Reading, Writing, and Watching User Manuals



Maybe it is my aging. Maybe it is a lack of motivation. Maybe it is a lack of focus on my part. Gone are the times when I used to master a new piece of software or a new computer in a few hours—exploring every drop down menu. Gone is my ability (or the time needed) to write a succinct user’s guide for the new machine and feel comfortable being a resident expert of its capabilities. Ah, my TRS 80 Level I machine—sometimes I miss you!

Fortunately now there are increasingly available excellent screencasts which clearly explain features of software. I find of special value MacMost Videos,, and the superb presentations by David Sparks. When I am producing my own screencast I find most useful Screenflow though I am becoming impressed with Clarify‘s didactic potential.

Just downloaded the new OSX Yosemite Operating System onto one of my Mac’s. I find that it is worth the investment to purchase online tutorials that hand-hold one through the different features. I’ll have my undergraduate research assistants go through them before we install it on one of my office machines. In the interim I need to cycle through all my apps and see which ones work with the new OS, which don’t but are essential for my needs, and which ones I no longer need or have totally forgotten

Tool Winnowing 201:Treating APP Affluenza



Too much stuff. An embarrassment of riches: Books; office supplies; projects; computers; planners for organizing my life:). Too much either wasted or neglected: space; knowledge unshared; time; opportunities; networking.

Inspired in part by the first chapter of Gretchen Rubin’s well written and thought provoking The Happiness Project and in part by my panicking that it is almost time to return to campus to teach, I’m focusing today on (again!) winnowing applications. I doubt that I can change my app-collecting habits (but, reflecting on Patrick Lindsay’s little book of self-help inspirational nudges It’s Never Too Late…172 simple acts to change your life,)—maybe I CAN change. It’s time to reconsider the ideas of “Essentialism“—with a grain of salt. I enjoy too much having many interests, many simultaneous projects, and continuous learning opportunities.

But do I REALLY need so many tools overlapping (or duplicative) in function that as a consequence of their sheer number or my changing interests I never master, I fail to update, or I forget that I possess?:)

Especially with the new Mac Operating system imminent, it’s time for some app-revisiting.

Time to focus.

Today I focus on screencasting/ screen capturing/ video producing apps among them

  • Screenflow
  • Screensteps
  • Skitch
  • Snagit
  • Snapzpro
  • Voila
  • Cantasia
  • Jing
  • Imovie
  • Clarify
  • Pulpmotion3

Too Many Applications: Not Enough Applying


Summer time in theory allows me time to embrace the 5 R’s: Reading, Reflection, Regrouping, Refocusing, and Rejuvenation. Alas, it’s past time to revisit the 270 applications on my Macbook Pro and decide which are essential, which are duplicative, and which should be removed to free up space. Still, I want to leave some remaining summer time for enjoying the simple beauty of the flowers.

North Lake Flowers

There are many drawbacks to having too many applications (and electronic devices). One challenge is keeping them updated, though I subscribe to a number of services which alert me to updates and upgrades. Another, is simply keeping track of them in terms of what they do and how well they do the task. A third challenge, is keeping in mind to what degree they are portable and comparable in capabilities across the electronic devices which I use. And, then, of course the electronic devices themselves “evolve” with new operating systems and new devices.

Tonight I am focused on apps on my Macbook Pro which begin with the letters A-C (or begin with a number). Clearly my most valued applications are 1Password  and Camtasia.   I continue to delude myself into thinking I can find some teaching potential for Clarify, Comic Life, and Crazytalk. Hey, a guy has to have play time.