30 Days Later – 30 NEW Adobe Creative Cloud Tutorials

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One New Years Resolution completed. At the beginning of the year I promised to deliver a new Adobe Creative Cloud Tutorial each day during the month of January starting on January 2nd. I’m happy to say that my 30 Days of Creative Cloud Tutorials are done and have been very well received! At last count the video have had over 80,000 views and climbing. I also received lots of direct feedback on Twitter and my Facebook page. Most of the tutorials focused on the questions I get every day over and over again. I also took the liberty of working in mobile workflows wherever I could. Of course I’ll continue to do more throughout the year and cover new features as they are added to Creative Cloud. In the mean time, check out what you’ve missed here in this playlist featuring all 30 videos:

 



Web Hosting Sale! – Ends January 31, 2015

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Hey everyone, the good folks over at Bluehost.com are offering my readers 42% off web hosting if you signup by January 31, 2015. As you know, Bluehost is now my preferred hosting service and I have successfully moved my sites there with no issues to date.

If you need good web hosting for your Adobe Muse websites, Lightroom galleries, etc., then check out Bluehost.com here.

How To Change Your Website’s Background Image Using Scroll Effects in Adobe Muse

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In this episode of Adobe Creative Cloud TV I answer a Facebook Fan request on “how did they do that?” Specifically what he wanted to know how to do was the Full Screen Slideshow Scroll Effect seen here on a recent Adobe Muse “Site of the Day.” I was curious myself and I took the approach of “how would I do that” if I wanted to do it for my own site? In the video below you’ll see my approach for having a full screen slideshow that changes the background image of the site as visitors scroll/navigate down the page (using scroll effects).

 

 

Are you missing out on my Bonus Content?

See more of my Adobe Creative Cloud Videos on my Adobe Creative Cloud TV and get the App below. It features EXCLUSIVE CONTENT that no one else gets to see. This episode has a BONUS CLIP that is available only in the App! My iOS App is a Universal App for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. I also have an Android version on the Amazon App Store:

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I’m Done with Network Solutions

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Usually when I write a post here it’s generally a positive review of a product or service. I figure most people would rather spend their time reading about products and services that they should buy instead of the countless ones that they should avoid. However, every now and then a product or service rubs me so hard the wrong way that I have to tell others about my experience (my old DirecTV post comes to mind). This time it’s with the web hosting company that I’ve used for over a decade. I’m done with Network Solutions. This actually isn’t something that is new. I’ve been slowly moving my websites and content away from them for a few years now. However, it was a month ago (October 1st 2014) that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Before we talk about the latest incident (the one that sent me over the edge), let me give you some background on my years of service with them:

 

It started with My websites being hacked

I have about a half dozen websites including the one you’re viewing right now, all of which used to be hosted with Network Solutions. Some are WordPress blogs and the rest are standard HTML sites. In this day and age it’s pretty common to hear about websites getting hacked. The hacking of my websites with Network Solutions took place back in 2010. My sites were hacked with malware and other ads. Again, this isn’t something new and even back then it wasn’t unheard of. However, the problem back then was that Network Solutions couldn’t seem to close the breach fast enough. As soon as I would get everything cleaned up, the sites would be hacked again and again and again, even to the point that their execs were communicating with me and apologizing. I couldn’t take it anymore and moved my WordPress blogs away from them over to Godaddy (frying pan to the fire). However, since my other, less trafficked  websites weren’t getting hit I left them with Network Solutions along with my email. Eventually they closed their security breaches, but for me the damage and lack of faith was already done.

 

The Costs were Rising

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Note that they processed my “auto renew” on 9/25 for domains that didn’t expire until 11/24

I had one of their top hosting packages and several domains registered with them. Everything I had with them was on auto renewal. One day I noticed that my credit card was getting charged by Network Solutions and I was thinking in the back of my head that there wasn’t anything due right now. I logged in and noticed that they charged me to renew several domains (hundreds of dollars) that weren’t due to expire for months. This “cash flow” tactic punishes you for having auto renew turned on. If a domain registration doesn’t expire until 8/30 why are you charging me for it in June or July? Of course this prompted me to turn off auto renew!

