Friday, February 20, 2015

winter slam

We were slammed this week.  Mother Nature dumped about 14 inches of snow on us in less than two days.  We’re still digging out of that while the temperature has plummeted to well below zero – very, very unusually cold for this part of Kentucky.  Today, the sun was brilliant and the world looked bright and clean out my window, but it’s bitterly cold.  Molly did not go out this morning and Gracie only went out long enough to do her business and wanted right back in.  It’s just too cold for man and domesticated beast to be outside.  Our roads are finally becoming decent to drive on in most places, but we have another front moving through tonight.  The weatherman has promised us another 6-8 inches of the white stuff overnight.  I’m ready for winter to be over, but that snow tomorrow is supposed to be wet.  This old lady might just go out and build us a fabulous snow-creature, perhaps a large snow-dragon or snow-insect of some sort.  We will see.

View from my office window this morning

I had to teach my class Wednesday afternoon.  The university was closed Monday for a holiday, and then closed every day this week except Wednesday for snow or too cold.  Wednesday morning, four of my fourteen students in the class emailed me and said they were unable to attend because of slick roads or being unable to get out of their driveways.  That was OK because it was no easy task getting my car to the main road and to the office that day.  Many of my students commute from the boonies (i.e. rural areas).  As it turned out, only three students came to class.  We had a very informal, fun class.  All three had already completed the week’s project and scored 100% on it, so it was mostly review and talking about when or why they would want to use some of the things they did in the project.  It’s interesting that the three students who came are top students.  Perhaps they are top students because they are so dedicated to being good students.

I finally got Camtasia and SnagIt loaded onto my PC.  I’ve used SnagIt at work every day for years to create documentation or to help my end-users with their problems when a picture really is worth 1,000 words, but the software I bought is like the Cadillac SnagIT.  It’s incredibly awesome and has all sorts of graphic add-ons and effects.  I love it!  The version we have at work is complete shit in comparison.  I wouldn’t have purchased it at all for myself, but it was bundled with Camtasia and the price was so attractive that I gave in to impulse.  I knew it would be better than Paint (what I used up until now at home), but my expectations were fantastically exceeded.  Thank you TechSmith.

Let me tell you about my Camtasia adventure.  On first site when I opened it, it was like “oh…this looks complicated.”  Then I watched about 15 minutes of quick training overview videos conveniently linked to right from the main menu, and then I was in business.  I actually made a usable 30-second training video to show students how to sum numbers in a column using the Quick Access Toolbox in Excel.  I even made it ADA compliant (meaning it has closed captions for hearing impaired).  I edited the video to remove the “oh shit” that I interjected inappropriately when Molly jumped on my back and dug her claws into my shoulder, and to delete the muttering at the end when I fumbled around to stop recording.  Tonight, I might insert a slide at the front that identifies me and the video’s topic.  It’s great!  But I can do better.  For one thing, I need to zoom in before I hit the record button.  I only used a few cells for the demo, and I didn’t use anything on Excel’s ribbon.  There’s no need to confuse people by showing them more than what they need to see. 

Someone has no regard for the joy I get from learning to use a software tool for something useful.  I made him watch my finished video.  He thought the closed captions just happened automatically and correctly without me doing anything.  HA!  His response was, “hm…boring.  Is this what your students have to learn?  I’m glad I’m not in your class.”  Hey, me too!!  I am with Someone the way the kids are with me.  When they see me trying to set the DVR to record something, most likely they’ll snatch the remote from my hands and just do it for me.  When Someone is on the computer and trying to do some simple something he can’t figure out, I try to be patient with him, but it’s really, REALLY hard to maintain that professional cool I have with my clients at work.

It's the weekend at last; the days I live for.  Despite the wicked forecast and deaf to my pleading, both Erin and Emily came home for the weekend.  I love having them home, but already I'm worried about how they will get back to their respective campuses with so much snow on the way.  But oh well, what's done is done.  The future is not here yet.  

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