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Creating a New Thread or Replying to one
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JimDean
Posted 7/2/2010 5:51 PM (#439)
Subject: Creating a New Thread or Replying to one



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The most common activity on the Forum is of course VIEWING the various Posts, and navigating around to get to them. For some of you "lurkers" out there, that may be ALL you ever do.

BUT, hopefully, the "typical" TradeTight member will ACTIVELY CONTRIBUTE comments, suggestions, answers ... and, most importantly ... QUESTIONS.

To do this, you need to create a Post.

If the nature of your post does not "tie in" to something that's already in place, you will be creating a NEW THREAD (in the appropriate Section and Room). If your post is related to the content of an extant Thread, you will be making a REPLY within that Thread.

This "HowTo" thread illustrates the many versatile options that are available to you to do this. In addition to covering the basics, the followup posts (and pictures) below will show how you can make attachments, how you can make snapshots VISIBLE in your post, and how you can do FANCY FORMATTING to get your point across most effectively ...
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JimDean
Posted 7/2/2010 6:15 PM (#440 - in reply to #439)
Subject: Creating a New Thread or Replying to one



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First ... here's how to either create a NEW Thread, or to enter an existing one to add a Reply ...

Just navigate your way to the Section and Room you want, then either click New Thread, or click on an existing Thread to view it. (or, EASIEST - click on the link in an Email to go straight to the Thread and Post that you're responding to)

The snapshot below illustrates this ...

(Thread Creation or Extension.png)



Attachments
Attachments Thread Creation or Extension.png (32KB - 4 downloads)
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JimDean
Posted 7/2/2010 6:23 PM (#441 - in reply to #440)
Subject: Creating a New Thread or Replying to one



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If you are REPLYING to an EXISTING Thread, there are two ways to do it ... two different Reply buttons.

Please note ... the difference between these is MINOR ... I'm presenting it here for completeness, and because some of the features we're adding to the Forum later might relate to it.

There is a big REPLY button at the top and at the bottom of the Thread, on the right side of the display. Click this button if you want to respond to the Thread "in general" ... technically, it will be "chained" from the first post of the Thread.

There are smaller Reply buttons along the top edge of each individual post. If you click one of these, then you will be sent to the same screen to create your new post as if you pressed the big Reply buttons ... but the smaller button will create a post that is "linked" to the specific Post that owned that little Reply button.

Again ... this is a MINOR distinction ... for now at least. However, in a fast-moving Thread in which several people are commenting in rapid succession, it's sometimes useful to make sure your Reply originates from the specific Post, so that readers can figure out the "flow" ... ie, who or which prior comment you are responding to.

In the snapshot below, I've "accordian-d" (squished) the thread view a bit to illustrate the "chaining" effects in a small space ...

(Reply to Existing Thread - two ways.png)



Attachments
Attachments Reply to Existing Thread - two ways.png (63KB - 4 downloads)
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JimDean
Posted 7/2/2010 6:39 PM (#442 - in reply to #441)
Subject: Creating a New Thread or Replying to one



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Now for the FUN part ... creating your new message.

First of all ... re the Subject line ... it will automatically be filled in with "Re: ..." and repeats the orignal Subject line. You can change this if you want, but it's usually best to leave it as is.

If the true "subject" of your new post is really that different, then you probably should be creating a NEW THREAD. We really, really want to try to keep things organized here. Let's avoid "mish-mash" threads that hop from one subject or discussion or inquiry. Please feel free to create NEW threads whenever you want. If it is a "rabbit trail" from another thread, then just include the URL-link in your new thread's post, pointing to the original thread that has an indirect relationship.

In the Message area, you simply type what you want. Try to keep your thots organized ... using small paragraphs or bullet points often helps. The fonts and point sizes and windows are set up that the final thread-view version will look almost the same as what you type (re word-wrapping).

Sidenote - we've "designed" the entire Forum around a "browser standard footprint" of 1024 pixels wide ... and, where it matters, either 768 or 1024 pixels high. We have tried not to "hog" your screen (more about this when we talk about adding pictures).

