Monday, August 25th, 2008

Lighten versus Screen in Photoshop

If you’re confused about the difference between the Lighten and Screen blend modes in Photoshop, here’s how they work:

The Lighten blend mode compares the pixels on the effected layers and selects the lightest to display.

The Screen blend mode multiples the pixel values on each layer and then takes the inverse so that the resulting image will always be lighter than the original.

So, use Screen mode on a duplicate of an image’s background layer to lighten the image – Lighten mode, in this situation, won’t have any effect on the image.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

My love affair with Visual Basic

OK, when I first fell in love with the Basic programming language, computers didn’t have much more than 4k of memory and my Basic version – on an old Amstrad – didn’t even do graphics. I programmed card games, databases and all sorts of small apps. It was love at first sight or first 10 Let x = 10 statement at least.

Wind forward a few years – OK – around 15 or more and I still love Basic. What’s nice is that as I’ve grown up so too has Basic and the newest tool I get to play with is Visual Basic Express Edition 2008. It’s free and available for download here.

What I like most about VB is that I get to program and get paid for it. I write columns about creating small VB projects. I only get one page, three images and around 900 words so everything has to be smart and clean – there is no room for wasteful code. It also has to be accessible so even someone who has never used VB Express before has to be able to follow along. Not the world’s easiest brief but one I love.

So, [insert shameless self promotion in here] I now have a body of cool VB articles built up using first of all VB Express 2005 and now using VB Express 2008. I’m now starting to move them across to so anyone can try out the project. So far I have a 2 part audio player complete with visual effects and a column on creating text and image rollovers for your VB projects. Over time I’ll add more – I’ve just finished part 3 of the most magical doodler application which is scheduled for Australian PC User magazine’s Oct/Nov and Dec issues so you won’t see that here anytime soon but there’s a web browser to come and some other cool stuff.

Helen Bradley

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

DIY Visual Basic audio player

I’ve been programming with Basic for years, more than I ever want to admit to.

Recently I’ve been using Visual Basic Express edition, 2005 & 2008. I’ve made a heap of wonderful projects to show how to use the language to do things from creating status bar programs to a sketch application and a music player.

Over the next few months I plan to add some of these projects to my web site. For now, the first of these is up – a simple audio player created in VBE2005.

You can find it here, there is a second part which will be added very soon. It adds more functionality to this player application.

Helen Bradley

Friday, August 15th, 2008

Excel – Multiply cell values inside the cell

This is totally cool. I had no idea you could do it but I just tripped over this Excel feature.

Scenario: you have a list of values in a column that you want to multiply by a second value. Type the multiplier in a cell, anywhere. Click the cell and choose Edit > Copy so it’s on the Clipboard.

Now select the cells that contain the values you need to multiply. Choose Edit > Paste Special and click Multiply and click Values and click Ok. Excel replaces the values in the selected cells with the result of multiplying the values by the constant. It’s all done in situ so you don’t have to create new columns, multiply then paste the values back.

Oh, and there are options for Add, Subtract and Divide too so you can do all your math inside the current cell. Gotta love that!

Helen Bradley