Fixing Camtasia Studio 5 splash screen crash

Camtasia Studio 5

Isn’t it annoying when software that you’ve bought suddenly stops working for no apparent reason. That happened to me last month with TechSmith Camtasia Studio 5, which is a superb screen recorder for creating screencasts.

The problem

Here’s the support call that I sent them on Wednesday 16 April:

Whenever I try to run Camtasia 5 it crashes after the splash screen. I get “Camtasia Studio has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience.

That was the problem: I couldn’t get it to run. It would begin to load, I’d get the splash screen and then an error message.

I even installed an older version, Camtasia Studio 3, that I got on a magazine cover DVD. And experienced exactly the same problem.

Which is when I sent TechSmith the support call.

Excellent technical support

I have to say that TechSmith’s technical support was absolutely superb. The following day I received my first of 12 replies from them over the course of almost a month; the first handful were from “Kate S.”, the latter from “Mike Spink”.

I was asked to provide some diagnostic reports that Camtasia Studio should have automatically created. Except that Camtasia Studio wasn’t creating any reports.

Feeling special

Some companies may have given up at that point and with the e-shrug of their remote shoulders sent me a reply saying “Ah, well! Sorry!”

But not TechSmith. They sent me this message:

We created a special build of Camtasia to do some logging to get some more information on the problem. I have attached a zip file. Inside are 3 files. Be sure to copy and paste all 3 files in the following directory …

They sent me a special build of Camtasia. I don’t know about Camtasia but I certainly felt special. I replaced the files, ran the application, got the same crash at the same place but now I had log files to send them.

This happened a couple of times, with a new build each time that requested different data to be logged. And each time I dutifully emailed the log files across the Atlantic to TechSmith HQ in Michigan.

At one point, having not heard back from them for … wait for it … 3 days I got an email apologizing for the delay.

I just wanted to let you know our development team is still looking into the dump files you sent. I haven’t heard anything from them yet but hope to soon.

How courteous was that! Tremendous customer service.

Helping me, helping you

A few days later I got this email from Mike Spink:

I appreciate you taking the time to help us solve this crash in our code.

Right now you are the 3rd user that is experiencing this same exact one and the others didn’t want to go into this much in depth troubleshooting. So thank you for sticking with it.

Hopefully we can get some good info from this latest log.

I was more than happy to help them out. I suspected that I might be helping them rather than hassling them with this call, and it was really nice to hear that from them.

The solution

Then, a few days later, on Monday 12 May, almost a month after I sent the first email I received these magic words:

Would you be able to find out what version of the flash player you’re running in IE?

And if it is not the latest download the latest from Adobe and see if that does anything with the starting up of Camtasia?

I know it seems totally unrelated but we wanted to check on that. Please let me know. Thanks!

So I checked, used the Adobe Flash Player uninstaller, rebooted my PC and then reinstalled Flash Player in Internet Explorer.

And do you know what? It worked! IT WORKED!! I could now use Camtasia Studio 5.

I sent Mike an email:

You guys are geniuses! It worked!

and explained what I’d done.

The last email I got from them said:

I am glad we finally got to the bottom of this. We’re going to see how we can modify our code so we can at least throw back an error message of some sort rather than just crashing. I appreciate your help with this!

So a big hoorah to TechSmith for their fantastic technical support. An inspiration to so many other software companies.

Oh, and Camtasia Studio 5 is a pretty piece of software. Check it out!

CSS Sculptor v.1.1 and CSS Menu Writer v.1.0

Eric Meyer's CSS Sculptor

Eric Meyer’s CSS Sculptor

Last year, some readers may remember, I blogged about Eric Meyer’s CSS Sculptor from WebAssist.

What it does

Eric Meyer’s CSS Sculptor is a commercial extension (US $99.99) for Adobe Dreamweaver 8 and CS3 that enables you to quickly and efficiently build a cross-browser compatible website layout with the minimum of fuss. And because the code has been written, checked and approved by Eric Meyer (a champion of Web standards and a guru of CSS) you can be assured that the code it produces is of the highest quality.

