We all loved Google Reader to add, read and keep track of our favorite sites / blogs online. Consuming our favorite content was easy and clutter free all those years we had Google Reader with us. But unfortunately Google stopped the service and many went on to the extent of filing online petition for Google to reopen it.
What is a Google Reader?
Google Reader was an RSS/Atom feed aggregator operated by Google. It was created in early 2005 by Google engineer Chris Wetherell and launched on October 7, 2005, through Google Labs. Google Reader grew in popularity to support a number of apps which used it as a platform for serving news and information to people.
What is RSS feed?
RSS (Rich Site Summary; originally RDF Site Summary; often called Really Simple Syndication) uses a family of standard web feed formats to publish frequently updated information: blog entries, news headlines, audio, video. … RSS feeds enable publishers to syndicate data automatically.
Over years I’ve used many different feed readers and many of them do a decent job. But so many are using web page scrapers to fetch the content and display inside the app, which I do not feel as ethical way of doing things. If an author is providing the feed, that means he would like to share his content that way. But no one actually likes scrapping of their pages and stealing the content.
I always feel minimalistic reading apps bring sanity to the already cluttered world of information. I mean, there is an overwhelming amount of information out in the web and it gets distractive very quickly. We start by reading some quotes, we end up on Facebook, spend some hours liking commenting on photos and end up on YouTube watching few dozen videos and then we realize we did not get much of our works done. Spent precious hours browsing the web carelessly.
With minimalistic approach, we can concentrate only on one thing at a time and there will be less clutter and hence we can consume the content with sanity and without getting distracted by the bells and whistles.
Our RSS Reader app
Finally I decided to develop a simple minimalistic rss feed reading application – specially for WordPress(though works with any other sites) sites. I use it for consuming my favorite sites content online. Today I decided to make it public via Google Playstore, hoping it would help some of you too.
This is a guest post by Neil Davidson. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guest post guidelines.
This is a basic guide to editing in Pinnacle Studio on the Apple iPad. If you are new to editing, you will find it useful to familiarise yourself with some of the terms used. But luckily for you, many of them are self-explanatory e.g. a ‘splice’ is literally a cut in a video clip. A ‘transition’ is a visual effect that takes your from one clip to another in a particular way. Also, if you are used to Apple touch screen products, you will find Pinnacle very intuitive.
Pinnacle can be downloaded for free for the App Store (for a limited time only).
1) Starting a new project and giving it a name
To start a new project you need to click the ‘+’ button. This will make a panel appear in which you need to name your project. You will then be taken to your workspace.
The layout of your workspace
You will see from the image below that your workspace is laid out quite efficiently. It consists of:
– a function window (top left): allows you to switch between different functions e.g. transitions, music files on your device, video & other media (e.g. photo) files on your device and title templates.
– source/project window (top right): will display videos that you select to view before you touch, hold and drag them into your timeline or storyboard. It is also your project window as this is where your work in progress will play back.
– the storyboard (mid-portion of your screen): this is where you will see each element of your timeline in smaller chunks.
– the timeline: this is where you will be working from (this is divided into one video track and multiple audio tracks).
2) Rebuilding your video library
You will see in the video window in the top left panel that I have been given the option to ‘rebuild’ my video library. This means that all of the video I have on my iPad is not currently accessible via Pinnacle. If I click to rebuild, it will bring any new media (video/photos) into this window so that I can use it in my project.
Tap your media to preview: When you tap a video or image in the video window (left), it will display it in the project window (right). You can select the play button to play the video.
Touch and hold your media to drag it to the Storyboard or Timeline. See image below. You can adjust the scale of the timeline using the two finger expand/shrink technology that you will be familiar with from using the iPad or an iPhone. This is helpful in terms of giving you more control over where to make cuts/splices and where to place transitions etc.
Highlight a clip by touching it. Tools appear highlighted (they are grayed out when you have no media selected) – see the centre of the screen – just above the story board. – the microphone – allows you to record voiceover
– the razor blade – allows you to splice the clip where the yellow marker is lying
– the trash can – allows you to delete a clip
3) Making a splice
– Touch and slide your media to adjust its position on the timeline – so that the yellow marker is lying on the bit of the video clip where you would like to make the splice.
– Tap the ‘video’ button that appears. This makes the splice.
– See image below – you may want to delete one part of the clip. You have two options. Either touch the clip to highlight it and click the trash can button above the timeline. Or, double tap the clip you want to delete and a panel will appear as shown below. You can also use the trash can function from this panel.
4) Adding transitions
Once you have cut your videos and are happy with the footage you have, you can add transitions to make the cuts smoother and easier on the viewers eyes. Pinnacle has a a few basic transition functions for you to use. They are divided into three sections: basics, pushes and slides. Click on the lightening bolt in the function window (top left) to reveal your transition options.
I have use a few different ones in my final video so that you can see the difference.
To add a transition to your project, you simply need to touch, hold and drag the chosen transition to the point on the timeline where you would like it. You can move them to a different place on the timeline in the same way if you put them in the wrong place. You will see that they are displayed as purple items on the timeline.
