12 Sites That Will Teach You Coding for Free

There’s plenty of help out there to get started with programming. Plenty of language choices too.

Splendid for a creative project.

Go ahead, choose your poison!

Here’s Entrepreneur.com’s menu list for you:

  1. CodeAcademy
  2. Coursera
  3. edX
  4. Udemy
  5. aGupieWare
  6. GitHub
  7. MIT Open Courseware
  8. Hack.pledge()
  9. Code Avengers
  10. Khan Academy
  11. Free Food Camp
  12. HTML5 Rocks



Unlock the Secret to the Lens Flare in Photoshop – a PHLEARN Tutorial

It’s fun to add a Lens flare effect to a backlit image. However, Photoshop does not allow you to add the effect to a blank layer, meaning you cannot work with it non-destructively.

This secret that PHLEARN shares in this 6 mins video tutorial puts the lens flare on its own layer so that you can have full flexibility to edit it non-destructively. Have fun with warming or cooling the sun flare color, transforming the flare angle and masking out part of the flare to hide unwanted parts.

Software:   Photoshop

Skill level:  Basic understanding of Photoshop layer / blending mode & masking

Watch the video here

The work image

The work image

PHLEARN Lens Flare After

The Lens Flare applied on another layer – the secret unlocked!

Summarized for the busy person

  1.  Apply the Lens flare image to the image, then Ctrl + Z to Undo.
  2.  Create a new layer & fill it (Shift + Del) with black
  3.  Re-apply the last filter (the Lens flare obviously) – Menu / Filter / first option (Ctrl + F)
  4.  Change the layer blending mode to Screen – All in 4 steps!
  5. The next steps are only for editing the lens flare which is now on its own layer
  6. Change the hue of the lens flare
  7. Transform (Ctrl + T) the lens flare to change the size & angle of light
  8. Mask out unwanted parts of the flare

A secret worth unlocking indeed. So what are you waiting for? Time to let your imagination fly!

Making the image a Smart Object will not give you the same flexibility.

Sharing Big Files with WeTransfer

Multimedia files are getting bigger & bigger all the time and we are all addicted to file sharing aren’t we?

Mail, messaging & cloud storage systems all allow you to share your files but within the limits they set. Some of the limits in the range of MBs rather than GBs are obviously too limiting.

That’s when WeTransfer comes into the picture. It is both a paid (10GB file size limit) & free service (2GB file size limit).

It is easy to use. Go to https://.wetransfer.com and you will be greeted by this screen. If the second screen is displayed instead, the free service is ready for you.

WeTransfer Plus-SKIP

Press SKIP to proceed

Since we will be using the free service, press SKIP to continue.

WeTransfer free 2GB

Free for files up to 2 GB

Click on + Add files to attach the file you wish to share, fill in your friend’s email, your email and any message if any. Complete by clicking Transfer to send the file on it’s way! It doesn’t get easier than this.

You will receive a notification mail to confirm that the file has been successfully sent, the ‘expiry’ date when the file will be deleted & a download link for sharing with others. You will even get a notification mail when the file has been downloaded by your friend. Cool!

Sharing is definitely caring. So don’t despair, just fire up WeTransfer when you need to share the big file that’s way too big to get to your friend through the normal service. The name is easy to remember but save yourself some memory cells and save the URL to your browser’s Favourite.

The Amazing Power of Frequency Separation Retouching in Photoshop – a PHLEARN tutorial

Frequency Separation is a technique that was once a closely & jealously guarded secret used by high end professional portrait retouchers in their work.

It is called Frequency Separation because an image is separated into a High Frequency & Low Frequency layer. The high frequency layer contains the texture while the color and tone is in the low frequency layer. This technique allows us to work on the texture or color / tone layer without affecting the other layer.

In this 14m 8s YouTube video tutorial, Aaron Nace of PHLEARN fame demonstrates this technique & shows us why it is so amazing & powerful for portrait retouching. Aaron keeps the training nice & simple so that it is not too intimidating.

