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September 29, 2008

SWF / FLV Video on Your Website

Filed under: Audio / Video
Randy Harris @ 3:56 am

A little history.... Ever since the Eolas v. Microsoft patent lawsuit, the act of simply embedding an active object into a web page has become a problem. The nature of the lawsuit had to do with how web browsers displayed embedded objects such as video media files, and the fact that EOLAS owned a patent and Microsoft did not want to license the technology from them. In short, rather than pay, Microsoft developed a work-around which included using Javascript. The debate over whether to use the html <EMBED> or <OBJECT> tag became moot, and the Javascript method has become the defacto way to work around the EOLAS patent and provide a browser-independent method to display video.

The solution: (Note: this may seem complicated the first time you implement it, but get relatively easier for embedding subsequent Flash Video, (.FLV), and other types of media files into a website).

Here's the software you need:

1. a video saved in .FLV format

2. a Shockwave/Flash, (.SWF), video control -- this is "the player" whic his usually a frame that surround the video and contains (minimally) a Start/Stop button, and usually a volume control.

3. an HTML file you wish to embed the SFW/FLV player and video into.

4. a Javascript library which interprets the parameters passed to it from the HTML which in-turn initializes the SWF/FLV player and displays the video.

Without rehashing all the details of the Javascript library, and the capabilities of the various vendors who offer the software components, I'll just say they all basically work the same way, and provide workable examples that you can copy and modify, followed by links to the vendor websites. For non-commercial sites, you can get all the software for free. Of, course you can code one yourself even for a commercial site and do that for free also -- but in general the vendors charge approximately $20.00 (US or EUR) so that is probably more cost effective than re-inventing the wheel.

Where to get the software:

Jeroen Wijering's FLV Player - simple, easy to use Javascript library and .SWF control. The player can play FLV, MP4, MP3 and AAC files and also display JPG, PNG and GIF images for use as an image rotator for photo galleries. download the .ZIP file, uplpad the .JS and .SWF files to your website and copy the example to have a video up and running in 5 minutes. There is a "wizzard" on the site that produces the HTML code for more complicated settings, (e.g.- playing multiple files, setting up a static opening screen before the video plays, skinning the player, etc). Free for non-commercial, $20 for commercial sites, (Creative Commons license).

After uploading the .JS library and and .SWF player (extracted from the file: mediaplayer.zip), and your .FLV video file to your site, you would :

- cut and paste the following line into the <HEAD> if you page:

<script type="text/javascript" src="/embed/swfobject.js"></script>

- cut and paste the following <DIV> and <SCRIPT> code into the body of your page:

<div id="player">This text will be replaced</div>

<script type="text/javascript">
var so = new SWFObject('embed/player.swf','mpl','320','240','9');

Get the JW FLV Player code at: http://www.jeroenwijering.com/

Wimpy Player, (Plano Software, LLC), is a similar set of files, (with more options). Wimpy can be used as a simply "button" to play .MP3 and other audio files, all the way up to their Wimpy WASP and Wimpy RAVE products which are skinnable audio/video jukeboxes that can run XML playlists and be styles to look just about any way you want. The software is easy enough to use and very dependable. You can download their tools which generate all the HTML code needed to cut and paste into your website or use their online code generator. You have to pay for the WimpyPlayer software even on non-commercial sites after the 15 day demo expires. The paid versions cost from $19 and up depending on features. http://www.wimpyplayer.com

Abode, Inc. - Adobe owns the Shockwave Flash and Flash Video formats, and offers several commercial tools for embedding flash video in your website including DreamWeaver [DW] and other flash and video authoring tools in the Adobe Creative Suite (CS) packages. Visit Adobe's Flash Developer's Center at: http://www.adobe.com/devnet/flash/ for more info.

Please let us know if you locate any other vendors who produce software to play .SWF / .FLV video on your website.


September 24, 2008

How to Get More LinkedIn Contacts

Filed under: Social Networking
Randy Harris @ 6:03 am

LinkedIN is a professional networking site -- it's not like MySpace or similar social media websites except in the fact that it uses the social networking model.

