Jing is my newest favorite software utility to fall under the category of “free software that I’d gladly pay for”. As described on the Jing Project web site

The concept of Jing is the always-ready program that instantly captures and shares images and video … from your computer to anywhere.

It’s one of those products that take a little while to fully appreciate, but soon I found myself screen grabbing several times a day for things I normally wouldn’t have bothered – for instance transaction payment confirmations, design elements, and bug tracking – anything that I thought I might want to view or visualize at some future date.

Jing Screen Shot
Jing Screen Shot

Saving the above screen shot to Flickr with the URL in my clipboard took four clicks, and literally less than five seconds.

Here are a few more cool features

  • Available for PC or Mac
  • Download and install in less than two minutes
  • Always available
  • Quickly capture screen images or video
  • Quickly save captures to a local folder, or posts via FTP, or Flickr!
  • Edit or annotate images prior to saving/posting
  • Did I mention that Jing is free?

Jing is a product of TechSmith who may sound familiar as the creator of Camtasia – a popular commercial screen video capture software. They also have a product called SNAGIT used for quick and easy screen captures … Hey wait a minute. Did I just say they’re giving away their commercial product? Well, not exactly. No doubt SNAGIT has many capabilities that Jing does not – but in looking at the demo video, I didn’t see anything compelling enough to switch over.

The video capture is also an excellent, low-frills tool. I use it to make quick instructional videos for clients – things like how to install or use a piece of software. The output is a Flash SWF file which is highly compressed, and easy to transfer. The glaring omission is any form of editing.

If you need the frills, look to Jing’s commercial cousin, Camtasia. Camtasia is really the gold standard of screencasting, and is well worth the price for any serious webmaster. Jing is the free on-ramp product that will make you a daily user of Techsmith, and will likely convert many users to commercial customers.

A Geek Tip from the Windows Command Line

Today’s tip is for the true geek who enjoys spending time in the command window. A few tips ago, we discussed the virtues of "pathping" to analyze the path between two IP addresses. But what if you want to make sure a block of IPs are responding? You could ping them all manually, or you could use the following little beauty:

echo off & for /l %n IN (1,1,254) do ping 192.168.1.%n

Let’s dissect the command. The first three elements (echo off &) are actually the first of two commands and are optional. It simply makes the output a little neater. The for loop has the following structure: FOR %variable IN (set) DO command The/l parameter specifies the type of number set used by the loop (in this case, a series of numbers defined by the contents of the parenthesis (1,1,254)). What this tells the for loop is to number a series from 1, incremented by 1 and through number 254. The ping command is the action taken by the for loop. The for loop substitutes a series of number variables as the last part of the IP address through each loop.

So that’s all there is to it. If you find this tip useful, you are hopefully considering making a batch file out of it. If so, remember to use double percent signs on the variables.