Archive for May, 2012

Quickly and Easily check your web site SEO performance with the SEO Workers Analysis Tool

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SEO Workers LogoOver the last 5 years I have built dozens of web sites. During that time I have assessed a lot of “Tools” that are designed to give you Search Engine Optimization feedback on how your site looks to search engines, but I always seem to find myself coming back to The SEO Workers Analysis Tool. It’s the best.

If you want to know how your web site looks to the likes of Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Bing etc etc, just go to seoworkers.com and plug your web site into their SEO Analysis tool, and it will tell you what is right with your site, what is wrong, and advise you what you can do to make your site rank better. They also have some really informative video’s you can watch, that appear automatically with your analysis results!

SEO Workers Analyzer Home PageOnce you are on their Analyzer Page, type in your sites URL, and answer the anti spam bot math question.

SEO Workers Submission WindowAfter you click submit, their analyzer will take a look at your site, assess it, and come back to you (Almost Instantly) with a complete Search Engine Optimization report, telling how your site looks to search engines, and advise on how you can tweak stuff to give you MORE POWER!

More PowerArgh Argh Argh!

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Posted by Greg - May 30, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Categories: Web   Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Clear and delete the list of recent conversations in Heytell

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Heytell IconHeytell is a great little app. For me, it’s like a phone call, a walkie talkie, and a answering machine all rolled into one. But if you have a few contacts, and use the app regularly, it wont be long before your conversation window is full up, and you can search the app until your blue in the face and you won’t find a “delete” or “Clear” option anywhere!

Thankfully, it is REALLY EASY to clear recent conversations!

All you gotta do is swipe your finger left to right on them! Just pick the conversation you want to clear, swipe your finger left to right on it as shown below,

swipe on heytell conversationAnd look what comes up!

Highlighted Heytell Conversation to DeleteA delete button!

great-successAll you gotta do now is press delete, and your window will be free and clear, and ready for your next conversation!

heytell window clearedEasy when you know how huh! This method also works in other apps to, so don’t be afraid to drag your finger across something, you never know what will pop up!

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Posted by Greg - May 30, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Categories: iPhone/iPod/iPad   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Convert 2D video to Anaglyph 3D using Adobe Premiere Pro

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2d to 3d
This Post Is Beginner Friendly

I have been looking at sites and blogs lately that describe how to make a 3D Anaglyph (viewed using Red/Blue Glasses) picture from a 2D picture using the channel mixer in Adobe Photoshop, and I was wondering if this method could also be implemented in Adobe Premier Pro? After a little bit of testing, and finding a few video’s on Youtube about it, I decided to give it a try.

For this experiment, my donor file will be a AWESOME video I found on Youtube by z400hauls featuring Brandon Bernsteins 8000hp Nitro Methane Dragster warming up.

z400hauls brandon berstein video

This video is shot in 720p Hi Def, with great audio, and it does a great job conveying what it is like to be so close to one of these fire breathing monsters. Please check out z400hauls other videos too!

To begin, open Premiere Pro (If you don’t have it, you can download a fully functioning 30 day free trial from Adobe.com) and create a new project. As z400hauls source video is 720P at 30fps (Frames Per Second), I am going to stick with this for my 3D transformation settings.

premiere-pro-sequence-settingsOnce you have created the appropriate editing environment for your videos specs, import your source/donor video by selecting the file menu, dragging down to “Import” and selecting your file.

Once you have it in Premiere Pro, Drag it to the timeline.

premiere-pro-editing-windowThe next step is to create a second video track from the first, so we can make the left and right channels required to trick our brains into seeing 3D. To copy the video track only (because we don’t need two identical audio tracks) click the video in the timeline to highlight it (Notice the audio track will highlight as well), then right click it and select “Unlink”. This will unlink the video and audio tracks.

unlink-video-premiere-proNow you can click on the video track to highlight it only, and the audio track will stay unselected. When your video track only is highlighted, right click it and select “Copy”.

copy-video-track-premiere-proThe next step is a little tricky, so follow carefully. Premiere Pro is a bit like Photoshop, in that it uses Layers to build up the scene. If you were to select “Paste” from the edit window now, it will place the copied video on the same track as the original one, which doesn’t help us. We need to place the copied video onto a separate layer, or track, in order to achieve a stereoscopic effect. If you look closely, you will see that video track 1, and audio track 1 are highlighted, and are a different color from the other spare blank tracks that Premier Pro set up for us when we created the document.

