Panning for bits of excellence in the river of my mind …

My Latest Videos

I’ve finally gotten back to making instructional videos on a regular basis and I’ve posted a few just in the past week. Early in 2020, I created most of an online course called Managing Your Data with Microsoft Access but other things intervened before I could finish the last couple of chapters. Now the course is pretty well finished with 5 1/2 hours of instruction and available for just $34.99. As a bonus, several of the videos are available as a free preview so you can have the chance to check out the course before buying.

This series is an expansion on my earlier series Microsoft Access: The Nickel Tour which demonstrates the very basics of Access and is still available on YouTube.

I really am trying to move beyond Microsoft Access so I also uploaded a short, free course on C# programming to YouTube. The Discovering C# series demonstrates just how easy it is to create your first C# application with the 52-Pickup program. This is a small application that demonstrates a number of concepts including the use of images in Visual Studio, programmatic creation of form controls and looping operations within collections.

By far, the most popular videos on my YouTube channel have been a couple that I created for my students when I was teaching programming back in 2018. A two-parter on creating custom user controls and events in C# have received a lot of good responses which showed me that people are still looking for guidance with the language.

Of course, while creating all of these videos, I gained quite a bit of experience with Camtasia and put together a couple more videos about how to deal with performances issues on longer video projects and equalize your audio in the absence of an actual equalizer in Camtasia.

I ran into some serious creative irony recently when I found this video from Kilo Restoration on YouTube. Hardware tools have never been a thing for me but when the video popped up on my YouTube feed, the idea of restoring such a rusted old wrench was interesting. What really caught my interest is that there is no narration. None. Just some great camera work and a few words of on-screen annotation where needed. I was mesmerized.

When I started making videos, I naturally assumed that I would need to narrate what I was doing. This actually put me off doing videos for a long time. I’ve never been head over heels for the sound of my own voice and, for some reason, talking into the software ether while trying to sync up what I was saying with what I was doing on the screen scared me. This, of course meant that I had to do it – I couldn’t avoid doing something that would make my videos better just because it scared me.

So I played around with microphones and got reasonably comfortable narrating the videos. I spent many hours editing out all the bloopers and long awkward pauses that happened while I was searching for words and got really creative in making the end result sound natural. I still don’t like narrating but I can do it.

Then this guy comes along and actually thinks to ask why narration is needed and decides it isn’t – and his viewers love him for it! They’re thanking him for dispensing with the rambling, annoying narration and the overproduction that’s common to so many other videos.

Narration really is a serious pain in the ass, in case you didn’t know. It’s not just about overcoming nervousness and getting your brain firing fast enough so you don’t have to spend hours cutting down one video. It’s about finding a decent microphone that will deliver quality sound. It’s about coping with background noise like the neighbors who like to play with their car alarms or emergency vehicles rushing past or kids or pets. It’s great if you can set up a noise-free area of your home but some of us don’t have the room. Sometimes, it’s about compromising on the mic and using noise reduction software instead or recording at quieter times or just learning to pause between sentences and phrases for easier editing later. Then there are the days when your voice just doesn’t want to cooperate.

That’s if you’re doing it all without a script like I do. I don’t envy the people who have to take the time to write one and make it sound natural on the video.

Silent tutorials eliminate a lot of that hassle – no stutters, no pauses – just screen capture and video editing. I’ll probably put in some quiet background music just to have something there so people won’t think there’s something wrong with their speakers.

I just wish I’d thought to ask the question myself.