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Tuesday, 15 December 2009

More Baby News!


Photo by Louise Guillaume
Posted by Anthea

More wonderful baby news - William Preston was born on Friday 20th November weighing 8lb 2oz. Very many congratulations to Louise and Andy and welcome to Will!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Research Funding Update: Projects and Programmes, 11th December 2009

Photo by scottfeldstein
Posted by Andy

The latest issue of the Research Funding Update can be viewed by floowing this link.

Monday, 7 December 2009

More IR Baby News!


Photo by Anna
Posted by Anthea

Hello, wonderful news that the second IR baby has arrived! Harry Cantrell was born on Friday 20th November at 12.33am weighing 6lb 13oz.

Congratulations to Anna and Alan and welcome to the world Harry!

Recommended Website of the Month


Posted by Andy

Microsoft Academic Search is a free academic search engine developed by Microsoft Research Asia, and it is also a test-bed for their object-level vertical search research.

Driven by the latest search engine technology, Microsoft Academic Search enables users to not only find papers but to discover more information that goes beyond simple query results. With Microsoft Academic Search, you can:

  • Locate top research papers
  • Find top scientists, conferences, and journals in a specific field

How are the results ranked?

The objects are sorted based on two separate factors: their relevance to the query and their global importance. The relevance score of an object is computed by considering its attributes and its importance score is calculated by considering its relationships with other objects.

With Microsoft Academic Search you can:
You can search Microsoft Academic Research by clicking here

Friday, 4 December 2009

December Edition of Take Five


Photo by ercwttmn
Posted by Andy

The latest edition of Take Five is packed full of new websites, research funding opportunities,training courses and current awareness.

To join the Take Five distribution list please contact me, Andy Tattersall by email a.tattersall@sheffield.ac.uk or phone 0114 2220702

You can view it here

Friday, 27 November 2009

Latest Research Funding Update: Fellowships and Studentships



Photo by
frankh
Posted by Andy

You can download the latest Research Funding update by going to our Research Funding page or you can view it directly here.
For more information please feel free to contact The Information Service @ ScHARR Library on 0114 2225420 or by email scharrlib@shef.ac.uk


Thursday, 26 November 2009

Recommended Website of the Month

Posted by Andy

It's still very early days and there's quite a glut of websites out there professing to be the ultimate tool to enhance research and collaboration in the modern online world. Whether this one is truly any good is hard to say just right now, but the idea ijn essence is good and with more users can probably work well.

Like so many of these tools, it needs input and a community, so this is where the tool fails right now. Who knows what it will be like in the mid-term, but my philosophy is better to have tried and tested and failed to have never tried and tested at all. How cheesy does that sound?

This is what Acawiki says about itself.

Increasing the Impact of Research Using Web 2.0
AcaWiki is like a "Wikipedia for academic research" designed to increase the impact of scholars, students, and bloggers by enabling them to share summaries and discuss academic papers online.
AcaWiki turns research hidden in academic journals into something more dynamic and accessible. All content on the site is licensed under the Commons Attribution license. To learn more about what AcaWiki can do for scholars, students, teachers and the public read the FAQ, or look at a sample summary.


Google Chrome OS



Posted by Andy

Should Windows and Linux be scared?

Monday, 23 November 2009

Children in Need

Photo and posted by Andy

A massive thanks goes out to everyone at ScHARR who baked wonderful biscuits and cakes in aid of Children in Need. A brilliant £164.55 was raised thanks to the generosity of everyone who purchased a cake or two, or three. Well done Vanessa and co. for organising it all.

Special thanks to everyone who gave up their time to bake, their names are below.

Kathryn Aleixos
Karen Beck
Katy Cooper
Jenny Dunn
Julie Foers
Marilyn Lidster
Sarah McEvoy
Jennifer Morgan
Tricia Qanem
Vanessa Rodgers
Jane Spooner
Sue Wilson
Vivienne Walker

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

IR Baby no 1 arrives!

  • Hello,
    Just thought I'd blog the birth of the first of four (yes, four) babies expected in the IR team over the next 3 months. Isaac James Beecroft was born on 7th November at 12.02pm weighting 8lbs 2oz. He's doing well so far, pic above. Cross your fingers for me that we carry on like this!

