(For those new to the column, Forward Migration is our term for companies moving from Wintel machines to Macs — or at least adding or increasing the number of Macs they use. A Forward Migration Kit is an overview of Mac OS products for a particular occupation, such as photography, optometry, etc.)
Macs and Apple software have made life a lot easier at a daily newspaper and a school system in recent months.
Apple technology helped “The Sacrmento [CA] Bee” newspaper move beyond the printed pages. When the paper needed to create a safety training video they first planned to go with an outside production company.
But the Bee’s David Henry managed to save time and money by creating the video using Macs and Final Cut Pro. Going that route meant spending about US$2,000 for software and a digital camera — a substantial savings from what it was anticipated the project would cost.
“My very first video took two days to shoot, but only because we’d never done video before, so we were feeling our way through,” Henry said in an Apple Creative News
story. “Then it took me a day to edit it in Final Cut Pro, and we had it on a loading dock that night. It was a piece of cake. We basically paid for the entire system with the first video we made.”
After that initial experience, Henry’s work life — and the video-making philosophy of The Sacramento Bee — changed forever, he said.
“Now my title has changed to audio-visual administrator, and I’m constantly being hit with requests to do videos from just about every part of the company,” Henry said. “At the Bee these days, anybody can have a video produced if they can show the need and it’s worth the time to shoot it, edit it, and put it on tape.”
He has created videos for a range of audiences within the company — from the advertising sales force (containing taped testimonials from satisfied Bee advertisers) to workers in the pressroom who need training on new printing equipment.
“For the cost of outsourcing one video to an independent company, we’ve now got an office full of great gear that we can use to produce as many videos as we want,” Henry told Apple. “Essentially, I can do video on call for any department without anyone worrying about juggling their budget to make it happen.”
The newspaper is also looking at streaming video on their
Internet news site, as well as investigating the possibility of putting video on their intranet site. And now that Apple’s introduced the ability to write DVDs direct from a Mac, that’s going to open up a whole new world, Henry said.
“Just last year, for example, we changed the software we use for pagination, totally eliminating the old way of producing a newspaper. That’s required massive amounts of training. I can see us doing a training video on DVD, but breaking it up into modules so that people don’t have to sit through an entire day of training to get to the part that’s relevant to them. We can modularize it, make it interactive — the possibilities are endless. The beauty of all these technologies is that they’re QuickTime based, so every product we create is completely cross platform. Anybody can read it — whether you put it out on the Internet, on your intranet, or you burn a DVD for a Windows-based computer, or a Mac, or your DVD player at home.”
Henry shoots original video with a Sony VX-1000 digital camera. To edit, he uses Final Cut Pro on a Power Mac G3/500 MHz processor and two internal 50-gigabyte hard disks.
Meanwhile, teacher Christine Corwin sometimes has trouble getting her eighth graders to stop working on their assignments at Merrick Avenue Middle School in Merrick, NY. That’s because they’re using 15 indigo iBooks.
The students, some working two to a machine, have used the laptops to visit the Web site of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to collect the latest weather data about the city they selected for a class project, according to a Newsday
story. They then plotted hourly temperature and barometric pressure for 24 hours on a graph and monitored the changing high and low pressure systems to predict what the weather would be like the next day.
When they were finished with their research, the students hit the print button, picked up their work and turned it in to Corwin. The next the day they would go online again to see if their forecasts were accurate.
“We used to have to huddle around the computers in the computer lab, now you can have your own computer at your desk,” Samantha Moses, 13, told Newsday.
The Bellmore-Merrick school district has purchased five carts of iBooks, one for each school, at a cost of about US$28,000 each. An additional five carts are expected to be in place in September.
Middle school principal Carolyn Frange told Newsday that the laptops enable teachers, with a typical class of 25 students, to tailor assignments to skills.
“Most teachers can act as facilitators allowing the students to do individual work at different levels at different times,” she said. “They are wonderful motivators for everybody. These laptops are booked for every single day until the end of the year.”
Bill Heidenreich, who heads the district’s technology program, told Newsday that he dreamed about laptops five years ago but the machines were so prohibitively expensive that pricing them “was like comedy.” Now, he said the price tags are at least reasonable.
“The cost of not doing it is probably greater,” Heidenreich said. “There is a responsibility to prepare kids for a new way of doing things.”
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Requests for help
Now it’s time for our weekly requests for help from folks who need your advice and/or assistance in forward migrating — or at least being able to keep the Mac platform alive and thriving in their businesses. Contact the requesters directly at their e-mail addresses.
John C. Gedney III: “Does anyone know if there are is any software out there than can make a Tapibased modem card for a PC-based phone system work with a Mac? This would be an excellent piece of software for any Mac user stuck in a PC-based phone system office. Especially for sales people.”