Friday, February 26, 2010

Blogging by Dictation

Earlier today I listened into a great webinar on Hubspot titled Vovici Blog Factory Delivers Customers lead by Jeffrey Henning of Vovici. One of my biggest takeaways from this session was getting more people in an organization involved to help you post more frequently, since studies show that posting more frequently can help make a blog more effective. More specifically, one comment from another attendee sparked a little light bulb moment that I wanted to share.

The comment was about a company executive who was short on time using a voice recorder to dictate for a blog post from the road and giving that audio recording to someone else to type up. The moderators mentioned how this could be very effective and how you could also even use that audio for a podcast. And while I don't think that words dictation and transcription were explicitly used it really made me think,

dictation blogging Why not take it this one step further and use dictation software for blogging?

Express Dictate is designed to email a finished audio dictation to a transcriptionist, but why not use it to send audio for a blog post to your blog's primary editor to polish and post, or send it to yourself to finish later, or even edit the audio to use as a podcast.

If you have a long commute what a great way to take advantage of that time using the mobile versions of Express/Pocket Dictate on your Pocket PC, Palm, or iPhone to help solidify your blogging ideas.

When I first started working in Denver I lived an hour south in Colorado Springs, and I can't tell you how many times the first thing I did when I got home was grab a piece of paper to jot down all the ideas and to-do list items that had entered my mind while I was driving before I forgot. How much more efficient it would have been to just dictate all these thoughts while I was still in the car. Perhaps this isn't an entirely new idea, but it really struck home with me as a simple way to make use of what would otherwise be downtime and help your blog at the same time.

This might be a good way to get someone in your organization with less free time involved in generating content for your company blog. They can just dictate and send from anywhere using a simple software solution like Express Dictate.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

NCH is More Helpful than Ever

A big change is going on behind the scenes here at NCH. Our printed manuals have a new look, and will be delivered faster than ever before.

Help documentation for any NCH application is always available through the program by pressing F1, or by locating it through the Help menu. But occasionally, it’s just easier to see it in a book in front of you. Physical manuals and product CDs can be ordered at the time of your software purchase, or through technical support CD and Manual Ordering for anyone who wants to have that hard copy on hand for reference.

Previously, we filled these orders manually out of our Australia office. To help us manage and automate this process we enlisted the help of the on-demand printer Gung-Ho. So now, if you order a manual and CD, you’ll receive a snazzy little booklet with all the help you need to run your application.

We hope you like the new manuals, and find them as helpful as ever!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Making a Case for Telecommuting

I am currently working towards my MBA, and this semester I'm taking an information systems class online. As with all the classes I've taken I try to find a way to relate what we're discussing in class to my life and my job to help make the lessons both more interesting and more useful.

Making a Case for Telecommuting Last week the connection between what we were talking about and work was immediately apparent. We were given a group assignment to develop a plan for a group of employees trying to convince management to allow telecommuting, a request they had flatly refused in the past. FlexiServer Team Management Software is one of our business applications that is designed to track the attendance and computer usage of employees, making it an ideal solution for managing remote employees, so naturally it immediately jumped to mind as a potential solution to overcome management objections. FlexiServer would allow for telecommuting while addressing answering one of the large concerns management might have, how to accurately track the hours and productivity of the telecommuters.

Managers don't want to end up paying an employee for surfing the internet all day and not getting anything done. And there is a concern that this is what will happen when the manager can't see what an employee is doing. Fortunately real-time technology tools for employee tracking not only open the door for telecommuting, but can offer a solution for this concern as well. Using software like FlexiServer allows managers to see reports on employee hours, application use, or optionally screenshots of the employee's computer; giving managers greater peace of mind that work is still getting done.

Also important for the telecommuter, who might be using a personal computer, is the ability to log in and out of work-mode. This allows the employee to log-on when they are doing work related activities to have their hours tracked, and then log-off during non-business hours and not need to worry about their personal computer use being tracked. Similarly, in an office an employee can switch to a private-mode during a break to do something like checking their bank account without worrying about the session being recorded by Flexi or seen by management.

