Monthly Archives: February 2010

Metadata Hootenanny

Metadata Hootenanny, an open source program for adding metadata to QuickTime movies, is not as much fun as it sounds, nor is it in any way related to owls. That’s the bad news. The good news is that it’s (kind of) intuitive and makes full use of the dizzying array of metadata fields that QuickTime allows. You specify which fields you want, fill them in how you want, then tell Hootenanny to write the metadata to the video file, where it becomes viewable in QuickTime and searchable in Spotlight. According to the Hootenanny documentation, you can also drag and drop IMDb URLs on top of video files, thereby applying whatever IMDb metadata exists for a given movie.

I spent part of Thursday morning testing Hootenanny. Here are my conclusions:

PROS:
- interface is user-friendly (halfway between iTunes and VLC)
- library is keyword-searchable
- video playback is supported
- smart playlist feature allows for the automatic creation of video collections with criteria in common
- metadata is exportable to XML files, which can then be reimported
-chapter markers are much simpler to add than in QuickTime Pro

CONS:
- text entry is cumbersome (no autofill or batch function)
- software will not read preexisting QuickTime metadata
- IMDb metadata import function pulls in all the text on the webpage, not just the fields you want

Hootenanny makes entering file-specific metadata (i.e. timecodes and scene descriptions) very easy, and it’s intuitive enough that any Mac user could figure it out. But given that it can’t perform batch processes or even read metadata entered manually in QuickTime Pro, it’s far from a comprehensive solution.

Networking with youtego

It’s safe to add youtego to the latest iteration of social networking tools. While youtego may be carving out a unique niche, the end goal is nothing new: meeting people with similar qualities over the Internet.

Much like Facebook, youtego is built upon individual user profiles. However, this is where youtego goes off in a different direction. Rather than the usual profile structure of listed biographical information, youtego wants you to be more creative. By filling in prompts such as “I can” and “I love,” you build a less conventional, more artistic snapshot of yourself. Rather than posting your extended educational background, for example, you post an interest in stargazing. Each of your profile items needs an icon, so be prepared to provide your own images. Each time you fill in your profile, you are “tagging your ego,” hence “tego.” In this sense, using youtego is supposed to be an introspective experience, prompting you to think about yourself in a qualitative manner. Youtego advertises as an exercise in “self-visualization.” The downside of this is that the profiles are limited in scope. What they gain in artistic value they lose in terms of hard facts.

Once you’ve built a profile, of course, the next step is to join the youtego online community. Someone with similar content in his or her profile will become your “TegoMate.” This part is fairly standard with only a few minor innovations.

While youtego’s approach to profile construction is certainly more unique and wholesome, it’s still about joining an online community. Yes, creating your profile may lead to some introspection, but beyond that, you can’t do very much.

Need Photoshop? Try GIMP

If you find yourself in need of a powerful, photo-editing software, GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is definitely one to consider. [Unfortunate] name aside, GIMP is a powerful user-friendly, image editing/manipulation software with capabilities that make it comparable to Adobe’s photoshop, but without the hefty price tag. It is available as a freely distributed download for Windows, Mac OS X and Unix operating systems.

I needed an image editing software while working on the intern showcase to produce representative images for rubicon and donatello, and GIMP definitely did the job for me. The layering and colour transparency adjustment tools were particularly useful in allowing me to merge several different images into one.

As someone who has never used photoshop, I found it reasonably easy to figure out GIMP (at least for my very limited purposes), but most online reviews do complain of a steep learning curve and state that photoshop users may have a harder time adjusting to the (different) layout/interface. However, GIMP comes with a built-in help system and there are comprehensive (albeit version-outdated) tutorials on the official website to help new users adapt to the program. GIMP offers painting/drawing/selection tools, layer/channel support, colour adjustment tools, filters, effects and masks among many other features and saves natively to the .XCF file format, with the ability to read/write to TIFF, PNG, JPEG, GIF, BMP and PSD. Additional file format support especially for rarer file types can be extended with various plug-ins available on the official website.

GIMP (or the GIMPshop modification for those who would like a more ‘photoshoplike’ experience) seems to be a very good Photoshop alternative. Since it is an open source program, users can have direct input on new features, and it can be customised and extended using plug-ins and scripts. It may also be prone to bugs, although I haven’t experienced any in the few weeks I have been using it.

GIMP Publisher’s Description

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a freely distributed piece of software suitable for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition, and image authoring. It is a powerful piece of software with capabilities not found in any other free software product. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert-quality photo-retouching program, an online batch-processing system, a mass production image renderer, or an image-format converter. GIMP is modular, expandable, and extensible. It is designed to be augmented with plug-ins and extensions to do just about anything. The advanced scripting interface allows everything from the simplest task to the most complex image-manipulation procedures to be easily scripted.

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GIMP is available to download from www.gimp.org

Never a dull moment with Lazyfeed

The creators of lazyfeed have made it even easier for internet addicts to get their fix. Rather than checking up on multiple online news and entertainment outlets, users can take advantage of one-stop shopping at lazyfeed. By funneling the latest stories on a wide variety of subjects onto one page, the website always has something new.

Users begin by setting their preferences for information consumption. The preferences, such as “Sports,” “Politics,” or “Cooking,” each then become “tiles” on the user’s homepage. As a tile, the preference occupies a square within your lazyfeed homepage. As lazyfeed scans millions of web pages, it will post updates to the relevant tiles much like an item is added to a post-it list. It should be noted that the user comes up with his or her original preferences. I was able to type in preferences as varied as “Taxonomy” and “Barack Obama.” Lazyfeed uses these as taglines in its constant trawl through the Internet.

Updates to your tiles are always flowing in, literally allowing you to sit and watch new items arrive for you to read. If you’d like, you can click through to view the posted items on their original web pages. Sources for lazyfeed posts are wide and varied: some from major, reputable news sites like Nytimes.com, and others from small, independent blogs.

While lazyfeed does provide you with the latest on practically any topic, I found that it doesn’t supplant a conventional news website or television show. Lazyfeed caters to your personal interests. As such, Lazyfeed is the latest for those who love to procrastinate.

Omeka

Omeka, which you download from the Internet, is a totally free software that allows you to publish independent work or collections to the Internet. Much like an elementary school student would create a project with posters and visuals, Omeka users insert various file types to make their projects. Omeka software can harness all types of files for display on the internet, including documents, videos, audio, powerpoints etc. Advertised for librarians and curators, it offers a unique way to present material. Rather than write long essays, researchers and academics could use various media types to display their recent research projects on the internet. By appealing to the viewer’s multiple senses, users create comprehensive presentations. All metadata is secure since Omeka uses the international Dublin Core standard.

Omeka is particularly suited for academics because it is designed for users with minimal computer knowledge. Omeka projects are built using templates, much like building a website except uniquely content-related. Users don’t have to worry about file size since Omeka has an enormous file storage capacity (advertised as only limited by the user’s server). Finally, much like WordPress, Omeka is still evolving. Since Omeka is an open-source software, plugins are still being developed to enhance the program. One notable plugin is “Geolocation,” which allows the user to make plots along a Google Map.

To sample some Omeka projects, you can view certain “showcases” on their website. Most are impressively designed and have glossy layouts.