Articles from this Tag

Most of the domain names are already taken. For the .com .net and .org, the first ones to appear, any combination of 6 or less characters is nearly gone… so you either buy in the resell market or you use one of the latest released such as .cc or .co or country base such .ly , .es etc…

A great tool to add creativity to your domains is

Domainr helps you explore the entire domain name space beyond the ubiquitous—and and .org. Inspired by jish.nuburri.toand, apologies to Flickr, and a high-five to Dopplr.

Read more about their features.

Posted from Geneva, Genève, Switzerland.

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snow tyres for your bicycle

Do you have snow where you live? Would you like to use your bicycle but it is too slippery?

Well, here you have a DIY tip:


No matter how much we swear we’ve learned our lessons, Seattle always seems to get caught by surprise by the snow. There we were, minding our own business with our feet all toasty in our sandals and socks, when the temperature plummeted and it turned into Juneau in January. While this year the City did a much better job than last year at preventing widespread carnage and destruction, we at Dutch Bike Seattle still didn’t bring in studded tires because it never snows in Seattle. Even if we had stocked them, I’m not sure they’d sell because it never snows in Seattle, right?

We found something else, though. Something else entirely.

You’re not going to believe it at first.

It’s quick, it’s cheap, and yes, it looks completely ludicrous.

BUT. It works. It works beautifully.

I can accelerate, brake, and corner with aplomb, even on the vile snowpack/sheet ice mix the plows leave in the bike lanes. The zip ties dig nicely into the hardest packed surfaces, but they’re thin enough not to bounce the bike around at low speed or on short pavement sections.

I’ve cunningly positioned the tie heads to dig in as soon as the bike goes into a corner while staying up and off the ground in a straight line. This is the place that the ties are most likely to interfere with the fenders, so if you’re installing these yourself be careful to make sure you have or can create the clearance.

It is at this point that I must admit that I didn’t dream up this amazing technique. It pains me to admit this not because my ego suffers, but because the zip-tie-DIY-bicycle-snow-chains idea appears to have originated with my favorite bicycle industry whipping boy: fixed gear hipster culture. Several years ago, I’m sure, some bright child with extremely tight pants and an asymmetrical haircut had a genius-caliber idea, and I hate that it wasn’t me. So here it is: Fixed gear street bike hipster guys, I’m sorry for the things I’ve said over the years. It’s not true that the only drink you like is 4Loko. It’s also not true that you’re not allowed to wear shoes that don’t match your bikes. You can wear whatever you want. And finally, you have come up with a good idea besides brightly colored deep-section rims.


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11 Tricks to Cutting Travel Costs in 2011

BARGAIN hunters will need to be craftier when booking a trip if they want to get the best prices this year. It’s no secret that airfares are up and added fees for everything from checked bags to exit-row seats are pushing the cost of flying higher. On top of that, hotel bargains are expected to be harder to come by as business travelers begin to return, diminishing the need for hotels to discount rooms in major cities.

But that doesn’t mean a year in front of your television. There are still plenty of ways to cut costs. Here are 11 strategies — and some useful Web sites — to help you save on travel this year.

1. SHOP “PRIVATE SALES” A growing number of Web sites, including SniqueAway.comTabletHotels.comand have flash sales of 20 to 60 percent off hotel packages to travelers on an invitation-only basis. Jetsetter, for example, recently offered a Friday night in January at the Angler’s, a boutique hotel in Miami, for $255 a night, down from the $359 offered at the hotel’s site. Another site,, works like Groupon for travel, meaning that the more people who book a deal, the lower the rate. For example, a four-night, all-inclusive stay at the Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort & Spa was initially offered to members for $1,496, or 15 percent off, last month. After 55 bookings, the price dropped to $1,220. At TripAlertz and, which offers last-minute getaways, all you have to do is create an account to access the deals. A Google search for “Snique Away invite” turned up a registration form for that got me in.

2. BUY ON TUESDAY Most airlines begin sales on Monday evenings, and by the following day other airlines have usually matched the lowered fares on the same routes, said Anne McDermott, editor at, which tracks price trends. Last month, for example, Virgin America had a sale on Dec. 13, with one-way fares as low as $79 on some routes, according to Farecompare. The next day, there were sales from AirTran, Southwest and American, with one-way fares from $59. Because sales are hard to predict, travelers looking for the best deal should start their searches three to four months in advance, when airlines begin to look closely at which routes may need a sale to fill seats.