highlighted-tracksThis means that these tracks are active and are the ones we are working on. As we want to put video onto video track 2, click the blank area in the video track 1 and audio track 1 attributes bar to deselect them, and then click the blank are next to where it says “Video 2” to Activate/Highlight this track.

activate-track-2Now that we have Video Track 2 selected, we are nearly ready to paste in the second video channel. Premiere Pro will place the video wherever the play head (red vertical line) is, so to make sure our two video tracks line up, press the “Go To In” button to make sure the play head is at the very beginning of the timeline.

go-to-in-point-buttonNow that the play head is at the beginning of the timeline, and Video Track 2 is selected, click edit from the menu bar, and select “Paste”. Now you have two video tracks! WOOHOO!!!

two video tracksNow comes the fun part! Our next task is to separate the color channels, and create the “Parallax” effect. This is what tricks our brains into thinking that what we are seeing is 3 Dimensional. As we are creating a Red/Blue Anaglyph 3D effect, we need to separate the red and blue colors in our 2 video tracks. At this point, we will define “Video 2” track as our left/red channel, and “Video 1” track as our right/blue channel. To separate our colors, we will be using the “Color Balance RGB” effect. Open “Video Effects” then “Image Control” and drag and drop the “Color Balance” effect icon onto Video 1 track, and then again onto Video 2 track.

drag-color-balanceFirst, lets do the left/red channel. Click the video in the “Video 2” track to highlight it, and in the “Effect Controls” window set the green and blue channels to Zero. This will leave only red.

separate-red-channelTo create the “Parallax Effect”, whilst in “Effect Control”, click the little triangle next to “Motion” to expand this option so we can tinker with its settings.

motion-expandedAs this videos dimensions are 1280px x 720px, you can see next to “Position” that the center point of the video is at 640px on the horizontal plane, and 360px vertical. To create the Parallax, we need to offset the left channel to the left of the screen slightly. To do this, simply adjust “640” to “638”. This will move our left channel 2 Pixels to the left of the screen.

Move Position to Create ParallaxWe are now finished with the left channel for the moment, so lets make it invisible, so we can get to work on the right channel. To make it invisible, simply click the “Eyeball” icon in the attributes field as shown below.

Toggle Track VisibilityYour video preview window should loose the red tinge, and be restored to normal. Next, Highlight the Video 1 track (Right/Blue) in the timeline, and set the red to zero in Color Balance, leaving blue and green at 100. Then, enhance the Parallax by moving the Right/Blue channel 2 Pixels to the right. Again, click the triangle next to “Motion” to expand and reveal the options, and set the horizontal plane to 642. If you have done everything right, your video preview will now look all Blue-Ish.

Right-channel-settingsIt is now time to bring the left and right channels together and create the Anaglyph. Go back to the Video 2 (red/left) track’s attributes area and make it visible again by clicking the eyeball icon. Your video preview will turn red again. If you click the eyeball repeatedly a few times you will see that not only does your video turn from red to blue, but it also moves position – Yes! That’s the Parallax Effect – You have made a 2D video 3D!

YAY YOU!!!!!

To finish up, we need to blend them together. This is where Premiere Pro borrows from Photoshop. Blending is what makes Photoshop so powerful. With your Left/Red channel visible (Eyeball Icon clicked so the video preview window has the red tinge), click the little triangle next to “Opacity” in the “Effect Control” panel. Click the drop down menu next to “Blend Mode” and select “Screen”.

set-blending-screenVOILA! ANAGLYPH VIDEO!

anaglyph-effect

Using these settings, the 3D effect is only mild. To really make a strong 3d Parallax Effect, you move the left and right frames further apart. Instead of 638 for the Red/Left channel, and 642 for the Blue/Right channel, try 636 for the left and 644 for the right, or 630 for the left and 650 for the right. Experiment with these numbers until it looks right for you.

But BE CAREFUL – Don’t push these numbers to far, because you can make the video really blurry.

To save and export the video, select file, export, media from the menu bar. I will be exporting it in exactly the same format as I imported it, but you can play with these settings if you want to export your video in a different format, or for another device.

export-mediaOnce you have exported your new Anaglyph 3D video file, All you need to do now is put on your Red/Blue 3D glasses, turn your volume up to 11, and enjoy this AWESOME video from z400hauls in 3D!

