Adventures in (Post) Gradland

Thoughts on life after the PhD

Subversive tech 101 (burn after reading)

When I saw the advertisement regarding a presentation on how to use screen capture technology, I signed up immediately.  I’ve given two conference presentations by now on different films, and in both cases I needed to use videos and still images in my presentation.  The problem was that I didn’t know how to “capture” those videos and still images, so I had to use a separate DVD player (or worse, take pictures of the images on my TV with a digital camera).  Mastering screen capture technology would surely move my presentations into a new realm.

As I learned in today’s presentation, there’s a type of computer software that will allow you to essentially record moving images directly from your computer screen, but a) it’s prohibitively expensive ($300-$500), b) it’s full of bugs, and c) it’s available via university computers but only in a secret room in the basement that I never even knew existed, and only on certain computers, and to use those computers you have to tell people you’re a TA, even if you’re not, and get special magic cables from them, and have them disable the graphics settings on the computers, which only they can do. 

Again, all I wanted to know was how to put video clips in my PowerPoint presentations, not how to be a first-rate secret agent.  But that’s the beauty of grad school–you can do both!

Basically, the program in question (I feel like I shouldn’t even say the real name, so we’ll call it MI5) allows you to record videos directly off of your computer screen and save them as files that you can then embed into your PowerPoint presentation.  Problem is, this frequently involves ripping copyrighted material.  Which no university in its right mind would sanction.  So MI5 is available–but only for classroom use, and only on certain computers in certain labs, and only to people with special access to those labs.  But if you’ve got connections, you can get over the hurdles and use the software (that’s where the whole “I’m a TA” and magic cable pick-up comes in). 

After watching today’s presentation, I’m still not 100% sure that I can use MI5 on my own (the person demonstrating said it was easy, but he also used words like “avi file” and “shareable programs” with suspicious ease).  Still, being able to record videos and images myself would be preferable to always getting a friend to do it for me, or taking poor-quality photos of my TV.

Or maybe I’m just a little too excited about having a chance to be a tech outlaw.

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One comment on “Subversive tech 101 (burn after reading)

  1. TK
    February 16, 2009

    Confession of a recovering tech outlaw…prohibition is just so alluring!

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This entry was posted on February 12, 2009 by in (post) Grad life and tagged , .

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Anne McKnight

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