Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cool tricks with Openshot video

I've known about Openshotvideo for a while, but for some reason, I hadn't really put it through its paces. I don't know why, but I didn't think it was very full featured. How wrong I was!!! I spent a couple of hours in the weekend playing with Openshot and found it very intuitive and full-featured: titles, effects, transitions, even chroma keying is easy to use straight out of the box. I've put the video below together from footage of my little son William. Note the 'four square' layout that allows picture in picture. I'd love to say that was really difficult and beginners shouldn't really try it, but actually, all you have to do is right click on a clip and choose 'top left' or 'bottom right'. Easy as pie. Something I didn't put into this video was animations; if you want a clip to slide across the screen and out the other side, there's a preset for that too. Clips zooming in and out? One click. In fact, the only thing lacking from Openshotvideo is support for free video codecs (ogv in particular). It was a bit of a shame that using open software, my own footage and Creative Commons licenced music, I had to export to a proprietary video format. But hey, I'm not complaining: Openshot video is my new best friend.

William aged 1-6 mths from Mark Osborne on Vimeo.

...and sometimes good teaching doesn't need much technology

A wonderful video about how inspiring teachers can change young lives:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Exciting Mahara news

Out this week from the Mahara community: two new features that should prove extremely popular with e-portfolio users:
  • Collections: a handy way of grouping a number of pages together and providing a way of navigating through them. Think of having three separate pages for the different phases of a project: proposal, progress and product. Or of having a different view for each subject you are learning. Collections are also a way to give the same access to a number of views at once.
  • Plans: "Plans are essentially task lists that allow you to formulate a goal (the plan) and spell out the individual steps (the tasks) you need to take – optionally by a certain date – to reach your goal."
Both of these features our school could start using tomorrow- really exciting news. Well done the Mahara community, and thanks to Birmingham City University for sponsoring the work.

Friday, August 13, 2010

...and now Oracle's doing it.

News today that Oracle is suing Google over its use of Java in the Android operating system. Possibly something to do with the fact that Google has surpassed Apple in phone os market share. You might have guessed that I'm pretty cynical about this: software patents are simply another revenue stream.
The interweb's running hot with some pretty angry anti-Oracle feeling at the moment...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Apple patents the work of others

A cautionary tale: Ortwin Gentz is a software developer whose company Futuretap has been extremely successful building apps for iPhone and iPad. Imagine Ortwin's surprise when he discovered that the company that has allowed him to earn a living has actually patented part of his work. A screenshot of Ortwin's 'Whereto' app actually features in Apple's patent claim.

It strikes me that there are two bad things here: i) software patents in themselves, and ii) any one company controlling a lot of the technology we use. If this were ever to happen on the Android platform, consumers would be free to go elsewhere. Not so with Apple.