If you, or your friends pass out, or barf, try reducing the Parallax Effect by moving your Red/Left and Blue/Right fields closer together 🙂

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Posted by Greg - May 19, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Categories: 3D Video and Photography, Video   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3D Video for Beginners Part 2 – Watching your 3D Video on Mac, Windows or Linux with BINO

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Bino LogoSo now you have created your 3D video file, its time to watch it back and see how it looks. If you try to open it using Quicktime or Windows Media Player, you will see your two camera feeds simultaneously in “Side by Side” format.

side by side videoIn order to see the 3D effect, and watch your video in 3D you will need to use a player that is capable of handling Stereoscopic Video files. There are quiet a few out there, but my Favorite is called BINO. I like it because it is really easy to use, can play your side by side video file back in lots of different flavors of 3D (like red/cyan, amber/blue, green magenta), there are versions for Windows, Mac and Linux/Unix, and the best part, its completely free!

You can download BINO from the bino3d.org web site HERE.

Once you have downloaded, extracted and installed BINO you can launch it, and from the file menu select your Side By Side video file, and the player will appear. You now need to set only two parameters, you need to tell BINO what kind of file it is you want to play, and how you want it played back.

In the “Input” drop down menu, select “Left/Right Half Width”, and in the “Output” drop down menu, select the display method that corresponds to the 3D Glasses you will be using to watch the video. I have the ones with the Red and Blue lenses, so I use Red/Cyan High Quality mode. Now, just push play and see how you did.

Bino WindowYou can make your video go full screen by double clicking the playing video. Double clicking on it again takes you back to window mode.

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Posted by Greg - May 16, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Categories: 3D Video and Photography, Video   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Easily Watch or Fix Aspect Ratio Problems in MPEG Video with MPEG Streamclip on Windows and Mac

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Earlier this week one of my favorite movies “The Scorpion King” was on TV, and as I recently bought a new digital set top box with USB recording capabilities, I thought I would give it a try. I remember when I saw The Scorpion King at the movies it was in a very widescreen aspect ratio, and it looked great! But, as soon as it started on Sunday night, I could tell something was not right. Rock Johnson looked more like a character from Avatar than the WWF! He seemed over 10 feet tall and as skinny as a broom handle, which as we all know, isn’t the case!

My suspicion is that someone at the TV station got lazy, or maybe a setting in my set top box was wrong, but the bottom line is I have a 2+ gigabit video file of one of my favorite movies, and it is virtually unwatchable because the aspect ratio is way off.

Thankfully, there is a nice easy way to straighten things out. Now, If I intended to watch the video file on my computer, I would use VideoLAN’s VLC Player, because it’s free, it plays practically everything, and it has nice built in feature’s that amongst dozens of other tricks, will adjust your movies aspect ratio on the fly, so no re-encoding is required.

VLC Player falls into my “I can’t Believe it’s free” category. No matter what OS your running, they have a player for you that will knock your socks off. But if you want to watch that distorted video file on something like a WDTV, or plug a USB key into your flat screen TV, your gonna have to re-encode it and repair the problems.

Luckily, my set top box records in MP4 format, so my tall and skinny video file will drop straight into a really cool, and again FREE program, called MPEG Streamclip, which is what I am going to use to fix my aspect ratio problem in my video file.

Thankfully, MPEG Stream not only fixes tall and skinny video’s, but short fat ones too 🙂

To get started, if you don’t have it already, get your free copy of MPEG Stream clip right HERE! You can do a bunch of cool stuff with it, it’s free, so there is no reason not to have it in your video tool kit! Once your installed, FIRE IT UP!

MPEG Streamclip Screen CaptureOnce the main window is open, drag your wonky video clip into it, and you will see a preview window.

MPEG Streamclip Screen CaptureTo begin reshaping, open the file menu and select “Export to MPEG-4”, or if you want to cross encode to another format, you can choose it here instead.

MPEG Streamclip Screen CaptureOnce you have selected your preferred export format, a new window will pop up where you can adjust your settings, and de-distort your movie.