 

My Hosting Package Expired  <- the beginning of the end

Last October I started getting notices that my hosting package renewal was due. So I went online to pay it. I used the PayPal option, paid the over $400 (yes I was overpaying for hosting) that was due and noticed that my account didn’t reflect the payment nor was the money taken out of my PayPal account. I waited a few minutes and no updates on either end, so I foolishly tried again. I got the exact same results. My account showed no payment and the money wasn’t taken out of my PayPal. Figuring that something was wrong I called Network Solutions and did the payment over the phone with a debit card. I went on with my day and you can probably guess what happened next….

Yep, the original two PayPal transactions went through and now I had paid Network Solutions over $1,200. Thinking that this would be no big deal, I called them to get the two accidental payments refunded. This is when I started to become unglued. I was told “we don’t give refunds.” What? Huh? Are you kidding me? I explained to the rep that this wasn’t something I bought and decided I didn’t like it, you were paid 3 times for a 1 year renewal. Can you not see this?

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After going round and round with them I was assured it would be credited only to receive an email later that day to tell me that “we don’t give refunds.” I called again and again and again. Finally I filed a dispute with PayPal and was eventually credited the over $800 back to my PayPal account. You would think it would have ended there, but oh no. Now Network Solutions was harassing me via email for, get this: not paying my bill! As far as their systems were concerned my payment had been “rejected” and I now owed them this money! This went on for months and they finally put a lock on my account (here it comes), that prevented me from (you’ll laugh) renewing my domains! Yep, they wouldn’t take any more of my money until I called to solve the issue with my account. When I called about this they informed me it was because a payment had been rejected. I explained to the rep on the phone the whole situation from last year and he eventually removed the lock.

 

I started moving my domains away from Network Solutions

Network Solutions charges more than any other provider I know for domain registrations. They charge $37.99. In 2014 that’s unheard of! The funny thing was that once I started the process of moving my 1st domain away from them I got this popup during the process:

NetSol-domainrenewal

So if I understand you correctly Network Solutions, as long as I’m on auto renew you’ll happily charge me $37.99/year. However, if I’m moving my domain away from you, you can all of a sudden renew it for only $10.00? Uhhh, NO! Sorry. I’m gone! Too late!

 

A Year Later My Hosting Package Expired <- the last straw!

After fighting the above for a year, it was time for my hosting package to be renewed again. However, I had no idea that it was due. Why? Every time I looked at my account it said that my hosting package was paid through 10/1/2015. Knowing that I would be GONE before then, I never worried about it. Around 10/3/2014 one of my users contacted me and said that they couldn’t get into their webmail. Not thinking anything could be wrong on my end, I submitted a trouble ticket through their website. 24 hours went by with no response to the trouble ticket and now more users complaining they couldn’t get in. I called support. I asked about my email accounts and they said “we don’t see any email boxes on your account.” Wait! What? Sure enough they had deleted my hosting package. No I don’t mean they turned it off. They deleted it! It was gone! My email boxes gone. My websites (the ones I had left with them) gone! Everything was gone! Their support people were scratching their heads. Apparently my hosting package did expire on 10/1/2014. I accept that. However, I got NO RENEWAL notices. No notice after the fact. No warning that if I don’t pay they would delete everything. Nothing! Nada! One day after it expired, they simply deleted all my content without warning or notice!

After being forced into buying one more year of their lowest package (I had to to get my content back), spending hours on the phone with support and several days later my email accounts and web folders were restored. As with any service I get that if you don’t pay you’ll be turned off. That wasn’t the problem here! I wasn’t given any notice that I owed anything. I wasn’t given any warning that my content was going to be deleted. They just deleted it!

 

Moved on to Bluehost.com

Once you lose my business it’s nearly impossible to get it back again. While Network Solutions was able to extort one more year of hosting out of me, I have vowed to never give them another dime. As of 11/1 I have moved the remaining email accounts and websites off of them over to my new hosting company, bluehost.com. Bluehost has been a dream to work with and to date no problems. They pride themselves on good service, affordable prices and US based 24/7 phone support. As each domain nears its expiration date I start the transfer process to bluehost.

