Category Archives: Information

Chris Pirillo’s Top Off-topic Videos

Geek!This is another guest submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Chances are if you’re reading this, you know who Chris Pirillo is. Well, if you don’t: you have definitely been missing out on some of the funniest, un-scripted, and LIVE action anywhere. If you don’t know him by his videos, then you most certainly know him from ‘Gnomedex’: a technology conference specifically tailored to tech and blogging enthusiasts. That is why I decided to make a list of my Top 5 favorite videos by Chris Pirillo.

We all know too well the associations beds have with night vision cameras. Whether by choice or not, you’re likely to have seen SOMETHING to do with it. This video uploaded in July of ’07 is a hilarious video with joke after joke – all very witty. It truly shows how original Chris Pirillo’s humor can be. Not only does the video make us laugh, it is still a pretty in-depth review of the iPod:

My #4 choice probably should have ranked higher on my list, but when I was a child I burned my noodles and it was the worst-flavored food I ever ate. In this video, Chris shows us how great of a chef he is when he puts together a meal of ‘Ramen Noodles’ and teaches us all how to do the same. Everyone loves Ramen noodles. Sure, you can say you DON’T, but everyone knows you’re lying when you say that. It’s a proven fact that has been tested multiple times for thousands of years: humans all love Ramen noodles, regardless of what flavor packet they choose. This video takes a step away from tech and moves into the kitchen – a very funny and “well done” video:

Everyone loves Pac-man. Whether you grew up playing it, or started just recently, the game is simple and fun. I am not going to review Pac-man for you though, but that’s exactly what Chris does in this video. I like this particular review, partly because he’s playing an Xbox 360 (not a PS3), but mainly because it shows how well-rounded he is when it comes to reviews. It’s nice to see Chris review the game second-by-second as the game progresses and how excited he is while playing. See for yourself in this video added to Youtube in June ’07:

Chris may not be the bravest blogger you know, but this video surely changed my vision on his bravery when he lays down in the middle of the road to make snow angels. Although not live, it’s nice to see how happy he was to make them snow angels. Chris has had a lot of success, and this just shows how much he stayed true to his geeky roots:

I first saw Chris when he was a host on Call for Help. I kinda forgot about him for a while and found his reviews on YouTube one day. This video easily takes the cake as my #1 favorite video of Chris Pirillo. Maybe not as funny to you? Chris seemed to have experienced the funniest moment of his life; when he attempted to answer the callers question before he even spoke. A simple mistake, but Chris could not contain himself and he seemingly was on the edge of insanity before Morgan Webb helped calm him down:

Top 5 Reasons to Switch to OS X

Geek!This is KY Wildcat’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

The topic of OS X vs. Windows has been in a long and drawn out heated debate for well over 4 years now with the introduction of Windows XP and Mac OS X. Windows users will tell you that your current software will not work on OS X and that you will be stuck with a mediocre OS doing mediocre tasks. Mac users on the other hand will tell you that you are missing out on a much more powerful user experience. Today, we will discuss the top 5 reasons (I think) you should switch to Mac OS X.

Reason 1: Beauty

This sounds weird when talking about an operating system… but when you are talking about OS X… this is true. Mac OS X, unlike Windows, takes the user’s experience into account. When you click a radio button, the OS responds to your click in an appropriate way. When you open an application, the dock will bounce the application’s icon to alert you that the application is “doing something”. Not only does the dock do this, but also other applications throughout the OS responds in similar ways.

Reason 2: Management

In Windows, when you need to manage a specific part of the OS, you have to search around to find the one dialog box to allow you to manage that part. In OS X, there is none of that. You open up System Preferences, and boom (as Steve Jobs would say), there every thing is! If you need to change a network preference, instead of having to search around the Control Panel, then to the Network Setup Wizard in Windows, you just click Network and everything is there. Also, if, by any chance, your computer does crash… don’t panic. With Time Machine and an External Hard Drive… there is no need to worry. Just pop in the OS X installation CD, choose restore, and that’s it. Wait for the system to restart and everything is back to the way it was. Did I mention that OS X does all this with out outside action? That means, in laymen’s terms, that OS X does that all for you. As soon as you plug in a External Hard Drive, OS X sees it and automatically starts backing up your entire system. It’s really great!

Reason 3: Multimedia

As you have previously read, OS X was designed with power in mind. However, OS X was also designed to be the hub of your digital life. Now, what is a digital life? A digital life is basically this: your music, your photos and your movies. That’s it! That’s a digital life. I know for a fact that just about all of you that read this have your digital photos and music somewhere on your computer. With Mac OS X’s built in applications such as iPhoto and iMovie, making a DVD for grandma or grandpa for Christmas could not be easier. On Windows, when you plug in a digital camera, you more than likely get that annoying dialog that asks you “Hey! What do you want to do!?” Then, you have to choose an option, choose where you want to put the photos, what you want to name them, then after all that… import. With OS X, there is none of that. You simply plug in a digital camera, iPhoto automatically opens, and imports your photos into a new set. Its that easy. Once you have the photos into iPhoto, and you want to make a slideshow DVD as a Christmas gift. just click the DVD button. OS X does all the rest for you. Enter a title, choose some background music, and press burn. That’s it. There is nothing else to do but to see the joy on grandma or grandpa’s face when they open up a gift that you made.

