Scam Alert: Google Free Listings

SCAM ALERT! Does anyone else get calls where the automated recording always says this same thing when you pick up? “Our records show that you have not updated your free Google listing. Press 1 to verify or press 9 to be removed from this list.” I’ve automatically hung up so many times on this auto-dialer robo-call service that I hardly hear what they say after the first phrase. The first time I received the call years ago, I listened with some interest, since I was just starting my photography and computer repair business. However, something about the call sounded like a scam, so instead of following their instructions, I went ahead and just got my “free Google listing” on my own. You can view it at https://www.google.com/+Kennethphotography and if you’re interested in creating one for your business, you can visit Google Places for Business. You should never have to pay anything to update this listing!

Anyway, now that I know for sure that my free Google listing is up, it’s all the more suspicious that this other company keeps calling me, especially when it doesn’t appear to be even affiliated with Google. I’ve tried blocking them, but the worst part is that it’s ineffective because they seem to have a huge pool of phone numbers to call from. Here is a partial list of all of the numbers from which they have called me over the years to try to get me to sign up for my “free Google listing” through them:

425-320-5138 (Bellevue, Everett, Renton, WA)
206-397-1159 (Seattle, WA)
417-800-2538 (Springfield, MO)
360-633-9322 (Bellingham, Vancouver, WA)
631-904-6109 (Babylon, Brentwood, Brookhaven, NY)
310-299-0131 (Los Angeles, CA)
323-844-8184 (Los Angeles, CA)
951-221-6113 (Corona, Hemet, Riverside, CA)
541-257-1328 (Bend, Eugene, Pendleton, OR)
323-844-8185 (Los Angeles, CA)
213-603-9078 (Los Angeles, CA)
360-322-6166 (Bellingham, Vancouver, WA)
458-201-1318 (Eugene, OR)

Since “pressing 9” only seems to confirm that you are a human on the phone, and blocking a number only gets you so far, I’ve changed my strategy, and decided to keep adding these new numbers to the address book on my phone as yet another number belonging to the “Google Creeps”, and setting the ring tone to Silent. That way I can still get a sense of how often they’re calling (at least once a month).

Have this robo-dialer called you? Do you have additional numbers to report? Please leave a comment!

Don't forget to check out the Recommendations page for the latest products that I'm showing to friends and blog readers based on their requests. I love talking about this stuff, and every time you click on a referral link from this website to a featured retailer like Amazon.com and B&H Photo and Video, I get a small commission that helps keep this site running, at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support, and please contact me if you need any recommendations!

WordPress Nav Menu Text vs. Page Titles

How do I make the title of a WordPress page different from the text of a menu button that links to that page?

When you create a new Page in WordPress and want to add it to one of your menus, the default behavior is for the title of the page to become the text of the menu button that links to it. Many people are happy with this behavior, but occasionally you may want to customize the button text, especially if you have a very long Page title and want a shorter phrase to show up in your navigation menu. Here is a way to work at it without any plugins:

Give your page whatever title you want and give it whatever custom URL that you want. Publish your page and copy down the URL for it.

Wordpress Page with Custom URL

In the WordPress Dashboard, under Appearance > Menus, now add a Link to your navigation menu, which will require a URL as well as custom link text to display in the menu. After you fill that in, click the Add to Menu button, then click Save Menu in the Menu Structure section to commit the changes.

Wordpres Add Link to Menu

If the page was already added to the menu structure for your site, you may now have one extra button with the page title in it instead of the custom link text. If you don’t see this issue, you’re done! Otherwise, find that menu item in the Menu Structure section and click the Remove function. Remember to click Save Menu again when you’re ready.

Wordpress Menu Structure panel

Here is what the final product looked like in my test, where the “Short Title” menu button linked to the page with the long title:

Wordpress page with long title but short link text

 

Don't forget to check out the Recommendations page for the latest products that I'm showing to friends and blog readers based on their requests. I love talking about this stuff, and every time you click on a referral link from this website to a featured retailer like Amazon.com and B&H Photo and Video, I get a small commission that helps keep this site running, at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support, and please contact me if you need any recommendations!

How to Resize Photos and Images for the Web

Don’t you hate it when a webpage takes forever to load? I do too, so let’s look at one quick technique for reducing the load times for the webpages that you contribute to or manage so that your viewers will not suffer the same frustration. One of the reasons for slow-loading pages is that the images on them have not been optimized for online display. This common problem occurs when we post photos straight out of the digital camera onto the web without resizing them first, even if we will not need to view them at full-resolution online. Fortunately, many websites (e.g. Facebook, Flickr, WordPress) already make it a point to automatically resize and compress your images at the time of upload so that you don’t have to think about it. However, there remain many circumstances when having a basic knowledge of resizing will be useful, especially if you are working on your own website or want to control how large a version of a photo file you want to give to someone else (and to reduce the time it takes to email it to them). What follows is a brief tutorial on how to do this for free using any Windows or Mac computer with an Internet connection, using the free Photoshop Express Editor, which is part of the Photoshop Online Tools.

