Meeka’s Mind is a ‘word’ blog rather than a picture blog. Nevertheless, I do use quite a lot of graphics – 2,172 at last count – so when I tried to insert an old pic into a post and couldn’t scroll past 2017, I dashed off a help request to WordPress. The problem is now fixed, but in the process, I learned that the Media Library you see within a post is a dumbed down version of the Media Library you see from your Dashboard.
This is what you see from within the post:
It’s a basic grid layout with the ability to filter your pics by the month [Filter media], or via a search function [not shown]. If you have over 2000 pics like me, finding one particular thumbnail is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
But have a look at what you can do from the Dashboard!
See the small blue icon circled near the top left of the screenshot? That corresponds to the ‘Details’ option in Windows Explorer. It lists all your pics according to 5 different categories: file [filename], Author [some sites have more than one], Uploaded to [name of post], Comments and…ta dah…Date. Clicking on the name of the category – e.g. File – causes all the files to be sorted in alphabetical order. Or date order etc.
So instead of scrolling through hundreds of thumbnails, you can narrow your search down by year, or filename [if you happen to remember what it was called] and so on. And because the icons on the list are so small, everything loads so much faster.
Now, the reason I did not know you could sort your pics in a list view was because I never use the Media Library from my Dashboard [that’s the black panel on the left]. I upload new pics from within whichever post I’m writing or editing. Or, if I know I’ve already got the perfect pic in my Media Library, I also look for it from within the post. And I have to tell you, that can be excruciatingly painful.
Anyway, I thanked the nice tech person who answered by original call for help, and then I asked him why such a useful function was not available in the one place where it would be most needed – i.e. in the post. I haven’t received a reply yet, but I assume this is all part of the mobile phone devolution. Thumbnails in a grid can be rearranged to fit smaller screens fairly easily. Columns cannot, and who’s going to swipe sideways every time they want to see the Date column?
So you see, I do understand. I also understand that the bulk of WordPress users are probably quite young and very efficient with their thumbs. They probably don’t want to write, or read, long word posts. They probably write multiple, very short posts, with pics, whenever the mood strikes them. And that may be the direction in which all social media is heading…but…those of us who’ve been with WordPress the longest signed up for a blogging platform focused on…words.
Have we become the old demographic, in all senses of the word? A dying breed?
What say you, fellow dinosaurs?
p.s. As a form of protest, I decided against including a graphic. Instead, please picture me in fluffy slippers, taking on all comers as I wield my trusty rolling pin. 🙂
p.p.s. I notice that the preview function is back the way it used to be! Glory be. Must have been a lot of people complaining.
I want to start this post by thanking Sandra, a real world friend and email correspondent for sending me these incredible, historical artifacts. Thank you!
Now, take my hand and let’s start with something all Australians will recognize – the Sydney Harbour Bridge:
Historians will love this old black and white news footage, but baby techies like me will be astounded to learn exactly how such a huge, single span was built. I literally could not believe my eyes. [If you don’t want to watch the entire eight minute video, click the red ‘play’ line at about 75%].
The next few images prove that history is cyclical. Or perhaps they just prove that humans never change:
I decided to include the following, more recent image because I wish we had something like it today:
Imagine if, instead of having to order online and get someone else to pick your produce for you, mobile shops would drive through the suburbs, ringing a bell or something, like the old Mr Whippy icecream vans.
We’d still have to wear masks and gloves, and keep 2 metres apart, but wouldn’t it be nice to be able to pick your own fruit and veg? Maybe have the baker’s van bring fresh, crusty Vienna’s to the corner of your street. And ice cream! I do miss the Mr Whippy van. 🙂
The past was anything but a golden age and yet, there are things from my childhood that I really do miss. What about you?
To begin, move to the back matter of your document and click the mouse at the point where you want the Table of Figures to appear.
Next, open the References tab and click Insert Table of Figures:
You should now be looking at the Table of Figures dialog box:
As you can see, the default settings are to:
Show page numbers
Right align page numbers
and ‘Caption label: Figure’
If you are happy with these default settings, click the OK button.
Note: if you have created different kinds of captions – for example, one for ‘Figures’ and a second one for ‘Tables’ – clicking the down arrow next to ‘Caption label’ will allow you to choose a different label. In this way you can generate a separate table for each label.
Unlike the Table of Contents, there is no specific command that allows you to delete the Table of Figures.
To delete the whole Table of Figures, you will have to manually select the entire table as if you were selecting a paragraph of text.
Note: simply clicking inside the Table of Figures will not work.
Once you have manually selected the whole table, press the Delete key on the keyboard. The Table of Figures will now be deleted, but the captions underneath the actual images still remain so you can reinstate a Table of Figures at any time.
