Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Something new...

Something new.  I wanted to deliver some content on asktom in a more “interactive” (one way interactive – me to you) way for a while now.  I asked around and found that likely the best approach is “Viewlet Cam”.

A friend/coworker of mine - Steve Muench – gave it high praise and pointed me to some examples of his own use of the software.  So I downloaded it yesterday, read the documentation (gasp! It did make it easier to use) and played with it. It was very easy to use – especially if you lay out what you want in powerpoint and then record the presentation.  I’ll be playing with just using my Linux desktop and SQLPlus as well.

Anyway, last night I opened the queues up on asktom and hoped to get a question that would be nicely answered using this technique.

The third question in my queue this morning fit nicely (guess I did not need to take 30 of them, oh well, gives me something to do over lunch…).  It was about hash joins and how they work.

You hear/see it here.  Give me feedback on whether you like the approach.  If it works out I’ll get a real microphone and buy the software.  Might be nice to publish bits and pieces of the seminar I do from time to time in 10/15 minute “sound bites” or to answer a question that would be hard to answer just using written text.


Anonymous Anonymous said....

Its wonderful. In general your responses are very clear and the new method takes it to next level.

Wed Jun 07, 10:38:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Tim... said....

Pertty cool. I think you have to be very selective or you will be recording presentations for the rest of your life :)



Wed Jun 07, 10:53:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

If you use OpenOffice you may easily export your presentations to flash movies... and it's for free...
Just File->Export->Flash
This works good for me...

Wed Jun 07, 11:06:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

If you use OpenOffice

this goes way beyond that. I've been able to export the presentations onto the web forever.

It is the voice over, the sequencing of the voice with the picture, the ability to "screen cam" anything (who knows - maybe one day I'll use a webcam too :) that is getting scary though)

Wed Jun 07, 11:15:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous smartin said....

Really excellent. I think this would fit in with a whole new redesign / approach to asktom. Could even fit it into your next book, volume 2 of the trilogy.

But for asktom, perhaps something along the lines of a "heavily moderated" wiki, and you could, for various generic questions / concepts / topics that come up over time, have a presentation such as this one that goes along with the more traditional written text.

Wed Jun 07, 11:20:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Robert said....


This is really great!

SUGGESTION: Is there a way where the viewer could speed it up, so we could listen-to/absorb the presentation in 33-50% of the normal time?



Wed Jun 07, 11:53:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Didier said....


You don't need to buy a licence, it's part of our corporate software package (version 4.5.3 I think).



Wed Jun 07, 11:54:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

This is simply superb. If you keep explaining concepts so clearly on asktom, people will stop buying your books :) Kidding aside, Tom this is excellent. I love it. Thank you for all the advice that you dole out generously.


Wed Jun 07, 11:58:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous David said....

as a not native english speaker, I'am not a fan of this, except as language training :-).
I usually read asktom at work, and I prefer the slower experience of reading at my own pace.

Great to hear your voice anyway :-)

Wed Jun 07, 12:00:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Gleisson Henrique said....

It's great Tom! However, it gets to be time consuming! I don't know if you plan on doing that for all 150+ question you get per month. I started playing with screencasting a while ago. I started replacing user manuals of my company for flash animations. It's much more atractive to the user than reading a manual.

Here are some alternatives to ViewLetCam:

ViewLetCam is one of, if not, the best one out there. Wink is pretty good and simmilar to ViewletCam and it's a freeware.

gleisson henrique

Wed Jun 07, 12:05:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Oraboy said....

Great use of technology.

What next?

Instead of waiting for "Submit a question" to appear, I would just have to call 800-ASK-KYTE and just leave my question in your voicemail? ;)

Wed Jun 07, 12:06:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Bill S. said....

