Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Video Tutorials of NCH Software Products

For those of you who follow NCH Software on Twitter, you may have seen that we have started putting together video tutorials about some of our programs. This is part of our continuing effort to help users get our software up and running as quickly as possible. We hope that these videos will answer some of the common questions about basic functions, especially for people who have more of a visual learning style. So far we have put together video tutorials for the following programs:
  • WavePad video tutorial series with three videos that cover WavePad basics, an introduction to audio editing and an introduction to effects
  • BroadWave Streaming Audio tutorial covers how to configure your router so people can access your stream, and how to create playlists of recorded audio or set up for streaming live audio
  • Golden Records video tutorial covers connecting your turntable to your computer and walks you through the steps of the vinyl-to-CD conversion wizard
We have tutorial videos in the pipeline for more of our products, so this list will be expanding. You can subscribe to NCH Software YouTube Channel to stay up-to-date with new video tutorials as they are released. And be sure to let us know if there is anything in particular you think would benefit from a video tutorial so we can add it to our queue.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Create PDF Files From Any Application - Just Print

The newest addition to our utility software products is Bolt PDF Printer which allows you to print your documents directly to PDFs through the print menu of your other software applications. So creating PDF files as easy as printing.

Lightning PDF installs a printer driver so that you can select Lightning PDF as your printer from any application. Then you can print to a PDF document instead of sending documents to a physical printer.

Print PDF Files with Lightning PDF Printer


PDF files are the standard for document sharing in business, so the ability to easily create a PDF file for electronic distribution and sharing is a necessity. Lightning PDF is a free and easy way to create PDF files and eliminate potential compatibility issues when sharing documents.

We are excited to add this PDF Printer to our line of utility products and there are more useful utilities in the pipeline that will be making their debut soon, so be sure to check back for the latest on what's new.

Monday, March 22, 2010

MixPad Multitrack audio recording and mixing software now available for Mac

MixPad Multitrack audio recording and mixing software now available for Mac MixPad multi-track audio mixing software is now available for Mac. MixPad has been the perfect complement to WavePad for Windows users for a long time, expanding audio editing capabilities to that of a full blown sound studio. We are really excited to offer this audio powerhouse pair to our Mac users as well.

MixPad has all the features professionals need for low latency multitrack recording and mixing for creating music mixes, radio advertisements, soundtracks, or remixes. You can load audio files, record clips directly, or drag and drop files from your desktop to the program where they will be added to the timeline for powerful audio mixing capabilities, including unlimited track mixing so you can handle over a hundred track simultaneously.

So whether you are on Mac or a PC, if you are serious about audio you should be sure to check out MixPad and WavePad for all you audio editing and mixing needs.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

How VoIP Can Help You Save

How VoIP Can Help You Save At this point, everyone knows someone who is using VoIP instead of a regular phone line. But for those without any experience with VoIP, the idea of switching over can seem like a daunting and risky task despite all the companies and users out there touting the benefits. VoIP has a negative stigma to overcome—during its early use calls weren’t always reliable and the quality was often poor. But the technology is constantly improving, and it has become a viable option for companies looking for innovative ways to save.

Not only will VoIP save you money, but using it can potentially make your business more functional—giving you new opportunities to increase your productivity and responsiveness. While actual cost savings will vary, with a reliable softphone like Express Talk, the savings for small businesses can be significant.

Cost Savings
Here’s an example: say a small business has six employees at one location, and several more employees working remotely. For the main office, the telephone line and long distance charges using a traditional PSTN landline phone system could cost about $180 per month, according to some Verizon statistics. Add to that the cost of the additional phone lines for the “virtual” employees not onsite. Regular phone lines for these freelancers usually run from $39.99 to $100 per month, plus taxes, making the monthly phone bill for this business as high as $780 per month.

Compare that to the cost of using a multi-line VoIP system, where the total cost can be as low as $3.25 to $4.30 per-month, a savings of more than 90%! At those prices, the switch to VoIP can pay for itself very quickly.

Functionality Boost
Another one of VoIP's biggest benefits is arguably increased functionality. The Yankee Group estimates that small to mid-sized companies who use VoIP systems are 25% to 35% more responsive to customers.

This increase is attributed to the convergence of voice and data, giving users one centralized system for managing messages sent by phone, fax, email, and cell phones. Reducing the number of channels that need to be handled separately makes checking and responding to messages a more efficient process, so more messages can be answered.