This is the last of the graphics related how-tos, but the defunct ‘How to Print Non Fiction…’ also contains advanced help on Indexes etc. If anyone would like me to post this information, please let me know in comments.
I haven’t written any how-to’s on how to create an ebook because I assumed there were countless how-to’s out there already. I was both right and wrong; there are lots of people providing helpful information about text-based ebooks such as novels, but there are not that many devoted to graphics heavy ebooks.
This distinction was brought home to me when one of my blogging friends needed help with a picture book. He was trying to create an ebook with both pictures and carefully formatted text.
It can be done, but the digital technology we have at the moment is limited when it comes to integrating text and graphics.
Before I start on possible solutions, and/or workarounds, I want to explain what those limitations are, and why they cause problems with graphics heavy ebooks.
Things ordinary ebooks can do
Ordinary ebooks are great with text but just barely okay with pictures. That’s because they’re not really ‘books’ at all. They’re more like rolls of toilet paper with words projected onto them. The story literally unrolls in an ebook.
This has significant advantages. For starters, as ereaders don’t care about the size or number of words shown on their screens, the reader can make those words as big, or small, as they please…for the whole ‘book’. I use this feature all the time because my eyesight ain’t what it used to be.
Things ordinary ebooks can’t do
Unfortunately, the very flexibility of ebooks can create problems when it comes to adding pictures to the text. Pictures don’t ‘flow’ the way text does, so getting them to fit the screen requires that they be sized for the screen.
But which screen? There are dozens of different digital devices from smartphones to dedicated ereaders to tablets of various sizes. Making an image to fit one screen almost guarantees that it won’t quite fit another.
Another problem with pictures is that not all digital devices are in colour. Dedicated ereaders, such as ordinary Kindles and Paperwhites, only do grayscale.
To display a picture in colour, the digital device has to be some kind of tablet [like the Kindle Fire] or a mobile phone. So again, which device should you optimise for?
And finally, because of their ability to ‘flow’ the text, ebooks don’t do precise formatting. Unfortunately, graphics heavy books like memoirs, cookbooks, picture books etc, look best when the formatting is controlled and the pictures are in colour.
To work around this fundamental problem with ebook design, Amazon created a number of specialist programs:
Kindle Kid’s Book Creator
Kindle Comic Creator
I took a quick peek at Kindle Kids, and I couldn’t quite work out what it was doing [the manual approach]. I suspect it’s a lot easier if you use the PDF option and simply pour everything into the app in one go.
Of the three, Kindle Create is the one I find most useful. In its current iteration, it is actually two programs in one:
The first allows you to ‘format’ Word .doc and .docx files into text-based ebooks like novels. There is help for creating a Table of Contents as well as Front and Back matter pages, and you can add pictures although the image manipulation is basic to say the least.
The second is the old Textbook Creator app. which turns a PDF document into an ebook.
Kindle Create for text based ebooks
This version of Kindle Create allows you to include all the standard elements of a book as well as pictures, but all you can do with pictures is adjust the size, and sometimes the location. That’s it. You can make the image small, medium, large, or full, but you can only adjust the placement of small or medium images. Large and full images seem to be placed automatically and can’t be changed.
One nice thing is that Kindle Create automatically wraps the text around the image as shown below:
But again, only if the image is small or medium.
This does not constitute ‘total control’ over the way text and images display, but it’s not bad. More importantly, when I did a preview of the page, it seemed to display quite well on tablet, phone and Kindle devices.
Something I was not expecting was that the colour image was automatically changed to grayscale on a Kindle device:
Given that this option works with standard .doc or .docx documents, I was pleasantly surprised by how it put everything ‘together’.
The old Textbook Creator
For the sake of clarity, I’m going to call the second option of Kindle Create by its old name – Textbook Creator.
Textbook Creator doesn’t try to integrate text and pictures at all. It creates an ebook out of a sequence of pictures.
If you’re nodding your head and saying, “Ah, she’s talking about PDFs”, you’d be right.
To quote from one of my own how-to’s:
PDF stands for Portable Document Format. With PDF documents, each page is like a ‘snapshot’ of the original Word page. That’s why it’s called WSIWYG – what-you-see-is-what-you-get.
Basically, everything on the Word page becomes a composite ‘picture’ that cannot change. This is how you make sure that what appears on the screen of the digital device is exactly the same as what you originally created, including the positioning of both graphics and text.
It’s the difference between ‘some control’ and ‘total control’.
“But…PDFs can’t be edited.”
That would normally be true, if you were dealing with a PDF document as a whole. But Textbook Creator cuts the original PDF document into its component pages, and each one those pages can be swapped out, individually.
To make this a bit clearer, let’s say you have imported a 20 page PDF document into Textbook Creator. Then you discover that you made a small error on page 15.
