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This is not the first time we have talked about this subject.  Brandon wrote an excellent article on it.  There are several tools, but none quite as easy as pwnyoutube.com.  It does not require you to download any software or even copy a url.  Simply add “pwn” before “youtube.com” in the url of the youtube video you are viewing and that takes you to a pwnyoutube site where you can right click and “save target as” for the .flv file and even the higher quality .mp4 file where available.

If you are looking for a good video illustration to use in an upcoming talk, try this blast from the past:

Consume Me (DC Talk)

I often have people ask me how to make good sounding recordings of their youth bands, sermons, or voice overs for videos without spending a fortune on gear. Before I found out about the Shure X2u, I’d recommend a cool mic like the blue snoflake or snowball.  The Shure X2u is called a signal adapter, but it is far more.  It’s powered totally off a standard USB port, and allows you to plug a mic cord into one end while outputting the audio to your computer through the usb.

What is most interesting about the X2u are all its additional features.  It has an integrated mic preamp which will make the audio sound much better and more full.  It will power microphones that require what’s called “phantom power” or +48v.  It has a headphone jack that you can use to monitor the input as well as three dials that control mic gain, volume, and monitor volume.

This little piece of equipment allows you to use the mics you already have, either run through a mixer into the X2u or plugged up directly into the unit, instead of having to go out and purchase a usb mic that will probably not sound nearly as good as the mics you already have, and not give you the option of plugging in a mixer and using multiple mics.

You can get the Shure X2u at Amazon by itself for $120, or bundled with tried and true SM-58 microphone for $199 (a $220 value).

I am amazed. I have just spent the past several minutes toying around with what could be one of the most interesting tools I have ever found. It’s called Prezi. Saying that Prezi is about making presentations is like saying that Porche is about making combustion engines. It takes the idea of delivering screen-based presentations to an alternate, non-boring dimension where the creation of the presentation can actually be part of the creative process.

Basically, you take your content (everything from CAD drawings to video) rotate, scale, and place it, and then draw a path from one to another that automatically rotates and zooms the camera to fill the screen with whatever is being shown. Their site probably describes it best when they say, “Create a map of your ideas, images, videos, then show overview, zoom to details, amaze, convince, take the day. And it is very simple to use. ”

Simple is a gross understatement. They have developed an intuitive interface that allowed me to create this simple demo of an announcement presentation without ever reading or looking at a second of tutorial.  Although it is a web app, your presentations are available to download so that you can still show them when you are in the middle of nowhere at a camp who still has dial-up internet access.

The best part?  It’s FREE!  There are premium versions that you can pay for that remove the Prezi logo, give you more storage and an offline editor, but free is good enough for me.

While I think this may be distractingly cool for talk notes, I plan on using it to attract attention to our announcements and maybe a song or two if we get ambitious.

It’s that time again for Friday Fun.  This weeks entry is also is also a video that involves my favorite movie Star Wars, in fact I combined a bunch of videos from this same genre into one post.  I love these videos becuase not only do include Star Wars, but also another art form I love, the Mash-up.  Throw in some 80’s TV shows and you got some funny videos:

Maybe I just need to start a dumb star wars video blog.

Earlier, I wrote a review of the Amazon app for the iPhone.  That app has been made obsolete with Snap Tell.  This app starts with the same concept of using a picture of a product to show you places to purchase online, and then takes it to the next level.  With the Amazon app, it takes a couple of minutes to return the search results, but Snap Tell does it in about five seconds.  On top of that, it gives you prices from a ton of sites allowing you to click on the price to go to the site and purchase the item.  And that’s not all, if you allow it access to the GPS, it will give you the prices at stores close by.

The app is free which makes it a must download for anyone interested in purchasing anything.

With every announcement of a major media company making their content available for free (with ads, of course) online, I have inched closer and closer to freeing myself of the tyranny of my local cable company. The major hangup for me has been that all those companies have been on their own sites which would mean that even if I hooked one of my computers up to a TV, I would end up having to go to each site to “channel surf.” Then Hulu came around making that problem a little less by aggregating a lot of that content into one site. But it was still incomplete until now.

I had been hearing about Boxee for the mac for a while and decided to try it out. Wow. Here’s a little equation that I think explains it perfectly: Hulu + Glory = Boxee. Can you access Hulu content? Yes. But you can also access a plethora of other online content from podcasts to MTV that all comes preloaded. And don’t worry, if you find some specific site or YouTube stream that you like, you can plug it in manually!

What this means for me is that I am going to save at least $50 a month by cancelling cable TV and using a computer hooked to my TV to get all the network content online.  I mean, that’s enough to feed a family of five for one month and still have enough for two more latte’s!

Unfortunately, Boxee is Mac and Linux only, but rest easy. It is based on the XBMC software that has PC as well.

Site Issues

Chris —  May 1, 2009 — Leave a comment

We’ve had some runaway script problems on the site.  I’m working on them now, but to make sure you are still able to access the content of the site I’ve reverted to a theme that won’t cause problems.  I hope to have everything back up and running very soon.  As a fellow geek, I’m sure you understand.

Summer’s coming, and we are all gearing up for traveling with busloads (or church vanloads) of teens to random places throughout the country for camps, mission trips and all around fun. But how do you know where to stop for lunch? How can you find the exit or town with the most fast food places so that your stop lasts minutes instead of hours? Google maps of course!

I know you are already using them to figure out mileage and time on the road, but did you know you can look at fast food restaurants along your route? Here’s how to do it. First, click here, put in your route and check the boxes next to the places you would ever consider stopping (for those fast food snobs among us), and voila! An easy guide to all your burger desiring delights!

Don’t worry if you don’t see the promised push pins right away.  If you see a series of large numbers, zoom in or click on a number and the pins that were too numerous to display will come up clearly. I guess that leaves only one question: would you like fries with that?

Hard Drive Spring Cleaning

Chris —  April 24, 2009 — Leave a comment

Maybe you have a once a yer cleaning ritual, or maybe you are just running out of space on the hard drive that you were sure was way bigger than you needed when you initially bought the machine. Whatever the case, you probably find yourself wondering where to start. Where did all your gigabytes go anyway? That’s where JDiskReport comes in. The software is easy and intuitive. After you install it, it will do a scan of whatever directory tree you specify and then come up with an easy to understand pie chart showing where your precious space has gone. You can click through the tree structure on the left or on the pie chart to the right to drill down into the cluttered depths of your hard drive.

The only thing I wish it could do is delete the files/directories from within the program, but that is not a hard drawback to get over in such a handy piece of freeware.

The best news? Not only is it free, but since it is based on java, it is available on Windows, Mac (though with a decidedly Windows look and feel), or even over the web.  Just check out their site for all the details!

Create Your Own Youtube

Chris —  April 17, 2009 — 1 Comment

I have recently stumbled upon a service called Fliggo. It is focused on creating websites to share your videos.  It can create a site that is more as gallery, or one more like a Vlog where each video has comments or as a video sharing community similar to YouTube where users can upload their own videos.

One of their best features is the ability to enter a YouTube video address instead of uploading videos from your computer. It doesn’t merely embed the videos in your site; rather, it rips the video from YouTube, saves it on their server and inserts it into your site.  This is great because it removes the linked videos YouTube placed on the end of your video over which you have no control.

The service is free with a paid pro version in their ner future that adds custom domain support and some other options, but all the imporant features are available on the free version.