MPEG Streamclip Screen CaptureAs you can see from the above capture, my video was recorded in 720px wide by 400px high, so I am now thinking I really do need to go and take a look at the default settings on my set top box. To start repairing the problem, I clicked “Other”, left the width at 720px, and started to play with the vertical height. After I changed the setting, I clicked “Preview” to see if my changes made the aspect ratio better.

MPEG Streamclip Screen CaptureA new window popped up and the movie started to preview, and I noticed a secondary window which looked like it had already begun encoding, but this doesn’t appear to be the case. It seems to me that it is just encoding your preview while you are watching it, but its not the final pass.

MPEG Streamclip Screen CaptureIf the preview looks good, or even if it doesn’t, click the stop button after you have assessed your changes. If you want to re-adjust your settings, you can go back and do so, or if you are happy with your changes, go ahead and click “Make MP4” in the bottom right hand corner, and give your FIXED video a new unique name.

MPEG Streamclip Screen CaptureLike most video encoding, it will take some time to process the file and apply your changes. But when it’s done, everything will look like it should again.

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Posted by Greg - May 9, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Categories: Mac, Video, Windows and PC   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Make a Mac OSX Lion Virtual Machine in Mac OSX Lion

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A OSX Lion Virtual Machine running on OSX Lion I hear you cry? Why?

Much like Windows (but not quiet so bad) Mac OSX creates support files for most program you install. Even though a lot of programs you download seem like a self contained package, and if you don’t like it, you just trash it and its gone, that isn’t really the case. Like Windows, your mac has a large amount of hidden files, and new ones are created with most programs you run. Things like preferences files, registration data, and a swag of other stuff that hangs around after the main app file has been deleted.

(If you are interested in viewing this sort of stuff, and easy way to get started is to Download Tinker Tool, set it to “Show Hidden Files and Folders”, click “Relaunch Finder” and open up hard drive/library folder. BE WARNED! – You can do a LOT of damage in there, tinker with care!)

If you are like me, and feel uncomfortable with the possibility that clutter and orphaned files may be affecting your systems performance, a great way to test out new programs to see if you want to commit to them long term is to try them in a Mac Virtual Machine. This way, all of the files stay in the Virtual Machine, and you can roll back to a previous snapshot, or even delete it when your done, and your live system hasn’t been modified at all.

It’s pretty easy to install a Mac OSX Lion Virtual Machine in VMWare Fusion………as long as you managed to intercept/save your “Install Mac OS X Lion” Installer app from your Applications folder before you installed OSX Lion on your computer.

The problem here, is that a lot of us didn’t. I certainly didn’t. And for some reason it seems to be automatically deleted once you have installed it. I tried lots of methods that claimed to be able to reclaim the installer app, but none of them really worked. I ended up wiping my hard drive completely, re-installing Snow Leopard, then going back into the App Store and re-downloading the Lion Installer App, and saving it out before I ran it. As I had already purchased it, there was no cost, but it was still a lengthy process.

Once you have the Lion Installer app, open VMWare Fusion and click “Create New” in your virtual machine library to create your new Virtual Machine.

The next Window will ask you for your installation file. As you most likely don’t have OSX Lion on a disc, you will need to point it to your Lion Installer App. Click “Continue Without Disc”

Next, select your installer app’s location from the drop down menu and click continue.

The installer is pretty clever at picking what operating system you want to install, so in most cases you can just click “Continue” once it has correctly identified the installer.

The next window allows you to customize aspects of the new virtual machine. You can assign more memory, more hard drive space, and a lots of other variables by clicking “customize settings”. Again, VMWare is pretty clever about choosing the best settings for you, so feel free to accept them and click “Finish”. You can always change them later if you need to by right clicking your virtual machine in the virtual machine library and selecting “Settings”.

The final step is to name your virtual machine. VMWare Fusion selects a default name based on your operating system, but you will probably want to change it to something a little more meaningful. In my case, I changed it to “Lion Test Area”, as this is where I will be testing software.

And now it begins!

And before too long, your in business! You now have a sand-boxed version of OSX Lion running inside of OSX Lion!

Now, again, if your like me, your probably thinking “Can I use the same technique to run Leopard or Snow Leopard in Lion so I can use my old PPC apps?” At this stage, I am not aware of any simple easy way to make Leopard or Snow Leopard run. I am looking into it though, and if you already know, please let us know!

Enjoy!

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Posted by Greg - May 5, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Categories: Mac, Tech   Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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