Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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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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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Pockets of Potential

Study outlining the need for a national strategy for mLearning for schoolchildren

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center has released a study into mLearning in schools. It outlines a suggestion for a national mobile learning strategy for the US and includes suggestions for teacher training to ensure that our teachers are equipped with both knowledge and understanding of mobile technologies and usage so that they can best use them to teach our children.

The study is a must read for anyone in the USA who has an interest in mobile learning, whether as a teacher, a parent or developer of training solutions. Click here to read the Pockets of Potential study.

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Microvision Survey

Do you want to test a pocket-sized lazer projector?

Do you love your iPod or iPhone, and want to use if to project video wherever you go?

Microvision is getting close to releasing its first consumer-level PicoP Laser projector for mobile devices. As they get nearer, they are conducting consumer trials. They posted a survey recently to gaugue user interest, and offered those completing the survey the possibility of getting involved in user trials.

Here’s the invitation I got to to the survey, feel free to complete it and to share the link.

You are receiving this invitation because you previously expressed interest in Microvision products and technology.

We would like to invite you to participate in a brief survey.

Your participation will help us better understand how we can offer the best projection experience to potential customers of pico projector products.

In exchange for your valuable input, we will keep you informed about the latest developments. You may even get invited to participate in a product evaluation, focus group, or who knows?
Stay tuned.

Please follow this link:

Feel free to forward this invitation on to others who you think may be interested.

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Tired of lugging round your giant ‘developers’ laptop? Or do you need a secure but lightweight way to access your email and files that is more accessible than your phone?

Over the last few weeks I have been testing out a new gadget, or as my wife says, a new “toy”. This great new gadget has the interesting name of REDFLY (yes, all caps … sorry!), and it is used to enhance the features of your mobile phone.

REDFLY in action, from the Celiocorp web site

The REDFLY is about the size of a large paperback book, and weighs around 2 pounds. It has a 7 inch screen with a resolution of 800×480 pixels. It has *no* internal memory, *no* processor and about an 8 or 9 hour battery life.

Since it has no memory or processor, to use it you must connect it to your cell phone. You can connect either with a standard USB cable or via Bluetooth. If you use the USB cable, the REDFLY will charge your cell phone at the same time.

So what does it do? It gives you access to all of your cell phone’s features and functionality, and lets you use a (not quite full sized) qwerty keyboard and large (compared to your phone) screen. Anything you can do with your phone, you can do with the REDFLY – except, for the moment at least, watch video and play animated games.

Why would you want to use it? Most of us probably wouldn’t, but if you travel a lot and use your phone to keep in touch with the office, or if you choose to carry your laptop for web browsing, email and to occasionally show PowerPoint presentations, you might find that the REDFLY is good for you.

From a business perspective, since the REDFLY has no memory, no hard drive, no software, and thus requires no configuration or maintenance, the TCO is essentially the price you see on the box – currently $199 + shipping, compared to the total cost of a $600 laptop which might be something in the region of $3000 or even more.

See how the REDFLY can lower your TCO

If you work with confidential files, losing your work laptop can be disastrous. But since the REDFLY has no memory or drive space, there’s nothing to lose of you misplace it.

Most cell phones have the ability to do some form of Remote Desktop (RDP) access or VPN to get to a remote PC or virtual machine. The REDFLY changes the unusable RDP into a usable experience, and with software options like LogMeIn desktop-like performance is possible.

The REDFLY in action – remote desktop to Windows XP.

I used my REDFLY for 6 or 7 hours solid in one day, without needing to recharge it. Towards the end of the day my cell phone was complaining of low battery, but no problem. I just plugged it into the REDFLY via USB and continued to work, while charging my phone at the same time. The REDFLY needed no recharging before the following day.

See how real users are using REDFLY

Four remaining features stand out in my mind.
• The REDFLY has a VGA output, so you can use a standard monitor or a projector for your presentations.
• If you are using PowerPoint through a projector, you can use your phone handset as a remote control to click through the PowerPoint slides.
• REDFLY has two USB slots. You can attach a standard USB mouse or keyboard to these, and also USB memory keys. When you insert a memory key, it becomes an external storage device for the phone, so you could carry PowerPoint slides or other documents separate from your phone.
• I can fit the REDFLY in the pocket of my cargo pants, so I don’t need to carry a bulky laptop case with me.

