Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

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prezi – what your presentation tool could be like…

In e learning,technology,Uncategorized on April 18, 2009 by rajeev kumar

prezi

slideshows or presentations are one of the most widely form of data being presented to users. It shows set of data at a time and moves from one set to another.They are linear in behaviour. But our mind does not see information in straight way.It tries to get a whole picture of things first then see the individual parts and then fits it in the whole picture. He can move in any order between data. If it is more interested in anything he can spend more time on those things.

Current presentation methods are like a set of inormation and you have to fit them to complete the puzzle. You get answer at the end. Though most of the time you wanted answer at the begining. What would a presentation tool be like which matches how the mind sees the information. It shows you the big picture , allows you to move between them while showing the relationship between them and if you like it go to details.

came across this online presentation tool – prezi which is trying to do exactly this. It is completely different presentation tool than what we are used to till date. See it to believe it. Here are some of the presentations created using this. See one of those here. And below is a clip to show how to make prezi presentations.

one of the similar features have been tried with pptplex which is on microsot office labs. But compare the difference. the idea is similar but prezi contents are so stunning that it is next immediate thing you would want to try or atleast want to show others.

one of the theories of eLearning is that there should not be much distractions in the content. It should not be so stunning that it creates hindrance in learning. This is exactly what I felt about this. I liked it , I saw many presentations created in this later on realised that none of the time I was looking at the content. But I do remember all the visual effects it has. The editor is also high on visual appeal , sometimes I wished if there was better way to use the all purpose tool they show is their logo also – It takes so many clicks. These are the only downside I could think of…

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tata nano – not just a car

In random thoughts,technology on April 11, 2009 by rajeev kumar Tagged: , ,

just got a glimpse of the tata motor nano – the $2000 car. I am not a automobile lover but first glimpse could not stop looking at it. And thinking that a parking lot in bangalore would cost more than this car. It could have been passed as normal car or even a better one. By no standard it looks as a cheap car but the one which every one would want to have. It is just the price which makes as if every one could afford to have, though I have no such plans.

Here are some of the photos which I clicked. This is where you keep your tyres and not engines.

nano-003

Engine is at back side –

nano-005

And some of the ways Tata is using to keep the marketing cost down, click the image below to go to their site –

nano

  • its official site is promoting presence on forums, blogs, facebook, orkut
  • there are many videos which are hosted on youtube and the website embeds them.
  • it allows you to book online
  • and you would not miss seeing this as it is displayed at all tata retail stores like westside, croma etc and any shopping you do at their stores allows you to fill up coupons and participate in lucky draw to win a nano.

The only downside is that it has potential to nullify the goods that electric cars are doing for future.

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ribbit voice platform or flash developers

In adobe,technology on April 2, 2009 by rajeev kumar

ribbitFurther to my earlier post on ribbit here are summary –

Features – visit this for complete feature set – ribbit has whole set of APIs like you can create a flash application which can accept or make calls. The calls can be to actual phones or your flash application to which Ribbit assigns a number which uses your computer microphone and speaker to act as fully functional phone. Most interesting part is that depending on who is calling and other parameters like time, or any other condition you can think of in your code you can execute a programatic event. Of course it could be limited by what can be done from Flash.So things like remote controlling the content playing in class from my mobile phone could be possible. Or switch off my fridge connected to flash device by making a phone call should be possible. You can create applications that can send text messages to either your ribbit phone or any number in US. Other features are transcription services that is you can convert your voice messages to text.

Is it all free – no. But if you have developer account you can do many of the things for free. Developer account are given access to dial anywhere in US for free. I tried my hands on building a quick application using this to call someone in US and save my bills but in my first attempt could not do it. Will give it a try later on again in few days. From discussions in forums here are the limits for a developer account- 10 calls per day (US Only) – 10 minutes per call – 10 text SMS messages per day (US Only) – 10 sub-accounts – 0 voicemail transcriptions (unless requested). But going through the forums looks like even if you exceed this limit for the time being they are fine.

There are two stages of trying out ribbit – when you are building the application is when it is considered developer account and when the application goes live. The pricing comes into picture after application goes live.

Scenarios – first thought here are the scenarios I can think of for eLearning. There are nothing which cannot be done by some of the existing methods except that it brings so much fun to the learning.

