Reviews and Recommendations
For Trainers, Educators, Instructional Designers, and Others
Version Date: March 16, 2012
Here is a listing with some brief reviews of some of the excellent
software--some of it free software--that I have found and most of which
I use. Whether you are an educator or
designer, or just someone with a need, check out some of these items.
What convinced me to update this page was the suite of applications
by the AVS4You company. I
recently had the need to toss a bunch of
screenshots together and add a music track, so I opened up the AVS4You
video editor. Then I wanted to edit some music for another project, so
I used the company's audio editor. And yet still again, I've started to
think about converting some of my documents into ePub format to sell
online, and--guess what--AVS4You has a document converter, too.
Now the greatest news is that you can get all of these programs, all
their future updates, and any new programs they create, for one low,
one time price. Currently there are at least 18 applications included
in the global lifetime license, which I have often seen available at a
remarkably low price.
The applications are simple and straightforward. The video editor
allows you to slice and add scenes, transitions, effects, narration,
music, and so forth. You can output to several formats (wmv, mov, avi,
and so on) and the rendering engine is reasonable fast. Dont' expect
Adobe Premier or After Effects, but think comparability to Windows
Movie Maker or some of the under $100 applications on the market. A new
video editing program that I really like is AVS Video Remaker, which
allows you to slice up video files and simply re-save them without
having to reconvert or re-render them. Very handy for tweaking your
Similarly, the audio editor is rather like Audacity or Sony Sound
Forge, easy to get used to and very practical.
So far my experience with the Document Converter (to make ePub
files) has been limited, and it appears that the nature of the input
document is critical to have a well-formatted output document. Document
Converter converts to pdf as well as ePub and other formats.
The last item in this review is for the AVS Media Player. At this
writing, the player is free. And it plays every kind of format I
tested. I added mixed files to the playlist and it played one after
another without a pause or glitch. I added a wmv, mp4, mov, flv, mp3,
and mpg and they all played perfectly. This is a real benefit for
people who have a miscellany of files and don't want to wrestle between
Quicktime Player, Windows Media Player, and a Flash player.
There are many free or cheap, very powerful photo editors available. Here are a few. I haven't used any of these at this point.
Photo editor by Google, free.
Open source photo editor, free.
Free photo editor compared to Adobe PhotoShop
Several applications in addition to the free PhotoPlus software. Each application (photo editor, page designer, Web page editor, etc.) has a free and an upgraded version for sale.
More than 500,000 animated gifs, video backgrounds, sounds, music, and PowerPoint templates. I use this fairly regularly for PowerPoint presentations because the animations keep the audience interested and focused on the slides. Annual subscription fee.
Excellent source of free stock photography. This is my first-look place for photos.
One of the least expensive, commercial stock photography sites. Photos range from about $1.50 for PowerPoint or document resolution to $40 for super hi res for large posters or banners. I use this site fairly regularly.
More than 20,000 free images and textures in good resolution.
Create scrolling banner messages (that are animated gifs) for use in PowerPoint. Web-based. Free.
Edit graphics in .gif format (add text, make the background transparent). Web-based. Free.
Error Message Generator
Create fake computer error messages, or duplicate real messages that flash by on the screen. Free.
Put your own text on 500 different signs and create a graphic image for use with PowerPoint or documents. Free. If you have a fast Internet connection, you can view 500 thumbnails and choose a sign from here.
Another sign creation site. Free.
Create warning signs, for print or presentation use. Free.
Book Creator 2
For visually oriented learners, create graphic instruction manuals with a comic flair. One time license fee.
This is an audio recording and editing application. Many features including amplify, noise filter, etc. Export to .wav and .mp3. Free.
Create mazes to print or include in documents. Great for breaks between modules. Free, online.
For more serious maze needs. License fee.
Create cartoon-style animations with text to voice synthesis or record your own audio track. Very inexpensive, easy to learn, and it is a great way to add humor to your training.
RAD Video Tools
File converter from one format to another. Video, such as .mov to .avi and still, such as .jpg to .bmp. Free.
This is a file undelete utility that saved my bacon. I was editing a document on a flash drive (apparently not a good idea) when the document disappeared. Word's previous version recovered file feature didn't work, the .tmp file wouldn't open (or was gone--I forget). So I desperately searched the Web for something that would work. I tried several suggestions from helpful sites, but nothing worked. Then I found this little utility and it got my file back in a snap. It doesn't even install anything on your computer--you can run it from a CD or floppy drive or Utility folder on your hard drive. And it's free.
File copying and backup utility from Microsoft. Free. Very handy and recommended.
Create and distribute surveys (by email link to the Web site). There is a free version, but for an annual license fee, there are many extra features.
Copyright 2008, 2012 by Robert Harris | How to cite this page
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