If you want, you can do some really FANCY FORMATTING. You can show bold, underlines, italics, colors in any combination. Even "cooler" - you can build in invisible links ... underlined labels that when clicked, jump the user to a different URL entirely (either in this forum or elsewhere). You can identify a string as an active email address. You can "box off" text to indicate it is a quotation. All of these things are done using "extended markup" formatting codes.

The first snapshot below illustrates how these codes are input (by typing normally) in the Message area ... notice how multiple codes can be active at once ... and how they can be turned off independently. The second snapshot shows what that would actually LOOK LIKE in Thread View, once you're done.

The third snapshot shows the available codes ... you can see this list any time by clicking on the little underlined "View Formatting Codes" link on the bottom left of the Post input/edit page.

(Posting a New Message (with codes).png)



(Posting a Msg with Codes - how it looks.png)



(Formatting Codes Available.png)



Attachments
Attachments Posting a New Message (with codes).png (53KB - 7 downloads)
Attachments Posting a Msg with Codes - how it looks.png (36KB - 6 downloads)
Attachments Formatting Codes Available.png (12KB - 6 downloads)
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JimDean
Posted 7/2/2010 7:08 PM (#443 - in reply to #442)
Subject: Creating a New Thread or Replying to one



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Admittedly, all the codes in the prior post are a bit over the top ... but there's another feature that is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL for many if not most of our postings ... the ability to attach supporting FILES to the post ... and the ability to DISPLAY SNAPSHOTS in the post itself.

Both of these things are initiated simply by checking the box next to "Attach file after posting" at the bottom left of the new-post page ... this is actually shown as checked in the snapshot in the prior post.

If this box is checked, then when you click Submit, the post will immediately appear on the Forum ... but you will be presented with a screen that allows you to add attachments if you want. Once you've finished doing that, and you go back to Thread view, you will see those attachments (and possibly pictures also) added to your post.

The first snapshot below illustrates that screen ... the notes and arrows on the left side show you how you actually work with it.

BUT - don't forget to read the instructions ;~) ... on the right side of that screen is a bunch of "fine print" that shows some of the "intelligence" that we have built into the TradeTight forum ... and I gotta tell you ... this set of features required a LOT of horsing around to complete.

Some files are too big to attach - many Profile files fall into this category. Click here to read about how to Compress/Zip those files prior to attaching them.

If you read the instructions section, you'll see that if a PNG file is attached that is WIDER than 800 pixels, then the nifty Forum code steps in, and automatically and proportionately SHRINKS the image to fit within an 800-pixel width. This is REALLY valuable ... if you go to the Nirvana forums, for instance, which do not have this feature, you will run across a goodly number of threads that have reaaallly looonng lines of text ... you'll have to use the horizontal scrollbar to move back and forth to see them unless you have a high-res screen and your browser is maximized. The reason is that someone, somewhere in the thread, attached an image that was much wider than "convenient reading" would call for. This, IMO, messes up the whole thread.

The SECOND image shows a snapshot of the OmniTrader screen, when it was taking up a 1280x1024 footprint on the screen, that I captured as-is, and saved it as a PNG file. The program AUTOMATICALLY SHRANK it back down (proportionately) to 800 pixels wide by 640 tall. Pretty cool.

So ... we made our Forum smart enough to keep things readable. I hope you like it!

Oh, yeah - you don't have to do ANYTHING special with formatting codes, etc to get the image to appear. ANY file that is a "PNG" will automatically show up. If you'd rather NOT have that snapshot appear, then just save it as a JPG or other tight format (not BMP, please), and it will act like any other "invisible but available" attachment.



