Foxvideo Productions

Media Production

January 2017

MailChimp

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I’ve just sent out my first MailChimp campaign. A non-profit organisation I support for all things media related had been putting out a newsletter 4 times a year, this was previously produced in Microsoft Publisher, converted to PDF and emailed out as an attachment to over 480 email addresses, the PDF was usually around 5Mb in size, the list needed to be split into 6 sections and then sent out on the organisation’s own (slow!) broadband service in batches and this often resulted in many emails bounced or rejected.

I’d produced a ’test’ newsletter in MailChimp which was discussed at a recent Trustees meeting and given the go-ahead. It took around half a day to design using the MailChimp built in templates, I sent it to the Trustees for approval which was given. I’d obtained the Outlook distribution list of 480 addresses as a text file, this was imported into Excel, it was then a matter of going through looking for typo’s, correcting case errors and finding duplicates, then exported as a text file and imported into MailChimp, 458 imported fine, 2 were rejected as MailChimp doesn’t allow “admin@“ or “post@‘.

With just a little apprehension, it was time to hit the ‘send’ button, I’d included my email address in the list and within 5 minutes the Newsletter arrived in my own inbox. After 2 hours I logged into MailChimp to view the statistics they provide, 30 emails had bounced mainly due to ‘mailbox doesn’t exist’ probably as people had moved on to other jobs or email providers and 4 had ‘unsubscribed’ as ‘no longer interested’, I’ll follow the stats for the next few days and provide a report for the Trustees.

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Overall, I’m very impressed with MailChimp, it reduces many hours of work in the organisations office, reduces the huge amount of bandwidth used to send out the newsletter and includes an easy ‘unsubscribe’ option that was previously done manually.

The free version of MailChimp allows for 2000 subscribers and 20,000 sends in a 12 month period, more than enough for our purposes, it was very easy to author, import addresses and then send out, additionally the stats provide an excellent way of tracking the success of the newsletter, I’m now looking forward to producing the next one!

Unlock password protected Powerpoint (or computer says No!)

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A friend contacted me recently, he was trying to download some Powerpoint's from a website to use at a children’s church event, the site offered many PP’s all for free use but they were password protected, there was an explanation given that if asked, to open the PP’s as ‘Read only’ which I tried several times using Office 365 on a Mac but failed miserably.

I dropped the author an email explaining the problem and asked for help but with no response I had a thought, would they open with a right click and ‘open with’ in Keynote on my Mac?

Simple answer - yes, they opened with no password request and with no problems, I could then export them from Keynote as normal PPT’s with no password for my friend to open on his PC and use for his service on Sunday.

Mobirise

After producing a couple of websites recently, word has got round and I’m being asked to do more. Rapidweaver is my main choice, originally I used pre-made templates but now, more and more I’m using Foundation, a freeform design template system for Rapidweaver. I’ve also acquired many ’Stacks’ for Rapidweaver, these are basically ‘drag and drop’ into a webpage and they give you a wide range of options from simple Headers to sophisticated photo galleries and all the options in between.

I was asked recently to make a responsive website that had visual impact for a fledgeling small business on a tight budget and using very little material, I produced something in Rapidweaver but it didn’t quite look right to me. I’d heard about a new free web design product called Mobirise, a cross platform website builder, so I looked around and it seemed to offer what I was looking for. It’s a slightly different way of working, still basically ‘drag and drop’ using what Mobirise call ‘Blocks’, similar to RapidWeaver’s Stacks. The program comes with a range of pre-made blocks you add to a page and then adjust to suit what you’re looking for in the design on the page. The program gives you enough free stuff included to jump right in and produce a site but offers ‘add-on’ blocks and Themes to purchase, including a special deal to buy all the current add-on’s including PayPal cart’s, slider’s and code editor’s for around 62% discount ($97). I’ve not gone for the deal yet but probably will some time in the future as I’m very impressed with the program, the output quality and the ease of use and speed, I produced and uploaded the site below in around 3 hours having never used the program before (the screenshot doesn't actually do the site justice as there's a fullscreen front page photo with animated text). Just a quick mention for Pixabay here, the main image of the wheelbarrow (slightly Photoshopped by me) came from Pixabay, a free image resource and ideal if you're looking for photos on an inverse budget!

Once produced you have the option to publish to a local folder and then upload via FTP, publish direct to your web host or even publish to Github with free hosting, I’d included a Contact form with my site using a test email address, when I tried it, Mobirise asked me to confirm my details as it seems to be hosted on Mobirise servers, I signed up with a username and password and the Contact Form worked well - I’ll obviously change the details when the client accepts the final design.

There’s a very active forum for Mobirise if you have any questions or problems, thankfully I didn’t encounter any but reading through the forum provides a wealth of information on using the program. I don’t intend Mobirise to replace Rapidweaver but to supplement it, giving me options to produce a site in a slightly different style.

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