Monday, January 7, 2008

Knowing Your File-type

Macs and Extensions
Until Mac's OS X (pronounced "ten" not "ecks") Mac users prided themselves in not needing to know those pesky little 3-letter combinations PC users had come to know as "extensions" and instead relied on the Mac OS (9 and earlier) to figure out which application should use it from file-type and creator info stored invisibly in the file.
I was asking a friend if he'd yet changed his Mac's default file-type for Screen Captures. He told me he didn't know, because when he does a capture using Command-Shift-3 [or 4] the process only produces a file named "Picture x" but no extension.

That is an issue of how you choose to display filenames, and this applies to both Macs and PCs. In my friend's case, his system settings were still at the default: Hide Extensions.

It's easily changed: on a Mac, Go to the Finder, then Choose Finder > Preferences.

Now, choose the Advanced icon:

Check "Show all File extensions" and close it.

On a PC, choose Tools > Folder Options...
Folder Options

Then un-check "Hide extensions for known file types." (click image to see larger.)

Don't forget to click Apply to All Folders, the button at the top.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Mac Check-up

Sorry PC users, this one's for Macs.

Have you repaired your permissions lately? Even if you have no idea what that means or does, you really need to do it. At least once a month. If you have a Mac, do it now, and also add it to your iCal scheduler, repeat it monthly, and set an alarm to alert you with a message on that day. If you want, add this URL: to the notes so you can find these instructions again.

Macs start acting up for fewer reasons than PCs, in my experience, but if you use a Mac for enough hours, you start to recognize when it's "not quite right." But even if you think it's running well, do some housecleaning anyway.

Repair Permissions
The tool to use is on your Mac. It's called Disk Utility. You can find it on your start-up drive, usually at Macintosh HD > Applications > Utilites > Disk
Whether yours displays with the ".app" after it is a matter left to your personal Finder preferences.

The Procedure is Simple
Open the Disk Utility application, and click on the name of your start-up drive:

Next, press the button at the lower left of the right-hand pane... the button that says Repair Permissions. (Click the picture at left, for a larger view).

Now sit back and watch the progress bar at the bottom. (2 to 6 minutes, depending on number of repairs to make.

This is so easy, there are actually no decisions to make, no questions to answer. "Set it and forget it."

When you're done, the "Report" shown in the window should look just like mine -- no errors. If you see any more text than that, run it again. If you see no more additional text when you're done, you have successfully helped your computer be well. If you see a LOT more than that, be glad you read this.

Repeat the procedure if the report is not "clean" like mine.

When You Should Repair Permissions
  • Once a month
  • Immediately after you install any Apple Updates
  • Immediately after you install any Apple Software
  • Immediately after you add any third party enhancements
  • Whenever your computer starts acting strangely.
  • After System Software upgrades, like from Tiger to Leopard.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

No One Buys My Paintings

Make sure you have included on your blog some way of getting hold of you! You know: Contact Info. There are an astounding number of blogs out there that do not have any contact information on them.

Having Zero Contact Info Will Affect Sales
We need to understand the difference between privacy versus deliberate, abject obscurity bordering on non-existence. The latter will have a direct impact on sales.

But, David, I don't want my e-mail address on there for spam-robots to harvest and start sending me offensive images, medical enhancement ads, mortgage info, solicitations of marriage from Russian women, or all that other stuff I already get in my InBox anyway.

I understand. And I don't want you to, either.

But you need to have contact information on your website or blog. You just need to make it spam-robot proof.

Here's How
Use a free service to encrypt your e-mail address, such as the one I have bookmarked at this site. Enter your e-mail address (carefully) in the proper field then click the 'Encode' button. Finally, select everything in the box and Copy it to the clipboard.

Here is what you have stored in memory right now. When you Paste it, you will see it all as one, long line, and without color differences as shown:
Code Snippet

The Clipboard
Think of the clipboard as a wallet for your computer task. When you copy, you are putting money in the wallet. As long as you don't paste, you have not spent your money. You can do a whole lot of things on your computer, and that money will still be there when you need it. Unlike a real wallet however, if you copy something else, it does not add the new money to the wallet — it replaces it.

Now, the code, as you've just encoded it will display your e-mail address on your web page, and will look something like this:

Yes, you can see it, and it's a working link, but spam-robots cannot see it.

If that's good enough for you leave it as it is. Or add "E-mail me: " before it, to get this:
E-mail me:

But maybe you'd rather just have this instead:
Purchase Inquiry? e-mail me!

You'll have to modify the code — and it's not that difficult. In the first code snippet I posted above, everything in red is the part you replace with what you would like the link to say. Leave the ">" and the "<" on either side of it:

If you copy that and store it somewhere in a text file, you can use that snippet of code anywhere in your blog, posts or sidebar and you'll have the right kind of robot-proof link every time! You miht even like to insert it into the descriptive paragraph of your Profile, in teh About Me section.

One Step Fancier
One other cool trick will help you determine if people are writing to you from your blog or website:

Add the following immediately before the last double-quote (see the blue text) like this:

Try it — It'll send me a thank-you: e-mail me

An Artist's Domain

Okay, so you have a blog and you're posting your paintings to it, and they are selling, and you are getting a lot of visitors and subscribers, and now you're thinking that someday you might actually want to expand beyond the free blog account.

Would you spend $15 per year for your own website?

Come Up With A Domain Name
You need to invent a domain name no one else has yet. Then buy it now! It's less than $15 to control that name, and you can grab it before someone else does, and start using it today.