For the assignment, my group chose to use an interrogatories technique. What that boils down to is compiling a comprehensive list of all the possible questions management might have about allowing telecommuting. Questions, such as why the staff wants it to what other companies have in place, to how it could be achieved. Then when you have the list you go through and answer them all in order to help persuade management that telecommuting is a viable business plan despite their initial misgivings. I think that FlexiServer Attendance Software is an answer to one of these big questions, how to manage and track hours of remote and telecommuting staff.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Preserve Your Own Olympic Moments With Golden Videos and Golden Records

How many of us will ever step up on an Olympic podium, bow our heads down as a gold medal is slipped over our head, gracefully accept a wreath of laurels, and stand tall while our national anthem is being played in front of an audience the size of millions?

A very, very small percentage.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t have moments of our own. We each have our achievements, large and small, and often those achievements have been commemorated with plaques, trophies, certificates, or simple pats on the back. We can remember feeling proud or accomplished, the hard work it took to earn recognition, and the smiling faces of those sharing our victories with us.

Maybe your big moment was winning the big football game, track meet, or marching band competition. Maybe your big moment was watching your child succeed. Or was it a speech you gave for a cause you believe in, or an experience you don’t have every day: your wedding, your trip to Ireland, your surprise 40th birthday party.

Preserve Your Own Olympic Moments With Golden Videos and Golden RecordsWhatever the moment, it’s important to have access to these memories. The sensations we experienced at the time never completely go away, but too often we stash the home movies and the memory-inducing music in the dusty attic, a flood-prone basement, or in a cramped closet. How devastating would it be to lose them, and to not be able to recall the smaller details? We deserve to have a little bit of our own Olympic moments injected into our lives more often. Those memories deserve to be on hand.

During this Olympic season, bring a little gold back into your life and revisit your old memories. Converting your old home videos is easier than you think with Golden Videos VHS to DVD converter software, a USB capture device, and your old VHS player. And for those vinyl records and audio cassettes that bring those memories flooding back (for me it’s The Joker by the Steve Miller Band), use Golden Records Analog to MP3/CD converter software.

Enjoy watching your country in the Olympics this month, and remember to delight in your own golden achievements.

Friday, February 19, 2010

New Sound Effect Library Added to WavePad

New WavePad Sound Effect Library WavePad audio editing software is an NCH Software favorite, making us all the more excited to announce the addition of a sound effect library, and giving WavePad fans another reason to love this audio editor. Starting with the release of version 4.40, WavePad now includes access to an extensive sound effect library.

The new Sound Effect Library contains one thousand high quality wav fx files comprised of 800 SFX files and 200 music files. Audio enthusiasts can browse and preview all of the audio clips by opening the Sound Library window found under Tools from the WavePad main window.

The Sound Effect Library includes:
  • Alerts
  • Cartoon sound effects
  • Gunshots and Explosions
  • Human sound effects like screaming
  • Animals and Nature
  • Whoosh effects
  • and Many Many More
I encourage you to Download WavePad today and checkout this wonderful new sound effect library. During the free 14-day trial period you will be limited to downloading three of the sound effect files, but you can preview them all, and you will have unlimited access to the entire sound library after purchasing this popular and powerful sound editor.

We hope that you find having these sound effects on hand is useful while you are working on your audio editing projects, and we'd love to know what you think about this great new addition to WavePad and how you are using the new sound effects.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Do More With Software... In Three Minutes or Less (Part Two)

In Part One, I spoke about how important the first three minutes in a user’s experience with any software are. That expectation has led NCH to focus a lot of attention on what the user’s needs and any roadblocks they might encounter early on. Here are some of the elements we look for in the user experience:

At first glance, the application should have a clean appearance. A screen cluttered by an excess of buttons, panels, options, and graphics is a distraction. Absolutely everything on the main screen should work toward helping the user accomplish their task, and should do so in an organized and hierarchical manner according to the user’s most common actions. Think about a workshop: You keep items you don’t often use in a drawer, while tools you use frequently are hung on the wall in front of you for easy access.

