Using Adobe Photoshop to Create a Large Ceremonial Check

Sometimes photoshop skills are necessary in my jack of all things Information Technology related. At my current job we don’t have a graphic designers so I am constantly being asked to create this, edit this photo or help with this presentation etc.  Photoshop and Illustrator are used often.

I have been using Adobe’s Photoshop since version 5.  Photoshop is a skill that is a must if you create websites.  I use it to create designs, to create web graphics and to edit photos for the web.

Today I got to create a large ceremonial check for a fundraiser we did for The Utah Food Bank.  The project was fairly simple and straight forward.  I went out to Google and I searched for images of checks.  I wanted to find one that I could copy and or manipulate into what we needed.  I didn’t find any great ones so I decided to create one from scratch.

I used a couple of images of checks to get the dimensions right.  I used the Google images to find the right information displayed on the check.

The next thing I did was do a font search to find the right fonts for the check. I used three fonts.  For the main text I used Tahoma, a Windows font, for the digital computer font for the account number I used MICR Encoding.  I used Scriptina as the signature font. Download the Photoshop PSD File (4.02 MB)

Here is a picture of the check printed out (32 inches by 68 inches).

Photo Courtesy of Utah-NENA Eran Bair Photographer


A few years ago I was asked to build a website for the Utah Chapter of National Emergency Number Association (NENA).  I was asked to develop a logo, and a site design.  Mostly Utah-NENA wanted a simple site to share information. I set it up and populated it with their content.  (See It Here) Soon after I finished version 1.0 of the site another person took over the daily operation of the site.

After about two years of the site languishing, I was asked to join the Utah-NENA board as the Technical Committee Vice-Chair. Soon after joining the committee I was asked to redo the site and make it more exciting. I decided that I would convert the site to wordpress and use thesis as its back bone.

This is what it looks like now.

How I Revolutionized Documentation at 9-1-1

It’s true. I have started a revolution in the Utah 9-1-1 community.

I was tired of seeing the frustrations of 9-1-1 call takers and dispatchers trying to keep their policies, procedures and their daily information up to date using binders and Post-It notes.  I decided it was time to take this information online in house.  I decided to go against the prevailing thought of the dispatch arena and allow all users of the information to update and create their own content.  I did this by creating a wiki. It’s called VECCIPEDIA in our 9-1-1 dispatch center.

This project became so successful that it was Recognized and Featured as Important Training/Documentation Innovations by APCO and Classes were taught on the How To’s at APCO’s International Convention in Las Vegas in 2009.

This post appeared originally on my personal blog on January 10, 2011.

Small Business Documentation on a Budget: Wiki

Over the weekend, one of my web projects surpassed 1,000,000 page views. This is an incredible milestone especially since the website is completely internal with no external web traffic. It means that less than 150 people created all those page views. I couldn’t be more excited about it. It’s a great accomplishment.

I work for a 9-1-1 center as an IT professional. When I arrived 5 years ago documentation and the use of web technologies was in the proverbial stone age. 99% of all documentation outside of a Computer Aided Dispatch System was handled by hand. Most documents were typically typed up, used no graphics, and were printed and assembled into large 3 ring binders. The documentation was then reproduced approximately 40 times and disseminated to 130 people.  The system was extremely cumbersome. It lagged behind for weeks and usually months at a time. People complained constantly about updating, revisions and simply finding out the relevant information in a timely manner. Most edits were a PostIt note attached to a page or scribbles of new information etc.

Everyone in our center knew we had a documentation problem but most were afraid to think about it, let alone work on a solution. Our information was unreliable and was impossible to access effectively, and search quickly for accurate information. It was time for us to enter the information age. Apparently I was náve enough to think I could tackle this large project that no one wanted. I secretly made it my quest.

Our needs

Our needs are as common as any other business. We needed a method to create, edit, delete and track our documentation in a timely manner. It needed to be extremely affordable, easy to use and scalable.

Our Obstacles

Our major obstacles were working with a management team that was extremely technophobic and users who hate change. These are two extremely common problems in most businesses. Don’t let this stop you from tackling a new project using technology. Every technological innovation has had to conquer these barriers. People fear change especially new and anything electronic.

During the first two years of the project we tried a variety of systems to create a documentation system that was web based.  All of them failed miserable. The different systems struggled in two major areas: Creating/inputting content and Management’s ability to approve all information in a timely manner. These two hurdles were very tough to overcome.

I had wanted to try a Wiki system but we had no server, no resources and 99% of my users had no idea what a Wiki was and what it could do for our business processes.

What is a Wiki?

Wiki software allows multiple users to collaborate on interlinked web documents relatively easily using a WYSIWYG editor or a lightweight markup language. The most famous example is Wikipedia, a user-editable knowledge base that has quickly grown into the world’s largest encyclopedia since its founding in 2001.

I thought creating a Wiki was a great way to do the following:

  1. Make content creation simple
  2. Engage the end user to create content especially since its extremely relevant to their jobs
  3. Create an easily managed system of documentation

Inertia is a powerful force to overcome.