    Claire

  • Posted by Claire Beecroft
  • Image courtesy of Barrie Ryan

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

JISC Web2.0 Videos



Posted by Andy

The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) have jumped on the YouTube train and created their own short introductory videos on some of the Web 2.0 applications. There's not been many viewers at this point, but don't let that put you off.
Also remember YouTube has literally thousands of videos looking at Web 2.0, so if there is anything you want to learn it's a good place to start, or you could always email me.



Friday, 13 November 2009

Research Funding Update - Projects and Programmes



Posted by Andy
Photo by by DavidDMuir

Latest edition of Research Funding Update: Projects and Programmes

For more information about the funding service please visit our Research Funding page or contact me on 0114 2220702 or by email a.tattersall@sheffield.ac.uk

Monday, 9 November 2009

Blogging in an Academic Health Library Setting - the Case of the ScHARR Library Blog


Posted by Andy Tattersall
Photo from the 'Thats Right' blog by Howdy, I'm H. Michael Karshis

This was originally penned in March 2008, but I thought it might be useful for any fellow librarians contemplating starting a blog. Obviously as time moves on, especially in the world of the Web, these words become less relevant, but much of the text below is still hopefully useful to any future bloggers. The article originally appeared in Libraries for Nursing Bulletin, March 2008.

Abstract

The ScHARR Library Blog based at The School of Health and Related Research at The University of Sheffield was born in September 2007, through a need to enhance the current awareness email service already provided by ScHARR’s own in-house information and library service. The information service which supports the school’s research and teaching obligations has embraced blogging along with other Web 2.0 technologies especially the use of wikis. The blog provides a mixture of content for ScHARR’s 200 members of staff and 300 postgraduate students as well as external visitors. The content ranges from training course information and seminars to recommended websites and sources of funding information.

Building the blog.

The blog was created using Google’s free software named Blogger https://www.blogger.com/start

Like most free applications on the Internet for the Internet, it does not have all the bells and whistles that the pay for applications do offer. Nevertheless, this is blogging, which in essence should be simple in function and design.

There are other blog creating and hosting websites, some of which are free, whilst others may try and lure you into paying for their services or additional add-ons. Another notable and established free blog site is that of Wordpress, which can be found at: http://wordpress.com/

Again like most things on the Internet the choice gradually becomes more overwhelming, so it perhaps worth using a comparison site to choose how best to bring your blog to life. Just like websites such as Kelkoo.co.uk for comparing the prices of consumer goods, and Confused.com for comparing house and car insurance; there is a way to compare the different types of blog building websites. WeblogMatrix http://www.weblogmatrix.org/ compares the differences between over 20 weblog tools, looking at everything from their cost to whether you can include a photo gallery.


Why go Blogging?

The original purpose of the ScHARR Library Blog came from trying to extend the library’s current awareness service. At present ScHARR Library has an email-based current awareness bulletin, which goes out to approximately 200 members of staff and students. The bulletin is a compilation of current health-related news and research items, in addition to news from the library such as new books and journals. There is also a funny story tagged at the end of each bulletin as a way of enticing readers to the end of the bulletin. These bulletins go out at least two times a week. The downside of this service was that it wasn’t aesthetically pleasing; at best readers could view the bulletin in Microsoft Outlook, which added coloured lines and text – so not exactly eye-catching.

Another key reason for introducing the blog was that ScHARR’s official Web pages, http://www.shef.ac.uk/scharr/sections/ir/library, as with those of The University of Sheffield, are quite regimented with little scope for flexibility in terms of layout and content. In essence the library service at ScHARR is limited by the boundaries set out by the University website content management system which at times can be limiting, not only technologically but by the content that can be uploaded to it. The original remit of the content management system was to democratise the web pages. Sadly due to the complicated nature of the software this has failed in some areas, and this is where the blog steps in.

Blogs can provide a quick and easy way to publish material without having to learn the ins and outs of an organisational system. This obviously does not mean that there are no rules, on the contrary, the blog is still representative of ScHARR and as a result must adhere to the rules and policies set out by the wider university settings, this is a crucial point all blogs must take into account.

Along with the technological ease, there is the aspect of creating an informal approach to the established service. The very nature of being a library and information service means that there is daily human contact, whether in person, telephone and email. Many of the hourly communications received at the library are formal, but there are also informal meetings and enquiries with internal and external colleagues. With this in mind, it was decided that the blog should reflect this by adding occasional informal content, which will be touched on later.

