Category Archives: education

Make Good Videos with Your Windows Phone

Whether you have a Windows, Android or iOS phone, it does not matter—you can make good videos with them. Smartphones can be used for making videos for both business and pleasure. In fact, full-length feature films have been shot entirely on smartphones.

Olive (shot on a Nokia phone)

In this post, I am going to discuss briefly what it takes to make good videos with your smartphone and how you can start.

Your smartphone is smart enough to make it easy to shoot high definition video footage, point your phone and press record. But that alone does not a good video make. Hence the title of this post, one makes good video—shooting the video footage is only a part of it.

The key

Good lighting and good sound are important, for sure. But the key to good video is having a story. You have to put your video footage together during editing in such a way that it tells an effective story. And you need to know what the story is going to be so that you will know what video footage to shoot.

The bottom line is, yes, your smartphone can cut it but there is a learning curve! The good news is that learning how to make good video with your smartphone is fun and free. Aim to shoot and edit a video each week. In the beginning most will be awful—remember the only way of getting experience is by going out and doing it.


There are excellent smartphone videography courses online:

A must-read book is How to Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck by Steve Stockman – available from Amazon.

Whether you need to make promotional videos for your business or shoot your child’s birthday party, knowing how to make good video with your smartphone is a powerful skill to have.

Making Good Videos with a Windows Phone

Rainy Days Are Here

It is autumn and the dreary rainy days are upon us. What can you do? Go for a walk, “just singing in the rain? That gets old quickly. Fortunately, your smartphone can come to the rescue!

In this post I will describe just three ways of how your smartphone can take the dreary out of rainy days.

Learn a Language

My first suggestion is to learn a new language. What, that is hard work you’d say! Not so. With the Duolingo service  – it is not only easy, it is fun and free.

So maybe your neighbours all speak Polish, or your company is starting a branch in Turkey. Or perhaps Greek or Hebrew tickle your fancy—whatever, Duolingo has a course for you.

So take your brolley and smartphone, and head off to Starbucks. Over a large latte you can forget about the rain while you immerse yourself in your new language.

When spring comes you’ll be chatting with your neighbours—in Polish.

Read a Book

My second suggestion is rather traditional—read a book, but with a difference. Amazon has millions of eBooks in their Kindle library. With a free Kindle reader app on your phone you can literally carry dozens of books with you, right on your phone.

Personally, I like to curl up on my couch with a murder mystery. But perhaps romance or a historical novel is more up your street—Amazon will have something for you, either free or for just a few dollars.

The beauty is that you can whip out your phone wherever and carry on reading where you left off. This can be at the doctor, while you wait at the bus stop, or at your favourite coffee shop. Rain, what rain?

Edit Your Photos

Summer is over, now is the time to edit those photos. Creating good graphics is a valuable skill to have, whether it is an illustration for a report or presentation, or just tweaking photos for your scrapbook. You will be surprised what you can create with the powerful PicsArt app!

Doing all those fancy photo edits is difficult, right? It can be, but PicsArt have you covered. On their website they have many step-by-step video tutorials arranged from Easy to Advanced. You will be amazed how quickly the rainy day hours go by while you learn how to do fancy edits with your phone.

So spend a little time each day with PicsArt and, when spring comes, you’ll be quite an expert phone graphic artist!

In Summary

These three, quite different smartphone suggestions, will help you chase the rainy day blues away. In fact the graphic at the top of the post was inspired by a recent spell of rainy days, and was create on my phone with PicsArt.

You don’t have to do just one of these, you can do all three – I do.

Getting to Know Office 365

office365So you now subscribe to Office 365, what does that mean? For one, you now have a powerful arsenal of productivity tools at your disposal!

The schematic diagram below represents what I call the core Office 365 ecosystem for individual, home and small businesses. Confusing isn’t it!

the-ecosystemThe Office 365 Ecosystem

In this post I will attempt to shed some light on how you can get to know Office 365 in a realistic manner.

The Ecosystem
The big overlapping ovals represent the productivity programs of Office 365—these are the tools you use to do or create things.

They are shown as overlapping ovals because they have overlapping functionality. So you can write a letter in Word and in Publisher but Word does it better, Publisher will do flyers better. You can create a table of figures in Word but Excel does it better, and so on.

The horizontal rectangles represent programs that provide supporting functions.

The programs that make up Office 365 are tightly integrated and work together very well. So you can compose a letter in Word, include a table created in Excel, and do a merge email using Outlook with addresses stored in Access—you get the picture! It sounds overwhelming, does it not?