If this is going to be used as a supplement to your "written" answer, I like it. I find your written responses easy to follow when I have to go back and forth between you and several posters in a particular thread. However, if you plan on using this to supplant written answers, I'm not sure I like it as much. I have no problems understanding you, but like the ability to simply copy and paste your written words when there's something I need clarification on.

oraboy said...
Instead of waiting for "Submit a question" to appear, I would just have to call 800-ASK-KYTE and just leave my question in your voicemail? ;)

Nope - Tom will be able to divine your question before you even ask it, and your answer will be waiting for you already. ;-D

Wed Jun 07, 12:08:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

This is awesome and it appears as though you are in the chair next to my cube..

I'm only curious to know if these recordings are search-enabled. I use the search on asktom a lot of time,, and so I would like to know if this new technology displaces the whole 9-yard search thing !!!!

Wed Jun 07, 12:19:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Mark from NY said....

Cool stuff, but I think I'd prefer the usual plaintext, interspersed with diagrams (perhaps animated ones).

Wed Jun 07, 12:21:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Great stuff! I have always wanted to see one of your presentations. I imagined they would be very clear and helpful... and I was right.

Thanks for all your contributions to those using Oracle.

Wed Jun 07, 12:35:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous cm2 said....

I like the concept, and feel it would make for a great addition to AskTom. However, I also agree with most of the other posts in that I would not want this to replace the written responses.

How I see this having the biggest influence is if AskTom had a Library of videos that don't neccessarily answer one question, but rather clarify a topic that alot of questions get posted about. It would be ideal to have them organized by category, making for a decent place for a newbie to go to easily pick up some valuable information. And of course the videos would come up in the search results, and would be able to be linked to as part of the response to a question.

But in any event, I hope the idea takes off, as it was very nice to be able to just sit back and watch the video.

Wed Jun 07, 12:54:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Don't worry - this won't replace the written word

I'd only use this for "special things" as it does take much more effort to produce.

This sort of stuff would only be used as a "value add" or when the written word for whatever reason falls short.

Wed Jun 07, 01:09:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Kevin said....

Great! But very slow to download on my broadband connection.

Wed Jun 07, 01:30:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

How slow is very slow?

If I may ask...

This is one concern I have, not sure if I have sufficient bandwidth on my end...

Wed Jun 07, 01:33:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Santhosh said....

It is nice to hear your voice and this kind of presentation is good one on one basis but be too much of effort for you to produce and also would not be available for searching.

Wed Jun 07, 01:34:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

People talk as though there were pictures or something - all I saw was a button moving along slowly.

And of course I can't hear anything without speakers or headphones.

Wed Jun 07, 01:55:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Jeff Hunter said....

You can record one "Errr, have you read the documentation on that?" and use it for followups.

my word: xmxbp - a new drug out of glaxo.

Wed Jun 07, 02:12:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Robert said....

Pics + sound > million words !
Thanks for considering doing this Tom, awesome way to deliver technical information.
Been looking forward to m-media content from you since like 2003...
then came those few "teaser" Podcasts ;) which I keep on iPod.

Next in the future will be I guess some gizmo that when we hit your page, it will scan our brains
and analyze and pick out the "best" questions ;)

Wed Jun 07, 08:49:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Hi Tom,

Thanks for the plug on ViewletCam today. I wanted to let you know
that we setup a user forum recently
in case you want to look for more
info and post any technical questions.

Take Care,

Wed Jun 07, 09:04:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

One good place to use this would be to try a different approach to answering the questions you see over and over again. You're so skilled at teaching, if your written responses are not getting through to people, that is the question to devote the time you'd have to invest to use this technology.

Kurt Look

Wed Jun 07, 09:52:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Martin from Vienna/Austria said....

Hello Tom,
My pros and cons:
- Does not allow me to determine speed (e.g. viewlets on technet with text-boxes allow me to hit "next" button to get faster through not relevant sections).
- slides not separately available
- not searchable!
- Archiving (e.g. on local hard disk) for later reference not easy (too large to collect a lot of them)
- takes a lot time time to hear
+ separate downloadable (possible to be read/heard during travel from/to work)
Two comments from my view on your basically good presentation:
x button on last slide - should possibly open a new window instead of replacing existing flash-window
x first slide: I immediately started reading a lot of words, trying to hear at the same time your words (maybe better to split up to 3 slides from presentation point of view)
Generally i'd appreciate to get such a clear presentation on a topic i cannot grasp from the written word, however i think this is rarely needed.
Maybe try to compare:
x How many words have you talked in this speech?
x How many written words (+ graphics allowed) would you need for the same answer?
I greatly appreciate your effort to make a good answer to the questions, however i prefer written words/graphics.
Best regards,

Thu Jun 08, 01:34:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Ringo said....

