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Jun

02

Create Animated Demos with TurboDemo

 Business | Graphic Design

Everyone knows that a picture is worth 1000 words.  When you're trying to explain something, a moving picture can be worth 1000 stills.  Animated demos and marketing pieces can explain and persuade. They hold the audience's attention better and are more compelling than just using words and written text for many purposes.

There are several programs that create animated demos, including Flash Demo Builder and Viewlet Builder.  I'm going to review TurboDemo, one of the most popular.

For this review, I tested TurboDemo by creating a short tutorial on using FindApp.  To begin, I recorded myself using the Find feature to locate software on FindApp.

After recording, TurboDemo looked like Figure 1:

TurboDemo Interface

Figure 1: The TurboDemo User Interface 

Notice that TurboDemo calls each captured screen a "Slide". Each slide can have its own graphics, text, and audio added. If you have used Microsoft PowerPoint, you should find the interface for editing slides familiar.

Once you're done recording it's time to turn the simple screen capture into a demo or tutorial.  It's surprisingly easy.

 

 

 
First, I added text to several slides.  I also added a callout, also known as a word balloon, to one slide.  I used rectangles and arrows to emphasize important parts of some screens.  Finaly, I added a "Start" button to the beginning of the tutorial so it wouldn't begin before the viewer was ready. I chose not to use audio for this demonstration. 

After you've completed all the text/audio annotations, it's time to adjust the timing.  You can control how long each slide stays on the screen using the Player controls.

 

Figure 2: TurboDemo Player Controls

The number shown is the duration for the current slide.  Allow enough time for viewers to read the text and/or listen to the audio.

A major strength of TurboDemo is how many ways you can save your demo.  You can create Flash or Java for web pages.  You can also make a self-running Windows program (EXE), PDF and Word documents or an AVI movie.  I created an executable file, which you can download below.

FindOnFindApp.exe (4.15 mb)

TurboDemo is surprisingly easy to use, and has enough depth that experienced users will continue to get better and learn new tricks. You can create buttons, interactive test questions with automated responses to both correct and incorrect answers, and much more.  It does have a few quirks and frustrations, mostly a somewhat out of date user interface.

TurboDemo is a very good choice for a professional who will be creating enough demos and animations to justify the price.  You can find both TurboDemo and other demo builders in the Presentation category of FindApp.

Apr

23

PDF Utilities You Can Use

 Business

Portable Document Format (PDF) documents are everywhere.  They're used for everything from IRS tax forms to instruction manuals.  You can read PDFs on almost any computer, and many other devices like phones and PDAs.  Their fillable forms can be extremely useful.  If you work with PDF files in your own business or on your web site, there are many programs on FindApp that can save you money and make your job easier.

Many people think that creating PDF files requires expensive software.  However, PDF Vista makes it easy. To turn any document into a PDF, just print it using the PDF Vista virtual printer.  In only a few seconds your document is converted into a Portable Document Format file.  PDF Vista is an excellent, easy-to-use and reasonably priced way to create Portable Document Files.

VeryPDF PDF Editor

Now that we have created PDF files, what if we want to change one?  Sometimes you create a wonderful  document, and after it is already in use you have to change one word or one date or one phone number.  You can modify your documents using PDF Editor.  A simple mouse-controlled interface lets you change, add, or remove text, graphics, links, and comments easily.  This is the perfect way to quickly update an existing PDF.

Finally, what if you have information in PDF form, and you need to use it in another program?  To turn a PDF into other formats, consider Total PDF Converter.  It uses a simple wizard interface to turn Portable Document Format files into Word, Excel, HTML, Text, and many other file formats.  If there is data in a PDF that you need to work with in another program, for instance a table of numbers that you need in a spreadsheet, Total PDF Converter is exactly what you need.

There are almost 100 programs in the PDF Software category on FindApp.  If you use PDFs, take a few minutes to browse through it.  You will certainly find something that can make your work more efficient and save you money.

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Jan

22

Minding Your Business: Personal Information Managers

 Business

Today I'm introducing a new feature.  "Minding Your Business" will round up some notable business software.  I hope that I can help you to find the best applications available, and perhaps suggest a useful type of software you never thought about.

This time, I'm going to talk about Personal Information Managers, also known as "PIMs" or "Personal Organizers".  The purpose of a PIM is to keep all the information you need in one place.  The information that might be in a personal organizer includes:

  • Appointments
  • Addresses
  • Phone Numbers
  • Lists (including to-do lists)
  • Reminders

If this was all on paper, it would be overwhelming.  With a software organizer, when you see the appointment.  You can click on it for Joe's address, and set a reminder to flash on your screen an hour before your meeting.

If you are part of a team, you will need to share information with your group.  With a "group organizer" that shares information with your team members, you can check calendars to see when everyone is free for a meeting, or use a shared address book so that everyone knows how to reach important business contacts.Noto Organizer

Microsoft's mail programs (Outlook, Outlook Express, and Windows Mail), include the basic PIM capabilities, including a calendar, reminders, and an address book.  If your company uses Outlook, or if you are simply already happy with the Microsoft solution, this may be the best choice for you.  There are many fine alternatives available.  One advantage of a site like FindApp is that you can try many different programs at no cost, and find the one that will work best for you.

MSD Organizer is a good example.  It has all the basic features of a PIM, plus cool extras like an MP3 catalog, budget tracking and reporting, and more.  MSD works well for individuals, and also supports shared calendars and other groupware features.  It has especially strong support for importing and exporting, making it highly compatible with other software. 

Alive Organizer does something unusual for a personal organizer: blogging.  You can create blog posts using the powerful editor in Alive, then automatically post them to major community sites like Blogger and LiveJournal;

The award-winning Noto Organizer is a very light, easy-to-use application that will work well on any system.  Designed to look and act exactly like a paper organizer, it's easy to learn and easy to use.  You can completely change the appearance of all its components, including the included MP3 player, using a built-in graphics collection.

If you haven't used a PIM, you should try at least one of the organizers mentioned here.  If you're using one now, take a look at the Personal Organizer area on FindApp.  You just might find something you like even more.

Regards,

John M.

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