Friday, June 22, 2007

How to make a real smooth software tutorial with Snapz pro

We use Snapz pro (by Ambrosia software) to make the software tutorials on our website. We did quite a lot of experimenting to get to the result we wanted. So I thought it might be usefull to some of you to round up our findings.

Criteria: We made the movies to put them on our website so we wanted them to have a small filesize and yet, they had to be detailed enough to have the text on the screen legible.

Issues: The biggest issue to us was that we move the mousepointer all over the screen when we use/install our software. So we had to be able to capture almost all of the screen's real estate.

METHOD 1 - failed: Our first reaction was to capture the entire screen. This (of course) resulted in a huge file. So we scaled it down what made all the text blurry and useless.

METHOD 2 - getting better: So we started experimenting with the 'smooth pan' option. With this setting the area that is captured follows your mousepointer in a smooth way.

We set the captured area to 500 px in width (about the width of our wizard) and scaled it down 60% to get a 300px movie. We found out 60% of the real size is about the smallest we could go to keep the text legible and have an acceptable filesize.

But.. we were not completely satisfied; because we had to move the mousepointer a lot the screen was moving constantely. You got seasick watching them. Some of the movies on our website are made using this technique, can you spot them? ..

METHOD 3 - that's more like it: So we came up with this technique. First we capture as much of the screen as possible with an aspect ration of 55 x 50. We scale the movie down to 60%. Then we save this movie and play it in quicktime.

In the next step we play the quicktime movie and capture it again. This time with this settings:
- w:300px h:280px
- scale 100%
- cursor invisible.
- smooth pan

Now start the capture and hit enter right after you start to make your quicktime movie play. Now you can mouve the captured screen around and follow the mousepointer when you want it. Just make sure you don't move the captured area outside of the quicktime movie or the borders will show.

Filesize: To keep the filesize small we use these video settings:
- 10 frames per second
- no keyframes (this makes a huge difference)
- best depth
- medium quality

Secret ingredient: After the movie is published, we open and save it with Amateur. This freeware quicktime clone makes the filesize a lot smaller: 66.4 MB in quicktime to 5.5 MB in amateur. The loss of quality is really acceptable.

We were quite happy with the result. Compare this movie shot with smooth pan to this one made with the technique I just explained and judge for yourself.

So a little round-up ([dutch]wat hebben we geleerd vandaag?[/dutch]. The trick is to capture the screen at fullscreen, scale it down, and then capture the movie again moving the camera were you want it to be. then compress it with amateur.

note:this is just the way we do it, this method works for us. Know how to do it better ? Just post a comment :-)



Monday, June 18, 2007

Privacy and security

We (partly) started building this application because we wanted to do the things you can do with online storage/sharing services, without having to worry about our data not being save and private. None of us was willing to use an online storage/sharing service in combination with private data like family pictures or medical records.. Let me briefly explain how our software works to assure you that you can use our software without the risk of exposing your data:

To enable you to connect to your Mac over the internet you need to know the IP-address that is assigned to it. The McNucle server registers your Mac's IP address to iNuron's 'registrar' and keeps it up to date whenever your IP-address changes. When you start the Nucle Browser it contacts iNuron's 'registar' to find out what your Mac's current IP-address is. The Nucle Browser and McNucle server then set up an encrypted end-to-end tunnel based on SSL. All communications and data transfer goes through this tunnel. Non of your data ever passes through our servers or is stored on our servers.

Others wonder if the use of a McNucle server opens up their system to possible threats. We can reassure you. The only thing the McNucle server does is open 1 port on your firewall (port 12000). This is similar to what other services like for instance peer-to-peer networks do.



Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Back to my Mac? Not after you tried the McNucle!

Like many of you, we also took a look (with special interest) at last Monday's WWDC keynote session. And our eyes fell on one particular new feature announced for Leopard: Back to My Mac! Anybody who knows what our McNucle does, can see that this feature has a number of commonalities with our product (for those of you who don't, feel free to get a grip on it at Now, what most people asked me the past 24 hours are obviously the differences. I'll offer you the most important ones below...

Full Support for remote Macintosh and Windows users!
Back to My Mac is only providing support for Mac clients to connect to your Mac at home. The Nucle Browser is identical and full functional on Mac and Windows (handy for people like me who use both platforms regularly).

Finegrained authorization!
The McNucle server offers you the ability to easily create users, and share on a folder level. You can grant finegrained access rights for each folder and each user on three levels: read data, write data and edit metadata. It seems that with a .Mac account, you can grant rights only on a read-write level per system.

Remote administration!
Within our Finder application, i.e. the Nucle Browser, you can administer your McNucle server completely, check out its status, connected users, etcetera... and all that is available at any location, even remote!

Our Finder is a real Metadata Editor!
Apart from offering the capability of searching your data based on metadata, our Nucle Browser offers you at one go the ability to preview the objects ànd to edit the metadata attached to it. On top of that we offer tools (desktops, metadata editting of multiple items, ...) that make metanization a piece of cake. We believe this is the minimum for people to make the jump to a personal, metadata managed dataset.

McNucle is FREE!
Our McNucle v1.0 is freeware at your convenience. The required .Mac account to enable the "Back to My Mac" functionality sadly enough is not with a basic account that is currently available at 99,95$ per year.

McNucle is available today!
Leopard is due to come out in October. Our McNucle offers so much more and is available today! No need to be patient, just download it here...

And there is more to come!?
Well, with Leopard on its way by October of this year, we still have some great plans in the meanwhile. We'll keep you posted via this channel/blog. Hope to see you here more often!

Kind regards,
Jorre Belpaire

Monday, June 11, 2007

Cheap Storage, now what ?

Last weekend, I bought myself a 500GB harddisk. Heck, I pay less than 30 ct/GB while two years ago, I had something 1 euro/GB as a rule of thumb. So the prices are dropping fast and it seems this is merely the beginning.

Be that as it may, I feel that my habits are changing too. I'm like a hamster. I never delete stuff from my harddisk, and I can hardly bring myself to categorize the things I put in there, so I end up with a lot of "Downloads", "ToDo" and "CleanUpLater" folders.

So, with my storage problems solved by the Lacies and Buffalos of this world, I should be one happy geek, but alas, that's not the case. "Mo' storage, Mo' worries" it seems.

Now, I face 2 other problems: I can't find my stuff anymore, and I can't always get my stuff when I'm not at home. I tried multiple solutions, most of them based on ssh to connect to my home machine and locate, beagle or spotlight to locate my stuff, and then a later secure copy to get it where I am. The problem is that this approach only brings me limited results. For example, some time ago, I was at a party talking about the pyramids in Giza and I was bragging about this picture were I'm almost picking up one of them. Of course, I was unable to produce it fast enough.

I have progressed a bit since my earliest attempts: What I need to do is put my pictures in a zone, and tag them be it briefly. Browsing around with the Nucle Browser, I can quickly locate my stuff, and verify if this is what I wanted.

Ok, great, but I'm not there yet: not everybody has good bandwidth, so I might be able to locate what I want, but downloading my favourite movie (3.9GB) to where I am is not always feasible. I need bigger pipes! Everybody needs bigger pipes! But seen the evolution of file sizes, and comparing that to the evolution of bandwidth, I think it's only going to get worse.

Anyway, as closer I just want to stress, that I am a happy geek most of the time, but that has other reasons: I'm one of the lucky few that can work in a company where they try to solve one of my personal problems. Somehow, that's compensation for all the long hours we put in here @ Inuron.

have fun,


should add the Giza pyramid picture here, but it's at home, on my other machine ;)


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