Reason 4: Making the Switch Can’t be Easier

Making the switch from a Windows PC to a Mac couldn’t be simpler. If you have a network, (and who doesn’t these days?) just connect the Mac, give it a name, and watch it show up in your network connections. Once its there, just drag and drop your files into the appropriate folder and watch them show up on your Mac. Another way to switch… your iPod. Most geeks have an iPod. If you have one with a large amount of storage, just enable disk mode, open up My Computer on the PC, then just drag and drop your files. Once they are on the iPod, just hook it up to the Mac, open the disk from the desktop, then simply drag and drop the files into the right folder on the Mac. Yet another way to switch is to use an External Hard Drive. Just hook up the drive and drag and drop like I mentioned above. Switching couldn’t be simpler.

Reason 5: Social Benefits

For whatever reason, a Mac seems to have a social benefit that follows them wherever they go. I have a MacBook Pro and a MacBook Air. Anytime I go to Starbucks or to any of the many small cafés around Louisville, I get asked all the time, “What kind of computer is that?” “Where can I get one of those?” Those are just a few of the questions that I get asked all the time. People want a Mac! Put simply, they are cool. People view them as a cool addition to any person. A Mac can boost your self-esteem and also your view from other people.

Mac OS X is more than just a operating system… it’s a way of life. I know that sounds weird, but as soon as you use a Mac, I promise you, you will never go back!! If you are a Windows user… I want to hear from you! I want you to disagree with me! I want you to tell me why I am wrong. If you hate Apple.. I want you to tell me why! Click the comments button… Let me know! I want to hear from you!

My wife, colleagues, and I will be awarding the computers (if I win) to a charity of our choice. Not only will that charity receive over FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS worth of brand new computer equipment from HP, but I’ll be MATCHING the cost of the computers ($5000) and awarding that to a local charity, also of choice. In order for the charities to receive their awards, we need your help. Please post a comment in the comments section and help us make the day of a local charity.

Things to Remember When Calling Tech Support

Geek!This is Gord’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Have you ever worked in Tech Support? I have for the past 7 years. Now, I know that the highest suicide rate for a profession is air traffic controllers. I’m not so sure they took into account those of us who work the trenches of tech support every day. There is quite often someone on the line who makes me ask my co-worker if they managed to get a gun past security so they can shoot me. What’s so bad about working in tech support? Just a few simple things to keep in mind next time you call…

  1. Yelling gets you nowhere. We know you are frustrated, we know you are having a problem. Why else would you be calling? I can’t recall a customer ever calling in just to tell me “everything is working fine, just though I’d call and let you know.” We are there to help you. It’s much easier to help you if we can communicate in an adult manner. Oh and when you yell we just mute the microphone and mock you to our coworkers or start cussing.
  2. Read the warranty. You’re not getting a new product because you’re having your first problem ever. You’re not getting your money back when you’ve had the product for 6 months and have now decided you don’t like it. The warranties cover defects in manufacturing and workmanship. They do not cover your frustration of how much time you’ve spent on the phone with us or how many times you’ve called in for support. Stop asking for the ridiculous to happen.
  3. It’s tech support, not computers 101. We are NOT there to teach you how to use your product. Having a problem with a mail merge? Don’t know how to burn a CD? Unsure of how to add an attachment in your email? Well you know what? TOO BAD! We are there to make sure you product is in working condition. If you don’t know how to do something, check the help file, take a course, google it or ask your 12 year-old nephew.
  4. Did you write down the error message? So you’re calling for some help because you received an error message on your screen. Great that will help us find a resolution to your problem faster. When we ask what the error message says, “I don’t know” is not the correct answer. For the love of all that’s good, write down the message. Better yet call us with the message on your screen, when it happens.
  5. Be in front of your computer. Now this is the biggest one of them all. You want help. Be in front of your product or at least within a reasonable walking distance of it. No one can help you when you’re at work or on vacation and your product is at home. Tech support is a two-way street, yes we can help but we need your participation. There is no magic way for us to access your product. There is not a hidden button that we can press to fix the problem. Odds are the resolution to your problem is more than “turn it off and turn it back on.” Be in front of the computer. Is that too much to ask?

So want to make someone’s day go a little better? Next time you call in for tech support keep these things in mind. If you do, the person on the other end may sound a little less frustrated. We want to help you, that’s why we are in the business. Please help us help you.

How to Make Money With Web Design

Geek!This is Ashmiester’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Do you want to make money with web design? Almost every organization has some kind of web presence on the web today. Does that mean there is no room left for new designers to get into the business of designing bespoke websites? No. In fact, it is a good thing, because a huge fraction of the existing websites out there are full of issues including bad design and technical errors. This can be for a majority of reasons with any bad website; perhaps the buyer was on a low budget, made it themselves with little experience, or just got completely ripped off by a bad service.

