Making Sono-sense: sonocent news and info

Audio Notetaker for the Mac now available!

The astute and keen eyed among you will have already noticed that it is now possible to download a trial for Audio Notetaker for the Mac from our website.

It goes without saying that the whole Sonocent team are incredibly pleased that users can finally use Audio Notetaker on their Macs without needing to use bootcamp or a Windows emulator. There is also a sense of relief among the team - we have been working tirelessly for a very long time to get this release out and so the culmination of all this effort does seem like somewhat of a watershed moment for the company.

We’ll update the blog in the near future with more thoughts regarding this version, but in the meantime, please download a copy and try it out for yourself!

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Audio Notetaker V2.5 and official mac announcement

New Release

The astute and keen-eyed among you will know that Audio Notetaker V2.5 was actually made public over a month ago on the 8th August. For the rest of you, I have some exciting news:

Audio Notetaker V2.5 is now available! You can download it from here.

This is an announcement that will probably take you by surprise. After all, it was only a matter of months ago when we announced the release of V2.4 of Audio Notetaker. To be honest, the release took us by surprise too; we hadn’t planned to do any updates to Audio Notetaker until version 3.0. However, circumstances meant that we thought it would be a good idea to add m4a and mp4 compatibility as soon as possible.

Here is a list of the new features:

 

  • More import formats. You can now import audio from .m4a and most .mp4 and .mov files. If you are running XP or Vista you will be prompted to download QuickTime if you don’t have it installed.
  • Single Audio Notetaker window. If you are already running Audio Notetaker, opening a .ran file from Windows Explorer will simply open a new tab. You can change this behaviour in Tools->Options.
  • Link to documents. Select “Copy” on any document in Windows Explorer and paste it into the notes pane to get a URL-style link.

 We want users to be able to get their audio from any device, so this new update means that you can import files made on iPhones or with LiveScribe pens.

Official Mac Release Date

The development of the mac version is our number one priority. Let me assure you that our development team are working to•the•max in order to get the release out as soon as possible. We’re at a point now where we can predict how long the remaining tasks will take, which means we are able to commit to a couple of dates:

The Beta is scheduled for 19th Nov and the main release is scheduled for web download 14th December. 

The release will be 3.0 and therefore will have a few extra features compared to the current Windows version. That is, except for one component - the file manager. That will not be available on the Mac until 3.1, at which point it will be released along with an improved file manager in the Windows 3.1 version. Both of these we expect to release in March.

To offset the loss of file management, we will include in 3.0 a facility to search ran files (metadata, notes and slide text) using Spotlight, the Mac’s native file search tool, making your files easy to find.

This may be later than some of you envisaged, but please understand that we are working as hard as we can and do not want to cut corners for the sake of a month.

If you have any questions or queries, do get in touch.

~D

IMPORTANT - Audio Notetaker fix

It was brought to our attention today that two windows updates released yesterday (KB2507938 and KB2533623) stop Audio Notetaker working completely. I know, it’s terrible.

The problem lies with the third party licensing software which we use (the thing that stops the software loading if you haven’t got a working license). Because of this problem,  anyone who installs this windows update will not be able to use Audio Notetaker.

We have been working non-stop at fixing this and have released an update which solves the problem. It is essential that all users update to the latest version before installing the latest windows update.

You can download the update from this link: http://www.sonocent.com/default/supportUpdates

We apologise for the inconvenience this has caused our users.

~The Sonocent Team

DSA announcement: Audio Notetaker for Mac

Please note - this statement is specifically for those involved in the DSA

Sonocent has been porting Audio Notetaker to the Mac for over a year now. We will give a firm release date for this version by the start of September and hope for a release during the Autumn term (no earlier than the end of October).

In the meantime, there are three stopgap measures on offer:

a) The main release will be preceded by a few weeks with a Beta version. Anyone can sign up to trial the Beta version at:
www.audionotetaker.com/downloads/free-trial

b) It is possible to get quotes for the Mac version of Audio Notetaker for students who will be receiving kit at the beginning of the new academic year. There will be a separate stock code for the Mac version.

c) Alternatively, anyone with a PC serial number will be able to swap it for a Mac serial number. Students should simply fill in the form at http://www.audionotetaker.com/codeswap and Sonocent will send out a new serial code with a download link for the Mac version when it is released. 

Please note that this will require students to download and set up the software themselves. It is the responsibility of assessors to ensure that this option is only offered to students who are confident that they are able to do this.

The Sonocent team

Audio Notetaker V2.4

Audio Notetaker version 2.4 is now available!

*cue sound of excited cheers*

The focus of our 2.4 release has been to make Audio Notetaker as easy to use as possible, especially for the first-time user. We’ve taken on board as much feedback as we can get our hands on and incorporated all the changes we could muster.

