensive control of the post processing of an image, allowing them to edit exposure and distortion before going into Photoshop to make more advanced edits.

Adobe Bridge CC

By Moez Janmohammad

Adobe Bridge is a digital asset management software that allows a user to organize any kind of media. The name Bridge comes from the idea that Adobe Bridge will be the link between all of the programs in the creative suite. From Bridge a user can drop an Illustrator vector image into Photoshop, or an After Effects video into Premiere. This tutorial covers the basic interface of Adobe Bridge, from selecting images, to the filmstrip view, to reading the metadata of a file.

University owned computers can download any of the Master Collection Adobe Creative products via LANDesk. For more informaiton, visit our service page http://www.smu.edu/BusinessFinance/OIT/Services/Info/Adobe.

f.lux: Sleep and Screen Color

f.lux-before-and-after

By Moez Janmohammad

If you’re a college student, chances are you’ve stayed up late to finish an assignment, but have you ever paused to think about your eyes? The bright and blueish lights emitted from most LCD displays mimic bright sunlight and cause a disruption to normal sleep patterns (because we all have normal sleep patterns in college) and inhibit the amount of melatonin, a chemical our bodies produce that causes drowsiness. f.lux seeks to solve this problem by changing the screen temperature of your display to have it emit more red light after sunset. At sunset, f.lux automatically adjusts your display, making whites appear reddish or salmon, matching natural light cycles and our body’s Circadian rhythm.

f.lux is available for Windows, Mac OSX and Linux. It is only available on jailbroken iOS devices, and an Android version is in the works. To get it go to www.justgetflux.com.

f.lux