Learn More About VoIP
This is just the beginning. There is a lot more information about VoIP, and if you want to learn more here are several online resources you might want to check out:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Prism Video Converter: A Rainbow of Possibility

prism video converter opening a rainbow of movie viewing possibilities It’s happened to us all before: you get an email from your best friend. The subject line is Funniest Video Ever!!! and the only line in the email indicates your friend laughed so hard they spewed milk out of their nose. The attachment is a video, which you click to view, eager to be entertained by this week’s top viral blooper. But something is wrong. Your computer won’t open the video file format...

Previously I would have closed my email and skulked away from the computer feeling left out. But now I know I can open Prism, select the file, and convert the file to a format that I can watch. The laugh’s on me, but in a good way.

Out of the many NCH products I use on a daily basis, Prism video converter gives me the most satisfaction. Videos really used to be a stopping block for me. I understood so little about them—their formats and codecs (Ok, I still don’t really know what that refers to)—that I was willing to give up rather than put myself through the headache of figuring it out. So in a way, Prism has changed my life.

And more than just my email-attachment-opening skills has improved. Recently, I took a silly little video of my dog running around the house on my phone. I emailed the video to myself, converted the file format to a .mov, and loaded it onto my iPod. Video, which used to be such a foreign and out-of-reach media to me (and the masses) is now something I’m considering turning into a hobby.

Soon, I’ll be editing videos on VideoPad, compiling intricate soundtracks on WavePad, and posting my amateur cinematography for you all to see. YouTube first, then...the Oscars? You never know...all thanks to one little application that showed me never to fear video files again.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Movie Maker Solution for Windows 7

VideoPad Movie Maker Software for Windows In a recent article on Shared Reviews, Alexsandralyn covers the lack of movie making software and video codecs that come with the Windows 7 OS. We were pleased to stumble across this article that not only has a lot of valuable information on codecs in her article Free Movie Maker Software for Windows 7 but also a very nice little review and summary of VideoPad video editor and WavePad audio editor for helping you to make movies and clean up the audio for your video soundtracks as an alternative.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Interactive Voice Response Best Practices & Design Tips

Interactive Voice Response Best Practices We've all been stuck on the phone trying to get information from an automated phone system in a battle against the machine that can seem to be designed specifically to prevent us from finding what we're looking for. While that almost certainly wasn't the intent of the automated phone system, poor execution can leave a multitude of customers with a bad taste in their mouth.

A well designed IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system can be a valuable resource, but a poorly designed one will only reflect poorly on your company’s customer service. With that being said, here are a few pointers to help make sure you are designing a good call flow for your automated IVR system:

  • Outline the Call Flow for Your IVR
    A flow chart or an outline is the perfect place to start. You really need to take the time to plan out how someone is going to interact with your phone system long before you start creating the actual IVR in your software. Taking the time to plan it all through at the beginning will help you keep the big picture in mind and to avoid creating a long trail of prompts.

  • Think Like Your Customers
    Always keep your customers in mind. Why will they be calling the system? Put the options for the most frequently used items at the beginning so they can be accessed quickly and easily. At every step along the way think about how the message will come across from a customer's point of view.

  • Keep It Simple
    Don't try to do everything. Less is more. With an automated phone system you want to keep the number of key presses to minimum. Trying to do too many things just gives the callers more places that they can get lost along the way. Really think about what options should be available and who is calling in. For example, if you need to offer different services to customers and vendors it might be better to have two different systems rather thane on that does everything, keeping each line simplified and tailored to its purpose instead of trying to do everything on one line.

  • Keep Menu Prompts Clear and Concise
    The longer your message, the harder it is going to be for a caller to remember everything that is being said and what they need to do to interact with the system. Be sure to use the same language as your customers, avoiding industry slang and terminology callers might not be familiar with.

  • Offer Universal Commands
    Options like pressing the star key (*) to return to the main menu at any point during a call, or an option to repeat a prompt will make it much easier for callers to navigate the IVR system.

  • Give the Option to Talk to Someone or Leave a Voice Message
    The goal of an IVR system may be in part to reduce the number of calls that your staff needs to handle, but there will be times when the system does not fulfill a customer's needs. You need to offer these callers the alternative to either talk to a live person or leave a message for someone to call them back.

  • Test, Test, Test, and Test Some More
    Test the call flow every step along the way test the flow. Think of as many possible scenarios as you can and go through the process yourself. Get other people to try it out, too. Never think of your system as being completely done. You need to monitor how well it is working, and make sure that you are offering the right options at the right time. Get feedback from your staff and customers. Designing a good IVR call system should be an ongoing process.