Using a simple control-driven interface CSS Sculptor allows you to choose a preset layout (there are 44 from which to choose) and then customize almost every aspect of it: header, footer, width, margins, padding, colours, typography, ID names … everything!

Everything that is apart from a navigation DIV. This was the one thing that I thought let version 1.0 down.

Version 1.1

WebAssist have now addressed that issue with Eric Meyer’s CSS Sculptor version 1.1. As you can see from the screenshot below the layout components panel now includes a “Top navigation” option.

Layout components now includes Top navigation option.

The reason that they included this was to welcome the latest product to their Dreamweaver extension arsenal: CSS Menu Writer.

CSS Menu Writer

CSS Menu Writer

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of being given an exclusive and personal online demo by WebAssist’s Training Manager Mark Fletcher (he’s the guy who does all the online demos on their website).

I’ve been meaning to blog about it since then but never quite found the time what with work being so busy, Jane feeling so sick and then heading off on holiday for a week. But here I am, better late than never, and the intervening gap hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm for this extension.

What it does

While a lot of CSS is quite easy to pick up creating styled horizontal, and even vertical, navigation isn’t the easiest task to complete quickly. This is where CSS Menu Writer comes in.

CSS Menu Writer takes the hassle out of creating both horizontal and vertical navigation. It uses a similar interface to the CSS Sculptor and integrates nicely with its sibbling extension.

CSS Menu Writer interface

Example

With just a few clicks I was able to create this simple menu:

Example menu

All I did here was specify the names for the menu items, the general style (Horizontal Accent) and I chose the same design that I used in CSS Sculptor for creating the page wrapper (Nautica).

It literally took only 2 minutes.

When I clicked the FINISH button the code was automatically generated and I had a ready-to-use 100% CSS horizontal menu. It couldn’t be any simpler!

Existing site structure?

One great feature if you already have the file structure created, or are adding a new menu created with CSS Menu Writer to an existing site, is the “Get from file system” option.

With a few clicks you can create the menu by pointing and clicking on the pages or folders that you want to include. CSS Menu Writer will then populate the menu with the files that it finds: great for creating submenus.

Advanced options

For those needing to get their hands dirtier CSS Menu Writer also allows customization of almost every part of the menu: width, margins, padding, typography, link formatting (link, visited, hover and active), backgrounds and borders.

It even goes as far as styling sub-navigation differently to the primary navigation. It really is very flexible indeed, and fiendishly simple to use. (Obviously a solid understanding in CSS is a benefit when you start to delve deeper into advanced customization.

For particularly funky designs WebAssist even provide a number of Solution Recipes on their website to show you what’s possible. These include:

  • Using CSS Menu Writer with DataAssit (create dynamic database-driven menus)
  • Using CSS Menu Writer with a CSS Sculptor layout
  • Customizing CSS Menu Writer menus
  • Customizing CSS Menu Writer submenu items
  • Using the CSS Sliding Doors technique with CSS Menu Writer

Editing existing CSS Menu Writer navigation

Once you’ve clicked FINISH and created your CSS Menu Writer menu you’re not stuck with it: you can always return to CSS Menu Writer and tweak your settings, add new menu items, change its styling, etc.

To do this you click on the Scripts “Invisible Elements” icon and in the Properties pane click the Edit button alongside the CSS Menu Writer icon.

Click Script icon then click Edit button

(If you can’t see the Script icon go to Edit > Preferences. Click on the Invisible Elements category and select to Show Scripts.)

Possible improvements

As well as horizontal (top) navigation with drop-down menu options CSS Menu Writer also allows you to create left-hand navigation. There are four styles for both horizontal and vertical, each with fly-out submenu items.

While this is impressive it would be nice to see other types of navigation, particularly for the vertical styles, such as designing left-hand collapsible/concertina style navigation. I would find that particularly useful. Perhaps that could be included in a future version.

Another thing that might be useful to have in a future update is the ability to define a class for a selected page. For example, if you’re on the News page (or a child of the News page) it might be nice to show that on the navigation by applying a class to that list item.

This is something that a lot of content management systems will manage for you, but if you’re using CSS Menu Builder to write the basic code it would be useful to also have those class selectors written for you.

