In the studio: podcasting

This week I will create a podcast, an assignment in my university class.  Though I have created podcasts before, I must admit that they were never really organized well. Well, I decided to do a better job at organizing this time!

Podcast topic: Data Mining

Goals: Introduce data mining and its use in the business analysis context

Outline:

1. Musical Introduction

2. Speaking topics:  Definitions of data mining, business analysis, the professional business analyst, software used

3. Examples, Business cases – benefits for companies

4. Questions, Related Information

5. Conclusion

Timing: 5-7 minutes

My plan is to learn to use the Adobe Soundbooth program while working on the project; however, I will turn to Audacity if Soundbooth proves to complex for me to be able to meet my deadline.

Are you a regular podcaster? What are some helpful techniques to get others started? What’s your technique for scheduling recording on a regular basis?

Let’s share ideas!

On a quest for knowledge

Ever heard of a webquest? Well, today I submitted my first webquest as a part of my online course.

Webquests facilitate learning.

A webquest is an inquiry-based online activity that students typically work on in groups(en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WebQuest). Generally, these tools are used in K-12 environments; however, depending on the content, they can also be applied to college courses.

I registered for a free 30-day membership on questgarden.com, selected a quest template and quickly starting building the webquest. Fortunately, I had planned my activities in advance and was able to copy and paste text. When learnng via webquest, students actively participate in the learning process: they do more than read an instructor’s notes and ‘regurgitate’ what the instructor has provided. If you are an instructor, perhaps the webquest methodology might be useful for you. Try it out and share your experience.

Let’s share ideas!

Website Planning

This week, one of the assigned tasks is to write a brief proposal for a website. Thinking back to the numerous online sites that I have created, I realize that in most cases, I did not do much planning as I probably needed to do.

I always sketched a navigation plan for how I wanted visitors to view my site; however, I did not give much thought to the purpose for the page, or the type visitors I hoped to attract.

My instructor’s requirements for an instructional website proposal included:

  • Purpose of the Web site (why would someone come here?)
  • Target audience for the Web site

What other requ1irements have you considered when desigining a website?

Let’s share ideas!

Following and subscribing to Twitter and Blogs

Like many others I know, I have set up multiple RSS feeds to news sites and companies. Yet, I don’t know many people who actually read their RSS feeds. Who really has the time to read it all?

Today, as a requirement of my university class, I subscribed to about ten blogs and followed 10 tweeters. The Twitter experience left me wondering whether there would be an easier way to follow others.

I did a quick Bing search and found links to articles about apps called TwitterMass (posted in April 2009), Twollow (2008 posting), and the Twitter auto-follow option, which apparently was eliminated sometime in 2009.

The existence of these apps helps to explain how some individuals had large followings, and why I often receive messages that users with strange names were following my account.

What has your experience been with subscribing to blogs, following, “liking” and linking with other users?

Let’s share ideas!

eLearning: Are you Captivating or Articulating?

Okay, I realize that the title lacks true wit but I wanted to discuss eLearning software today, particularly Articulate and Captivate. But first , I hope that everyone was able to honor our soldiers today, Memorial Day 2011.

As my career in training and facilitation evolves, I am incorporating more and more technology to produce training materials. Recently I purchased Adobe Captivate 5 (as well as Adobe CS5) and I signed up for a review copy of Articulate Presenter ’09.

I have not had a chance to install the Articulate Presenter (compressed file is still resting in my downloads folder); however, to start getting some return on my investment in the Captivate software, I started by experimenting a little on my own and then following instructions from a tutorial book from a company called Iconlogic. As such, this blog will cover my learning brief experience with Captivate to date (ease of use review), and I will add a review of Articulate at a later time.

In my first venture without the training book, I decided to create a new Captivate project from a PowerPoint. I chose a presentation I used when teaching a Microsoft Project class. The program read my PowerPoint presentation fairly quickly and I was able to select which slides I wanted to include in the Captivate project. I added audio to several slides and everything seemed to go well

However, before I could continue with this practice activity, I had to put the program to use with an actual client.

The project: Create a demo for two associates who would be required to import spreadsheet reports and create a monthly management summary.

I proceeded to use this new software in my usual way (hunting through menus and attempting to use my basic knowledge of menu organization logic) before I resolved to open the help files. I was successful in recording from the spreadsheet program, along with the audio recording of my instructions.

However, when I attempted to publish/export the captivate project to Flash, an error message appeared. The file exported but when I played it, the video played at lightning speed, which meant the audio was incomprehensible. After multiple attempts to adjust the settings from hints I found online, and the second and third takes of the recording, I decided to walk away from the computer, which has the Windows Vista operating system installed.

