My First Screencast Experience

One of the really rad things about web development is the fast transmission of information. To ride that quick wave, you need to read a lot of books. But sometimes, the books cannot catch up to the streams of information and tools coming in.
I am a perpetual book fan but lately, I found myself benefiting greatly from other people’s screencasts. There’s a tutorial for just about anything in the Internet already. From MOOCs to basic how to’s on Youtube, I find that this industry of screencasts and video tutorials is one of the new and dynamic ways to synthesize valuable and malleable technological information. When I needed to learn something quickly, I can no longer have the time to read 600 pages of a new textbook. I tend to go for videos instead so that there is a moving demo of what needs to be done. Later, I will read a book explaining it in-depth but for implementing, sometimes I became content with not knowing everything and just doing it. It’s a good balance.

A week before my stupidly life-is-unfair chicken pox diagnosis, I was horsing around with my client and officemates about how we should just have a webinar or screencast because our targeted participants are TOO BUSY with deployments to be locked up in a seminar room for two days, even if we planned to do it in a very nice hotel.

As luck would have it, I had chickenpox which ruled out all the possibility of sleeping in the nice hotel.

Now, I had a dilemma. How am I going to present the system if I am supposed to stay in quarantine for 14 days???

So the joke was on me, after all. I ended up having a screencast due last weekend and I labored so hard on it.

It was NOT easy. Those guys at Youtube and Vimeo and those video tutorial websites and Coursera make it all seem so easy. It’s NOT!!! I really thought it was easy. Remember those old quotes where you cannot judge others if you have not walked a mile in their moccasins? It kind of painfully felt like that.

I tried for the first few times to record using Ubuntu’s GTK Record my Desktop. Just to tell you now, it’s a real bitch to make that thing work on Ubuntu. The command line and internet speed is so savvy and slick on Linux but by golly, the audio was just…let me not swear anymore and reserve that swearing fest on chickenpoxville.

In the moments of final despair on a Sunday afternoon, I decided to use my Windows laptop and edited the bungled GTK video using Windows Movie Maker. (Linux programmers, please don’t judge me! I did not have enough time. I needed UI!)

It was… highly passable given that it was my first time to do it.

It got mixed reviews from my client or I highly suspect he put in something nice before the comments so that it won’t hurt my chickenpox-laden feelings.

He did say thank you around three times since the weekend and it was nice to be appreciated by someone who is not expected to be culturally blunt or frank about things. I called him more often than I called my boyfriend last weekend. It was as if I only existed for the video. I worked really, really, really hard.

He ended up requesting for a Powerpoint. πŸ˜€

Hilarious, isn’t it? I could have done it in 3 hours if it were a Powerpoint to begin with. It took three days and a crash course on avconv, ffmpeg, and GTK to do the other outputs I have created.

Instead of feeling humiliated, I patted myself on the back. There I was, with pustules all over my body and zero knowledge in video editing. And I managed to come up with that fresh idea. I pitched it and I risked it; and it did not exactly work out. But it was such a good learning experience.

I don’t always have to have a badge just to learn and enjoy what I learn. It’s practically one of those web development things that you pick up over time. Programming has taught me to be totally tenacious, and to celebrate small victories in the backend with a lot of good food and more motivation to work at it all the more. Because you already start with the certainty that other people will not appreciate your small victories in developing something. It’s you, and only you, who will know the nuances of the small movements in code, no matter how trifling and invisible it may seem to other people.

It may sound sappy but I knew I did my very best and sometimes, even when other people don’t quite get it, my best is enough.

So that’s the story of how from getting highly critical of how poorly done screencasts are made, I ended up viewing these screencast givers with so much respect and admiration. And despite the 2 or 3 star review of my maiden screencast attempt, I still want to give it another try for web development purposes and just for the sake of giving back to these generous online communities that have an overflow of information shared freely online. I lived on screencasts. And I think it’s time to make some of my own over time.

Everyone else will only see the powerpoint on Thursday, behind that is a much more important back story of the video that did not see the light of day but brought light to my mind. πŸ™‚


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