Posts Tagged ‘video’

HandBrake – Video Conversion Made Easy

Video can be an effective and viral medium for communicating with constituents.  In order to make video available to constituents, converting the videos into usable formats is often necessary.  HandBrake is an outstanding software designed to make the task of ripping or converting video easy.  It is also completely free and available for Windows, Mac and Linux!  To download a copy and get started using it visit the HandBrake website.

    Whether you are ripping a video from a DVD or converting a video file on your computer the steps within HandBrake are the same:

    1. Download and install HandBrake (Download Page).

    2. Make sure the DVD you are going to rip is in your DVD drive or that the video file you want to convert is locally stored on your computer.  Having the file local on your computer will greatly speed up conversion times.

    3. Open Handbrake.  The program will open with this interface.

    HanBrake main screen

    4. Select the source for your video conversion.  Simply click on the source button and choose either video file or the DVD.  HandBrake will then scan the file for tracks which may take some time depending on how large the video is.

    Source Selection Menu

    5. When HandBrake has finished its scan, click on the Title drop down menu.  Here you will see the different Title tracks you can rip (if you are just converting a video you will only see one track).  In the case of a DVD with many tracks you may have to use the length of each track to determine what portion of the DVD that you are going to rip.  Generally you will see a very long track (the entire video) and some other shorter tracks (often special features or content).  Choose the track you wish to rip.

    Track Length Dialogue

    6.  HandBrake comes with a wide variety of preconfigured settings for conversion.  If one of these fits your needs feel free to use it.  Otherwise you will need to choose the settings you want for the video conversion.  In most cases the default settings will work perfectly.  Notice that there are controls to specify how big you would like the final file to be and the quality of that file.  HandBrake will allow you to finely tune every setting of your conversion so if you have very specific requirements you will need to dig into the advanced settings.

    7. Once you have the video and audio settings you would like make sure that you set the Destination location to where you want to save the video and give the video a name.

    8. Double check your settings and click the start button.  HandBrake will go to work and let you know when it has finished with a popup notification.  Speed of conversion will vary depending on the processing power of your computer and the length of the video.

    One last feature that is very helpful in HandBrake is the ability to queue a number of videos for conversion.  Simply go through steps 4-8 but instead of clicking start after you have configured your settings, click “Add  to Queue”.  The video will be queued up and will start as soon as the previous conversion finishes.

    If you run into any issues using this guide simply reach out to your HouseCall Systems Administrator and we will be glad to help you with using HandBrake.

    Tech Gems for 2010

    As we inch closer to 2010, HouseCall remains committed to keeping our clients informed on ways to ever improve efficiently by utilizing the best technology on the market.  In this effort, we would like to share with you a few gems of technology that may make your workday more efficient in the New Year.

    Flip Video Camcorder

    This is not your father’s camcorder. The Flip is small, super-portable, and very easy to use. The Ultra HD model ($199.99) allows for up to 120 minutes of HD quality video. It’s perfect for on the fly captures of speeches and presentations, yet has high quality video that looks perfectly professional.

    Uploading videos with the Flip is easy. The Flip plugs directly into your computer with USB and comes with software for easy video editing. The software also makes it simple to upload videos directly to YouTube.

    Plantronics Wireless Headset

    The Plantronics CS55 Wireless Headset ($255.00) is perfect for anyone who spends a great deal of time on the phone. Holding the receiver to your face is painful after a while and doing work one handed can be difficult. Wireless technology and battery life of up to 10 hours allows you to talk on the phone while roaming around up to 300 feet. You can even answer and end calls while you’re away from your desk.

    If you’re interested in purchasing a Plantronics headset feel free to contact us.



    Having a Kindle from Amazon ($259.00) is like having an entire library (up to 1,500 books!) that weighs only 10.2 ounces. Not only can you read books on the Kindle, but you can also subscribe to newspapers like the Washington Post. The Kindle will even read text to you. Best of all, there’s no glare or backlight so it’s more like reading from a page than a computer screen.

    Going Green: Consume less paper by reading important PDFs on your Kindle instead of printing them out.