Here’s a breakdown of the changes and improvements:

  • Welcome Video. This should make it MUCH easier to show people/work out what Audio Notetaker is all about.
  • Demo File Folder where you can access a demonstration audio, powerpoint, PDF and Audio Notetaker file. This is great for getting to grips with how Audio Notetaker works if you haven’t made any recordings yet and is also good for demonstrating the software to others.
  • Notes and Audio files tabs always displayed on startup. We had feedback that some of our users weren’t even aware that any file managing features existed in Audio Notetaker. Now they are always shown for easy access.
  • Portable Device tab shown whenever a USB device is plugged in. The whole process is automatic now which removes one extra step from the importing process.
  • Audio files tab has option to display only files transferred from your digital recorder, by folder if required. In previous versions of Audio Notetaker, we had somewhat overlooked the fact that some people organise their audio files into folders as they record. Audio Notetaker now remembers what folder it imported the audio file from so the same organisation is maintained.
  • Rename your audio files. Just right-click on an audio file to rename it. Couldn’t be simpler.
  • Title is automatically filled in when importing an audio file with a textual (non-automatic) name. Essentially, if your audio file’s name is NOT a string of random numbers then we will automatically rename your notes file after the audio file’s title.
  • Title is automatically filled in on Powerpoint or PDF import. If the title field is blank when you import from PowerPoint or PDF, it will be filled in automatically from the text in the first slide.
  • More helpful tooltips on toolbar buttons. Now you can hover over an icon to see WHY you would use that feature and not just what it is called.
  • "Transcription Mode" playback has been renamed "Pause Mode" playback, with a longer period before pausing for short segments. We’ve had a lot of people say that the name ‘transcription mode’ is misleading and so we renamed it to avoid confusion.
  • More attractive, more numerous default highlighting and marking colours. We admit, the old colours weren’t the prettiest and frankly we all use more than 2 marking and highlighting colours at a time. So we changed the default settings so you now get 5 as standard and they are also much more appealing (if not down right sophisticated) colours. If you already have Audio Notetaker installed, then you’ll have to go to Tools -> Options -> Reset all options to see these changes.
  • Linked text colours and marking colours. Now the colours for text are the same and go in the same order as the marking colours. This is especially useful if you are using keyboard shortcuts to mark your text and audio.
  • Support for Sony digital recorders. Sony have recently brought out a new indexing system called “T-marks”. Version 2.4 supports T-marks in both PCM and MP3 files recorded on Sony recorders. It is worth noting that Sony allow for up to 98 index marks in a single file!
  • Support for Olympus RS28 Footswitch. Again, we’ve had requests asking for foot pedal support for those transcribing audio recordings. The Olympus RS28 Footswitch can be used to control playback, skipping back through segments and skipping forward through segments.
  • The organisation of transferred files from a digital recorder. The organisation of files transferred from Olympus and Sony digital recorders into the “Audio Notetaker Recordings” folder has changed. From version 2.4 onwards the recordings are placed under “Portable Device” rather than a folder named by the month of transfer. Files transferred from USB memory sticks are still organised by month as before.

Feedback on this version would also be much appreciated!

The Sonocent Team

News: Rewired conference in Thomson Reuters, Canary Warf - 27th May 2011

A new found love of old British seaside towns wasn’t the only good thing to come out of the IATEFL conference in Brighton. Despite still being little more than conjecture, it is believed that it was at this conference that the staff at journalism.co.uk found out about Audio Notetaker. Not that it matters where the invitation comes from, as come it did indeed do. It was only a few weeks ago that Stefanie got in touch with us wondering whether we may be interested in sponsoring their 1 day conference for journalists. Thinking that we could perhaps kill two birds with one stone, we decided to commit to exhibiting at their event in London.

Of course, until now all of our marketing has been very much tailored to a particular market sector, but now we needed something more general, something likely to inspire any journalist regardless of their particular fancies. Seeing as we had a matter of weeks to get several bits of promotional material designed and made, I enlisted the help of a new designer, a Mr. Josh White of break and assemble. More on his handiwork later I think, although you can see the banners he designed in the pictures above.

The event itself was great fun. The journalism.co.uk team give good banter, as do the PageSuite guys who were exhibiting also. The stands were located in the area where all the food and drinks were being distributed, so at times it was possible to walk up to food-in-mouth journalists to tell them about Audio Notetaker, gesticulating wildly at the projector screen which was often still in viewing distance (although not always, which led to embarrassment). As with all of these things, attendees were there first and formost to attend the sessions, secondly to catch up with old friends and thirdly to make new ones. Checking out exhibitors stands was never something they planned to do. We did have some good conversations though and I’m really hoping good will come out of the leaflets we included in the delegate packs too. 

The last bit of excitement came at the end of the day when I decided, quite spontaneously and randomly, to go to Ashford with the Page Suite guys and stay at Chris’s house there. It was the first time I had met Chris, but hopefully not the last. The last bit of boredom came the next day when there were issues with the train network and it took me 6 hours to get back to Leeds.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have gone to Ashford after all.

