Tag Archives: youtube

Try One New Thing – Our 1st Anniversary Post

As we finish out June, we are also finishing up the first year of Learning for Life Online. For anyone who’s been reading along since the beginning: thank you. I’m going to work hard to make the second year of LLO as fun and fascinating as the first.

For our 50th post, I’d like to challenge you to choose one of the tools or services we’ve looked this past year and sign up for it or try it out. Pick something that intrigued you but you never got around to it, or something that looked ridiculous and you want to see if you were just missing something. Doesn’t matter how big or small a thing it is – just do it. Review the basics of playing with a new online tool or playing with a new gadget and remember to have fun!

Try One New Thing and play around with it for the month of July. As you try it, comment on this post with your experience or thoughts, and any suggestions you have for using it.

Rather than make you go back through the past year to look for your one new thing, here’s a quick reference list:

It takes time to make a social tool a part of your life, including your life online. Whatever you choose to do, give it to the end of July and then see what you think of it. Let us know here if your opinion has changed, and how.

Thank you all again for following along, and enjoy your One New Thing! See you in July…

Getting Social – Sharing the neat stuff you find online

When the internet began, the only way to share interesting information online was to copy and paste it into an email, or forward one email message around and around.

Nowadays, the web is built for sharing neat stuff. From social networks like Facebook and Google+ (G+) to video and photo sharing sites, it’s easier than ever to share the interesting links that you’ve discovered.

Copy and Paste

The easiest way to share a link is still to just copy and paste. At the top of your browser, you’ll see the address bar. Inside of that field is the web address or URL, usually starting with “http://www.[something]”. Click into that address bar and highlight the entire URL. Then, either click on Copy (under the Edit menu at the top of your screen) or use Ctrl-C or Command-C to copy the item.

Next, just paste the URL wherever you want to share it from – into an email message, into a Facebook status update, into a comment you’re writing, into a blog post of your own. Click on Ctrl-V or Command-V, or Paste from the Edit menu and the full URL will appear. No need to type it all out yourself; let the computer do the work of remembering all the numbers and letters.

If you’re a bit more comfortable with a mouse and are on a web page, you can right click on the link you want to share and choose Copy Link Location. This avoids the possibility that you don’t highlight the entire URL in the address bar before you copy it.

Sharing in Facebook

Sharing a link in a Facebook status update can be as easy as pasting a URL into a status update, but do get a few more choices. First, when you paste that URL into a status update, Facebook knows you’re linking to a web page and will add a little preview of that page, including the title, a bit of text and an image. You can get rid of the image by clicking the box next to the words No Thumbnail, and you can click on the preview text to delete or change any of it. You can also share to the public or to just your friends by changing the Audience drop-down on the post.

Sharing something that a friend posted on Facebook is even easier. At the bottom of the post, click on Share. Facebook will ask where you want to share this item – your Wall, a friend’s Wall, or in a private message to someone. Pick the destination you want and follow the steps until you’re done.

Finally, all it takes to share a photo or video via Facebook is to upload it. Click on Add Photo/Video at the top of the page, then either upload a single photo/video or Create a Photo Album to add many photos of the same event or thing. Walk through the steps and when you’re done, your photos or videos will be shared on your Wall or Timeline.

Sharing from Flickr or YouTube

There are two ways you can share a photo or video that you find online. Just above the image (in Flickr) or just below it (in YouTube), there’s a small Share button. Click that and either:

  • Copy the link that they offer you, just like you did in the address bar. Now you can paste that link into a status post, email message or as a link on a page.
  • Get the HTML/Embed code. This small bit of web page code will let you actually paste the video itself into a blog post, blog comment, or web page you create. If you’re not using one of those tools, don’t worry about the Embed code – just copy and paste the link itself. But if you are using a blog or working with your own website, try embedding the video instead. Copy the code they offer you and paste it into your blog post or comment. It should look like this:

Sharing Anywhere Else

Most websites and tools will let you share items in one of the ways described above. Before you just cut and paste the URL, look around on the page and see if you see a Share button to click. Try clicking and see what happens – the service will probably just walk you through the steps you need to share using either a link or by embedding an image or video.

A word of caution: If the service requires you to create a new account with them before you can share something, stop and pause for a minute. Ask yourself if you really want to create a new account just for this, or if just copying and pasting the URL is fine. You don’t need to create accounts just because a website tells you so. Remember that you get to choose what you do and don’t want to do online, including signing up for a new service. Pause, and decide what you want to do next.

Help and Resources

Next week, we’ll take a step backwards and look at how to find neat stuff online. Stay tuned….

