Amara Makes Video More Accessible

I just discovered a subtitling tool called Amara that is a global captioning and translation project for video. I’m a couple of years behind the times. In case you haven’t heard of it either, here’s an introduction to the tool.

Amara is now helping with translations and captioning in many places. They say their caption editor is easy to use. I didn’t try it out, but it’s free. Amara also provides you with a way to connect to others around the world who might be willing to help translate and caption a video into another language. Since translating and or captioning a video is a labor intensive process, it’s interesting that this web-based tool is using the idea of crowd sourcing the work.

  • There’s a good review of how using the tool works at PCWorld. The review is a couple of years old so there may be improvements since then.
  • The Global Voices Community Blog has a recently updated post of instructions for translators who use Amara.
  • Vimeo, TED, and many other organizations partnered with Amara. TED provides a set of tutorials for Amara users.

Their Twitter account is @AmaraSubs. Their Facebook page is Amara Community. Neither have frequent postings, but they are worth following if you are interested in accessibility or teach accessibility in your web education classes or at conferences.

2 Ways to Get a PDF onto an iPad

I wanted to save a PowerPoint presentation I had prepared as a PDF and transfer that PDF to my iPad. If I could make that happen, I could travel for a presentation without having to drag my computer along.

I emailed it to myself and opened it with my Xfinity email app. There was no way to do anything with it there except print. The problem was with Xfinity. Downloading from Gmail seems to present similar problems.

I found two ways that worked.

  1. I put it on Dropbox and could open the PDF file with my iPad from there. This was super easy, but if you don’t have a Dropbox account all is not lost.
  2. I mailed it to my Mac Mail account. There were several options for saving it from the Mac Mail app.

Mac Mail Tips

In Mac Mail I could tap and hold the icon for the PDF file and a menu opened up with several options. The options you see here are reflections of what I have installed on my iPad. You would have at least iBooks in your options. Note that the document was attached in the body of the email.

Mac Mail Options

I chose to open the file in iBooks. To find it in iBooks, I had to click the collections button so I could choose between books and PDF files.

the collections menu

Now I can give a presentation with my iPad in hand and leave the computer at home. That’s a relief.

Binge Viewing, the Second Screen, and the Future

This is how I watch TV

I read an excellent article by Neicole Crepeau called Re-thinking the future of TV in the Age of Binge. The article made some interesting points about binge viewing and also about the increasing use of a second screen.

Since the readers of this blog are the people who make the web sites and apps that constitute the second screen, I think this topic is of importance to web educators and web developers.

My Binge Watching Habits

I love binge watching. I do it all the time via Netflix or On Demand. Recently I’ve watched season one of The Fall – twice. I also watched season one of Orphan Black – twice.

In case you aren’t familiar with either of these series, The Fall is a mystery drama starring Gillian Anderson as a police detective and Jamie Dornan as a serial killer. It’s subtle and nuanced and rich with detail. It’s like reading a good mystery instead of watching a TV series. The two main characters are mirror images of one another – one good, one evil – both meticulously obsessed with what they are doing. The performances are brilliant, the characters fascinating.

Orphan Black is a sci fi story about clones, with an underlying theme of nature vs. nurture. Tatiana Maslany plays the clones – 7 of them so far in season one – in an amazing performance that is truly a master work. She should get every acting award for her performance(s) as the various clones. The technical trickery that goes on so that she can be on screen as two or three different characters at one time is pretty impressive, too.

So I’m loving the characters, I’m loving the story lines, I’m loving the fact that I can watch every episode of a series in a matter of hours or days. I love binge watching.

What else am I doing while watching?

With these two particular programs I’m looking at for more information about the actors and writers and directors. I’m pursuing lines of thought like – Matt Frewer, bet he’s the bad guy, and hmmm, he was just in Eureka, and, yeah, he was Max Headroom. This division of attention probably explains why I’ve watched both these series twice. I miss things while I’m off interacting with the second screen.

