Monthly Archives: July 2007

The Jing Project

If you are like me, you have a few friends who rely on you to help them out occasionally with using their computer.  I often find myself talking with these folks by Skype both because it saves money and/or minutes on the calls and because I enjoy being hands free when I’m talking with them.  In addition Skype offers the ability to chat while you are talking which frequently proves useful for sending links to explanations or other resources that can help resolve the issue I’m working on with them.  But sometimes words fail me and it would surely be nice to be able to show them what I am talking about.  That’s where the Jing Project comes in.  It’s called a project because it’s not yet a product nor is it a beta, as the FAQ explains.  This video explains in less than 2 minutes just what it does.

L 102 So since I need to teach my buddy Paul Moor how to use Windows Live Writer to insert a picture into a blog entry, I’ll insert one into this post and use Jing to capture a screencast of doing it.   Well, since this was the first time I have used Jing, I recorded the video with no narration because I didn’t realize that it was recording sound at the same time as it was recording the video.  I’ll know better next time. 

However, what that video illustrated was that once you have navigated to the picture you want to insert, you need to choose whether you want it to display at the right or the left (I chose the right) and afterwards you need to select Custom Margins and increase the space between the text and the picture you have inserted. 

As you’ll see if you follow the link to the screencast, these videos and image captures are hosted at Screencast.com.  TechSmith, the makers of CamStudio, which I’d love to have but can’t afford, and SnagIt, which I own and use, are the founders of the Jing Project, so I am familiar with their products and their reliability as a company.  They have arranged with Screencast.com to provide an account that doesn’t expire after 60 days, as do most of Screencast.com’s trial accounts, for the duration of the Jing Project.  This link explains how to get started with the Jing Project if you are so inclined. 

One final thing about my experience of installing it.  The Jing Project requires .Net 3.0 (for Windows users) and an account at Screencast.com.  I was impressed that the setup program for the Jing Project noted that I didn’t not have .Net 3.0 installed and offered to download and install it for me.  And with the first time of sharing a capture or video, it gave me the opportunity to create an account with Screencast.com.  It is best, in my opinion, to allow the setup program to initiate those things because that the way you get the account at Screencast.com that doesn’t expire after 60 days. 

So if you are interested in experimenting with a new kind of resource, you might wish to give the Jing Project a shot.  I’m looking forward to playing with it and impressing my friends.  😉

Update: I had a reply from my friend Tom Willis who suggested that I record another Jing recording but this time include the sound. So here it is.

Proof of Life

Juan at 60 In an email exchange this morning with my friend Juan, who recently celebrated turning 60, he commented that he had been somewhat concerned about me because he noticed that I hadn’t updated my blog in “many days.”  He is right of course in a manner of speaking , but in another way he is overlooking that the blog actually is updated each day, even if there isn’t a newly composed post like this one.  Since others of you may not be aware of these daily modifications either, I thought it worth my time to point them out to you and to share some of the insightful remarks that Juan made in our exchange. 

First, he observed that in this age of electronic communication watching someone’s blog is a way of keeping an eye on them to see if they are okay.  He noted, and I recall, that in earlier times we used to look for signs that our neighbors were okay and attend to signals that we might need to check on them.  He mentioned seeing them walking their dog or noticing their newspapers accumulating on the driveway or observing whether the light on their porch went on and off at the “usual” times.  If you noticed that any of those ordinary events didn’t occur at the usual time or in the usual way, then that might be a signal that you needed to check on your neighbor’s well-being.  He was thoughtful enough not to use the phrase “elderly” neighbor, but that would have been appropriate both in his example and in my case.

Nowadays, of course, as he pointed out, our neighborhood is significantly larger and less constrained by proximity.  The signals have changed to things like whether there is a new blog entry or whether the person responds in a timely fashion to email and through such things we can keep tabs on friends and web neighbors and still express our interest and concern for them when we see behavior that is out of the ordinary.  So I was grateful for his thought-provoking insights and for his concern for me, but as Mark Twain, I think it was, is supposed to have said, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”  I am alive and well.

But, you ask, how would you know that, since as Juan says I haven’t updated my blog in many days.  Well the answer is you might know it if you looked in the sidebar at the “From my RSS feeds” section and saw there were new headlines there, or if you followed the “Read more” link at the bottom of it to read them.   There you would find the items I’ve shared from my scanning of the 64 RSS feeds that I read more or less daily.  And if you examine that link you’ll probably find that even though I haven’t written a blog entry such as this one in the last 15 days, hardly a day has gone by that I didn’t share at least one entry from my reading of my RSS feeds.

