Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Litte More Work

If you've read any of my posts, you already know how much of a fan of Linux I've become, especially the Ubuntu Distribution. While I think Linux has some major benefits, I realize that it's still somewhat limited. Yesterday, I found out one limitation that needs to be fixed very soon.

One assignment I had for school was to make a screencast. A screencast shows how to do something on a computer by showing a video of the screen. Linux has this, but it's not that great. I used a package called xvidcap, but it wasn't easy to use. Not I couldn't get the speed of the video to calm down, couldn't use any audio input or the program would crash. Another program called Istanbul is easier to work with, but the finished result isn't good. The guys at Ubuntu Clips have done an impressive job of creating some educational videos for Ubuntu. They also have an Ubuntu Clips Channel on YouTube. I'll need a lot more practice for that.

Making a screencast on Windows is much easier. Expensive products like Camtasia work wonderfully. With Camtasia, you can make entire training programs. Some teachers use it to make all their lectures and classwork. You can even create tests with it. But, it's a $300 product. For a business, it might be worth it. There is a free, Open Source screen recorder program; CamStudio. CamStudio works pretty good, but it doesn't have all the functionality of Camtasia. At the moment, there's no comparative product for any distribution of Linux. If there is, someone please let me know.

Yesterday, I listened to the latest TWIT podcast (This Week in Tech). Most of the guest on the show were Web 2.0 content creators. Merlin Mann from 43 Folders Podcast, and the guys from Tiki Bar TV. There are all people that create online content; audio and video productions, done at extremely low cost, and presented entirely online. They do this to keep ownership and creative control of their content. These are the pioneers of the new audio and video delivery methods. All of them used Macs with OS X.

Apple has done an excellent job of creating hardware and software for creative people. Programs like Garage Band and iDVD that come with iLife enable anyone with a mac to be their own audio and video studio. And, with iTunes, YouTube, Revver, libsyn, Podiobooks, anyone can deliver their content. Mac OS X makes all these things easy. Windows too, XP or Vista. It's do-able on Linux, but with extreme difficulty.

Then there's the speed issue. Linux isn't really any faster than Windows, it just doesn't slow down as much as Windows does after a few months. Windows gets bogged down with gunk, and makes a zippy machine sluggish. Linux generally stays up to speed. Windows is snappy enough, when it's first installed, but it just slows down. It remains to be seen if this also applies to Vista.

If Linux is going to make any inroads into the general population, it will do so through educational means, just like Apple did, at one time. Creative content will be extremely important in the upcoming education revolution, and Linux needs to be ready. Apple and Windows are ready, for the most part, but Linux still needs some programs to help accomplish make and deliver quality audio and video content. I'm sure it will happen. Programs like Diva, and Jokosher are efforts in that direction, but more needs to be done. That, or commercial/proprietary programs need to be available for Linux too.

Some people in the Linux community want all software to be free. By free, they mean free as in speech, not free beer. They don't want closed source products in the Linux world. Others, like me, don't care if it's open or closed, as long as it does what I want it to do; make ebooks, podcasts, videos, and write. The average person doesn't care about Windows vs Mac -except for the cute commercials, doesn't care about Linux and open source, or even free software. They just want stuff that enables them to do what they want to do.

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