3. SEARCH FOR COUPON CODES Practically every travel site includes a box at checkout for a promotional discount code. Sites like organize such codes into categories so that you can search specifically for airline, car rental or hotel deals. A recent search turned up codes for deals like $94 flights between New York and New Orleans, 15 percent discounts on Avis weekly car rentals and $75 off of three-night Westin Hotels packages.

4. ASK FOR A REFUND Many airlines will refund the difference in price if the fare drops after you purchase a ticket (minus a change fee). helps get you that refund by tracking the price of your ticket and sending you an e-mail or Tweet when the price drops so that you can call the airline to claim the credit. A new site,, offers a similar service for car rentals.

5. AVOID ROAMING CHARGES Skype and Truphone offer free apps for making cheap international calls using Wi-Fi, with rates that start at pennies per minute. You can pay as you go or sign up for monthly plans to make unlimited calls in certain countries for a flat fee: $13.99 a month for Skype calls to land lines and mobile phones in more than 40 countries, or $12.95 a month for Tru calls in 38 countries with TruUnlimited. Another option: the Vonage Mobile app for Facebook allows travelers to make free international calls over Wi-Fi to Facebook friends who also download the app.

6. CHANGE YOUR CREDIT CARD Most American banks charge currency conversion fees, typically up to 3 percent when you use your credit or debit card outside the United States. But there are some exceptions. Capital One does not charge foreign transaction fees, and Chase recently began waiving the fees on its British Airways Visa Signature Card, its Hyatt Card and the Priority Club Select Visa.

7. SAVE ON PARKING YOUR CAR steers drivers toward the cheapest parking at off-airport lots near 79 North American airports. Rates are updated frequently, and sold-out lots are highlighted. A recent search for parking near Newark Liberty International Airport offered a snapshot of rates and locations on a map. The Renaissance Hotel lot was among the cheapest at $12 for 24 hours. There is also a free app for iPhone, Android or BlackBerry users.

8. WAIT A WEEK Avoid the crowds and save by traveling the week after a major holiday. A five-night ski vacation in Breckenridge, Colo., during the last week of December was priced at $1,988 a person, including airfare from Chicago, at For the following week, the same trip was listed at $1,037 a person. Similarly, a vacation including airfare from New York and five nights at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort dropped from $821 to $580.

9. NEGOTIATE Though many hotels say that they offer their best rates online, it pays to ask the front desk for a lower rate. My colleague Seth Kugel regularly uses this tactic, as he pointed out in a column last summer: “I arrive with a solid reservation but then check out five or six other hotels and go back and forth between them in an attempt to set off a price war.” The strategy saved him $20 a night in León, Nicaragua. I have had similar successover the phone with reservation agents at New York hotels like the Ritz-Carlton New York and 60 Thompson.

10. TRAVEL LIKE A STUDENT Student travel agencies like STA Travel, StudentCity and StudentUniverse have begun to extend their low prices to nonstudents and older travelers. While some of the deepest discounts are offered only to travelers enrolled in an academic program, recent college graduates can often save 10 to 25 percent with “youth fares.” For example, a recent search for flights in March on, which limits certain deals to nonstudents under the age of 26, turned up seats for $926 round trip on V Australia Airlines. The best rates for the same dates on were $1,187. Though it is not common for older travelers to use student travel agencies, it is possible to do so. There were no age restrictions for a discounted four-day Inca Trail trek with STA Travel for $674 a person, down from $899.

11. DON’T PAY TO CHECK A BAG Checking bags can quickly add up, with airlines charging between $15 and $35 a bag. Delta’s SkyMiles-branded American Express card allows you and up to eight others on the same reservation to each check a bag at no cost. And American Express introduced a travel-rewards card — the Blue Sky Preferred Credit Card — that offers travelers an annual $100 allowance to cover checked baggage, in-flight meals, entertainment or Wi-Fi purchases, and other fees, on any airline.


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Travel tips for blogging

Those of you who know me, know that I love traveling and that I am a technofreak.

I would like to share with you some tips in order to have a great trip diary, using the latest techonologies.


Option A

When I travel I pack my nikon d300 with a 10-20mm and a 18-200 lenses. My nikon has a 16Gb memory card. Unfortunately most DSLR do not have GPS unlike the iPhone or other smart phones, but there is a work around. Keep reading.