Introducing….the Cloud

First, a note: Last week, I said that we would talk about buying music online and introduce “the cloud” in this post. As I wrote, I realized that it was too much information and should be split in two. So, this week we’ll introduce the cloud and next week we’ll talk about buying any kind of downloadable media – ebooks, audiobooks, music, videos and more. Thanks, and on into the cloud!

Cloud Computing Explained

What Is It?

The short answer is that “the cloud” is just a group of computers that store information and run software and applications for you, without you having to own or take care of those computers. You can access the information or use the applications from any device with an internet connection, and can upload and download your stuff from wherever you are.

This is what makes the cloud so useful – suddenly, you don’t need a powerful, expensive computer to do some really neat things. If you buy music, videos or books, you can keep them online and have them wherever you need them, but not require a lot of storage space on your own device. If you use multiple computers for work, you can put your files somewhere where you can get to them and not have to keep saving or emailing different versions back and forth. If you’re a small business, you can even rent a part of someone else’s powerful computers just for the space and time it takes you to do what you want, saving on business costs.

How Is It Useful?

Over our lessons, we’ve seen several tools that involve the cloud. All of them are made more useful because you can access them from anywhere. For a few examples, look at:

All of Amazon’s digital services now offer the option of saving either direct to a computer or to their Cloud Drive, so you can access your music and videos from any device you own. (More on this next week when we talk about buying downloadable media.) This fall, Apple introduces its iCloud service: if you use Apple devices, you can move files off of your computer and up to the cloud, where they are stored and easily shared between your Mac computer, your iPad and your iPhone. Everything you need, all in one place, accessible with whatever device you have in hand. Useful, eh?

In our previous post on music libraries, we mentioned that new tools are out there to let you see your home music library remotely. Yup, you guessed it – this is part of the cloud, too, but a private part that you can control.

Services like Subsonic and Spotify can be used like other music library programs, and also let you securely access your home music collection from remote internet-connected locations. (Spotify is also a source for streaming music, as we mentioned in our online radio post.) As long as the computer that stores your music is on and connected to the internet, you can log in to the service you use and play your tunes wherever you are. You can also choose to share your collections with friends and family by inviting them in. Note: You are not making your music collections public, unless you change the privacy settings to make that so.

Try It Out

You’re probably already using part of the cloud and didn’t realize it. Do you have Gmail, Yahoo! Mail or another web-based email service? That’s the cloud – you’re not storing those messages on your computer, someone else is storing them for you. Use Flickr or Picasa for your photos? Same thing. Has someone shared a Google Document with you, a spreadsheet, document or presentation? Also the cloud.

If you have an iPhone or an iPad, you’re using the cloud all the time. The cloud is what makes it possible for the iPad to be so small and lightweight and yet be so powerful. And, in the fall of 2011, Apple is going to officially launch its iCloud service to bring the cloud to all Apple devices.

The next time you use a mobile or web-based service, think about what parts of it might be in the cloud and what parts live on your computer or phone. The answer will certainly surprise you.

Help & Resources

Online Video – Livestreaming

To stay on the streaming theme, let’s take a quick break from audio and look at streaming video.

What Is It?

Livestreaming video is similar to internet radio: video is broadcast live and in real time over the internet. Anyone with an internet connection can visit a website and watch video coming live from somewhere else. Concerts, family reunions, government meetings, conferences, political protests, breaking news stories, television programs – any of these can be streamed as they happen.

Livestream and UStream are two of the biggest services that host live streams for individuals or organizations. YouTube also provides livestreaming for anyone with a YouTube account.

How Is It Useful?

Just like internet radio, streaming video is useful because it lets you watch events live while they’re happening from wherever you are. Whether you’re in front of a television, a computer or a mobile device, you can watch a White House press conference or meeting or state legislatures doing their daily business. Television stations can livestream their video feeds: C-SPAN and WHDH Boston both offer live programming online.

In entertainment, bands can choose to livestream their concerts to let fans who can’t make it to the show watch and listen. Similarly, clubs and concert halls can offer livestreams for the performances they host.

Finally, businesses use livestreaming in many ways: international companies can livestream important meetings to employees around the globe; large companies like Apple can livestream important announcements about their products; and conferences can be livestreamed to anyone who can’t attend (O’Reilly Media and the E3 Gamer conference are two examples).

Yes, there are sillier uses for livestreaming: watching baby squirrels or puppies may seem ridiculous, but the same tool is used for watching wildlife. Imagine students around the world keeping track of life at South African water holes or hawks nesting on a building in New York City (the hawks are gone for the season, but you can watch recorded video at this same page). Science class suddenly becomes a lot more real for kids who might not ever see these animals up close any other way.