I picked up my Windows 7 computer and recorded a quick demo and I delighted to see that the project exported without error, and played correctly in web browser, at the correct speed and with audio. I recorded the full version of the demo, posted all the files on the web and my client acknowledged that everything worked.

I have not had time to investigate but I suspect that my newer version of Captivate may not be supported on my 32 bit version of Vista, which would indicate that I did not read the requirements completely when I purchased the software!

Has anyone else had problems with Captivate on Windows Vista? What techniques did you use to resolve them?

Let’s share ideas!

Glogster!

I recently used an online technology called Glogster (glogster.com) to create and teach an online lesson. It was actually an interview for a contract training job that would involve teaching of online classes so I thought that it would be a good time to try something different.

First of all, I signed up for glogster.edu, which is the glogster site specifically for teachers. The main glogster site appears to have some social aspects and the site’s creators decided to delineate between the two sites.

The site was very easy to use. I completed the sign up steps within a few minutes and was ready to create my glog and add student users (with password access).

Creating the glog

This the tool menu visible on the design page.

Graphics – There are hundreds of available graphics (similar to clip art) and text styles available.

Images – I was able to upload my own images in one format (see “cons” below).

Videos – Attaching videos was simple via upload or linking to videos on Youtube and other video sites.

Data – I also attached a pdf document that the attendees could download and view on their computers.

Draw – The draw tool is a simple pen tool for which the pen size and ink color could be changed.

Wall – The wall tool is used to add a background color to the glog, which should be used sparingly, if other images and graphics are already on the page.

Audio – Upload or link to audio to teach an entire class

Cons

  • The navigation is not complex but it is not easy to edit the glog after logging in. The user has to click through several steps.
  • Preset graphics and text modifications are limited to re-size, rotate and re-color.
  • The site only accepts uploaded images in the .img format. I worked around this limitation by changing the file extension of the image I wanted to upload.

Despite the aforementioned limitations, Glogster is an easy web program for creating websites and online classes.

How are you using Glogster to teach or communicate? Let’s share ideas!

Downsizing…

Update: I went back and purchased a different netbook, this time from Sony. You will notice that I deleted the reference to the previous one. The original screen size was just 1 inch too small. The 11″ Vaio is much better for my production needs!

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Well, I finally caved in and purchased a netbook this week. Hence, I am downsizing, at least for the days that I am working away from my home office.

I have been working on a contract for the past several months and my laptop, an iBook (oldie but goodie), doesn’t have the software I need on-site. Thus, I have been at the mercy of the client’s PCs. This week I received a laptop from them to be able to work in different offices. Yes, the same week that I received my netbook. Great timing, eh?

The XXX that I purchased is pretty standard and runs on Windows 7. The keyboard is large enough for a full day or production, in my opinion. However, considering that I spend a great deal of time on my mobile phone keyboard (a nice LG phone) using Word and Excel, anything larger will seem almost full-size. So, check it out for yourself to see whether you agree.

The price was decent for the specs (under $300) so I’m pretty happy with my decision (i.e., I’m not likely to have second thoughts and send it back!).

I’m already looking for options to upgrade the memory from 1 to 2 GB. I’m not so much concerned with the storage since I store most of my files online but speed is always important. I will post again after I complete the upgrade.

Any other late adapters out there like me? Anyone still “holding out” for a big sale?

Let me know what you’re thinking. Let’s share ideas!

What’s in a name? Prezi

What’s in a name? Well, there’s certainly not much in the name but there’s certainly quite a bit in the functionality of Prezi. Prezi is an online presentation software far more advanced than the desktop software programs that I have used in the past.

Prezi presentations play like a Flash movie that a presenter can control with the click and roll of a mouse. A few basic templates are available in the free account and images can be uploaded to the presentation.   I am impressed by the design and user interface. There are some basic instructions found at http://prezi.com/learn/getting-started :

01 Double click anywhere to write

02 Zoom in to develop your ideas

03 Use the zebra for structure and size

04 Add images from the Insert menu

05 Create your storyline

06 Click ‘Show’ to present!


So it seems pretty simple to use—I wrote “seems” because I am just getting started and I haven’t explored the extent of the program’s capability. I have completed steps 01 and 02 of a sample presentation that I will present to a potential client on 10/18. I will of course create a web PowerPoint just in case the presentation will not play on my client’s computer. I will update this blog, if necessary, to report any roadblocks!

