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Now over 300 recorded presentations on the UGTV site

The UGTV site now has over 300 recordings. What a milestone. :-) John Mason just informed me, after he posted a recording to the site, that he noticed his was the 300th recording on the site. We quipped that since we're both user group managers there's really not much I can offer him as a prize that he doesn't already have. :-)

Totals so far, after 20 months

But yes, as of today there are 301 presentations from 180 presenters, totaling 290+ hours of video. The site will be 2 years old in October (I started stocking the list in late September before opening the doors to the first other contributors, and the first of which was Nick Kwiatkowski on 10/2/06.)

Anyway, so at about 20 months since then that's a rate of about 15 per month or one every other day. Not bad, and of course thanks to all who have contributed links (as well as to the speakers who let their sessions be recorded) so we could link to and view them.

Always room for more...anyone can contribute, easily

As I try to point out often, anyone can contribute a recording. No signup or registration is required. You can submit one in about 20 seconds. (And you'll note there's never been a spam entry. I've got that covered, beyond just a captcha.)

If you've not checked it out, come on down

Anyway, to learn more about the site (and its many features if you just want to find and view recordings), either visit the site or check out the other entries I've done on it, linked to below.

Here's to the next 300!

CFMeetup update, and some other new online training resources to enjoy in the meantime

Some readers may be wondering "when are the next CF meetups?", it's just that between the recent conferences and normal summer doldrums it's been a little hard to find speakers.

The good news is that I do have a couple speakers already lined up the next 2 weeks (10th and 17th). I'll announce those soon, as well as any I might still arrange for this week (the 3rd).

In the meantime, I'll note that you can get some online training goodness via the many recorded CFUnited presentations that have been posted free for all to enjoy by the good folks who run the conference. You'll find 33 of them listed at my UGTV site.

Finally, I wanted to pass along news of a free resource from Adobe to help people learn more about Rich Internet Applications. It includes recorded online workshops, projects to work on, and book recommendations, all for free. Check it out at:

Rich Internet Application Teaching Resources

Anyone know where I can find a recorded presentation about ...?

I saw a question on a CF list today, where someone was asking whether anyone knew of a recorded presentation about a particular topic. That made me think it might be time to remind the community of my UGTV site:

http://www.carehart.org/ugtv/

There you can find over 200 recorded presentations from nearly 150 presenters, totaling 220+ hours of video, all for free, and searchable, with RSS feeds, including RSS feeds based on your search criteria.

New recordings are being added all the time. Indeed, I've been thinking also of starting to publish a weekly summary of submissions here on my blog, for those who don't think to get the RSS feed.

Recording your next user group meeting (and finding the recording)

If you're a user group manager who is taking advantage of the free Acrobat Connect account from Adobe for user groups, the next challenge for you may be how to make and use recordings of your meetings. I find that many managers have just never done this, and it can be so valuable, especially since you can then list the recording for your members and indeed for the entire community on my UGTV site. More on this later.

Making a recording of your meeting

Fortunately, it's very easy to record your meeting. It doesn't matter if you'll be having any remote attendees. Indeed, it doesn't matter if you'll be having a remote speaker. As long as you have an internet connection, you can record whatever a speaker says and shows. Everything you see and hear will be captured and can be played back in perfect fidelity.

While you're in a Connect meeting (as a host, discussed in the earlier blog entry), simply hit the Meeting>Record Meeting option in the top menu bar. You'll be prompted for a name and description. Don't worry too much about getting this perfect at that point, since I'll show how you can easily edit the information later. (You don't even need a description, and since the recording will be timestamped, you don't even need to worry about creating a unique name, if you'll be editing it soon after the meeting--so you don't forget which recording is which.)

Tip: As a word of advice, I'd recommend you be prepared to start your meeting right after you hit the record button. The recording will indeed start immediately, and I've heard too many recordings where the host and/or presenter are fumbling around getting things situated while the "tape" is rolling. Please be considerate of those who will listen to your recording later.

They don't want to have to wait--and there's no easy means to know how long such preliminaries will go on. Advancing the playhead in the playback mechanism isn't as precise as it could be, either, so the listener won't be able to easily skip ahead. This is an easy mistake in the moment. You figure everyone else in the room is waiting patiently while you get started. But it's quite annoyance at the start of a recording.

An update: Yes, as I'll discuss later, you can now with later versions of Connect go back and edit the recording, but you probably won't bother, so just keep this in mind.

When you're done, you simply hit the Meeting>Record Meeting menu option again, or the red "recording" icon/dot in the top right of the Connect interface (which tells you you're recording).

Note that there is no "pause" feature. If you stop it, you're stopping that recording and would need to start a new one. If you're having multiple talks during a meeting, it may be best anyway to create a separate recording for each.