Whatever the reason, this opens a door for designers to do website redesigning. This is not much different from designing a website for a business that does not have one. The only difference is that it can be a bit easier because at times you will be transferring content from the client’s old website, or perhaps using an existing structure. I would say around 80-90% of my clients already have some kind of web presence, and they are at a stage where they are willing to spend some real money.

Getting Started

As long as you have some kind of skills in creating websites, you can absolutely do this. And you know what? Even if you do not have any website creation skills, I have provided some great resource links at the end of this article for those that would like to get started on the skills necessary for this lucrative industry. The first time I was paid to make websites, I only knew the basics, and then the more I did the more I improved. It is actually not that hard becoming a web designer, all it takes is some time commitment. It is good to start off learning HTML, CSS, and some basic interface graphics. Scroll to the bottom if you would like to check out the learning resources right now. Otherwise, read on.

A Safe Investment Opportunity

A great thing to keep in mind is that web design can be such a low-investment business opportunity as long as you go about it the right way. The only costly things tend to be some of the one-off costs, such as having the right software and actually having a computer to work on. I am not saying that these do not need upgrading ever, but to me a one-off cost is something where you are not paying for it on a recurring basis. Here are a couple of important tips on keeping this all a safe investment:

  1. Work from home. At least to begin with. It means you are saving money on the rent and bills involved in having an office. In my experience, it is best to start small because you then do not have to put as much funding into things that are not so necessary to have right away.
  2. Buy cheap but quality hosting. This is done by finding a small package offered by a reputable hosting company. I use the smallest package at www.1and1.com, because it is all that is needed for the hosting of a web design company’s website. It costs $3.99 per month ($23.94 per 6 months) and includes a domain.
  3. You do not have to quit your day job (if you have one) straight away. You can start by doing the odd project here and there while you are still employed. I actually do part-time studies and work full-time with my web design business. I love it, and I would not have it any other way.

Name or Business Name?

You have two choices, you can work as a freelance web designer under your full name, or you can operate under a business name. In my eyes, the latter is much preferred. Freelancers can be awfully undercut these days; you are more likely to make good money as a business. Not only will people take you more seriously but there will be the opportunity to get staff or partners later on if you so please.

The first thing you need to do is secure a .com for your business. Having a .com is pretty standard, I would ignore .net and .org if I were you. You can always have them additionally later on if you like. When thinking of a business name, do not try to be too smart with it. "[Something] Designs" or "[Something Media]" are the kind of names that give people an idea of what your business does when they hear the name. What goes at the front does not matter too much as long as it is not particularly ridiculous. It is also more appropriate on a corporate level if you eventually get some big-time contracts. Create a shortlist of the names you have thought up that you like, and see what is available for domain registration (I use GoDaddy).

If you are having trouble thinking of a business name, you could, for example, try combining colors with animals. Black Crow Designs, Red Wolf Designs, Purple Monkey Media (or not). You do not have to worry too much about thinking of a name, because it is your service that will be defining your company’s quality.

Setting Up Your Web Presence

Whether you are looking to deliver to clients locally, across the country, or all over the world – you need to have a home website for your web design company. The website is to show information about what the company does, what work it has done (a portfolio), how you can be contacted, what services you specifically offer and what the prices are. There are other things too, such as providing the general terms for contracts and the payment options. The more details, the better. But don’t cram your website with too much, keep things neat and spaced appropriately. This website is going to be a big part of selling yourself, so it should be a breeze to navigate and read.

Also, the design and layout are going to show what you are really capable of (besides your actual portfolio). And make sure you have a nice and recognizable logo in your header somewhere. If the website looks bad then you could be losing out on a crazy amount of business. So put your all into making it look great!

Putting a Portfolio Together

So, are you wanting to get into web design business but lack a strong portfolio to get people interested in your services? I will be honest, this will take some work if you really are at square one.

Do not worry, you can rapidly build a portfolio by doing some free websites for businesses, bands/musicians, artists, freelancers, etc. These are also the kind of clients you can get paid business from in the future. And while you are doing work for free, you are in return getting the experience of working for clients and having something to put into your portfolio on your company’s website. Once you have built these sites, you can charge money for any maintenance they would like from you in the future. They just got a free website from you, so that is completely acceptable.

Getting Clients

To be honest, getting clients is not actually too difficult. Back when I wanted to start my own web design company, people would tell me it was a bad idea because there would be “dry patches”. This means going for a while without any business. Put it this way: if you put effort into marketing yourself effectively, you will absolutely get clients. Before I learned to become more organized, I had queues of clients that I just did not have the time for. This excited me though. I really enjoyed marketing myself because I believed in what I was trying to sell. I truly believed that my potential clients needed my services in order for them to further their business, and I still do believe that.