Unlike a traditional website, a blog does not remove old content; obviously as time goes by some links may become broken or dead, but that problem affects all websites. The blog can itself become a resource and a useful tool as organisations store previous posts and the information contained in them. How useful this will become, only time will tell; at present The ScHARR Library Blog has 86 posts, with some of the early posts acting as testers to see what worked the best.

Blogs are also portable, meaning that new posts can be added from anywhere provided you have an Internet connection and password to access the blog site. Many organisational websites can only be manipulated onsite or through a secured network; editing a blog is as easy as posting to a public forum.

Blogs are also easily navigated with the aid of keywords, provided you tag each post you write. The ScHARR Library Blog now has dozens of keywords ordered with the most popular at the top. The real advantage of this is that if you post a story on public health, visitors with an interest in this field can click on the keyword ‘public health’ and retrieve all previous posts on the similar subject.

Target Audience

Like the official ScHARR Library website, the content of the blog posts are split into three main categories, internal, external, and both. Firstly, posts especially for our staff and students, information for external organisations and finally posts that are of interest for all parties. Those visiting the blog have the option of posting comments on stories which allows an interaction between hosts and visitors, something not so easily achieved with a static website. One such example is the post title ‘Booth on the Move’, in which photographs taken from the European Association for Health Information and Librarians 2007 Workshop held in Kracow were linked to the post highlighting the Director of Information Resources at ScHARR, Andrew Booth and his attendance at the workshop. http://scharrlibrary.blogspot.com/2007/09/booth-on-move_13.html

A fellow attendee at the workshop was then able to comment and post his own photographs, hosted on Flickr.com from the very same conference.

The introduction of the blog has been integrated into the current awareness email service, where new posts are added to the news bulletins as to keep the blog very much in the minds of staff and students. In addition to this, a small amount of marketing has been utilised to promote the blog to other libraries and organisations. This emphasises a big reason for the blog’s existence, being that it is another conduit to our library and information service and its website.

Content, Design and Style

What actually goes on the blog is still in a state of flux as the site is only six months old, but in that time the net has been cast further a field to bring in a few interesting posts, resources and stories that we have quite literally stumbled on. The core of the content revolves around a few areas. Firstly there are the research and news bulletins. These can consist of the in-house bulletins we create, such as our research funding opportunities and current awareness compilations. Whilst we have pointers towards external bulletins such as those offered by The Kingsfund, although it is important to note that some of these bulletins have been made only accessible on our own intranet as to adhere to the policies of some external organisations.

Next there are posts relating to the interest to our students and staff, this can include new books to arrive in the library, our own in-house training schedules, lunchtime seminars, new reports and health-related news and research that is of particular interest to that of ScHARR’s current research directions.

One particular item we post for the wider audience is that which identifies interesting and useful websites and resources. In the past few months we have highlighted websites such as; Google Health - http://www.google.com/Top/Health/ and the Evidence Based Medicine Page Generator - http://www.ebmpyramid.org/home.php

The blog is easily editable and allows several tools which can be dragged and dropped into place. The ideal way to start any new blog is to play around with the functions on offer, try mixing and matching the tabs and options, and do not be afraid to experiment.

Google’s Blogger offers a multitude of options ranging from the basics of URL linkage and photo adding to rss feeding and picture slideshows. When setting your blog up, it is important to decide what additional content you want to supplement the main posts. It is recommended that you include a blogroll which is a collection of external links to other similar blog sites. Other websites can still be linked in a separate box, which is also recommended. Most blogs have their additional information such as links attached to either side of the main textual content. It is important to note, that despite the amount of links and tabs you include, it rarely detracts away from the main content of your blog.

Other useful functions incorporated into the ScHARR Library Blog are a user poll, an rss feed to UK health news, a Flickr picture slideshow, a visitors counter; links to academic articles, new books and useful resources.

Each item posted on the blog has an accompanying picture and an external link to the copyright holder. Most of these photographs are taken from Frickr using the Creative Commons Licence http://creativecommons.org/.

The main reason for adding pictures is to enhance the look of the blog and to create an informal webpage unlike the text heavy pages many websites are blighted with. Text use is limited and brief, again to keep the visitor engaged. Taking into consideration that most people flit from website to website at the bat of an eyelid and that much online content is scan-read; it is best to make you point as succinctly and briefly as you can.