Next, using the program should be intuitive. If you can’t figure out where to start, that is a huge problem. Your frustration builds, and you blame it all on the application. Sometimes using a new program requires the help of a wizard, a quick start guide, or even a tool-tip bubble popping up saying "Start here." However, balance must be maintained. A more tech-savvy person may be turned off by too much hand-holding. In every case, it’s important to know who the user is and what their experience level is.

Finally, an application should do what it promises to do. This sounds simple, yet can be the most difficult part to design. For example, accounting software needs to fulfill a business’s needs, yet accountants are not the people who are writing the code. We need to anticipate the user’s needs and facilitate getting the task done, otherwise users are bound to move on to the next possible solution.

In the end, it is really all a balancing act. But ultimately, the final goal remains—that you will be able to be up and running within three minutes of installing our software. It’s what we care about.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Switching to VoIP Helps Companies Save

Businesses Save by Switching to VoIP
In this economy, companies of all sizes are finding they need to tighten the purse strings and save as much money as possible. AdminCorp Limited is one company that has seen significant cost saving benefits from switching to VoIP.

As a business administration outsourcing specialist, AdminCorp manages accounts ranging from small to medium corporations throughout New Zealand. They used to have a hardware setup that was eating into resources between technician and telephone line provider fees. Last year, in order to keep up with technology and find a more cost effective solution, AdminCorp made the leap and switched to a Voice over IP solution.

AdminCorp was already familiar with NCH Software, having used Express Scribe, NCH’s free transcription application, for years. Because of this familiarity, AdminCorp chose to use another NCH Software program, Express Talk, to handle their VoIP phone calls. Express Talk is softphone that lets users make VoIP phone calls from their PC, Mac or Pocket PC mobile phone.

The switch to Express Talk has worked out well for AdminCorp, who saw their costs drop immediately. Recording calls they transcribe for clients has become a much easier task, and they can now transfer between different DID (direct inward dialing) phone numbers with ease. Additionally, they’ve benefitted from the added control they now have over their phone system. Previously they had to give direction to the telephone company, then wait around for the changes to be made. Now, without any outside tech support or service costs, they are able to update their system as needed.

See if Express Talk is the solution for your company. Between the free or low cost phone calls you can make with VoIP, the mobile softphone, video capabilities, professional and easy-to-use interface, and the full range of additional business features, you've got nothing to lose and everything to gain. Try Express Talk or any one of NCH's computer telephone software applications all with free 14-day trials available so you can make sure they will meet your needs.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Webmaster's Love Affair with Fling FTP Software

I have a bit of a running joke with Laura, in our office, that I'm having a love affair with our FTP client, Fling, but it is based partly in truth. I really think that it is a very handy little application that does its job exceptionally well. I love it's simplicity. Fling offers such a clean and easy solution for uploading files to our website, it's admirable.

With over 80 software products in total that we make here at NCH, there is a lot of variety to what applications we might be talking about on any given day. But without fail if someone in the office mentions something about Fling, I will undoubtedly say something about how great I think it is, gushing like a girl in love.

I do personally use quite a few of our programs, which we have talked about in the blog before (Do we use our own software?) but Fling is one of the ones that I find myself using the most regularly.

I am one of the few people who reviews changes to our web pages here. After I have looked over a page and I'm ready to have it go live on the website all I have to do is right click on the file and select "Fling Upload." Fling does the rest. It's as simple as that.

It might seem a little silly to say that you are in love with an FTP client, but it's the little things, and even for such a little application I've found Fling to be a very useful and reliable little tool to have in my arsenal. I love Fling for its simplicity. I love how quick it is. I love how accomplished it makes me feel. If only every fling I've ever had had the same qualities.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

eWeek Article by NCH Software CEO

In a recent Knowledge Center article in eWeek, NCH Software's CEO talks about some of the ways you can Run A Small Business on Single Applications.

Especially for a small business or start-up venture, the purse strings can be pulled tight making it very important to not spend money on anything you don't need. This idea also extends to the software world. Instead of buying an entire suite of software that might contain applications or features you don't need, it is becoming increasingly possible to find single applications that can be purchased separately but ingrate with each other to meet the specific needs of your business.

