How to Generate an Awards Slideshow Using a Spreadsheet and InDesign

During the pandemic, virtual ceremonies often replaced in-person graduations, inductions, and other award ceremonies.

Creating a slideshow with awardees’ names and photos could add some visual interest, but depending on the size of the group, they could also take a long time to build.

In this tutorial, I walk readers through a method to automate this process using a spreadsheet and Adobe InDesign. The same techniques could also be used for any other resources, like certificates or photo directories, that require merging text and images from a list into a pre-made template.

Continue Reading →

How to Run MS-DOS on a Mac with Intel or M-series Processor

Let’s imagine for a moment that you’re feeling a bit fed up with the state of the world and are yearning for the good old days of the 1990s when, because you were a kid, you were oblivious to much of whatever might have been wrong with the world at that point in time.

Now, suppose the epitome of 90s-era technology for you is taking a trip to your dad’s office in the big city, where his corporate computer was just better enough than the crummy one at home that you could reliably use it to play a really cool new game—namely, SimCity 2000. And finally, suppose you’d like to fulfill your craving for nostalgia by playing that game, which was designed for MS-DOS (an OS created in the 80s) on your brand new MacBook Pro (which was released in 2021).

Well, there’s a problem. Actually, a few problems (not the least of which is that I have too much time on my hands).

Continue Reading →

How to get answer choice stats from a Schoology assessment

For some reason, Schoology’s “Assessment” tool cannot tell you how many students picked an individual incorrect answer choice on a multiple choice question.

(This is particularly annoying because Schoology’s similar but older “Test/Quiz” tool CAN give you this information!)

Even though Schoology can’t summarize the results for you, the information is all there. We just need a way to process it.

In this tutorial, I walk readers through a method involving JavaScript that can be used to scrape the answer data from a Schoology page and retrieve the missing information.

Continue Reading →

How to Split Excel Data into Multiple Columns Without Getting It All Jumbled Up

Suppose you’ve asked someone for some information. You were hoping for a nice, neat table, but what they’ve sent you back is, well, messy. Maybe the columns aren’t broken up the way you expected. Or maybe you don’t even have any columns, and it’s just several rows of information pasted into an email.

If you need to sort your data, run a mail merge, or do anything useful with this information, you’re going to have to clean it up first. Fortunately, Excel has a tool for just this type of problem: Text to Columns.

Let’s take a look at how to use that tool along with the Find/Replace feature to organize a stubborn set of data.

Continue Reading →

How to Combine Related Data from Multiple Spreadsheets

Imagine you have multiple tables of information, each serving a particular purpose, but one day, you need to somehow splice these tables together. Not only are those tables huge, but they’re not the same size, so copying and pasting the data would take forever.

What if there were a function that could do all of this for you?

What if I told you there IS a function that could do all of this for you?

I’m talking about VLOOKUP!

Continue Reading →

How to Use Automation to Conveniently Relink and Export Dozens of Yearbook Spreads

One of the most important steps of planning a yearbook is seeing all the cool things that other yearbook staffs have done. So advisers throughout the country share “slides” with one another in the form of PDFs and JPEGs so that they can be included in presentations, galleries, and more.

This need to share work digitally has become even more pressing with the advent of COVID-19 since many of us are now facing significant delays in the printing and shipping of our books.

Exporting to PDF or JPEG isn’t that complicated for a single file, but the yearbook is made up of over 100+ files. On top of that, the printing plant breaks all of the documents’ image links when they send them back to me after processing. So I need to fix all those links, export the file, and then crop a whole bunch of technical garble off the bottom of the output over 100 times. (Ugh!)

This sounds like a job for automation!

Want to see how it’s done? Follow along!

  1. Introduction
  2. Exporting the Yearbook’s Photos
  3. Exporting the Spreads to PDF
  4. Creating JPEG “Slides” of Each Spread

Continue Reading →

How to Install Windows and Linux on a Mac

So let’s be clear: I think macOS is a pretty good operating system. But I’m not going to be a zealot about it.

My philosophy is that you use whichever tool is best for the job at any given moment. When I’m editing yearbook spreads, I prefer to use Adobe InDesign in macOS. If I were a gamer, I’d probably want to be running Steam in Windows. And when I’m messing around with a Raspberry Pi, I find it much easier to use Linux since it can natively read and write to the Ext4 filesystem.

Rather than choose which OS to install, I love the idea of choosing which OS to use. For this reason, I’ve created dual-boot and sometimes triple-boot setups on most machines that I’ve built or owned.

Getting this setup to work on my current Mac was a bit more challenging, so I’ve created this tutorial to help anyone else who might be interested. Please browse the parts below to get started.

  1. Materials
  2. Installing Windows 10 Externally
  3. Adding Linux to the Mix

Continue Reading →

How to Digitize Your Old Home Movies on a Mac

This is a three-part series. In the first post, I’ll discuss the equipment and other considerations necessary for converting old home movies into digital videos on a modern-day Mac computer. I’ll also share what I decided to buy for the project and why.

Part 2 will explain how to do the initial conversion using my particular setup. And Part 3 will walk you through the process I used to clean up the captured footage.

  1. Equipment and Considerations
  2. Doing the Video Conversion
  3. Cleaning Up the Captured Footage

Continue Reading →