Love this new approach.

I read this before in your book but have all the sequence of action appears in front of your eyes make it easier to grap the picture !.


Thu Jun 08, 01:36:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Howard J. Rogers said....

I've been doing Flash slideshows for a while now, on the basis that a picture is worth a thousand words. See for one example.

But I've refrained from recording a commentary over the top of any of them because it constrains people to play the movie from start to finish. Instead, my movies are silent, and if someone wants to speed their way through the slides (by clicking the Fast Forward button), they have that option. They won't miss out on any pearls of wisdom if they do.

On the other hand "What is a hash join" is a rather more 'conceptual' issue than 'How do you install Linux?'. One involves ideas and concepts, the other involves click-this-do-that. The ideas issues may well require more vocalised (self)-debate and explanation than the plain didactic 'howto'.

Room for both approaches and more, I guess.

I use Macromedia's Captivate, and like it a lot, though it is Windows-only.

Thu Jun 08, 01:38:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Loved the viewlet vid/audio presentation, fantastic for explaining well targetted questions on complex topics.

Just don't get suckerred into doing it from home!

Cheers, Ian. (

Thu Jun 08, 01:55:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Alberto Dell'Era said....

I liked the part where you animate the actual building of the hash table for "dept", and the probing for the values of "emp": basically when you "let the drawing explain" and just comment on the actual drawing taking place.

When you just "speak" (eg the first part, when you speak on the still "The Question" slide) ... I'd rather prefer having your thoughts written - easier to follow (can read at my own pace, go back if I realize I haven't understood something, compare two parts of your thought flow - well much like reading program code I suppose ;) ).

I appreciated the "What is a Hash?" part - where the topic could be understood completely by just reading the slide text and without listening, with your voice illustrating it, adding some collateral information, and the voice intonation itself "adding value".

I liked the later slide when you say "we collect statistics", just show the actual dbms_stats statements, and quickly go the next slide -
great way of presenting a test case: skipping the details, but keeping them written for closer investigation.

Thu Jun 08, 04:37:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Robert Boyle said....

This is fantastic Tom...definitely the next step forward to us having you available 24 hours a day !!

Thu Jun 08, 07:14:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous John Flack said....

I've really liked what Steve has done with this, it is great for demonstrating how to do something with JDeveloper. It is a LOT better than undocumented examples -- and probably doesn't take much longer for Steve to do.

However, I'm not sure that it was as good for demonstrating hash joins - not as much to see. I think that the key is that this is best when there is more to show than to say. That is, when the words are simply explaining the pictures.

Thu Jun 08, 08:14:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Iudith Mentzel said....

This is excellent !
Of course, not as a replacement for the textual answers, but for clarifying certain concepts.
In fact, while reading your books,
I always imagine hearing your voice explaining things like this.
I wish the day will come when such a technology will be available to everyone of us, so that we could "steal you" to be with us when we need your help so
disperately !

Sat Jun 10, 03:44:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

If people are having a hard time viewing the movie due to slower connection speeds, you can always create this demo using our ViewletBuilder product. This will capture screenshots and animate the cursor back in for you. You can then add a voiceover, text, notes, etc. Alot of people start off making a movie then the size kills them if they create really long ones. We hold the patent on the cursor animation so alot of the competiton has either licensed it from us or will be soon.
You can also embed some basic Survey and Multiple Choice if you want. We have ViewletACE if you wanted to create more complex quizzes and surveys.


Mon Jun 12, 08:34:00 PM EDT  


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