I also pack my GPS (Garmin Oregon 300), rechargeable batteries and the charger sure. If you don’t have a GPS you should consider getting one, and they are now very cheap. You don’t need a fancy GPS, you just need a GPS logger. No bluetooth even. No screen, just a GPS logger, that when you switch it on it starts recording your trail, and once back home or with your laptop, you just plug it in and extract the .gpx file. I will explain what to do with it. You can but very cheap GPS at Dealextreme a Hong Kong based online shop full of gadgets at ridiculous prices… and shipping anywhere int the world is free. You can have a GPS for $35.

Now if you travel to remote places you can consider a good GPS with SOS function such as the SPOT.

Also if you don’t want to take the gpx file from the gps and use one of the ways I described further down there is a GPS logger (ATP Photo finder) that you sync the time with your camera, insert the SD card, and it tags them automatically. Not for Compact Flash and not for RAW images though…

If it is going to be a long trip, and I plan to blog properly, then I take my old sony vaio t series (10 inch screen) and an external 2.5inches Hard Disk.

Option B

Just your iPhone 3gs or 4. (Has a decent camera and GPS).

Option C

Both. Option A for more elaborated blogging, Option B for quick on the spot.

Which option?

Nowadays with an iPhone 4 you have more than enough to take good quality videos and photos. Take a look at this blog entry for tips on how to take the best photos with the iphone.

In addition to have a 5Mpx camera and shoot HD videos, the new smart phones have GPS so videos and photos are geotagged, and programs such as picasa (for Mac, PC and Linux) or iPhoto (for Mac) plot all your photos in a map which is great.

If you really like photography then you choose to take your DSLR with you, so then you have to take a laptop (and an external HD if it is an old laptop like mine) so you can take the photos out of the camera and put the in your blog, site or community. Or just to empty your camera.

I take both.

iPhone apps and Everytrail

When I first bought my first GPS (Garmin Vista) it was quite a job to be able to do something with the tracks you save. You needed a windows computer, nothing for mac, and the software that came with it was pretty bad.

Then Google Earth would allow you to import the tracks (.gpx files). It was great. It is still great!


Now there is a website that I love and I use as a main stop for GPS logging: Everytrail.

Everytrail is free. You can upload your .gpx file even directly from your gps, and there you can have all your tracks store, that you can tag, put some text, add waypoints with explanations, and edit them!! yes. You can make them public or private. Very very powerful tool.

Everytrail also gives you an embed code that you can put in your blog, where you see the trail you have uploaded, the waypoints you have inserted, stats of time, altitude, speed… and more.

Geotag your photos with Everytrail

Once I have written about my photography workflow. Now when I upload them to flickr, make sure you create a set for those photos in the same GPS track. So if you go out switch on your GPS logger, then all the fotos you take until you switch it off should be in the same set.

With Everytrail, you can select the flickr (or picasa, or uploading manually) set and it will import it. As the camera has a clock it will know when they were take it, and plotted into your trail map. Great.

Now you have to fine tune that. There might be a bit of missmatch between the time in the GPS, the timezone and the camera clock. You take one photo you know exactly where it was taken, drag it to the right place and , then click on “update offset based on this picture” and the rest will follow. Magical!!

Now you have your trail uploaded into Everytrail, you have corrected it, you have added notes as waypoints, and you have uploaded the fotos from flicker that have been geo tagged in Everytrail.

With Everytrail alone you have already a good blog for your trip, because you have a space to write, to give tips and to have the track an dall the photos along it.

In addition to this you can have the embed code and put it into you blog.

Everytrail in your iPhone

Everytrail is available for the iPhone. They have two apps, a free one and a paid one. They are not very good. There is a free app, though, that uses Everytrail as a back end which is absolutly great!

Trailhead iPhone app (from the north face)

Last August the north face released an iphone app (free) that uses everytrail track. This app is just awesome. When you start it you have two main options, start tracking (and it is reasonable on what you use of battery) or see nearby trails. You can track even if you don’t have GPRS or 3G. In this case you don’t see the maps (in the pro app for everytrail you can download offline maps).

Then when tracking, at any given point you can add a photo or a note (not a video yet).

So in summary, with the iphone alone you do what I explained before without the need of a camara, a gps, a computer and a website.

Blogging tools

When traveling often you don’t have internet. Blogging everyday is therefore difficult.

For that reason you should use an offline blogging tool. The best one out there is Windows Live Writer. For the mac you have Ecto or MarsEdit, but Live Writer is much better.

