Build Your Own Twitter

I came across a great new service, similar to Ning. It allows you to create your own microblog. Basically, it’s a “build your own” Twitter. ShoutEm allows you build a public or private microblog network, that you can connect to your Facebook account, a Ning site, or even Twitter. Now you have 140 characters to craft your own community. And, of course, it’s free.

This would be a great tool for groups focused on one topic. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Wow! Great Visual List

I always try to post useful tools when I find them. This could perhaps be the most useful tool yet. Zaid Ali Alsagoff has put together a list of his top free 101 tools for learning on his blog. Check out his great slideshare. I’m sure you’ll find at least one new tool. I found several!

This post also gives me an opportunity to point out how great blogs really are. You see, there’s no way I ever would have met Zaid since he’s in Malaysia! I took a quick peek at my feed reader (professional and personal combined), and I currently follow several bloggers out of India, the UK, Japan, France, Russia, 20 of the 50 states, and, of course, several local communities (places just outside of Indianapolis). What a fantastic way to gather information from around the world and around the corner!

New Tool for Explaining Concepts

PC World recently published a list of 101 free web tools. I’m slowly making my way down the list, alphabetically. I’m only through “f” but I’ve found a tool that I really want to share. 

Flowgram allows you to combine several different mediums, including PowerPoint, websites, videos, and pictures, along with on-screen captions. So, instead of creating a document or blog that links out to all different documents, you bring everything into one place. And with your audio over the top of the screens, you can explain what you’re showing.

Here’s a great example that defines Web 2.0


Flogram User Interface

Flogram User Interface


The simple interface is easy to use. It only took me about five mintues to create a sample, using a website, a few photos from Facebook, and my Google Reader. It reminds me of ScreenToaster, but with slightly different functionality. Check it out and let me know what you think!

New Tool – External Brain

Thank you, Cammy Bean for introducing me to this great tool! Evernote is a program that bills itself as your way to remember everything. So far, I agree! It allows you to insert screen captures, websites, documents, and images. I can even upload items from my iPhone. 

I’ve only been testing the program for a few days, but I’ve found myself loving it’s search capablility. It even reads my horrible handwritting! So suddenly my two weekly to-do list that I used to post to Outlook, and of course, my old-fashioned white board, are now in one place. All I had to do was take a picture of the white board with my phone and upload to my site. And I copied the list from the desktop right over into the program. When I search for “to-do,” both lists appear! AMAZING!

Evernote promotes their ability to house your business cards electronically, which seems like a great feature I need to try. I know this tool will help me with project management and just keeping some of the day-to-day information archived for easy search and retrieval. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Image Modifier

I don’t have Photoshop on my computer, so I appreciate tools that help me create impactful images. One of the newest tools I’ve found is BeFunky. The site allows you to upload any photo and stylize it for free.

I took a photo of a friend and I and applied the “Charcoalizer” style. I could see a whole course where the stock photography was run through this tool to create a special style of images. It might add some interest to some of the typical business men and women images that are so often used in training materials.

Which of these would you rather see in your materials?


Even if I had Photoshop, I’m not sure I would be savvy enough to convert my image into a cartoon-like drawing. And I’m sure I couldn’t do it in two minutes.

Do you have any other tools you use to modify images?

Perfect Tool for Quick Posters

I don’t have a poster printer. I used to in a previous life, but now I don’t print enough to really warrant a giant printer lurking in a closet. Trying to figure out how to print a wall poster is way more math than I want to do on a regular basis.

Going back through my bookmarks this morning, I located a great tool that makes wall posters perfectly. And, best of all, no math! BlockPoster allows me to select any image, upload to the site, select the number of sheets of paper I would like, and it gives me back a file to print perfectly. Best of all, I can do border-less printing or allow for a white border to create a more mosaic look.

Simple, cheap posters with just three quick steps. I don’t think I could ask for a better tool than BlockPoster.

A Screen Capture Tool even I can Use

I have to admit that while I often share new tools with you out there in cyberspace, I’m actually not that computer savvy. So I was amazed to discover that I can make my own simple How-to videos. I used ScreenToaster for the first time this morning and I can’t wait to try it again. This is my first attempt at ever using a screen capturing software, and other than one little blip you’ll see at the end, I think I’m pretty successful.

How to Add a Blog in Google Reader

ScreenToaster is great because it only requires Java. There is no other software installation. It allows you to add audio and even screen subtitles with ease. You can record your whole screen, or just a portion as I have done. Then, you upload the file to the website (selecting either private or public display) and share with learners. There is also the ability to download the avi file, without the audio. Not bad for a free tool!

Does anyone else use any free screen capturing software? How does it compare?

Got the PowerPoint Blahs?

To continue the graphics discussion that Jenn started on Friday, I had the great fortune to be in San Jose at DevLearn and was in a great keynote with Dan Roam, author of The Back of the Napkin. He made a fantastic point about simple but engaging visuals. Then he talked about something that I hear about over and over in training: PowerPoint.

“PowerPoint is just a hammer. You don’t blame the hammer when the house falls down,” Roam said.

I completely agree! PowerPoint is a great tool. It can be used to create engaging training. Now, if only everyone would learn how great it is and use it to it’s full potential. But alas, we are doomed to the white slides filled with 47 bullets in Arial font. Or terrible clip art that “magically” flies in from the upper right.

Slide Rocket is a tool that’s trying to change how we use PowerPoint. It truly makes beautiful slides. And, oh, yes, it’s free! (At least for the first 250MB.) I don’t use it all the time, but I have tested creating a generic PowerPoint, importing into Slide Rocket and editing. The editing tools are a little more complex, kind of like using an Adobe product to modify photos. So far, I’ve not had any problems.

Test it out and tell me what you think. Can it erase your PowerPoint blahs?

Cool Tool - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

I’m finding it hard to be funny every week, increasing my respect for humor columnist everywhere. I’ve decided to expand to some cool technology tools or fun links. (Though I won’t be nearly as complete in my lists as Jane Hart, who adds a new learning tool each day.)

This week, I recommend checking out Image Chef. I’m not a graphic designer, but this site allows me to create some pretty simple graphics with just a few clicks. I can customize a puzzle image, create something that looks like a Polaroid, or even an ID card (perfect for those new employee training courses). Oh, and it’s free!

The taxi image above was created in Image Chef. I was able to customize the sign on the cab. Since we’ve just wrapped up an e-learning course that uses a GPS system as a learning agent, I’ve been looking at a lot of images of signs and cars and thinking about how they would fit into the course. This would have been perfect if I’d needed a cab in the course.