To have a website you need 3 things:
  1. A domain name (i.e. — my own)
  2. A Registrar for that domain name (someone to whom you pay a fee to keep records on file documenting that you are the [current and paid-up] owner of that unique domain name).
  3. a website host — someone willing to rent you space on their computers to hold all your files, pictures, videos, etc. that make up the bits of your whole website.

Register it With a reputable Registrar
I use and highly recommend the registration service provided by for their superior customer service, and their complete lack of giving you trouble if you ever want to transfer a domain away from them. Right now you may not have any idea what that means, but domain transfers can be a big hassle, depending on who the registrar is. is primarily a Registrar, though they also now offer hosting. You use them to register the domain name you've invented and want to reserve for your own use (or to keep other people from using it — like, for example, your own name.)

Many registrars use "come-ons" such as lower prices for registration but lock you into other pay-for services or long-term commitments to get those prices. Not so with Dotster. $15 per name, and you own it.

Getting Your Domain Name to Link To Your Blog
Once you own a domain name ($15) you can then use a feature called URL Forwarding, which offers for $5 per year. It's as simple as clicking a checkbox, and listing your blog's URL. You're done.

URL Forwarding happens at the registrar level. When someone types in, for example,, or clicks a link made from that URL, URL Forwarding will take them to the address they are to be forwarded to. In my case, I use the free blogging service provided by; that actual URL to my blog is, but I own the domain name and I use's $5 URL Forwarding feature to transfer people to my free blog.

So in essence, I have a complete website that takes advantage of all of Blogger's features, using the domain name I registered, and it costs me $20 a year.

Using masked URL forwarding (a free option) I am able to set it so that "when you get there" your browser will not change the URL in the Address/Location field.

Click both of these links, and notice that they both arrive at exactly the same place, but the addresses look different when you get there:
Now which would you rather have on your business card?

As you grow, and you want to add more pages (like a bio, products, galleries, contact info, etc.), but never give up your blog (or, perhaps, add another) you can get a domain host and start a "real" website using the domain name you already own.

In another post, to follow, I will discuss domain hosts and how they benefit you when you are ready.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Building a Crate For Shipping a Large Painting

One of the scariest things ever is having someone else deliver a painting to a client. Add to that: paintings are sticky, one-of-a-kind, have part of your very soul in them, and are very fragile. They are often nothing more than a wooden window with a thin layer of cloth stretched across it, and all that's valuable about it is applied to one side of this vulnerable film.

All of these things were foremost on my mind even before I started painting the 32" x 40" oil portrait to ship 1500 miles away from my studio.

I made the following video using Google Sketch-up (it was the first thing I ever did in Sketch-up, so pardon the glaring errors...) and posted it on my blog Everyday Paintings along with a number of supporting photographs and comments, describing how and why I built my crate the way I did. You can read all the details at the specific blog enrty Crate Expectations. (Yeah, I made that up, too).

Thursday, January 3, 2008

PC: How to Save a Picture of Your Computer Screen

On a PC, there is a key on your keyboard called Print Screen. (It may actually be an abbreviation of that.

If you need to send someone a picture of what you see on your screen, hit that key.
You just copied to the clipboard a picture of every pixel on your monitor.

Now, while everything is hanging around invisibly in your computer's memory, open an application that accepts images via the Paste command. Applications such as Photoshop, Word, Lotus Notes, Microsoft Paint, and many others will accept an image via Paste.

From there, with some of these programs, you can crop or edit the image to show just the part you need. Save, attach to e-mail and send.

In Photoshop, all you do is choose File > New and you will see that the resulting dialog box will already have the size of your "memorized picture" dimensions ready to go. Just click Okay, then Paste into the resulting empty window. Crop out what you want, then save as a Jpeg, and you can e-mail it, or transfer it via AOL/AIM.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Change Your Screen-Capture Default Type

Most Mac users know that Command-Shift-3 will take a screen shot (called a capture) of the whole screen and save it to the Desktop.

And most of those same people know that Command-Shift-4 lets you do a partial screen capture... executing that key-combo turns the cursor into sort of a gun-sight cross-hairs, which you can use to drag a rectangle around the area of your screen that you want to capture — clicking in one corner of the area you want and then, while holding the button down, dragging to the opposite diagonal corner then letting go.

If your speakers are turned up, you'll hear a retro-film-style camera shutter sound.

But by default, depending on your version of OS X, the image is saved as a PDF or a PNG image format — which are usually, in my opinion, not the format you want to use for e-mailing someone a shot of what you're looking at on your screen. The Mac PDFs, by default, are bloated with unneeded quality, and PNGs are not viewable on older systems, browsers or many e-mail programs.

PC users can get a capture of their whole screen, too, in BMP format, but hitting the Print Screen key on their keyboard, then opening Start > Programs > Accessories > Paint and then executing the Paste command.

You may need to change Finder Settings to even see the file extension. Learn about that here.

Change the format of the capture!
If you are not too squeamish about using the Terminal Application just long enough to make the change and then quitting (think of the "5-second Rule" for food that hits the ground), start up Terminal (found at Applications > Utilities > Terminal) and, after the screen prompt with is your "home account name and some other odd characters" type (or select, copy and paste) the following:

defaults write type jpg

Double-check to make sure you have typed it correctly. Hit the Enter or Return key to "execute that command," then quit Terminal.

After your next computer restart, all your screen captures will be in jpg format.