Bob and Joy Schwabach
 

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December 2006, Week 1

dog


SHORT TAKES

    
  Lots of times we see small products that aren't worth writing about at length, but are nonetheless worth passing along. Now passing:

Highlight This!

   We tried out a yellow highlighter for Web sites. It's called an "i-lighter" and it works much like the familiar yellow markers we use on printed pages. When you load the software, a tiny marker pen symbol appears at the top of the screen. Click on it and you can highlight anything on the Web page. If you click on a similar pen icon at the bottom of the screen, it shows you all the things you've highlighted so far. You can organize these into folders if you want.

   You can e-mail the highlights or post them to a blog and access them anytime from your computer or mobile phone. The i-lighter is in beta version right now, and it's free from i-lighter.com.

The Slide Show

   If you ever wanted to make a quick and easy slide show for your Web site or blog, Flash Slide Show Maker is the quickest and easiest we've seen in many a moon. It's free from flash-slideshow-maker.com.

Samurai Software

   NTI Ninja works with any USB flash or hard drive and allows you to set part of Ninjathe drive's contents to be open and part of them locked. A similar program is Folder Lock, which we wrote about last year. It's $35, and Ninja is $10.

   You can find Folder Lock at download.com and Ninja at ntius.com. Both protective programs use encryption to make selected files unreadable, but Folder Lock has many more features. It can make files invisible to anyone browsing the contents of your drive, and it can also be used to shred files so they cannot be recovered through other searches.

    Users of U3 flash drives probably won't want the Ninja software. U3 flash drives use portable programs, like AbiWord, a word processor similar to Microsoft Word. Ninja will erase all your U3 programs except your launch pad, so users better be able to reinstall everything.

Grab that Video!

   We read recently that National Semiconductor bought 15,000 Video iPods so their employees could watch training videos wherever they went. (That must have been some sales order.) So if you want to make some training videos (think students as well as workers), we have a couple of good programs to use.

   One of the best programs for creating training videos is Camtasia, now out in version 4. Camtasia lets you record single screens and videos, along with mouse movements and clicks. You can add voice-overs, comment bubbles,Camtasia 4 zoomed call-outs, arrows, picture-in-picture and just about any device you can think of to emphasize a point or make it clearer. The Camtasia Web site, camtasia.com, has tutorials that tell you how to do all this stuff; they're just about the best we've ever seen.

   Earlier versions of Camtasia let you do all of the above and they're a lot cheaper than the $299 price for version 4. But in this version, Camtasia lets you record your training video as an MP3 or iPod file. The videos can also be posted to Screencast.com for automatic delivery to an iPod or desktop computer when new content arrives.

Save That Video

   It's entirely possible that you may have created a training video using something other than Camtasia, a video camera, for example. In that case, you'll want iVideoToGo Platinum, a $30 program from InterVideo.com. It makes videos playable on an iPod or a Sony PlayStation Portable.

   This program turned out to be a snap to use. The software supports dozens of i-Video to Goformats, and with a couple of mouse clicks, you can make DVDs, TV programs or Internet video playable on an iPod or PSP. The software can also be set to check for new video downloads in your file folders and automatically convert them to a chosen format while you are away.

Free Video Postcards

   For a different kind of holiday greeting, we went with the video postcard. These are offered free at Movavi.com.

   To make our video, we plugged a Logitech QuickCam Communicate STX into our computer, clicked the record button, talked a bit, clicked stop and the video was instantly saved in our "My Videos" folder. The QuickCam sells for $40 at Amazon.com.

   Then we downloaded the Movavi video message software. We chose a holiday-themed template from among 13 choices. When we clicked "addMovavi Video Message video," our video appeared inside a colorful postcard, ready for e-mailing.

Internuts

·  GreenTortoise.com: We went searching for cross-country luxury bus trips, and what we found instead was the Green Tortoise. Luxury, it's definitely not, since those who have ridden the tourist trail described sleeping on the bus each night, or the ground, if you have a sleeping bag. The feel of it was definitely "young people." But it sounded like fun, and it was fairly cheap. The Tortoise has several trips that cover different parts of scenic America.

·  HostelWorld.com: And as long as we're on the no-frills travel tour here, HostelWorld.com has suggestions for eco-tourists. There's a wind-powered Hobbit Hole in Ireland, an Icelandic hostel with geothermal swimming, a working farm in England that runs on bio-fuel and wind power, and a state-of-the-art tree house hostel in the Philippines. They have others, and the hostel scene is no longer just for young people.

·  http://blog.fotolog.com The Daily Flog is a new blog put together by a lightning boltformer photo editor at the New Yorker magazine. There are some awesome photos of thick lightning bolts in Australia.


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