This is how the NCH Software business software suite has been designed-so that you are never required to buy all of the applications, only the individual components you need. This approach gives you more flexibility in finding a tailor fit solution that can grow with your business.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Do More With Software... In Three Minutes or Less (Part One)

When you’ve downloaded as many NCH Software applications as I have, you’ll notice one thing time and time again: the applications download and install faster than you can recite Mary Had a Little Lamb. It amazes me every time. As product downloads become more common on the Internet, and we are becoming more and more an on-demand culture, it’s moments like these we really appreciate.

Of course, while fast downloads and installations are important, it’s what comes after that really counts. During installation we have stars in our eyes, anticipating what this application we’re downloading can really do. We’re hoping it’s better than other programs we’ve tried; faster, smarter, and more attractive. We’re hoping to witness software evolution and reap the benefits. And we want to do it quickly.

That’s why NCH focuses so heavily on the initial experience. Each application is designed with the goal that a user will be able to be up and running within three minutes.

Only the first impression matters, especially when you’re sitting alone at your computer. If that slideshow creator you just downloaded doesn’t load properly, or you can’t figure out how it works right away, you’re likely to walk away right then and there and go try something else. We know you do that, because we do it too. That’s why we work so hard to win you over quickly.

To help make sure we’re meeting this goal and providing the best user experience, we have several tactics in place. First, every time an application is updated, a design committee provides feedback and makes suggestions to improve the application. User feedback is also considered, and even rewarded. If NCH uses a customer’s suggestion for a product, they will receive the next release of that application for free.

Another approach we use is to provide quick start guides and tutorials for some of our applications. Quick start guides either load in a browser upon installation, or are included in the help documentation. And we’re always working to add more videos to our tutorial series. You can view the tutorials we've completed on our NCH Software YouTube Channel.

We also do user testing so we can watch new users interact with our software. User testing allows us to see how we can improve the user experience firsthand. The data we collect from these tests is compiled into a list of suggestions, given to the application’s developer to be implemented in the application's next release.

In Part Two, I’ll talk more about the user experience and how it affects those first three crucial minutes.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ask Dad: Debut is a Simple Solution

My dad works for a major computer manufacturer as an electrical engineer, and even in that large corporate environment there are times when getting a simple software solution from outside the company is preferable to reinventing the wheel and creating something in house.

debut video screen recorder software When I was using a little vacation time to visit my dad, he happened to mention not being really happy with the video capture program that he had been using for an experiment. He had been using a product called FreezeScreen that he said didn't seem as stable as he might like, and the recorded video wasn't always as clear as the original. Naturally, I recommended he try our program, Debut Video Capture Software, to see if he had better results with NCH's solution.

For a little bit of background I asked him if he could tell me more about what he was using the screen recording software for. He is using a collection of extremely high speed strobe lights and high magnification optics to image the operation of MEMS devices in motion with near nanosecond time resolution. There are no off-the-shelf systems that can do this type of analysis, so he put together the equipment himself. And, since there isn't a software front end, the only results he gets are on the on-screen display. So, if he wants to save any of the images to send to a colleague or to analyze further later, he needs a screen recording software like Debut.

I am happy to report that he has been very pleased with results that he has been able to get using Debut. To quote him, "The Debut software does exactly what I need. I even use the sound capture to annotate my observations in real time so I do not forget any of the things I changed during each test. When I play the video back I get a video recording of what happened, along with any measurements that were being taken, and my annotation is all synchronized in time in one video."

This is just one example of how a simple software solution like Debut can be a useful tool for research and industrial testing. Someone like my dad can put together a custom test environment with a number of individual software packages such as a digital camera interface, a timer program, a program that reads and displays the voltage, temperature, or some other information that is relevant to the test. By positioning the windows from each of the separate programs on screen before recording, Debut can capture a video record of all of the pieces in a single video. So even a piecemeal custom test can produce results that look like they were generated by a single, highly integrated system.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Update: Video File Transcription for Express Scribe Mac

mac video transcription software We thought you'd like a follow up on our post from November announcing the long awaited video file support for Express Scribe.

