Category: Ideas

TechCrunch Article – Is HTML5 the New Windows?

Paul, SmartDraw’s founder and CEO, wrote a compelling and thought provoking article on the rise of HTML5 for TechCrunch this week.

“Might the arrival of new cloud-based apps that run in a web browser and store their data in the cloud create enough of an advantage over the common desktop environment to cause a similar shift? Interestingly, there are quite a few parallels between the arrival of cloud-based apps and the arrival of Windows 30 years ago.”Paul Stannard

You can read the full article over at TechCrunch. What do you think? Is HTML5 the new Windows, and cloud-based apps the way forward?

Valentine’s Day By the Numbers (Infographic)

Valentine’s Day, Saint Valentine’s Day, Hallmark Day, Singles Awareness Day (SAD) . . . whatever you wish to call it, February 14th is almost upon us. It’s a day of love and frustration, of first dates and heartaches, of proposals and breakups. An evening of cocktails and dinner, jewelry and candy, and unmet expectations. Celebrated by some, while loathed by others . . . it is inevitable to all.   How will you celebrate this year?


According to the Perry-Castaneda Library, University of Texas, Valentine’s Day was first romanticized in both Chaucer’s poetry and Shakespeare’s work, as a result it gained popularity throughout Britain and the rest of the Europe.  At the time, handmade paper cards became the tokens-du-jour in the Middle Ages.  Eventually, the tradition of Valentine’s Day made its way to the New World.  In the 19th century, the industrial revolution ushered in factory-made cards. In 1913, Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, Missouri, first offered Valentine’s Day cards and began mass producing them in 1916. February has not been the same ever since.


In 1849 Esther A. Howland of Worcester, Massachusetts, began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures.  She is also known as the Mother of the Valentine. Here is a verse from one of Howland’s valentines:

Oh, could I hear thee once declare
That fond affection lives for me,
Oh, could I once delighted share,
The sweet return of love from thee. 

Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 180 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year.


Let’s break down the mystique of Valentine’s Day with the most romantic way – with cold, hard facts and figures.


New Year’s Resolutions by the Numbers (Infographic) New Year Brings a Fresh Start!

Each January, approximately 1 in 3 Americans resolve to better themselves by making New Year’s Resolutions.  A much smaller percentage of individuals successfully achieve what they set out to do at the start of the year and make good on those resolutions.  While 75% of people stick to their goals for at least 1 week, less than 46% are still on target 6 months later, according to a study conducted by University of Scranton and published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Losing weight was ranked number 1, followed by getting organized and spend less, save more. You can see the Top 10 Most Common New Year’s Resolutions list and the success rates in the infographic below.

The dismal success rate may lead some of us to conclude that making New Year’s Resolutions is, in actuality, counter-productive. After all, who wants to begin the year in defeat?

Will You Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions in 2016?

People who make explicit New Year’s Resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions,” according to The Journal of Clinical Psychology.

That may just be the trick to achieving your New Year’s Resolutions this year!

Be a Part of Star Wars Box Office History

The Force is strong with this Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The Force is strong with this Star Wars: The Force Awakens with a new U.S. opening weekend record of $247 million.  According to BuzzFeed News, The Force Awakens tops domestic opening weekends of all time – surpassing Jurassic World and The Avenger respectively.  Until now, studios would never expect a summer blockbuster-style box office opening at the end of the year, when holiday shopping and travel naturally draw away potential ticket buyers.

Confucious once said, “Study the past if you would define the future . . . .”  With that in mind, let’s take a look at the predecessors of The Force Awakens.

Star Wars Box Office Diagram


Note: Inflation-adjustment is mostly done by multiplying estimated admissions by the latest average ticket price. Where admissions are unavailable, adjustment is based on the average ticket price for when each movie was released (taking in to account re-releases where applicable).  To see how Star Wars ranks against the top 200 movies of all time go to All Time Box Office: Domestic Grosses.

