Monthly Archives: October 2006

The coming deluge: Google buys jotspot

Just caught this on the Google blog . Google buys jotspot. I have previously talked about the wonders of jotspot and the ability to virtualize , collaborate and share using the service and other Wikis like backpackit. With Google acquiring jotspot , I am sure we are very close to seeing a fully integrated experience with shared documents, spreadsheets and enterprise wiki features from the google-jotspot team.

Maybe I might just move my “self ELN” away from backpackit to the new Jotspot. For now Jotspot has disabled further registrations and sent its users an email explaining that

“Google shares JotSpot‘s vision for helping people collaborate, share and work together online. JotSpot‘s team and technology are a strong fit with existing Google products like Google Docs & Spreadsheets and Google Groups.”
All of this signal Googles move into the ongoing wave of enterprise wiki service applications.

refs: Moving ELNs offsite

Update: Clearly the acquisition of Jotspot by google has everyone very excited . Check out the responses here 


Screencast 101 – windows media encoder

I have recently learned quite a few features of the NCBI site which were hardly obvious to me. In the screencast below I explore two of these features. The History feature to combine searches and the “CDS” and “Reverse complement” feature to get at the reverse complement of a genbank ORF (open reading frame) record .

The screencast was made on my macbook-pro laptop running parallels and Windows Media Encoder 9.0 from Microsoft (WME) on Windows XP Pro. WME is very easy to use and FREE software. The wmv file it output was sufficiently small (1.60 MB) and needed no additional tinkering. Sadly the Mac and OS X does not come with any free tools to make screencasts. I did give IshoU for Mac a shot, but the movies were very large files (10 plus MB) and I needed quicktime-pro to compress them. Both ISHOWU($20) and quicktime pro($30) are not free software unlike WME. It will be great if Apple adds some screencast support into its OS X.

In any case you can see my test screencast here. This is a wmv file simply uploaded to a webserver. You can shift click the link , save it to your computer and view it using windows media player or suitable *.wmv player. This video is the best quality but needs to be saved to disk before viewing.

* Following a brief from Jean-Claude Bradley I have uploaded both MAC and PC versions of the videos onto YouTube and Google video . The video quality on both is barely passable once processed by either service. The uploaded mac video started from 27 MB and the wmv started at 1.56 MB but both end up quite hazy and unclear. This is work in progress.

Google Video :
Mac screencast with IshowU and the Windows WME screencast :

YouTube Video:
Mac screencast with IshowU and Windows WME

Addendum: I am convinced on the utility of using youtube to share screencasts. The screencast below is the same as that mentioned above and made in windows media encoder. The text quality is quite poor , but the ability to embed these videos with just a simple tag from youtube adds a whole new dimension to blogging

A blog ressurected- screencasting a great thing

After my previous post, I had a slew of computer troubles that left me out in the cold. My experience has thought me more than anything else to “virtualize” to the maximum extent possible . So I have moved towards keeping almost all my data off-site  on Backpackit  and various google services. In the future following a computer hardware failure I should be up and running the moment I have access to a browser running firefox.
Getting back on track: My newest fixation along the lines of my post on Empressr is with screencasting. I stumbled on Empressr as I was looking for ways to present my data online and durig this search came across screencasting via movies explaining the use of the website Backpackit.

John Udell from Info world, who also coined the term, has an excellent list of screencasts  which illustrate the power of the medium. You can also check out his tag and the very good howto he has put together on making such screencasts using windows software .

Screencasting,  I do believe will truly change the communication landscape and narrow the gap between “geek” and everyday users of computers software. Having seen the few movies explain the functionality of web sites like Backpackit and programming environments like Ruby, I wish that every question I had about how to achieve some functionality using software was answered using a screencast.

I am putting together my own collection of howtos that deal with using the NCBI site ( phew ! finally a connection to the Omics in the blog title)using the screencasting medium.

For now I am sold on the utility and promise of screencasting.