Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lloyd's Video Analysis Tool, Part 9: Final Thoughts (For Now)

This will be my final blog posting about this project. Well, at least the last one of any significance ... probably. The reason is that I feel I have met all of my basic design goals and have begun some user testing. I'm sure I'll post updates about the project as time unfolds, especially as I move closer to releasing version 1.0. However, I'll be moving on to other project ideas and writing about them here. So, in this "probably final" posting, I'll describe some of the latest updates to the tool. And, there have indeed been several significant updates. I'll also describe some frustrations I've had with LiveCode over the past few weeks, which I believe are the result of some unexpected incompatibilities between the latest updates to the LiveCode software and the functions of my tool. As a result, I've "retreated" to version "LiveCode 6.7 (dp 3)" for all of my recent programming.

And, to be clear, I fully expect a few more significant updates to the tool as a result of the feedback I expect to get from the people currently testing my tool as I begin a count down to the launching of version 1.0. However, I will now be reluctant to make major modifications. Instead, I will consign all new ideas and features to the planning of the inevitable updates after I publish version 1.0.

Newest Features

To begin, here is a list of the tool's new functions:
  • Option to show time code in the list of clips.
  • Option to search the clips using any tag actually used in a clip.
  • Option to reorder how the clips are displayed.
The first two new options were repeatedly mentioned by people who only saw the tool demonstrated. The third option seemed like an obvious one to make the more I used the tool myself. As soon as one identifies about 10 or more clips, it becomes difficult to keep straight which clip is which. And, combining the option of searching with reordering is a potent combination. I plan on redoing my overview video in order to show all of the new functions, but for now, here is another link to the existing video:

(After I make the new video, I'll update this blog post with it.)

Features I'm Still Considering Adding for the Release of Version 1.0

I think more search features are needed beyond searching on a single tag. The obvious next step would be to search on multiple tags using simple Boolean logic (i.e. and/or). An even more useful search option would be a keyword search that would scan any part of the clip information, including the clip title/description, tags, comments, and transcription. The reason for this is that I have found parts of a clip's transcript to be the most memorable when manually searching.

Another feature, which I also think is obvious, is to have the reports reflect the current search status. That is, give the user the option to create a report based on all of the clips, or only those currently showing after a search.

Video Analysis Tool Support Web Site

I created a Web site to support the tool.

It's very simple at this point, but it already contains some very useful information. For example, Apple recently implemented the "Gatekeeper" function in OS X, which by default is set to only allow the opening of applications that were obtained through the Mac App store. When you try to open my app, you get a message saying something like it "can't be opened because it is from an unidentified developer." Fortunately, it is easy to change your security settings on a Macintosh  to allow the app to open, and I point to a couple of short videos I found in YouTube that demonstrate how.

Unexpected, Frustrating Problems with Recent Updates to LiveCode

Near the end of my LiveCode workshop at the AECT conference in Jacksonville, Florida two weeks ago, I proudly showed my video analysis tool to the workshop participants. However, just a few days prior to the workshop I updated both LiveCode and Xcode in order to be able to show some of the basics of how to create and test mobile applications on Apple's iOS simulator. My attention in those days leading up to the workshop was not on my video analysis tool, but only the structure and main activities of the workshop. The tool was working fine up to that point and it never entered my mind that using the latest update to LiveCode would cause a problem. So, I committed the presenter's sin of not actually trying out the video analysis tool "one more time" before showing it during the workshop. Imagine my irritation (horror is too strong a word given the real problems in the world these days) at having key features of the tool not work as expected. In particular, my little transcription tool failed miserably. I've now used some common sense and have created a standalone of the tool that I know works and I will only show that for demonstration purposes.

Hey, I Thought This Was Supposed to be an iPad App!

Uh, um, ahem, yes ... yes, that was the original plan. But hey, plans sometime change! Two things have persuaded me to focus on a Macintosh app. First, when I began this project I knew only 10% of the LiveCode functions and commands needed to make it work. So, my learning of those functions -- many of which were related to file management -- have been intricately tied to the Mac architecture. Second, this particular tool just seems well suited for a laptop or desktop computer.

This doesn't mean that I've given up on the idea of someday creating an iPad version of this app. If the tool turns out to be useful by people, then I'll revisit the iPad app idea. Also, I plan on working on a simple video project on the iPad in order to learn about the iPad architecture, particularly in terms of how videos are stored and then accessed by a third party app.

OK, How About a Windows Version?

Actually, given that one is supposed to be able to export LiveCode projects to Macintosh, Windows, and Linux, I thought this would be a no-brainer. The tool works about 97% correctly on a Windows computer with QuickTime installed, but some of the key functions are not working properly, which has me befuddled. For example, the "Play/Pause" button that is just below the video window does not work. I made a new stack and created a button with basically the same script and it worked just fine, so I'm not sure what is going on. Once Macintosh version 1.0 is finished, I plan on coming back to work on this.

Windows Version Update! I think I fixed the problem. Adding this one line of code to the card script seems to have solved the problem:

   set the playRate of player "player" to 1

Not sure why this was needed as the LiveCode reference information says that the playRate is set to 1 by default, and I never had set it otherwise. (Heck, I didn't even know the playRate property existed!) As I was trying the Windows version, it looked like the video was playing, but just at a tremendously fast rate. I would press the "Play button" and the video would play all the way to the end in about a second, with the "buzzing insect" sound of video in extreme fast forward. So, I hunted around the LiveCode dictionary and found out about the playRate property.

So, if there are any Windows users out there that want to try out my video analysis tool prototype, now is your chance.

Still Searching for the Perfect Name for the App

I have been racking my brain to give this tool a proper name. Interesting, a few weeks ago I spent a weekend brainstorming some possibilities, but none of them seemed right. Here were some of the leading contenders:
  • Video Milkshake Maker: For a Rich and Thick Analysis
  • Video Explorer: Go and Discover What's in Your Video
  • Video P.I.: Find the Clues in Your Video
    (Actually, I thought the "milkshake" idea was pretty clever for a day or so.)

    Checking a thesaurus also led me to these poor possibilities:
    • Video Detective
    • Video Scientist
    • Video Researcher
    • Video Discovery
    • Video Investigator
    • Video Inspector
    • Video Examiner
    • Video Prober
    • Video Prospector
    • Video Reconnaissance
                    Frankly, the name "Video Prober" gave me the willies.

                    I then thought about acronyms, and for about an hour I seriously considered "Video CAT" - short for "Content Analysis Tool."  (Yes, imagine a cute cat photo inserted here.) 

                    Then, I thought about taking and rearranging some of the syllables to create one of those "hip" app names that are all the rage, but I was dismayed as to how many negative connotations emerged from "analysis" (anal, lies, sissy). However, "eyes" is also a derivative, so I thought about variations like "Video-ize."

                    When I discussed some of the best of these ideas with my wife, she just frowned, shook her head, and walked away. So, in the end, I remain inspired by the Pittsburgh documentary filmmaker Rick Sebak who titles his programs very simply -- "A Hot Dog Program," "An Ice Cream Show," etc..

                    So, for now, the title remains "Lloyd's Video Analysis Tool."

                    Any ideas?

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