The best way to start getting clients is for you to find them, rather than them finding you. It costs a lot of money advertising for people to come and find you, so do not worry about spending that kind of money just yet. Here are some tips on marketing yourself effectively at low-cost:

  1. Get some business cards printed. I started by getting a few hundred printed for cheap, with my company name and business logo on them. Include important details such as your own name, along with your cell number, e-mail address, and of course the URL of your company’s website. I used cardsmadeeasy.com as I am based in the UK. If you are in the US, uprinting.com has some good value printing services. 1000 cards for $25 is pretty awesome.
  2. Walk into small businesses of any sort and tell a member of staff who you are and what you do, then just leave your business card with them. If they show an interest and ask questions, give them as many details as possible. And remember, you are selling yourself, so give them the reasons why your services will benefit them greatly. You may get their business there and then, or you may have to wait for a call. Do this to as many local places as possible, especially independent businesses.
  3. For potential clients that are not based quite as close by, write a short letter explaining your services just like you would face-to-face, then mail multiple copies, with a business card, to places that have bad websites or perhaps even no website at all. I got a good few clients by doing this, but the only downfall is that they may want you to travel to them if they do business with you. That is why local clients are best. It can be very worth it anyway though, especially if it is someone paying you a lot of money.
  4. Referrals. Ask all of your friends and family if they know anybody who needs a website doing. Hand out more business cards and tell them to pass them onto people. If you are not getting results, then put a twist to it. Offer potential referrers a small percentage of what a client will pay you if they find that client for you. You could offer around 5-10% depending on what you are being paid. Advertise it on your website too. This is useful for getting those first paying clients in, but to be honest I still use this method today because it does get me good business, and word about the company spreads.
  5. Similarly to the above, you could do a special offer that is to take place for limited time only. You could offer 10% off of any quoted price, or something like $50 off with a promotional code. I now only do this with some of my fixed-price services, such as website packages and my hosting services. These kind of things are really great for drawing customers in, trust me. We all love discounts.

Be Prepared…

I have met some great people through my design business, but there will always be clients that are difficult to deal with. To avoid clients walking all over you, make sure you put everything into writing if someone is going ahead with your quoted service. Also, take a deposit upfront. Usually anywhere from a third to a half of the full amount is a good idea, then they can give the rest during and after the development of the product. Or the rest of it could be put into the form of a monthly payment plan if the client is budgeting.

The last thing you want is a client refusing to pay for many long hours of your hard work. Yes, people can be this cruel, even if they seem very nice! So secure some money upfront before going ahead with the project.

Extending Your Services

Doing bespoke web design is great to start with and as your primary service, but why stop there? As you grow, your services can too. Why not also offer logo design, video creation, Flash animation, DVD authoring, media printing, or perhaps multiple-use web templates? How about buying reseller hosting so that you can provide a hosting service to go hand-in-hand with your clients’ websites? You can also look at offering services for certain types of websites such as e-commerce, database-driven websites, CMS (Content Management Systems), etc. You could do work for marketing campaigns. I have also seen design companies provide website management training at hourly rates.

There are so many possibilities in this industry which gives you the opportunity to make more than a comfortable amount of money. Just be sure not to offer too much from the beginning, because you may find that it is just too difficult to deliver. It may also mean more investing in one go.

Conclusion

Thank you if you had the patience to read this little guide, and more importantly, I hope you got something out of it. I think that anybody is capable of starting a profitable web design business, and to top it off, it is something that is so flexible it can be worked around your job or studies if you wish not to do it full-time.

If you have any questions or suggestions then please post a comment. Keep in mind that everything I have written is based on my own experience in becoming a self-employed web designer. Perhaps you disagree on a part of the guide due to your own experiences. If so, please do post a comment. Other established designers reading may well have other methods of becoming a good business. I am interested to hear.

Thank you again my precious readers, and good luck on your quest to making money with web design.

Learning Resources

Learning HTML/XHTML (Hyper-Text Markup Language) is definitely the first step. It is the code that structures and formats the appearance of a web page, and is particularly easy to learn and use.

Here are some great HTML guides to get you started. Plus a whole array of different HTML tutorials for once you get some basics down:

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is a very structured language for formatting websites more efficiently, also enabling more enhanced formatting. It is also easy to use. Here are some great CSS guides to get you started. Again, there is a ton of different tutorials you can try out once you have some basics in mind:

It may be worth investing in a copy of the latest version of Adobe Photoshop if you are serious about web design. There are some nice and basic web interface design tutorials at these links:

Free learning is the way it should be. Enjoy your learning experience.

What is Geocaching?

Geek!This is Rhonda Martin’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

I have a wonderful “Geek” hobby called “Geocaching”. If you like electronic gadgets and like to get out of the house, try Geocaching for fun. It requires a hand held GPS and a pair of good shoes.

If you don’t know what Geocaching is, the best way I can explain it is that it’s hidden treasures that are registered on a site by GPS coordinates. You try to find the treasure by following the GPS signal and by clues giving on the site. Now these treasures are usually small and not worth much in monetary value because it’s more about the thrill of finding the treasure not what’s in it. The geocache is usually located at a scenic site that is beautiful.

The purpose of geocaching is to try and get people to enjoy the trip, so make sure you take a camera with you. We have ended up at some of the most beautiful places that I never knew existed in the state I have lived in all my life. The first time I ever went geocaching I didn’t have a camera and I was some disappointed. Another tip for those of you who like to fish – make sure you pack your fishing gear because you will find some awesome fishing holes.