Conclusion

By the end of Mark Fletcher’s demonstration I was sold. There’s obviously been a lot of thought put into making this extension as easy to use as possible for people new to Web design, but with enough tweaking capacity for the hardcore coder.

But you just can’t get past the fact that within a couple of clicks and only a couple of minutes you have cross-browser compatible, fully-CSS navigation working in your website. It’s certainly to be recommended, and at US $99.99 it’s certainly worth it for the time and hassle that it saves.

Waiting for buses …

London buses
Non-identical buses

So, the observant amongst you will know that I’ve not been blogging quite as often as I used to, or would like. We’ll here’s the reason: I’ve been waiting for a bus. Of sorts.

This is the blog post that I’ve been longing to write for ages, and it even has a neat twist. But before I get ahead of myself, here’s the good news: the IVF worked!

For those of you watching in black and white and haven’t a clue what IVF is, Jane is pregnant.

Today we had the 12 weeks’ scan, which was our own personal non-disclosure deadline and so we can now share the great news with the world … albeit admittedly those citizens of the world with Web access.

The longest wait

I’ll probably blog later about my/our reflections on the IVF procedure, suffice to say here that the staff at Ward 35 (Assisted Conception Unit) at Ninewells Hospital were absolutely wonderful; we couldn’t have hoped for better.

We had the embryo transfer on Wednesday 19 March which was followed by the longest 17 days wait we’ve probably ever experienced.

Six weeks

On Saturday 5 April Jane took a pregnancy test and to our delight (and, to be honest, amazement) it showed that Jane was pregnant.

Twelve days later we had our first scan at Ninewells (still at Ward 35). This was a six weeks’ scan. I’ve no idea how these weeks are worked out. It would appear that doctors use a different kind of maths to the rest of us!

(Update: actually I do know, I was just teasing. As far as I can ascertain it’s so that the total pregnancy adds up to a nice round 40 weeks!)

Week 6 scan

The midwife who was doing the scan told us that she’d get her bearings and then show us on the monitor what she could see.

She sat down, got her bearings and told us that she could see the monitoring machine.

“Have you been drinking?” I asked. No, not really. I’ll get back to the proper story now.

“Will we get to see it’s heartbeat?” Jane asked.

“I’m not sure,” said the midwife. “Sometimes you can, sometimes you can’t.”

And then she showed us our baby on the monitor. It was 6mm long.

And then she showed us our other baby. It was 4mm long.

“You’re having twins!” the midwife said.

We were so delighted. We’ve been joking since about 2000 that we’d have twins. In the previous couple of weeks I’d been joking that it was quads. So the news of twins came as a delight and some relief.

The really amazing bit was that we could indeed see their heartbeats and sat watching their tiny, two-chamber hearts beating away; it looked like a really fast flicker on the monitor. Amazing, and reassuring.

Seven weeks

A week later they had us back in for another scan just to make sure that everything was going well.

It was. Both twins had grown to 10mm. They looked a bit like seahorses at this point.

Week 7 scan

Both embryos/babies were doing well with strong heartbeats. We could relax a bit and allow Jane to enjoy the next five weeks of so-called ‘morning’ sickness that is actually all-day sickness! We’re informed on authority that the symptoms of multiple pregnancies are generally worse than for singletons.

Except Valerie Singleton.

This was our final visit to Ward 35.

Twelve weeks

And so today we were back in Ninewells, this time at the Antenatal Clinic for the twelve weeks’ scan. Which looked like this:

Ultrasound scan of twins

They now look a lot more like proper babies. And not like Roswell experiments, as somebody kindly pointed out!

So, meet the family! At the moment they’re called Left and Right, but I’m sure we’ll come up with better names before December.

Both looked well, with strong heartbeats, and it really was absolutely amazing to see them moving about. “Baby Right” was doing somersaults, which was really impressive but he/she was probably just showing off cos he/she was on the telly.

Typical! Just like buses: you wait ages for one (in our case, eight years) and then two come along at once.

But how cool is that, and how blessed are we! Praise God (and the lovely staff at Ninewells Ward 35).