Wednesday, March 30, 2016

ScreenStudio 2.0.3 is available!

Note: Get version 2.0.4 as there is a small glitch in 2.0.3...

Tonight, I released a new version of my project ScreenStudio.  If you don't know what is ScreenStudio, it's an open source software that lets you record your computer display and stream it live to services like Twitch or Hitbox.

Last years, after releasing the version 1.6, my computer crashed so hard that I had to reformat everything, losing the latest source code I had written.  I had to revert to the version 1.5 which was a bit too unstable for my taste.

After a short break, I decided to start from scratch, avoiding the pitfalls I had encounter while coding the version 1.5.  Then, after testing new ideas and concepts, I started a brand new ScreenStudio 2 and tonight, a beta version is available for download.  

You can get it at

What's new in ScreenStudio 2?

- Simple interface
- A side panel to display the overlay and webcam
- Interactive panel content that can be updated while recording/streaming
- Text tags for displaying remaining time, current date, etc...
- Less dependencies
- Based on FFMpeg instead of AVConv
- No more complex configuration files
- Better webcam Intégration 
- Easy on the CPU so it will work on an underpowered computer

The whole idea was to have a side panel instead of having overlays.  Basically, you can to record/stream your whole desktop and not cluster it with overlaid banners and webcam.  ScreenStudio is actually adding a small overlay to the right of your display making the video a bit wider than your screen.  This does ensure that your viewers will see 100% of what's happening on your screen while seeing your personal content on the right side.

The version 2.0.3 is considered a beta and may be unstable.  It is currently available of Ubuntu 15.10 and a version for OS X will be available soon.

Binaries and source code is available in the download section.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Are you out of time? Are you answering calls?

You're working on a big project at the office and you feel that there is not enough time left to complete the work?  Are you answering calls thru out the day?  That could be the issue...

It's a known fact that people do prefer to call you instead of sending an email when asking for support or new features.  It seems faster and a more productive way to communicate between departments but you'd be surprise how much time is lost in the whole process.

Let's assume that someone is requesting a new data column in a report.  This implementation is not a big modification and should take around an hour including the time to open the report, do the modification, validate the result and deliver the updated report.

The request is simple so it's easy to compare requesting by phone or by email.

Over the phone:
- Stopping whatever you were doing to answer the phone call
- Greetings and polite introduction : 30 seconds
- Hearing the request: 120 seconds
- Confirming the request (to ensure the proper names, labels, content): 60 seconds
- Ending the call, polite salutes, etc...: 60 seconds
- Writing on a note, in a todo list the request with full details : 120 seconds
- Going back to whatever you were doing and figuring where you left off: 60 seconds

Total time used is around 7,5 minutes more or less.  

Same request but by email:
- Seeing the incoming request in your inbox : 5 seconds
- Complete your tasks before having a look at the request: 0 seconds
- Open the email when ready: 10 seconds
- Read the request details: 60 seconds
- Reply to acknowledge the email: 60 seconds
- Copy and paste the request into your note/todo list: 30 seconds
- Go back to your next task: 30 seconds

Total process time by email: 3 minutes, more or less.

For a simple request, handing it can take half the time by email compared as the same request over a phone call.  For any request, you can add a factor of complexity.  The time used to explain everything over the phone is increasing a lot more then in an email explaining the full details in text and screen captures.

A few years ago, we did the math at the office and found out that a rough average of 15 minutes per call was about right.  As for emails, we had calculated a rough average of 5 minutes.  Assuming you are getting 10 requests/day/week, you can compare the time spent handling requests:

Total week time by phone: 750 minutes (12.5 hours)
Total week time by email: 250 minutes (4.17 hours)

For the same requests, you are actually wasting a full day of work (~8 hours) just by handling requests over the phone on a 5 days/week.

Validate yourself at the office how many times you're handling a phone call that could have been handled by email.  The more you get, the less time you have to complete your tasks.

Leave your comments below...

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Transform your old Android device into an Apple TV 4

Did you know that you could use your old Android device as an Apple TV 4 alternative in your living room?
The first thing you need to check out is if your device has an HDMI port to connect to your TV set.  This is quite essential as we want to display the content on the big screen.
If that's the case, install the Kodi app, available in the Google Play Store.  Don't worry, it's free. Kodi is an amazing app to play multimedia content from your local storage or from a remote NAS drive.  For remote controls, look for the official Kodi remote app available on the Google Play Store or the Apple Store.  Install the remote app on your smartphone and your almost ready to go.
In Kodi, on your Android device, go into the settings and activate the remote controls.  Open the remote app and add a new server linking to your Android device.  If all goes well, it will be detected easily.
All you need to do now is add content in Kodi as you need.  Movies, pictures and music.  Finally, connect your Android device to your TV set using an HDMI cable.
That's not all...  Since your Android device can also runs others apps than Kodi itself, you will be able to play games, browse the web and so on.  Of course, you need some devices to control your Android device remotely.  Almost all Android devices do support Bluetooth keyboards and mouse.  If you have a Bluetooth gamepad, you can then transform your Android device into a fully fledged game console.  As good as the Apple TV 4 itself.
Let's recap:
- Apple TV 4 + game controller : 250$ (179$ + 69$)
- Old Android device + game controller : 50$ if you did not have already a game controller.  Add 10$ for a micro HDMI adapter if needed...
It's a neat way to recycle your old Android devices.  As a bonus, your already purchased apps and games will be available on the big screen.
Let's not forget that you can connect your device into an available USB port on the TV set for power.  And why not set it so the camera can see you to make a video call using your TV set.
Have fun!