Volume Number: 22 (2006)
Issue Number: 3
Column Tag: Review
Web Surveys: Quick and Easy
Have you ever needed to do a survey, quick ... but you didn't have time to go and custom code it for yourself. Recently, we had this need at MacTech ... you may remember a recent reader survey. We looked around and came across a neat product called phpQuestionnaire (or phpQ for short).
phpQ installed really easily on our Xserve running Mac OS X Server, and took advantage of our PHP 4 and mySQL setup. The installation instructions were a breeze, and the interface was fairly intuitive.
This product gives you a very detailed, web-based survey ability. The admin of it is, as you would expect, all web based, and the question editor is fast and easy to use. Only once in creating a survey did I pause to figure out how to do something.
You can run multiple surveys simultaneously and the phpQ takes care of tracking things separately. And, because it's template driven, you can change the look and feel if you so desire. (Although if you are lazy like I was being, you just take advantage of their professional templates ... after all, it was just a survey!!)
There are many different question types, and you can create surveys with all kinds of combinations. Everything I needed, it had built it ... radio buttons, check boxes, text boxes, text areas, etc...
You can use some simple restrictions or be more advanced ... to avoid bogus data, or duplicates. Unique IPs, cookies, and email verifications are all an option.
One of the nicest features of this product is it's ability to "preview" an entire survey before you publish it. It helped with layouts, groupings, page layouts and ordering. Again, it was fast and simple ... and by just opening the survey in a separate window, I could edit the survey in one window, while viewing it in another.
Once your users have entered the information, you can then view the results in a summarized, detailed or individual manner. And, as you would expect, you can export these results as well.
If you want the public to review the results, they can ... or you can keep them private. Your choice. You can also get notifications to admins when people are doing the survey.
Because this is all based on mySQL, you can go into mySQL and poke around if you'd like. But, with backup and restore features in phpQ, and the ability to export, there's really not much reason to.
chumpsoft has done a bang up job here with phpQuestionnaire 2.2. The full version is $199, and there's a junior version for $59 along with some other flavors.
Snapz Pro X 2.0
Move ahead of using static screenshots for conveying an idea effectively and take full motion video screen captures and create screen casts with Snapz Pro X 2.0. Snapz Pro X 2.0 is a great (and easy to use) screen capture utility for capturing moving or still pictures on Mac OS X.
Snapz Pro X 2.0 captures full motion video of anything on your Mac screen, along with digital audio and an optional microphone voice over at the rate of 30 frames per second in millions of colors. Snapz Pro X 2.0 is effectively a digital video camera, which allows recording anything on your Mac screen and saving it as a QuickTime movie or screen shot. A real-time preview of the screen cast is available. Screen casts can also be saved in a QuickTime compatible video compression format to optimize for data rate, frame rate, and color depth for creating smaller size videos.
Snapz Pro X 2.0 really simplifies such tasks as producing product demos, creating tutorials, making training videos, and archiving streaming video. If you are the type that wants to, you could even use Snapz Pro for showing their peers how good a game is or how to use an application. Snapz Pro X 2.0 features a completely redesigned interface for providing powerful features while maintaining elegant simplicity of Snapz Pro X. Snapz Pro X was completely rewritten for Mac platform.
If you are just looking for static screen captures, Snapz Pro X 2.0 packs in numerous new features. "Live Preview" is one of the most powerful and time saving features, which shows you exactly how your screen shot will look before you save it to disk, allowing on the fly change in border styles, scaling, cropping, and other settings. Another very useful feature is "Fatbits" tool that allows zooming in on the pixels on your Mac screen for automatically generating image thumbnails.
Screenshots can be scaled, cropped, color depth-changed, and dithered. Snapz Pro X 2.0 can also add borders, generate automatic thumbnails, and overlay watermarks/copyright notices. Snapz Pro X 2.0 uses Ambrosia's proprietary Clearscale technology to scale images up or down for both static images, and screen casts. Snapz Pro X 2.0 supports saving screen shots as .bmp, .pict, .gif, .jpg, .png, .tiff, .pdf, or Photoshop files, with precise control over image compression levels and color depth.
Snapz Pro X 2.0 costs $69 (screenshot only version priced at $29), with upgrades from Snapz Pro X 1.0 w/ movie capture priced at $20. Snapz Pro X 2.0 requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later
The Right Way to Clean Your Screen, iPods, and More....
If you've been looking for a way to clean your LCD, plasma, HDTV, flat screen, and CRT displays, then you may want to take a look at the products by Klear Screen. Klear Screen has designed, a set of products specifically to clean, protect, and polish all Apple displays and iPods, in addition to laptops, especially X-Brite or Crystal Clear Screens, new Generation LCD screens, plasma and HDTVs, digital cameras, and camcorders.
Klear Screen products contain a 3-step liquid polymer-based formula that lifts and dissolves surface contaminants and fingerprints, and floating debris off the screen surface, leaving an anti-static coating. The coating, significantly reduces surface friction and wear, resists fingerprinting, and provides a renewable protective screen barrier. Klear Screen products are non-toxic, and alcohol and ammonia free.
Klear Screen Deluxe Cleaning Kit is the recommended solution for your cleaning requirements. Klear Screen Deluxe Cleaning Kit costs $ 24.95. It includes:
1- 8 oz. Klear Screen Pump Spray
1- Large Micro-Chamois Polishing Cloth
6- Klear Kloths
2- Klear Screen Travel Singles
1- Travel Size Micro-Chamois
Klear Screen Deluxe Cleaning Kit
Klear Screen products that are a part of the Klear Screen Deluxe Cleaning Kit, are also available individually. The Klear Screen 8 oz. Pump Spray Bottle that lasts for approximately 1,200 cleanings, costs $12.95. Klear Screen Micro-Chamois Polishing Cloth, priced at $9.95, is a lint free, non-damaging, washable, and reusable cloth. Klear Screen Klear Kloths, also priced at $9.95, are made from lint-free, non-polyester, white-room, aerospace grade, non-woven polishing material that can be used and re-used for weeks at a time. Klear Screen Travel Singles are designed for the needs of individuals, who need a quick and easy-to-use cleaning solution whether at work, home, or in the classroom. Klear Screen Travel Singles cost $9.95. A pack of 3 Travel Size Micro-Chamois Polishing Cloths is priced at $9.95. Other products of the Klear Screen range include Klear Screen High performance Kit, Klear Screen Super Starter Kit, and Klear Screen Micro-Fiber Polishing Cloth.
MacTech's staff has been using Klear Screen products for years, and gives them a "two thumbs up". For more information, see http://www.klearscreen.com/.
by MacTech Staff