Not all the second screen action happens during an episode. Between episodes, I might go to YouTube and look for interviews with the actors. I might read reviews of the shows. I might go to the web site of the network hosting the show and look for behind the scenes video or photos or interviews.

The App Connection

I mentioned the SyFy app a few days back. I use it when watching shows on the SyFy channel. One of the shows (Defiance) that the app syncs with also has an online game that ties in with the show.

I’ve seen other shows advertising their apps and urging viewers to download the app and sync in for more behind the scenes info while watching. I think this is going to be more and more common to the point where every network is going to feel the need for an app that lets viewers interact in real time with what’s on the screen.

Second Screen Conversation

Twitter, of course, has always been the go-to spot for sharing comments about what you’re watching. Now the apps are providing access to this kind of interaction built-in. It might include Twitter and other sources. The app might filter for specific parts of a conversation, such as tweets from the actors. The point is, a conversation is encouraged and there’s an attempt to keep it in the silo of the app or the game or the website.

The Future of Web Education

All this change in the way we experience TV means a huge job market for anyone who can develop apps, or games, or auxiliary materials on a web site to complement a TV program. And that means web education needs to be on-the-spot with instructions for building apps, building connections, building all the complementary information that can help promote a TV show.

And what about the people making the ads and producing the ad content? What about the marketing people who need to be able to talk intelligently with app makers or web developers about how to make ads work in this new environment? What about all those social media experts who will be needed? That sounds like a whole lot of new job opportunities.

Yes, things are changing. Are web educators preparing students for the future? I hope we are.

Useful Links: Sheryl Sandberg, Vine, Swipp

Sheryl Sandberg takes a blowtorch to gender stereotypes in the workplace. It isn’t 1951 and Jon Hamm isn’t your boss – but it feels like it.

Vine is huge after only about two days. I downloaded it while sitting in my living room and made a video of my only available moving objects – my feet. Are you already on the Vine bandwagon?

Speaking of apps, I wrote about an app called Swipp for BlogHer. I think it has the potential to be influential. Check it out: Swipp Your Way to Social Intelligence.

Useful links: Gifts, Apps, Parallax

Spydergrrl has been posting an unusual gift each day of December. I was struck by these. Digits Turn any Gloves into Texting Gloves. Creative idea.

Apple’s Best of App Store 2012 Rewards Creativity, Google; Skype and Rovio take Top App Spots at Tech Crunch talks about the best apps of the year. I’ve been taking a class on how to make an app, and one of the topics of discussion is whether it’s possible to make any money from selling an app, or from building an app for someone else as a developer. Seeing the top apps in this article when compared with the millions of apps available makes me think that a more reliable source of income might be as a developer for businesses who need an app to bring their business into the modern world. What do you think about making money with apps?

Are you on top of parallax in web design? Yeah. I understand. Here’s an interesting discussion of it at Usabilla blog.


Useful links: Pixie Dust, profitable, MOOCs

Pixie Dust and the Mountain of Mediocrity is a guest post by Kathy Sierra at Gaping Void. Thanks to Hugh MacLeod at Gaping Void for snagging Kathy Sierra to write this post. Her voice is missed and needed. Here’s the opening paragraph:

We’re always searching for that sec­ret for­mula, that magic pixie dust to sprin­kle over our pro­ducts, ser­vi­ces, books, cau­ses, brands, blogs to bring them to life and make them Super Suc­cess­ful. Most marketing-related buzz­words gain trac­tion by pro­mi­sing pixie dust results if applied to wha­te­ver it is we make, do, sell. “Add more Social!”. “Just need a Viral Video!” “It’s about the Story­te­lling!”. “Be Authentic!”


Find out if your favorite web service is profitable with “How Do they Make Money?” You know you’re curious.

Why MOOCs should be in your marketing plan talks about the effect of Massive Open Online Courses on higher ed.