Archive for January, 2009

Gulf Coast Adobe User Group

I’ve just been approved as manager for the Gulf Coast Adobe User Group. Watch this space for information about meetings and events.

If you are interested in coming to meetings and joining our group, go ahead and make contact on the Gulf Coast User Group web site.

If you are interested in joining an Adobe User Group in your area, do a search on groups.adobe.com to find out where your nearest group is.

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mattockenfels asked in feedback to the Captivate 4 Community Help:-

Can I assign rdInfoCurrentSlide to a custom variable, the use it later in a Jump to Page anywhere else in a course? I have content pages that are shared by different topics, and I need to return back to where I navigated away from.

I tried to find a way to do this, but discovered I could not find a way within Captivate 4 to assign anything to rdInfoCurrentSlide .

After some exploration, I found I could achieve what mattockenfels asked by saving rdInfoCurrentFrame instead, and assigning the saved value to rdcmndGoToFrameandResume .

I made a quick demo file that you can view here. You can also download the source file from my website.

I am always happy to be shown a better way, so please post your suggestions in the comments for this post.

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If you’ve been following the flurry of blog posts and news recently, you’ll know that Adobe Captivate 4 was released last week. One of the great new features is a text to speech engine that lets you generate speech from your closed caption text.

Adobe Captivate 4 Text to Speech demo

Adobe Captivate 4 Text to Speech demo

Adobe has published a demo
showing how to use this new feature on the Adobe Captivate Blog.

I tested out this feature on my cell phone (a Samsung BlackJack II) by creating a small Captivate 4 demo and publishing it to my phone using the new Flash Lite Distributable Player. It worked. First time!

I wouldn’t recommend using Text to Speech this way as a habit, at least not for mobile devices, because what it does is embed an actual audio file, rather than converting the text on the fly. The sound and speech quality are both pretty good, and it sounds a lot less ‘roboty’ than your typical text to speech engine, but you may not find the relatively large file size acceptable. From my brief tests, it appears that since the audio starts off very clean (no background noise, plosives, sibilants, hiss or rumble) you can compress the audio files a little bit more aggressively than might be possible when compared to the audio recorded with a headset mike in a corner of the office.

So, if you need to add speech to your content, and you cannot afford the time and expense of recording quality audio from a skilled voiceover artist, then this new Text to Speech feature in Adobe Captivate 4 might be just what you need.

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A clean start

I just moved my entire blog to WordPress. I figured it was worth the leap. WordPress editing tools seem to be lots better than Blogger, so maybe I can blog more regularly from here.

No doubt I’ll change the design a couple of times until I’m a happy camper, but for now, here I am. Enjoy.

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Information about using the new actions and variables features in Captivate 4 is a little sparse right now. The question was asked on one of the Adobe forums, “How would you use Actions to turn off the paylbar in Captivate 4?”
I think there are a number of ways to address this. Here’s one option.
  • Open the Actions Dialog – select Project Actions
  • In advanced Actions tab, select the Choose an action to edit… drop down, and select Create a new action.
  • Name the action – e.g. closePlaybar
  • In the white panel below you should see the text Add Statement – double-click it
  • Some new text will appear, and the text Statement will turn red. Doube-click the Statement text.
  • Select assignment from the list that appears.
  • Choose cpCmdShowPlaybar from the menu.
  • You will be offered the option to choose variable or value – choose value
  • Type 0 (zero) and then choose Save and then Close.
Now when you want to use this action you would select Execute advanced action, say, at the result of clicking a button, or when you enter or exit a slide. Assuming you want the playbar to disappear when a specific slide begins to play:-
  • Open the Slide Properties window for the desired slide by double-clicking the slide in the Filmstrip.
  • In the Navigation section, choose On slide enter: Execute advanced Action.
  • Select closePlaybar in the Action drop-down menu.

Watch the following demo to view the steps in Captivate 4.

For a better quality demo, click this link

‘cpuser’ commented on this on the Adobe Captivate General Discussion forum.

Assign standard action can also be used to achieve the same result. Follow the below steps –
1. Open Slide properties
2. Select “Assign” action from On Slide Enter event
3. Select “cpCmndShowPlaybar” from the list of variables
4. Enter “0” as the value to be assigned with
5. Preview the movie and observe that the playbar is not visible

And he/she is completely correct – thank you. However at least some of the purpose of my demo was to show more generally how you can get started working with Adobe Captivate 4 variables and Actions, so I’ll leave it up 🙂

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Tridib Roy Chowdhury has posted an extensive list of Adobe Captivate 4 new features to The Adobe Captivate Blog

  • Productivity, Richness, and Robustness
  • Round-trip PowerPoint workflow – optional linking or embedding
  • Variables and Advanced Actions
  • Text-to-speech functionality
  • Customizable widgets – Flash components
  • Adobe Photoshop layer support- Preserve layers in imported Adobe® Photoshop® (PSD) files.
  • Table of Contents and Aggregator
  • Streamlined workflows and enhanced usability
  • inline editing of text captions
  • project templates
  • design templates
  • panning
  • right-click support
  • drawing tools
  • image editing
  • expanded output options- publish to a PDF as well as AVI
  • Adobe® ActionScript® 3.0 support
  • Improving Efficiency of the ID-SE interaction
  • Air Review app (swf commenting)
  • Single SWF Output
  • Panning while screen recordings
  • Performance and Robustness

Be sure and check out Tridib’s blog post for more details of these features and more.