These are just a few of the tips to help you get started on the right foot when you are implementing an interactive voice response system. Taking the time to thoroughly plan out a new IVR call flow, before you even start working with an application like IVM interactive voice response software, can make a significant difference in the final result and is well worth the time and effort.

Friday, March 12, 2010

RecordPad Simple Audio Recorder Now Available for iPhone

RecordPad iPhone Audio Recorder Apple has just approved NCH's second iPhone application, RecordPad sound recording software. Record voice and other audio on your iPhone, and then save or send recordings to an email address or FTP server. You can also use the voice activated recording mode to record only when you are speaking, eliminating long silences.

Use RecordPad to record anything from interviews to presentations to meetings, or just to record an audio note, you can easily make a recording and save it as either wav or aiff file no matter where you are.

Just like the Windows, Mac and Pocket PC versions of RecordPad, the iPhone app is designed to be simple and straightforward to use, so you will be able to immediately start recording, saving, and replaying your audio recordings.

If you have an iPhone, look for RecordPad in the iTunes store.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Crescendo - Aspirations of musical domination

Crescendo music notation software for composing and writing musical scoresLast month, we released new software for musical notation. The initial release of Crescendo, version 0.92, provides a mere proof-of-concept and a solid starting point. Much more is planned for this project; the intention is to create something uniquely powerful and flexible. So how will Crescendo distinguish itself?

Freeform awesomeness
Crescendo will allow you to grab and move anything you can see; to re-arrange and re-structure anything as you see fit. Other applications may be restrictive about the formatting of what you write: once you've decided the structure of the piece, it can be a pain to change it later. Crescendo will let you adjust any aspect of your creation on-the-fly, in the most visually intuitive way possible.

How does that work and why would it be useful?

For instance (in the next version) staves can be braced together simply by drawing lines between them. There's no tedious set-up to work before you can begin your composition; i.e. if you've got bass notation on the page, you can connect it up to the corresponding treble notation with a quick drag. Different instrument parts can be swapped out by literally pulling them out of bracing and connecting them to another group. All with no dialogs pop-ups to get in your way; it's as if you could grab and push around the notation with your own hands.

Crescendo will allow you to work like you would with paper. Anything you say goes; nobody is querying you about the final structure of the piece; you just draw notation in as you go along.

A bit of style
Composing music is enjoyable; there's no need for the application to look like accounting software. Crescendo has a nice clean look and animated motion, and not just for aesthetics sake, the shading and movement also help convey structure and continuity.

What?

When changes are made, the screen won't just “blink” to the new state, you'll see elements move from their old position to their new positions, clearly showing you what's going on. When you “pick up” and move things, shadows will appear underneath so you can tell what's being moved and see its relative depth as you move it over the page. Every object that can be interacted with by the mouse will highlight as you move the cursor over it – no guesswork involved.

All the essential features
Crescendo will have:
  1. Bracing (i.e. grand staff or multi-instrument notation)
  2. Playback; hear what you see.
  3. On-screen keyboard input, and other rapid-input methods.
  4. More export formats.
  5. More beaming options.
  6. Dynamics.
Work on Crescendo is moving full-steam-ahead. Keep an eye out for the next release.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hello World!

I’ve been with the NCH Software development team for awhile now, and I thought it time to introduce myself on our blog. I am currently on the Utilities team working on some very exciting new products that are moving through our development pipeline. You should see these released in the upcoming months and I'm looking forward to your feedback on these products. Prior to Utilities, I worked on improving several of our Telephony and Voice applications. For those of you who have migrated from Express Talk version 4.10 to 4.20, the colored indicator line lights and address book improvements were a couple of my first implementations at NCH.

Hello world! guest experience feedback When I was working my way through college I worked in the restaurant industry, where we constantly talked about the Guest Experience. Guest Experience was defined as everything from when a guest walked in the door to the next day when they opened up their leftover cheesecake box for another savoring. You have to pay close attention to detail to anything and everything that might improve or detract from the Guest Experience to make a restaurant successful. Feedback from our customers was essential to that process of success.

We employ the same philosophy at NCH Software. One of our core principles at NCH is designing software for the user experience. In fact, we devote a lot of effort to making sure that our software is as seamless as possible -- from the initial download until you are using our applications to their fullest power. I know that we talk a lot about the "3 Minutes or Less" user experience in the blog, but that is because it is important to us as a company across the board. We developers don't always get a chance to interact with the end user, which is why we ask Jen and Laura for input from you.

