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COMPUTEREASE: The Creative PC
Dr. Thomas W. Shinder

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O ne of the greatest benefits to PC ownership is the ability to express yourself creatively in a way never before possible. Using your PC, you can become an artist, a musician, a presentation specialist, or publisher with relatively little effort. And the output is far superior to anything you might have ever imagined had you done it in the traditional way.

So you say youíve got these great ideas, but your hands just donít seem to do what your mind sees? This is where your computer shines. Think of the computer as the "go between" between your wonderful imagination and your hands. It will help you express your imagination.

How? Letís look at some of the popular programs available which allow the creative process to be expressed.

Suppose youíve taken some art classes in college, but you just canít seem to get into the paint smells, color mixing, and the mess of paint brushes and goop left over when youíre done? Your hands just canít seem to draw that perfect circle or square? Bring in Corel Draw!

With Corel Draw you can draw whatever is in your mind's eye. But unlike working within the limitations of our physical realm, now you CAN draw those perfect images. Rather than wasting time concentrating on how to draw those flawless circles and squares, with Corel Draw you have the option of having the program do it for you. The program comes with a wide range of geometric objects and shapes to choose from. The color palette spans the entire spectrum visible to the human eye; just pick the color you want.

Perhaps drawing things from scratch isnít your bag. Rather, you have already seen something that suits your idea of what you'd like to draw, but the image needs some modification to fit your artist's vision. Try Corel Photopaint.

Photopaint is meant to be an "image editor". For example, say you have a photograph of yourself, but it's not exactly what you'd call "perfect." With Photopaint, go right ahead and change your hair color, eye color, even your skin color! Want higher cheekbones? No problem with Photopaint. Youíre even able to "transpose" images, so that you can use that photo of yourself taken in your living room, and with Photopaint, put yourself in Paris!

For more information on these Corel image editing and drawing tools you can hit
http://www.corel.com.

Need to put together a slide show for a presentation? Tired of overheads? Try Microsoft PowerPoint. This product comes with dozens of presentation templates and even helps with the brainstorming process given the type of presentation you would like to give. Perhaps you are putting together a talk for a sales pitch, and want to be convincing and use all those multimedia neat things youíve seen others use. Well, you could start from scratch and get those pictures and design your backgrounds yourself. Use PowerPoint, and youíve got a high quality, professional presentation in less than an hour! It you want to know more about PowerPoint, try
http://www.microsoft.com/powerpoint.

The personal video camera has brought our personal lives to the "small screen". But maybe you want to do more than just play back your home movies. Using hardware/software combinations you can bring those images on tape to your computer to edit, rearrange or reformat to give them a professional and slick appearance.

There are thousands of still pictures waiting to be captured sitting on your videotapes. Using a hardware device called a "Snappy" together with its companion software, you can capture those images, and edit them with ease. Not only can you capture still images from the scenes on your video tapes, you can also create ".avi" files from them. An .avi file (Windows audio-video instructions) is a movie file. Say your daughter is graduating from college, but her grandmother canít make it there. Just take the video, move it over to Snappy, create an .avi file of the event, and email to your mom! She can experience the whole event the same day, complete with sound. Find out more about Snappy at
http://www.play.com.

Maybe youíre interested in something a little more sophisticated. You want to direct your own movies! And, you want to save them to video tape, rather than use up a lot of space on your hard drive to make aviís. Bring in the Video Director Studio 200. With this software/hardware combination product, you can produce your own movies.

With the Video Director Studio you can save "scenes" (portions of your video tape), and then rearrange the scenes with drag and drop ease. Add titles and transitions (the product comes with over 100 wipes, fades, or dissolves). You can use the soundtrack from the video itself, or dub in your own customized sound.

You control both the VCR and the Camcorder from your computer. Once youíre done with your academy award winning presentation, click the "make tape" button, and your movie is made!

For more information on home video production try
http://www.zdnet.com.au/complife/jdi/9708/famvid1.html.

The Internet seems to be everywhere. You turn on the televison and all the commercials refer you to their websites. During business interactions, right after someone asks you what your email address is they want to know the url for your website. What? You donít have a website?

Whether youíre a newbie or an old Ďnet pro, you can create your own websites easily. I know, people talk about "programming" HTML, XML, Active X, Java and scary stuff like that, so you just give up on ever being enough of a "propeller head" to ever make a web page.

No more! There are hundreds of "WYSIWYG" (what you see is what you get) web page editors. Many are freeware or nominal cost shareware. But if you want to be able to put together a real first rate eye catching web WITHOUT programming, check out Microsoft Frontpage98.

Microsoft has spent a tremendous amount of time and energy to bring itself up to speed in its implementation of web enabled products. Frontpage98 is the leader in WYSIWYG web editors. Frontpage98 allows you to create web pages just like you were working with a simple word processing document. If you can use Microsoft Word, you can use Frontpage98.

But the real elegance is the ability to manage what might be otherwise large and unwieldy websites with many pages. It's always a challenge keeping an eye over your website, and tracking pages and making changes using the traditional FTP format keeps Anacin sales constant. Forget whether youíve left a switch unswitched? Just fire up Frontpage98, and leave the programming to the computer. You do your creative work unencumbered by technobabble.

Check out info on Frontpage98 at
http://www.microsoft.com/frontpage.

Iíve covered just a few examples of programs which will allow you to blossom and express your creativity. Use any one or more of these programs, and youíll never think of your computer the same way again. Rather than the hunk of metal and plastic you might see it as today, it may feel more like a musical instrument, waiting for your inspiration to produce something of lasting beauty.

Go forth and compute!

Thomas W. Shinder, M.D. is a neurologist-turned- computer systems engineer who practiced medicine in Texas, Oregon and Arkansas before moving to his present home in the Dallas-Ft. Worth TX metropolitan area.

AUTHOR'S EMAIL
tshinder@cleaf.com

Other SECTION Articles...

| Your Health Matters | The Question Of Identity | The Creative You: Finding Your Own Way | Don't Wait, Just Do It! | | The Mystery Of Poetry | ALIVE Online | COMPUTEREASE: The Creative PC | Emerson on Creativity and Poetry |

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