A Web Tool to Create GIFs

Here’s a neat GIF Creator, made available by Imgur.

Create GIFs with Imgur’s new Web tool

c|net – By: Nicole Cozma – “If you a large portion of your Internet time looking at GIFs, then you may have looked for a decent GIF creator to make your own. However, many of the free options only let you upload pictures, don’t allow any trimming or paste their watermark all over the finished product.

As an alternative, Imgur has just unveiled its own GIF creator. This tool is for those who want to capture just the right moments, loop them and then share on Imgur for the masses to see.

The Imgur Video to GIF conversion page makes creating a high-quality GIF really easy. Grab a link for your favorite video, paste it into the text field and then drag the start and finish markers to appropriate spots in your video. GIFs can only be 15 seconds in length, but that should be plenty of time to make something interesting.

After you’re finished making the GIF, you can decide if you want to share directly to Imgur, edit the title and description or grab a deletion link and start over. Want to see the finished product from the above image? Check it out.”

Amazon Echo Gets New Features

Amazon EchoThe Amazon Echo is getting a firmware update that will add some neat, new features.

Pandora, iTunes, and Spotify voice control

ZDNet – By James Kendrick – “The Amazon Echo that I found to be a perfect 10 just got even better, as an update adds useful new features and improvements. An email from Amazon is notifying Echo owners that voice control is now possible for Pandora, Spotify, and iTunes through iOS and Android devices.

Prior to this update the Amazon Echo could stream music from phones and tablets from these services, but controlling streaming was not possible through the Echo. It performed as a basic Bluetooth speaker. All media controls, like stop, play, pause, next, and previous, had to be performed on the phone or tablet.

Voice control with the Echo is now supported for Pandora, iTunes, and Spotify. As before, music streaming from these services must be started from the iPhone or Android phone, with voice control supported once streaming is underway.

In addition to this new feature, the update enables the following improvements:

  • Increased response speed and accuracy for many of your questions
  • Expanded coverage of facts from Wikipedia
  • Added new spelling words and definitions.

The update has already been pushed to my Amazon Echo, so check yours for the new features.

There is also a goofy new ‘Simon Says’ feature that can get Alexa to repeat whatever is spoken after the phrase. Amazon believes this will be funny to use from another room by using the microphone in the Echo remote to startle those in the room with the Echo.

The Amazon Echo app used to control settings for the device, already available on Android and iOS, is now available for Android 5.0 (Lollipop).”

Old Dropcams Will Die Soon… BUT…

Do you have an old DropCam? Get ready to replace it!

Have An Old Dropcam? It’ll Stop Working Soon, But They’ll Give You A New One For Free

TechCrunch – By: Greg Kumparak – “Do you have an old Dropcam? One of those boxy-lookin’ ones from when they first launched the company back in 2009?

Bad news: it’s about to stop working.

Good news: Dropcam will give you a newer one for free to make up for it.

On a support page published over the weekend, Dropcam notes that their oldest models — the Original Dropcam and Dropcam Echo — will stop working as of April 15th, 2015.

Why? The company doesn’t say much to that point, except that those cameras no longer provide “an experience that meets [their] standards”. In less nice words: the original Dropcam has a weak 320×240 resolution and no audio recording, and they don’t want to support it anymore.

So you get a new Dropcam HD (pictured up top) for free. Launched in 2012, the HD isn’t exactly Dropcam’s top-of-the-line model — that’d be the 2013 Dropcam Pro — but it’s considerably beefier than the 2009 Dropcam it’ll replace. Considering that Dropcam was charging $150 for the Dropcam HD up until a few days ago, it’s a pretty solid deal.

(Curiously, Dropcam.com isn’t currently selling the Dropcam HD — just the Pro. A Dropcam rep tells us that the Dropcam HD is ‘now sold out’ except for the inventory set aside for the replacement program; we’re looking into what that means for the HD moving forward.)

Update: Dropcam tells me that they’ll no longer be selling the Dropcam HD (the model they’re giving out for free, here) moving forward, though they’ll continue to support it.

Interested owners of the oldschool Dropcams can find replacement program details here.”

Geek Software of the Week: msconfig!

Our Geek Software of the Week this week is actually already installed on your PC! It is MSConfig! It is the built-in PC configuration utility, with a GUI, that you can active by going to “Start” and type into the “Search” area “msconfig” (no quotes.) You wil then see this screen:

msconfigOne particularly helpful option is in the “Startup” tab. You will see a list of all the utilities, etc. that run automatically on startup. You can speed thing up by trimming down the number of things listed here. Just don’t go to crazy, or something you need might not work!

Wikipedia says, “MSConfig (officially called System Configuration in Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 or Microsoft System Configuration Utility in previous operating systems) is a system utility to troubleshoot the Microsoft Windows startup process. It can disable or re-enable software, device drivers and Windows services that run at startup, or change boot parameters.

It is bundled with all versions of Microsoft Windows operating systems since Windows 98 except Windows 2000. Windows 95 and Windows 2000 users can download the utility as well, although it was not designed for them.”