With the largest second weekend of all-time, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has now grossed more than $544 million domestically and another $546 million internationally, totaling over $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales in just twelve days.” – according to Box Office Mojo.

Disney, Lucasfilm, and the Future of Star Wars

The initial success of The Force Awakens is great news for Bob Iger, Disney CEO.  Back in 2012, Iger purchased Lucasfilm from Star Wars creator George Lucas for $4.05 billion. A few months later, Lucas retired and handed the reins of the company over to Lucasfilm cochairman, Kathleen Kennedy.  Kennedy, a veteran producer, has made some of the biggest blockbusters in history, including Jurassic Park, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and the Indiana Jones series.  If analysts’ projections are correct, The Force Awakens will be her biggest moneymaker to date.

George Lucas & Kathleen Kennedy Discuss Disney and the Future of Star Wars

Since Lucas and Kennedy’s discussion in 2012, many advances have been made regarding the future of the Star Wars franchise.

The company intends to put out a new Star Wars moving every year for as long as people will be tickets. . . . put it another way: If everything works out for Disney, and if you are old enough to have been conscious for the first Star Wars film, you will probably not live to see the last one.  It’s the forever franchise. . .” according to a recent Wired interview with Kennedy.

Star Wars Release Calendar Diagram

Star_Wars_Release_Calendar_ til 2020You just saw The Force Awakens and want more next-gen Star Wars. Well, you’re going to get more. Learn more at Entertainment Weekly.

Chasing Away the Gloom of Solar Permits


Taking on the bureaucratic challenge of submitting and getting a permit with the local city or county governments in California has become a task that most people try to avoid. Solar Permits have the additional complexities of engineering, building, and electrical code combined with utility regulations and state legislature mixed in just for fun. There is a reason why many home owners turn to specialized companies who are making millions installing and leasing solar systems. However, it is possible for the average homeowner to navigate the twists and turns of the regulatory maze for a Do-It-Yourself solar system.


Just understanding the steps involved and the order in which everything happens takes a bit of research. It might vary slightly for your city or local jurisdiction, but there is a general process which works for most solar projects.  The drawing below was created with SmartDraw to illustrate the steps:


The permit requires several drawings which cannot be handled easily with basic office products. Specialized professional drawing programs are expensive and have a huge learning curve. It’s a good thing that SmartDraw has the ability to produce every drawing and diagram required for a Solar Permit. The fact that it is relatively inexpensive and easy to use is icing on the cake. Here are a couple of the drawings created by SmartDraw:

Site Map and PV Layout Diagram


1-Line Electrical Diagram



SmartDraw exports everything to a PDF file which can be printed and submitted via paper or electronic methods. Having your plan documented speeds the process and ensures that everything goes smoothly. Even the most seasoned bureaucrat appreciates it when all the “i”s are dotted and the “t”s are crossed. The truth is, it is important for the work to be done at a professional level for the safety and longevity of your home and neighborhood. It’s a good thing we have tools at our disposal which make it easier to meet all the requirements.

It’s a brighter day with SmartDraw on your side.


Feast on These Thanksgiving Facts & Figures (Infographic)

Thanksgiving is almost here and that means millions of Americans throughout the country are preparing for the most coveted meal of the year. . . Thanksgiving Dinner.   Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie will all grace the table as friends and family gather to celebrate this joyous occasion.

Just how much of these Thanksgiving foods are consumed and how much are we spending?  Take a look at these jaw-dropping Thanksgiving fun facts and figures.  There may just be a fact or two that you can use to break the awkward silence or simply as entertainment for your family and friends at this year’s Thanksgiving celebration.

final_thanksgivng post4

SmartDraw Power User Shares Her Horror Movie Collection

Your costume is ready, cobwebs are hung, pumpkins are carved, and a bowl of candy is placed by the front door.  Now all you need to make your Halloween complete is a good horror movie.   Fear not, we’ve got you covered.  With Halloween just around the corner, we thought we’d have our resident horror movie buff and SmartDraw Power User, Vanessa Neidermayer, share her collection with you.