Here's another tip: you can use the ease of creating recordings to create a quick one before the start of the meeting to test how you and your presenter sound. Sometimes, you can't judge by what you hear, if you've got bad bandwidth temporarily. You can create a quick recording, go listen to it, then delete it. I'll show how to find the recordings next.

Finding the Recording URL

OK, so you've made your recording. Now, how do you find it? I hear this lament from user group managers all the time. In fact, it was 2 such pleas for help that I saw today which sparked me to create this entry (been meaning to for some time).

You get to the recordings not through the Connect interface but instead through the same interface you use to create the meeting. (Each Connect account may have a different URL, and of course you need a valid login/password, so I can't tell you how to get in. If someone else setup the meeting, you need to contact them, or your Connect administrator, to get that info.)

On the Admin page, click the "Meetings" link on the top of the page. That will show all your current meetings. (You can also use "my scheduled meetings", but it's a slightly different presentation of meetings list.) Select your desired meeting (the one where you made the recording--as you may see several listed).

You will then see several links, one of which will be "Recordings". That's where the recordings (if any) for that meeting will be listed. Click that.

Now you can click on a recording (that name you gave when you started the recording). That will show you the URL for the recording ("URL for viewing"). You can click the link right there to have it open and start playing the recording. You'll want to make sure it sounds and looks good. If not, just take notes to do things better next time. You can't edit the recordings in any way. An Update: note that you can now edit your recordings, such as to remove deadspace at the beginning or in the middle, or if a speaker loses connectivity for a time, etc. You do such edits from a button on the same manager pages being discussed here.

Tip: Here's another reason to view the recording while you're at this point. If the recording prompts for a username/password, you can alter it to not require that. Indeed, you can also make a slight modification to be able to track how many times the recording is viewed. I cover both in another blog entry, "Webcast: How to track views of your Breeze/Acrobat Connect recorded presentations".

Finally, while you're viewing the recording information (whether before or after you move it as discussed in the above-named entry), you will also see an option called "Edit", where you can rename it or add/edit the description. You can change this any time, even after people have started viewing the recording. The URL of the recording won't (and can't) be changed if you edit this information.

Tell the world about your recording

Now that you have the recording URL, you'll certainly want to blog it, and tell the presenter also, as s/he may also blog about it. (Again, be sure to have tested it first to make sure users aren't prompted for a username/password.)

Finally, don't forget to post it on the repository of recorded user group presentations, UGTV. Yep, that's a section of my site, but it's for anyone to post recordings to. Indeed, if you find a recording and don't see it listed, you can add it, whether you're the author or not. (If a recording is listed publicly, I can see no reason the author wouldn't want it listed in the UGTV list.) For more on the UGTV, see the UGTV category at right.

Hope that helps. Let me know if I forgot anything, or if it helps you. Feedback is always welcome.

Like the UGTV site? Vote for it at CFDJ Awards

My UGTV site has been nominated for "Best Web Site or Community" in CFDJ Reader's Choice Awards. If you've not yet voted, your vote would be appreciated. There are 8 other categories, and voting should take less than a minute.

The UGTV site is a directory of recorded UG presentations, now with 86 recordings from 65 presenters.

I do feel a little weird making an outright plea, but then if you didn't know that the awards were open for votes, or didn't know it listed a site you wanted to support then you may miss it.

Also, there are curiously a lot of non-CF sites and products listed in some of the categories. I suppose since it's a joint award contest for both the CFDJ and WebDDJ, we have to accept that. Again, though, if you want to support CF sites and products more strongly, you can make a difference.

I'm not sure how long voting is open, so please do take a moment now to vote if you can. Thanks, on behalf of the CF community.

Are you recording CFUG meetings? Check out this tip to track how many visits you get

If you're a CFUG manager who may be taking advantage of the really nice offer from Adobe for us to use Connect to broadcast and/or record user group meetings, here's a nice tip for being able to track how many people have viewed the recording.

It turns out you can move a "Recorded Meeting" to the "Content Area" of your Connect account, so that Connect will treat the recorded version as "Content". Once you move it, you will now have access to the report section for the "content" (including the count of users who accessed the recorded version).

(Thanks to "Alain" on the Connect forums for sharing that answer when I asked about the challenge.)

Once you move it, you may wonder where to find it in the Connect Admin interface. You generally work in the "meetings" area, but you'll see a link in the top navbar next to that saying "content". That's where the recorded meeting is moved. Any URL for the recording remains the same.

What's more the count reflects all views since you recorded it, not just since you moved it.