You will need Intermediate to Advanced Photoshop skills to follow along.

The Amazing Power of Frequency Separation Retouching in Photoshop video

PHLEARN Frequency Separation

Frequency Separation Retouchiing

Summary for the busy person

God bless Aaron, the 3 notes in his post are the summary!

IMPORTANT: When editing a layer with the healing or clone stamp tool, ensure sample is Current Layer (11m 25)

  1. Getting Started with Frequency Separation (If done properly, nothing seems to have changed)
    1. Make 2 copies of the image
    2. Apply Gaussian Blur to the Low Frequency layer
    3. Apply Image to the High Frequency layer
      1. Layer: Low Frequency layer
      2. Blending: Subtract      Scale:2   Offset:128
      3. Change Blending mode to “Linear Light”
  2. Correcting Underlying Color (Low Frequency layer)
    1. Edit by selecting the areas of skin for smoothing with Gaussian Blur (feather the selection / check with Quick Mask ‘Q’)
  3. Correcting Texture (High Frequency layer)

If it is too complicated, Aaron has automated the steps for creating the 2 layers in an action which you can download.

A good productivity tip: create keyboard shortcuts for frequently accessed functions.

11 Free System Information Tools by Tim Fisher

If you are to manage your computer properly, System Information tools are really handy to provide you with comprehensive hardware & software details for component upgrade considerations or troubleshooting a problem. The information is gathered & presented in a report properly organised by information type / category. You can easily export this information for documentation or sharing.

Tim Fisher’s list is a software review with links to the developer’s site where you can download the software for free. My personal favourite is SIW which has a very nice interface & plenty of features which will take some exploring to appreciate its power. Time to check your system guys & gals.

About Tech review of the best free system information utilities

Summary list for the busy person

  • Speccy
  • PC Wizard 2014
  • System Information for Windows (SIW)
  • ASTRA32
  • Belarc Advisor
  • Free PC Audit
  • MiTeC System Information X
  • EVEREST Home Edition
  • System Information Viewer (SIV)
  • ESET SysInspector

How to Fix White Balance in Photoshop by Finding a 50% Gray Point by Michael Zhang

In this 1m 53s video, Michael demonstrates a cool technique in Photoshop to correct White Balance even if no gray card was used during the shoot. You will need to be comfortable with Curves though.

Software: Photoshop

Skill level: Intermediate

Tools: Layers (50% Gray Fill, Threshold, Curves) / Blend Modes / Color Sampler Tool

View the Video

Before White Balance Correction

1. Before White Balance Correction

After White Balance Correction

2. After White Balance Correction


Summarised for the busy person

  1. Create a new layer, fill it with 50% gray, set the blending mode to difference
  2. Create a threshold adjustment layer. Slide the slider to the left till there’s only a few areas in black which are areas closest to 50% gray
  3. Select the Color Sampler Tool & click at a black area to save a sampler point
  4. Hide the first 2 layers
  5. In a Curves layer, select the Gray point sampler & click on the saved sampler point in step (3) above. The White Balance is magically corrected by this action.
  6. Clear the saved sampler point by going back to the Color Sampler Tool and clicking CLEAR on the top bar.

Creating a PDF file with PDF Creator freeware

This is super simple. As long as your application (eg. MICROSOFT OFFICE) can print, you can create a PDF file.

Just download this freeware PDF Creator, install it and you are ready to go.

The download link is here >> PDF Creator Download

In your application, go to the Print Option. Instead of selecting your usual printer, select PDFCreator from the printer list.

Selecting PDFCreator from the Printer List

Select PDFCreator from the Printer List

Click the PRINT button and after a short wait, you will be asked where to save the file. Browse to the desired folder location and give it a filename. Your PDF file will be created, ready for sharing.

There are many other freeware out there for creating a PDF file of course. I am a long time user of PDF Creator and have found it to be robust and it comes at a good price, FREE.

And yes, you will obviously need a PDF reader (ADOBE, usually) to open & view the output file!