~D

Student Loans Company DSA conference Leeds - 18th May 2011

It was only due to a brief conversation with Jonathan from Nuance at the end of last week’s Microlink Open Day that we even knew about the SLC’s DSA event in Leeds. It turns out that Student Finance England had decided to invite exhibitors to their 4 one day conferences around the country. The aim was to feedback the activities of the company over the year and to explain their vision for the coming annum. So, a few frantic calls and £1200 later, we had a spot.

It’s hard to say whether it was worth it or not though. There was little in the way to encourage the delegates to look round the exhibitors stands and, although there were those who came over to have a chat, the vast majority were content sitting on their tables chatting to one another. Whilst we were there we thought that we should probably go to some of the sessions in order to familiarise ourselves more with how the DSA actually works. We did get to meet the Remtek and Wyvern guys, so hopefully a friendship can now blossom.

In my mind, one of the issues that came out of the sessions was that there does seem to be a major problem with how information is disseminated within the DSA. Assessment centres rely on resellers coming in and showing them new products and releases, however the 3 quote system is taking away the reward of investing in doing these visits, not to mention encouraging suppliers to cut corners with technical support and customer service. If companies such as Microlink and Iansyst deem it unviable to continue to make these efforts then I think that, at the end of the day, it is the students themselves who will be missing out.

Microlink Open Day in Southampton - 11th May 2011

Not all shops offer the same customer service as each other and the same is true of suppliers within the DSA. Hot on the tail of their event in Edinburgh, Microlink, one of the leading suppliers of assistive technology in the UK, organised an open day and invited members of the industry to come see the way in which they operate and the suppliers they work with. We were one of the chosen suppliers and it was with great enthusiasm that we accepted their invitation.

As you can tell by this page on Microlink’s website, the day was a success. It gave us a great chance to meet with assessors and others from the industry, and receive feedback on Audio Notetaker. It was also great seeing all the guys from the Edinburgh day again.

A special mention must also be given to employee-of-the-week Nicola Adams for courageously catching a train from Leeds at the crack of dawn to make it down to Southampton at a reasonable hour, knowing full well she’d have to make the return journey again that afternoon. That’s how much she loves meeting assessors.

Respect.

IATEFL Conference in Brighton - 16th to the 19th April 2011

Despite not being quite as exotic as Orlando or San Diego (although perhaps more so than Baltimore), a trip to Brighton was met with considerable enthusiasm by Nicola and myself. Not only was it both our first times to Brighton, but it also was our first time promoting Audio Notetaker as a tool for Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

The story of how we ended up exhibiting at the IATEFL conference is actually quite interesting, as stories about exhibiting at conferences go. It all started when Richard Cauldwell, after being introduced to Audio Notetaker, decided to get in touch with us. Richard has been working the TEFL arena for many years and is passionate about using authentic language in order to teach students how English is actually spoken, as apposed to how text books claim it’s spoken. Really getting to the nitty gritty of speech is something that’s made significantly easier with Audio Notetaker, as he soon discovered. We chatted for quite a while and he suggested we try to make an appearance at a conference he was going to speak at, the biggest in the TEFL calendar. It was only by sheer fluke that the day I made my second enquiry about sponsorship/exhibition, they had had a cancellation and we were able to get first dibs on the spot.

Simultaneously, I had also been having a dialogue with Tammy Yeadon, the principal at the Northern School of Languages. I had approached her with a proposition for a partnership and she was interested enough to invite me to a meeting with her and their director of studies, Cheryl Greenlay. The deal, as I proposed it, was that they tell their international students about Audio Notetaker, the students get a discount on the retail price of a great tool which can help them get better grades, and the school can make some commission. In essence, our Affiliate Scheme. What came out of the meeting, however, was something a lot more exciting. Cheryl instantly saw the potential to use Audio Notetaker in the classroom and for creating resources for independent study (more on this in future posts).

Over the following days we arranged for Cheryl to come down to IATEFL and spend a bit of time on our booth. Her presence was an asset, not only as she gave concrete examples of exercises Audio Notetaker could enhance, but she also engaged in a couple of conversations with influencers and even arranged to publish a study into Audio Notetaker in a TEFL magazine. I for one am I very excited about our partnership with Cheryl and the NSL. Richard also spent some time with us and gave us a few exercises he had created to demo with. His input as well was very gratefully received and several people even recognised his material, which I’m sure gave us some extra respectability.

The event itself went very well. It did take a bit of bribery to get people to come over and chat to us (ie., chocolates), but when they did come they were impressed, almost without exception. Watch this space for more information regarding the development of Audio Notetaker into the languages marketplace!

Aside from the conference itself, we all had a great time in Brighton. Exhibiting hours were 8:30-17:30, which didn’t leave us a whole lot of time to explore the city, but Nicki and I were both pleasantly surprised at what we saw. The dilapidated exteriors of buildings once grand now add a certain quaintness to the coastal strip, the distant skeleton of the old pier epitomising the sense that the promenade is but a ghostly reflection of its palatial past. The erratic alleyways connecting the larger streets further adding to the whimsicality of the place. We were not short of choice when it came to dinnertime too, and I must say we had fantastic meals every night. All in all, a good trip!

~D