Getting a project rolling takes an incredible amount of energy and will power. In spite of a lot of negative pushback, I forged on.  I found a server to install Wiki software. I knew that I had to get the project going and show what a Wiki could do for us to win the hearts and mind of the employees. I knew that I would have to convert people one user at a time. I did this with the sole blessing of my boss and no one else. I began the project having one person with buy off on the project. Like many IT projects buy offs will come as the users become comfortable with change. This project was no different.

The next step in this quest was finding the right software.

Finding A Wiki

Wiki software allows multiple users to collaborate on interlinked web documents relatively easily using a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor or a lightweight markup language. The most famous example is Wikipedia, a user-editable knowledge base that has quickly grown into the world’s largest encyclopedia since its founding in 2001.

Wikis are an excellent choice for creating complex documentation, since pages and topics can be very easily linked together to make a navigable document structure. Typically, built-in search functionality allows needed information to be found quickly from within the archives. Among the other benefits of a wiki are version histories, in which copies of previous edits to a particular page are saved in case anything needs to be rolled back or recovered. Some systems allow the creation of fine sets of permission structures to ensure that only those who are allowed to view and/or edit certain sections are able to do so.

Beyond documentation, wikis can also often be a good choice for collaborating on single standalone documents, particularly if those documents need to live online. However, some wiki systems have export features as well that allow you to convert an online wiki page into a PDF, text file or other portable document format. Compares wiki formats

Ultimately I decided to use MediaWiki.  Creating a Wiki has made our documentation much better. Our wiki has been recognized and featured as important training/documentation innovations by Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) and classes featuring the How To’s at APCO’s International Convention in Las Vegas in 2009.

I think our Wiki has become a success. It didn’t happen overnight but it is happening after all 1,000,000 page views can’t be wrong.

Our Wiki Information:

-Went Online February 25, 2009

-2800+ Wiki Entries

-10500 added Documents (Images, Spreadsheets, videos)

-130 Users

Our Server is an HP DL380

1 CPU Intel Xeon 3.08 Ghz

1 GBs of RAM

Raid 5 (3) 146 GB 10k RPM Drives.

Complete Work History

Valley Emergency Communications Center Communications Technician (System and Network Administrator) 7/05 to Present

  • Design, Maintenance and Administration of a 911 emergency communications LAN/WAN network including workstations, servers (Windows, Linux and Unix IBM AIX), network equipment (Cisco 3800 Routers, Switches Catalyst 3500’s, Firewalls ASA 5500’s, VPN’s and WireleUss Access Points).
  • Install, maintain, and troubleshoot complex telecommunications hardware (Avaya, Nortell, Intrado Viper) and software to assure reliable connections.
  • System and Network Administrator for 2 Domains including Active Directory and 28 Windows Servers including Exchange Server, File/Print Servers, and Enterprise SQL Servers.
  • Installer and Administrator for HP Left-Hand Network co-located storage devices using iSCSI.
  • Administrator for Spillman Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) System hosted on 2 IBM AIX Hi-Availability
  • UNIX system administrator with over 900 users including 8 Police and 8 Fire Agencies
  • Administrator for FATPOT Landmark, PSI and FATPOT Media Website (Police Records Systems) with 800+ users.
  • Administrator for Avaya Definity phone system (VoiP/Analog/Digital) including wiring and switch programming.
  • Administrator for Plant Vesta Call Center Suite using Meridian Servers and Nortel Phone Switches.
  • NICE Call Recording System Administrator
  • Installer, System Administrator and trainer for Dial Logic Reverse 911 System (DCC)
  • Help Desk/PC Tech for approximately 120 in house users and 120 workstations.
  • *Designed and built Intranet and maintains Internet site. Redesigned corporate website including a Content Management System and support for social media and with emphasis on creating improved 9-1-1 awareness and education as well as building a brand for the organization.*
  • *Created internal Wiki for all VECC Documentation with over 10,000 pages, 8000 page views a month, Developed Wiki Training and trained more than 80 users on Wiki use, and content creation/editing.
  • *Installer, Administrator and Content creator for an Online Training System for 9-1-1 call takers and Police and Fire Dispatchers including course materials, documentation, video/audio content and student progress training.*
  • Concept Creator, System/UI designer and Project Manager for Automated External Defibrillator Registration application and into a Geographic Information System (GIS) database.
  • Concept Creator, System/UI designer and Project Manager for VoiP registration web application and integration into a Geographic Information System (GIS) database.
  • Concept Creator, System/UI designer and Project Manager for Fire Roster (Fire Station Equipment Staffing) Web Application decreasing staffing related errors by 22%

*Denotes Projects that were Recognized and Featured as Important Training/Documentation Innovations by APCO and Classes were taught on the How To’s at APCO’s International Convention in Las Vegas in 2009

