I tried Jing this morning and I love it. It's smart and free, and a kick to use. In less than a minute, I figured out how to highlight a portion of my screen, record what I was watching, and save it to Jing's server, ready to share.
Details in a sec, but first take a look at my first screencast. A friend suggested a time killer called FeedTheHead. I have no willpower, so I pushed all my deadlines aside [sorry, Dennis] and spent 20 minutes exploring, then used Jing to share it with you.
Jing is a freebie developed by TechSmith, the same people who sell SnagIt and Camtasia, the industrial-strength screen and video capturing tools. I'm telling you this because I don't want you to be disappointed with Jing, especially, if you've used either of TechSmith's other programs. Jing is, as the PR guys said, a lightweight application. And for lots of people, that's just fine.
Jing's free and easy
Jing sits on any side of your screen (I keep mine on top). Pull down the app - or hit a hotkey - and select Capture.
A pair of grid lines appear across the screen that let you choose the portion of the real estate you want to capture. The part of the screen that's grayed out isn't captured.
With a little fiddling, I discovered that watching the left-hand corner intersection is the key to seeing what's going to be captured. A small toolbar appears along the outside of the grid that lets you choose between grabbing an image or video.
I have two monitors, and if I snag the entire secondary monitor, the image toolbar is below the monitor's edge and out of sight. It wasn't obvious once I set the grid, but before I started capturing, I could drag the region to see the toolbar. The side benefit, which also wasn't obvious, is I could resize the capture region.
Dig This: Quick - are these photos real or fake? I got six correct. See if you can do any better. [Thanks, Alex.]
Save local or on the Net
Once the capture is complete, I can save it to a file on my drive. What I like better, particularly with videos, is to put it on TechSmith's screencast site. That way I don't have to worry if my mother - or you, for that matter - has the right codecs or software to view the video. The file's saved as an SWF Flash and images are PNGs.
Everything you've captured is available from the program's history. You can see a thumbnail; from the history window, you can save the file locally, send it off to Screencast for sharing, or delete it.
You're wondering about TechSmith's benevolence, providing you with a neat freebie and online storage, right? There are scads of free screen capture utilities available. (I know, because every time I write about SnagIt, I get 40 e-mails telling me about all of them.) The folks at TechSmith have noticed that, too, and they're probably feeling left out. My guess is that once you're hooked on saving the files to their server, they're going to start charging for the online storage.
Dig this, too: Will It Blend? is viral marketing at its very best, and the site recently took on Apple's iPhone. Not only that, it's on sale, so you can have one for only $400 - the blender, not the iPhone. And remember kids, don't try this at home. [Thanks, Lou!]
Also free: TransferBigFiles for huge files
I have a new way to send a gigantic file. No, I mean really gargantuan files, up to 1GB. Axosoft's TransferBigFiles is a nice, free alternative to YouSendIt, the Web-based service program that only allows 100MB - unless you want to pay a fee.
TransferBigFiles lets you send up to five files at a time. I like being able to send a file to five people, too, though I'd prefer being able to blind-copy the recipients. Other features: You can password protect the file and get a confirmation that it's been downloaded. Files are held for five days and then deleted.
Chances are good that the folks at Axosoft will discontinue the service in a year (as did dropload.com, another file transfer site), once they discover how much competition there is and that they won't become millionaires with this service. But for now, let's start transferring files.