I’m now a Fellow of the ISTC

At the recent TCUK 2018 conference, in an ISTC-hosted meeting about the CPD aspects of Fellows within the ISTC, someone (I think it was Paul Ballard) suggested that I should apply to transfer from being a Member to a Fellow: a “MISTC to a FISTC” so-to-speak.

It took me a month to pluck up the courage and send off the email with the application form listing my work experience, examples of my work (handily, a lot of them are in the ISTC magazine, so easy to find!) and an updated CV.

It was weird removing / shrinking down the text on the first page of my CV to make room for the new self-employment side of my working life. Wading through the 10 years that I’d at a single company and editing down the amount of blurb I’d written .. but needs must, so the scissors were dug out and it’s now a lot neater looking.

I heard back from the ISTC this morning that I’d passed the test. Woo-hooo! Now I have to make a quick change in my CV along with my LinkedIn profile to alter the first letter to be an ‘F’ instead of an ‘M’.

What happens next is what I’m looking forward to. You have to keep a tally of your learning etc. Lynda.com training videos, or reading something applicable online – it’s all worth x points that you accredit to yourself.

Luckily Lynda.com videos appear on my LinkedIn account automatically when you finish them. My articles (when they’re published) in the ISTC’s Communicator magazine also count towards my total too.

There’s more research to do into what else is involved towards keeping my CPD score “above the line” (Excel to the rescue!) and, unlike my last full time permanent role, it’s nice that finally this kind of stuff actually *gets recognised* and it actually helps with the advancement of my career.

(Instead of it being used against me, as it wasn’t “the normal stuff to do” by former managers and/or team leaders. They didn’t recognise the ISTC as a valid career enhancement as it “wasn’t part of our industry” … sigh!)

Onwards and upwards!

Diving into ActivePresenter (again)

It’s been a while since I did any work using ActivePresenter (by Atomi) but a project came up in work where it was going to be easier to create videos, instead of bulk updating several manuals intended for Admins, Users and Managers.

My thought was “Why rewrite the same sentence / page in several flavours, when a video could be used instead?”.

I remembered using ActivePresenter at a previous employer and it was a much better at doing desktop demos – as used a lot by the systems analysts. It was also useful for proving bugs (for the testers / technical authors) that would then go onto a JIRA ticket.

All in all, once we had discovered it, the existing solution using the (ancient) Windows Media Encoder was binned.

Anyway, that was way back when and we were using a much older version (v5) of it, upgrading to v6 towards the end of my time there. Back to modern times and it’s now available as an updated release (v7) with even more bells and whistles included.

What I’d never done before was to use properly the massive amount of tweaks that you can do to your initial recorded project / recording of a software simulation (*).

After a quick FB message to a former colleague, I received my old tutorials which needed to be recovered from a SharePoint page. I then needed to see how much difference there was between the older versions that I had covered in my documentation against what was included in the new v7.

Quick answer: A lot!

The interface has changed / improved a lot since my previous tinkerings, along with Atomi adding more and more features.

(However, in my defence, some of these might have been in the original package, but because they weren’t needed, they tended to be ignored. Ahem .. oops!)

It wasn’t long before a couple of test projects were created and the MP4 videos were generated. Everything was there (that I wanted) with the mouse cursor tracking, pop-up boxes galore, the status of any clicked buttons displayed and whatever I had entered into a field. All of it was detected, recorded and visible in the video. Sorted!

The only downside to this is that I’ve now spent almost a full working week creating the relevant guides on Confluence covering the basics so that anyone where I work can wander / blunder in and create their own videos.

Yes, there’s a full manual that comes with it and there’s plenty of examples on YouTube, but, as a technical author, it’s in my blood to create docs and/or pages with my thoughts and technical info.

So, TL:DR, if you want a freeware application / website recorder, with the ability to generate MP4 files afterwards, then I highly recommend ActivePresenter.

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(*) These are the two main uses that I’ve found for the freeware version of ActivePresenter, but if you buy a copy, there’s also the ability to generate tutorials / training courses with full HTML 5 and SCORM support.