    LaCie iamaKey

    Flash drives (also known as thumb drives or USB drives) quickly made floppy disks obsolete by allowing people to easily store and transport more data in a smaller item. The only downside to the small size is how easily it can get lost. The LaCie iamaKey (starting at $21.99 for 4GB) solves that problem by creating a flash drive that is key-shaped so you can attach it to your keyring. Now all you have to do is remember where you put your keys!


    Acer Aspire One Netbook

    Netbooks are perfect for computing anywhere. It’s small enough to take with you on a plane, on the metro, at work, and at home. The Acer Aspire One is our top choice with the solid hardware necessary for on the go use. With a 10.1” WSVGA CrystalBrite LED backlit LCD screen and a Intel Atom processor N270 you can do anything anywhere. Choose from one of four colors to match your style.


    CardScan Executive

    Where are all the business cards that you’ve collected over the years? If you’re like most people, they’re probably in a box on your desk taking up space and waiting for the day when you’ll have time to enter each contact into Outlook. If your job is like most jobs, you know that day will never come. CardScan Executive ($259.99) will scan your business cards, extract the important text, and with a click of the mouse transfer that information straight to Outlook. CardScan will process up to 15 cards a minute in color. No one can type that fast! CardScan is also available for Mac.


    Adobe Premier Elements

    Sometimes free video editing software such as Windows Movie Maker and iMovie isn’t quite enough. Adobe Premier Elements ($99.99) is a popular and affortable software for editing and perfecting videos. This software gives you the opportunity to create clean and professional videos easily: add titles, automatically remove bad footage, include transitions, create picture-in-picture effects, add animations, and more.


    Apple Magic Mouse

    Adding the scroll wheel to the top of a mouse was smart, but the Apple Magic Mouse ($69.00) is brilliant. It brings the multitouch experience from the iPhone to your mouse. Instead of manipulating the scroll wheel you just slide your fingers on top of the mouse to scroll in any direction. The rest of it works like a regular mouse–you just move it around with your hand and click.

    Interested in getting a new Mac to go with the Apple Magic Mouse? Contact us and we’ll see what we can put together!


    Sharing Media with YouTube and Flickr

    Sharing media has come along way since slide projectors that had to be setup and transported. Today media sharing is free and easy and can be done online. The most popular video sharing site is YouTube. You’ve probably watched funny videos of cats on this website before. Individuals, businesses and other organizations use YouTube to share information through videos. Flickr is the most popular photo-sharing site, and you don’t have to be a professional photographer to take advantage of the amazing service it offers.

    There are a few reasons why using Flickr and YouTube to share media instead of merely adding it to your website is a good idea:

    1. Uploading photos and movies is incredibly easy. YouTube accepts eight different common video formats including those used by iMovie and Windows Movie Maker. Flickr automatically resizes large photos into reasonable sizes and creates thumbnails.
    2. Embedding movies from YouTube is a lot easier than manually adding them to your website. Once your video is uploaded to YouTube you just have to paste the code provided on your website. Flickr offers a few options for adding photos to your website, including badges that display your most recent photos.
    3. Using Flickr and YouTube increases exposure to your photos and videos. People that don’t know about your website might find your video on YouTube or your photo on Flickr and visit your website from there. For instance, if someone were looking for videos of sailboats, they might go straight to YouTube and search for sailboats instead of going to a sailboat related website and searching for videos.

    To sign up for a Flickr account, you will need a free Yahoo account. If you don’t have one already, sign up here. Once you have your yahoo account, click the “Create Your Account” button on Flickr’s website and follow the simple instructions. Once you’ve signed up you can start uploading photos right away. The Flickr Uploader is software for PC and Mac that makes adding photos incredibly easy. Take the Flickr tour for more information on the features Flickr offers.

    YouTube requires a Google account to sign up. You can sign up for your free Google account here. With your Google account ready, click here to create a YouTube account. Once you’re done, uploading videos is easy and adding your videos on your webpage is simple, too. All you need to do is find the “embed” link in the information box to the left of the video. You can see the imbed link at the bottom of the screenshot here:


    Just copy what’s in the box and paste it where you would like the video to appear on your website.

    That’s all there is to it! YouTube and Flickr make uploading and sharing photos and videos easy and much more fun than a slide projector.