The Countdown Timer Screen
The Countdown Setup Screen
| Countdown Timer |
Countdown is a simple standalone countdown timer that provides visual and auditory cues regarding the timer's status. Timers are often used in classrooms to limit activities, to aid students with transitioning from one activity to another, or for timing activities like cooking. Countdown was designed to work along with Launcher6, and responds to keyboard commands the same way as Launcher6 as noted below. Like Launcher6 any changes to Countdown's setup are saved automatically in a text file called "countdown.tsu"in the same folder as the Countdown.exe file, and the setup is automatically loaded when Countdown is opened again.
Countdown will run on a Windows95 or newer PC with at least a 233Mhz CPU and 64Mb RAM, and may require Quicktime. If you want to use the text-to-speech (TTS) feature you will also need a clipboard text to speech utility and perhaps the Microsoft Agent technology installed. See more about TTS below. Countdown does not need to be installed, and can run from a flash drive.
You can set the following features of Countdown :
Set Minutes: Choose from the drop down menu.
Set Seconds: Choose from the drop down menu.
Automatically Start Countdown: Start counting down upon opening.
Audio Count Down the Last 10 Seconds: Auditory countdown of 10, 9 , 8...
Announce Last 4 30 Second Intervals: Auditory cues for 2 minutes, 1 minute 30 seconds...
Use Endpoint Audio Announcement: A sound or TTS message to play at timer end.
Use Clipboard Text-to-Speech: Use a clipboard TTS agent to produce auditory cues instead of sound files.
Exit When Timer Expires: Close Countdown at the end of timer.
Locate end message sound file: Find the sound file you want for your end message.
Enter text for final message: Enter your TTS end message as text.
Load Text-to-Speech Program: Locate your TTS program if necessary.
Start Countdown: Return to the Countdown screen and commence counting down.
Countdown responds to the following keyboard commands:
's' - Start Timer
'p' - Pause Timer
'e' - Edit count timer setup parameters
'f' - Go to full screen mode for screens > 800 X 600 (the default setting)
'z' - Reduce Countdown window to 800 X 600
'@' - Inhibit or enable keyboard commands
'q' - Quit Countdowm
About Clipboard Text-to-Speech
Countdown relies on external text-to-speech utilities to convert text to speech sounds. I recommend either SayzMe or DeskBot, both of which are freeware easily found on the Internet. Both programs use the Microsoft Agent technology which is also freeware and available on the Microsoft website. Either product can be set to have a user specified Microsoft Agent Character "read" the contents of the clipboard when changes to the clipboard occur. Check with the help files for those products to adjust their settings. I use Deskbot and set it so the Microsoft Agent Character only "speaks" messages and does not also perform any unnecessary animations.