The Power of VPC

September 12th, 2007 – 12:15 pm
Tagged as: Content Master

By the start of September, I already had around 6 weeks of training and I was so used to creating storyboards that I could probably do them with my eyes closed! I still needed to be guided from time to time, to help maintain a flow of consistency amongst the team, however this was minor compared to what was ahead of me next!

The first two weeks in September was a steady flow of work.

A large proportion of our workload was based on Microsoft Learning (MSL) projects and similar based work that was heavily focused around eLearning. It was quite a common to have numerous animations as part of the eLearning development cycle.

Nevertheless, I was now moving on to what was little more tricky and tedious – demonstrations. I tried one out today and it’s extremely difficult. I’m sure I’m just saying that now, so I have a feeling in a few weeks time I’ll find it a breeze. However, having installed Adobe Captivate a couple of weeks ago, I was asked to familiarise myself with examples of pre-made demos to see if I could work out how to develop them.

Demonstrations were recordings of the screen, either on your own PC or using VM Ware Virtual PC. Initially I started recording on my own PC, for which I kind of was laughed at (doh) – due to the amount of icons splattered across my screen which meant any recording I did, it would record personal links too. That became obvious when viewing the result. I originally thought it made a lot more sense to work from a fresh build of a PC but questioned myself about:

Where would I get a fresh PC from?

That’s where a Virtual PC (VPC) was introduced. It imitates a completely new operating system on your own PC, as if it were installed on to the hard-drive except it’s in one huge virtual environment.

In other-words I was running a virtual operating system on a physical machine which already had an operating system installed on it (i.e. running Windows Vista virtually on a Windows XP machine!) It was a strange concept to overcome and I was surprised about the compatibility.

I realised how useful this was. To have a completely new operating system from scratch without any bogus software installed – apart from the ones that I needed to use as part of the recording (e.g. Microsoft Word 2007 or Microsoft Visual Studio 2008).

Therefore, using Adobe Captivate I learnt how to directly capture screen grabs from the VPC and full motion recording of the VPC. I learnt the importance of performing rollover states, mouse movements, keyboard entries and many other features that I needed to constantly look out for when recording.

I was asked to get training on creating demos due to increase of demos piling up on courses. The team required an extra pair of hands and mine seem to be getting to grips with demos just fine (slowly… but fine!).

I’ve been told the worst part about a demo is when you finish one and you go back to check it out, only to find out it’s either corrupt or you made a mistake somewhere. Depending on the mistake, it’s possible to back to the exact state the screen was in, start one step previous to that mistake and then continuing from there. But that’s if you were lucky with all the changes made when clicking within a VPC. Otherwise the only other alternative was to start again! Therefore, it was important to concentrate and mark clearly on the step-lists provided the completion of each step. Step-lists are developed by technologists (another department internally within Torthworth).

Technologists were the ones who were providing us with the instructions to perform the demos. They are the initial people who sort out the terminology and work out what should happen when, within a demo.

The name of the course I worked on now was 6452 – Groove. I was switching back and forth this week with animations and demos – something again I found quite tedious given that you had to change your thought process about each!

Groove had various modules on the go. And as a team, we organised ourselves appropriately to take on and attempt to finish the media within strict deadlines.

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