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Adobe has released a couple of workflow demos of the eLearning Suite here. There’s also a great video demo posted here by RJ.

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Adobe announced the release of Captivate 4 today.

Top new features in Adobe Captivate 4

  • SWF commenting
  • Professional project templates
  • Customizable widgets
  • Roundtrip PowerPoint workflow
  • Table of Contents and Aggregator
  • Text-to-speech functionality
  • Variables and Advanced Actions
  • Expanded output options
  • Adobe Photoshop® layer support
  • Streamlined workflows and enhanced usability


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Adobe has released the eagerly-awaited eLearning Suite.

Offering seven innovative applications in one complete, integrated package, Adobe eLearning Suite combines full new versions of:

I’ll be presenting on my favourite features of this suite at the eLearning Guild‘s Annual Gathering in Florida March 11-13.

Here’s the full press release from Adobe:

“Adobe Introduces New eLearning Suite And Captivate 4 — Learning Professionals Gain Unmatched Productivity Through Courseware Authoring Tools

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Jan. 20, 2009 — Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) today announced the Adobe eLearning Suite software, a new content-authoring solution for learning professionals, educators and trainers to create rich learning experiences that can be delivered via the Web, desktop, mobile devices and learning management systems. The new suite boosts productivity by tightly integrating a major new version of Adobe Captivate®, Adobe Flash® CS4, Adobe Dreamweaver® CS4, Adobe Photoshop® CS4 Extended, Adobe Acrobat® Pro, Adobe Presenter 7, Adobe Soundbooth® CS4, Adobe Bridge CS4, Adobe Device Central CS4 as well as eLearning extensions for Adobe Flash® CS4 and Adobe Dreamweaver® CS4.

“The new Adobe eLearning Suite is a unique and highly integrated set of tools designed to help professionals author, enrich, review and publish rich eLearning content all within one environment,” said Naresh Gupta, senior vice president of the Print and Publishing Business Unit at Adobe. “By leveraging different applications and streamlined workflows, learning professionals can be truly innovative and reach learners in new ways anytime, anywhere and through any medium.”

Adobe Captivate 4

Adobe Captivate 4, a new point product release and also the cornerstone of the suite, is the latest version of Adobe’s eLearning software for creating professional eLearning content and courseware that combines simulations, scenario-based training, quizzing, rich media and interactivity. Professionals can take advantage of more than two dozen new features including single SWF file publishing, text-to-speech conversion, a drawing toolbar for simple graphics, enhanced project templates, and round-trip Microsoft® PowerPoint® workflows, which let users import and edit PowerPoint slides with audio and interactivity. Adobe Captivate 4 also preserves Photoshop layers, which can then be animated individually, and supports PDF publishing and Audio Video Interleave (AVI) output for publishing to YouTube™.

With Adobe Captivate Reviewer, a new Adobe® AIR™ application, learning professionals can capture reviewers’ feedback regardless of their operating system and insert comments directly into an Adobe Captivate SWF file, simplifying the review process. Adobe Captivate 4 also enables users to add customizable tables of contents that automatically update as a learner navigates a project. To further boost engagement, learning professionals can use system and custom variables to provide learners with a personalized learning experience. For example, a learner can be prompted to type their name into a blank field in the beginning of the course and Adobe Captivate 4 will automatically personalize upcoming slides with the learner’s name.

Workflow and Integration Benefits

By integrating Adobe’s industry leading content creation tools, the Adobe eLearning Suite presents learning professionals with workflow benefits that are unavailable when purchasing individual products. With the Dreamweaver CS4 CourseBuilder extension, course designers can use Dreamweaver CS4 to directly create HTML-based eLearning modules, complete with assessments, by utilizing standard question types. Using the new Shared Courseware Object Reference (SCORM) packager, designers can also combine Adobe Captivate 4, Flash CS4, Dreamweaver CS4 and Adobe Presenter content into a single course, which further simplifies course creation.

