Windows Movie Maker

I’m currently doing some work for JISC TechDis, which requires me to undertake an inclusive review of Windows 7. At first, this was a shock as I haven’t used Windows regularly since the days of XP and 2003. I only dabbled with Vista, often giving up the will to live: After a few  months of dabbling, I bought my MacBook Pro and haven’t looked back.

I’ve grown to like some of the features offered by Windows 7 and in time I may well write about my experiences and findings, but for now I want to delve into the ways I’ve tried to capture evidence and present training resources. 

It would make sense (wouldn’t it?) to do screen captures and edit them on the machine  was using? Well, I thought that would be a breeze but it’s been less than straight forward! My first thought was to use Screenr. This would allow me to present an online version or a downloaded .mp4 version – both of good quality. Coupled with a word-processed ‘How To’ document and a transcription, I’d thought it would be ok. However, it’s impossible to edit after completion….

So, because Windows ‘Live’ Movie Maker (LMM) is ‘new and improved’ and it now edits more than .wmv and .avi movies, I downloaded that with a view to muting my audio and relaying a new audio track over the top.
David Sugden (dsugden) on Twitter
Well, I used to be able to make Windows Movie Maker (WMM) sing and dance and often stood its corner against Apple’s iMovie enthusiasts. The WMM 6 that came with Vista was Vista’s one stand-out success but LMM bears no resemblance.
I spent half a day trying to get it to do ‘stuff’ before posting my frustration on Twitter. The one reply tells its own story!

So how was I going to make my edits? I thought I’d start again, ditch Screenr and use CamStudio instead. But CamStudio can be dodgy on Windows 7, the USB stick version (on AccessApps) often crashes and on occasion, so does the downloaded full version. Furthermore, I was still faced with the editing problem.

I then thought to search t’Internet!

And hey presto – I downloaded WMM 6 [Get it here: http://members.shaw.ca/wmm6/wmm6.html], installed it and although it won’t allow me to record audio directly over the movie, I can razor bits of audio (can’t see a razor or cut tool at all on the new and improved (sic) LMM) and mute as required. I can then lay over Audacity created voice overs with ease. However, I can’t edit my Screenr creations, I HAVE to use CamStudio. But (another but?) I can do screenshots, crop them in the new Paint, use the motion effects in WMM 6 and record audacity as they go through the motions. A bit of ‘stretch to fit’ then seems to work well.

It’s a bit of an arse about face to work, but if Screenr won’t do – there you go. Of course, if it was OSX I was working with …..  😉

b.t.w. – what have I missed with Windows Live Movie Maker? Is it really bad, or am I just not looking in the right places?

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It’s easy to forget

It’s been a while since I chose to employ any Microsoft OS for my own use. However, most of the places I visit or work with have now moved up to Windows 7 and furthermore, I have been retained to give someone a report on certain aspects of Win 7’s potential. I have therefore bought a copy of Windows 7 and have installed it on my Aldi-Medion (formerly Vista) laptop. Well, number one son Ben has installed it for me – I may well have asked the laptop AND the software to pick a window (through which I would the throw it!)

I have brought the very same laptop on holiday with me, to a) put Win 7 through some easy paces and b) to upload my pics to Flickr and to keep up to my holiday blog. Internetting has been OK but drafting blogs became a tad tricky as I have not yet invested in Office 2010 – which is the plan. I tried the already installed MS Works and (as I have done many times before and many years ago) wondered what its purpose in life was. I then downloaded Open Office 3.0 and I was ready to go.

I missed Microsoft Picture Manager big-time too, I’d thought that was part of Win 7 but it seems it isn’t. On the ‘net, Fotoflexer wouldn’t work for me because it thought I was French and threw me out; Picnik tried to do the same, but I found the button that said ‘hey – I’m English and need English titles etc.’ so was able to crop/edit some pictures for use later.

So, tonight I tried combining all elements in a holiday blog post: Open Office 3.0 draft words, Picnik’d Flickr photos and WordPress. What a disaster!

My lack of recent familiarity with Windows and the ubiquitous Internet Explorer is to blame I think. I know I could use other browsers like Firefox (which is my default on the Mac), Chrome (which is my default on Parallels) or Safari (Which I use now and again) but for the same reasons detailed above – I need to reacquaint myself with it.

I did all the usual things like importing the words into WordPress via the ‘Paste as Plain Text’ facility and importing the picture ‘from URL’ but things just didn’t go right. I could see that I’d lost half of my text after inserting the picture – I wasn’t sure why that happened – and I pasted it right back in. Then, later in the evening I noticed that an complete paragraph had been missed. I’d deleted my original by now too!