Once you have located a geocache you can take an item from the hidden geocache box but you must leave something in its place. The geocache box usually has a logbook so you can write your name and the date you found it. If you want a list of hidden treasures just log onto http://www.geocaching.com – plug in your GPS and download them directly to your unit from the site. When I logged on I found three within five miles of my hometown. You will be amazed at how many geocache sites are hidden.

Once you have downloaded all the geocache sites on your GPS they are there for good until you delete them. You can literally turn on your GPS and just start driving and if you come near a geocache site your GPS will tell you. I have a friend that leaves his on in his truck at all times and if he is near a geocache site and has the time he will see if he can find it. This did get him in a little trouble because he ended up late to work a couple of times due to geocaching on the way to work. This can become addicting so they say.

You can also hide a geocache treasure and post it to the site, however remember you must maintain the geocache. If you no longer wish to maintain the geocache you must remove it and post that you did so.

You can also track a bug. This is kind of fun. You purchase a bug from the site, which is usually a fancy coin or tag, and then register it. When someone finds it they take it to another geocache and leave it for someone else to find but they must log where they found it and where they took it. The owner of the bug can track online where it has been and where it is. You can even post where you are trying to get your bug to end up at. For example, let’s just say you live in Florida and you want to see how long it would take for your bug to reach Alaska you can post for Geocachers to help move your bug towards Alaska. If someone is going to another state in that direction that this bug is logged to go then that person would take the bug and drop it off in the state closest to Alaska that they traveled to. I had a friend in Maine that wanted a Christmas Ornament to go to Alaska, so they attached a travel bug to the ornament and the last I heard it was in Ohio.

This hobby is also something the whole family can enjoy. We always plan a whole day of geocaching and take along a picnic for lunch. It’s an inexpensive way to spend the day together as a family while having a great time. I found that the young or old at heart all enjoy this hobby.

On the geocaching site it will also tell you how difficult the geocache is to locate. That makes it easier for the beginners or for the handicapped or elderly.

If you are thinking about trying this new found hobby or already registered at http://www.geocaching.com look for our user name “wearethegoonies”. Hope you enjoyed this post and give this a try if you haven’t already done so.

How to Record Anything Through Your Computer Speakers

Geek!This is Eric Patterson’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Have you ever come across a song or sound that you just have to have but not able to get it? I can show you how to record anything that comes out of your speakers. In order for this to work, you will need to check and see if your sound card device is able to record audio from your speakers.

Windows XP:

  1. Click on Start, go to Control Panel
  2. Click Sound and Audio Devices, click on the Audio tab
  3. Click on Volume under Sound Recording, and look for a category that says Stereo Mix and make sure its checked and make sure the volume is turned down

Tip: If you don’t see Stereo Mix, click on Properties, go to Options and make sure you are in Recording mode. If the box for Stereo Mix is unchecked make sure it is checked.

Using Windows to Record

Windows has a built in sound recorder. You can use it to capture sound but not to edit. It can only record 60 seconds by default – I will show you how to record for longer than 60 seconds.

  1. Load up the Windows Recorder program located under Accessories, Entertainment on the Start menu
  2. Click on record and let it run for the full 60 seconds
  3. When it completes 60 seconds and stops, click on record again – it will record longer, adding on another 60 seconds each time you click
  4. Click Save As and name your file whatever you want
  5. Go back to the Recorder program and load up your saved file – you will see the length time of the sound a lot longer than 60 seconds
  6. Click on Record and it will record over the entire length of the saved file
  7. Save it, convert to MP3 or keep the default .wav

Using Third-Party Programs

The best way to record sound from your speakers is using audio editing software. There are many programs out there to use. You don’t need an expensive program to record audio, just anything that lets you record and edit the recording the same recording. A few examples are Audacity (free), Adobe Audition and WavePad.

Basic functions of audio recording applications are very similar. Let’s look at Audacity for recording and editing audio from YouTube.

Recording:

  1. Go and find the video you are trying to record from
  2. Load up the Audacity program
  3. Make sure Stereo Mix is showing in the drop down box of the program
  4. Make sure Stereo Mix is checked in your audio properties
  5. Click on record in Audacity
  6. Click on Play on the YouTube video (or any file your trying to record from)
  7. If it is working, you should see it being recorded inside the program
  8. Once the song, video or audio file is done playing, click on stop in Audacity
  9. You have just recorded the audio from your speakers!

Editing:

  1. You probably have dead space at the beginning of the audio file and at the end
  2. You need to use the Zoom feature and zoom into the wave sound at the beginning
  3. Make sure you know the exact spot where the audio actually starts
  4. Highlight everything before that and click on Cut and it will cut off that dead air that you created when you clicked on record before you clicked on the YouTube video
  5. Go to the end of the audio and do the same thing, just cut out any space you have left over
  6. Now that you have the audio sound the way you want it, go ahead and save the file as an MP3.

Note for Audacity: by default when you click on export as MP3 a message will pop up saying that it needs LAME MP3 encoder (lame_enc.dll file). Just go to the Audacity website, then to Downloads and download the file. Once completed, use Audacity to find the file and the program should save it.

