27 March 2008

Review of Animoto - Ultra easy video production

Wow ! - Animoto is a winner, one of the best video webservices I've tried so far;

Animoto produces videos that are totally custom made to the music and photos you choose, your photo's and chosen music are analysed and the result is a unique video.

Three easy steps to produce a video

  1. Choose photo from webaccounts like Flickr or upload from PC
  2. Choose music from (limited) Animoto or upload your own
  3. Initiate video production, you get an mail 7-15 min later when your video is ready
The final video looks very good - see my sample below;

30-second video are free, one full video $3 and a years full access with unlimited video $30.
For a low-budget promotion video Animoto could be the answer, I will for sure use this service in one my current projects.

    Review highlights

  • very user friendly, simple and intuitive interface

  • 3 easy steps to produce a video

  • Limited music available, the help section points to a couple places with free music I think they should list alternative places more prominently

  • In the help section you have to click every FAQ to see the answer, would suggest a show all option giving the option to scan the answers instead of reading it click by click. Tip, do read the help section - some good tips there

  • Direct publishing option to Youtube, blogger, facebook ...

  • Pricing seems fair

  • Resulting video match the music, transitional effects and photos very well
Some users might want higher degree of control with effects and timing.
Currently only option to influence result is the ability to choose which photo to spotlight and musicstyle - but it work amazingly well
Animoto Review verdict: 4 out 5


Animoto is currently running a facebook campaign where you get a free full length Animoto video when signing up via their facebook app - not on facebook ?!, try this link instead

26 March 2008

Swap Blog Title and Post Title on Blogger

Update 2: You can find an up2date workaround described here

Change title tags for your blogger posts swap title hack

Update; Major issue ! Seems this and similar "title-above-head-tag-hack" breaks the visual layout editor in blogger when you subsequently want to add new pagelements via the visual editor
...... sigh

Note; following the advice from MYSS I'm pitching in the sidebar and focus my pages, thus will switch to blogging about different themes on different blogs.

Originial post below:

rockstar_32Wow, after some hefty research and a couple of late nights, I can release my first blogger hack!

An updated march 2008 version of the popular "Swap Blog Title and Post Title on Blogger".

From a SEO point it's more optimal to have the post title appear as the page title instead of a generic blogtitle first.

There's one minor issue I haven't been able to solve yet, the title tag ends above the head tag, which is not according to W3C standards for Title tag - but it should be rendered correctly by all browsers and even more important picked up by searchbots too .... so until something better shows up this hack should do the trick.

The hack's basic feature and design is similar to the old hack but I've eliminated some unneeded code, I suspect the original hack were done by someone without solid coding background (and understanding).

I've annotated the code to enhance clarity, but no guaranties for minor inaccuracy as I'm not completely confident with Blogger's framework yet.

anyway, here goes

1) Take a backup of existing template first ! - click Download full template and save it

2) Click expand Widget
Expand Widgget

3) Find this code in the top of blogger template,

4) Substitute with the code in table below - download link at the bottom of this post

5) Save Template

Note; Apparently Blogger integrates the new widget introduced in the hack with other widgets present, so when you re-open your template it will look differently and your widget hack code has been re-formatted and integrated with other widgets present in your template - it could be a problem later ..... so use this hack at your risk and keep your original back-up a safe place.

It's possible to re-find the added widget code after reformat by blogger, but it's not easy.

Note; Beats me why blogger keeps floating the table below down ... still looking into that

<b:include data='blog' name='all-head-content'/>Include head content, loads page variable (I'm not totally clear about this one - no available documentation found)

<b:if cond='data:blog.pageType == "item"'>
if this is an item page we want to do something

<b:section id='titleTag' class='header' maxwidgets='1' showaddelement='no'>
<b:widget id='SwapTitle' locked='false' title='Swap Title' type='Blog'>
Widget needed for the code to work so we declare one, and as widget needs to be in a section we declare a section too