I’m not blaming Windows or IE25 (or whatever version it is this week), it was definitely operator error, but it’s amazing how soon you become unfamiliar with a tool, when it’s been updated. Sorry to anyone who read that post and wondered what I was talking about 😦

Updating

I know it’s an old saw (sore?), but how odd would it be (in fact how downright unsafe, unprofessional, irritating and gridlocking would it be?) if car manufacturers sold vehicles that needed updating all the time, especially if they ‘needed’ updating whilst on the move, or when an inexperienced driver was behind the wheel. I’m not talking about ‘whoops we’ve got it wrong despite thousands of hours of testing recalls, but cars that are released knowing they are so not ready for market and that the updating needs to happen on a weekly basis?

We wouldn’t be happy would we? We wouldn’t buy such rubbish would we?

Then why do we put up with computer software (both paid for and free) that needs constant, often daily, updating?

I have my Mac set to update OSX 10.6(.7) on a Sunday afternoon and if it ever happens, I am rarely bothered by it. My Windows computer however, seems to need updating every time I turn it on (which admittedly isn’t usually more than once a week) – so to be fair, Microsoft Windows may be victim of my ‘I don’t like Microsoft Windows any more’ attitude to computing. But they cannot be blamed for Adobe’s sheer incompetence at getting anything right first time. I’m not entirely sure why I use Adobe Reader because it updates so often you’d think it was an exclusive piece of software (which of course it isn’t: there are so many other .pdf readers out there they should be very careful) but I do – sadly on both Mac (with Windows 2003 available via Parallels) and PC (so I have thrice the weekly pain!). It’s not just the updating, it’s the fact that it doesn’t happen in the background, the fact that it often wants to restart my machine and the fact that it couldn’t give a damn whether I’m working on a document, giving a demonstration to hundreds of people or just sitting mumbling in the corner.

And while I’m ranting about Adobe – let’s not forget the Flash player updates, the Shockwave updates and the updates to updates. These are doubly irritating in educational institutions because the ‘update now’ capability will have been disallowed by the innovation prevention department – leading to all round fear and disillusionment of and for teaching via technology.

Come on guys – get it right, test it, get it right again and THEN release it!

It’s getting a little bit the same with iPhone/Pad Apps. i sort of ‘get’ them updating as the iOS settles down but I’m constantly having to turn off 3G, open up my WiFi, enter my iTunes password and leave the device to update. I know I can still work on the device, but some Apps make me click a button to say I’m 18! [e.g. CaskMarque Pubs] What’s that all about – if I was 12, I’d still click the button, surely age-aware Apps should be dealt with via the iTunes registration?

Rant over.

Adding Windows to a MacBook Pro

Subtitle: MacBook Pro 4

At Christmas, I began to install Windows onto my MacBook Pro.

I’d bought Parallels Desktop 5 earlier in the month and set myself up to carry out the installation. Being a chef at heart and a user of technology, I liken my ability to carry out technical computer tasks to a good driver not knowing or caring how the car works: fill it up, check all levels – drive away. So I left myself the entire holiday period to go through the installation. I’d guessed (rightly) that this wouldn’t be a simple put it in > click go > installation.

The guy I spoke to at Apple said that I could easily ‘migrate’ my Windows computer lock, stock and barrel, and the Parallels installation literature didn’t shake that belief. But that didn’t happen. To cut a long, frustrating story short; the migration cannot be completed if your Windows computer (lock, stock or no barrel) has OEM software installed. Hey ho. Time to move on.

My idea has been to just carry one laptop with me wherever I go. Most of my training work is with Windows based products but the machines I own, which run Windows are not as reliable as the MacBook Pro. And of course, Windows takes an age to get itself going on a morning. By having Windows working through Parallels, I’d hoped to solve that problem.

Anyway – time passed (I was too busy to be bothered) and I managed to get a (what turned out to be dodgy) copy of Windows XP. Of course, you cannot buy XP anymore and support for it finishes this year; but that’s the version I wanted. So I deleted my part-migrated version and started from scratch. This went OK until I got to the Microsoft Validation page. Oh-no, I’m caught bang to rights. But for £95 I could purchase a validation code. So I did that and away I went.

XP loaded easily after being given a kosher validation code, then I had to go and find the various service packs. It took me back a fair bit to see Windows Movie Maker in its original (pretty bleak) clothing and to then see it as it should be – well dressed and ‘cool’. It all took a while (luckily I was able to do this whilst working on another machine and just clicking ‘go’ every now and again).

  • I downloaded Cam Studio easily enough and it worked (yippee).
  • I downloaded Photo Story 3 and it didn’t work until ….
  • I downloaded Windows Media Player 10 (I hadn’t planned this but PS3 needed it)
  • I downloaded AVG (although I wasn’t sure I needed it – I did!)

So now, all being well I can have a laptop that works when I want it to, as well as a laptop that can do Windows-based stuff – all in one machine! But do I need to install Office 2003 (which I have) or just cope with my Mac version of Office 2008 … Perhaps I need to check and see how the clever interactive stuff works (which doesn’t normally work in Apple!)