Category: Software


Earlier today, Professor Dame Wendy Hall gave a presentation at the Mixed Reality Lab here at Nottingham as part of the MRL’s distinguished lecture series.  Her lecture ‘What is Web Science and why is it important?’ scoped the Web Science Research Initiative as an emergent discipline, discussed the semantic web, and, by way of introduction, described her own route into Multimedia.  If you want to hear more on this from Wendy herself, Nodalities are hosting a podcast interview with Professor Hall covering just these topics.

Amongst other sources of inspiration, Prof. Hall cited Hyperland (1990) a BBC2 ‘fantasy documentary’ by Douglas Adams. This 50 minute film examines (then) contemporary cutting edge research through dream encounters with a software agent (played by Tom Baker) and hypermedia visionaries such as Vannevar Bush and Ted Nelson, to propose how interactive multi-media might constitute the future of TV.

As Douglas Adams’ website notes, whilst Adams was creating Hyperland – a student at CERN in Switzerland was working on a little hypertext project he called the World Wide Web…  To discover this vision of futures past, watch Hyperland below.


Easy YouTube, Flickr and Slideshare

Following on from their wonderful ‘Accessibility 2.0: a million
flowers bloom’ conference, Abilitynet have made podcasts, transcripts and summaries of all the presentations available.  If you weren’t able to attend (or even if you were) I highly recommend checking out these resources. Click to visit the downloads and podcasts pages:
Podcasts, transcripts and summaries of Accessibility
2.0 presentations!

You can also subscribe direct
to the podcasts with this link –

Perhaps even more interesting are some of the developments since the conference, which I think will have implications for major areas of teaching and learning. AbilityNet summarised these factors as follows:

"Bringing together passionate
experts in a field where there are few cut and dry rules can lead to heated
discussion. Since the conference has led to several interesting

  • A heated
    exchange between Jeremy Keith and Mike Isofarro Davies has resulted in ongoing debate about the
    accessibility of Microformats, hopefully it will lead to an accessible solution
  • What are the
    accessibility concerns with microformats? the BBC’s Jonathan
    Hassel explains
  • Christian Heilmann developed EasyYouTube, a YouTube player for people with learning
    disabilities as a direct response to Antonia Hyde’s presentation on Rich Media
    for people with learning disabilities
  • Christian
    gets fantastic feedback – EasyYouTube also works with screen readers and
    schoolkids use it to access YouTube
  • Following on
    from this success Chris developed EasySlideShare and EasyFlickr
  • Christian
    has taken the idea further by organising Scripting Enabled – an accessibility hack day"

In particular EasyYouTube, EasyFlickr and EasySlideShare look to me like great tools, and the fact the day conference has already led to such positive outcomes (in its first year!) is fantastic.  Congratulations AbilityNet and all involved!

AbilityNet plan to
host Accessibility 2.0 again in Spring 2009. If you would like to receive updates, contact

Digital Replay System vs Transana

I’m here at the NCeSS (the National Centre for eSocial Science) 14th International Conference in Manchester. I presented my paper this morning (more on that later, as the digital resources emerge!). The conference itself has proved a useful mix of technical, applied and theoretical research papers. Yesterday I attended a paper presented by Patrick Brundell and Svenja Adolphs, from Nottingham University discussing the Digital Replay System (DRS) a tool for data analysis in social science research. As a result of their presentation I’ll be experimenting with DRS as a preferable alternative to Transana (Nvivo also, by implication).

How is it preferable?  Despite Transana’s low cost, it’s worth noting that DRS is free. DRS is designed to allow multiple sources of qualitative data to be coded – for example, alternative video streams. It also allows extremely sensitive time coding and multiple coding streams to identify and correlate different elements of the video/visual data being scrutinised. For example, synchronous speech, gesture and eye movement. Importantly, DRS can also import and retain data already transcribed in Transana.  Unfortunately it is also worth noting that DRS is in the prototype stage – so it’s ultimate longevity is not guaranteed (funding is currently in place via the NCeSS). To take a look at the Digital Replay Systems go straight to the Source(Forge) to download or check out the developer’s area on the University site. 

Free PDF Writer

Yesterday I submitted a final paper for the e-Social Science conference.  This included a few hours of vigerous formatting in Helvetica and Times New Roman.  Along the way I’ve discovered this freeware PDF writer.  It’s as easy as 1-2-3 and a bit of a life saver if you don’t have the budget for Adobe Acrobat! Now, back to the transcribing!


I’m please to announce I’ve now embedded ‘Talkr’ into this blog.
This means that now, for every post I make, an audio version is
available.  This is currently hidden down on the footer of each post
(which you can literally see below) so it still needs a little work to
be fully foregrounded and applied across the archive, but hopefully,
with a little work this should improve my blog for those who would
rather listen than read.  The final format is MP3, so if you want to
put me (or a synthetic female robot voiced version of me) on your Ipod,
you have my blessing!  In fact, I may begin to affect an American
accent from this point forward to allay any incongriguity!

Any comments on how this works or not (particularly in conjunction
or comparison with screen readers), or recommendations for
better/different audio are very welcome.   

Digital Video Analysis

I’m beginning to work through data collected over the past couple pf weeks using audio and screen capture information procured via Camtasia.  I’m converting these files to .AVI and then testing the following open-source packages – vDub for editing down to the most relevant material and Transana for coding.  On April 13th I’m hoping to attend a session on ‘Observer’ another video analysis tool – I’ll report back if anything useful arises…

Virtual Dub (open-source)

Virtual Dub is an open-source software that allows quick video editing, joining, conversion, and recompression with AVI files.  As such vDub is a powerful tool for streamlined for fast linear operations over video.

Transana: (open-source)

Transana an open source (free) software developed at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research to help researchers analyse digital video or audio data. Transana allows the researcher to:

  • Identify and easily access the analytically significant portions of their video data.
  • Transcribe film and audio recordings in a user friendly way.
  • Manage large video collections containing hundreds (and potentially thousands) of hours of video.
  • Organize video clips (from the same or from different video files) into meaningful categories, as a mechanism for developing and expanding the theoretical understanding of what the video shows.
  • Apply searchable analytic keywords to these video clips.
  • Engage in complex data mining and hypothesis testing across large video collections.
  • Share analytic markup with distant colleagues to facilitate collaborative analysis.

Transana runs on Windowsin both single-user and multi-user versions. Macintosh versions are in Alpha-Test release.

Bibliographic Software

Installed Endnote 9. via Nottingham University.

Qualitative Software

Acquired NVivo 7 for qualitative data analysis.

Acquired SnagIt (v5) via for screen capture.

Currently testing out screen/audio capture softwares for Windows/PC for interview data collection.

A good compare and contrast site if you’re sourcing similar packages is:

Meanwhile, here in The Dearing Building it’s a blow by blow battle; CamStudio freeware:

    CamStudio records activity from your screen and audio from a microphone into AVI video files and can also convert the AVIs into Streaming Flash videos (SWFs) using its built-in SWF Producer”.

Vs. Camtasia and SnagIt on 30 day trial…:

    40 ways to capture content from Windows, such as video, images, text, and more. SnagIt can also capture the full screen, a window, a rectangular region. Cursor image and audio can be included.