The social model is a method of expanding your connections to other people by inviting them to connect to you, and in-turn connecting to your extended network of contacts and connections.

A powerful way to build connections to others (which may lead to job offers, orders for products or services, a new employee or other professional contact), create a LinkedIN account and start adding contacts.

Here's the benefit: Lets say you have ten friends, business associates, customers or others who know what you do, like you, and would refer or recommend [READ MORE...]

September 21, 2008

PLAXO Review

Filed under: Social Networking
Randy Harris @ 6:17 am

Common Name: Plaxo

Niche: Personal Social Networking

Slogan: We keep you connected to the people you know and care about.

What they say about themselves: "First, Pulse is not a place to see how many online "friends" you can collect. It’s meant to be a better way for you to stay in touch with the people you actually know and care about — your family, your real-world friends, and the people you know from business."

What I say about plaxo: Ok, now here's something that looks similar to other social networks -- but it is different.

Plaxo does not try to compete for members and promise them they can meet new friends and share everything with the world.

Plaxo is more of an a social networking aggregator. The service, which started as an online address book site includes features so you can keep track of your favorite websites, web services and people.

Members can create a public and a private profile page, then add links and the plaxo "Pulse" feature will track which of your contacts has added new content to their blogs, Facebook, MySpace, Flikr and other social media content sites.

A comprehensive address book makes it easy for you to organize home, work and other contacts information. You can create your own calendar, send eCards and other event based features.

While the site claims to very strongly support users privacy rights, it should be noted that Plaxo recently became a subsidiary of Comcast Interactive Media. If their promotional material is to be believed, they will not use your private data for any type of user profiling or marketing -- but they are owned by a very large commercial online player.


NING Review

Filed under: Social Media Software
Randy Harris @ 6:05 am

Common Name: Ning

Niche: general purpose - Social Media Software

Slogan: "Create Your Own social Network for Anything"

What they say about themselves: "Marc [Andreessen] and I founded Ning in October 2004 to give everyone the opportunity to create your own social networks for anything. Today Ning powers the largest number of social networks on the Internet." - Gina Bianchini, CEO and co-founder

What I say about Ning: I like it! It's fast and easy to setup a new account and start building your network. The interface is easy to customize and you can add or remove features as you like.

Publish blogs, video and photo galleries, news articles, event calendars, setup chat rooms and groups, and start adding members. Invite and "friending" features and a complete user management system let admins control who and what is on their network.

Ning is a FREE hosted solution, (they monetize the sites by placing advertising on your pages).

Ning offers "Premium Services" which for small fees allow you to remove all Ning branding, use your own domain name, control advertising, or add additional disk space and bandwidth to the 10GB of storage and 100GB of bandwidth they include in the free service.

For about $35/mo you can have a totally white label solution that you can build your own social network on -- and all your members can build out their own spaces on your site.


MySpace Review

Filed under: Social Networking
Randy Harris @ 5:55 am

Common Name: MySpace

Niche: general social media / social networking website
Slogan: a place for friends.

What they say about themselves: "MySpace is an online community that lets you meet your friends' friends. "

What I say about Myspace: the best general purpose social networking site, MySpace constantly ranks in the top 2, (competing with FaceBook for #1) , in the Social Media Networking space.

With literally hundreds of millions of users, MySpace has something for everyone.  Meet new friends, share videos, photos, blog, send messages to your friends and their friends.  Members create an account then add photos, blogs, favorites, and invite friends to their network.

Members have very little information on their public page, and can elect to make the rest of their profile public or keep it private where only their approved friends can view the content.  Users can customize their pages extensively which leads to some very good looking ones -- (and some very bad ones).

It's easy to add links to non-Myspace web sites, news feeds, and to install widgets including Open Social, bookmarking and other services.

If you only create one social networking page, MySpace should be on your short list of places to do it.   On the negative side:  using the site can be a little confusing as once your logged in the "home" button takes you to your public page, you need to keep clicking around a lot to find things that aren't already part of your profile.  (Note: MySpace is owned by Fox Media).


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