The blog also allows the imbedding of video content from such sites as YouTube.com and there is the provision for adding automated presentations.

As more content is added to each blog the page will become longer, which in turn means more scrolling down. As a result the ScHARR Library Blog only has seven posts on the front page, with older posts falling back onto subsequent pages, which can be easily accessed.

The future of the Blog

At present, The University of Sheffield is contemplating offering a blog service for its various departments. If this becomes a reality, then the positives will be that The ScHARR Library Blog will be hosted on a more secure site and will become uniformed with that of other University pages. On the downside it runs the risk of becoming over-complicated and too formal, which in turn will detract from the casual ‘anyone can have a go’ ethos.

It is still early days for the blog at ScHARR Library, and whether there is a case for its existence, considering we have an official website, only time will tell. So far, feedback has been totally positive and most of the team have taken to regularly posting and in turn have found it to be an easy, time-friendly experience. As with so many Web 2.0 technologies it is a case of suck it and see. Social networking, tagging, wikis, blogging and pod casting have been embraced by information professionals, academics and students. Many such innovations have been taken up by ScHARR, and whether they are only a stop-gap until bigger and greater things only time will tell. At present, they work and seem to work well, which is good enough for us.


Friday, 6 November 2009

Internet Librarian 2009 Presentation







Posted by Andy

Here are the slides from mine, Claire Beecroft and Anna Cantrell's portals presentation at Internet Librarian International 2009 in London in October. The presentation begins with a description of subject-specific Web 2.0 portals for academic and National Health Service researchers and moves to discussion of the pitfalls encountered and lessons learnt in choosing a portal hosting service. Hosted on iGoogle, Pageflakes and Netvibes, the portals bring together news, journal content, funding opportunities, events and tailored searches.


If you would like to see some of our specialist health portals, they are listed below.

ScHARR Portal

Dental Portal

Renal Portal

Neurology Portal

Cool Tool#3 Bubbl.Us

Posted by Andy

Bubbl.Us is a very easy to use mind mapping tool, it's so straightforward that you don't need to register an account to create a map.
Below is a useful video tutorial showing you everything you need to know to get up and running with Bubbl.

After just a few minutes myself and my colleague Ruth had created a very complex mind map, which we were able to print. Obviously the real bonus of Bubbl is that you can create them anywhere and allow colleagues to add their own content in addition to be able to email them. In a nutshell it is so effective but simple, what more could you want?

As for what you can do...
  • Create colorful mind maps online
  • Share and work with friends
  • Embed your mind map in your blog or website
  • Email and print your mind map
  • Save your mind map as an image


Thursday, 5 November 2009

Google Wave



Posted by Andy

This has been floating around for several months now and I'm still waiting for my invite to use it, as it is invite only. Some members of staff in the technical support unit (CICS) are already trying this out at The University of Sheffield.

So what is it?
Google Wave is an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration. A wave can be both a conversation and a document where people can discuss and work together using richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.

Google say that it is what email would look like if they invented it today.

Friday, 30 October 2009

November edition of Take Five


Photo by ericnvntr
Post by Anna

November Edition of Take Five

The latest edition of Take Five is packed full of new websites, research funding opportunities,training courses and current awareness.

To join the Take Five distribution list please contact the Information Service at ScHARR Library by email scharrlib@shef.ac.uk or phone 0114 2225420

Latest Research Funding Update: Fellowships and Studentships

Photo by uglyagnes
Post by Anna

Latest edition of Research Funding Update: Fellowships and Studentships

For more information about the funding service please visit our Research Funding page or contact The Information Service @ ScHARR Library on 0114 2225420 or by email scharrlib@shef.ac.uk

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Recommended Website of the Month - Mendeley



Posted by Andy

Describing itself as the iTunes of reference management, Mendeley is a free research management tool for desktop and the Web. In fact it has created that much of a stir that the Guardian have documented its existence.

Working along the same lines as similar free reference management tools, CiteuLike, Connotea and Zotero, Mendeley lets you explore research trends and connect to other academics in your discipline.

Just like its contemporaries, it comes fitted with everything the modern researcher would want in the wonderful world of Web 2.0. You can find new research, collaborate with other researchers who share your interests, sort and organise your own research library, and much more. With a quick download you can sync your references across more than one PC, and that's where there's a difference between that and others like Connotea and Citeulike, which are totally Web-based. You can import and export from EndNote and easily add papers found in a number of popular services.