(Attaching a File to a Post.png)



(File Attachment Oversized - 1280x1024.png)



Attachments
Attachments Attaching a File to a Post.png (114KB - 5 downloads)
Attachments File Attachment Oversized - 1280x1024.png (72KB - 7 downloads)
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JimDean
Posted 7/8/2010 11:19 AM (#453 - in reply to #439)
Subject: Creating a New Thread or Replying to one



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Another little tidbit that a lot of folks need help with:
How to Create an Annotated Screen Snapshot

First of all, I'll put in a "plug" for SnagIt ... $40 from www.TechSmith.com ... a GREAT tool ... easy to understand, easy to use, INCREDIBLY versatile.

But ... if you want to use freebie stuff ... OT and Windows have what you need.

FIRST: Capture the area of the screen that you are discussing
optional: Crop and nnotate the capture with arrows, circles, notes, etc
optional: Combine several snapshots into one composite picture
THIRD: Save the result as a PNG file, and attach it to your post

OT provides a pretty decent capture tool that you can use with Paint, which works MUCH better than Shift-PrntScrn. There are actually two instances of OT's tool ... you can turn on the icons via View > ToolBars > Screenshot. (see first screenshot, below)

This opens up the "OmniCapture" window (second screenshot below) that lets you save the file, move it to SignalWatch Live, transfer it directly to Paint (that's what you want), or put it in the copy buffer (to include in a word doc or whatever).

Those SS icons give you adequate versatility to capture what you want ... Paint gives you unimaginative but adequate ability to annotate it. Be sure to save the result as a PNG file, if you want it to display here with your post. Note that you can use Paint to crop the picture to a smaller size, by selecting the area you want with the rubber-band box, pressing Ctrl-C to copy, then opening a NEW image in Paint and pasting in the copied portion to the new blank canvas. Also, you can use Image > Attributes (or Ctrl-E) to change the outer dimensions of the canvas to something larger, if you want to paste several separate snapshots together.

Again, I want to STRONGLY recommend that you buy SnagIt. It is much more versatile, easy to learn and easy to use. You can even capture SCROLLING LISTS with it (rather than manually taking multiple snapshots and pasting them together) ... and you can have SnagIt automatically CONVERT TO TEXT from a list or region ... this allows you to capture multiple columns of data from a long Focus list for instance, and then copy/paste the TEXT into Excel for other uses. SnagIt's editor makes annotation easy, too.

AND ... unless you want the image to "auto-shrink" to fit within 800 pixels when you load it into the forum ... please "compose" your image initially to be 800 or fewer pixels wide (height does not matter). Read the earlier posts for more info about this.

(Screenshot icons.png)



(OmniCapture window.png)



Attachments
Attachments Screenshot icons.png (24KB - 4 downloads)
Attachments OmniCapture window.png (58KB - 4 downloads)
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JimDean
Posted 1/29/2011 7:37 AM (#1855 - in reply to #453)
Subject: Creating a New Thread or Replying to one



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Sometimes, for one reason or another, the "snapshot" you take (or one that you download) contains a lot of whitespace, or has a lot of info that is not at all relevant to what you are going to illustrate and discuss. In that case, it is always better to chop out the extra stuff.

THE IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER is that the TradeTight forum is really "smart" about displaying graphics. First, if you attach a file that has a "PNG" extension, it will display automatically. No need to go find the URL for the image and then use "[img=", like the Nirvana forums require. Second, it will AUTOMATICALLY SHRINK the WIDTH to 800 pixels, if you attach a file that is wider than 800 (shrinks the length proportionately) ... it leaves pic's as-is that are less than 800 wide. This is done so that the image does not "force" the browser window to be hugely-wide, which in turn would cause ALL THE TEXT for the ENTIRE THREAD to be really wide and hard to read (to say nothing of all the panning back and forth).

So ... your goal is to modify an over-large image to fit within the 800 pixel limit, by chopping out the extraneous stuff and then possibly REsizing the result to make it bigger, if the chopped-out portion is smaller than 800, but it has a lot of detail (that latter step is not required however - it will make the pic a bit "fuzzier"). Up to you.