Being new to the program I spent quite a lot of time using SmartDraw for everything I could think of to really get to know the ins and outs of the tool. I quickly realized that SmartDraw was extremely powerful, allowing me to create anything from a party plan to landscape design of my backyard. Using SmartDraw as frequently as I did, I quickly became a Power User.  As a SmartDraw Solutions Analyst, I am not only able to assist customers, but colleagues as well.


When I was a little girl, I used to spend a lot of time with my Grandma. My memories of that time consists of baking in the kitchen, learning how to clean, and playing with her golden retriever, Homer.

One of my most prominent memories I shared with my Grandma was the time we spent watching horror movies!  The first horror movie I remember watching was The Blob (1958). At the age of 4, I was hooked.

Before the days of steaming movies on such sites as Hulu or Amazon Prime Video, I wanted to have a variety of movies at my disposal.  I am a lover of all things art, but movies and music hold a special place in my heart.  At home we have all genres of movies ranging from documentaries, comedies, dramas, etc.  Being that horror is my favorite movie genre, I first focused on collecting all of my favorite scary movies.  Eventually my collection turned into what I have today.  There is no doubt that I am a Netflix Binger, yet I still love having my collection.  If I am being totally honest, I doubt I will ever stop collecting.


It’s always been difficult having guests select movies from my collection due to the number of movies. They are often overwhelmed as they look through the shelves of movies. In the end, our guests would eventually give up and have me pick a movie for them. During my 1st month working at SmartDraw I realized that I could use the software to tackle this problem. I used two different visual templates to easily catalog my movie collection.


Horror Movie Timeline

Maybe you want to watch an original monster movie from the 30’s or something that has the latest special effects.  The timeline template allowed me to easily group my movie titles by era or decade.

My favorite part about creating these visuals was the ability to be totally creative.  I played around with editing existing symbols available in SmartDraw and importing outside images as well. Importing fonts and applying different effects like inside and or outside glows was a lot of fun as well.

horror movie timeline

Click here to download a pdf version of the Horror Movie Timeline.

SmartDraw Advanced Tips & Tricks
  • Custom Glow:  In the Effect drop-down menu, select Glow. The standard colors and glow size appear.  If you prefer to customize the color and size of glow, select More Glows. In the Glow Dialogue select the appropriate color and size of glow.  This can be done for inside or outside glows.
  • Setting Transparencies:  The ghosts in the background of the timeline are pre-existing SmartDraw symbols. To make them appear more ghost-like, applied a transparency.  Select the appropriate symbol or shape.  Navigate to the Fill drop-down menu to select the level of transparency.

Horror Genre Mind Map

The Horror Movie Genre can actually be broken down into more specific genres such as Slasher, Supernatural, Campy, or Comedy.

I thought, what better way to show my guests what I have then by breaking them down into sub-genres? Sometimes you are in the mood to be scared and sometimes you want to have a good laugh, it all depends. So I created a mind map that broke the main genre of horror down into many levels of sub-genres, containing movie titles.

horror movie genres

Click here to download a pdf version of the Horror Genre Mind Map.

SmartDraw Advanced Tips & Tricks
  • How to set a background image & why:  Instead of bringing in the blood splatter image through the Insert Tab feature, I set it as the background.  Right-click the background of the Work Area.  Navigate to the Page Tab.  In the Background drop-down menu select Picture. By embedding the image in this way, you ensure that the image will always be centered.
  • Title Font: To recreate the 3-d effect of the title, simply duplicate (Ctrl+D) the text box several times and changed the font colors. Place each text boxes on top of the other but offset a small amount.  Then aligned and grouped them together to ensure that they stay in place. 


Adult Viewers



My recommendation to new SmartDraw users is to explore the software! Something that really helped me when I first started using SmartDraw was clicking on each tab in the top ribbon and figuring out what the function of each button in the tab was.


To learn how horror movies are made, read Film and Video Production: How Wes Craven Does It (And So Do We).