Just glancing at some of the other capabilities of Mendeley are enough to entice you to try it out.

Annotate PDFs

Generate Bibliographies in Word and OpenOffice

Gather papers from everywhere

Build your network of fellow researchers

Explore research trends and statistics

The creators of Mendeley are funded by some of the people behind Skype and Last.fm, and Warner Music. Quite interestingly according to Mendeley’s statistics, there are more than 4.5 million articles added and downloadable.

If you want to know more, visit the Mendeley site or read The Guardian article here.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Latest Research Funding Update: Projects and Programmes


Photo by aresauburn™
Post by Anna

Latest edition of Research Funding Update: Projects and Programmes

For more information about the funding service please visit our Research Funding page or contact me on 0114 2220894 or by email a.j.cantrell@sheffield.ac.uk

Monday, 12 October 2009

The London Paper Library



Posted by Andy

I stumbled on this interesting concept on the Howie's clothing website. Very similar to the Book Crossing idea where people exchange read and unwanted books with strangers in designated places across hundreds of cities. You can visit the London Paper Library here.

October edition of Take Five

October edition of Take Five


Photo by capn madd matt
Post by Anna

The latest edition of Take Five is packed full of new websites, research funding opportunities,training courses and current awareness.

To join the Take Five distribution list please contact me, Anna Cantrell by email a.j.cantrell@sheffield.ac.uk or phone 0114 2220894

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Ciao for now...

Image courtesy of Dominics Pics

Well, as much as I love my job and the IR group dearly, it is with utter euphoria that I took my leave as of lunchtime today to start my maternity leave. The baby is due on Bonfire Night so with luck it will get to see some fireworks before it is even a day old- though we'll hold back on the sparklers and toffee apples until next year... I'll miss all my friends in IR so much, but I know the time will fly and before I know it, it will be August 2010 and I'll be back with a bang! For now, wish me luck, a mild-mannered baby (I can dream...) and a nice rest before the 5th rolls round!

C

posted by Claire Beecroft on 8/10/09

Friday, 2 October 2009

NEW: Research Funding Update Fellowships and Studentships


Photo by Paolo G
Post by Anna

Latest edition of Research Funding Update: Fellowships and Studentships

For more information about the funding service please visit our Research Funding page or contact me on 0114 2220894 or by email a.j.cantrell@sheffield.ac.uk

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Latest from CEBM




The Centre for Evidence Based Medicine now have their own education channel on You Tube. You can find teaching clips from one of their workshop courses, for example:

“Evidence-Based Medicine in Practice - Appraisal of Clinical Trials #1”

www.youtube.com/user/cebmed

The full versions of the lectures are available on their website http://www.cebm.net/

Health Services Research Programme Seminars

Posted by Andy
Photo by by Seattle Municipal Archives

6th October

Patient and public involvement in health research design: A review of the evidence.

Dr Jonathan Boote, Research Fellow, Research Design Service for Yorkshire and Humber, ScHARR, University of Sheffield

.

13th October

Talking to machines: Speech technology in rehabilitation, health and social care.

Professor Mark Hawley, Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Research Group, Health Services Research, ScHARR, University of Sheffield.

20th October

The relationship between Research Design Services and Clinical Trials Units with examples from our own experience.

Professor Elaine McColl, Director of Newcastle CTU, University of Newcastle.

27th October

Half Term – No Seminar.

3rd November

Recruitment projections and Lasagna's Law: Literature review and qualitative research.

Daniel Hind, Research Fellow, Clinical Trials, Research Unit, HSR, ScHARR, University of Sheffield.

10th November

Rethinking informed consent: Why do patients enter clinical trials?

Dr Clare Relton, Honorary Research Fellow, Public Health, ScHARR, University of Sheffield.

17th November

Watching them grow and knowing you have done that: A qualitative study of well- being and allotment gardening.

Professor Nigel King, University of Huddersfield

24th November

Pilot studies and feasibility studies: Their definitions and uses in practice and policy.

Dr Cindy Cooper, Senior Research Fellow, Clinical Trials Unit, HSR, ScHARR, University of Sheffield.

1st December

Improving care for older people who fall: A programme of research in emergency care.

