My Office Computing Environment

A parent of one of my daughter’s friends said he didn’t like using a computer at home because he used a computer most of the day at the office.

I thought this comment was rather strange since I use a computer at work and at home, but for completely different purposes.

In this article I will describe my office computing environment (pictured above) for my job as a Technical Courseware Developer / Instructional Designer at a Sydney based software company. I will describe my home computing environment in a later article.

Hardware

I have a Hewlett Packard 2.49GHz Intel 2 quad-core processor with 4 GB memory, running Windows XP/Professional Service Pack 3 (which is the same as my home computer).

I use two Samsung 19 inch monitors, HP keyboard and an old Microsoft Mouse.

I have my own Sennheiser HD207 “DJ” headphones for listening to music (occasionally) and editing audio files for E-learning modules.

I use a portable Zoom H-4 audio recorder and more recently a Blue Yeti USB condensor microphone for recording narrations for E-Learning.

Software

Our company uses Microsoft Outlook for email and Microsoft Office.

My two main programs for technical writing and courseware design are Microsoft Word 2007 and Powerpoint 2007. Powerpoint is a versatile program for storyboarding and building the framework for converting into an E-Learning product.  I also use Microsoft Excel for various purposes including simple project plans, drawing, and maintaining simple databases.

Our classroom training materials are published in PDF format and sent to regional offices for printing. I use Adobe Acrobat 8 for producing these PDF files.

I have used  Articulate Studio for converting Powerpoint into Flash video. I also use Articulate Engage to build interactions, and Articulate Quizmaker to make quizzes and surveys.   I used to use Adobe Captivate for recording screencasts and these were incorporated into the Articulate projects.

My audio editing program is Audacity which is free, but very powerful.  I still haven’t fully mastered its capabilities and I hope to become more proficient by studying a book on Audacity I purchased last year.

More recently I have been using Snagit software for screenshots  and Camtasia for creating screencasts and movies. Both of these products are from Techsmith.   Lately I have been building  E-Learning modules from Powerpoint by saving a Powerpoint file into a set of PNG files, importing into Camtasia, importing the audio file then adjusting the slide image durations to match the audio. The final result is published to MP4 format which can be viewed on the web or an iPad.

I use the GIMP open source program for editing image files and this program is free. I used to use it for screen captures but Snagit is superior. GIMP is like a free version of Photoshop.

I use the VMWare Player program to “play” virtual machine environments which is a way of running simulated environments for our product.

Browser

Although Internet Explorer is the default browser I chose to install Google Chrome as my default browser.

Productivity Tools

I follow the Getting Things Done (GTD) productivity method of David Allen, which I implemented in a set of text file outlines which I edit using the Emacs text editor and Org-mode extension.  Emacs is a true programmer’s editor but I wouldn’t recommend it to non-technical people.  You can read more about this environment on my GTD, Orgmode and Emacs web page.

I use the same files at home as well as at work, and I use the free Internet Dropbox service to synchronise files automatically between the two machines.

I use Microsoft Outlook Calendar for workplace appointments and meetings and Google Calendar for personal details. My orgmode system also reports scheduled dates and deadlines.

Samples of my work

Here are two free E-learning modules developed in Articulate and available on the www.voicequality.com web site.   You can hear my narrator’s voice!

This is a set of training developed by a contractor and myself for our core Prognosis product. Click this link to view the page, then click the View E-Learning Demo link on the right hand side.


Read the article about the Home Computing Environment.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Iain Gorry on March 23, 2012 at 6:30 am

    Nice read and interesting array of software titles you use. What proportion of your day is spent doing different tasks? e.g. do you spend 10% working on something new, 20% on revising stuff, 30% on advising others etc
    Also, are there any annoy repetitive workarounds when moving/combing your work from one programme to another? I can imagine you use many of the programmes to create different parts of a project then bring them all together for the final “package”.

    Reply

  2. Cool stuff! Amazing how folks who use computers all day don’t want to use them at home!!!??? :0)

    Reply

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