Now you should be able to record anything that comes from your speakers. Uses for this would be if you needed a sound/song for a ringtone, a song you can’t find to download or a certain sound effect you heard and need to have.

How to Apply to Graduate School in the U.S.

Geek!This is Mobile Scholar’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Many books have been written concerning this time-consuming and often-frustrating process. Yet, these books often miss important considerations inherent to the application process.. This guide provides a short review illustrating major themes to keep in mind while planning and completing your applications. It is intended primarily for those entering Masters programs or those going directly to Ph.D. programs and is biased toward the traditional arts and sciences disciplines, but may also provide useful information for those in other areas. Those students already possessing Masters degrees know enough to ignore my advice.

  1. Determine and understand the specific discipline which you wish to study. It is very important that you have a concrete vision of your career track while applying to graduate studies. The apathy of direction fostered by many liberal arts colleges will not aid you in your path toward graduate school. Research what schools offer the programs and concentrations you wish to study. Divine what faculty member or members you wish to study under, and determine if they will be accepting students for the next academic year. (For some students, the specific faculty member will drive the college choice and not the other way around.) Finally, become abreast with some of the modern controversies that touch your discipline. Read journals relevant to your discipline, attend professional conferences, and visit with your professors about your plans. The more you can confidently talk about your choice of study and how that fits with your choice of school and advisor, the better your application will sound. Contact the faculty members you wish to study under and tell them of yourself and your educational plans. Of course, familiarize yourself with the particular requirements of each program (often there are separate graduate college and department applications), especially deadlines. These are most easily found at the school’s website and run anywhere between December 1 and March 1 for Fall Semester admission.
  2. Prepare for and take the requisite graduate placement exams. Visit the relevant website for the test you will need to take as a part of your applications – GRE, LSAT, GMAT, or MCAT – for test schedules, practice questions, and tips. The weight each school, department, and faculty member place on standardized test scores varies widely. For some you only need reach above a particular bar (e.g. 650 or better on each half of the GRE); for others not only your admission but financial support lean on your competitive performance against your fellow applying students. Often a weaker performance on standardized tests can be supplemented by a strong written paper and recommendations. Studying well for the particular exam or exams (don’t forget you may have to take subject GRE tests) will help you raise your score and make you more comfortable with the exam process, but even specialized classes will not turn a horrible test-taker into an oval-filling guru.
  3. Compose or revise a writing sample. Often you may take a collegiate paper you have already written in the area in which you are applying and submit it incorporating any suggestions and corrections your class professor provide. Pass it by other professors in the department with whom you have taken classes as well. Your writing sample holds more influence than any other part of your application. Make it a good one. Also, compose a personal statement. If the writing sample is the most important part of your application, the personal statement runs a close second. Students who cannot express themselves and their goals clearly have little business attending graduate school. Use the knowledge gained through your research of the discipline to describe your educational background, what influenced you to choose this particular discipline, what you would like to study – if you have a thesis topic already, include it, but be attune to the suggestions of your advisor regarding its viability and content – and why you want to study it.
  4. Elicit letters of recommendation from undergraduate college professors who have a good opinion of you, your work, and your abilities. Although you will not be able to read the letter a professor will send – sealed – as a recommendation, you may ask whether the professor will be able to give you a “strong” recommendation. If one professor cannot, find another who can. Nothing trashes a graduate application faster than weak or lukewarm recommendations. A professor cannot give strong recommendations to students who have not taken a class with him or her. Keep things easy for your references. Provide them with an addressed and stamped envelope, a copy of your curriculum vitae – which is different from a resume – any and all forms that are necessary for the recommendation with any information you can fill in completed, a copy of your writing sample, and a schedule listing deadlines for the receipt of each letter.
  5. Order copies of transcripts and standardized test scores. Order transcripts from your high school and every college you have attended. Some colleges require one transcript for the graduate college and another for the department. Most departments will accept a photocopy of a transcript or test score for your application to meet your deadline so long as the official transcript or score arrives in a reasonable time. Transcripts from international institutions may need to be translated officially, and you may need to describe the scope of international programs that have differing requirements than those found in the US.
  6. Submit the application and wait. Most colleges provide and require you to complete your application online. (This is good as I cannot remember the last time I saw a typewriter.) Ensure that each school receives all parts of the application. Sometimes this means politely prompting your references to send their letters, and sometimes this means ordering another copy of transcripts or test scores that were waylaid in transit. The department secretaries can be very helpful in verifying that your application is complete. Treat them well as their comments about you can influence faculty members who may be on the applications committee.
  7. You may be contacted to have an interview either in person or on the phone. Present yourself well, demonstrating the grasp you have of the discipline, but don’t mention your divorce proceedings or other personal problems unless the other party brings them up first – perhaps clued in by your references. The interview itself merely serves to determine whether you appear nice and gracious and are well-spoken. Aside from this, you may wait, attending to other applications or your own continuing studies. The hard part is over.
  8. Reconcile and receive offers. A department’s selections are driven by politics as much as by the quality of the applicants. Some years feature a flood of excellent candidates while other years offer merely mediocre ones. Do not be discouraged if your top- or even middle-tier choices decline to admit you. It may not have been your professor’s year to have a new student. For those lucky enough to have multiple offers, there is a choice to be made. Weigh the advisor, the resources of the department and the wider school, and the financial package of each school against each other. If a graduate school does not offer you a graduate assistantship but still admitted you, they do not expect you to come.

