If a Picture is Worth 1,000 Words, What Does That Make a Video?

Archive for the ‘Tech Tips’ Category

If a Picture is Worth 1,000 Words, What Does That Make a Video?

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

My week got off to a craptastic, wonderful beginning when I tried to start my car and the engine wouldn’t turn over.  The first images in my mind was seeing 5 Benjamin Franklin’s with wings floating away, laughing at me as I would be forced to pay the mechanic for parts, labor and not to mention towing.  I was fortunate to know that my problem was most likely that my ignition switch had failed.  So I went on Google and typed in “Replacing Ignition switch Do it yourself”.  I found multiple forums explaining how to do this, but for a mechanic newbie like myself, most of this was Greek to me.  I’ve always learned something better if shown a visual of how to do it, than explained.  So my next step was youtube.  I type in the same search perimeters and I find this little gem.

Replacing Ignition switch

What could have potentially cost 500 dollars plus who knows how long I would have been without a car, turned into $80.00 for the part and only 5 hours without a car. Ignition switch was replaced and I was back in business.

You tend to hear about videos going “viral” on youtube that help businesses get instant recognition and marketing companies promising you they will help you create the next internet craze video.  The truth is, no one really knows the reasons what makes one simple little  $25 budget  video explode over the net while a $500,000 mass marketed version fails.  Generally humor is used but if you are using 80% comedy and 20% trying to sell something, you are already at a disadvantage.

As you can see with the video I posted, it was a simple how to video.  It was from a company that markets certain parts for GM models.  From their viewed list you will notice that it has received over 17k views.  While this is no where considered “viral”, that is indeed a healthy number.  If you go by the traditional 10% model that out of 10 potentials, 1 person buys,  this potentially nets you 1,700 sales for a product that costs $80.00.  This equal outs to $136,000.  The cost to make this video was probably $500-1000 range.  So as you can see, the return on investment here is huge!  So instead of wasting time and energy on making the next viral video, try focusing on simple how to videos explaining your niche product or service.

At Visionary Web, we are all about the return on investment for your website and development.  We will work with you to help you reach your targeted audience beginning with a small website package, and as your website traffic grows, we will help you with what steps you can do next to expand your website.  Whether it is a simple website update with a content management system that allows for you to embed how to videos, to blogs and shopping carts.

carDon’t worry, I was able to put it all back together again. :)

The Value of Brush Sets

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

One of the most singularly powerful and useful aspects of Adobe Photoshop is the brush sets. What makes this so portent is the dynamics that are possible with many of the tools when paired with the stylus of a WACOM. The size adjustment and opacity changes that occur depending on the pressure you apply to the pen makes for a near perfect imitation of traditional art techniques. Brush sets however are the patterns in which you are laying your strokes down with, regardless of the tool you use to do this. These brush sets are typically just referred to as brushes though they can be applied to many of the tools in Photoshop. The default brush is some size of rounded pattern with either a hard or soft edge. This default brush is usually enough to suit most situation you are dealing with, but if you are trying to imitate a paintbrush, pallet knife, chalk/charcoal, pastels, etc. it is often not acceptable. The best ways to mimic these mediums is to use differently textured brushes.

In traditional art these methods are also affected by what you are applying them to. Wood obviously would cause a different effect than paper should you write on it with a pen. The same applies to different grades of paper, boards, canvases, etc. to mimic this typically some sort of patterned or faux texture is applied to the layer beneath the one that the actual “art� is being produced on to simulate the correct canvas type. Generally though, the brush itself can produce the desired effect. Because of this versatility and flexibility the brush is, in my opinion, the most important aspect of Photoshop. Knowing how and when to use it is the next.

CSS… 3?

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

As promised, here is more on CSS techniques and graphic element implementations. To start I would like to explain what “Sliding Doors� are that I mentioned in my last post.
Simply it is a method of using CSS positioning to fake a rollover with one image that has both instances of the button and there by on the rollover it slides the image over to show the other state of the button. This greatly reduces loading time because there is no preloading required and you only have one image that you are working with instead of a separate instance for each button. The drawback is that you cannot use styled fonts. If you want a non-standard font (e.g. serif or sans serif along with the classic Arial, Helvetica, Veranda, Times New Roman, etc.) this is not the way you want to go because this effect is made by changing the a:link, a:visited, and a:hover background-image position.

