The latest version of Camtasia Studio allows you to use the “”picture in picture”” technique of television to augment presentations and training programs.
This program is very popular with teachers creating instructional programs, but can be easily transferred to the boardroom. Using it is as
simple as it gets. The maker, TechSmith, started out producing frame-grabber programs. These capture an image of whatever is showing on your computer screen, which you can then print or save. If you extend that power just a little bit, you can capture whole sequences of screen shots and put them together into a kind of video course.
Now we’re talking. Version 3 of Camtasia expands its features much further and you can now add a small picture of yourself talking about what the viewers are seeing on the screen and what in particular they should pay attention to. That picture-in-picture can also be used to show a video further illustrating the information on-screen. If you go to the Web site (www.techsmith.com) and click on “”See What’s New,”” you can then watch a video demonstrating the power of all this.
You can put together a course or training program from screen shots, video and sound, and import other videos, photographs and CAD drawings. You can even add the picture-in-picture feature to PowerPoint presentations. When you’re done, you can place it just about anywhere you want: A screen box pops up asking if you want to e-mail your presentation, burn it to CD, save it as a file or put it on the Web. If you don’t have a Web site, you can use the Web hosting company the program recommends.
Camtasia can create an index of whatever you save into your instructional or educational video. The viewers can then skip directly to parts they want instead of having to wade through it all each time.
A graphics tablet, like the popular Wacom tablet, can be used to annotate lectures and speeches as they are in progress, and these, too, can be indexed.
Camtasia Studio 3 is for Windows XP and 2000 and has a list price of US$448, or US$150 for the “”academic”” version. The academic version is the same as the full retail but is supposed to be restricted to sales to teachers and students.
If you don’t need the features of Camtasia Studio, but want just a simple program for capturing screen sequences, you can get one from Microsoft. Go to Microsoft’s Web site (www.microsoft.com) and type “”Windows encoder”” in the search box.
We’re taking a look (so to speak) at Actiontec’s new wireless network camera, designed for video surveillance where you want it. It costs just US$200 and picks up sound as well as full-colour video.
The software that comes with it can be set to automatically send an e-mail to up to three recipients when any motion is detected. The camera can be accessed by password, using any Web browser. The motion can be recorded to a hard drive, and the image will be time- and date-stamped. The software can also be set to automatically record video during any desired period.
The wireless transmission uses the 802.11g protocol, which transmits at around 54 megabits per second. The transmission range is 50 to 150 feet, depending on what’s between the camera and the base station or computer that receives the signal. Get all the specs at www.actiontec.com.
NOTE: These small video cameras come with lots of features in the more expensive units, and you can get a zoom lens and motion controls for panning the camera to cover a large area. Of course, you pay more for these features. If you want them, a Web search will turn up several makers. D-Link (www.dlink.com), for example, makes a high-speed unit with two-way audio (you can talk to anyone you’re viewing) and remote control pan and zoom, but the price goes up to around a $1,000.
Books: You’ll want this one
“”PC Annoyances, Second Edition”” by Steve Bass; www.oreilly.com.
The subtitle on this book is “”How to Fix the Most ANNOYING Things About Your Personal Computer, Windows and More.”” Well we’re here to tell you there are lots of annoying things about computers, and we think we can hear lots of people shouting agreement.
Each chapter has dozens of tips on how to end annoying things, like having to fill out a registration form every time you enter some Web site. They’re collecting that information so they can push more stuff on you. Go to www.bugmenot.com for valid passwords to many sites, and you can create your own.
If you go to www.oreilly.com/pcannoyances, you’ll find a list of downloads for utility programs covered in each chapter. Click on any of those names, and you’re taken to a site where you can get that download. Some have a cost, but many are free. One of those, Power Desk 5, for example, is free. It’s supposed to be just a free trial, but it keeps on ticking. We use it every day.