Archive for the ‘howto’ Category

how to mow an overgrown lawn

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

It seems to happen at least once a year: due to a busy schedule, or rainy days, I don’t get a chance to cut my lawn for several weeks. By the time I get to it, the grass is so long that it chokes my mulching mower, and the usually diverting chore becomes a real job: I listen for the engine to bog down, then tilt up the mower’s base to prevent it from dying.

This year I decided to try a new technique: first I cut a series of stripes approximately every five feet:

Then I mowed the the lawn in the opposite direction:

My theory was that during the second pass of mowing, whenever the mower rolled over an area that had already been cut, it would have “room to breathe” and mulch up the grass, so the mower would not get bogged down.

i didn’t really think this would make a difference, but I was pleasantly surprised that it worked!

How to create a screencast (using Camtasia Studio)

Thursday, April 20th, 2006

I have evolved the following technique for making screencasts using Camtasia Studio:

Come up with the general walkthrough of what you’re trying to show. Don’t worry too much about what you’re going to say yet. Run through it once or twice for practice.

Start recording. I don’t use the audio from this recording so just mumble along with what you’re doing. If you screw up don’t worry, just keep recording and go back to an earlier point to start again. Between each procedure it helps if you place the mouse in an open position and pause for a few seconds – this will give you an edit point without the mouse wandering around. Keep all your mouse movements very calculated.

Edit the video: determine which parts of the video you’re going to use. Before chopping anything up, write your script in a text editor and keep it open next to the video (it’s helpful if you have dual monitors). Practice each part on the video, then edit the video to remove all the extra junk. Try to leave a little extra space so you have wiggle room for the voice narration.

Start recording your voice narration. I do this in small snippets: save each part in a file (1.wav, 2.wav) then add it to the audio track and align it with the video. If I decide to re-record a part, I name it 1b.wav because Camtasia doesn’t like it when you try to re-import the same filename .

After the whole thing is working I export the audio as a single wav, then tweak it using Audacity (as described in a NewsForge article), then bring it back into Camtasia.

The only disadvantage to this technique is that the screencast might appear too “scripted” and not spontaneous enough, but for what I’m doing I was okay with that.

Screencast: Diagnose a JavaScript Memory Leak in the Windows IE Browser

Thursday, March 30th, 2006

Here’s a new screencast:

Screencast: JavaScript Memory Leaks in the Windows IE Browser

This screencast by Patrick Fitzgerald of BarelyFitz Designs discusses how he diagnosed and fixed a memory leak in a JavaScript library. It’s a very simplified example, and the same techniques probably can’t be used for more complex web applications, but it might shed some light on how these memory leaks occur.