The Impossible Learning Curve
The diagram implies a huge amount of learning that awaits you. No, you don’t have to know all of it—nobody does! You learn as you need, when you need.

Each of these programs has a plethora of options, but if you know the core features of each program you will be able to do 99% of the tasks that are likely to come your way.

One advantage of Office 365 is that the programs share many features in common. So once you learn one program, the next one will be that much easier to master.

HMD Training
Knowing how overwhelming learning Office 365 may appear at first, we have adopted a powerful approach to learning. Our courses are project-based. So rather than teaching all the possible features of a program, we tackle real-life projects. It is like sitting next to an expert while they complete the project step by step, from start to finish .

The courses are graduated: the first course uses only the core features of the program. Then subsequent courses tackle more complex projects, but still in the same step-by-step fashion.

We have not yet created courses for all the programs but will do so over time. It takes a lot of time to design and record online courses.

A Strategy
Where do you start, which program to learn first? That depends on what kind of activities you have. An author should start with Word, whereas an accountant may want to focus on Excel. For most people I would start getting to know Word well first.

Then progressively do the introductory courses for the other programs as you have time. This will be easy and fun as you discover new ways of being productive.

Be sure to visit to see the range of courses we have available!

Computers for Seniors

laptop6fpoCan computers play a role in the lives of seniors, or are we “over the hill”? Should computers even be considered?

In this post I will look at why I believe that computers can play an important role in the lives of seniors.

Not all the same
Seniors are not a homogeneous group. Some have been using computers for most of their careers, while others have not touched a computer ever. But many seniors face common problems like loneliness and resulting depression.

The Advantages
Computers can do so many things that they can be useful for all seniors. We will list just a few:

  • Access to information at any time—weather, health, news, diet, finances.
  • Communication with friends and family, and virtual friends who share your interests.
  • Entertainment in the form of online movies, radio, eBooks, podcasts, chess, bridge, etc.
  • Online banking and purchasing.
  • Support for your hobbies, whether knitting, cooking, photography or the Internet of Things.
  • Gaming and other tools to enhance dexterity and mental agility.
  • Contribute your skills and experience through online mentoring.

The Challenges
There are several factors that prevent seniors from considering a computer:

  • Physical limitations like poor eyesight and limited hand dexterity.
  • Many fear using a computer as they are “sure to mess things up”.
  • Many don’t understand what computers can do for them so they don’t see the point.
  • Many have downsized so they have limited space in their accommodation.
  • Lack of funds.
  • Steep learning curve.

The Risks
There are risks to consider:

  • What if you actually “mess up” your computer, who do you turn to for help?
  • Scammers who take advantage of vulnerable seniors.
  • Excessive use may promote a sedentary lifestyle.

The Takeaway
The advantages that computers can provide are really quite compelling. The challenges and risks, while real, can be managed and mitigated.

Personally I am a senior who has grown up with computers as it were. I am also a computer instructor and have personally seen what a difference  computers can make in the lives of seniors.

When To Learn?

jitlAny time is a good time to learn, surely! Well yes, but there is more to it.

In this post we will look at two valid approaches to learning software.

Software like Office 365 and Adobe Elements are just tools we use in what we do every day in our organizations. They are very useful but nevertheless represent a huge learning curve. So just how does one go about learning these programs?

Most programs include basic tools. These are the core tools one uses for 80% of your tasks. That then is the first order of business when getting to know a program. Then there are the advanced tools that you hardly ever use. And as the saying goes, if you don’t use it, you lose it.

Project-based Learning
Our approach to learning the core tools of a software program is project-based learning. We strive to create courses in which a program is used to create a typical project in a step-by-step process. An example is our course Design a Flyer with Word and Present with PowerPoint. In these projects you learn how a real-life project is tackled from start to finish, and as a byproduct, almost by “osmosis”, you learn the basic tools of the program that is used.

Just In Time Learning
JITL is a good approach for learning the more esoteric tools of a program. When you are confronted with a specific task that needs one of those more esoteric tools, look for a course that addresses just that tool.  Because you now have a specific need, you will be more motivated the more involved tool or process. An example is our course Laying Out a Book in Word.

Suggested Approach
We know from experience that getting to know a new program is fun and rewarding. Once you complete a project it gives you a sense of achievement, and rightfully so. Or courses are designed to be easily digestible in a hour or so. Spending an hour taking a course will be more satisfying than watching TV, guaranteed!