You can also edit the duration/length of a transition. The default is one second. To change the duration, touch the transition and two extra yellow markers will appear around the edge of the transition. You can then touch the yellow markers (boxes with small arrows) at the bottom of the timeline to stretch or shorten the transition.
a) Adjusting the volume of your clips
By double tapping a clip in the timeline you will bring up a function panel (as mentioned earlier). You can see from the image above that this allows you to control the volume of this particular clip and also the fade of the sound as it comes in and out.
b) Adding narration
You can see from the image below that if you click the microphone, a function appears for you to record some narration directly into Pinnacle – where you want it on the timeline. Once it has been recorded, the recording will appear as a chunk on the audio track of your timeline, just like the video clips on the video track, and it can be moved about in the same way (i.e. touch, hold, drag).
c) Adding music
By selecting the musical note in the function window in the top left, you can access any music stored on your iPad and use it in your video project. It functions in the same way as the visual media.
A finishing touch to your video are titles. The title templates available on Pinnacle are in two categories; motion titles and standard titles. In my video project, I have use a motion title to open and a standard title to close – to demonstrate the variety.
The titles function like the other elements. Select the ‘T’ option on the left of the function panel. You will then see the title options available to you. Touch, hold and drag a title template to your chosen spot on the timeline. Tap ‘Your Text Here’ in the project window in the right and a keyboard will appear so that you can add your own text. You can also drag the text box to place the title in your chosen spot on the screen.
Pinnacle will tell you when you need to render your project so that you can watch a smooth preview of your video. Click the two cogs, next to the undo button (back arrow), to render.
Click the top right icon (box with forward arrow) to export your video. Pinnacle allows you to export/share your video to a few different platforms, or simply as a video file on your iPad.
This was a basic introduction to Pinnacle Studio. Pinnacle has other functions that aren’t covered in this article such as the montage feature. It is also possible to record video directly into Pinnacle. Pinnacle is available as a free app for a limited time only.
Neil Davidson is the Founder of My Web Presenters, who are a leading web video production company specialising in video spokesperson videos. They work with businesses of all sizes to create and market compelling and emotive videos. They also write a video marketing blog regularly so please check it out.
Do not aim for perfection at first shot.
Remember the old saying: Rome was not built in one day.
Building your Blog / Business / Application etc
If you’re not already a celebrity like most of us, then you’ll surly have hard luck with most of the ventures. Many of them may even fail.
This fear of failure is what holds us back and keeps us resisting / postponing / not doing what we ought to do. Let me clear this once for all: Yes, you’ll fail.
It’s sure that we’ll all fail at one or multiple things in life before we succeed. But a person who never tried is always a failure.
Take The 1st Step
The glory of success lies in daring to start.
This might seem the hardest. The gravity seem to be more at this stag!
Lets see what might be holding us back: 1. I don’t have the proper resources to start with. 2. Not enough money. 3. No right set of people.
The common things: 4. He won’t let me do that. 5. She won’t let me do that. 6. They won’t let me do that ..
Yes, all these may be true. But still get started NOW. Start it anyway.
..and then figure out the solutions as and when you encounter the problems.
We all know that problems will always be there. The thing is, how we react( if at all ) and act( taking right decision ) and move forward( progress ) inspite of the problems which is trying to suck the charge out of us.
Yes, we’ll have setbacks once we start. I won’t be surprised with the set backs. You shouldn’t be either. Because we already know we’ll have setbacks.
We should have the right mindset and patience to even start all over again and never stop.
“Awake, Arise, Stop not til the goal is reached.”
– Swami Vivekananda
If you’re losing interest, then you’re not passionate enough in what you’re doing; and may be its not of that significance to the world and YOU!
Focus 1. Start ( ..with vision) 2. Fail (fail early) 3. Face setbacks 4. Figure out solutions
Be solution oriented and not problem oriented. 5. Concentrate / Focus on the right things.
“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
– Stephen Covey
6. Start over again ( if needed ) 7. Keep up the curiosity, patience, passion, and the spirit of creating positive impact. 8. Keep serving, keep growing. 9. Stay tuned.
Some times tough decisions are needed in business.
Some can be proved as wrong steps. But still they will be right for your business!
Let me explain:
Facebook introduced Facebook feed feature, and millions protested against it all over the world back then. But the user engagement had increased, so facebook continued with the feature, later after 4 years, on January 25th, 90k people agreed to turnout for the protest in Egypt. And they organized using Facebook and the same feature helped them get out their messages to wider community of users.
Ruchi Sanghvi, ex-Facebooker
Our Own Application, TwitFever.com
Its a retweet club community application where there are many members who write and submit tweets in languages other than English. I love those members, as they are active in the community. Sometimes I use Google translater tool to convert the writing to English and read their tweets and articles.
But that may not be true with other members of the community. They might find it intrusive 🙁
They may find it difficult and sometimes annoying to navigate inorder to digg English content and then retweet them.
In situations like this, we’ll have to follow the guts. I know, non-English speaking members will be really angry on me when I inform them the new rules of allowing only English content. But when you’re clear about your target audience, you’ll have to make tough decisions even if you don’t like to be rude.
Branch out the application and make sub domains or host the same application on other domains for each languages!
Now that isn’t feasible for a application like TwitFever.com
This solution may apply for a business which has bigger audience.
With this situation what I learn’t is being tough in decision is a must in business and some times in life too.
You can’t please everyone with your action/decisions.
What to look at?
Some people may say bad things about your application or business. But don’t lose your focus and forget all the other people who din’t say anything! Posibilities are they are actually loving it, but are scared to face the few others.
Always measure based on reality, statistics and not just by looking at a small group of people who are against it.
Its “ok” to treat it as a feedback: check it, if valid, act, if not carry on with your good cause.
Bad News: you’re not going to fit in with everyone.
Good News: people with big destinies never do.
Accept the things you can’t change;
have the courage to change the things which you can;
and have the wisdom to know the difference!