All in all I have been very happy with the REDFLY. I think it is a great device for the business traveler who relies on his cellphone to keep in touch with the office, doesn’t need to carry a laptop, but wants easier access to the features of his phone.

Unfortunately Celio Corp (www.celiocorp.com) only have drivers for Windows Mobile as I write this. They have plans to add drivers for S60 (Nokia) phones, Blackberries and iPhones. As I write, no official date has been given for these new drivers.

Other in-depth REDFLY reviews

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At the Adobe Learning Summit in San Jose, November 10th, Adobe showed several exciting new features from the next version of Captivate and from the up-coming eLearning Suite.

Adobe Captivate ‘Next’
I have been beta testing Captivate 4 for several months, so I was pleased to be invited by Adobe to the Adobe Learning Summit in San Jose on Monday 10th November.

At the Adobe Learning Summit, Adobe demonstrated the next version of Captivate, and also previewed the new Adobe eLearning Suite. Adobe says it’s OK to blog about the next version of Captivate and the up-coming eLearning Suite, so here we go.

Following is a rundown of the major new features of Adobe Captivate ‘next’ (4) and the Adobe eLearning Suite as demonstrated at the Adobe Learning Summit by RJ Jacquez, Senior Product Evangelist at Adobe. Over the next few weeks I intend to flesh out details of each of the following features with screen shots and samples. With luck I’l also have time to look at some of the myriad new features not covered below.

AIR review tool
Perhaps the most exciting new feature in Captivate 4 is the AIR Review feature.

Everywhere I have worked over the last 10 years or so (and I’ve worked with a lot of companies since I was a contractor for most of that time) had a different method for testing and reviewing content. Content has to be tested for factual accuracy, spelling and grammar, and properly working features and functionality. Typically this testing must be done by a number of testers, each with a different interest in the project.

As testers explore the project, they are required to make notes of errors, omissions and questions they encounter. Typically these notes are then reported in a spreadsheet, a Word doc, via email, or occasionally through a more robust tracking system.

As a developer, the single biggest flaw I have experienced with any testing and reporting methods is the disconnect between the tested project and the feedback given by the testers. Adobe Captivate 4 addresses this in a wonderful way.

When a project is ready for testing the developer can publish the project as a review app. The review app can be emailed out to testers, and it contains 2 things

1 – An Adobe AIR wrapper that contains review tools.
2 – The published project.

Reviewers run the review app on their desktop. If they do not already have the Adobe AIR runtime in stalled, they are prompted to install it on launch. IT needs to be aware that the AIR installer requires local admin rights to install.

Once installed, the reviewer can run through the Captivate 4 project just like normal. The project sits inside the AIR review application and whenever the reviewer wants to record some feedback, he can pause the Captivate playback and type the feedback into a dialogue box. The feedback is time stamped so that it syncs to an exact moment in the Captivate project.

Comments are saved in an xml file that the user can email back to the developer. Alternatively the comments can be stored in a shared network location so that comments from every reviewer can be housed in the same location.

Once reviewers have recorded their feedback, the developer can import the comments to his Captivate source file. If a shared location is used then all comments from all reviewers can be imported at once. Comments appear alongside the project in the editing window. As the developer clicks on each comment in turn, Captivate automatically navigates to the correct slide and the correct moment in the slide so that the developer can immediately see exactly what the tester could see and does not have to spend time searching for it.

If the developer makes a change based on the feedback, he can mark the item as fixed. On the other hand if the developer does not agree that a change is required, or if he has a question about the feedback, he can type a note to that effect and send that information back to the tester. This is particularly effective when a shared location is used for the comments, because the comment file is updated and reviewers can relaunch their AIR application to see the developer’s feedback – again directly linked to the moment in the Captivate project that the feedback is referencing.

This is an extremely exiting feature that is bound to be a significant productivity enhancement for those working in teams.