One gotcha to watch out for: be sure to check the permissions on the recording, as the move could change the permissions. (Update 11/07: there was a time when I observed that the permissions would change, but recently I observe that I no longer need to do that.) Check "set permissions" while looking at the list of meetings at Content>My Content.

For more on the notion of user group managers using Connect, see the links below.

UGTV: now with RSS feeds based on search criteria

For those who are enjoying the UGTV service I've created, I want to point out that I have updated it yet again, adding a new RSS feed mechanism based on search criteria you may enter.

Simply perform a search, and a link for the feed based on that criteria will appear with the normal feed below the table of results.

Or, you can just modify the RSS feed yourself, adding:

http://www.carehart.org/ugtv/rss.cfm?search=your+keywords

(I'll point out that I also let you control how many are found, via an optional "entries" attribute, which defaults to 10.)

Enjoy.

Update on UGTV: more presentations, more submitters, and more features

Just an update for those who are interested in my UGTV repository of recorded user group presentations.

First, it now boast nearly 30 presentations from 24 presenters, submitted by myself and 5 others. Thanks, everyone!

I've also added an RSS feed, so you can be notified of new postings. The URL is offered at the bottom of the list page.

Finally, I have also tweaked the interface further in a few ways.

First, thanks to Jeff Coughlin for sharing a few hints to help me fix my show/hide of the recording descriptions. I had it only showing, but not hiding, due to a bug that I hadn't gotten around to fixing. He offered me the appropriate Javascript, making it too easy not to update it. Thanks, Jeff!

Also, he wasn't thrilled by my next/previous links (I was using the greaterthan and lessthan brackets for prev/next, doubling them for first/last.) He pointed out his available custom tag, and again he made it too easy not to try, with a nifty "quickstart" in his docs. Again, kudos.

UGTV: Now offering dozens of video presentations from your favorite presenters

When I announced yesterday the repository of recorded video presentations I labelled UGTV, I may not have made it clear enough that these are recordings from dozens of your favorite presenters. It's not just my own presentations. Indeed, right now I don't have any posted myself. :-) There are now dozens of presentations, so come take a look.

I've also since updated the look and feel, to add searching and paging, in addition to the sorting it already offered.

I also want to reiterate that I welcome (and encourage) folks to add more links to other recorded video presentations. Indeed, I hope that CFUG managers will keep this in mind as the place to post notices when they record a new presentation. The form is very simple, asking only for the title and URL for a new presentation to post.

Visit the repository at UGTV.

UGTV is on the air. Watch CF presentations from your home/office or CFUG.

If you've missed past CF presentations at CFUGs and online meetings, did you know they may have been recorded? Well here's good news: I've now created a repository to hold links to all such recorded presentations, across any and all CFUGs (and I'm open to talks beyond CF). Come see them (and add any new ones) at a site I've named "UGTV". :-) It's available simply as http://carehart.org/ugtv/.

If you missed my note Friday on "Is your CFUG taking advantage of the free access to Breeze for Adobe user groups", I talked about how Adobe UG managers can use a free Beeze (a.k.a Adobe Connect) account for bringing in remote presenters, allowing remote attendees, and creating such recordings.

The UGTV site also points out existing lists of recorded presentations that focus on specific "venues". I hope that this site can be a repository of any and all venues--even personally recorded ones as some may start to create. Think of is as UGTube! (I actually found that the domain name is available, but decided not to use it for fear of tradename infringement.)

The site is a work-in-progress. For now, it's functional, allowing you to both list, sort, and add presentations (yes, anyone can add presentations. Please do!)

I'll evolve the site further, for sure to improve its interface and functionality.

For now, please spread the word both for those who want to watch (from home/office or in a group at a CFUG) and those who might be able to add new presentation.

And let me know what you think, below. I welcome your comments (though again, if commenting on the interface, note the comments on the page where I list plans I already have).

Is your CFUG taking advantage of the free access to Connect for Adobe user groups?

One of the benefits of being an Adobe User Group (CFUGs and others) is that the managers have access to a free Acrobat Connect account that can used to have remote speakers and/or attendees, and to record your presentations (so others local or remote can watch what you've had presented).

Many CFUGs don't seem to be taking advantage of the feature, so I wanted to point it out. Your manager may not know about it, or may have forgotten, or just may not be seeing the benefit. I share this to help you inform and encourage them. (This account is only for use with user group related activities.)

Let me expand on each of the reasons to consider using it.

Gives you access to remote presenters

The most obvious to some is that it permits a group to have a presenter who's not local. Many CFUGs have a hard time getting presenters from within their ranks. Some do get remote presenters to come live, such as if they're in town (which is always nice), but at least a Connect-based presentation is better than having none. It can also inform you of techniques from specialists holding expertise just not available within your group.