  • I create a eLearning course. The course has a “give me more ideas” button which is actually a ribbit appliation. Distribute it to my groups from whom I want more feedback. There could be 2 stages of my course completion – I have created a draft version and I have lot of time on my hand. In that mode if someone clicks “give me more ideas” then he would be routed to voice mail where he can leave his voice message. The transcription would come into action by converting the message to speech and sending me report at the end of day which I can incorporate into my course. Next stage is when I need the comments urgently in which case it would be a direct call to my mobile. At this stage I can incorporate their comments quickly.
  • Similar situation could be I create a course and I put “answer this question” button which would accept calls from only a fixed set of numbers. This could be achieved by programatically analysing the caller ID which would be maintained in a database. Further on they could be given password to speak. If it matches then the voice is sent for transcription and I can test and rate their answers. Otherwise call is not accepted. And my application can be programed to analyse the responses also and send SMS to the course takers about whether they passed or failed. This could be very relevant scenario for mobile learning.
  • Or the simplest of them is make a call or send text message to my friend using the eLearning course and have fun.

With some free talk and text time for developer accounts I would go and try out some of the features. And use Adobe Captivate 4 widget framework to create some working widgets.

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twitter – the only thing getting attention

In random thoughts,technology,twitter,wordpress on March 26, 2009 by rajeev kumar

looks like twitter is the only thing that is getting attention if you are following technology trends now a days. Be it television or web suddenly everyone has started talking about it. Some report shows that 5 year students are using twitter as a way to learn maths and soon it will be part of curriculam in schools.

here is a gartner report on how enterprises are using twitter. it says “By 2011, Enterprise Microblogging Will Be a Standard Feature on 80 Percent of Social Software Platforms” and probably a way to earn money through this medium. Enterprises are using twitter in following ways – 

  • Direct — The company uses Twitter as a marketing or public relations channel
  • Indirect — The company’s employees use Twitter to enhance and extend their personal reputations, thereby enhancing the company’s reputation
  • Internal — Employees use the platform to communicate about what they are doing, projects they are working on and ideas that occur to them
  • and as inbound signalling – Twitter streams provide a rich source of information about what customers, competitors and others are saying about a company.

I have also jumped to twitter bandwagon after watching it from sidelines since almost 2 years. I use twitter to broadcast any interesting piece of news I come across internet. It is faster than blogging about it. If I can add any contribution to the news then I think about blogging it.

wordpress has also released its twitter widget today – read it here which I have added for this blog. Look at right hand side for my twitter feeds. You can add as many twitter widget as you want if you have more than one twitter page. And the links are fully functional…

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software project estimation – is it an art …

In c++,technology on March 19, 2009 by rajeev kumar

there are many methods to estimate a software project. All of them contain sufficiently large literature and complex formulaes .If one has to refer  it quickly it cannot be done and even if that is done one will never get so much data as to predict it accurately and in the manner they are saying. so will it always be art.

and here is a link which explains estimating a project using “use cases”. Use cases in any form are the starting point for any project discussions. So it can also be used for creating estimates. Thought this assumes that the use cases are very detailed and lot of thought should go into many other factors as well. Every project is different which may or may not have so much data but the point is in being aware of the fact that use case alongwith few factors can help in estimating effort for a project. And the actual data can be arrived using whatever information is available for a project.

ps – i am using presentation from slideshare in this post. They have just released mobile version of slideshare. Read it here. And it looks like this product was developed during Yahoo Open hack day in bangalore. Read it here.

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use google maps in your adobe captivate projects…

In adobe,adobe captivate,adobe captivate new feature,collaborative elearning content creation,e learning,flash,technology on March 7, 2009 by rajeev kumar

gmapshybrid1

there are many eLearning projects with addresses and contact information. How would that look if we can insert a live map which will show a note about the address , can show directions to reach and user can pan,zoom and use it as he would do in any online map services and all within the Captivate project. No need to go to the browser and break the flow of users.

in this post we will go through some of the resources to use Adobe Flash CS4 to create a swf file which can be used inside adobe captivate projects. We will use Google maps Api to achieve this.