Graduate schooling will be exhausting, sometimes frustrating, and often a financial struggle (who wants to eat more ramen after four years of it during undergrad?), but it has its own rewards. Scholarship is often carried forward on the backs of graduate researchers. You are on the road to becoming an expert, doing something that you love to do. After all, if you didn’t love your studies, why would you endure two to four more years of sleepless nights while attending experiments or composing papers?

Post your own graduate admissions experiences, suggestions, or questions in the comments section below.

How Geeks Can Make Money from Video Jobs

Geek!This is Marina Martin’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

If you have a digital video camera, there are many ways you can earn extra cash to fund your geek habits, including working for a filmmaker network, entering video contests, selling stock footage, filming events, and sharing your own videos.

Work for the Elastic Lab Filmmaker Network

Elastic Lab pays freelance videographers to occasionally shoot footage for a variety of creative and commercial projects. They have multiple filmmaker tiers, so there are paying projects available to both hobbyist geeks who livestream and film their cat riding a Roomba, all the way up to independents with a full-length film under their belt.

A typical assignment involves filming an interview on a specific topic or shooting a tour of a local landmark, and every project pays at least $100 (usually more). Project invites are sent out based on where you live and what kind of equipment/experience you have, and it’s up to you whether you accept or decline each invitation.

Signing up is totally free, and there are no hidden fees; they even reimburse for shipping and media. The only requirements are that you’re at least 18 years old, you can legally work in the U.S. or Canada, and you have access to a real digital video camera – no Flips, still cameras, cell phones, or web cams.

Enter Video Contests

There are lots of film contests out there, and just by making a one- or two-minute video, you can win $500 or even $20,000 – pretty sweet! The best way to hear about the latest video contests is to drop Video Contest Hub and Online Video Contests into your RSS feed reader.

Sell Stock Footage to MotionDrops or iStockVideo

Many websites are in the business of reselling stock footage, typically on a commission basis. People buy stock footage to use in news broadcasts, in their own videos, or even to practice motion graphics effects. You can shoot anything – the sky, the ocean, your dog reading your calculus book – and see if someone out there wants to buy it!

MotionDrops splits stock footage sales with videographers (called “producers”) 50/50. Their non-exclusive licensing agreement means you can sell the same clips on their site that you’re selling elsewhere, maximizing your potential profit.

To start selling on MotionDrops, create an account and upload your current clips. You can upload individual clips or create collections that you sell as a group. They must approve your footage before it makes it into the marketplace, but they’re pretty fast about it.

You’re probably very familiar with iStockPhoto, but did you know they sell stock footage, too? In addition to making money on your footage, iStockVideo gives you access to a forum full of other geek videographers and membership in their A/V Club. They also have an annual iStockalypse event where you can get together with fellow video geeks in your town and make art.

iStockVideo gives you 40% commission on exclusive video clips, and 20% on non-exclusive clips. To sell your footage there, signup for a free account, take a quick quiz (no sweat!), and upload your three best samples for their approval.

You can always upload your footage to your own website and use PayPal and some SEO magic to sell it yourself, too.

Film Local People & Events

If you’re new to videography, you definitely don’t want to be filming once-in-a-lifetime events like a wedding … but there are plenty of less-serious opportunities to cut your teeth on making money shooting footage.

Kids’ birthday parties, local band concerts, high school football games, or even houses and apartments for sale — there are tons of places for a geek to earn some cash behind the camera. Start spreading the word – ask your family, friends, and friends’ families if they need anything videotaped.

You may need to do an event or two for free so you can make a demo reel to show to a prospective customer. If you’re stuck for ideas, ask to film a cousin’s birthday party or a dance recital. Be bold and offer your services outright – maybe you could walk around their house filming their belongings so they have a record for insurance purposes.

Incorporate Ads and Product Placement in Your Personal Video Projects

You’re probably already making your own videos for fun – LEGO re-enactments, comedies, or maybe even livestreaming like Chris. Why not make money while you’re at it?

StoryBids lets advertisers bid on the chance to incorporate their products in your video. Upload your video/concept and see if you get any bites!

Brightroll matches you with advertisers who will pay you to play their short video ads (“pre-roll”) at the beginning of your videos. They’re not for everyone, though, as they require 100,000 video views per month and 250,000 page views per month to qualify. (But it’s definitely something to strive for!)

If you don’t quite have 100k video views yet, there are plenty of video sites that share ad revenues with content creators, like Metacafe, Veoh, and (of course!)YouTube. By uploading your own videos to their sites, you can make money from your audience.

If you have specific geek knowledge to share, upload tutorial videos to Hubpages and eHow for additional revenue-sharing opportunities.