I am impatiently awaiting a full support for CSS 3. Just some of the nifty things the newest version of CSS can do is rounded corners through the definition of only two numbers you can define an elliptical radii and thereby set the curvature of your container. This will also set the background to a rounded state even it you have your border set to none. Speaking of borders, CSS 3 has a new “wavy� boarder style that applies a wavy line to the boarder. You can also define images to your borders now just to increase the customization that so many designers have been using hacks and other less desirable methods to achieve the aesthetic quality they demand in their work. Unfortunately this presents us the same problem that exists now with the IE (Internet Explorer) browser support of the PNG file format. IE 6 does not support the alpha channel required to correctly display transparent PNG images. IE 7 however does. Because IE 6 does not we still must avoid the PNG and settle for the GIF format because IE 6 is still widely in use. If we were to try to use a PNG image then we would not be able to make a good design for IE 6, so for now we must ignore the advancements made in IE 7. So Until CSS 3 becomes supported by all browsers we will still have to use our workaround methods and hacks to get a display that will work for everyone. Even CSS 2 isn’t fully supported by all the browsers, or it is rendered differently because of the functionality of that particular browsers interpretation of the CSS.

Some CSS 3 properties are supported by some browsers, but not all. Transparency is one such property. One of the main focuses of CSS 3 was better text / font control for the designers that have wanted to implement some more typographical elements into their web designs. These text / font properties are almost all fully supported, but some workarounds are required still.

To take a look at the new CSS 3 properties for backgrounds and borders follow this link. http://www.w3.org/TR/css3-background/
To view a tutorial for the “Sliding Door� technique follow this link. http://www.expertsrt.com/tutorials/Cd/CSSrollovers.shtml

Honey, I Shrunk the Web-Page!

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

One of the things I personally struggle with in design is getting the right balance of graphic interest and clean-cut minimalism. I tend to lean a bit to the aesthetic side and toe the line with too many images. My design style is to build it up aesthetically first and then pare down to the essentials based on the function of the site and the user demographic that will be utilizing it. Recently I have been working at paring down my code as well. The less bulky the files, the faster the load time, the happier the users! In achieving this I also need to lessen both the file size and number of graphics being used, so in looking for ways to do this I have found a few “nifty� tricks. Nifty Corners Cubed is a process of making rounded corners without images. Sadly this utilizes and heavily relies upon JavaScript making it unusable for a designer attempting to avoid JavaScript as well as trying to keep code size down. Still a good solution for avoiding images though! CSS is my primary tool in achieving low file and code size. If I can keep my designs to solid colors, borders, and a few simple one pixel backgrounds then I will have achieved that balance between functionality and aesthetic design.

The Golden Rule…

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

Recently while browsing through good-tutorials.com for inspiration with a possible tip or trick to add to my skill-set, I came across a nifty little tutorial about using the “Golden Ratio” or “Golden Proportion” in layouts. For those who don’t know what the Golden Ratio is. I have started subtly implementing this ratio into my designs and have found 2 things about this technique. First, the banners tend to be a little too large. Not grossly overstated, but just a slight bit uncomfortable for the content body of text. The second is that even though this ratio does help the natural aesthetics of the layout. it tends to not lend it’s self well to multiple column layouts. I am still using the Golden Proportion in my layouts but much more sparingly and only as a subtle addition. I am not trying to rely on it to be a rule or a guide to build the layouts from as a quick or easy tool. Rather I am happy to say that it has merely made me that much more conscience of how the sizes and proportions of the layout can effect the emotions of the viewer. One more step toward being the best designer has just been taken!

Clean Computer

Monday, April 24th, 2006

Do you have a virus, spyware or adaware on your computer? If so these are the products that we recommend that you use:

AVG is a FREE anti-virus program that we use for our machines and we install on the computers that people bring in. One of the first things that we do is ask the customer to uninstall Norton Anti-virus. This is a worthless program. It really eats up your memory in your computer and it doesn’t catch all of the viruses that are out today on the market.

Lavasoft and Spybot Search & Destroy are the programs that we suggest that you use to eliminate spyware on your machines. Most of the spyware that people receive are from music sharing sites. Some of the files that you download from their sites could contain a virus or spyware so you want to be sure when you are downloading files from music sites. Almost all of the peer-to-peer music file sharing sites are really bad. Here are a few example sites to stay away from:

And there are many more BAD sites to avoid going to. So be VERY careful on what sites to browse because you could end up getting a virus or having your computer filled with spyware.

If you have any problems installing these programs or if you have a virus that needs to be removed, we CAN help you. Give us a call at 260.569.0260 and we will get your problem solved.

Things You Should NEVER Do

Wednesday, April 5th, 2006

We get these kinds of questions all of the time from computer users:
How did I get that virus?
How did I get that spyware program?
Where did that come from?

It’s easier to tell you how NOT to get these things than it is for me to tell you where they come from. They come from all over the place. All over the net and from a variety of downloads and sources.

