Cheap and cheerful instructional videos

I have been trying out and testing different models to create instructional tutorials for the past few years. I provided an account of my last iteration in a post on this blog, called “Anatomy of a YouTube Tutorial” and “My gear to record a session“. I think I may have figured out a better way to do this, essentially optimizing the production cycle of the videos.

The gist of my most recent idea is still to use QuickTime on my Mac, an ancient MacBook Pro, but with a twist. Remember that QuickTime allows you to record the screen as well as make a video directly from your Mac using the on board camera and mic (I bought a self standing USB mic because the on broad mic sucks).

In that sense, I launch QuickTime and select File > New video. A window opens where I see myself in front of my Mac. I place this window in the corner of my screen and position my browser on the left and I fill the gap on the top right corner with a text file where I can place information (such as the outline of the talk).

The idea is to then launch File > New Screen Recording and the screen recording catches the “mirror image” of the video on the corner of my screen (I never actually record the video of my face, I just use the image of it in the corner).

Here is what the screen looks like:
3screenvideo

The point here is that I can generate one simple video file with 3 screens on it: a browser (or any other document), a text file (or any other filler information (actually, this could be a PPT, a script or anything really) and my face.

The only issue is that the table I use is not super stable and my laptop screen tends to wobble if I am not delicate in typing or putting my hands on the table. But this seems like a way to generate tutorials with minimal editing required..

Meet Alice, the first digital gaming kit for libraries

Aussi en français: http://www.culturelibre.ca/tag/knight/
Follow the evolution of this project here: http://outfind.ca/tag/knight/

Alice is the codename for the first prototype digital gaming kit for libraries

Alice is the codename for the first prototype digital gaming kit for libraries

Above is a picture of our prototype, codename Alice for a few reasons:

  1. it is our “alpha” or A prototype;
  2. Alice, in encryption circles, tries to talk to Bob; and
  3. it is a “clin-d’oeil” to Lisa, Apple’s first computer with a graphical interface and my favorite character on the Simpsons

Many many thanks to the Knight Foundation for their wonderful support !!

My team of engineers are working hard on building a functioning prototype. We have selected a “stripped down” Linux distribution running Kodi as a platform. We picked some generic controllers, a hard plastic case and a mini-computers running on solid state memory (the Gygabyte Brix in fact).

They will hopefully deliver a first version of the device by late June. We will also deliver all our code via the usual open source venues (not sure which actually, but my team is keen on contributing their work back to the community quickly).

Afterwards, my team and I hope to visit with 2 public library systems: Montreal and Austin public libraries. We aim to discuss this project with library employees (administrators, professionals and staff), game developers and patrons. I have ethnographers working on our research instruments.

So, my team is busy with the work our grant has funded and we should have some tangible results in a month or so.

Please let me know if you have questions, ideas or comments, I am most interested in them! My email is: o.NOSPAMcharbonneau@concordia.ca (note to humans: please remove all capital letters from my email address to reach me).

Legacy Video Game Collection Simulator

I’ve been toying with documenting a burgeoning video/digital game collection for my institution. I took a stab at establishing some costs and space considerations for various assumptions. For example, average cost and sizes for consoles, controllers and games from years past… I’ve tried to capture some of the metrics and data I’ve gathered in this spreadsheet: Legacy Video Game Collection Simulator.

For the record, a legacy game collection implies physical objects embedded with digital media which are no longer commercially available.

(Special thanks to Darren Wershler, professor at Concordia University in Montréal, for his assistance in this project.

With it, you can modify the cost & size assumptions and generate model collections. Of course, it does not specify which exact consoles you would acquire for your collection, but it allows to generate some models one would plan budget or space requirements.

Please let me know if you have comments or questions!

Darren Wershler’s teaching legacy video game cart

Darren Wershler is an English prof at Concordia University where I work (as well as many other things) has been teaching a course on stories in games. As part of the curriculum, he explores legacy games and their narrative structure. Here is the retro game cart he uses as part of his teaching:

Darren Wershler's legacy game cart for teaching

Darren Wershler’s legacy game cart for teaching

What about games in academic libraries?

Reading up on the subject of games in academic institutions

Scholarly articles & papers (slightly disorganized)

News, blog posts & other documents (by date)

Library Research guides

Projects and initiatives (hat tip to Christy Caldwell)