Shifting gears a bit, there is a very large software company based in Redmond, WA which has a mantra of "Eat your own dog food." Basically, it translates to "use your own software." We follow this philosophy in our offices too, using as much of our own software as is feasible. It helps us to continually evaluate and improve on what we do. We use Axon as our PBX, as well as VoIP products like Express Talk, and IVM to complete our telephone communications. In fact, I used Express Burn to create my portfolio CD when I applied to NCH.

We don't always get everything right the first time, we know that. No one is perfect. But that is just one more reason why it is so important for us to use our own products constantly and communicate with our customers; it helps us find the areas that can be improved. As developers who value quality, these ideals couldn't more important to us. Using our own products and hearing from our customers helps make us better.

David has been with NCH Software since early 2009 and is currently assigned to the Utilities division, where he is developing new products.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Acclaim for WavePad Sound Editing Software

WavePad Audio Editing Software Bronze Award from Top Ten ReviewsWe are very grateful that the reviewers over at TopTenReviews recently took the time to review NCH's WavePad Sound Editor. Not only did they write a very good review of one of our favorite programs, but they awarded WavePad their Bronze Award in the Audio Editing Software category. When talking about WavePad the review states that, "WavePad’s greatest strength lies in its intuitive, user-friendly interface and overall simplicity." The reviews goes on to say:

"WavePad strikes an incredible balance between high-end and low-end, advanced and beginner level audio and sound editing software programs, giving users of various professions, skill-sets and program needs an incredible range with which to work. Best of all, it does so without over-simplifying its interface or limiting users to only a handful of tools."

TopTenReviews


You can read the complete review of WavePad Audio Editor on the TopTenReviews website, but the best way to really get a feel for the user-friendly intuitive interface is download WavePad and try it out for yourself. Besides, as much as we love getting positive reviews like these from places like TopTenReviews, the most important review is yours.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Blu-Ray Disc Burning Now Available for Express Burn Mac

Blu-Ray Burning Software for PC and MacBlu-Ray discs provide significantly more storage space than a CD or DVD disc. When it comes to video, that extra storage space on Blu-Ray is used to store movies in high definition for larger, sharper, higher quality videos in what is currently the highest standard--1080p high definition video.

If you have a Blu-Ray burning drive for your computer you can take advantage of this high capacity for backing up your hard drive, archiving old files, or recording and saving your own hi-definition videos. Express Burn Disc Burning Software has supported Blu-Ray burning on windows machines for some time now, and the most recent release of Express Burn for Mac now supports Blu-Ray burning too, so users can burn audio and data CDs, DVDs, or Blu-ray discs. And no matter what type of disc you are creating, Express Burn burning software couldn't be easier. Simply drag, drop and burn.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Auto Dialer Software Gives Added Power to Small Businesses Reaching Out to Customers and Clients

auto dualer There is an abundance of reasons your organization might want to call lists of people—whether for service calls on accounts to make sure customer relations are in good standing, reaching out to members when it is time for them to renew, notifying clients of an important change, or to meet an important fund-raising goal.

Between email and the Internet, the number of opportunities an organization has to put themselves in touch with their customer base has increased over the years, and businesses and groups are learning the best ways to take advantage. Developments in these fields have become an important component to Customer Relationship Management, and in some cases have come to overshadow some of the more traditional channels of communication like the telephone. Yet the value in person-to-person contact is still important, and technological progressions in phone system management are helping to keep phone calls an economical option for staying in contact with customers.

The new Axon Agent auto dialer is an add-on feature for our virtual PBX that makes it easier for everyone from call centers to charities to reach out to their customers, members or constituents. No matter the reason your organization has for placing calls, the longer the list of contacts gets the harder it is to manage the process. That is where an automated dialing system can really come in handy.

One of the wonderful things about NCH's virtual PBX, Axon, is that it is Windows based software, making it easy and accessible to small businesses that don't have the luxury of a full time IT staff to help configure and manage a more complex Linux phone system. The new auto dialer agent gives these smaller organizations another useful and powerful feature, making it easy and efficient to place phone calls to a list of people and to compete with their larger counterparts.

With the Axon Virtual PBX you can log-on to the weblet to set up not only lines and extensions for your phone system, but also to set up calling agents and outbound calling campaigns containing your list of contacts and a script for the agents to use when placing the phone calls. Agents can then log-in using Axon Agent and join a calling campaign. Axon does all the work of managing the campaign list and dialing for the agents, making sure that no duplicate calls are made and ensuring an efficient calling process.

Axon is just one of the telephony software applications offered by NCH, allowing any business to customize a solution for their unique needs. For another example, see automated outbound calling software for additional calling options that don't require operators to handle individual phone calls.
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