Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Hours

Happy early Thanksgiving. We're closing at 6pm this Wednsday, and we'll be closed this Thursday and Friday so we can go home and fill up on food. But we'll be back Saturday 12-5, and Sunday we'll resume our regularly scheduled hours. You can also always check our hours online.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A little chilly

They're going to be working on the air handlers in this part of the building this weekend (starting today at 3pm), so I'm told it might get a little cold down this way tonight and tomorrow. There's nothing we can do about the temperature, so if you get chilly, you might want to grab a laptop from Rosengarten and work in a warmer part of the building until the heat comes back on.

Monday, November 17, 2008

iWeb Demo Today

Today from noon - 1pm, we will be holding a free workshop on how to use Apple's iWeb software, which is available in the Digital Media Lab, and comes free with every Macintosh computer.

iWeb makes it easy to create a website that’s stunningly beautiful — and totally you. Start with an Apple-designed theme, then customize it with your own text, photos, movies, and podcasts until it’s exactly what you want. And switch themes with a click anytime.

Apple's own Mike Wolk will be teaching the workshop in the Seminar Room in the Weigle Information Commons. See you there!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tin Eye

Tin Eye is an image-based search engine. The way it works is you submit an image (via upload or by entering a URL) and TinEye returns other versions of that same image that it finds on the web. I've used successfully this in 3 ways.

1) I've used it to find higher resolution versions of an image I only have a thumbnail of. This is especially helpful when you're making a poster or a print of some sort and you need something with a higher image quality.

2) I've used it to find full versions of images when all I have is a cropped version. For example, I want a picture of a $100 bill, but all I have is a crop of George Washington's face.

3) I have an single image that I know is from a set of similar photos. If TinEye can find a page with the image I already have, often it will be a page that also shows the other photos from the same set.

Give it a try. It's still in beta, and it does require you to register for free before you can use it, but it currently indexes over a billion (that's Billion with a 'B') images. So check it out at http://www.tineye.com

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Poster Printing Fable

Joan woke up this morning and decided to come to the Vitale Digital Media Lab in Van Pelt Library to print a poster for her Urban Studies presentation. She got to the lab at 9:15am, just a few minutes after it opened. But when she arrived, Joan discovered that the poster printer queue was already full for the day! In fact, the lab consultant on duty told her that people had been waiting in line outside Van Pelt at 8:20am--ten minutes before the building even opened--so that they could be assured one of the day's 7 lucky poster printing slots, and even THEN, the lab consultant had to turn away 3 people who'd been waiting since before the lab was open. So Joan went home unhappy, wondering how she'd ever get her poster printed in time without having to spend $120 at Kinkos or Campus Copy.

The moral of this story is The Early Bird Prints the Poster. We open at 9am on weekdays and 12noon on Saturday and Sunday.

Disclaimer: The preceding story is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Ok, that was a dumb fable, but no joke; they really were lined up outside at 8:20AM. Get here EARLY.

CS4 Trial Downloads Available

Exciting news! Adobe has finally made the free 30-day trial versions of their CS4 software (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.) available on their website for you to download onto your laptop or home computer. If you don't already have one, you'll need to register for a free Adobe account, but that's a small price to pay for a fully functioning copy of Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended!

You can download the trial versions at http://www.adobe.com/downloads/

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Indesign CS3 has arrived!

InDesign CS3 is finally up and running on the machines in the Digital Media Lab! Our licenses arrived today, and we got it installed this afternoon. Sorry again for the delay, but we're glad it's finally available for everyone who needs it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Embedding Video

So you want to put a video on your website...

Well, the easiest way is to upload it to YouTube and then embed it that video onto your website. The benefits of this are:

1) It's free!

2) You aren't paying for any of the bandwidth. So even if a million people visit your website and watch your video, YouTube is paying for the bandwidth instead of you.

3) YouTube gives you the HTML code you need to paste into your webpage, so you don't even have to know how to write HTML to embed your video successfully.

4)You're likely to get more viewers because other people will stumble across your video on YouTube, whereas if you just store the video on your own web server, you have to do all the advertising yourself to make sure people find it.

The problem with services like YouTube is that you don't get much control over the quality or compression of your video. You're also bound by their artificial time and size limits (for example, YouTube limits you to 10-minute videos. If you have a longer one, you need to break it into 10-minute chunks).

If you're using iMovie 08, there's a built-in upload-to-YouTube option. Otherwise, YouTube offers advice on its website at http://help.youtube.com/support/youtube/

Vimeo ( http://www.vimeo.com ) is still fairly new, and not as familiar, but it offers some distinct advantages over YouTube. Along with the benefits listed above, Vimeo has:

1) Better quality video (including support for HD video!) Check out one person's Vimeo/YouTube comparison at http://greyscalegorilla.com/blog/2008/04/02/vimeo-vs-youtube-quality/

2) No specific length limitation (although there is still a 500MB per week upload limit)

3) A for-fee service with even more features (see http://www.vimeo.com/plus )

Vimeo offers advice on how best to compress your video for upload at http://www.vimeo.com/help/compression and has a short video on how to upload at http://www.vimeo.com/339189

For maximum control over your video, you'll want to store the video on your own web server. If you're a student group, you probably already have a web space you can use. Otherwise, you can usually purchase a domain name, storage space, and bandwidth quite cheaply from a web hosting service (just Google it or ask for a recommendation from a computer-saavy friend.) The following advice applies only to people who have access to a web server and the ability to edit or upload webpages to it. If you aren't sure whether you have this access, check with the local service provider (LSP) for your home school, department, or organization.

We recommend using the FLV (Flash Video) file format (which is what YouTube uses) for your video, which gives a good balance between file size and video quality, and ensures it'll be playable on almost everybody's computer, since just about everyone has Flash installed on their machine.

In the lab, you can do this from within iMovie or Quicktime Pro. Open existing video file in Quicktime Pro or open your iMovie project on one of the machines in the lab and export as FLV it at Medium Quality using the "Expert Settings" option, since it will give you a smaller file size, which is friendlier to your viewers, who won't have to wait as long to watch your video and won't have to worry about having a fast enough connection to the internet.

(Note: If you're doing this on your own Mac, you may need to install the free Perian plugin ( http://perian.org ) which enables QuickTime Pro support for FLV along with some additional audio/video file formats.)

Watch the video to make sure it's a high enough quality. If not, export it again, this time with "high" quality.

Next, you'll need a FLV player for your website. Fortunately, there's an excellent player created by Jeroen Wijering, who generously makes it available free of charge for non-commercial use. You can download from his site at http://www.jeroenwijering.com/?item=JW_FLV_Player You can then upload the player along with your FLV video to your own website.

Jeroen has also provided a setup wizard ( http://www.jeroenwijering.com/?page=wizard ) which gives you the HTML code you'll need to paste into your webpage. And he has a list at http://code.jeroenwijering.com/trac/wiki/FlashVars which explains all of the variables you can set to customize the viewer to your needs.

If you need help at any step along the way, just stop into the lab and ask for help!