Professor Helen Snooks, Professor of Health Services Research, Centre for Health Information Research and Evaluation, Institute of Life Science, School of Medicine, Swansea University.


All the seminars will be held on Tuesday lunchtimes, in the Lecture Rooms 1&2 on the First Floor of ScHARR at Regent Court (Regent Street entrance) at 12.30pm. Coffee will be provided and you are welcome to bring your own sandwiches. All staff and students welcome


Seminars organised by Annette Haywood, ScHARR

( For further information please contact Joanne Turner on 0114 222 0751 or e-mail j.e.turner@sheffield.ac.uk


Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Health Care Overhaul (Summarized Via Massive Pig)



Posted by Andy

Here's an interesting take on The U.S health care reforms.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You

Picture and posted by Andy


A million thanks to everyone who sponsored me, my wife, little girl and Thatcher the dog for the Alzheimer's Society Memory Walk on the Monsal Trail .
Thanks to your overwhelming generosity we were able to raise over £300 and with gift aid, it's £375!


The Justgiving page is still live, so if you would still like to give to a great charity and support those working to support an illness that will affect a lot of us directly and indirectly, you can do so by going to http://www.justgiving.com/andrewtattersall/


Luckily for us it was lovely weather and we managed to undertake the six mile walk - three there and three back in about two hours, walking at a toddler's pace. Despite still not being two years old, Isobel managed to walk the majority of the three miles, and probably walked even further due to her keep going back to pick sticks up. We employed the buggy for the return journey.


We set off at the back of the walk and within ten minutes had been left behind as various scooters, walkers and pets disappeared down the track, thanks to the three Ladies who kept holding back to check we were OK. About 70 people attended the walk on the lovely Monsal Trail from the Hassop Book Shop for a brilliant cause.



Thursday, 17 September 2009

NEW: Research Funding Update Projects and Programmes


Photo by orangeacid
Post by Anna


Latest edition of Research Funding Update: Projects and Programmes

For more information about the funding service please visit our Research Funding page or contact me on 0114 2220894 or by email a.j.cantrell@sheffield.ac.uk

Monday, 7 September 2009

Learn how to use uSpace



For members of staff and students at ScHARR, we are running a few short one hour sessions on how to get started with The University's new collaborative, document creating, blogging tool; uSpace. The question you want to ask yourself is:
Do you want to work in new ways?

Do you want better collaboration with your colleagues?
Do you want to teach using discussion forums, blogs, videos and images?
Do you want to work on shared documents, complete with hyperlinks?

The dates of these sessions are:
15th September 3-4
18th September 10-11
25th September 10-11
25th September 2-3
28th September 10-11

Each session is limited to six participants – first come first served.
You can book on one of the courses here

more about uSpace

uSpace is the University’s own social web service. It offers a collection of social web tools for communication and collaboration amongst students and staff. uSpace is available through MUSE and hosted at the University so there are no difficult security or intellectual property issues.

Students are casually using a variety of social web services to interact with each other. Staff have also been quick to use different social web services to engage students and collaborate in research. CiCS has implemented uSpace to bring the two communities

together with a common set of social web tools, available from a single University environment.

uSpace is similar to students’ social environment so it seems familiar and allows them to

capitalise on their existing skills. However, as it is clearly a University service, separate from their social environment, students can begin to develop more sophisticated social web skills, evaluating and citing information in accordance with academic practice.

Staff can also experiment with a range of secure social web tools based at the University. Staff can use these tools to collaborate, develop ideas, and jointly author papers free from the difficult questions of intellectual property often associated with external services.

Taken from the latest issue of myCICSnews

Welcome to ScHARR Library



Posted by Andy

I made this short introductary video of our library using the free video creating software xtranormal. I stumbled on xtranormal after my colleague Mark Morley in CICS created a short video on flat structures versus folder hierarchies using it.

Don't be put off trying it, Xtranormal is very easy to use. You simply drag the action and camera icons onto the script you've written to change camera angle, place pauses, change expressions of your chosen character, or make the character move. You can have either one or two actors in your scene, hopefully other characters and actions will be added later.

The rendering can take a little while, and you need to register to save and publish your final video. That done and you’re supplied with a URL and embed code. Also, put in your YouTube account details to enable a one click upload to YouTube. It is a great piece of software if you want to make short, snappy films to advertise a course, explain a service or just tell a joke.