Archive for software

My Podcast Process and Thoughts

Posted in Web2.0 Productivity with tags , , , , , , on March 6, 2011 by Lance Strzok

So here are some lessons learned from my recent podcast.

Content gathering
– Gathered from various sources, and be sure to get the source information for each part
* Official Emails
* Company portal highlights
* Interviews with people
* Newsletters (internal and external)
* Questions
* Ask for content from Social Media sources
* Send email request for input with links to pages
* Make some phone calls to personally invite someone to interview with you
* RSS feed for items that matter to everyone
– I put all of the content into a shownotes page on a wiki for the production end of things and invite (encourage) others to begin to edit there, otherwise I just put the content in myself from email, or whatever source they are sending it to me from
– After writing it all down and smoothing it over for speaking it aloud, I am ready to record
– Create a section at the beginning in which you mention the contents of the episode, and the date so that listeners may choose to listen or skip that particular podcast (thank you readers for that feedback)

– I started to record them as mp3 files with a Zoom H1 hand held recorder, but now under lessons learned, I will save them as wave files since the Levelator tool provided by the Conversations Network takes that as an input later in the process and I want to reduce the number of conversions (which only add noise as evidenced in the first podcast). I use the 48khz sample rate with 16 bit because it is the best that can be converted by the Levelator or converted to mp3. I also use the autolevel setting on the back, as well as the low cut on.

During Recording
– Have a glass of something you like to drink near by
– I don’t mind making a long recording, just make sure that if you make a mistake while recording, to pause, regain composure, pick the spot you wan to redo, and after a noticeably long enough time start the section over. In this way when editing, you will clearly see a long pause that will indicate the location of the edit. (Thanks to that tip from Robert and Tiffany Rapplean from their podcast – Intellectual Icebergs)
– Find a quite place, and give some thought to the room you are in with regard to sound waves and how they will arrive at the microphone as well as materials that will absorb sound

Save Raw Recording
– Save the raw recording before doing anything else and store in a folder

– You can use the Levelator tool to even out the different levels in the sound file and bring it to a consistent output sound level so that episodes are generally equal from show to show
– I use Audacity to Edit the wave files, (again, switching to wave files to reduce the number of conversions that reduce sound quality)
– Edit out the bad sections and shorten up long pauses
– Add intro and extro music or words as desired
– Insert commercials as desired (I don’t do this – yet)
– There are other resources within Audacity to do more editing
– Save this file as an edited wave file so that if you have to add sections (insert additional entries), that will be easy

– Now using Audacity export the edited file as an mp3 file for upload to the server

Last Listen
– Give the show the last listen while following along with the shownotes
– Make sure all the content that is in the show notes is represented (I forgot a section in my first podcast)
– Make time hacks in the shownotes so that if people want to skip to a section, they can do so

Upload Link and Market
– Upload the file to the host server
– Copy the show notes and time hacks from the wiki page where they were created into a blog post and email for linking and feedback
– Make links wherever possible in the shownotes to sources and important nouns
– Link to the podcast, shownotes, and feedback from various locations
– Include a link to subscribe to the podcast or updates when possible
– Post the blog, and verify that all the links work – if not, fix them
– Let your users know that there is a new podcast available with a link to automatically download the mp3 file

– email the podcast distro list you may have and include in the email the time hacks and topics for the show

Follow up on Feedback
– Make sure you stay engaged and follow up on feedback that comes back to you on the blog

If you have additional thoughts on improving this process, please let me know, I aim to make it better as I go, and thanks for your thoughts in advance.

Sharing my Screencasting Process

Posted in Web2.0 Productivity, work with tags , , , , , , on October 4, 2010 by Lance Strzok

1) Record screencast with CamStudio version 2.0 and the “CamStudio lossless codec” that can both be downloaded at the link provided.

2) Save as an AVI file from within Camstudio.

3) After capturing the screensession, open the file with Anyvideoconverter and save as an mp4 file.

4) Open with AVIdemux for editing and save as mp4.

(The Anyvideoconverter and AVIdemux sofware steps 3-4 can now be replaced with Freemake Video Converter  Which can do the conversion and is a nice editor.)

