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Issue 8.2



Issue: 8.2 (January/February 2010)
Author: Dave Mancuso
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 4,045
Starting Page Number: 12
Article Number: 8207
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I've been interested in ScreenCastsOnline for several years now. These screencasts are training videos on various topics, and free samples are available on iTunes as a subscription (http://bit.ly/7UGZD8). The videos are often Mac-oriented, and have always seemed to be very informative. Recently I decided to try a full membership.

I went to the ScreenCastsOnline web site to view my options. I always try to view a vendor's website from a developer's perspective to pick up good ideas. The ScreenCastsOnline website was packed with a great deal of information, but was well laid out and easy to navigate. You buy your screencasts on a subscription basis, six months at a time. It was very nice to note that your subscription is not automatically renewed (very annoying with other vendors). The initial six months was recently dropped from $199.00 to $57.00, which put the cost within the means of many more users. Educational discounts lower the price even more if you qualify. After the first subscription period, renewals (each for six months) are $25.00.

The videos you download are always yours to view. They're not DRM protected, so if you end your subscription you don't lose the videos you've downloaded. The subscription renewal simply enables you to get all new episodes, which come out once a week.

Once you join, you can download the episodes directly, or use a special iTunes podcast subscription link to get screencasts. I chose to set up things through iTunes. I had access to all of the previous screencasts from the show's beginning years ago. I chose the ones that interested me and had them within an hour (I selected about twenty full video podcasts that took a while to download). Each week I get an email with information about each new screencast. I use iTunes for the videos, but it's nice to get the email's information and link to show notes.

As for the screencasts themselves, the topics range from applications and utilities to things like hardware, backup strategies, and media centers. Video content is well organized and the narration is easy to follow. I often find video instruction hard to follow. It's easy to lose focus and "zone out." ScreenCastsOnline videos are different. They keep your attention. The screenshots, spotlights, and logical progression of narration form a valuable educational experience. I often flip back and forth from the video to my own computer to try each step of the tutorial. There are no skipped steps in the videos, an annoyance with many tutorials.

The developer, Don McAllister, is responsive and the ScreenCastsOnline site is active. It's nice to see alternatives to downloading if you want; data discs can be bought as well if you like your content on hard media. If you're a Mac user, ScreenCastsOnline is a very valuable resource, well worth the price of subscription.

End of article.