Custom user variables
Another exciting things RJ showed us was custom variables in Adobe Captivate. He demonstrated adding a login screen to a Captivate project, saving the user name in a custom variable, and then reusing the variable later in the project to personalize the user experience. In his example, RJ showed us how to embed the variable into a caption, using the syntax $$myVar$$ so that instructions to the user could use the recorded name, instead of a non-personal command.

Click the next button to continue.


$$userName$$, click the next button to continue.

Which the user sees in the published file as

John, click the next button to continue.

Basic drawing tools
Something Captivate has long been missing is basic drawing tools. We can add a lot to our training when we can draw basic shapes – circle/ellipse, rectangle/square, polygon. Thankfully the wonderful Adobe engineers have been able to plug this gap in Captivate, allowing us to now create clean vector shapes in our projects. No gradient fill yet, but alpha transparency is supported.

The really cool thing about these new drawing tools is that they we can add captions to them – so we could build flow charts or other diagrams with our custom captions.

Flash Widgets
One of my biggest issues with Captivate as a serious eLearning tool, up to now, has been the limited feature set and the difficulty in extending that feature set. It has long been known that we can add Flash video and interactive swf content into Captivate, but doing so is not as simple as we would like, and there is no easy way to communicate data between the imported content and the host Captivate movie.

Captivate 4 will change this significantly.

First, with custom variables with will be easier to swap data between imported content and the host project.

Second, Adobe has introduced Widgets to Captivate 4. Widgets are specially formatted Flash swf files that know how to communicate with the host Captivate project. These are very similar to Flash components and Authorware Knowledge Objects, in that developers are able to create pre-configured logic and visual components which accept parameters when inserted into Captivate. These components are then able to track user input (say, the selection of a value in a combo box) and utilize that input elsewhere in the project. So imagine collecting scores or an array of values so that you can dynamically modify what the user sees as he progresses through your Captivate project.

Adobe will deploy a number of sample widgets with the final product, and will include the source code for these widgets too, to make it easier for developers to learn how to make their own. Adobe will also set up an exchange site where developers can give away or sell their widgets.

How do you make a widget?
Adobe will also deploy a method to quickly build your own widgets. Choose File > New Widget in Flash from the Captivate 4 menu and, provided you have Flash CS4 installed, a new Flash file opens that includes the base ActionScript code required to start building your own widgets.

Included Widgets
In the current beta version of Captivate 4 there are roughly 15 widgets available, for things as diverse as printing, adding a certificate, adding intelligent perpetual navigation buttons, dynamic pie chart, list box, combo box, check box, sequencing question etc.

Do you ever have to work within tight screen-size limitations? Does this make life difficult sometimes when your application is larger than your screen area?

Sure you can often get around this by recording at a higher resolution, and then resizing the project, but sometimes that is just not practical, for instance when you are delivering to small screen devices or to users with visual impairment.

Adobe Captivate 4 has a new Panning feature that moves the capture window while you are capturing a simulation so that you can always capture the screen area that you are referring to, at a fully legible resolution. Panning can be automatic, with Captivate following the mouse as you interact with the screen, or manual, allowing the developer to place the capture exactly where he wants in the application.

Project Template
Do you work with educational designers or subject matter experts who do not typically build content? Would it help your productivity if, instead of them creating PowerPoint or Word documents that you copy/paste into Captivate, you could create templates for them that they could easily build into?

Or do you often have a suite of, say, 5 or 10 lessons that have a largely similar format?

Captivate 4 introduces Project Templates. Developers can create template projects that contain slides with placeholders for various elements. Imagine your projects always have the following format – or something similar enough that building a template that contains all of the following slides will be a productivity enhancement:

Video explaining feature x
Simulation of feature X
Supporting discussion
2 quiz questions

Captivate 4’s Project Template builder lets you create the entire project outline, and add placeholders for each of the elements that should appear on the slides. So you can drop in captions, video placeholders and everything else required. All the SME or Instructional Designer needs to do is enter text and import slides/video. Design and layout is already taken care of.

