Friday, May 27, 2011

New IT Interest Group Meeting Notes – May 26, 2011

Back in Madison for our May meeting! Nice.

Katy started us off by showing MERIT’s newest hardware acquisition: a very cool, compact camcorder from Samsung (I believe it is the Samsung SMX-C10 Touch of Color Camcorder with 10x Optical Zoom). Katy explained that the School of Education students need to complete Field Practicum type experiences which must also be recorded and presented for class. MERIT had existing camcorders that recorded onto DV Tape but that format was unwieldy, and the camcorder to computer upload times were excessively long (files were uncompressed AVI). After researching a variety of products, they decided on the Samsung recorder because they use removable flash memory and they record in AVCHD format, which uses the non-proprietary MPEG-4 AVC video coding. MERIT invested in reasonably large memory cards (16GB) and those will store about 380 minutes of video. The rechargeable batteries are easily removable (160 minute life before recharge), and the button controls are logical. Using the recorder with a PC is simple and USB based, and the recorder comes with its own internal video editing software that installs easily. For students who wish to edit more extensively, MERIT has been recommending students do their main editing with either Windows Movie Maker, or iMovie depending on what they have access to. As for how MERIT did their research, Katy said they read A LOT of reviews.

Katy then brought up the really fantastic, free, web-based video editing tool JayCut She mentioned that lately MERIT had been recommending this tool over Windows Movie Maker or iMovie because JayCut it is web and cloud-based, so students do not need to have any special editing software. It is important for students to begin using this application from the beginning of the editing process, starting from the upload of the raw video (because it does not accept half edited files from other applications.) The tool can accept still images to be worked into videos, and can capture directly from your webcam too. The actual editing is reminiscent of iMovie, and offers standard tools like title text, subtitling, clip transitions and effects. (Music clips can be edited into your videos too, but we did not play with that part.) The editing appears to be pretty logical and easy.

Jim introduced us to the Grovo video-based tutorials site. It looks great! The site hosts a fairly long list of nicely put together video tutorials on a variety of IT topics, many related to social media/tools. You can sign up for an account for free.

Jim then also showed us the MakeUseOf site which includes a fairly long list of PDF-based guides for a wide variety of IT topics like popular computing, hardware, and social media. It looks really helpful!

On the topic of cloud based applications, Jim told us about a fantastic trial deal from Amazon. It is called the Amazon Cloud Player. For certain audio purchases, Amazon would give you a free account (with 20G of storage!) for uploading music. The account stays free for a year, after which you have to pay $20/year. Jim has found that while using his Android, he prefers the Amazon MP3 music service (“MP3 Downloads” when searching Amazon), and that it is better than iTunes for his purposes. Purchasing additional music from Amazon does not use up space in your 20G (space is added). Syncing the stored/purchased music with your device is really simple: you just scan in the QR code on the Amazon webpage after you have logged in. Cool.

Tom jumped in to tell us about a few things he has seen: the Unsubscribe site which you can use to hopefully tame your many email list subscriptions. “With the click of a button, users instantly send unwanted mailing lists to for safe removal.” And then he described the Pico Pocket Projector PK101 which looks pretty cool. This extremely tiny (1.97 in wide x .59 in high x 4.06 in deep) LCD projector is LED illuminated and USB powered. It can also run off of a battery. This projector is designed to interact with an iPhone or other mobile device, and it is not really ideally created for use with a laptop computer. However, you can use it with a laptop if you also get a VGA to S-Video converter box. Tom also mentioned ValleyWag... which you can explore on your own.

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