Today we released version 5.02 of Express Scribe for Mac OS X, so now the Mac version of our popular free transcription software, Express Scribe, can load video files to be transcribed in addition to all of the audio files we have always supported.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

WavePad helps one ringtone artist turn songs into mobile hits

Christopher Sherron is a member of the Phonezoo community who has taken some of his favorite songs and turned them into popular ringtones. He uses WavePad Audio Editing and Ringtone Software, which can take any piece of music and turn it into a ringtone.

Phonezoo is a leading site for personalized online and mobile entertainment. On Phonezoo, it’s all about ringtones and mobile entertainment, bringing user-created content and community to a mobile social media platform. So finding and sharing personalized online and mobile entertainment is easy.

With thousands of ringtones and other content uploaded to Phonezoo every day, it can be hard to compete. Christopher has found that using the audio editing tools in WavePad has helped him improve his ringtone creations and get an edge in this competitive community.
Ringtone Maker
WavePad makes creating professional sounding ringtones easy. It comes with its own ultrafast CD ripper, supports a comprehensive list of file types, includes all the editing and effects tools needed, and can convert and save the finished product to the file type suitable for your phone (e.g. amr, mp3).

"I love the software and would recommend it to anyone," Sherron said. "Since I applied it to my ringtones over 300,000 visitors to the Phonezoo site have downloaded my material." It really does sound like he could start a business. Just read some of the comments from Sherron’s fans:

Justin Jacobs:   Hey Chris your amazing man you have the most awesome ringtones you rock man. i was hoping that if you can can you make a ringtone for my friend Toni Jo please i would greatly appreciate it and thank you in advance.

Kevin Lanning:   Hey Chris! You're ringtones are excellent! I was wondering if you could make a ringtone for me now. Saying something like, "Kevin loves Leah" or "Kevin hearts Leah." I would really really appreciate it if you could! Thanks a ton. Keep up the great work with the ringtones!

Ashleigh Waddell:   I ♥ you sooo much! and it would be so totally awsome if you could make a ringtone about ashley and justin bieber or somethin about justin bieber...pretty please!

Cyndi Beasley Hobbs:   came across your work on phonezoo. loved it! you have a wonderful sense of humor and loads of creativity. keep up the great work.

Sherron is busy expanding to the Myxer site and has started a fan page on Facebook. He says thanks to WavePad, he could make his ringtones popular all over the web.

You can check out some of Chris Sherron’s ringtones on his Phonezoo profile TheChrisTopProgram. Or, if you have a little more time on your hands and a creative idea, download your own copy of WavePad and try making your own custom ringtone.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

NCH Software Now In Retail Stores

We announced this week that our Audio Suite and Golden Records are now both for sale at Fry's Electronics, J&R and MicroCenter retail stores across the United States. Making our software available in retail stores in addition to selling them on-line has been a project a long time in the making and we hope that this is just the tip of the iceberg and that there will be both more stores and more of our software titles to coming to a location near you.

Golden Records Vinyl to CD or MP3 Software on the shelf at MicroCenterI have to admit that after having worked on this project for so long I couldn't help but take a little detour on my way home the other night to see then end result of an actual NCH Software boxed product on the shelf at the Denver MicroCenter. I couldn't help but take a picture even though I know that most stores frown on you taking photos. While this might not be as exciting to the rest of the world I couldn't help but be a little thrilled just to see those boxes sitting there amidst all of the other software.

The NCH Audio Suite includes five essential audio tools and NCH favorites WavePad Audio Editor, RecordPad Sound Recorder, MixPad Multi-track Mixer, Switch Audio File Converter and Zulu DJ Software in one package.

Golden Records is a vinyl to CD or MP3 converter that comes packaged with an RCA to 3.5mm converter cable to help you connect your old turntable to your computer for digitizing your albums.

If you live near one of these retail stores we hope you will go check them out, and if not you should still keep your eyes peeled and hopefully we will be at a store near you soon.
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