Well, there you have it! What videos have you created lately? Have you made any money making video? Any additional resources to share with fellow video geeks?

How to Transition to an iPhone With Ease

Geek!This is Amanda’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Congratulations on buying or considering to buy a new iPhone! You’re probably wondering, what should I do to make my iPhone experience smooth and easy? This article will provide you with easy steps to help you transition to the iPhone.

While you are buying the iPhone, be sure to check out the huge variety of cases offered. If you’re not sure which case to buy, there are many reviews on blogs, Mac magazines, and YouTube. I recommend a Griffin, Incase, or Vaja Case, but it is personal preference. Do you want style or protection? If you ask yourself these questions, your quest to finding the perfect case will be a lot easier. Cases can be expensive, so make sure that you have confidence in the case that you purchase. Screen protectors are also helpful because they protect the phone from scratches and fingerprints.

If you have a YouTube account, you should film yourself opening your new iPhone for everyone to see! Unboxing videos have become a huge hit on YouTube, and people love to offer advice for you new tech gadget in the comments section of the video.

Now that you have opened the box, you need to sync your iPhone with your music library. Simply connect your iPhone to your Mac or PC with the USB cable provided. iPhones are made ready to use right out of the box, so don’t worry about taking hours to read the manuals or set it up. You can also choose to sync your phone with your photos.

One of my favorite features of the iPhone is the App Store. There are thousands of applications to choose from, many of which are free. The App Store is separated into the following categories – Games, Entertainment, Utilities, Social networking, Music, Productivity, Lifestyle, Reference, Travel, Sports, Navigation, Healthcare & Fitness, News, Photography, Finance, Business, Education, Weather, Books and Medical.

There is also a section for the top 25 applications (you can also select the show 50 option). This is separated into free and paid sections to make it easier to choose from.

Some of my favorite iPhone applications are:

  • Twitterrific (free version): A twitter client for the iPhone.
  • Cubes: A fun puzzle game.
  • Trace: A simple game comprised of doodles. The goal is to draw lines to get a stick figure to the goal.
  • Google: The search engine comes to your iPhone!
  • Ocarina: A cool app where you can blow into the mic and create music.
  • Scoops: Try to get past Saturn while collecting ice cream and avoid the vegetables.
  • Super Monkey Ball: Get the monkey through the goal on complex tracks.
  • Tap Tap Revenge: A mini guitar hero for the iPhone.

You can download these apps from iTunes or directly onto your iPhone. Keep in mind, though; you can only download to the iPhone if the application is less than 10 Megabytes.

You’re all set! One last thing to be aware of is that your photos, music, movies, and applications take up space. When you plug in your iPhone, check the capacity so you know where you are storage-wise. Have fun playing with what I believe to be the greatest touch screen phone on the market!

How to NOT be “Just a…”

Geek!This is Lamarr Wilson’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

I recently asked a friend of mine where she works. She told me the company that she worked for, and then said, “I’m just a secretary.” A few years ago, when posed with the same question, another friend answered, “I’m just a teacher’s assistant.” In another scenario, I overheard a co-worker while he spoke to a parent say, “I’m just a janitor.” What’s wrong with these statements? You guessed it; they all said I’m “just a…”

Many people do not realize the impact of simple statements. It’s a statement that’s said quickly, but a famous biblical proverb states that “Out of the heart’s abundance, the mouth speaks.” I learned a long time ago that if you keep thinking that you’re “just a…,” then you always will be just that; it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. You’ll never aspire to do your best in your job; you’ll settle, or even wallow, in your contentment. Why could this happen? Simply put, because you’re “just a…”

Some years ago, when I was a teacher assistant, I was very proud of that job. True, it wasn’t as high profile as being a certified classroom teacher, but I learned just how important that position was by looking at the big picture. Instead of putting myself down (which is what you’re doing when you say “I’m just a…”), I became the BEST teacher assistant I could be. I was no longer “just a…” I was THE teacher assistant. When I worked retail sales, I aspired to be the best stock person, the best cashier, and the best order taker. In my current business as a consultant for elementary schools, how many potential clients would take me seriously if I told them, “Well, I’m just a technology consultant”? No, I am THE technology consultant, the one who can provide the best possible service for your needs. That kind of self-confidence makes people more comfortable to be around you and do business with you.

Going back to the example of the secretary at the outset, after receiving that reply, I firmly told my friend, “I like you, but I dislike when people say that. You’re not “just a” secretary. You are THE secretary. Your job is one of the most important in the company. Without you at the helm, the office would not run smoothly. Start thinking positively of your work, and you’ll find that you enjoy it more.”

Whatever you choose to do in life, do your very best, whether you’re a secretary, a teacher assistant, or a janitor. Change your thinking, and you’ll change your life. Become a specialist at your job. Become so valuable that your employer will not be able to afford to lay you off in these tough times. All of this starts with you having a strong degree of self-confidence, and building up your self-esteem. I encourage you to test this out; when people ask you what you do, in a powerful, resolute tone, state it proudly! You’ll find that people will be more comfortable around you, and they may open up and do the same. Change starts with you!