I’m done with Network Solutions!

 

My Photography Website Makeover with Adobe Muse CC

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After posting my  last update about how I had built my photography website with Adobe Lightroom and plug-ins from The Turning Gate, I started getting questions like: “Could you build your site with Adobe Muse CC?” Of course the answer was always “yes I could, but…” There was a big reason that I built this particular site with Lightroom instead of Muse. I’m always updating my photography galleries with new photos and removing older photos. I manage all of my portfolios and this process with Collections in Lightroom. With the Web Publishing Bundle from The Turning Gate I’m able to update those galleries at any time with the click of the “Publish” button right in Lightroom. However, on the other hand Adobe Muse would allow me to customize the look and feel of the site more easily and basically do anything I wanted on any page at any time without having to write code or CSS.

Hmmmm, why not use them both?

The more I thought about it the more I figured I could have my cake and eat it too. I could build all the non-gallery pages (Home, About me, Contact, etc.) using Adobe Muse and use Lightroom and The Turning Gate plug-ins to continue to update the galleries. It would take a little more setup up front, but once the work was completed I would have the ease of updating the galleries anytime that I like right from Lightroom AND the ease of customization for the rest of the site using Adobe Muse.

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Using Adobe Muse CC I customized the look of the site and navigation

I set out to complete this task this past weekend and I put the new site up (terrywhitephotography.com) on Monday. As with any new site I’m still tweaking things here and there, but I’m LOVING IT so far! I built a standard Adobe Muse site with all three layouts (Desktop, Tablet and Phone) and I also made sure to include the pages that would need to be in the menu, but not actually built in Muse (Galleries, Videos, Tutorials and Buy Prints). Using the trick of Excluding those Pages from the menu allowed me to put custom links in to the Galleries and Videos pages produced by Lightroom/The Turning Gate. I also had to modify my Lightroom produced pages to point back to the main site when someone clicks on home, about and contact.

TWP-LR-TTG
Using Lightroom and the CE4 Web Publishing System from The Turning Gate I can publish my galleries to my website.

I’ve anticipated at least some of the questions you may have, so here we go:

FAQ

Q. What did Muse let you do that you couldn’t have done with The Turning Gate?

A. The first one was I’ve always wanted a full screen slideshow on the homepage of the desktop layout. It was so easy to do this with the Widgets in Muse and I’m not sure if there was an effective way to do this in The Turning Gate AND have the slideshow work the way I liked.

Q. Your older site was “responsive” and currently Muse isn’t. How did that work out with this website makeover?

A. Well the pages from Lightroom/The Turning Gate are still responsive and therefore when you click on my Galleries page on a mobile device you still get that experience. However, for the rest of the pages made with Muse I was able to optimize the content for Desktop, Tablet and Phone just the way I wanted. So it works out fine.

Q. If you had to do this from scratch, which Turning Gate Plug-ins would you need?

A. Since you’re going to need at least 3 of their plug-ins (Gallery, Auto-Index and Publisher) you’re still better off going with the CE4 Web Publishing Bundle as it will include everything you need for one price.

Q. Will Adobe Muse ever be “Responsive”

A. I get that question a lot and Adobe Muse improves rapidly with new features. Since “ever” is a long time, I would guess that you’ll see the features that people demand the most at some point! (how’s that for a non-committal, keep my job kinda answer?)

Q. Since you’re using Adobe Muse to create the home page and the full screen slideshow, what happens when you want to update it?

A. I did give up the ability to update the homepage slideshow with Lightroom automatically, but since I don’t update it as often I’m ok with exporting images from Lightroom manually when I want to update that one slideshow.

Q. What if I want to add music to my Muse site, HTML 5 video (like you did with the Turning Gate) or even have a template to get started with, what can I do?

A. I have really been impressed with MuseThemes.com. They make a variety of add-ons for Muse including widgets and templates that take Muse beyond the standard set of functionality. They (like most 3rd party add-ons) fill in the gaps.