With the inclusion of Soundbooth CS4, learning professionals can easily remove noise from recordings, polish voice-overs, customize music to fit a production and mix multiple clips on several tracks. Course designers can further engage their audiences with powerful visuals created within Photoshop CS4 Extended, which includes added features for editing 3D images and motion-based content. The visuals along with media developed in Adobe Captivate or other components can be easily organized, browsed, viewed and directly placed into Adobe Captivate 4, Photoshop CS4 and Flash CS4 from one central location using Adobe Bridge CS4.

Once content is ready for delivery, users can select one of several standardized output formats, including SWF, HTML, PDF, AVI, and SCORM, enabling easy delivery to the Web, desktop and learning management systems. If course designers don’t have access to a learning management system, the Adobe eLearning Suite allows users to publish directly to Adobe Acrobat® Connect Pro™ (sold separately). Additionally, Adobe Device Central CS4 allows course designers to design, preview, and test content for viewing on more than 600 mobile device screens.

Pricing and Availability

Adobe eLearning Suite and Adobe Captivate 4 are immediately available through Adobe Authorized Resellers and the Adobe Store. Estimated street price for the suite is US$1799 and US$799 for Adobe Captivate 4 as a standalone product. Upgrade and education pricing for both products is available. Both the Adobe eLearning Suite and Adobe Captivate 4 are compatible with Microsoft® Windows® XP with Service Pack 2 (Service Pack 3 recommended) and Windows Vista® Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise with Service Pack 1. For more information about the Adobe eLearning Suite visit http://www.adobe.com/products/elearningsuite, for Adobe Captivate 4 visit http://www.adobe.com/products/captivate .

About Adobe Systems Incorporated

Adobe revolutionizes how the world engages with ideas and information – anytime, anywhere and through any medium. For more information, visit http://www.adobe.com.

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7 Random Things

This morning I was tagged by Brian Dusablon with a difficult task: blog 7 random things about me. And as if that’s not hard enough, I’ve to tag seven other victims friends too. Without my morning coffee, I’m not sure I can even count to seven, so let’s see how I do:-

  1. In 1988 I coached the Scottish Ladies Powerlifting Champion in the 60Kg body weight class. She set 4 records on her way to winning. She also competed in the British championship the same year and placed 3rd.
  2. I played clarinet at school, and later in a band while at college in Edinburgh. The band was called Satori and we played covers of Bauhaus, Joy Division, Wedding Present etc. Somehow I didn’t realise that we were Goths until years later. And yes – I was very bad at it, but we played several times at La Sorbonne, a very seedy student bar that was THE place to be in 1983/1984.
  3. I emigrated from England to Mississippi in 2004 to marry Amy and start a new life in the steamy, sweaty sauna that is south Mississippi.
  4. I’m a teeny bit of a speed freak. I’ve driven motorbikes since I was 21. My parents both had motorbikes as teenagers and until after my sister and I were born. I like nothing better than driving around Scottish roads at crazy speeds, dodging sheep and drystone dykes. That’s the stone walls at the side of the road 😉 In 1999 I misjudged a corner and slammed into a telephone pole at around 80 miles an hour. Destroyed the bike, but not me, amazingly. 3 months later my sister paid for me and my brother in law to spend the day at Donnongton Park racetrack riding CBR600s at the Ron Haslam Race School. It was my first real ride on a bike following the accident and it was fantastic!
  5. I like all sorts of music aside from country, hard rock and that bland rock music that America has been churning out ad nauseum since the early 70s. My wife bought me an XM radio a few years ago and I was pleased to discover Upop radio, where we can hear all sorts of British, European and World music. I particularly enjoy bad British rock/rap like the Arctic Monkeys. I seem to have grown mellow in my musical tastes over the years. I’m particularly turned on by young ladies who can croon me into relaxation. Who couldn’t love Corrine Baily-Rae or Lilly Allen … OK Lilly has a special sense of humour 🙂 Sadly Upop got shuffled off of XM-radios lineup recently, so I’m suffering withdrawal symptoms – no new music for me.
  6. Amy and I live on 6.5 acres, out in the country in south Mississippi. We have 20 chickens, 3 goats, 5 dogs, 3 cats and a 2 acre pond full of bream, catfish, turtles and a rumoured alligator.
  7. I all-but stopped reading paper books in 2003 when Amy bought me my first PDA. I discovered that the convenience of being able to carry 2, 3, 30 or 300 books with me all the time, perpetual bookmarking, built-in night illumination and a built-in dictionary far outweigh my lifelong addiction to paper books. I have a 2 Gb library of digital books – around 3500 books – that I am slowly working my way through. I’d guess I’ve read about 100 digital books a year since 2003, and maybe 3 paper books, not counting tech books.

OK think I might have sneaked in a couple more than 7 actual facts there. Oh well – no one ever accused me of having nothing to say.

I tag:

The Rules:

  • Link your original tagger(s), and list these rules on your blog.
  • Share seven facts about yourself in the post – some random, some weird.
  • Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
  • Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs and/or Twitter.

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