1. Launch a web browser and visit http://www.photoshop.com/tools to load the Photoshop Online Tools homepage. It should look like the screenshot below. From here, click the “Start the Editor” link, which is indicated in red. (If all you needed was a quick recommendation on which online tool to use for image resizing and you can take it from here, feel free to stop the tutorial and take it from here!)

01_photoshop_online_tools

2. You should be prompted to select a photo to edit. Click the Upload Photo button to proceed. (If you are prompted to install Adobe Air for your browser to enable this web-based photo editing application to run, visit https://get.adobe.com/air to download and install Adobe Air, and then return here to complete the rest of the tutorial!)

02_select_photo_to_edit

3. You may get a warning that, “the Photoshop Express Editor currently only supports JPEG files.” (So if your camera creates Raw image files, you will need to find a way to save those as JPG files first. We’ll leave that tutorial for another day!) Click the Upload button as shown below to open up the file browser. Select your photo file and then click OK.

03_jpg_only_warning

4. Your photo will load in the main editing window. As you can see on the left side of the interface, Photoshop Express Editor has many photo editing functions, and we will focus just on the Resize function in this tutorial. Click the Resize button to enter that module.

04_basic_interface

5. The box indicated in red is the Navigator window, which allows you to see a thumbnail of your entire image even if you are zoomed into the image. The smaller gray box in the Navigator window can be clicked and dragged to see the selected section in greater detail. Try out this optional step to get a feel for how this handy tool works. It will be particularly useful when you use the other editing functions available in Photoshop Express Editor.

05_resize

6. At the top of this same window, you will see some common resizing presets for Profile photos, Mobile devices, Email, and Website images. If you click on any of these, the maximum pixel dimensions will be set for your image. For example, the Website button will constrain the image to 800 pixels on the longest edge, which is generally as large an image as you would want for display on a website, since you need to account for users with browser windows of all sizes, including tablet users. Here is how each of the presets will constrain the longest edge of your image: Profile (150 pixels); Mobile (320 pixels); Email (640 pixels); Website (800 pixels). If none of the presets are appropriate for your needs, click the Custom button to set your own constraints for the pixel height or width. In this example, I clicked the Website button to constrain the image to 800 pixels.

06_resize_navigator

7. Once you define the pixel dimensions, you may notice the Navigator window update to show you a representation of the scale of your image. Click the Done button when you are ready to save a copy of your photo with the new edits.

07_resize_for_website

8. The application will ask you what you would like to do with your edited photo. Click the Save button to proceed.

08_click_to_save

9. You can now create a name for your new file. For photos that I am submitting to a publisher or someone else’s website, I prefer to list my name or initials, a short description of the image, and the longest edge of the image in pixels. In this example, the name of my new file is therefore kenneth_chan_venice_800px.jpg. Notice that the application will report how large the new file will be in kilobytes (KB) or megabytes (MB). The smaller, the better, so long as it serves your needs. Click the Save button to proceed.

09_rename

10. You will get a confirmation once the Save function is successful. Click the Done button to proceed.

10_confirmation

11. That’s it! Here’s my resulting photo, which has been constrained to 800 pixels so that it will display quickly for the web.

kenneth_chan_venice_800px

Ready to work on another photo? Visit http://www.photoshop.com/tools or click the Start the Editor link again!

Additional Considerations

Some of our readers may have some additional questions not covered in the basic tutorial above. They will be addressed below!

Q. What about dots-per-inch (dpi)? How come this resizing app doesn’t seem to address this parameter?
A. DPI is primarily relevant for printed materials. Whether you set your image to be, for example, 72 dpi or 300 dpi, it would still display the same nearly every display device (unless you’ve gone out of your way to configure your display device already, in which case you probably don’t need any help from me!). Most apps designed to help you create web graphics will automatically set images to be 72 dpi.

Q. Okay, so DPI doesn’t affect the image size on an electronic display, but my publisher still wants the file “at 300 dpi” for printing, so what do I do?
A. This is actually not too tricky, but does involve just a little bit of math. The main question you must first ask is, “What is that largest size that the final image will be printed?” Then you just multiply the target print dimensions by the dpi requirements. So if you need to print an image at 4″x6″ at 300 dots-per-inch (dpi), then your pixel dimensions need to be 1200 x 1600 pixels. If you need an 8″x10″ as your final product at 300 dpi, you would need to submit a 2400 x 3000 pixel image. Typical dpi requirements are 72 dpi for screen display only, 180 dpi for basic-quality prints, and 300 dpi for high-quality prints. (Incidentally, this accounts for why a lot of images look great on the web, but look blocky and pixelated when printed — they probably didn’t contain enough pixels to be printed well.)