Much of the work I have done over the years has required me to copy text and images from a storyboard document or a folder into the lesson file. Most eLearning development tools have import features that are designed to simplify and sped up this sort of importing, but typically they don’t work ‘just right’ and/or they are still quite time consuming and subject to user error. This project template feature excites me because I can eliminate the storyboard stage from the project workflow and have SMEs and Designers build their lesson right into my template files.

Table of Contents
Captivate 4 introduces a new, powerful Table of Contents feature, referred to as TOC. It replaces the Skin > Menu feature from Captivate 3, which is much more laborious to work with. This feature automatically searches your Captivate project and builds a Table of Contents for it. Grouped slides are treated as sections with sub-pages, making it easy to create a hierarchical menu structure for your courseware.

The TOC can be presented as a side-panel that extends the width of your Captivate project or as an overlay that the user can access at will.

Coupled with the TOC is a powerful search feature which can optionally allow users to search within any quiz slides. Developers should be aware that widgets are not searchable.

Text to Speech
Captivate 4 will include a brand new Text to Speech feature. This uses a special engine that converts text inputted as closed captions into audio that is saved into the published file. This is a great feature for those of us with accessibility requirements, and for those who wish to include audio but do not have the budget for recorded speech.

Import PhotoShop files flattened or as layers
Captivate 4 lets you import PhotoShop psd files. You can choose to flatten the psd file on import, or you can import some or all of the layers in the file. Importing as layers places the elements on different layers in the Captivate timeline. This enables you to transition each layer element onto a slide separately, offering the developer the option to quickly produce more complex screen builds and builds timed to audio or captions.

Improved PowerPoint Import
PowerPoint import in Captivate 4 has been greatly improved. Developers can now round-trip edit PowerPoint slides from inside Captivate. This means the PowerPoint import is no longer a one-way trip. Alternatively PowerPoint files can be linked, so that edits to the source PPT file are reflected in the Captivate project.

Image Slideshow
Captivate 4 introduces a new Image Slideshow project so that we can rapidly build a slideshow with just a few mouse clicks.

The new Aggregator feature in Captivate 4 allows developers to bring a collection of packaged Captivate 4 swf files into a single project file. It automatically generates a menu, similar to the TOC feature already mentioned. If the Captivate file was set to searchable when published, then it can be searched in the Aggregator project too. ActionScript 2 and 3 projects cannot be mixed.

ActionScript 2 or 3
With Captivate 4 we can now choose to package our project using either ActionScript 2 or ActionScript 3. This is particularly helpful if you want to extend your Captivate project using Widgets – but please be sure not to mix and match AS 2 and 3 as this is unlikely to work well.

Of particular interest for me over the next year, the inclusion of ActionScript 3 as an option will make it easier for me to include Captivate in future Flex 3 and 4 projects, since both use ActionScript 3.

Captivate 4 on Mac
Adobe has been hinting about a Mac version of Captivate since at least DevLearn 2007. Well at DevLearn 2008 the hints were brushed aside by this quote from RJ:

“people want that and we are going to deliver”

Which seems pretty definitive to me. No word in when at this point. I suggest that if this interests you, then you should contact Adobe about beta testing the Mac version when beta testing begins.

Adobe eLearning Suite
RJ announced the upcoming Adobe eLearning Suite at the Learning Summit. This exciting new suite, aimed at eLearning developers includes the following applications

Captivate 4
LifeCycle Designer
Flash CS4
Dreamweaver CS4
Photoshop CS4
Soundbooth CS4
Acrobat Professional 9
Device Central CS4
Adobe Bridge CS4
Pixel Bender Toolkit

Note that Flash and Dreamweaver will have special eLearning extras – learning interactions that are not distributed with other versions of Flash and Dreamweaver.

The following features are available only with the full Adobe eLearning Suite or, I presume, another Adobe suite that includes Device Central, or Acrobat Pro.

New Mobile Project
For me personally, this is probably one of the most exciting new features of Captivate 4 that has been shown so far. It promises to bring us *easy* development of mobile learning content to Flash Lite 3 devices. With Captivate 3 and earlier it is possible to produce content for mobile devices, but it is non interactive – all the interactive features of Captivate must be removed/omitted before publishing for your Flash Lite device.

