Have you ever sat in front of a computer screen and keyboard and feel like you don’t know a thing sometimes—especially when it involves new software?
Why is that? Why do we find we’re afraid? No doubt, it may be that somewhere when learning computers someone said to us, “DON’T TOUCH THAT! YOU’LL BREAK IT!” Translation? “Don’t touch that because it is going to do something that will cause the computer’s setting to be changed, and I’ll have to go back and change them to where they were and I want them!” Instilling that fear of “breaking something” has caused many of us to be afraid to touch anything at all on a computer. Honestly, these days, it is all but IMPOSSIBLE to break a computer….IT won’t let you! In the Windows programs it will ask, “are you sure you want to do that?” The “NO” button can always be clicked and no harm done. As long as we don’t try and “format” or “erase” the hard (C:) drive, it’s pretty much all ok.
Getting back to the feeling of “not knowing anything”, it usually pertains to learning a new software program whether a document program, PowerPoint, embroidery editing or digitizing programs, video or photo editing programs, and more. But have you ever sat and thought about it?
When driving a current model car you know the rules of the road, you know where the steering wheel, blinkers, wipers, and radio are. You know how to operate the seats and windows. When upgrading a car all those things will be in the newer car as will the basics just like the former vehicle—and mainly in the same place. The rules of the road certainly don’t change just because of a new car. What changes are the buttons and dials may be in a more convenient location. The interior and exterior colors may be different such as upgraded leather seats instead of cloth. The speedometer will still be there as well as the gas gauge, but now the car may “talk” to you and let you know the tires are low on air—ah computers!
When you go to bake a cookie recipe you’ll usually have butter, eggs, sugar, flour and leavening agents. Then to make the cookies differ chocolate chips or butterscotch chips may be added. Maybe one recipe calls for walnuts and another may call for pecans. Perhaps the recipe calls for vanilla or maybe almond flavoring, or spices like ginger, cloves and cinnamon. The basics are still the same (butter, eggs, sugar, flour) but the things that give the cookie flavor and character are what change. Honestly, it is that simple with software programs.
This is what I call “Transfer of Knowledge”. When teaching software programs and computer basics, the students in my class and I talk about these things. What I am trying to do is get the sewing group to realize that they already know a lot about software programs and the basics such as how to save a file, opening, undo, redo, etc. will all be the same–and work the same– from program to program. It is the “goodies” that are new to them that need to be learned and it is like the different flavorings and different nuts…they give the program its character and allow them to do what they want to do.
Recently I upgraded to a new video editing program that allows a lot more options and in this one I can do closed captioning. I have never done closed captioning before. I have been limited on what I could do for the videos I produce for ASG. When I downloaded the new software program I took a deep breath and installed it—thinking about that “Transfer of Knowledge” with this new program. What would be the same as the old programs with which I am already familiar? What would I have to learn that was totally new?
After installing the program and opening it, gosh, there were the old familiar Windows icons and tabs. Just looking at the tabs I already knew what would pretty much be under each tab and the functions that would be available in the new software program.
In addition, the icons on the toolbar for a starting something new, opening a file and saving a file were all the same. In the old software I had to import media and produce the videos, same in this new software. I can record the screen directly from this software and I had a second program I worked with when using the old software. In looking at that function, I already know I’m going to have to set properties for recording functions. I’m guessing there will probably be some new ones, but then again there will be familiar settings; I’ll just have to learn what I don’t know.
This new program has “transitions” like the other program, and many of the same tools. In this program there are more options like the zoom-n-pan which can be done in the software versus having to do it while filming—that is a huge bonus!
In an older software program I was using, it had a “time line” to add videos and photos and to edit them. Also in the older program there were editing functions such as cut, split, undo, and redo on the tool bar; it is the same with the new program. I can just look at the icon and pretty much know its function….that is “Transfer of Knowledge”. The “player” looks the same just like with things normally seen on websites or in video players.
For me what is totally new is the ADA compliant Closed Captioning. In looking at the screen I see familiar options just like a word document program, but what I had to learn was how to add the captions to the timeline and sync them with the video and voice files.
Something I had to figure out was how to do all the closed captioning in YouTube. Uploading the video was no problem but YouTube does an “auto” closed captioning and the spellings are wrong on many sewing related terms (i.e. sow for sew—which I must admit made me giggle frequently) and the timing and the way the sentences are broken up. There is an option for doing edits, but I learned it takes much longer than exporting the CC file from the software and then figuring out how to upload it keeping my formatting for the video uploaded (of course I had to figure out how to export the CC file first). The first one took quite some time to upload and the second about half the time. By the time I get to the sixth one I figure I’ll have it learned….that is if YouTube keeps all the buttons and links in the current format and doesn’t decide to change things around! That to me is like going to Costco or the grocery store and I expect to quickly go in and come out with my purchase only to find the store has been re-arranged; we all know that feeling.
So, what is the moral of this blog? When trying to learn new software look first at what is familiar and learn where all those things are. Chances are the basics in the new software will be almost exactly where they are in other familiar software programs. From there take a look at all the wonderful things that are in the software that are waiting to be learned. To me the help menu is invaluable; I keep the help file open while learning new software because I’m always afraid I’m going to miss some really useful function or tool I didn’t initially realize was in the software.
I know many will be requesting a holiday gift of embroidery editing or digitizing software (or maybe you have some and haven’t used it). After the first of the year I’ll be doing recorded lessons for our ASG members showing how to use the tools in the software and explaining their functions. Know that many things will already be familiar like other software programs. Other things like stitch length and spacing between zig-zag stitches will also be familiar (same as the sewing machine!) We’ll have fun learning together and giving members an opportunity to actually learn and use their software. We’ll start by “Transferring the Knowledge” you already know in one program or at the machine to begin learning an embroidery software program. Once you learn, you’ll be able to create simple designs and watch your machine stitch out what you have created and programmed it to do…it is truly a powerful experience!
Don’t be afraid…just get in there and play and push buttons; remember it really cannot be broken.
Sew ‘til next time…enjoy the journey of sewing!