Juan wanted to know if it weren’t possible for that to happen “automatically” since it is an RSS feed and wouldn’t that be deceptive evidence that I was alive and well.  The answer is that the items in that group are things I have consciously and manually chosen to share with those of you who may be interested.  According to the statistics in Google Reader, in the last 30 days I have read 4,030 items from my 64 RSS feeds and of those items I have shared 43 of them in my so-called link blog. 

To say it another way, those 43 things are things I might have otherwise forwarded to someone (or several someones) in my distribution list by email, if I wanted to tell them about those items, but instead of “imposing” them on you in your email inbox without your requesting them, I choose instead to put them on my blog where you can scan through them, if you choose.  Think of it as the filtered result of my reading the web, filtered of course through the prism of what I find significant.

But for the purpose of determining whether I am still living, you can assume that if something new appears in that list of items, it got there because I put it there.  Regardless of whether you consider them either interesting or worth reading from your point of view, it is at least “Proof of Life.”  So when there is another long pause in postings like this one, as there is sure to be, if you want to check on me, check my link blog.  If new items are appearing there, you can be sure that I haven’t yet keeled over at my keyboard.

 

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Flock revisited

This morning I discovered through my RSS feeds that version 0.9 of Flock was available for download, so I downloaded and installed it.  I am writing this post using its blog editor.  My initial impressions of the user interface are generally positive as it is quite different than it was when I last used it.  I have taken a hiatus from using each of the intervening versions since I ceased using it on October 30, 2006.  I’ll spend the day experimenting with this version and see how I like it.  I’ll update this post later in the day with my reactions.

Blogged with Flock

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It’s about time

On June the sixth, I had my semi-annual appointment to get my teeth cleaned, and I dreaded the usual but familiar difficulty associated with removing the stains from my teeth that smoking a pipe causes.  So the night before, I tossed out my pipes and decided that the night of the fifth of June would be the last time I smoked the pipe.  It was (and is) time to give up that addiction.  When I arrived for the appointment, I told the hygienist that I was giving up smoking, and of course, she was very supportive and encouraged me to follow through on my plan.  And while I had every intention of doing just that, I had no idea whether I’d be able to stick to my resolve.

No pipeI’m pleased to report that today marks the beginning of the second month of my abstinence from a habit that I’ve lived with (or more appropriately, suffered from) for almost 44 years.   And I am actually quite surprised to realize that the first month has been much easier to tolerate than I thought it would be.  I haven’t smoked the pipe since I put it down on the fifth of June.  When I’ve had the urge to smoke it, I’ve substituted the act of brushing my teeth for the behavior of lighting up.  It’s not quite the same, but there is more logic to that particular substitution than you might imagine.  I was in the habit of lighting up my pipe immediately after a meal so brushing my teeth instead gives me something to do that breaks that pattern.  And of course, it never hurts to brush your teeth after you eat.  I’m sure my dental hygienist would be pleased.

When I was twenty-one years old, I bought my first pipe, having been influenced as I was by the college professors who smoked them, most notably by one Dr. Wilson C. Snipes, an English Literature professor of mine who was one of my favorites.  And since that time I’ve smoked a pipe off and on for all the ensuing years.  However, since I retired and have spent a lot of time sitting at the computer, I found that I was smoking the pipe almost continuously from early in the morning to late at night.  It had become a compulsive and unconscious act. 

In the last month since I stopped, I’ve noticed that my clothes, my house, and my car don’t smell of the pipe any more, and my mouth no longer feels as like the bottom of a birdcage.  It has helped that all the paraphernalia associated with the pipe is no longer immediately at hand.  During the years that I smoked the pipe, I never inhaled it, but that fact didn’t make it any less of an addictive habit.  It has only been a month, and I’m very aware that “one swallow does not make a summer.”  As is true when attempting to overcome any habit, it’s one day at a time, but at least I have made it a month.  And I think I can make it through today too.  In the end, that’s all I can control — today.

Father’s Day consummated — partially

My sons and their families gave me gift certificates for Father’s Day this year.  One of them chose a gift certificate from Home Depot and the other chose one from Amazon.com.  I appreciated both of them, of course, and will try to find something that I’d like to have from there.

This morning I “spent” the gift certificate from Amazon.com.  I was able to get a used copy of “Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software” by Charles Petzold that my friend Mike Neel recommends so highly and a used copy of “WordPress 2 (Visual QuickStart Guide)” that I think may prove interesting.  In addition to those two books, I got an OXO Salad Spinner and a set of OXO Stainless-Steel locking tongs.  Now if I can just do as well with the gift certificate from Home Depot.