<b:includable id='posttitle' var='record'>
Declaration of subfuntion posttitle which takes the parameter record (parameter will be an object which contains information related to a specific post).
For each record passed we generate a title tag (knowing we only will be called once, but since the post record is a part of an array we need to do this loop thing)

<b:includable id='main' var='top'>
<b:loop values='data:posts' var='post'>
<b:include data='post' name='posttitle'/>
Main routine in widget.
Loops through all post (which is exactly one as we are only doing this on a item page), calls the subfuntion posttitle

widget and section closure

Use blogtitle if on main blogpage

Header tag is placed here, below our title hack!. Reason for placement below; otherwise we will get this error when trying to save our template;
Your template is invalid because the tag 'b:section' appears inside of the tag 'head'

Click here to download the code to Swap Blog Title and Post Title on Blogger

If you like this hack, give me a blogger-hug .... read - a link to this post !

Thanks to following resources

25 March 2008

Visualization API coming to GoogleBase ?

I noted this comment on the official Google blog "The Visualization API provides a platform that can be used to create, share and reuse visualizations written by the developer community. It provides a common way (an API) to access structured data sources, the first being Google spreadsheets" -

It might be hinting at a forthcoming API for GoogleBase ?!

When GoogleBase were launched I thought it would be a good option for database-on-www, but apparently Google don't want to compete in that area, GoogleBase seems to be aimed as an option to provide structured content for Google Search - leaving amazon S3 service as one of the best options currently for a database-on-www.

24 March 2008

Trendanalyzer from former Gapminder available in Google Visualization API

Finally - I speculated in a blogpost about Gapminder/trendanalyzer coming to google analytics back in august 2007 - well I were wrong.

Trendanalyzer from former Gapminder shows up in the new Google Visualization API, providing the first appearance of trendanalyzer in Google clothing.
The Visualization API were recently announced at Google code blog

Gapminder - Motion Chart

The first (limited) Gapminder functionality is also available in Google Docs (spreadsheets) and as Gadget together with other charts.

Btw, I think they got it right Google, they do not just mirror the well known Microsoft functionality in Google docs, but web enable the stuff - like the new notification rule where you can see when your collaborators have modified your spreadsheets, and even learn what sheets or cells they've modified.

I've completely abandoned Microsoft Office privately and becomes more and more happy with Google docs.

23 March 2008

Deactivate extension compatibility check in Firefox3

A lot of extension gets disabled in Firefox3 as they do not specify version 3 as a supported version.

The Nightly Tester Tools allows you to overwrite the compatibility check in firefox 3, providing the ability to deactive compatibility checking for any firefox extension currently disabled.

The 'make compatible' option forces any disabled extension reactivated with next reload of firefox.

Handy until all your extension are upgraded, which in many cases may be as little as the extension needs to specify firefox3 (beta x) as supported.

Warning - not all extension will work properly, e.g. google toolbar seriously breached Firefox3 for me - I were unable to start Firefox3 after failed install of google toolbar.

In case of serious problems with an extension in Firefox3 (read; unable to start firefox3)

Start Firefox2, deactivate/uninstall the extension causing problems and you can switch back to Firefox3.

Update march 2009 - read how to disable extension compatibility check entirely in Firefox 3

Liked this post ?! - check out other post about extensions

22 March 2008

Improved performance and memoryusage with firefox3

Firefox3 rocks ! The next version of firefox, firefox3 is now available in a very stable beta 4 version.
I've been using the beta versions since beta1 and switched completely from FF2 to FF3 with betaversion 4, the performance is simply so much better in firefox3 that I live without the extension that does not work with FF3 yet ; Google toolbar being the only one I really miss in firefox3.


The performance in version 3 of firefox is superior!

I regularly have between 20-40 tabs open when scanning feeds - with firefox2 I ended up with allocated memory from 500 MB up to 1GB !. In firefox3 the normal memory usage shows figures between 300-400 MB and no climbing up of memoryusage over time, thus no noticeable memoryleaks leaks even after hours of intense browsing and webdevelopment with firefox3.

Mozilla developer Stuart Parmenter writes in detail on his blog about the firefox3 memory improvements