In a little more detail, (thanks Karen),

On a computer, open the software tool called CamStudio. This tool allows the user to take a screen capture an estimated thirty frames per second and also captures audio.
Open the software that is going to be demonstrated or open the target software, such as Microsoft Excel 2007 or Microsoft Word 2007

In CamStudio, configure the settings for optimal capture of the software activities, as in this particular case, the steps in how to use Microsoft Excel 2007 or Microsoft Word 2007.

After the optimization, start the recording and begin the software demonstration. (As a side note, if a mistake is made, do not stop recording. Pause yourself and take a deep breath.

Gather your thoughts and start again at a point just before you made the mistake.

When the demonstration is complete, press the stop button in CamStudio to stop the recording.

Save the file as it is as an AVI file.

Convert the AVI file into a manageable file size by using another software tool named “Any Video Converter” to convert the AVI file into a MP4 file. This conversion can reduce the file size by ten to twenty times its size.

After the conversion, open the MP4 file with another software tool named Avidemux, for editing.

Edit out any mistakes made in the recording and save the file as a MP4 file.

Close the MP4 file and open the canned introduction recording.

Append the recent software demonstration recording to the introduction recording.

Append the canned closing to the software demonstration recording.

Save the now merged three parts of the recording, (introduction, demonstration, closing) as one MP4 file.

Distribute the learning video to the appropriate site for others to view.

You must know-
How to use and configure CamStudio, “Any Video Converter”, and Avidemux
Have the knowledge on audio and video codec’s to properly configure the three software tools mentioned above.
Know the software activity or activities that are going to be demonstrated.


If you want the exact settings I  use look here:…s-and-software/


Modern Production Expectations

Posted in Web2.0 Productivity with tags , , , , , on April 16, 2010 by Lance Strzok

So I recently missed two stops on the Metro as I began to refine the question into, “What should a modern day production system do?”

To lay out the general environment, let’s just say that there are many writers on many topics around the world that may want to contribute collaboratively to this system in an effort to make sure it is accurate and represents the collective knowledge on the subject at the time.

These are some things that I thought of:

* Web based
* Notify me when someone else is writing on a topic or interest of mine
* Show all new pages and/or trending topics
* Alert me when the product reaches milestones, is rejected, edited or approved
* Allow for comments by the person that rejected or approved the document as it went through the process
* I want to be able to define and change styles, fonts, headers, keywords, meta data, on single or groups of documents easily
* Low barrier to entry, edit and create documents or articles
* Flexible approval process that accommodates definable paths for approval if necessary
* Discoverable to all at all stages in the process
* Links to other tools and tells them when a product is started, completed or hit a milestone
* Delineate between significant and minor edits
* Be searchable in all stages of development
* Include what we knew and when we knew it in a record that can be traced
* Easy sourcing method embedded in the tool that links to actual sources or discussions of the source
* Include a feedback mechanism for completed products
* Easily moved, removed or replaced in its entirety (database)
* Easily backed up
* The ability to add keywords, categories or metadata at a later date to bulk groups of documents
* The ability to remove undesirable metadata
* Integrates with other tools and services easily
* For every non-minor change, prompt for a source, significance and classification
* For existing sources in the document, have them appear on a drop down for selection
* Notifications for all that subscribe by either email or real simple syndication (RSS)
* Links to contributing authors and a mechanism to view which authors created what material
* Link to other documents in the same or similar categories
* People that read this also read this…
* Accept, use or allow creation of templates for initial layout and article formats
* Images have their own link and can be shown or not shown as a user preference
* Be able to edit and watch edits being made in near real time color coded by author (etherpad like)
* Highlight text
* Color text
* Annotate during edit
* Easily export or transfer to xml, html, pdf, and opendocument formats
* Generate statistics on various aspects of the articles including which authors contributed and how much
* Generate a list of those people that are watching the product being made and those that read the article when it is completed
* Show where the document is in the review or approval process as it is defined
* Integrates with other new media tools
* Mouse roll over any text shows – classification, author, and source
* The ability to link to a section or paragraph by way of a URL
* Autobuild an outline or table of contents as the product is being made or within the template
* Search within an article
* Be searchable from other tools
* Automatic lat/long, location, and place name recognition for use with geographic selection of reporting
* Place for questions related to the document that can be watched by the contributors, and the other followers that may want answers to questions in the document
* Temporal recognition
* Easily embed graphics
* Text flows around graphics
* System finds and makes links to related documents based on metadata, and words within the document
* Selectable contributors (IC, Agency, COI, or specific Individuals)
* Single sign on, hooked into PKI and LDAP mechanisms
* Inexpensive
* Robust track changes
* Notification of changes
* Undo button
* Transparency of comments, and creation
* Discussion page for resolution of differences
* Classification roll up (Document classification is as high as any content within it)
* Dirty word check or links to a standard dirty word service that is updated by the community
* Spelling check and grammar check as you type