Rather than redoing the whole, 20 page document, you can:
go back to the original,
make a change to page 15,
export page 15 as a new PDF document
swap the new page 15 for the old page 15 inside Textbook Creator, and voila!
Okay, I admit the process is convoluted, but it does make working with PDFs a little less frustrating.
So what is the downside of using Textbook Creator?
The text in the ebook created by Textbook Creator cannot be resized. You can pinch-and-zoom to see details at a larger size, but you cannot specify that the text in the entire ebook be at a certain size.
This means that the original document has to be designed in such a way that it will suit most readers and most ereaders.
In paperbacks, this is kind of standard, and expected, but not so in digital devices. Plus getting the document to fit can be rather tricky.
Getting the size right
As mentioned before, there are a lot of different ereaders out there, and screen sizes are not the same either. Designing a document to fit all of them is a case of picking something ‘average’ and basing the sizing on that.
But what do I mean by ‘sizing’?
The easiest way to explain is to show you. The following is a preview of this post, in Textbook creator:
Can you see how tiny the text below the image is?
All I did was export a standard Word file to PDF and then import that PDF into Textbook Creator. The font size of the Word document is 12.
Now have a look at this preview. Same document but with a font size of 28:
To get the document to display like that, I had to radically change how the Word document was setup. Basicallly, I simulated the Kindle Fire screen in Word so that I could place text and images to their best advantage.
The following screenshots show my page setup in Word 16.
1. Paper size
The dimensions circled in orange create a page size that exactly fits the screen of my Kindle Fire 6.
Again, those margins are designed to make reading the Kindle Fire 6 screen visually ‘comfortable’ without wasting too much space.
Note: there are no settings selected in Layout. You need clean, minimal formatting in the original Word document. This includes not using things we normally take for granted, such as manual ‘spacing’.
For best results, you should always create styles – for the effects you must have – and use only those styles in the formatting.
Because Word is an old program, and Microsoft never throws anything away, it simply buries it under new code. This means that there is a lot of…[expletive deleted]…junk in Word that lurks in the background and can seriously mess with other programs that attempt to read/use Word documents. So keeping the document ‘clean’ is important.
But wait…there’s more. Remember how I said I’d changed the font size to 28? The next screenshot is of the Normal Style I created just for Kindle Fire 6 documents:
I can’t tell you why translating text from Word to a small digital device shrinks the text. All I know is that it does, and we have to manually compensate for it.
The other thing you might want to notice is that the alignment is set to ‘Justified’. Not only does it make the text look more professional, it also saves space on the screen.
To change the Normal Style on your own version of Word, right click on the style [on the Ribbon] and select ‘Modify’ from the drop down list of options [see here for step-by-step details]. That will get you to the Modify Style dialog box shown above.
Once the Modify dialog box is open, change the font size and alignment and then click ‘Save’.
We should now have a document that is optimised for an ebook.
Once the Word document is as perfect as we can make it, save the document as a Word file, and then Export it as a PDF.
Your book is now ready to import into Textbook Creator.
In my next post, I’ll talk about the Textbook Creator software.
Part 1, Getting Started is here. Part 2, Finding and Reading emails is here. Part 3, Replying to an email & Saving a Contact is here.
Although replying to an email and composing one are very similar, the few small differences can be tricky, and they all involve your Contacts. If the email address of your Contact is already known to Gmail – i.e. you have already saved it [as detailed in Part 3], composing an email will be easy. However, if you want to send an email to someone brand new, you will have to type their email address in from scratch, and that could cause problems if you do not do it properly.
Taking care with email addresses
One thing you have to remember at all times is that computers take things very literally. With a computer, close enough is not good enough, and this is especially true of email addresses. When you type in an email address from scratch, it has to be exactly right. For example, let’s look at the email address of Kenneth’s friend Single Pixel. It looks like this:
Typing in Singlepixel.firstname.lastname@example.org not work [the capital letter instead of a lowercase letter counts as a mistake]
Typing in single email@example.com not work [the blank space counts as a mistake]
Typing in firstname.lastname@example.org not work [the lack of a ‘.’ also counts as a mistake]
The three examples shown are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of typos, but they do demonstrate how precise an email address must be. This is one very important reason for saving Contact details when you reply to emails.
[Note: you can also enter Contact details manually, but the process is more involved and will not be covered in this Beginners series. If you do want to know how to do it, you can find the Advanced how-tohere.]
How to compose an email
Click on the big, red ‘Compose’ button located in your navigation pane [circled in blue below]:
You should now be looking at the ‘New Message’ pop-up. Notice how the blinking cursor is in the ‘To’ field? This means it is ready for you to type the email address.
After you have finished typing in the email address, click in the ‘Subject’ field and type in a short description of what the email is about. Leaving the Subject field blank could make some spam filters think your email is junk, or malware, so it is always a good idea to type something that makes sense.