Try It Out

Follow any of the links above and just watch the livestream for a while (the water hole is a good one for this). Better still, keep your eyes out for the words “watch us live online” for any event or concert you want to attend, or on a website you visit.

Resources

YouTube and Online Video – The Basics

Enough with the screens and screens of static text and images. The first decade of the 21st century is much like the first decade of the 20th: still images have begun to move! They’ve also started to speak and sing and…well…

Meet Keepon, a robot designed to react to and engage with children with autism. He’s also an online video sensation, with nearly 3 million views on his first video.

What is It?

Online video hosting is exactly that: individuals sign up for accounts and then upload videos that they’ve recorded. Once uploaded, users can share their videos by email or linking to the URL, or by embedding the video in a blog, social network post or website. Unlike a video posted on an individual website, videos on sharing services can be searched for using tags, keywords or the username of the creator.

YouTube was the first and is the most well-known free video hosting site, but there are others: Google Video, Vimeo and many more.

How is It Useful?

YouTube started as a place for people to share personal home videos, from zombie marches to orchestral experiments and drum line performances. Christmas house light displays and the Hallelujah chorus.

Users quickly realized that any kind of video could be uploaded and shared, from commercials to instructional videos. Rock climbing techniques, juggling demonstrations, experimental filmmaking, movie trailers and knitting instructionlots of knitting instruction.

Soon, posting a video to a website became an important marketing strategy. Bands use online video for inexpensive and easily shared exposure. The pop group OK GO! posted an simple, homemade music video several years ago that gained 40 million views in the first two years it was online. The popularity of their innovative online videos (on both Vimeo and YouTube) skyrocketed them to stardom.

OK Go – Here It Goes Again from OK Go on Vimeo.

Famously, the Old Spice commerical was put up on YouTube shortly after it aired. It was already popular (more than 33 million views so far), then Old Spice invited Twitter users to send in ideas and comments and the company would make short video responses. More than a hundred videos were made over one night and one of the most successful ad campaigns in history reached millions of new people online. It wasn’t long before parodies and imitations started showing up, including a library ad for “New Spice” and a message from Grover.

As internet connections have gotten faster, longer and more serious video has made it to the smallest screen, often kept on an individual site rather than with a free service. The TED Talks, Google Tech Talks and Berkman Center lectures are three series of presentations given at institutions and conferences, put online to share ideas beyond the lecture hall.

More and more colleges and universities are videotaping professors and offering their lectures online, while others are offering distance learning with print, audio and video components. MIT has nearly 2,000 lectures online, free to watch.

Try It Out

Follow any of the links above or below, watch a few videos and then use the search bars to look for more on whatever topic interests you.

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Some more of my favorite videos, just for fun:

Mime Johann Lippovitz’s version of Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn echoed across the web….and eventually got him onto to the stage with her.

Do you remember The Dot and the Line?

Dozens of answers to the question: Will It Blend?!?

Online Accounts: Email and more

Creating an online email account used to mean just that: you signed up for an email address. Now, all of the major web-based email services – Google, Hotmail/Windows Live, AOL and Yahoo! – also offer other tools like photo sharing, instant messaging/chat, blogging sites and more.

For example, your Yahoo account is also good over at Flickr and your Google account works with YouTube. Even your Facebook account can be used to sign in to and comment on hundreds of sites around the web. As this post was written, Google had just launched Google+, offering even more features with your single Google account.

What Is It?

How did this happen? As the email companies grew, they purchased smaller companies that had developed other interesting tools and added these new tools to the services they provided. Google bought Picasa, Blogger, YouTube, Picnik (a photo editing tool) and Orkut (a social network). Yahoo! bought Flickr, Match.com (a dating site) and Monster.com (job searches). AOL owns Patch.com (local community news & events), Going.com (event organization), Mapquest and many more.

How Is It Useful?

Having a single account to log in to many services means not having to remember (or write down) dozens of account name and password combinations. Many of the tools you’d want to create an account for are already bundled together. In fact, when you’re choosing an email service, take a look at everything else you can get with that one account and make your choices based on what might want or need to use.

How are all those individual tools useful? That’s a question we’ll be answering throughout this program.

Try It Out

If you already have an account with one of the big four (Google, Yahoo!, AOL and Windows Live/Hotmail), look around on the home page or menu bar to see what other services you have access to. Choose one tool you might find useful and log in with your existing account. Change a few settings and get started using the tool.

If you don’t already have an account with one of the above, take a look at each of them and see what services they offer. Choose one big provider and create an account, then start trying out tools to see what’s useful to you.

Help & Resources