The advantage of using one of this offline tools is that you can write every day, add your photos and so, and when you have internet, then you upload everything.

If you are planning to use GPS info with everytrail, you should do it online though.

This offline tools are good for blogs such as wordpress, blogger etc…

I use wordpress and there is a great plugin called mappress for having a google map where you can easily add a waypoint with html code in it if you wish. It is handy if you want to show your readers where you are sleeping, or what to visit for instance.

Alternatively you can simply go to google maps, log in and under my maps, create a map. It is very easy. Then you can copy the embed code and past it into your blog.

Blogging sites

If you don’t have a blog, and you don’t blog regularly, they you can use one of the dedicated free blogs for travelers. My favorites are:

Travelpod is a great place full of good tips and travelers. You have maps, you can upload photos, … it is a tailored blog for travelers.

Mapvivo is more of a travel diary. It is based on having a map and putting what you do in it.

Geotagging your photos at home

To geo tag the photos using everytrail is OK, but you will probably would love to have your photos in your PC/Mac geotagged as well.

Well there is a way to do it too, even if you camera has no GPS.  As I mentioned with a GPS logger, and a normal camera you can.

Select the photos you took within the period of geotagging. Then use one of these programs:

The best one is GeoSetter (just for PC unfortunately)

GeoSetter (free) allows you to take your photos, the log file of the GPS and geo tag the photos automatically. You can easily take one that you know exactly where it was taken, position it and the rest will follow. GeoSetter will write in the EXIF header of the file, so if you now import them to Picasa, iPhoto, Flickr, etc… they will have GPS information.

For Mac there is a paid program which does pretty much the same: Geophoto. It is even nicer, but not as complete as the Geosetter.

Also GPS photo linker. (tags Raw and it is free). Take a look at the demo, for me is the winner.

With this I modify my photography workflow. The first thing to do is to geotagg the raw photos, then apply DxO for corrections and to create JPEGs.

Here an example of the embed code from a trip with photos in everytrail in Puerto Rico. If you mouse over the bottom you can see a link to the stats and to the slideshow. Also mousing over the spots of the photos.
San Juan de Puerto Rico

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Print from your mobile using Dropbox

Wirelessly Print Anything from Anywhere, Anytime

While mobile phones have become a lot more capable in the past few years, the connection between the printer and your phone is still very weak.

For instance, if you are using a BlackBerry or an iPhone, how do you print any of the presentations or spreadsheets that you have as email attachments? Or if you are viewing driving directions on Google Maps using an iPad, how do you send that map to the printer?

Your phone’s app store will have a few printing apps to let you wirelessly print files but if you want to save a few bucks, you can simply use Dropbox to print documents from your phone to any printer without requiring any additional software.

Some upcoming printers will have built-in support for mobile printing via email but with Dropbox, you get the same feature without requiring any new hardware.

Before we get into the details, watch the video above as it shows how printing from a mobile phone actually works through Dropbox (apologies for the bad audio quality).

Print Files from any Mobile Phone through Dropbox

The workflow is like this. You download a small utility on your computer that runs in the background and constantly monitors one of your Dropbox folders for any new printing jobs.

You can send files for printing from your mobile phone through email or using any of the Dropbox mobile apps. As soon as Dropbox downloads the file locally, the utility will send it to the default printer. Once the file is printed, it gets archived to the logs folder.

mobile phone printing

To get this thing running on your computer, please follow these easy steps:

Step 1: Make sure that you have Dropbox on the computer that is connected to the printer.

Step 2: To send print jobs from your mobile device to the printer, you have two options.

  • You can download a Dropbox app on your mobile phone — they have apps for BlackBerry,iPhoneiPadNokiawebOS (Palm), and Android based phones.
  • Alternatively, you can send files from your mobile phone to Dropbox using email. Just connect your Dropbox account with Habilis and they’ll give you a unique email address – any files or attachments sent to this address will automatically appear in your Dropbox folder.

Step 3: Download this zip file* and double-click the eprint.vbs file (see the source code). The script will create a sub-folder inside your main Dropbox folder called PrintQueue where all the mobile print jobs will queue up and another sub-folder called logs where all the completed jobs will be archived.

[*] VBS scripts are Windows-only but there are workarounds for Mac OS X and Linux as well.

Step 4: You are now all set to print files from our mobile phone. Just send a test file from your mobile phone to that secret email address, or upload it through the Dropbox mobile app, and your printer will turn it into a hard copy almost instantly.

