iSpring – making ppt flashy

I recently discovered this nifty little free tool called iSpring, which converts a PowerPoint presentation into “web friendly flash movies.” It’s a quick download, it works (with ppt 2000, XP, 2003 & 2007), and it’s pretty easy to use. There’s also an iSpring Pro version (for sale, not free), which is also compatible with Windows Vista and gives you more power. Why convert your PowerPoint to Flash? There could be several reasons, including ease of sharing using browser-based viewing. It also creates a smaller file size and allows for more viewing controls. There are other software tools for creating Flash files, too … have a favorite? Feel free to share in a comment.

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time-wasting fluff

Oh, man, it has been TOO long since I posted a Friday Fluff. So here we go … I found this ultimate time-waster years ago, and it is addictive: Paper Toss. Scroll down to the photo that says “To the rescue” and click GO. Then scroll down and click PLAY. Click the paperwad to start. It’s very educational. Really. You have to factor in the wind speed and direction. Okay, it’s a waste of time. But it’s a FUN waste of time.

blip.tv

Have you tried blip.tv as an alternative to YouTube? Some have suggested it allows uploads of larger files and seems a little clearer. You can view the new video of the March 20 University of KY Island opening in two formats:

What do you think? Any discernable difference? Do you find one or the other easier to use? Do you have another favorite?

social networking

Blue 2.0 has been so much fun. It’s been a great way to explore some applications that have been only in my periphery. The last set of assignments have to do with social networking. I started with MySpace … I’m least familiar with that one. I’ve been on Facebook for a while and am used to it, so MySpace was a little cumbersome to use. I really can’t tell if it is not as intuitive or if I’m just an old fogey who learns slowly. I still can’t quite figure out how to post my “mood.” This is my MySpace page. My Facebook page is more robust because I joined last fall. I found Facebook to be a little more straightforward and, well, grown-up in look and feel. Groups were easy to join and to create, and I have the bonus of being able to stay in touch easily with nieces and nephews who are far cooler than I. For the final (*sniff*) activity, I had to investigate another social network, either choosing one from a list or finding one on my own. I found one called BOOMj, which is touted as a social networking group for both the elder statesmen Baby Boomers and their kid brothers and sisters, Generation Jones, the latter of which I fall into. (Apparently we of the last few Baby Boom years have our own designation. Aren’t we special?) BOOMj (man, the j for jones is even lower case; what the … ?) is very similar to fb (Facebook). EXCEPT THAT THE IMAGES AND FONTS ARE BIGGER AND CLEARER. So I set up my BOOMj page and went exploring. Most of the functionality is the same, but without the cool factor. Sorry, the cool is just not there. And the “targeted” ads kind of get on my nerves. ESPECIALLY BECAUSE THEY ARE SO BIG. Okay, so I’m old and my vision’s going. What’s your point? Frankly, I have friends of all ages and far too many social networking opportunties (online and in real life) right now, so I don’t see piling BOOMj onto that and making another friends list. I do like fb quite a lot, and will continue to keep that active.

For the university crowd, fb seems a natural. There are so many students on fb already that it makes a great conduit for information and discussion. If you haven’t tried to set up a fb account, it’s worth a look. To create your own page, go to http://www.facebook.com and follow the instructions. If you use your UKy email, you’ll automatically be put into the Kentucky Network. What you reveal about yourself is up to you. If you do it, “friend” me and I’ll be happy to answer any questions.

So, Library Goddesses … do I pass?

a startup podcast

Continuing with my assignments for Blue 2.0, I’ve created a podcast. The content is not the point of this entry; rather it’s the process for a first-timer that I thought you would find most interesting. First of all, a podcast is a series of downloadable audio (or sometimes video) “episodes” that offer subscription (like RSS) as an option for automatically downloading new episodes. Some listeners will download into their mp3 player; others will keep on their desktop or laptop computer. Still others won’t subscribe but will visit a webpage to download and listen as needed. Here’s my adventure in podcasting:

I was getting a late start with the last two weeks’ assignments, so to make up for lost time I tried to make the content of the podcast assignment as easy as possible. Looking around the room, I spied my copy of Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters. Hmmm. First, I had to ensure that Spoon River Anthology was in the public domain. A visit to the online Gutenberg Project verified my suspicion that it was indeed.

To record my introductory episode and the subsequent readings of the epitaphs in the book, I used Audacity. Many if not most personal computers come with software to record audio, but I have always liked Audacity for the power it offers. I would suggest using software that is easy for you to use. Next … where to host it/post it? There are various resources for posting your own podcast, not the least of which is your own homepage. I decided to check out a free service. I kind of liked podbean at www.podbean.com. The instructions were easy to understand and the whole process seemed uncomplicated. Best of all for me, the web interface is almost exactly the same as it is here at WordPress. Here is a link to the resulting podcast weblog.

YouTube for Blue 2.0

For Blue 2.0, my next assignment for the weeks I let pass me by is to write a review of a YouTube video created and tagged with the word “libraries.” My favorite is this one for the Cincinnati Public Library’s 2007 Summer Reading Program. This short (30-second) video was created to advertise the library’s summer reading program for children. It plays on the Mission Impossible theme with plenty of action. Since it’s primary audience consists of adolescents and families, it strikes just the right tone of mock-seriousness and crams plenty of information (how-to, timeline, prizes) into its 30 seconds. I found it an effective use of the medium. (I wouldn’t be surprised if it was created as a television commercial first, but it could just as easily have been created as an amateur video.) I think certainly librarians would get a kick out of it, and kids would enjoy it. As a matter of fact, my 9-year-old son was watching over my shoulder and he said, “That was a great commercial!” So, not only did he like it … he also knew what it was. YouTube can be a very useful tool.

I know I posted it all over the place earlier, but here’s a link to the video we created in TASC for the Second Life opening of University of KY Island. I posted it earlier this month on YouTube. It was fairly easy to create my account and upload, though it did take longer to upload than I expected. But having it on YouTube gave me much more control over its placement and distribution than did having it on my own website or on TASC’s website, because I could embed it in invitations and my blog.

flickr’in

For my latest work on Blue 2.0, I did a little work in Flickr. It’s an easy-to-use photo site where you can share photographs … for all kinds of reasons. I have long used Kodak Gallery, which I got into by virtue of having bought a Kodak digital camera. It allows me to upload photos and share … or of course to paste on all kinds of products to purchase (those I share with also get that invitation). Flickr is similar but less commercial (in that it is not tied to a product that I have bought) and a little more like social networking (you can tag photos, comment, create groups, and so forth). It’s also a little more flip (“not only does Flickr make you smell better, it also makes you more attractive!”) and fun. I enjoyed working with Flickr, but as always it takes a while to learn the ins and outs of a new service (one that’s “new to you”).

For the purposes of this assignment, I’m supposed to share the page I created. But I think more interesting, from an earlier entry, is what the Library of Congress is doing with Flickr, calling on all of us to participate in identifying historical photos. Here we can see the potential for using Flickr for research or project development.

More to come, as I am running shamefully late on assignments … .