Such Connect-based presentations have been very successful. Not always perfect (audio, video, and bandwidth problems can play up), but successful far more often than not judging from those who try it once and then do it again.

Permits you to welcome attendees who might not normally come

Yet another benefit, whether you have a remote presenter or not, is that it can also be used to let others in your group (or even outside your group) see the presentation without being there. Yes, this is a two-edged sword, in that you don't want to cannibalize your local attendance by people saying, "I'll just stay home". We all know that being there is very important, so one wouldn't want to always substitute "watching" for showing up.

Still, there are some who for family reasons, or due to other commitments, can't make some or even all the meetings. This is a nice way to connect them to your group (and promote whatever other services your group may offer).

Naturally, this also opens the door to folks who aren't even local to your group to join in. There are ways you could limit who can participate, but the general thinking among most groups is that you should just let anyone in.

I'll talk about recording and watching recorded presentations in a moment. But this idea of having lots of online attendees brings up a point worth noting.

Sidebar: Challenges of a large number of online attendees

You may wonder, "should I worry at all about how many online attendees join in?" Yes, you might want to be aware of a couple of points. First, the Connect account that is shared is designated to have no more than (I think) 150 total participants at once, across all groups that may share it at once.

Second, when you have lots of online attendees, they tend to engage in chat, which may be a challenge for your presenter to keep up with. I do believe that the person running the Connect meeting can turn off the chat. I'm pretty sure it can be switched on at the end of the meeting (or when desired during the meeting), to open the floor to questions. Such online chat is a two-edged sword, as it can give detract focus from your local attendees. Like any tool, all must use it responsibly.

Recording your presentations, whether a local or remote speaker

Another really nice benefit of using the Connect account (even if you have no remote attendees) is that you can use Connect to record your presentation--even if you have only a local presenter. That's not something that many have yet thought of.

These recordings can then be made available for anyone to watch. They are saved on a server at Adobe (part of the account that's offered). Once recorded, you can share the URL of that recording with others in your group (such as those who missed the meeting, or want to see the presentation again), as well as those outside your group. There's no cost to watch the presentations, nor does is there any limit for the group on how many people can watch the recording. As far as I know, there's also no time-limit for how long the recorded presentations remain available at Adobe.

Speaking of these recorded meetings, I've long been meaning to create a repository for such, and writing this post finally motivated me to do it. It's now available at http://www.carehart.org/ugtv/. I may break it out into its own domain eventually, if it takes off (ugtv.com and .org are already taken). I'll also share the link with Ray to add to his nifty CF portal, where he links to such CF resources.

As far as the issues above about having too large a number of online attendees, or a concern over cannibalizing local attendance, note that you can choose in a meeting to not allow any remote attendees, and only offer the recording. That's your own call.

Showing previously recorded presentations at your meeting

One final benefit of these recorded Connect presentations is that you can use them as alternatives to live speakers. I mean, think about it, if you're viewing a presenter via Connect, it's not much different to just view such a presentation, recorded previously.

I know some may lament, "well if we can just watch the recording, couldn't we do that on our own?" I'll say, sure, you could, but would you? Do you? I know I have a really hard time getting around to watching all the available recordings that already exist. Just like we could also read a book or article or blog entry and perhaps hear all that a given speaker would say on any topic.

Yet still we go to the CFUG, both because we might not otherwise get around to reading up on the subject, and because we may never even think to in the first place. And of course, there's also the networking and camaraderie that comes from actually being at the meeting.

Those who know me know that I'm a huge fan of CFUGs, both learning from them and contributing to them. I've spoken to several dozen of them, many several times, over the past 7 years. I was also manager of the Atlanta CFUG in 2006-7 (and previously managed the Southern Maryland CFUG in 2002-2003). I offer this as one more way for the community to share and strengthen itself. I hope it proves helpful to many.

PS: The Virtual Online CFUGs

While we're on the subject of Connect-based presentations, note as well that there is a long-standing "virtual" meeting, called the ColdFusion Meetup, now run by myself and Ra Camden. It meets about monthly, and he often posts recordings of past presentations on the site. Ray had also previously started a new "Jedi Virtual User Group", with one meeting described here (if he has a link to all of them I'll change to that).

Getting access to the free Connect (aka, Breeze) account

If you're a user group manager, or want to encourage your manager to take advantage of these benefits of having remote speakers, attendees, or recorded meetings, the user group manager should contact the adobe user group program coordinators. All user group managers should know how to reach those folks. I'm just reminding you to do it. :-)

In the meantime, come take a look at my UGTV listing of previously recorded user group presentations, and add any that I'm missing.

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