Sundance Webmaster & IT Assistant (System and Network Administrator) 2/02-07/05

  • Maintained and Administered a Novell Network including Novell NDS, GroupWise 5.5 Email Server, SCO UNIX Micros Servers, Windows 2k & 2003 Servers including domain server and 98, 2k and XP Pro workstations, Micros Point of Sale System, DataPlus Accounting System, Springer Miller Reservation System, Delphi Guest Services System, NAS device, web and ftp servers.
  • Maintain and Administer Avaya/Definity phone system including wiring, switch programming, trouble-shooting and repair.
  • Maintain and Support 100 workstations with over 150 users, including help desk and hardware/software trouble shooting, software support and recommendation, hardware repair and upgrades.
  • Installed and Maintained including helpdesk, a DSL Solution for 100 lodging rooms spread out over 500 hundred acres of land.
  • Designed, built, marketed and maintain web presence, including dynamic content.
  • Increased web traffic 3 fold, increased online sales from 4% to 12%.
  • Developed and implemented Email Marketing Strategy including writing, editing and producing bi-monthly newsletter with click through rates averaging 23%.
  • Member of the Sundance Marketing Board helped to further marketing and advertising ideas bringing ideas to reality.

Webnovate (Contract6/03-Present

  • HTML Programming
  • Created an online presence for small businesses with little or no web exposure
  • Focused on Search Engine Optimization using compliant coding practices
  • Helped small businesses create Social Media strategies and implementations.
  • Focus on small business marketing

Glenwood Intermountain Properties 5/01-2/02

  • Managed a team of 12 full time maintenance crew members
  • Designed, built and implemented a database solution to track individual apartments and maintenance orders
  • Improved maintenance team output efficiency by 18%
  • Reduced the maintenance wait time of our clients by 50%
  • Reduced parts inventory costs by 15% through creative and improved management of parts inventory.
  • Direct customer liaison for 5 major apartment complexes housing over 6000 Brigham Young University students
  • Advisor for a group of Marriott School of Business at Brigham Young University who were competing in a business plan competitions. The group created Property Solutions Company.

Springville High School 2/01-5/01 (part-time volunteer job)

  • Computer Lab Technician responsible for 35 PC and 35 Macintosh computers. Duties include maintenance, backup, repair, re-imaging, technical support and Network Administration of Novell Network of approximately 600 students and staff.
  • Taught HTML and MCSE Classes
  • Substitute Teacher for Technical Classes


Mindwire Interactive 10/00-12/00 (lay off)

  • Web Producer- creating websites for clients.  Duties included html, graphic design/layout, flash and client interaction/management
  • Was instrumental in the creation of websites for these clients Xactware, Mountain Oil, Dvine Flavors, Novell Intranet
  • Network Administrator, PC Technician, Helpdesk


Sera Nova 12/99-9/00 (lay off)

  • HTML Content Specialist for Volkswagen of America’s Website
  • Created HTML documents, Maintained and Updated US/Canadian VW Website, Audi/VW Tech, Audi/VW Dealer Art
  • VW Projects Include: DriversFest 2000, French Accesorizer, VW Beetle Online Buying Project, VW Tech, VW Art, VW Specs, VW Configurator, Audi Arms and portions of various other clients projects
  • Webmaster supported over 2000 VW/Audi Dealers with advertising web needs via intranet Web Art site. 4/99 – 1/03 (Co-Owner)

  • 22% of the visitors made a purchase
  • Created and Designed a Commercial Web Site For a Scrapbook Company
  • Designed User interface and Graphics Using a variety of Industry Tools
  • Promoted and Marketed Site
  • Created Content and Documentation of Products
  • Installed E-commerce Solution
  • Maintenance and Update of Site On a Regular Basis
  • Monitored and Tracked Stats and Sales of Products


PowerQuest Corporation 5/99-12/99

  • Provided Advanced Technical Support of PowerQuest Products via Email and Phone
  • Created Detailed Documentation of Customers Issues and Solutions
  • Helped write many Knowledge Base pages documenting procedure and fixes for problems
  • Created Documentation of Issues and Solutions for PowerQuest Products.
  • Tracked Software Issues and Researched Technological Advances and their relationship to PowerQuest Products
  • Helped Customers with Data Recovery, Boot Problems and use of PowerQuest Products


Institute for Network Professionals/Mountainland Applied Technical Center 1/99-4/99 (contract)

  • Developed curriculum for FrontPage 98 training.
  • Taught FrontPage 98 and HTML programming


Corel Corporation 5/97-9/98 (lay off)

  • Worked on the development and localization WordPerfect Suite 8 for Danish Including inserting translations with different tools
  • Worked with databases, screen sizing, bug fixing, code editing and updating, individual vendors, translators, QA/Testers and developers
  • Worked on the development and localization Presentations Suite 8 for Finnish, Swedish, Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish
  • Worked directly with Netscape and developers
  • Helped develop a state-to-art localization process for WordPerfect Suite 9
  • Created and developed Internet/Intranet Web pages for Internet tools team for using internally and externally w/ vendors, translators, and development and localization engineers