A LOT OF HOW-TOs

Capturing Video Highlights

One of our friends is writing her memoir about growing up in Iran. Since she reads it aloud to other writers through Zoom, the free video conferencing software, she was grateful that we could capture her part of the session in its own video clip.

We could have downloaded a program to cut out her slice of the two-hour meeting, but there was no need. A free screen capture program is built into Windows 10. It’s called “Game Bar.” Though it’s meant for saving your game highlights, it can capture anything you have in motion.

Once you have a video playing, bring up Game Bar by holding down the Windows key (looks like a flag) and tapping the letter “G.” Then click the red dot to start a new recording. Click the stop icon when you’re finished. Your capture is automatically saved in your video folder. To find it, type “File Explorer” in the search box on the bottom left of your screen, then double-click to open the video folder.

 The most amazing thing about the session we captured is the lack of background noise.  At the time of our recording, the construction noise going on in the apartment next door was so loud we couldn’t hear the video. But Game Bar recorded it perfectly. If you want to add a voice over, or allow background sounds, click the microphone icon. 

If you have a Mac, open QuickTime and choose “New Screen Recording” from the “File” menu. You can capture the whole video, or click and drag your cursor to capture just a small piece of it.

If any of this sounds too much trouble, don’t despair. A company at Grain.co says they’re rolling out an easy way to get video highlights from Zoom. Basically, you put a smiley face on the part you highlighted and it’s captured. Price unknown as yet.

Emailing Large Files

One drawback to screen capturing your Zoom meetings or other videos is the size of the file. Our eight-minute video capture took up almost a gigabyte. 

On the other hand, emailing a large file is easy these days. If you have a Google account, which everyone who uses Gmail does, you’ll get a prompt when you try to email a file that’s over 25 megabytes. Gmail will automatically upload it to your private space on Google Drive, even if you’ve never used the Drive before. Gmail also adds a link to it inside your email. 

If you use Yahoo, Outlook, Thunderbird or some other service, get an online storage account if you don’t already have one, upload your video, and click the “share” icon next to the file name to email it. Popular choices include Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, and Box.com.

Fun with Landscapes

We’ve been playing with the free trial of “Landscape Pro,” from anthropics.com. It lets you turn dull landscape photos into something breathtaking.

Sometimes all a photo needs is a less boring sky. In some night-time shots, a reflective light from the moon on the water would add drama. In Landscape Pro, you can change things up by dragging labels into place, for “sky,” “ground,” “tree,” “building” and “object,” among others. The program will give each of these regions its own temporary colored coating. If it didn’t get it quite right, you can drag the coating over the bald spots. Then choose from a menu to replace the sky, remove an object or achieve other effects.

In our tests, Landscape Pro worked great with their sample photos, because they’re simple. We found that it was harder to get the regions clearly identified in our own photos. So Instead of using the labeling system, we got much better results with their presets. We clicked one, and the picture went from calm to dramatic. The price of hte program is $40 from anthropics.com.

Turn Alexa Off

Alexa, the voice inside Amazon’s Echo or Echo Dot, was overwhelming us with notifications. When flash flood warnings were in effect for several days, she never stopped telling us about it. She’d remind us of flash floods if we asked for the temperature. If we asked her if she had any notifications, she’d tell us about flash floods again.

The answer was to turn off notifications in the Alexa app. When you tap the app on your phone, then tap “Notifications,” you see lots of choices. After turning off the weather alerts, we tapped the shopping category. These might be a good thing: If you turn on notifications there, Alexa will tell you when your package has arrived. Set up “do not disturb” if you don’t want the notifications to come at night or in early morning. She lets you choose the schedule. She’ll also tell you when an event on your calendar is about to occur. Somehow, we turned on too many notifications, choosing “fanfare” as our alert signal, and got drowned in sound several times a day until we fixed it.

The Price Isn’t Right

We recently wrote about a Logitech webcam BestBuy was selling for $40; Amazon sold it to us for $240. A reader said he bought a Logitech webcam in February for $17. It was recently selling for $98 on Amazon. Of course demand soared during Covid 19 lockdowns, but that’s still quite a mark-up. It’s mostly third-party sellers who price gouge, he said. 

 

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