Q. Will you be adding more Muse features to your site?

A. Yep, now that the hard part (which wasn’t so hard) is out of the way, I can add more features from Muse and use this site to showcase what can be done with Adobe Muse over time. I’ve already take advantage of the full screen slideshow, full width slideshow, SVG support, contact forms, social widgets, composition widget (for my phone menu), menus, TypeKit fonts, custom hyperlink colors, transparency and of course some gratuitous use of scroll effects 🙂 .

 

One more thing…

Your site is only as good as the web hosting that serves it up to your visitors. So far I couldn’t be happier with Bluehost.com. I was originally turned on to them by The Turning Gate and now they now host all my websites.

 

 

I went with Bluehost.com for all my web hosting needs

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I haven’t been happy with my web hosting for a long time now. Let me give you a little history of  the sites I have and the various hosting providers I’ve been through. I currently manage:

terrywhite.com

terrywhitephotography.com

bestappsite.com

macgroup.org

creativecloudtv.com

and a site for my family reunion/tree.

When I first started doing web hosting I had it all under one roof (except creativecloudtv.com because it’s hosted by my podcast hosting company libsyn.com). I was using Network Solutions for all of it including email. While Network Solutions did all I needed technically, they were more expensive than other providers. I was even willing to overlook the higher cost because the service was good. Then one day my sites all got hacked. Malware, spam and just tons of stuff to clean up. Once the clean up happened, the attacks continued to the point that I ran from Network Solutions as fast I could because I couldn’t handle the daily hacks. I ended up moving terrywhite.com, bestappsite.com and macgroup.org to Godaddy. I know, I know, but I didn’t know at the time. Anyway, yes Godaddy. The price was right and everything seemed to work at the time. However, of the three sites I moved over, two of them were always having issues. terrywhite.com got hacked there too. Not as often, but it happened. Bestappsite.com got hacked too. Then it seems like Godaddy has too many sites on the same shared servers. Bestappsite.com was constantly having performance issues. It was like throwing the dice on whether or not the site would load or it would just be a blank white page. I called support and got the usual, “everything seems fine on our end, try reducing the number of plug-ins on your wordpress site. You seem to running out of memory.” Next I moved terrywhite.com to VPS.net. They came highly recommended and my site hadn’t been there for a week and their servers went down. I couldn’t believe it! Their data center had a “power outage”. Really? No backup power? No rollover to another data center. My site was down for hours. Ok stuff happens. If you run an internet service of any kind, it will go down at some point. However, my site was down again within a few weeks after that and again for hours. I complained and they moved my site to another data center. Things got better for a few months and next thing you know my site was down again. It wasn’t down for long, but it was down! Internet providers usually aim towards a 99% up time. I can’t say that I experienced that rate with VPS.net. Also I was paying the MOST with my plan with VPS.net.

Time to move on!

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I had some time out of my busy schedule and decided it was time to get my sites under control again. Bluehost.com came highly recommended. However, this time I did a little research before simply moving over. Bluehost.com is HIGHLY rated and one of the top ranked hosting providers for wordpress. Their prices for regular hosting and WordPress managed hosting was very reasonable and less than VPS.net. Cost wise it was a no brainer. Once I did my research and signed up, then it was time to move over. I moved over my photography site first. It was still at Network Solutions and not having any issues, but again I was trying to consolidate. Then I moved my family reunion site over and everything was working perfectly. Now it was time to move over my three wordpress sites: terrywhite.com, macgroup.org/blog and bestappsite.com. For this I needed the help of my web guy, Erik Bernskiold. Erik did all the backend magic of backing up and transferring my databases over from VPS.net and Godaddy.

Everything just works!

Now that I’m on Bluehost.com, (knock on wood) I haven’t had a single issue. The sites that weren’t working well on Godaddy are working fine now. Same database, same content and same plugins. I’m using Bluehost’s Managed WordPress hosting and so far it’s been GREAT! I did have a couple of initial questions and Bluehost prides themselves on having 100% of their tech support based here in the U.S. The techs knew their stuff.