  • In Windows 98 and Windows Me, it can configure advanced troubleshooting settings pertaining to these operating systems. It can also launch common system tools.
  • In Windows 98, it can back up and restore startup files.
  • In Windows Me, it has also been updated with three new tabs called “Static VxDs”, “Environment” and “International”. The Static VxDs tab allows users to enable or disable static virtual device drivers to be loaded at startup, the Environment tab allows users to enable or disable environment variables, and the International tab allows users to set international language keyboard layout settings that were formerly set via the real-mode MS-DOS configuration files. A “Cleanup” button on the “Startup” tab allows cleaning up invalid or deleted startup entries.
  • In Windows Me and Windows XP versions, it can restore an individual file from the original Windows installation set.
  • On Windows NT-based operating systems prior to Windows Vista, it can set various BOOT.INI switches.
  • In Windows XP and Windows Vista, it can hide all operating system services for troubleshooting.
  • In Windows Vista and later, the tool gained additional support for launching a variety of tools, such as system information, other configuration areas, such as Internet options, and the ability to enable/disable UAC. An update is available for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 that adds the Tools tab. It also allows configuring various switches for Windows Boot Manager and Boot Configuration Data.

Exploding Kittens Explodes on Kickstarter!

Now, THIS is Geek Culture at it’s best! They needed $10,000.00 for their new game, so the Internet gives them 5 Million (so far!)

‘Exploding Kittens’ Kickstarter Shatters Backer Records, Now 46000% Funded

Exploding KittensTech Times – By: Steven Schneider – “Kickstarter has proven that anyone with a good idea can get the funding they need for their dream (or potato salad). Yes, there are stories of projects going unfunded due to lack of coverage, but there are far more tales of success than failure.

Of course, there are varying levels of success. Some projects just barely make their funding goal by the time the deadline passes, while others see success within minutes. One such projects is the ‘Exploding Kittens’ Kickstarter: a card game by the creator of ‘The Oatmeal’ webcomic, the project was funded within minutes of going public, and subsequently raised over a million dollars in less than an hour.

Many people would expect such success to slow down a bit once the project was successfully funded – and those people would be wrong. Exploding Kittens now holds the record for most number of backers, and is currently sitting at over $4.6 million dollars raised.

Considering the project was only asking for $10,000 to get going, the fact that Exploding Kittens has raised such a ridiculous amount of cash is amazing. The project hasn’t lost any of its initial momentum, and with three weeks left to go, there’s no telling how much money the project will ultimately raise. If the rate of donations stays the same, the team could raise upwards of $15 million.

Then again, it’s not as if all of that money is profit: most of it will be used to manufacture and distribute the cards themselves, and with nearly 120,000 backers, that’s a lot of cards. On top of that, the cards are expected to be released this summer, so there’s only a few months to put everything together.

Even so, there’s not much you can’t do with $4.6 million dollars, so getting everything together by June shouldn’t be much of an issue.

For all of the details on the project, check out the official Kickstarter page.”

A New, Cool Version of LibreOffice!

My buddy, Steven J. is right as usual, LibreOffice is just the best!

The best open-source office suite, LibreOffice 4.4, gets new release

ZDNet – By: Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols – “Who says you can’t have fast, good and cheap? The Document Foundation’s latest release of the most popular open-source office suite, LibreOffice 4.4 is quite fast on Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows; it works well on all three desktop operating systems, and it won’t cost you a penny.

LibreOfficeBeauty’s in the eye of the beholder, but The Document Foundation claims that LibreOffice 4.4 is the most beautiful LibreOffice ever. I don’t know about that, but I do know that the LibreOffice’s user-interface (UI) is more efficient than ever. Unlike Microsoft Office, which has used a ribbon-based interface since Office 2007, LibreOffice still uses a top-menu based UI. Personally, I prefer LibreOffice’s approach.

Jan ‘Kendy’ Holesovsky, the leader of the design team, explained in a statement that LibreOffice 4.4’s new beauty comes from ‘redesigned menu bars, context menus, toolbars, status bars and rulers to make them much more useful. The Sifr monochrome icon theme is extended and now the default on OS X. We also developed a new Color Selector, improved the Sidebar to integrate more smoothly with menus, and reworked many user interface details to follow today’s UX trends.’

Specifically, the new, improved LibreOffice UI boasts better, clearer contextual menus, sidebars, and right-click context menus. For example, the style drop-down menu now has a split menu to edit or update the selected style.

Behind the good looks, LibreOffice also does a better job of importing and exporting file formats. In particular, LibreOffice now has two new fonts, Carlito and Caladea, that replace Microsoft’s proprietary Calibri, Office 2013’s default font, and Cambria. This, in turn, makes it easier for LibreOffice to import Microsoft Office Open XML (OOXML) formatted files.

LibreOffice also now does a better job of importing Microsoft Visio, Microsoft Publisher and AbiWord files, and Microsoft Works spreadsheets. It also comes with new import filters for Adobe PageMaker, MacDraw, MacDraw II and RagTime for Mac.

You can also now create PDF documents that can be digitally signed. In a world where more and more legal documents, such as contracts, are signed digitally, this functionality makes LibreOffice much more useful in the office.