Q. What if I’m required to submit an image that’s a maximum of 800 pixels on the longest edge, but I’m also told that it will need to be printable at 300 dpi? Can I do that in the same file?
A. It’s rare for a publisher to require both constraints so rigidly defined for a given image file, and here’s why: Let’s say the image was a total of 800 x 600 pixels in order to meet the pixel requirement. At 300 dpi, that image would print at 2.7 x 2 inches — barely bigger than a postage stamp! That’s probably not what the publisher really wants, and the awkward wording of the requirements likely stems from a misunderstanding about the relationship between pixel dimensions and print resolution in dpi. If you were preparing an image for both web and print media, it would be ideal to submit two versions of the image — one smaller version for the web, and one that is much larger for printing.

Don't forget to check out the Recommendations page for the latest products that I'm showing to friends and blog readers based on their requests. I love talking about this stuff, and every time you click on a referral link from this website to a featured retailer like Amazon.com and B&H Photo and Video, I get a small commission that helps keep this site running, at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support, and please contact me if you need any recommendations!

Recommended Export Settings for Lightroom

One of the things that Lightroom is great at is saving you steps in your workflow. This is true in the export process as well, where you can define some basic presets to serve as a starting point for your export needs. Let’s look at three common scenarios:

Export for Emailing: Let’s say you have a batch of photos you want to send to your friends to enjoy on their computers, and you want to email them after exporting. You don’t want to export full-resolution versions of the files, because it will take forever to send, but you do want them to be large enough to be enjoyed full screen on at least a laptop screen. I recommend exporting the files with a 1280-pixel constraint on the Long Edge of the photo. That means the exported photos in this batch will never exceed 1280 pixels on any edge. I’ve also set the Quality to 80, though you might be able to get away with even less, like 60, for casual viewing. Finally, I set the Sharpening mode to Screen since that’s how it will be viewed. If you are happy with these settings and want to use them again, remember to click the Add button at the bottom of the Presets list before clicking Export and leaving this dialog box. (Note: In this scenario, I’m not talking about inserting photos into your email message — for that function, you’ll probably want to have photos that are much shorter than 1280 pixels on the Long Edge. Probably 400 to 640 pixels is enough.)

Export for Casual Printing: If you want to create photos that will be ready to print at a decent quality, you’ll want to export higher resolution images. Set the Long Edge to be no more than 3600 pixels. This should easily allow prints up to 8″x10″ or even more. You can also set the Resolution here to be 150 or 300 pixels per inch, though many printing programs will handle this conversion on their own.

Export Full Resolution: Finally, let’s say you want to create an archive version of the images at the best quality possible. There’s actually already a Lightroom export preset for this called “Burn Full-Sized JPEGs.” As you might expect, the Quality setting is 100 and the Resize to Fit option has been turned off. One final thing to note is that this preset defaults to Export To CD/DVD. So as soon as you click Export, Lightroom will ask you for a blank disc. If that’s not what you meant, change the Export To setting back to Hard Drive.

That’s it for now. There are of course many other export configurations that might benefit you. These were just a few samples to help you understand the process for defining your own presets!

Don't forget to check out the Recommendations page for the latest products that I'm showing to friends and blog readers based on their requests. I love talking about this stuff, and every time you click on a referral link from this website to a featured retailer like Amazon.com and B&H Photo and Video, I get a small commission that helps keep this site running, at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support, and please contact me if you need any recommendations!

Apply Metadata Presets During Import in Lightroom

One of Lightroom’s main strengths is helping photographers apply the same settings across a batch of photos. One of the things I like to do in my workflow is rate everything as 3 Stars from the beginning, and then during my editing process I move them away from this “neutral” rating (with 1-Star indicating it’s not worth keeping, and 5-Stars meaning it’s a winner). I was never quite comfortable with leaving photos at Zero Stars because then they get left out when I am filtering by Rating. While I’m at it, another setting that would be useful to apply to all photos right from the start is my copyright metadata. So rather than performing this operation for each photo, let’s set it up in Lightroom to do the heavy lifting for us.

First, you need to create the Metadata Preset which defines what settings you want to apply. For example, I need a preset that will always set the Rating to 3 and also add my copyright info. You can edit or create a new Preset in the Library mode under the Metadata section on the right side and selecting Edit Presets.

A dialog box pops up and now you need to define and save your preset. For example, I added my default Rating and Copyright info. When you’re ready, click Done and you’ll be asked whether you want to save this new preset. Give it a descriptive name.

Now you can select this Preset to easily add the setting you need a large batches of photos at once in the Library mode. You can also add this preset during File > Import Photos and Video. Just select the preset under the Apply During Import section of the Import dialog box. In fact, the next time you come back to Import, that Preset will probably be preloaded for you, saving yet another step (but be careful if that’s not what you want)!

That’s all there is to it! If your preset is not quite the way you want it, remember that you can always go back to edit the preset. But if you need the updates on your older photos, you’ll have to reapply the modified preset to them again for it to have an effect.

Hope that helps speed up your Lightroom workflow as it has for me. Happy editing!

Don't forget to check out the Recommendations page for the latest products that I'm showing to friends and blog readers based on their requests. I love talking about this stuff, and every time you click on a referral link from this website to a featured retailer like Amazon.com and B&H Photo and Video, I get a small commission that helps keep this site running, at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support, and please contact me if you need any recommendations!