So here is my guide on what NOT to do with your computer:
1) NEVER leave a floppy disk in your drive. Booting to an infected floppy is a sure way to infect your computer with a virus. Better yet – turn boot to floppy off in your system settings (BIOS). If you don’t know how to do this – let us know – we can help.
2) NEVER turn off your firewall or connect your machine directly to the Internet without a firewall on. Doing so puts your computer in danger of being hacked or hijacked. You might wind up having a webserver or gameserver on your machine you never planned on. Some viruses are also spread to open ports on a computer (but only a very few).
3) NEVER turn off your virus checker (and ALWAYS keep it updated). Mine is updated every day.
4) NEVER forget to run a spychecker program – like AdAware or SpyBot Search and Destroy. Do this religiously.
5) NEVER click anything while surfing the net that pops up and says, “You have spyware – click here to delete it!” Even if it looks like it is from your Windows system – Windows will never tell you this! Wait until you are completely off the net and run AdAware and SpyBot Search and Destroy just to be sure. Many of these popups only INSTALL spyware – not remove it.
6) NEVER download music from a site you don’t know and don’t install any programs from similar sites. If you aren’t sure of the site you are on – you can bet it is going to infect you with something if you download something from there.
7) NEVER accept free gifts or send anyone your bank information. If it looks too good to be true it probably is. You will never see your money again if you help out the banker from Nigeria that wants to pay you 10 million dollars to help him get the money out of the country that used to belong to a dead dignitary.
8) NEVER use your credit card on the net UNLESS you know who you are dealing with. PayPal – OK, Ebay – OK, IBM – OK, Visionary – OK – Joe Bob’s Surplus Store in Brooklyn – NOT OK, etc.

If you don’t know how to tell if you are on the right site or not – DON’T USE YOUR CREDIT CARD. Anyone can fake a web site – they do it all the time – Don’t fall for those emails from Bank of America or Ebay that ask you to confirm your bank account info – they are a fraud. The site might look like Bank of America, but it is NOT!

You can tell the legitimate site because it will say: http://www.bankofamerica.com or http://www.ebay.com

These are NOT legitimate sites: or other

If the URL does not start with www.ebay.com or www.bankofamerica.com BEWARE. And don’t be fooled by: http://a.www.ebay.com that is not Ebay’s site that is a.com’s site. AND if you don’t know how to tell the difference – you need to come to one of our safety siminars.
9) NEVER tell anyone your personal information over Internet Chat – this goes double for younger children and teens. A recent Dateline undercover operation caught 64 men ages 20-69 trying to pick up young girls and boys – many of these got caught when they showed up at the girl’s house! Keep your children safe – many of these men posed as younger boys to get the girl to tell them her information. This was in 9 total hours online! In 9 hours they ran into 64 predators online. So will your kids. Keep them and yourselves safe.
10) NEVER EVER EVER throw your computer through the window because it is a dirty, vile thing, that is slow and leads only to pornography etc. Of course that stuff is out there, of course there are viruses, but by:
a) Keeping your virus checker and spyware detectors up to date
b) Keeping your firewalls on
c) Monitoring your children
d) And following the other rules outlined here you can freely enjoy all of the great things the Internet has to offer without worry – or with less worry than you otherwise had.

Google Personalized Home

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

If you currently use the Google Personalized Home page, pass on by because today I’m going to tell you all about it. I had not bothered to check it out in the past, so recently I found myself curious enough to click on the”Personalized Home” link at the top right of Google.com. What I found there amazed me. From there you need to click on Personalize Your Google Home Page (or just follow my link) near the left-center of the window. Now you can tinker with your page by editing the options for each item and dragging them around to be exactly where you want them, but I would recommend clicking the “Save Page” button first. At this point, if you don’t have any kind of account with Google you will need to sign up for one. It’s free.

After you’ve done that you can customize your Google home to include easy interfaces to other Google services such as Google Mail (aka Gmail) or the Froogle smart shopper search engine. You can further enhance the page by clicking the Add Content link in the top left corner of the window. From there you are given a whole list of features you could add to your custom page. Remember, many items have their own customization options that you can edit by clicking the tiny “edit” link on their title bars. Custom content not even listed can be added as well.

My Google Personalized Home includes:

  • Bible Verse of the Day
  • 2 Quotes of the Day
  • Word of the Day
  • "How To" of the Day
  • Gmail Interface
  • Top News Stories
  • Free TXT messaging
  • Current Weather and Forecast
  • Movie ratings and showtimes for my area

After you have signed in to your Google account, these items can be edited and updated and re-arranged any way you like, at any time, and they are automatically saved! Dictionary.com’s Word of the Day used to be my browser start page, but now it’s Google all the way!