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A screencast in six takes

July 25, 2007, 1:02 pm

I’m working diligently to finish all twelve-or-so LaTeX screencasts by Friday. But as I’ve said before, these things are harder to do than you would expect, particularly when the creator keeps screwing up in various ways. For example, I just finished making a screencast on LaTeX packages and macros. It took me six takes to get it. Here’s what happened prior to that:

Take 1: Had to stop about 1/3 of the way into the screencast because I created a blank LaTeX document at the very beginning of the ‘cast for use later on; forgot that I had done so; then created another blank LaTeX document at the point when I needed the first one. It flashed through my mind — why am I making a new document? What happened to the one I made up in the beginning? CUT! Start over.

Take 2: A symbol taken from the amsfonts package mysteriously won’t typeset, and I’m caught “on camera” looking at the DVI output and wondering why the **** two of the AMS symbols came out right and the third one didn’t. CUT! Start over.

Take 3: I’ve finally made it over halfway through my script to a point where I’m going to show how to download a package. I open up Firefox and go to the site. And it won’t download the package. CUT! Start over.

Take 4: About 1/4 of the way through, I am mentioning that LaTeX loads in by default only a small subset of its full capabilities, in the interests of saving disk space. I say “dick space” by mistake. CUT! Start over.

Take 5: I screw up my lines about two sentences in because I’m laughing about me saying “dick space”. CUT! Start over.

Take 6: Finally make it through to the end — having completely thrown out the scene where I download the packages and steeling myself through the dick disk space portion of the script.

Also, I installed a new build of Parallels Desktop and it’s running drearily slow again, so I’m having to ad lib lines while the LaTeX documents are building. Users not used to Apples are going to wonder what the hell that spinning beach ball thing is on their screens which show WinXP running.

This screencasting thing is beginning to seem eerily similar to recording an album in the studio. Except in studio work you typically can “punch in” and record bits of the song at a time and put it together at the end. I guess you could do that here, but what would happen to all the amusing screwups?

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