  1. Set up your development environment in Flash CS4. Read the whole process here.
  2. Sign up for google map API here. You will get a unique API key. You will need to specify a website or domain where you will be using it. You can give the link to your blogs also. Refer to step 10 as to how to use it.
  3. go through this post to create a simple application here. Note – The path for componets in Flash CS4 is C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Flash CS4\Common\Configuration\Components
  4. Now we will create a swf file which will display the map of washington and show a overlay over that.
  5. Open Flash CS4. Create a Action Script 3.0 project
  6. During step number 1 you have copied maps swc file to Flash directory. If you have done it correctly than inside components window you can see and entry for “Google>GoogleMapsLibrary”. Drag drop it to stage. Dont worry about the position.
  7. The code is attached at the end of post for reference. Just copy the code to actionscript window and publish the project as swf file.
  8. In the begining of code we have use few import statements so that we can use the corresponding APIs.
  9. We will declare the map object – var map:Map = new Map();
  10. We will need to use the API key we generated in step 2. – map.key = “put the api key here“;
  11. Set the size of map – map.setSize(new Point(500, 400));
  12. add a event listener – map.addEventListener(MapEvent.MAP_READY, onMapReady);
  13. set the map area to the location you want to show – map.setCenter(new LatLng(38.8977, -77.0366), 14, MapType.NORMAL_MAP_TYPE); – Important thing are lattitude(38.8977) and longitude(-77.0366) – how should you find the one for your location – there are 3 ways – you know it already, use google geocoding apis  or use this page to find the one for your location. Behind the scenes it is using google map apis to do this.
  14. Play with replacing MapType.NORMAL_MAP_TYPE – Other values they can take are SATELLITE_MAP_TYPE, HYBRID_MAP_TYPE, and PHYSICAL_MAP_TYPE. SATELLITE_MAP_TYPE is the one you can use to get google earth type of map.
  15. Next we will create a marker and add it over the map. It will show your position on map
  16. Below is the action script code . Put it in your action script window and you are ready to go.

import com.google.maps.LatLng;

import com.google.maps.Map;

import com.google.maps.MapEvent;

import com.google.maps.MapType;

import com.google.maps.overlays.Marker;

import com.google.maps.overlays.MarkerOptions;

import com.google.maps.MapType;

import com.google.maps.LatLng;

import com.google.maps.styles.FillStyle;

import com.google.maps.styles.StrokeStyle;

//create a map object

var map:Map = new Map();

//specify the API key

map.key = “replace with your API key“;

//set the size of map

map.setSize(new Point(500, 400));

//add event listeners

map.addEventListener(MapEvent.MAP_READY, onMapReady);

this.addChild(map);

function onMapReady(event:Event):void {

//center the map to the lat, long

map.setCenter(new LatLng(38.8977, -77.0366), 14, MapType.NORMAL_MAP_TYPE);

//create a marker

         var markerA:Marker = new Marker(

             new LatLng(38.8977, -77.0366),

             new MarkerOptions({

                 strokeStyle: new StrokeStyle({color: 0x987654}),

                 fillStyle: new FillStyle({color: 0x223344, alpha: 1}),

                 radius: 15,

                 hasShadow: true

             })

         );

//add the marker to the map

map.addOverlay(markerA);

}

Publish it as swf and insert it to your Captivate project. Note – This is action script 3.0 swf so you can use it in Latest version of Adobe Captivate that is 4 . Publish the Captivate project. You have a fully functional map showing the location you provided. You can pan , go to any place in world . Find the directions etc. 

Keep an eye here for the future post to understand how widget feature of Adobe Captivate 4 gives a better solution than this. And use the endless capabilities of Google Maps service.

Update  – read this post to see how the google map widgets were created and download the file to be used with Adobe Captivate 4.

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adobe captivate 4, learning 2.0 and the perpetual beta …..

In adobe captivate,e learning,flash,technology on March 6, 2009 by rajeev kumar

youtubewhile browsing the net for using various webservices like youtube,flickr,google maps etc and thinking how they are being used in eLearning world I chanced upon this ebook. I was late to notice this but still. The concept is called “e learning 2.0” and is explained as use of web technologies in education. This term is extension of more famous term web 2.0.

captivateLogoI am also thinking of how a eLearning tool like Adobe Captivate 4 can help in this phenomenon. You have already seen how youtube videos can be inserted in adobe captivate 4 slides. That was just the glimpse. More advanced things can be done like posting the comment, adding the rating, complains etc depending on how much they open for Flash. Similarly there could be ways to use flickr which is a photoshare service. Learning 2.0 also mentions it quite frequently but I am yet to find a broad use case in which a tool can help in creating content using Flickr. Ofcourse showing a set of photographs with predefined search string is the easiest of them but I am not sure if it will be used or practical courses. May be it is my ignorance of service which I have just began to use or may be the informal nature of these services. There are some interesting things which can be done with google maps which I will share shortly.

betaAnd this also reminds me one of the favourite terms of web 2.0 – perpetual beta which is a system in which a product never leaves development stage of beta and allows developers to consistently release new features which might not be fully tested. You see this trend in the “beta” logo which comes with many web 2.0 services. This also says users must be treated as co developers and they add to the product feature set also. Which again leaves me with thought that the features will never stop coming even after Adobe Captivate 4 is released and the users can be part of it also by developing such services on the tool. This is one of the contribution of Adobe Captivate to web 2.0 phenomenon.