Not much is known about what is fully supported by this feature, but here’s what was shown by Adobe.

With the Adobe eLearning Suite installed, developers can now choose to create a New > Mobile Project. Doing so launches a new Device Central session where generic Flash Lite 3 devices or specific devices (i.e. Samsung BlackJack II) can be selected.

Once this selection is made, a new project opens up in Captivate with the screen size and publish settings are correctly set for you. I am reliably informed that under the hood some other magic is performs so that Captivate ‘knows’ you are working on a mobile project and acts accordingly. For example, when you insert a quiz question fonts and layouts will be scaled to suite the mobile device.

Once the new project is created, developers can begin capturing simulations or adding slides, captions, animations etc. When it is time to test the new project, select Test in Device Central. Now something magical happens.

The project is published into Device Central, where the developer can test on specific phones, seeing how non-touchscreen devices can be used with the developed content. Device Central has a great many exciting features including simulating different lighting and backlight conditions, emulating different network connection speeds, recording keypresses for batch testing and much much more.

For some idea of the power of Flash Lite, check out the Flash Lite demo page http://www.adobe.com/mobile

Export to pdf
Acrobat Pro 9 has introduced a new feature that allows developers to embed Flash swf files inside pdf files. This makes it possible to embed video, interactive content like games and instructional content like Captivate. Users of Captivate 3 can now import their Captivate projects into an Acrobat document to produce a complete learning or performance support package in a single pdf file.

This is pretty easy to do, as demonstrated above, but Captivate 4 will allow us to publish directly to pdf in a single step provided we have Acrobat Pro 9 installed. Acrobat’s new Portfolio feature can then be used to create a visually attractive, animated menu to a collection of interactive and static content that adds new life and interest to educational and marketing content.

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Clearing space for an extra goat pasture

Our goats are pregnant, and they are due to produce their kids in the next few weeks. We live on 6 acres, and most of that land is overgrown so i decided it was time to clear some extra space so we can expand the goat pasture.

First thing I found was a machete embedded in one of the trees.

The undergrowth is pretty thick.

Trash everywhere.

… including this old Sharp radio.

Can you see the truck yet?

Here it is!

It’s going to take a little while before I can excavate the entire truck. For a start it is well ensconsed in the undergrowth. But also, it’s about 10 feet way from the intended pasture.

As I look around, I see that there seem to be wheels scattered as far as 100 feet from the truck. I doubt there’s anything usable in the truck anyway, but it looks like it has been dismantled and strewn around.

Over the last 4 years I have extracted numerous car jacks, tyres, wheels, chairs and countless other items of trash. But we have around 3 acres of overgrown land like that shown in the pictures above. Frankly, we are a little scared of what we might find…

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Adobe Captivate 4 BETA coming soon

Adobe has been showing sneak peeks of Adobe Captivate 4 under NDA for a while. Now it looks like a public beta is about to open. Head over to Silke Fleischer’s blog to sign up for the beta. Don’t miss your chance to be part of the evolution of Captivate into a must-have eLearning applicaiton.

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Anthropologist Michael Wesch explores the virus that is YouTube

This video, built on a presentation given to the Library of Congress by Michael Wesh explores the success of YouTube from a cultural perspective. The video is almost an hour long, so go get a cup of coffee or some cold beer, and pull up a comfortable chair!

The presentation is very compelling. It takes the viewer through the evolution of YouTube and the user-created content that is solidifying remote communities across the world.

With enough video uploaded daily to fill almost 400 24/7 channels, it’s hard to comprehend the sheer scale of YouTube. Put it another way – in 6 months, the YouTube community uploaded as much video as 3 TV stations could present for over 40 years, non-stop, 24 hours a day.

If you think YouTube is just about skateboarding bulldogs, ripped-off music videos and videos of idiots wheelying their motorcycles into the back of cars, then you should watch this video from Michael. If you are not touched by the shared emotion towards the end, then you are even more heartless than me 🙂

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