Of course the more you become familiar with the basic tools of a program, the line between the basic and esoteric tools will start to blur so by all means tackle one of the more advanced topics—it is still designed using the same step-by-step project approach.

For more information on our selection of courses, visit

Getting to Know a Program

book-cover-3dHow does one get to know a new program? You can buy a How to book or go to computer classes. In the end there is no shortcut, one learns by experience.

As an instructor I have found that the more I teach the better I get to know the program! I learn as I prepare the courses and also learn by helping the students.

Adobe Elements is a powerful suite of programs that are ideal for everyday graphic and video tasks of a small business. Even though they are the “lite” version of Adobe’s graphic programs they are still very powerful and that translates into a learning curve!

You need to know now
If you have a task that has to be done by tomorrow, you can’t wait until you have experience. So what to do? It is with that in mind that we have developed our Adobe Elements for Small Business series of courses.

You have a task, simply look through our list of Adobe Elements courses and choose the once closest to your needs. The beauty is that the courses are available 24/7 and are super affordable.

For example, let’s say you need to promote a special event so you need a website, a poster, and so on. Well, we have just created a course Promoting a Book with Photoshop Elements that covers exactly that – to see the graphics we created visit


It’s That Time Again

Festive DDIt’s amazing how often “it’s that time again”! For us it means it is an opportunity for seasonal advertising. With that in mind, we have created a special course, Seasonal Advertising with Adobe Elements.

What do we mean by seasonal advertising? It is advertising for specific times of the year like autumn or winter. It also includes cultural events like Halloween, the Super Bowl, etc.

These “seasons” typically have a very narrow time window so the key is to be able to produce advertising quickly and Photoshop Elements is ideal for that!

In this course we show how you can create seasonal ads for print, web and email easily using powerful, but often overlooked, tools in Photoshop Elements. This course is part of our series, Adobe Elements for Small Business.

In the course we focus on Clipping Masks and Graphics tools – powerful skills that you will be able to use in many other Photoshop Elements projects.

Here is one of the ads you will create in the course:


Go to the course page…



The Night Vision Project Course

nightvision2We have added another fun and exciting course in our Adobe Elements for Small Business Series.

Recently the Hamas organization posted a video showing that they had had the Israeli general “in their sights”. We thought it would be interesting to recreate the concept using Premiere Elements.

With that as starting point, we designed this course to focus on using the video effects in Premiere Elements to simulate looking through binoculars equipped with night vision. The techniques covered can be used in many projects.

In addition to recreating the night vision effect, the course takes you step-by-step through the process of creating a typical short business video for your organization, all the way from concept to finally uploading to YouTube. Each lesson is accompanied by extensive lesson notes providing additional information.

As is typical for most projects, we use both Premiere Elements and Photoshop Elements in this course. The final course project is shown below:

For more information visit the course home page →

Are You Entitled?

We have added yet another exciting new course to our Adobe Elements for Small Business series: Make Eye-catching Titles.

Having a good title can make or break the effectiveness of your videos. Fortunately Premiere Elements has powerful, but easy to use tools for making titles.

In this course we show you step by step first the basics of titles, and then we go through three more advanced title styles. Each video is accompanied by extensive notes explaining all the steps and decisions.

Project 3
Example of one of the projects you will create in this course.

Adobe Elements is the perfect suite for small organizations as it is powerful, while yet affordable and easy to use.  You can use Photoshop Elements for most of your graphic needs while Premiere Elements is perfect for promoting your organization through video.

We are actively developing more courses in the Adobe Elements for Small Business series. All the courses use practical, project-based design. Be sure to sign up for our free newsletter so we can keep you up to date with new releases.

Courses available in the series:


Click here to view the Make Eye-catching Titles course home page ->

Quite Elemental

Today video plays a key role in the promotion of any organization. With this in mind we have added an exciting new course to our Adobe Elements series which focuses on the more advanced video editing tools of Premiere Elements.

As is our tradition, our courses are project-based. So in this course we show how Dandy Daffodils created a video for their website using Adobe Premiere Elements. This program s has really powerful video editing features and yet is easy to use and affordable which makes it an ideal tool for smaller organizations.

Building on our introductory course, Adobe Elements for Small Business, this new course takes you step-by-step through the process of planning and editing a promotional video.

pe screenPremiere Elements in action – creating a picture in picture (PIP)

You will be harnessing tracks, keyframes, picture in picture (PIP) and animation features of Premiere Elements – giving you the tools you need to tackle the most demanding video for your organization.

Click here to visit the course home page today…