Which video service is best for you?

Flash based video has been popping up everywhere in the past few months. With popular sites like YouTube and Google Video giving this format lots of exposure, I’ve decide to do a mini roundup of what is out there.

First things first—what is it? Flash based video uses Macromedia Flash to play video clips. Several websites have created services that allow you to upload, view, and share your clips. None of these sites will display great video quality but because of the Flash format, your videos can be easily embedded in blogs and other websites.

I’ve uploaded the same clip to each of the following websites:

Take a look at the results.

Google Video: Despite Google’s new web-based uploader, the process was slower than I expected. Also, there is something just ugly about the whole Google Video experience. However, Google’s popularity may give your video clip more exposure.

VideoEgg: You’ll need to download and install the VideoEgg Publisher before you use VideoEgg. Once installed, uploading the video was a fast process. The publisher does give you a few extra features. You can trim your video’s start and end times. VideoEgg will also capture video directly from a camcorder, webcam or mobile device. These are nice features but anyone who is serious about video is going to have their own tools to do this and much more.
YouTube: Again another popular site— perhaps too popular. Uploading video to YouTube took the longest. Like Google, YouTube will give your clip more opportunities for exposure. However, YouTube has had a history of hosting copywrited material. Others claim that YouTube it running out of money due to huge bandwidth bills. I question how long YouTube will be able to stay in business.
Vimeo: This is my top pick. Vimeo was the easiest experience of them all. The upload time with Vimeo went quickly and the whole process was a snap. I also think Vimeo displays their clips the best.

Color blindness: should you care?

Approximately one out of every twelve males has some form of color blindness. Take a look at how they see the world.

colorblind.JPG

Should you think about this disorder while creating your next presentation or website? That depends on your audience. If the majority of your audience is male, I would let color blindness influence the design of your next project.

Here are a few things to consider when building a presentation or website:

  • do not place red and green together (especially in menus)
  • avoid using color as the only distinction between key elements
  • find a color blind friend to look at your work
  • view desaturated versions of your images to see if their features still can be detected

Some resources:

What’s so bad about email?

After writing his article, The Good in Email, Isaac Garcia has written a follow-up article— The Bad in Email. The article explains why email is not the best tool for collaboration.

Below are the reasons. Read the full article to see an explanation of each.

  • Email is Silo’ed
  • Email *Perpetuates* Many Walled Gardens
  • Email is NOT Secure (Part 1)
  • Email is NOT Secure (Part 2)
  • Group Email is Really Complicated
  • Email is Not a Document Manager
  • Email Communications Do Not Correspond Priority
  • Email is inconsistent
  • Email is not permission based
  • Spam Filtering is better, but still not good enough
  • Email does not work well for multi-users
  • Email is Prone to Viruses
  • Email makes us lazy

F is a passing grade for websites

The Nielsen Norman Group has conducted an eye tracking study that has shown that most users read in an F shaped pattern when visiting a website.

f_reading_pattern_eyetracking1.jpg

What should web designers learn from this study?

  • users won’t read your site thoroughly
  • the first two paragraphs are the most important
  • information-carrying words should start subheadings, bullet points and paragraphs

Read more about the study.

Google SketchUp: Free 3d Modeling Tool

I’ve been playing with Google SketchUp— a free and easy-to-use 3D modeling tool. It allows you to make a model of just about anything. I think it is a great tool for drawing science equipment.

Below is one of my first creations– it’s a ringstand.

ringstand.jpg

Go to CNET to read their review or watch their video of Google SketchUp in action.

Before you start playing with Google SketchUp, I highly recommend that you watch the three tutorials that Google offers– they were a big help.

Don’t have time to create 3D models? See what others have done. Google allows SketchUp users to share their creations in the 3D Warehouse. Happy modeling!

Our School Blocked Google Images

Google Images is an excellent way to find photos and diagrams of just about anything. Recently our school district blocked Google Images and other similar image search engines after sending out this message:

Since Image servers collect images from everywhere, and many of the images are pornographic, we will have to block sites that do not properly filter these images according to the Child Information Protection Act (CIPA), as required by Federal Law.

It is unfortunate that a few students (as always) ruin a good thing for everyone else. However, according to CIPA, a school’s funding can be cut if it doesn’t show “. . .that they have an Internet safety policy and technology protection measures in place.”

Copyright is another thing to consider if you use Google Images. Remember that most of the images online are copyright protected. Make sure that you are complying with fair use policies when using any image from the web.

Don’t believe that it matters? Here is a true story. My brother worked for a company that posted a picture of Milwaukee on their website. The problem was that the picture wasn’t taken by anyone in his company. The artist contacted his company—long story made short— the company had to pay the artist $900. The artist said that they simply use Google Images to see if people are using their work without permission.

But there is more to this story than just the legal side. It is wrong to take things (even digital things) without permission. As teachers, we need to make sure that we are modeling ethical behavior that respects that work of others.