So tell me what else you would want your production system to do so that I can include them in future requirements.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

To Sharepoint or not to Sharepoint.

Posted in Web2.0 Productivity with tags , , , , on April 16, 2010 by Lance Strzok

I have been evaluating Sharepoint 2007 for utility within our organization and although the very word “Sharepoint” seems to bring to mind sharing, I find that when combined with most of the workforce I am in, sharing is far from what happens. I have since started calling it “Stovepoint”. Not that the software is completely to blame, but also what features are turned on or turned off when installed.

One of the biggest problems I have with it is editing documents on the Sharepoint server using any other browser other then Internet Explorer (IE). I prefer Firefox at the moment as my primary browser, but it does not open and allow editing of content on the Sharepoint server, so I have to open the file in IE, and then go on editing. I would prefer that the server be agnostic to the user browser, and just let me edit and save the document. In my case, where I want to collaborate with people around the world, I can not assume that everyone of them has access too IE to use in order to update that file.

The blogging software is lacking when compared to WordPress, and I like all the user support and development for WordPress plugins, addons, and the general extensibility.

As for the Wiki feature, I would prefer the same syntax and capabilities as well as support for Media Wiki software used by Wikipedia.

I found I wanted to do a lot more with Real Simple Syndication (RSS) then what Sharepoint had to offer. Modern workforces are looking to more then just a few tools to handle the mountains of data that are available to them. RSS, and the ability to ingest, sort, search, and display as well as re-feed out that list to other members of a team are important. The closest I have come to that is Using Feedreader.

One of my major concerns is collaborating with the wiki or blog or documents from outside of the organization. At least in our organization, that capability just does not exist. I can collaborate with the people in my organization, but not outside of it, and frankly, I already tend to do that fairly well. I really want to reach collaborators outside of the organization, and get ideas from outside of our spaces.

Now before I get a bunch of responses that say “it can do that”, you have to consider that all I am using is the base tool. No additional widgets, no developers to make it do what I want. Just a bare install. I say this because to add any additional effort has to be approved, budgeted for, and might happen some time in the distant future, which does not solve my problems now.

I have an additional concern about the general dependency on Microsoft Office tools in general. We seem to rely on Word, PowerPoint, and Excel spreadsheets and Outlook more then we should. I don’t believe there is any real competition to MS tools, and that only in recent times are we starting to see MS taking input from users and programming to meet user generated requirements. I think more of their recent tools are getting better for this reason. But I will always look to open source to provide good alternatives to MS tools that will keep costs down, and drive future innovations. A good example would be Firefox capabilities driving changes in IE as a browser. I am sure there are other examples and would love to see them in the comments below.

My overall recommendation has to be to use our instance of Sharepoint for our internal website. Hanging documents there that are read only or archived would be fine. Actively edited docs, well I don’t think I would push using it for that since I tend to seek collaboration on a global scale. I would also ban attachments, and go for sending links to a URL with the file to be edited on the other end using another piece of software.

Before closing, I do want to make sure that I say something important about Microsoft. I like 3 products of theirs very much. Excel, Word, and Powerpoint. I know there are strong less expensive competitors out there for those tools, and I hope it continues to spur innovation and improvement in those tools. Especially in the areas of seamless integration with other successful tools.

Please let me know if you think I forgot some more important things to mention with regard to this decision (like cost, or support). I would love to hear good and bad so that I can help my organization make a good decision on keeping it, or adopting other services to meet our needs.

As always, thanks for reading.