Tuesday, September 25, 2007

FixMyMovie Is CSI For The Rest Of Us!

If you've ever watched TV shows like CSI, where they can take a really cruddy piece of video or a blurry still image and enhance it so that it looks soooo much better, then this is exactly what FixMyMovie can do for you.

FixMyMovie is a video sharing site powered by MotionDSP's video enhancement technology, which is designed to improve video taken from mobile phones, digital cameras and security cameras and is actively marketed for video forensics. Like most of these online conversion services, you upload the source material, it'll do a preview conversion of the first 10 seconds that you can compare against the original. If you like the results, you can go ahead and order a full conversion. You can also extract high-res still images from the converted movie if you wish.

Being a sharing site, it'll allow you to share your enhanced video with friends via e-mail but they plan to allow you to embed the movie in a web-site or blog as well. You can also download the finished movie in H264 QuickTime, Windows Media or Flash formats.

It's designed to be a paid-for service once it's out of beta but they're giving away the equivalent of $25 worth of processing to beta sign-ups.

Friday, September 21, 2007

YouconvertIt - Convert Almost Anything!

If you're looking for a one-stop shop, file conversion service, then take a look at YouconvertIt. YouconvertIt lets you upload document, image, audio and video files and will convert them from one format to another. All you need to do is select the file from your computer, pick your target format, and the file will be uploaded and converted. Once the conversion is complete, you'll receive an e-mail containing a link to allow you to download it.

There's no denying that they're offering a large range of file types to convert between; there are seven audio, 72 image, 11 video and 46 document types to choose from and that may be great for simple conversions but there are no options available. Conversions are done at whetever settings YouconvertIt have decreed as optimum (for them) so there's no guarantee what image or sound size and quality you're going to get back. Also there's no batch options so it's one file at a time.

If you need a bit more control over the conversion process, then check out some of the sites listed in the links below or, if you require to do large numbers of conversions, then you might be better off with a dedicated application.

Related Posts: vConvert.net - Online Video Converter, Movavi Online, MUX - Another online video encoder, Hey! Watch - Online Video Encoding, More Online File Conversion Services, Free Online Media File Converter

OpenOffice 3.0 Will Be Mac OS X Native

Having already mentioned the alpha release of a Mac native version of OpenOffice back in june, we've now been told that it should be ready for 2008 along with OpenOffice 3.0.

I remember this being bandied around before the release of version 2.0 but it never happened and we were stuck with an X11 version. Still it definitely looks as if it's on the cards this time…

OpenOffice 3.0 Release Roadmap

Related Posts: X11-Free OpenOffice for Mac Released, Microsoft-Free Word Processing

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

IBM Lotus Symphony, A Free, Open-Source Office Application Suite

Having only recently joined the OpenOffice.org developer community, IBM has launched its own free office application suite, IBM Lotus Symphony, which, like OpenOffice, includes word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation applications. Obviously, they've levereged some of the technology from the open-source OpenOffice application suite as well as their own Lotus Notes to get this out so soon.

So, yet another salvo is fired at Microsoft's domination of the office application market, which is good for anyone or any organisation or company a bit strapped for cash. As for IBM's involvement in OpenOffice development, they will be making initial code contributions that they've been developing as part of Lotus Notes, including accessibility enhancements, and will be making ongoing contributions to the feature richness and code quality of OpenOffice. Sounds like both sides will benefit from this in the future. They are also strongly promoting ODF as the document sharing format to use so that's another shot at Microsoft, who are trying to push their own proprietary Open XML format.

IBM Lotus Symphony can convert documents, spreadsheets, and presentations types into PDF files and can read and convert Microsoft Office documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Unfortunately, it only supports Linux and Windows so there's no Macintosh version. Also, it's a bit of a memory hog and requires at least 1Gb of RAM but bear in mind that this is a beta release so it may well improve.

Related Posts: Microsoft-Free Word Processing

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Presentations Added To Google Docs

Googe Docs New menuAs intimated way back in February, Google have been working on adding PowerPoint-like functionality into their online office applications suite - Google Docs. Well, now it's live and you can create your presentations online.

Here's what you can do with presentations:
  • Import existing presentations in .ppt and .pps file types.
  • Export your presentations as HTML.
  • Edit your presentations using our simple WYSIWYG editor.
  • Insert images, and format your slides to fit your preferences.
  • Share and edit presentations with your friends and work colleagues.
  • Allow real-time viewing of presentations online, from separate remote locations.
  • Publish your presentations on the web, allowing access to a wide audience.
  • Each presentation can be up to 500K, plus 2MB per embedded image.
  • Each user has a combined limit of 5,000 documents and presentations and 5,000 images.

Google Docs
It also integrates well into Google Docs and you get the same sharing, publishing and revisions features as for documents and spreadsheets. You can also get a preview of the presentation, which is useful for fine-tuning those slides.

There's no support for animations, sound or video in there yet and you can't export a presentation in PowerPoint format so it's not quite a PowerPoint killer but, if all you need is a simple set of presentation slides with a few images in there, it's ideal and, of course, free!

