E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

Screencasts

Simple Single Sign-on

(Migrated weblog post from LSR)

How many times have you had to type the same password all over the place to access whatever the application you would need to access? How many different passwords you have got for all those web sites or applications that you visit / use once or twice and by the third time you have already forgotten about it. A few times, right ? Yes, me, too. Well, there may be a quick, easy and effective solution to it and something that you would wonder how something so powerful yet could be made available in such a simple way.

Check out the screencast that Jon Udell created a couple of months ago that describes a superb way to keep your passwords in a central place and without having to worry too much, except for that one master password: Simple single sign-on.

Pretty neat, eh? Yes, that is also what I said. Password Generator was created by Nic Wolff and as I said there is no other solution easier than this to handle your passwords. There is even a Bookmarklet for it, which is what I am currently using at the moment (And quite happy with it, I must say), and for all the FireFox users out there are a couple of GreaseMonkey scripts available: Pwd Composer and Password Composer.

So if you are looking for a way to solve that ongoing problem of handling your several dozens of passwords do not look any further. Just use Password Generator after watching Jon Udell’s screencast on the subject. And you will realise how much time you have been wasting having to go through that tedious process of handling your passwords.

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Wink – Create Program Presentations in Flash Without Effort

(Migrated weblog post from LSR)

Ok, I think it is now a good time to start up with a new category in my weblog dedicated to the wonderful world of screencasts. Yes, those computer outputs that lots of people have been talking about and which become really effective when you want to demonstrate something in your computer to then show it to a specific audience. Screencasts have been very popular ever since they entered the world of Learning and Education as one of the most powerful methods to educate and deliver content to people without the need to be at a classroom with a teacher. Thus the purpose with this category is to basically share with you some of the different tools that I have been using all along and also to share with you some of the screencasts that I have enjoyed the most of the last few months and that would be related to Knowledge Management, Collaboration, CommunityBuilding, Social Networking, etc. etc.

At the same time that screencasts are a popular innovative way to deliver information to a particular audience, so are the different options available in order to create those screencasts. Indeed, there are quite a few programs out there that people could use in order to produce some of the best outputs put together. Of course, some of them are shareware, like Camtasia (One of my favourites from the shareware side) but there are some others that are freeware and although they may not be as featured rich as the ones with the license fees they still provide an incredible value.

Such is the case from Wink.

Wink is just a relatively small application (A 1.9 MB download) that allows you to create your own computer output and then convert it into a Flash movie that you can upload into a web server or just e-mail it to whoever needs to watch that screencast. Here you have got an excerpt of how it actually works:

“Wink allows you to record desktop action or application windows and create smooth, animated Flash demonstrations from the result, which can be saved in SWF format or as standalone EXE file with integrated playback. Simply press a keyboard key every time you want to capture a frame; when you are finished, you can annotate each frame, using a variety of comment shapes. You can also include Next and GoTo button, allowing the viewer to navigate the animation or jump to specific frames. The frames are then rendered into a smooth Flash animation that can be played in the user`s browser or the standalone EXE file with viewer. Wink is easy to use and lets you create quality Flash demos with no further experience needed.”

Not bad, eh? I know that some folks out there would say Wink does not have the possibility of adding sound to the recording like with other much more expensive software programs, but there are certainly workarounds that people could use to add that audio file. In fact, if you go into the following Wink forum link you will find a tutorial, with step by step instructions, that would show you how to make it work. Yes, I know it may be a bit cumbersome, but then again you have got to think that this is freeware and as such there are always going to be some limitations although I have read somewhere as well that there would be an upcoming version of Wink that would include audio support as well. So we may not need to wait for much longer.

And I guess that whenever that happens we will be witnessing a major transition from folks using some expensive software to Wink because I doubt there would be a similar, so easy to use (Yet so much more effective), offering in order to record your screencasts. So now you know, if you are looking for some inexpensive piece of software that would allow you to create your own screencasts with little effort and great results, Wink is what you are looking for. Yes, yes, indeed, *I know*, simple is more !


For those folks interested in some additional reading regarding screencasts and the different tools available to reach the best results I would suggest you take a look into the Wikipedia article on screencasts or this superb, and thorough, article about the best screencasting tools available out there. Both links are worth while a read if you are not sure yet what to use or if you would want to have a look into what is out there that could help you improve your remote coaching and learning skills by creating some state of the art screencasts.

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Can Podcasting and Screencasting Save the Boat for Opera?

(Migrated weblog post from LSR)

I would certainly think so. Way back, from the very beginning, both Podcasting and Screencasting have been two very popular methods of delivering (strong) messages to different audiences on a multitude of different scenarios, products, items, whatever. You name it. And ever since the beginning both methods have been very successful in attracting plenty of folks around whatever the item that has been talked about. You can see very clear examples at Jon Udell’s weblog.

So given that popularity of both methods, wouldn’t you expect that Opera would be benefiting from them if there would be a particular fixed schedule from where people could download podcasts and screencasts about their favourite web browser? Of course you would. Still Opera does not seem to be paying much attention to this particular way of delivering messages. If you go into its homepage and search for rather podcasting or screencasting there are no results returned back to you, however, you do have some kind of screencasts with the magnificent resources that Nontroppo has put together and which I have weblogged about in the past, however, they only have got video and no audio so they are not as beneficial as you would expect.

So when thinking about this the last couple of days, where I have been talking about alternative ways of delivering different messages to wider audiences in a much fancier and appealing format than traditional marketing techniques, I think it would be the perfect time for Opera to dive into this new way of delivering information to its users. Opera needs to get busy podcasting and screencasting if it wants to continue promoting its usage by other end-users who are looking for a fancy tool to try out. Podcasting and screencasting is cool and Opera could certainly make use of their hype and get onboard.

Can you imagine the impact that a podcast by Jon S. von Tetzchner, Opera’s CEO, could have telling folks why their web browser is a good alternative compared to what is out there? I certainly cannot wait for the day where this would take place. For the time being we may need to just go by with Nontroppo’s soundless screencasts, but soon enough the more we have the better it would be. Let’s see how it all shapes up and see what time will tell.

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What Is Nontroppo’s Wonderful World of Visual Tutorials Missing?

(Migrated weblog post from LSR)

I am sure that by now most of those folks who have been using Opera 8 or, at least, have visited the web site itself, have seen the superb tutorials that nontroppo has put together to show some of the most popular features from Opera’s latest version. The tutorials themselves can be found in here and after having gone through them I still got to learn a trick or two, even though I have been using Opera for some time now.

However, I couldn’t help noticing something missing. Something that takes more relevance, specially, with the latest version of the popular web browser: some audio. As you well know, for the first time ever in any web browser (as far as I know) Opera is introducing a voice component that will actually help you talk to it to surf the web and read stuff out loud to you. And I was just thinking that those tutorials would have been a whole lot better if nontroppo would have been using the concept of screencasting, introduced coined by Jon Udell where those tutorials could have been created with both a video and an audio component.

I bet they would have been a lot more effective and compelling than what they are already now. After all it is always more appealing to hear someone’s voice telling you about something than having to read it out yourself, right? More than anything else because you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. I wonder if they would get updated at some point using screencasting and see if it would have the same effect. I am sure they would not. Main reason being adding both audio and video to a tutorial is probably one of the most powerful ways of delivering information to an audience, wherever or whoever they may be. So let’s see what happens next time. We will keep on watching.

For the time being if you do want to have a look into what features have been put together do not hesitate to check out the tutorials. You will enjoy them ! Thanks much, nontroppo!!! for putting them together and help others discover Opera and its many great features. Way to go !