Try it out! Prezi is free to use! Go to http://prezi.com. Important note: if you sign up for the free account status, then the presentations that you create will be visible to the general public. There is a very affordable subscription plan as well.

Let me know what you think about this software and how you’re using it. Let’s share ideas!

Advice: Monitor your wireless technology

Wireless phone service companies, phone manufacturers, operating system providers and apps providers (i.e., Skype.)—four entities that are part of the greater mobile phone industry, a.k.a. the players that can wreak havoc in the lives of an end-user consumer. How, might you ask? Well, if your technology provider has ever performed an update without informing you (and if you haven’t been reading the news…), perhaps you can relate. Here’s the story:

When I get a cell phone that I like to use, I don’t believe that I should get a new one just because my two-year contract has ended. New phones do NOT excite me nor inspire me to rush out and upgrade. As such, I am very happy with my phone of two years, though it had to be replaced a year ago for problems, and also last week. The replacement of last week has been the source of my angst.

First of all, I needed to get my contacts from the old phone (that had to be reset) and get them in the new phone.  I learned that though I was still able to use the web-based synchronizing software, it would be expiring at the end of this year (now < 3 months). The wireless phone company offers a different solution but of course it is not available for my phone because (drum roll, please)… it uses an operating system that is not compatible with the backup program. (What?!) Okay, fine, I will use this phone and keep getting replacements until the last phone on the shelf is gone. But though my needs are few, there is just one more thing I need: Skype.

By now most of you will have figured out that Windows Mobile is my operating system. Apparently, ten months ago (while I was sleeping), an announcement was made that Skype would no longer support Windows Mobile.  After diligently searching the web to find a Skype Mobile download (one WITH a valid digital certificate, and might I add that I learned quite a bit about digital signatures in my search—another upcoming topic!), one very astute blogger wrote that I could run the SkypeMobile download on my computer and then grab the cabinet (.cab) file and install it on my phone. It worked and had I written that man’s name down  I would laud and extol him to no end! So, I’ve got Skype again. Whew!

I consider myself to be a proactive individual so facing the ultimate demise of my phone model, I decided to start shopping for phones now. So what’s available?  Had enough of the Android commercials? I certainly have but it seems that Android has become, virtually overnight, the operating system of choice for my provider and others. My husband has an Android based phone built by Motorola. The phone is nice and slick but it’s really the operating system that has all the tech junkies (my hubby) excited.

I’ve tinkered with his phone and the multiple apps are nice. The phone is a time vacuum—more apps than I would ever need and the time just flies by unnoticed.  I suppose that’s why I’ve observed that my husband and other Android users spend a lot more time on their phones “tinkering” than they probably should. You can probably guess that I was not impressed.

At any rate, Microsoft Office Mobile 2010 was released earlier this year and the company will be releasing its Windows 7 phone on October 11.So perhaps there will be a wireless service provider–phone manufacturer–operating system combination that will meet my needs as my current phone becomes obsolete. So, no matter what, I will have to upgrade at some point, against my will.

Well, I assert that it’s time for a mobile phone revolution! Fellow consumers, let’s stand up and confront these various companies and let them know that we, the consumers, are in charge here and that we are not going to accept their lack of regard for our needs anymore. Enough is enough! …Oh wait, my cell is ringing. I have to take this call.(:-P)

Let’s share ideas!

On the Hunt for a “Real” Job

Well, in the midst of this roller coaster economy, I have decided to put my CV out in cyberspace and, in some cases, directly into the hands of human resources recruiters, to find a “real” job.

In the spirit of this blog, the topic today will be on the job hunting websites. The new websites out there for hunting for jobs have become a little more sophisticated, and older web companies have improved their search and submission tools. I prefer indeed.com, careerbuilder.com and monster.com. Indeed.com is great as a one-stop shop. Careerbuilder.com is a good site for localizing a search to a general region. I would give the most improved award to Monster.com. The site has really come a long way in terms of the initial sign-up process (I lost the password to my old account so I had to start a new account).

Back to the job hunt…

I’m still getting some business but my near-term (6 months) forecasts, based on recent trends, are not economically appetizing. For my long-term clients out there, do not be concerned. I will continue to work from home in the evenings and weekends as projects come; however, at this point, it will not be feasible to support myself 100% via a work-at-home career. In light of that fact, I will be looking for a position in a company.

I’m sure there are others out there who, like me, are finding themselves required to make a few changes to adapt to the economic environment. Let me know what’s going on. It has been very quiet for the past few months!

Let’s (still) share ideas!