Another improvement, which I know will make my editors happier, is that LibreOffice has improved the way it tracks changes to manuscripts and spreadsheets. This makes it easier to use LibreOffice, and its native Open Document Format (ODF), when you’re sharing work with colleagues.

Behind all of these improvements, the LibreOffice programming team used Coverity code scanning software to find bugs. Once found, they were cleaned out. The result is a program that should be both safer and have improved performance.

Is this a major release? No. It is a better release? Yes, yes it is. LibreOffice users will be glad to see it, and if you’ve been thinking about replacing your existing office suite with an excellent, free alternative, now’s a great time to give LibreOffice a try.

LibreOffice 4.4 is now available for download. If you really like it, you can donate to The Document Foundation to help the improvements keep coming, but it’s not required.”

YouTube Embraces HTML5!

I am a big fan of HTML5 and webm video. I was an early adopter here on the site, this is great news!

YouTube says HTML5 video ready for primetime, makes it default

Ars Technica – by Ron Amadeo – “Everyone hates Flash, right? You have to install a plug-in, it’s resource intensive, it doesn’t work on mobile, and it causes all sorts of security problems. YouTube has been working on ridding itself of Adobe’s ancient Web plug-in for several years now, and while the whole site has been slowly transitioning away from Flash, today YouTube announced that it finally serves HTML5 video by default. Users of Chrome, IE 11, Safari 8, and ‘beta versions of Firefox’ will all have a Flash-less experience.

YouTube’s transition seems to have been pretty straightforward. Four years ago, YouTube laid out a laundry list of problems it had with HTML5, and today it has a blog post explaining how it has worked with the Web community to solve each issue.

MediaSource Extensions have enabled YouTube to add adaptive bitrate streaming, which can change video quality on the fly without having to stop and rebuffer the video. YouTube says this has reduced buffering by ’50 percent globally and as much as 80 percent on heavily-congested networks.’

YouTube wanted a standard video codec that was supported by all browsers, but the browser world is currently split between Google’s VP9, a codec that came as a result of the company’s On2 Technologies purchase, and H.264. Naturally, YouTube is in favor of VP9, saying it reduces YouTube’s (massive) bandwidth by 35 percent on average and that videos start ’15-80 percent faster.’

DRM is a key feature that many content creators demand, but it was something HTML5 Video couldn’t deliver for the longest time. This was probably the biggest reason YouTube stuck with Flash and Netflix stuck with Microsoft’s Silverlight. Encrypted Media Extensions added an API to HTML Video which allowed the video to be wrapped in whatever content protection the device supported.

WebRTC enables direct-to-YouTube recording and live broadcasting, the fullscreen API allows for immersive viewing, and YouTube is deprecating the use of a Flash object tag for embedding and recommends using the iframe API.

The move is yet another nail in Flash’s coffin. The platform will still be around for some surprising use cases, but hopefully we can all banish it from our browsers someday.”

Dr. Bill.TV #370 – Video – “The Microsoft is Evil Edition!”

PlayPlay

VLC vulnerabilities exposed, Google, Fidelity invest $1 billion in SpaceX, GSotW: LinuxLive USB Creator, Windows 10 Event, Microsoft’s HoloLens, North Carolina to get Google Fiber soon, Walmart’s Vudu streaming stick for $25, Microsoft and Open Source.

Links that pertain to this Netcast:

TechPodcasts Network

International Association of Internet Broadcasters

Blubrry Network

Dr. Bill Bailey.NET

LinuxLive USB Creator


Start the Video Netcast in the Blubrry Video Player above by
clicking on the “Play” Button in the center of the screen.

(Click on the buttons below to Stream the Netcast in your “format of choice”)
Streaming M4V Audio





Streaming MP3 Audio

Streaming Ogg Audio

Download M4V Download WebM Download MP3 Download Ogg
(Right-Click on any link above, and select “Save As…” to save the Netcast on your PC.)

You may also watch the Dr. Bill.TV Show on these services!

 

Dr. Bill.TV on YouTube Dr. Bill.TV on Vimeo

 


Dr. Bill.TV #370 – Audio – “The Microsoft is Evil Edition!”

VLC vulnerabilities exposed, Google, Fidelity invest $1 billion in SpaceX, GSotW: LinuxLive USB Creator, Windows 10 Event, Microsoft’s HoloLens, North Carolina to get Google Fiber soon, Walmart’s Vudu streaming stick for $25, Microsoft and Open Source.

Links that pertain to this Netcast:

TechPodcasts Network

International Association of Internet Broadcasters

Blubrry Network

Dr. Bill Bailey.NET

LinuxLive USB Creator


Start the Video Netcast in the Blubrry Video Player above by
clicking on the “Play” Button in the center of the screen.

(Click on the buttons below to Stream the Netcast in your “format of choice”)
Streaming M4V Audio





Streaming MP3 Audio

Streaming Ogg Audio

Download M4V Download WebM Download MP3 Download Ogg
(Right-Click on any link above, and select “Save As…” to save the Netcast on your PC.)

You may also watch the Dr. Bill.TV Show on these services!

 

Dr. Bill.TV on YouTube Dr. Bill.TV on Vimeo

 


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