Finally, click inside the big, blank text area and type the actual message. When you have finished, your message form should look something like this:
Click the big blue ‘Send’ button down the bottom of the message form as shown above [circled in red]. You will get a bright yellow confirmation message from Gmail to let you know your message has been sent.
How to compose an email using saved Contact details
As always, Gmail provides more than one way of doing something, and entering the addressee of your email is no exception.
Click the ‘Compose’ button. Once the ‘New Message’ form pops up, start typing the first few letters of the email address you wish to use.
As you type, Gmail checks all the email addresses you have saved, and it presents you with what it thinks you might want. For example, let’s say Kenneth wants to send an email to David Prosser. He starts typing and this is what happens:
The first match shows the email for David Prosser [because the letter ‘b’ is the first letter of the actual email address]. The second came up with Honie Briggs [because the letter ‘b’ appears in Honie’s surname].
To select one of the options provided by Gmail, you can either click on the correct addressee or, your can simply hit the Enter key on your keyboard. Either way, your chosen addressee will appear in the ‘To’ box like so:
Notice how Gmail inserts the name of the addressee rather than the actual email address? This is an easy way to check that you are, in fact, sending the email to the right person because ‘Barsetman@mail.com’ could be anyone.
This method is particularly useful if you know someone is in your Contact list but you can’t remember anything about their email address – i.e. you can’t just start typing something and expect Gmail to come up with a reasonable match.
In the following example, Kenneth wants to send an interesting quote to one of the three new contacts he has made. He remembers that she liked quotes, but he can’t remember her name or email address.
After clicking on the ‘Compose’ button, Kenneth points the mouse at the word ‘To’ in the ‘New Message’ form. A small, context sensitive tooltip [help message] pops up. It says ‘Select Contacts’:
What that rather cryptic message means is that you should click on the word ‘To’ in order to select a contact[s] from the list of available contacts.
Kenneth clicks the word ‘To’ and the following list pops up:
When Kenneth looks at the list of Contacts, he sees the small graphic [picture] next to the name of Dale Newling and remembers that she is the one who sent him all those interesting quotes.
To select Dale Newling as his addressee, Kenneth clicks her entry [anywhere on the line will do]. The line is highlighted in pale yellow and a tick appears in the checkbox next to Dale Newling’s name:
Before Gmail will accept this Contact as the addressee, however, Kenneth must click the blue ‘Select’ button at the bottom of the pop-up. [This is because Gmail does not know whether you want to ‘Select’ the Contact or save it to a Group.]
Once Kenneth clicks on ‘Select’, the email address for Dale Newling is inserted into the ‘To’ area of his email and he is ready to type a message.
Before Kenneth hits the blue ‘Send’ button, however, he wants to insert something into the email, something fun, like a smiley face.
How to insert a smiley face [emoticon]
With the cursor positioned at the spot where he wants the smiley face to appear, he points the mouse at the emoticon button displayed at the bottom of the ‘New Message’ form:
Clicking the emoticon button causes the following set of options to pop up:
To insert an emoticon into your email, simply click on the image you want and it will immediately appear at the spot where you left your cursor [or as close to it as possible, space permitting]. As the following screenshot shows, you can insert as many emoticons as you wish.
When you are finished with the emoticons, simply click on the ‘X’ button as shown above. Last, but not least, click the blue ‘Send’ button to actually send your new email to its recipient. Then sit back and wait for them to reply. 🙂
In Gmail for Beginners, Part 5, we will be looking at how to insert something more serious than a smiley face into an email. We will be attaching files and pictures located on your own PC, so you will need to have some knowledge of how to find your way around the files and folders of a PC. If you need some help, my post about basic folders in Windows 7 can be found here.
You can find Part 5 – opening an attachment & attaching a picture [Windows 7], here.
I’m not the world’s best photographer so I struggled to capture the feel of today’s Climate Change rally in Melbourne, but these pics should give you some idea of what it was like. I’ll follow up with my impressions of the rally in a second post, but for now I’m knackered from all the walking I’ve done today, and it’s waaaaaay past lunch. 🙂
The internet is full of images. We love them, and collect them with glee. Unfortunately, copyright infringement can result in painful, and expensive consequences.
But what do you do if you have found the perfect image for a blog post, and can’t remember where it came from? Use it and hope you don’t get caught? Not a great idea, especially when there is a dead easy way of finding that elusive provenance.
The technique is called ‘reverse image searching’ and came from Rich Meyer of Indies Unlimited. You can find Rich’s tutorial here, and I strongly recommend you check it out.
The image below is a screenshot of what I found when I tried the technique. The image I was searching for is one of my own so I expected Google to take a while. It took about 2 seconds. I just love learning cool new stuff like this. 🙂