Related Posts: Google Adding Presentations to Docs & Spreadsheets, Google Presently

Monday, September 17, 2007

FlashMeeting - Video and Audio Conferencing

If you've got a need for a cross-platform video or audio conferencing solution, then take a look at FlashMeeting Online  Service

FlashMeeting is a web application based on the Adobe Flash plug-in and Flash Media Server. It runs in a standard web browser window and it allows a dispersed group of people to meet from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Typically a meeting is pre-booked by a registered user and a url, containing a unique password for the meeting, is returned by the FlashMeeting server. The 'booker' passes this on to the people they wish to participate, who simply click on the link to enter into the meeting at the arranged time.

About FlashMeetingDuring the meeting one person speaks at a time. Other people can simultaneously contribute using text chat, the whiteboard, or emoticons etc. while waiting for their turn to speak. This way the meeting is ordered, controlled and easy to follow.

Afterwards, those with the appropriate privileges can view a replay of the meeting, look through any minutes of text chats, etc. and view a technical analysis of the whole thing. Here's a full list of features…
  • Video and Audio broadcast over a network or internet.
  • No download and installation - it works in a web browser with Flash 8 (or greater) plug-in.
  • Easy to use - click the Broadcast button to start - click again to stop!
  • Indicate your intention to speak with a simple queuing system.
  • Public Text chat - chat to others while watching the broadcast.
  • Private Text chat - send private messages to individuals.
  • Share a URL - open a web page on all remote machines.
  • Shared whiteboard available to share text, drawing or photographs.
  • Vote and 'Emoticon' options - share your opinions and feelings!
  • Countdown timer shows time remaining.
  • View participants either as a list of images or names.
  • Simple booking procedure to manage your meetings.
  • Secure and private meetings.
  • Low-data friendly (one broadcast stream at a time).
  • Record the meeting for easy web replay.
The downside is that it isn't fully accessible to the public in that getting a 'booker' account requires you to satisfy various criteria by the operators, The Open University. Still, if you're involved in education or community learning, then it may well be worth investigating.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

New Stuff From Apple

It's September again and after the annual Steve Jobs update on new stuff from Apple, this is what we got…

It's iPods and more iPods this time around. Rumours about a wireless, touch screen iPod with a larger screen have been circulating since before last years new model announcements and in the meantime Apple released the iPhone, which uses a fair bit of that technology so we knew we were on the right track back then. Now they've gone and done it with the iPod Touch

iPod TouchiPod Touch

This little beauty has most of the technology we'd been waiting on. No FM radio for sure but a touch sensitive, 3.5" widescreen display and built-in 802.11b/g wireless networking.

Using similar interface to the iPhone, it also comes with Safari built-in so the possibilities for adding loads of browser based applications is tremendous. There's also a special YouTube player included so, if you can get access to a wireless network, you can easily browse the net with Safari and view movies with YouTube. They've also upgraded the iTunes Music Store to allow users to purchase and download tracks straight to the iPod over the wireless connection.

Another couple of very nice features is the ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts brightness to suit the ambient light in your surroundings and an accelerometer, which can detect when you rotate the device and then automatically change the display orientation to suit.

On the downside, it only comes in 8Gb and 16Gb models, which for a movie and web centric device like this is perhaps a wee bit tight. Storage is via a USB Flash drive, which is why the capacity is so limited so I think I'll wait and see what develops once it gets out into the user community and USB flash drive capacities are bound to increase. Prices are £199 for the 8Gb model and £269 for the 16Gb one.

iPod Nano

The Nano has been radically redesigned. Gone is the slimline player of the past and in comes a smaller, fatter device but now it sports a 2", 320*240 colour display and it can play videos and video podcasts too. Not that it's too fat as it's only 6.5mm thick but it's definitely wider than the old Nano.

The iTunes Cover Flow browsing interface has also been added so you can now browse by flicking through your album/video artwork.

Prices are £99 for the 4Gb models and £129 for the 8Gb one, which also comes in red, blue, green and black as well as the standard anodised aluminium shell.

iPod Shuffle

The wee iPod Shuffle is now available in five colour options - silver, purple, blue, green and red. It's still only has 1Gb of storage so, other than the colours, there's no change. It's still £49.

iPod Classic

The iPod video is gone! They've renamed it the iPod Classic, upgraded the storage to 80Gb and 160Gb and made it even thinner in a new, all-metal case. Like the Nano, it now has a redesigned interface and you can browse using Cover Flow but, other than that, there's not much else to report. Prices are £159 for the 80Gb models and £229 for the 160Gb one,

There have been a few other changes as well. On the iPhone front in the U.S., Apple have discontinued the 4Gb model and dropped the price of the 8Gb one so I expect we'll see this reflected when they finally release it over here. Also, the Apple TV now has a 160Gb drive option instead of the original measly 40Gb one.

PS Sorry about the gap in posts - broke my elbow over a week ago and it's my right elbow, which makes typing difficult.