Screen Recordings

I’ve referred to screen recordings (screencasts) in the past but have never written anything specifically about them.

There are a number of tools out there which capture screen events along with any spoken dialogue and many of them come at quite a cost, which is fair enough if you need to regularly create professional output. However, many of us only need to create the odd screencast and don’t have the means of paying for such tools. I will therefore concentrate on just three free tools: one for a Mac, one for a PC and one for both (on the ‘net).

CamStudio [http://camstudio.org/] is a free tool which works on PC platforms. It’s also available to work from a USB stick as part of RSC Scotland’s AccessApps provision. With CamStudio, full screen, or a chosen region can be recorded and the output can be .avi or .swf.

Quicktime Player, on Mac’s OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard) is also a useful screen recorder. It only records full screen but thanks to Cath Ellis (@cathellis13 on Twitter) I am aware that regions of the screen can be recorded if you have ‘Lion’ installed.

See http://screenr.com/OZxs to learn how to ‘trim’ the screen recording on the fly.

Shows various sites used to register with ScreenrScreenr [http://www.screenr.com] is a web based tool. It can be used on a Mac or on a PC – provided that Java is installed. There is no need to register with Screenr provided that you have an account with any one of a number of other services (see picture). Record any part of the screen. Output is hosted on Screenr servers and shared via URL (embed code provided). Also available to download as .mp4 file or upload direct to YouTube. The video clip above was recorded via Screenr, to show how Quicktime Recorder can be used. It was then posted to YouTube so it could easily be embedded into this WordPress blog.

How would you use a screen recorder? Which would/do you use?

Full Stops

This won’t be a long post, I just want to share something I learned recently.

Yesterday, I visited my friend and colleague Lilian Soon at her home. We were discussing the potential for supporting and delivering the new iTQ in Accessible practice across our region. Part of this discussion was to compile a proposal for the local Regional Support Centre.

During our discussions, and whilst compiling the proposal on a shared Google Doc, Lilian remarked that we should really put full stops at the end of our bulleted lists, as this helps screen readers to know what they were reading and therefore to make the whole list (of bullets) clearer to the ‘viewer’. Aesthetically, I’d always thought that bulleted lists looked better without full stops or commas, but the minute Lilian mentioned screen readers – I ‘got’ it.

This is a prime example of how small changes to practice, often quite irrelevant to most people’s thinking can make significant benefits to the way in which learners access learning. That’s it. that’s all I wanted to say: put full stops at the end of your bulleted lists, to make screen readers function better.

UPDATES:

I forgot that Lilian (in a Tweet of her own yesterday) and then @petejbell (quoted) in a Tweet today said: “Y11 pupil suggested “why not make full stop same colour as background?

Also @didaw said on Twitter: “otherwise screen readers won’t catch a breath!”

MacBook Pro 3

Since my last posts concerning the MacBook Pro [see http://is.gd/2LEq9 and  http://is.gd/2LE7E], I’ve moved on quite a bit. I’ve sort of mastered iTunes, iMovie and iPhoto and I’ve also delivered three sessions using it as the main machine. So – what have I learned and how does it feel now?

(Before moving on, I must thank all those of you that commented on MacBook Pro 2 – your comments have been tremendously helpful. Readers, please view the comments on that post.)

Images

Snippy I opened an image in [Preview] the other day: just why it didn’t open in iPhoto, I’m not quite sure yet; but found that there is a [select] function – a sort of crop-tool. However, it allows you to freehand select tool [lasso] – in much the same way as Snippy and the Snipping tool in Vista. So if you like funny shaped pictures – use Preview and its select tool. Shift + Command + 4 to capture a standard still image of screen (thanks Di). This image defaults to the desktop b.t.w.

I used iPhoto big time on my American holiday [http://is.gd/2LGqu] but it took some time to ‘get’ it. All images the machine comes across find their way into an EVENT folder. You can then add the images to folders of your own choosing. But: If you delete them from the EVENT folder, they disappear from everywhere else you might have put them (you can easily drag them from EVENT to a folder of your own choice but the dragging only copies – it doesn’t move).

Troubles with iTunes.

screenshot - iTunes view icons

It also took me a while to ‘get’ iTunes. For someone used to yellow folder icons populated by file icons and the ability to view these hierarchically iTunes has been a steep learning curve and the bends are still making me dizzy. I can ‘view’ my music ‘albums’ in Album view (the chess board-like icon above) and easily see which album is which. I can even select different views within this view (!!) I can view albums, artists, genres and composers and each set of icons will be re-ordered and re-presented to aid my viewing/searching. But – and here’s where it took me a while to ‘get’ it – when you choose the lines icon (on the left above) you just get one HUGE list of individual tracks. Which I find alarming – almost scary. And then there’s the Album Art …

Screenshot - default iTunes album iconIf iTunes can’t find the cover image for your ‘album’ it grants you the use of its own generic music icon, which is dark and dull and if you have more than two albums; wrist-slashingly dull. To overcome this you have to be patient and committed (don’t all shout at once!!). You have to double-click the (dull) icon to open the album and see the track list. The (dull) icon will appear on the top left. Right click (or Control + right pad click) this and choose ‘get info’. Choose ‘artwork’. Now – open your favourite browser and go to: http://www.albumart.org/ to search for your album and a link to a CD cover image you can then copy and paste into the ‘artwork’ window you have left open in iTunes. Of course this may not be legal – so I may never have done it. But it is nice to see an image replacing the dull, generic icon. You could of course compose an image of your own – if you have the time. Oh – there’s another ‘beware‘ before I sign off this post.

If one of the albums you are importing into iTunes is a compilation (say ‘The Best of Eric Clapton’) it may (9 times out of ten for me) ‘split’ itself into two or three different albums (album icons). I had Eric on his own, Eric with John Mayall and Eric with Cream – which was space-takingly annoying. I just wanted one album, like I have in my CD rack. To repair this, Right click (or Controlright pad click) the previously (perhaps still?) dull icon and choose ‘get info’ and then ‘info’. Make sure that the artist name is the one you want and where there is a difference between the different splits (gosh this is confusing, sorry), ensure they become the same (?) and lo – your three (or more) albums will become one again, just like you wanted in the first place.

Phew. iMovie next time and other ‘stuff’

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