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All posts tagged Video

Microsoft and AOL Just Announced Their Deal …

Teaming up to offer AOL’s premium video content through various Microsoft channels.

The AOL post mentions MSN, Bing Apps for Windows and Windows Phone but also goes into detail about the dazzling array of content from sites under the AOL banner like:

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AOL On has a staggering 900000 videos across 15 channels and are announcing new original series this week. All of this adds up to a substantial boost for Microsoft in terms of entertainment and informational content.

I Had Speculated …

In a post unpublished last month that Microsoft might be well served by partnering with Vimeo or Yahoo Videos but since Yahoo are reinventing themselves as a competitor for Bing there was no apparent logic to Marissa Meyer agreeing to this kind of deal.

In the end I let the post sit in drafts and as it percolated this news broke changing the whole picture.

The Warptest POV

Microsoft have been lacking original video content and a sound means to compete with YouTube. This has caused all kinds of problems with Windows Phone and the failure to resolve differences with Google over the jointly created YouTube App.

This is a win-win deal for AOL and Microsoft and whilst AOL already has iOS and Android apps, how long will it take for us to see the equivalent Windows Apps? More importantly will this be one of the first big-league apps to be built as a universal app?

Windows 8 Ecosystem Universal Apps - Microsoft

Windows 8 Ecosystem Universal Apps

So video content consumption just got a lot better in the Windows 8 ecosystem. Is this the first of such content distribution deals and if so will device company, Microsoft explore a competitor to Chromecast too?

Chromecast - Microsoft

Will we see a Microsoft competitor?

Time will tell if Google should have just worked with Microsoft and released the YouTube app and not (de facto) created this partnership.

I’m looking forward to using these new AOL apps when they arrive. How about you?

Ballmer freebies

Microsoft likes giving us freebies…

… Some of these are hidden gems that most users have no idea exist. One of these is the Microsoft Steps Recorder.

This is a small application that allows you to save a recording of every click and every action you take on your computer.

Don’t Worry This Isn’t PRISM

I know that at first glance this sounds like Microsoft wants you to run a key-logger or something worse but you run the application and it records what you choose.

To run it: –

  • Windows 7: Start > Run > PS [enter] PSR [enter] With thanks to Jim Hazen and Fellow tweep @Srinivasskc for each correcting this in a gentlemanly manner.
  • Windows 8: Charms sidebar > Search > Steps Recorder > select

Windows Step Recorder

  • The application will open a small hovering toolbar on top of all open windows.

Windows Step Recorder App

  • Hit the record button to begin recording and the stop button when you have captured the activity you wanted to capture.

What Has The Steps Recorder Captured?

The HTML file contains a series of screen captures showing each step the user took: each window you interacted with and each click therein.

Windows Step Recorder Results 1

After this there is a text list of the application name and the UI element interacted with.

Windows Step Recorder Results 2

What’s the point of it? The use cases are basically this:

  • If you have a problem that you can’t quite explain to your tech support this is a nice, easy way to record how the problem occurs and send the steps involved to Support so they fully understand your problem. This also makes it easier on Support not having to translate what you are telling them.
  • This is a great testing tool for running test cases and saving the recorded scenario attached to a bug the tester reports.
  • If you need screen captures for a PowerPoint / Training Session / Technical Document this is how to capture the process you want to describe from end to end.

The Warptest POV

This is a great little tool and a freebie from Microsoft. The only major downside of it is the longer the scenario you record, the bigger the file can get. My advice is to work out what you need to record and don’t include redundancy.

What if you need something more though? Microsoft has you covered again. If you need to capture actual video of desktop activity then you can install Microsoft Expression Encoder 4. This is the free version and it works nicely.

Expression Encoder

Expression Encoder allows you to record video of a selected region of the screen or the whole screen, it can also just record voice or video from your webcam. Any post processing / editing you’ll have to do in another tool but plan your capture right and you shouldn’t need to do any of that.

Expression Encoder Walkthrough

In a nutshell, there something for everyone here. If you need help with this then contact me via Warptest here. Happy capturing.

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Vine meets Wolverine

Vine is what exactly?

Vine launched with much fanfare as a shareable micro-video app with expectations of rapidly becoming the next big thing for iOS.

Subsequently they added embed functionality and job postings on the Vine site seem to indicate that an Android version is coming soon.

Love it, or Hate it?

The sentiments have been mixed on Vine from what I’ve read online. As you know I’m a Windows Phone user so my daily access other than for testing is limited with iOS but from what I’m seeing some love the medium and others positively loath it.

Where Have We Seen it So Far?

The mainstream use cases are limited but an outstanding example was new movie The Wolverine, based on the popular Marvel Comics character. Below is an incredible first look mini-trailer made with Vine showing Hugh Jackman reprising this role.

Subsequently we saw Bryan Singer post a Vine from the set of the new X-Men movie showing preparations for shooting and some familiar faces from previous X-movies.

 The Warptest POV

Video is a tricky thing. Not everyone has it on their website and not everyone does it well. There are a lot of factors that can mess things up but Vine minimizes some of these risks by dealing in snapshots which minimizes all that pesky post-processing.

In a way this is a natural extension of micro-blogging and the 140 Characters of Twitter and as it is a new app we are still at the stage of “I’m eating my sandwich” / “Having a shower” stage that Tweeps indulged in back in the day.

The fact is that whilst movies can use Vine nicely we are still at the discovery stage for using this app as a mainstream tool for engagement. To those who hate it I would suggest you remember the bet posed to Ernest Hemingway; tell a story in 6 words:

For sale: baby shoes, never used.”

If Hemingway was around today wouldn’t he be using Vine to tell his stories? One thing is for sure, I’m looking forward to installing the Windows Phone Vine App when it eventually launches.

 

Anyone who has read my blog knows my feelings regarding Microsoft and that one paradigm for me is the 100% Microsoft PC from OS to software.
That said, there are sometimes applications that need to be on your PC; one example of this is the field of Multimedia. Why? Because like anything else business is generated by competition and in the field of Computers that is done with proprietary file formats.
As time has progressed we have seen the advent of a greater number of formats (ASF, WMV, MPG, MPEG4, RM, RAM, AVI and so on) the list is almost infinite and this doesn’t even factor in the number of different codecs that hide under various formats.
The three main contenders in the field seem to be Windows Media Player, Quicktime and Real Player. Each on installation tries to encourage you to default as many file formats to them as possible. Each has a component that sits silently in your processes even when unused (from Startup) and eats one more bite of your CPU and RAM (what doesn’t though?). Todays’ current versions of each are slick, well designed, stable and feel and look good. Each allows the user access to a variety of tools and functions beyond simply viewing local media.
I tend to default to using Windows Media Player first for most things but probably the best look and feel goes to Quicktime which integrates nicely with their website. If you love watching trailers of coming movies then I recommend Quicktime http://www.apple.com/trailers/ .
Quicktime also offers me one more nice feature. This summer I traded up my cellular phone for one with a video camera. Having migrated the videos of my son, Eitan to my PC I discovered the need to install yet another player to support this format *.3GP and yes the player comes on the Nokia CD with the phone.
Even more complicated was explaining to family how to view these videos as I have yet to find a tool to convert *.3GP to MPG or AVI. I decided to try playing the videos with each player and see what happended and to my delight Quicktime played them flawlessly.
So each does something the other doesn’t, each is stable and each sits on my computer but hey, competition is healthy even when it eats a little disk space.