I've illustrated the process in the attachments below. Since everyone owns MS Paint, I've used that tool to do the work. It's not as friendly, nor does it have a even 5% of the capabilities of SnagIt ($49 from TechSmith.com - the best ;~) ... but it does the job. GIVE THIS A TRY!

The FIRST image I am providing is the original unmodified one. Note all the white-space on the right and bottom and how tiny the text is.

The second image shows what it looks like, loaded into Paint.

Third image shows how to chop out all that extra stuff, using Paint.

Fourth image shows how to resize it and annotate it.

Fifth image is the final product.

Third image


(2011_01_26_Oracle - ORIGINAL.png)



(Oversized Image Loaded Into Paint.png)



(Resizing the image for Legibility.png)



(Spiff it up with Annotations.png)



(201-01-26 VSA-Oracle (Resized).PNG)



Attachments
Attachments 2011_01_26_Oracle - ORIGINAL.png (92KB - 4 downloads)
Attachments Oversized Image Loaded Into Paint.png (112KB - 4 downloads)
Attachments Resizing the image for Legibility.png (496KB - 4 downloads)
Attachments Spiff it up with Annotations.png (321KB - 4 downloads)
Attachments 201-01-26 VSA-Oracle (Resized).PNG (182KB - 4 downloads)
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JimDean
Posted 7/30/2011 12:04 PM (#2689 - in reply to #1855)
Subject: Creating a New Thread or Replying to one



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Steve Luerman asked:
Jim - I've added [img=http://.....] inserts, but the snapshots are not inserted in-line with the text. Is there a a way to do that on this forum? Or is it only possible to append them in order at the end of the text?


The [img=] commands were deactivated for a very good reason ... we could not figure out a way to get the forum to intercept them and resize the snaps to fit in 800 pixels max width, using that method. Maybe we will find a way, later. I agree that it's handier to be able to put them in the middle. We have a list of add-feature todo's for the forum interface that probably has over a hundred items on it ... no lie.

Reason for 800 max ...
It makes the ENTIRE THREAD too wide if just ONE image is uploaded that's too wide. This means that people who don't maximize their viewer end up panning back and forth just to read every text line. Aghh! Also the really really big ones eat a lot of disk space.

It took a surprisingly large amount of work to get the resizing thing to function properly. I thot it was a nice touch to automatically display them if they are PNG's but not if other formats. Makes it very easy for the casual user that does not like the [img=] kinda thing.

So, thanks for putting up with it for the time being ...
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JimDean
Posted 10/30/2011 4:11 PM (#3210 - in reply to #2689)
Subject: Creating a New Thread or Replying to one



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Downloading OLang code ".txt" file attachments

Very many of the posts on this forum include attachments with OLang code. These are usually TXT files, directly uploaded from the Nirvana VBA folder. You "should" be able to download them (if you are a registered participant or a member) directly into your own VBA folder.

Some folks prefer to OPEN the file first, then SAVE it to that location. If you do this, it will work just fine as long as you open it in the NOTEPAD tool that comes with Windows. If, instead, you open it in MS Word or some other robust "word processor", then many people have experienced difficulties ... the OLang function does not compile properly.

The reason for this usually is that for some reason, when you open this super-simple TXT file in robust word processors, they ADD SOME EXTRA CHARACTERS TO THE END OF THE FILE ... which often are "invisible". So, if you choose to use those tools, once the file is open, always make a habit of going to the end of the code and deleting all lines after the last one ... even if they appear to be blank.

A better solution is to permanently assign NotePad as the application that is automatically used to open TXT files. To do this, find a TXT file on your computer (for example, in the C:\Program Files\Nirvana\OT 2011\VBA\Indicators folder), and:
1. Right click
2. Left click on "Open with"
3. Left click on "Choose default program"
4. Check the box on the bottom left "Always use the selected program to open this kind of file"
5. Click on NotePad, and click OK

Do this once for each computer you work with, and from then on, whenever you open a TXT file, it will open "clean" in NotePad.

PS you can do this with other file extension types as well, defining specific programs to open them with.
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