The utility can also handle multiple files in one go and it should print almost all file formats for which you have an associated application on the computer. If you would like to shut down the eprint utility, launch Windows task manager and end the “wscript.exe” process from the list.

If you have trouble running the above script on your computer, there’s a chance that you may have associated the file with Notepad or some other text editor. Press shift and right click the file in Windows Explore and choose “Windows Based Script Host” under Open With. Alternatively, open the command prompt, type “cscript eprint.vbs” and hit enter.

(extracted from Digital Inspiration)

This is a tip by Aaron Ladage on how to do it in a Mac:

There’s a simple method for Mac that doesn’t require the VBS script:

1. Create a folder in Dropbox (mine’s called “Printing”), and within that folder make two more folders: “todo” and “completed.”

2. Fire up Automator. In 10.6, a box pops up asking you what type of template you want to use for your workflow. Choose “Folder Actions.”

3. At the top, where it says “Folder Action receives files and folders added to…” choose the “todo” folder from Step 1.

4. In Automator’s search box, type “print” and you’ll see an item called “Print Finder Items.” Drag that into your workflow and select your printer (I left mine default).

5. In Automator’s search box, type “move” and you’ll see an item called “Move Finder items.” Add it to your workflow and choose the “completed” folder you created in step 1.

6. Choose “Save as…” and give your workflow a name.

That’s it! Anything you drop in the “todo” folder will now automatically open its respective app, print it and file it for you.

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Do you hate conversation threads in Gmail? You can switch them off now

Many of us have hated for ever that all the emails are clustered in conversations, and it is true that after a while you get use to it and in fact you see that it is good to bring back to focus a response on an email you have already archived.

Well, Google is rolling out this week the possibility to switch this off. Go to settings, and in General you will find the option to switch of conversation threads. I would love to see a switch in each email though, if in case I want to bring the whole conversation…

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Windows 7 Keyboard shortcuts

This article is taken from the Windows 7 official page.

How to be fast in windows 7 by using the keyboard shortcuts. Keep reading… (more…)

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International Taxi Fare Calculator

Do you travel often? I do, and I always wonder how much is going to cost me the taxi from the airport to the hotel, always afraid if I would have the right amount or if the taxi is going to try to charge more.

Well take a look at world taxi meter website. It is not for everywhere but might be of help:

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Build Project Management Gantt charts with Gantto

Anybody who’s ever managed a project, whether online or off, knows how invaluable a Gantt chart can be.

For project managers looking for a Web-based alternative to the industry standard Microsoft Project for creating Gantt charts, one option might be Gantto, a Y Combinator-funded startup that recently went into private beta.

Gantto offers an intuitive UI for building out and editing Gantt charts, from the most basic to the rather complex. To make things easy for those who have historically used Microsoft Project, Gantto allows you to import project files in XML format.

For those who aren’t familiar with them, Gannt charts are bar-based charts that break down a project’s timeline. They’ve been around for about a century, but it was only with the invention of the personal computer that it became easy to rapidly produce complex Gantt charts. Today, they’re an indispensable part of any project.

Project managers looking to take Gantto for a spin can sign up here.

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Mac tip: Save PDF to Web Receipt folder

This is a small tip that can be helpful for those buying stuff via internet.

When you are done with the transaction and you have the receipt on the screen, what do you normally do? Well in most cases you print it out, then you don’t know if the printer is on, if there is paper… then you don’t know where did you put it once it is printed… or in some cases you just ignore the scree because they will probably send you an email confirmation with the receipt or bill, so you can always go to

your email and look for it… and if you are lucky you find it.

Well, if you are on a mac when you are in the receipt page, you just click command+P, like when printing, and in the PDF button on the bottom left corner you will find an option called: Save PDF to Web Receipt Folder.

If you do click that a PDF will be created with the current screen (not just what you see, all of it!) with the title of the page. This in a Web Receipt folder in your Documents folder. Very very handy.

It is not something I use. I choose Save PDF to Evernote, where it is saved into my Evernote, where it is OCR so it becomes searcheble and it is also stored on the web, but if you don’t use evernote the Save to Web Receipt foder is a very good option.

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Dear Diary. Ohlife give you a free online diary in an innovative way

When I was a kid I used to write a diary. I had tons of pages.

Ohlife is a free online diary, compleatly private. They even log you off from the site often, which is good.

So, what is what makes ohlife special?

