A column for people who remember what
the world was like before there was color.....
Things I Learned To Do The Hard Way (I Had To Ask My Daughter) June 14th, 2000
Today's column is going to cover two or three different subjects that all have one thing in common. I was reduced to asking my 25 year old for help. Boy, I hate it when that happens. Fortunately for me she is both gracious and usually patient, particularly when she wants me to keep her pet rat for a week while she is on vacation.
How Can I Throw Something Away When It is Locked.
I have spent a frustrating week trying to learn how to do banking on-line. I bank with a large institutional bank and apparently it takes an act of congress to get on-line access to my own bank account. As part of the process I needed to update my Quicken98 to something more recent. I had so many problems with it that I decided to delete it and then reload. However, when I tried to delete it, some of it would not delete because, as an informational box informed me, it was locked. To unlock an application or parts of an application here is what you do.
Drag the affected items out of the trash and back onto your desktop.
Click on each item once so that it is darkened.
Leave it darkened, go under the File pulldown menu, and choose Get Info and then General Information.
A box will open that gives you all the available information about the items you have selected.
In the bottom left hand corner of that information box is a check-mark box that says "Locked" to the right of it.
If the item is indeed locked, that check-mark box will be checked.
Click on the check-mark box and the check should go away.
Your items will no longer be locked and you can once again drag it to the trash can and empty the trash. Note: This procedure is for individual items. If you open a whole program or a folder, you will not find the check-mark box to be an option.
How Can I Take Away the White Box That Surrounds Some Images That I Downloaded?
I knew I had visited web pages that had neat graphics that seemed to be part of the background, while mine all had white backgrounds around them. My daughter assured me that I could make that background transparent, although she doesn't use Graphic Converter so she didn't know exactly how to do it using that particular application. However, knowing it could be done was all I needed to try and figure it out for myself. This is fun to do, but it only works under certain conditions. The best I have been able to figure out from experimenting with this is that the background you are trying to make transparent must be one color, usually white. Also, to make this work you will need to have Graphic Converter or some other like program installed on your computer. As a reminder, there are Graphic Converter versions available for both 68K machines and PowerPC machines. You can download either from download.com, or from The Mac Observer's Version Master. For an example I am going to use an animated image.
Sample Image Before Transparency
Sample Image After Transparency
These are the steps to follow to make a background image transparent using Graphic Converter. (Thanks to John F. Braun of The Mac Observer staff for help with this.)
Download the image to your desktop.
Open the image using Graphic Converter. (The easiest way to do this is to have the Graphic Converter icon on your desktop and just drag and drop your image onto the Graphic Converter icon.)
Select the transparent image helper from the tool box by clicking on it. Your cursor will change into the image tool. Move it to the background of your image and click again.
The Transparent Image Box will open, giving you the opportunity to instruct the application to make the background image transparent. If you are using a non-animated image, only the first box (Make Color Transparent) will show. If you are using an animated image, then both boxes should show. Click the box(es) and then click OK. Sometimes, depending on the complexity of the animated image you are using you will get a question box after you have clicked OK. This box will ask you if you want all levels of the background made transparent. Choose yes.
The last step is to save the image in GIF 89a format. To do this choose save and then select GIF as the format. Once you do that you will see an Options box. Click on that and choose 89a and then save. You can not save a jpg file as a transparent, but you can easily open a JPEG document and re-save it as a gif document with the assistance of Graphic Converter.
The Transparent Image Tool
is the button that is pushed down
Transparent Image Box
(Click to enlarge image)
Now, with all that explained, it is important to also note that you can frequently find images designed in such a way that there is no background that is visible when you load it on your web page. Here is an example that I found at www.barryclipart.com.
Image Designed Without Background
I have noticed that GIF images that have neutral aqua backgrounds or white backgrounds are usually already designed to be transparent.
Why Do I Have Line Spacing Problems In the Middle Of My Text?
My daughter looked over my shoulder while I was creating a flyer and noticed that I had uneven spacing between lines in part of my document. She asked if I had been changing around fonts and font sizes. I told her that I had been, but that "obviously" I had already made everything consistent. She explained to me that there was probably a hidden font instruction somewhere in the paragraph that was presenting the problem. She said there are two ways to fix it. One (if you are using Word or another application that uses a paragraph symbol) is to click on the paragraph symbol which will show you all the hidden instructions built into your document. You can delete the culprit.
The second is to highlight the text you are trying to fix, along with a line or two above or below it and reset the font and the font size. This should quickly solve the problem.
What Is The Deal With The Boxes In The ClarisWorks Newsletter Template? They Drive Me Crazy!
Somehow I always seem to get myself either in trouble or saddled with more work every time I learn to do something new. Newsletters are a perfect example. In January of 1999 I wrote a column discussing how to make family newsletters using the template option included in ClarisWorks. Next thing I knew I was producing quarterly family newsletters. There are a lot of advantages to using one of the ClarisWorks newsletter templates, but they are VERY structured and I could never solve the problem of text boxes, nor could I find any good help for understanding them. I found myself constantly using cut and paste to rearrange the newsletters. My daughter, being 25, would never be involved in creating something so pedestrian as a Family Newsletter. Please! However she did know where I could go and finally get help understanding how the template worked. Here is what I am talking about.
Sample from a Newsletter Template
(Click to enlarge image)
The box at the bottom is a fixed space for an image of some kind. It can not be moved or deleted. The grayed box at the top is for text and it also can not be altered in any way, which can be frustrating if you need more space to get all the text included. My problem was that I spent all my energy trying to change the size of the boxes rather than use them as designed. I couldn't find help in the ClarisWorks help files because I was fixated on changing the size of the boxes and there were no instructions for doing that.
The template is designed so that the text boxes are linked. The cues for that are in the small boxes at the top and bottom of the text box in my example. The small empty box centered at the top of the text box indicates that this is a starting place. The small box centered at the end of the text box contains a chained design and that tells me that this box is automatically linked to another box or boxes. All I have to do is start typing and when I have filled up that first text box the program will automatically hop to the next linked box and keep going. If a text box has the linked image at the top and the bottom that means that it is linked from some place and then to some place. Rather than trying to restructure the pages my real task should have been to structure my articles so that they would fit in the designated text boxes. I expect that folks who worked on school newspapers would have understood this whole concept much quicker than I did.
I hope some of these things that I learned the hard way will save you some time or energy.
If you have any tips, suggestions, or other comments about this, or any other Mac topics, send them to me so that I can share them with other readers.
Copies of Nancy's book Tips, Hints, and Solutions for Seasoned Beginners Using Apple Macintosh Computers With OS X are available in PDF download versions for US$9.57 and in print version for $18.15 plus $4.00 shipping. To view sample pages and get ordering information visit the September 14, 2004 column.
Talking to a generation that remembers what the world was like before there was color,
covers issues for people who don't care how their computer works, but rather what their computer and the internet can do for them.
Nancy has a Master's degree in Human Services Administration and prior to her retirement she worked for almost 30 years in field of mental health and mental retardation. She has been a Mac user for 11 years, and has recently developed an avocation of teaching basic computer skills in both group and one-to-one settings.