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June 2008 Archives

June 2, 2008

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words...on eBay!

If you've bought or sold on eBay (and odds are you have, with well over 200 million users worldwide), you know the importance of good pictures to making a sale and getting the best price. If you're a buyer, you want to see lots of good photos of what you're getting, and the sellers who provide them have a big edge over those who don't.

While eBay has its own image hosting service, the pictures are limited in size and have to fit in a certain area. They are often frustratingly small.

But there's a better way to display your eBay photos, with Roxio PhotoShow. Using PhotoShow, you can create an instant slideshow of any number of photos you like, and then automatically generate a snippet of HTML code you can embed in your eBay ad. The first slide in your show will then be displayed in the ad, and readers can click to view the whole thing. Shows can be up to 466x375 pixels, and can include all kinds of special effects, even music and voice narration.

To try out the process, my multi-talented colleague Carrie Scott created an ad for a pair of jeans she wanted to sell, following these steps:
1. Create a PhotoShow (in either the desktop or Web-based versions)
2. Upload the show to PhotoShow.com:


PhotoShowShare.jpg


3. “Share” the show and choose “Publish” from the drop-down menu:


PhotoShowPublish.jpg


4. Copy the html code that you’re provided
5. Drop the html code into your eBay listing, within the “description” field
6. and Voila!


PhotoShoweBay.jpg


Some tips for creating great eBay slideshows:

> Create and save a "template" slideshow that you can use as the base for new ads. Tweak things like the frame, transitions and any background music.
> Keep things simple, and zoom in close on the subject of your photos. Use the PhotoShow editing tools to fix and crop photos as needed.

Also note that while this article focuses on using PhotoShow for eBay ads, the same process works for embedding slideshows in any Web page or blog entry. PhotoShow even has handy presets for publishing to MySpace, FaceBook, Blogger, TypePad, LiveJournal, and many other sites.

June 12, 2008

Personalized Gift for my Hand-Picked Pop

Okay, not like the general public needs to know this, but when I was dating my ex (for eight years) I fell madly in love…with his parents. Then, my ex (hello, the ex from the start of this story should have tipped you off) became my ex and I still wanted his parents all to myself. Well, someone must have been looking over me, because here’s what happened. My ex moved to Korea (yes, Korea) for a job and I got to adopt his folks! Can you imagine my good fortune? I’m not joking. No, we didn’t sign adoption papers, but I do spend every Mother’s and Father’s Day with them and surely that means more than paper documents??!!! Right?

On to the real crux of this story. My dad (my ex’s dad but from here on out he’s mine) is very special to me. I think of all the ways I can impress and wow him on Father’s Day and somehow Hallmark falls a bit short. I consider making my own card but that’s so second grade. Jump ten minutes (and believe me you don’t need ten more minutes of my blathering on) and we come to my decision. I want to give my dad a “cool gift” but I also want it to be personal. Like Hallmark meets Blade Runner. Ya know? So here’s what I came up with! I would buy a hip digital picture frame (since that seems to be the peripheral of choice after an “i”-anything) and then put my very own PhotoShow on there for his personal entertainment. Best yet, he has a cat (yes, he has a cat but he’s had dogs over the years too so he’s not that lame) that he loves and I just happen to have a few very cute pics of that cat. How great would it be to make the cat the apple of this Dad’s day gift and wow him with a very syrupy show??! Well, you need not answer because I’m already there. Yes, yes, yes!

Albert (his beloved ragdoll) is featured in this Father’s Day collage of well-meaning and love. With trite captions, amusing graphics and enough attitude to silence Mariah Carey, I accomplished this in less than five minutes. I’m not joking. Here’s what I did.

1. Went to PhotoShow and uploaded the photos I wanted to use (ten seconds)
2. Added witty captions to each priceless shot (1 minute max)
3. Added sublimely appropriate animated graphics and stickers wherever I could (1 and a half minutes max)
4. Chose the perfect tune (30 seconds)
5. Admired my work (the remainder of the time – don’t make me do the math)

THEN, I literally outputted the show as a video file, transferred it to a jump drive (if you don’t have one they give them out at tradeshows ALL THE TIME or you can buy one for $5) then transferred the file onto the digital frame. It’s THAT easy. Seriously. I’m no techie and I could do it. You can too. (Alternatively, you can go into your PhotoShow account, click "Podcast your channel on iTunes" and then you'll find your PhotoShow(s) in your iTunes account where you can literally drag and drop into your digital picture frame!)

clowning%20around.bmp

When I give him this Father’s Day gift he’s gonna think I put sooooooooooo much thought into this and not to discredit my great intentions but it seriously was a no-brainer and something I knew would score me major adopted-daughter points.

All by way of saying, check out how cute this is!!! And, it’s not too late to make one yourself!!!!

June 18, 2008

Dancing with My USB Turntable


I've already written about my ongoing project to rip my 2,500+ CDs onto a network hard drive. But that's actually an easy task compared to that of digitizing the almost 300 vinyl record albums remaining (from my original collection of 1,000 or so) that I have not been able to find and repurchase on CD.

At this point, 25 years after the introduction of the audio CD, it's unlikely that any of those remaining albums are ever going to get released in digital form. So it's time to get them digitized and converted to CD format for posterity. However, my beloved 26-year-old Bang & Olufsen turntable has not been usable since my last move, when the tonearm got literally bent out of shape. And I'm reluctant to buy a new standard turntable when my new AV receiver doesn't even have a phono input. After all, I'm probably only going to be using it long enough to digitize all my records and then retire it.

So I spent a lot of time researching solutions before I found the Audio-Technica AT-LP2D-USB turntable, a very reasonably-priced USB turntable that you can plug directly into your PC or Mac. While there are a number of USB turntables out there, the Audio-Technica stood out for several reasons: it comes from a manufacturer with a long and illustrious history of producing quality turntables; it includes a very good dual-magnet replaceable diamond cartridge on a damped tonearm and a balanced aluminum belt-drive platter; it's fully automatic so you don't have to lift the tonearm; and it has a built-in Phono pre-amp, so you can plug it into any audio input in your AV system as well as into a USB port in your computer. It even comes with three types of cables so you won't need to run out and buy them.

AT-turntable.jpg

I received the Audio-Technica a couple weeks ago, and have since been playing with it using Creator 10 on my Vista PC and Toast 9 Mac with my MacBook Pro. I could not be happier with both the sound quality and ease of use. While the turntable comes with a couple software CDs, if you have Creator or Toast, you don't need to install a thing -- I like to keep a clean system and not having to install software is always a good thing. Quite literally, all you have to do is plug it in, put on your record, and press play to begin digitizing it with Creator or Toast.

In Creator 10, using the LP & Tape Assistant, the turntable shows up as the default "Microphone (USB Audio Codec)" input in the "Capture From" list:

lptape1.jpg

And in Toast 9, the turntable shows up similarly as USB Audio CODEC in the list of recording devices to choose from:

ToastCDSpinDoctor1.jpg

I've now digitized about 10 albums, taking it at a leisurely pace to listen (and in a couple cases, dance!) at the same time. After all, I've been unable to enjoy those 300 records for quite a long time now. Creator and Toast can automatically identify tracks digitized from LPs, so I don't even have to type in many song or artist names. I've also been experimenting with the handy noise reduction and sound enhancement filters in both programs, and highly recommend them to maximize your sound quality.

I've posted complete tutorials on digitizing your LPs for both Creator 10 and Toast 9 in the Hot Topics area of MyMoments. Take a look and tell me about your own experiences with digitizing your musical past.

About June 2008

This page contains all entries posted to MyMoments in June 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2008 is the previous archive.

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