Category Archives: Software

Happy Spring and Presentation Tips

It’s springtime at NOVA! The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, and the instructional technologists (this one at least) are sneezing.

I found this helpful graphic regarding presentations on the Washington Post website:

If you don’t have marshmallow peep bunnies in bikinis, you might be doing it wrong.

To see the other winners of Washington Post’s Peep Diorama Challenge, go here:

New Horizons Part 1

I’m sure you all missed me this past week…right? while I was attending New Horizons 2012. One of my favorite sessions was present by David Halpin, on 7 useful free tools on the Internet. Most of the time when I go to sessions like these I already know of and use the tools (that was so 10 seconds ago!), but David had some nice additions. Here are some of his recommendations, as best I can recall, since I wasn’t taking notes.

Dropbox at I do already know of and use this one, but I highly, highly recommend it. Is your file too big to email? Is the recipient in another state so you can’t hand her a flash drive? No problem. Dropbox will give you 2GB of space to start with, and you can drop files into it on your desktop or by using their web app. If you have a Dropbox account and multiple computers, you can get to any files in your Dropbox folder from any one of those computers. And you can share your folder with others.

Jing at Another I’m familiar with and love using. This bit of software will let you make videos of your computer actions quickly and easily, and save or share those videos. Perfect for when someone is just not seeing that button on a webpage, and you can’t jog down to his office to officiate.

Pixlr at A pretty powerful web-based image editor. It can do a lot of the basic functions that Photoshop does, without the need to install any software. Yeah, we here at NOVA have access to free Photoshop in our offices, but when you just have a quick edit to do, there’s no need to use a cleaver to slice butter. And if your computer is running the way mine is, you’ll want a more lightweight option than Photoshop.

That’s it for Part 1. These are all free, so check them out!


On Video Conversion

Ever tried to watch a video on your computer, only to get piles of error messages telling you that you have the wrong format? I sure do. In fact, it happened to me today. So I thought I’d talk a bit about one of my most-favorite-ever pieces of software, FormatFactory.

FormatFactory can pretty much take any video you have and convert it into any other video format you need. It’s fast and easy to use, and it saves my bacon regularly. For example, today I was editing video clips for some folks. One of the videos was a Flash movie. My current PC isn’t powerful enough for video editing (am I allowed to say that on here?) so I needed to get it onto my (borrowed, alas) Mac. I used FormatFactory to change the Flash movie into a Quicktime movie, which the Mac liked. When I was finished editing, I saved the video as an MPEG. Then I moved that file BACK to my PC, and converted it to a WMV, so my colleague could put it in her Powerpoint. Okay, it sounds complicated, but the important thing is that I could get any type of video file I needed, and I needed a LOT of them.

It will do this to sound files too! Here’s a link to FormatFactory:

My second favorite conversion tool is Zamzar. This one runs on the web, so it’s great of you get stuck on an unfamiliar computer with a bad video file. Seriously, it does happen. Also, you don’t have to download anything. Load your video on Zamzar, and it’ll email you the converted file. Zamzar is here:

Happy conversion!