You can check out Bluehost’s services here.



August 2014 Update: 3 NEW Features in Adobe Muse CC

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Right on the heals of the 2014 Release of Adobe Creative Cloud in June, the Adobe Muse team has already come out with a NEW feature update for August 2014. In this episode of Adobe Creative Cloud TV, I’ll show you 3 NEW features in Adobe Muse CC for this August 2014 Update.

muse-8-2014-features

While you’re here, check out this video on How To Create Custom Page Navigation Menus

Are you missing out on my Bonus Content?

See more of my Adobe Creative Cloud Videos on my Adobe Creative Cloud TV and get the App below. It features EXCLUSIVE CONTENT that no one else gets to see. This episode has a BONUS CLIP that is available only in the App! My iOS App is a Universal App for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. I also have an Android version on the Amazon App Store:

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I Built My Photography Website with Lightroom and TTG

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As much as I love using Adobe Muse CC to create websites like macgroup.org, I have one website that was better to build using Lightroom 5 and the NEW CE4 Web Publishing Suite from The Turning Gate. My terrywhitephotography.com site is built 100% from Lightroom and the plug-ins from The Turning Gate. While I can certainly have a more customized site using Adobe Muse CC, the one thing that makes it better to do this site in Lightroom is the ease of updating it when I have new photos and videos.

It starts with Collections

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Each of my Portfolios are Collections in Lightroom and from there I can sort images, add, and remove images at any time. My website has a slideshow on the home page and again that’s simply controlled by another collection that I can change at any time. One of the BEST features of the CE4 Web Publishing Suite is the “Publisher” plug-in. Once you set this up all you have to do to update your website is add/remove images from the Collection and hit the Publish button. Behind the scenes the images are uploaded to your hosting provider and put right into your galleries. I can’t believe how easy and fast it is to update my website at any time. This is the main reason why I prefer Lightroom for this site instead of Muse. I’m constantly changing my “Recent Work” gallery and it’s so easy to do it with the collection in Lightroom and hit the Publish button as opposed to manually exporting the images and having to update a slideshow in Muse. Again I LOVE Adobe Muse CC, but this workflow rocks in Lightroom!

 

Yep it’s Responsive

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All of the modules/plug-ins used in the CE4 Web Publishing Suite use modern web technologies such as Responsive web design/CSS that looks good on desktops, tablets and mobile phones. This way I know that visitors to my site will see my work the way I intend them to no matter what device they view it on. My photos and videos playback great on all platforms. Even my landscapes will show the location where they were shot if the use taps/clicks on the location icon.

 

It works with Videos too

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The CEW Web Publishing Suite supports HTML 5 video that you host on your site or videos from YouTube and Vimeo. You can even mix them as I have some in HTML 5 and one from YouTube. Again using the Publisher plug-in I can add new videos with ease.

Watch me do a LIVE update to my site in this short clip

 

A GREAT Client Response Gallery

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Although it’s not a part of my main site, another one of The Turning Gate plug-ins that I couldn’t imagine life without is the Client Response Gallery. This is the one that I use when I want to send a client their proofs and have them make their choices/selections on the web and send them back to me from the site. Even if you’re not going to build your website with the CE4 Web Publishing Suite, you should still check out the Client Response Gallery Plug-in for Lightroom.

 

The Bottom Line

My photography is my hobby and my way to express my creativity. Since I don’t have a staff or web team I have to do everything myself. The CE4 Web Publishing Suite from The Turning Gate makes my life so much easier and as I always say, “If a website is easy to update you will update it more often, if it’s not you won’t!” My photography website is always up to date because I manage all my photos with Lightroom and updating my website is as easy as clicking a button.

Learn more about The Turning Gate CE4 Web Publishing Suite here.

 

Great hosting matters too

I’m going to do a separate post on my recent move to Bluehost.com, but they totally ROCK! I moved all my main sites there and haven’t had a single problem. It’s such a relief knowing that my sites are UP and that if there is a problem they have 24/7 phone support with people located here in the U.S. Highly Recommended!