It is simple, neat, beautiful. Every day, at the time you wish, it send you an email saying: What have you done today?

You just answer the email and voila, it goes into your diary. It couldn’t be easier. Just responding to an email. Even with photos if you wish.

Downside? Well, I have tested it for a couple of days only, but there is no calendar so you can navigate easily to other years or months. You have to scroll…

Also nice that in the web you can edit your entries.

Give it a try. It is free.

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Some tips to manage email

Are you drowning in your inbox?

I try to keep keep all my inboxes to zero. Whatever I have in my inbox requires action. Once the action is taken, and action could be just answer quickly, then I archive them.

I have unified inbox, meaning that my inbox has emails from 5 different accounts.

I have the following folders on all my accounts: inbox (sure…), Waiting For, Read Review, and the rest of achieves. I don’t have them by people but rather by location. I go up to 2 levels of depth, so something like this:

  • inbox (aiming to zero, only things that should have some action)
  • read review (things want to read but are not urgent so I don’t want them in my inbox)
  • waiting for (air ticket for tomorrow, a delivery yet to arrive, etc…)
  • friends
    • local (I don’t live where my family is)
    • home (my friends in my home country, school, university…)
    • abroad
  • family
    • wife
    • mum
    • kids
    • other
  • work
    • waiting for (sometimes I mix private email with work stuff… bad bad)
    • job 1 (if you do have more than one job, then here)
    • job 2
  • personal
    • key stuff (sort of starred items, email with driving license, passport, tax, passwords)
    • statements
      • bank (if you receive a lot of e-statments then create a folder with statements, then bank, telephone, electricity, etc…)
    • jokes
    • travel
    • shopping
    • newsletters
    • other

Then some tips to manage large amount of email:

You can keep your responses short and add a signature following the tips.

“Treat all email responses like SMS text messages, using a set number of letters per response. Since it’s too hard to count letters, we count sentences instead. is a personal policy that all email responses regardless of recipient or subject will be three sentences or less. It’s that simple.”

Example signature:
Q: Why is this email three sentences or less?

Alternatively you can add “Sent from iPhone” under your short responses.  People don’t expect long responses when you’re on your phone.

Sure, count on me!!
Sent from iPhone.

If you do really have an email problem you can create a ‘VIP’ filter.  Add your boss, close friends and family. Flag them red and throw them in a separate folder. This is the first place I check every morning.

If you are using Gmail or Google apps and you are giving away your email address to a lot of sites you try or places that potentially can spam you, they you can give your regular email +name of site or group or whatever, example: [email protected] You can then filter those emails into a specific spammy folder you check periodically.

If you are using apple Mail or similar program and you really can’t cope with the inflow of emails, you can create a filter that auto-responds to all unopened emails > 14 days old w/the following message:

Your email (below) is now 14 days old and has not been opened.  To minimize email buildup your email has now been placed in the archive.  Should you still require a response simply respond back and you’ll automatically be added to the priority queue.  Thank you.

Good luck

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12 Beginner Tutorials for Getting Started with Adobe Illustrator

This series is supported by Ben & Jerry’s Joe, Ben & Jerry’s new line-up of Fair Trade and frozen iced coffee drinks. Learn more about it here.

Adobe IllustratorAdobe Illustrator, the industry-standard vector graphics application, is the tool you use when you need flexible, scalable vector graphics such as logos and artwork that will be printed in various formats, mediums and sizes.

Illustrator’s huge array of digital drawing features makes it a favorite amongst illustrators and print designers, but for those just starting out, the application can be intimidating. To help set you on your path to Illustrator mastery, here are some great beginner-level Illustrator tutorials that cover the fundamental tools and techniques.

If you have tips for aspiring Illustrator pros, share them in the comments below.

1. Getting Started in Illustrator

First thing’s first: You need to familiarize yourself with Illustrator’s graphical user interface. This quick and easy-to-read tutorial talks about Illustrator’s workspace, pointing to areas such as the Tools panel, the Status bar, the Artboard where you craft your vectors, and so on. It also touches upon how to create your first Illustrator document, as well as the different items you can find within the Tools panel.

2. Illustrator’s Pen Tool: The Comprehensive Guide

The primary drawing feature of Illustrator is the Pen tool. If you have aspirations of becoming an Illustrator ninja, you’ll need to have a strong command of this tool. This Illustrator tutorial from Vectortuts+ (a leading vector graphics tutorial site) covers all the things you need to know about this powerful, but oftentimes daunting, tool.

