Although Wink doesn't fit into this article's inventory/monitoring and security categories, the utility is simply too good to pass up in an article about great free utilities. Wikipedia describes screencasting as "a digital recording of computer screen output, often containing audio narration." Much like a screenshot refers to a static moment in time on a computer screen, a screencast is a screen shown over a period of time—presumably with a goal of demonstration or instruction.

With the explosion of Adobe Flash across the Web, and especially on sites such as YouTube, creating and distributing interactive screencasts has never been easier. I've used commercial applications for this task in the past, which cost hundreds of dollars per instance, so it's great to have a viable freeware alternative in the marketplace. Tools like this are great for short training videos (both internal and external) and product/service demonstrations that need to be repeated.

Wink lets you record all of or a portion of your screen—including your mouse movements and keystrokes—into a real-time movie, then annotate that movie with audio from your PC's inputs. After you record your Wink presentation, you can render the output as a Flash animation complete with an HTML page for displaying the resultant .swf file (best for Web distribution), a stand-alone .exe file, or as a PDF or other image-format file. (Personally, I've needed only the Flash and .exe outputs.) After the content has been rendered, it's ready to be delivered to your target audience for consumption.

Since I've built demos for all of my projects, I can't begin to count how many training classes and managerial briefings I've been able to avoid or cut short. If you find yourself constantly demonstrating or explaining—visually—how a technology or concept works, you must look into Wink.