The tutorial covers the concept of Bezier curves, which are used to draw shapes with smooth curves, the need-to-know keyboard shortcuts, and even provides a practice sheet that you can download and import into Illustrator to help you practice your vector-drawing skills.

3. Fun with Illustrator’s Blend Tool

The Blend command is deceptively simple in function. It takes two or more shapes or colors, and then blends them together smoothly. But as this Illustrator tutorial will show you, the Blend command is a very effective feature for crafting stunning graphics effects quickly and easily.

4. Adobe Illustrator Tips: Live Trace

Live Trace, which appeared in Adobe Illustrator CS2, is a game-changer. Before Live Trace, an artist sketching an art piece using pen/pencil and paper would have to scan their work into Illustrator, then spend hours manually tracing it with the Pen tool and other Illustrator functions.

When Live Trace was introduced, this process was made simpler through automation, saving you precious hours. From sketch drawings to photographs that need to be converted to vector graphics — Live Trace is an excellent option to try. This tutorial goes over the process of using Live Trace by using a stock headshot photo, discussing how to execute Live Trace, the various options, as well as showing off a handful of examples of where Live Trace has been used in existing artworks.

5. Illustrator’s Type Tool: A Comprehensive Introduction

Illustrator is also a popular graphics application for print designers. From logos, business cards, and brochures, all the way up to posters and large billboards, Illustrator can help you make flexible and scalable designs.

A big part of print design is quite obviously text. This Illustrator tutorial will help you begin to explore the Type tool. It covers ways you can set text on vector paths for unconventional text flows, talks about the associated panels such as the Character and Paragraph panel, and provides useful keyboard shortcuts.

6. The Power (and Ease) of Patterns in Illustrator

Using patterns allows you to make repeating graphics. Experimenting with patterns can lead to excellent artwork that looks like it took days to complete.

Creating custom pattern brushes and applying them to vector shapes is covered in this Illustrator tutorial.

7. Mastering Illustrator Effects

Effects in Illustrator allow you to add all sorts of wonderful graphic treatments to your artwork. From applying 3D effects to creating faux colored pencil looks, this set of Illustrator features will let you rapidly enhance your work with a few clicks of the mouse.

If you’d like to discover the abilities of Illustrator effects, check out the above tutorial, which discusses various processes — such as Roughen and Scribble — as well as the Appearance panel, which allows you to modify applied effects, among other helpful tips.

8. Everything about Gradients

The Gradient panel in Illustrator is a wonderful feature for applying color and pattern gradients to your work. Gradients allow you to stylize your graphics such that they have smoothly blended fills or strokes.

Learn everything you need to know to get started with gradients from this tutorial, which discusses topics like applying gradients, modifying the angle and direction of the gradients, saving gradient swatches, and more.

9. The Stroke Panel

In Photoshop, a sibling of Illustrator, strokes (creating an outline around the edge of an object) seem like an afterthought. But in Illustrator, where your vector paths take center stage, the stroke feature is very important to master.

This Adobe Illustrator tutorial covers the use of the Stroke panel in creating vector objects.

10. Pathfinder: Explained

The Pathfinder panel is a popular time saving feature for working with shapes and paths. This panel is a collection of commands that allow you to unite, divide, and subtract two or more shapes, among other functions. Utilizing these commands gives you the ability to draw complex vector graphics using basic shape tools.

Learn how to use the Pathfinder panel with this excellent Illustrator tutorial.

11. The Power of Smart Guides in Illustrator

Don’t have a steady hand? Having trouble drawing shapes that align with one another? Smart guides give you snapping features that will enable you to draw objects more accurately.

Explore the fundamentals of Illustrator’s smart guides through this beginner-friendly tutorial.

12. How to Make a Custom Illustrator Brush

Brushes in Illustrator are a quick way to save objects that you will reuse later in your projects. Art brushes, for example, take a vector object that you’ve drawn and allow you to then apply those objects later as strokes or fills of other vectors.

In this step-by-step guide, you will discover the awesomeness of custom brushes in Illustrator.

These 12 tutorials will set you on your path to Illustrator mastery. If you’ve had success with other tutorials not on this list, let us know about them in the comments below.

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This series is supported by Ben & Jerry’s Joe, Ben & Jerry’s new line-up of Fair Trade and frozen iced coffee drinks. Learn more about it here.

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