Thursday, March 27, 2003

A post from Rochester, NY.

I'm here to deliver a SMART Master's On-site session on the SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard. I'm looking forward to working with another group of learners.

Each session is a chance for me to learn more about what is that our customers would like to know about our hardware and software. Sessions also provide feedback we use to improve session content and delivery strategies.

Currently we're exploring how we can complement face-to-face delivery with on-line strategies and resources.

As always, watch this space for details.

Here's an early look at this term's project for CTL 1799. Check out my project page and send me any comments you have regarding the pages, I'm especially keen to hear from anyone with comments on videos on the web. Specifically, how far can you degrade the "quality" of a video before it's "too much"?

I've seen some interesting examples of GIF files being used for simple animations. I'm definitely having fun approaching design and delivery with a keen eye on file sizes and bandwidth requirements. Fun learning how to prepare and present content with a "small footprint." Narrow parameters encourage more thoughtful use of resources.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Got a couple of MOV (QuickTime) files made with the export function of Premier. I got one file small enough to post for dialup -- I'll switch from DSL to dialup to check it in a bit. Have a look.

Requires QuickTime to view. Click here to get the viewer.

This afternoon I had a chance use the Macintosh operating system(OS) and Windows Media Player for Mac to look at the WMV I'd posted.

I realize that using Windows software on a Mac may make me a heretic in the eyes of some, but I'm just trying to produce content that anyone with 28.8 or better can access.

So far the best I've been able to do with a video with a soundtrack is 1 MB or better. The sad truth is that I don't own that much space on any of my three 10 MB 'net service provider (ISP) accounts. I'm anxious to get a MOV file with sound posted to see how it streams.

Here's a work in progress -- What About Video? -- I hope to improve this page and its mates ahead of "prime time."

Still working with graphics and videos for the web. Here're a couple of versions of a JPG file that was 640 X 480. I used Adobe PhotoDeluxe to resize the pictures to 320 X 240 and varied the Image Option or "picture quality" for each export to JPG from PhotoDeluxe.

This is the "low bandwidth" version of the graphic

A picture of the mountains in Utah

Can't seem to post the second graphic. I'll have to check, I may be at my limit (10 MB) on the blogspot server.

Another good reason for being judicious with file sizes.

A post from my old Pentium 100 15 MB RAM "made in Canada" computer. Had the ol' dear powered-up to test some videos (WMV) I'd posted. Getting the bit rates low enough to play at 28.8 kilobits per second makes a mess of the video. Audio is a little garbled, but it fares better than video -- good thing, not much use otherwise.

I'll have to see what I can come up with in MOV (QuickTime)) format. I don't own QTPro, but I do have Adobe Premier (came bundled with the Sony VAIO I bought to replace this machine) I've used it's export function to make AVI files, maybe I can get a MOV on ;-)

Connecting at 28.8 Kbps is an exercise I'd recommend for every 'net-based developer. Even if you don't plan to produce content for dialup audiences, it will immediately become apparent where the "kinks" are in your web. Ironing same will go a long way toward reducing overhead on both servers and bandwidth.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Here's another version of the graphic posted to this space yesterday. This time I've changed the size of the graphic "at the source." I used Adobe PhotoDeluxe to "resize" the graphic to 284 X 77 pixels, I also defined these same dimensions in the HTML of this page.

The result is a file that has a size on disk of ~ 5 KB, thus making much more accessible to dialup users.

A panoramic picture of Calgary's downtown -- click to see a larger version of this picture

Click on the picture above to see its full-size version.

Compare the two pictures on this page, the ones from today and yesterday. To my eye, there isn't a lot of difference between the two. In fact the "softness" of the pic above makes it more visually appealing than that below. It also wins -- "hands down" -- when it comes to accessibility.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

This is an edited version of a panoramic picture I took of Calgary today.

The original measures 2839 X 772 pixels and tips the scales at right around 1 MB. The picture below has the same "physical" dimensions, but I've constrained its size to 284 X 77 in the HTML of this page.

I used the "Save as" function of Microsoft Photo Editor to make a "smaller" Joint Photographic Experts (JPEG, also JPG) version of the file (~175 KB). It has the same physical dimensions, but its "size on disk" is about 1/10th of the original. Of course there is a corresponding drop in the "quality" (i.e., resolution) of the graphic, but this is a trade-off I'm willing to make to ensure greater accessibility for dialup visitors.

As it is, time for download of the "full-size" version of the page is much longer than I'd like (30 - 40 seconds at 34.6 kps). The goal here was to strike a balance between making a large file available and still accessible to all users. In this example, dialup users can at least see something happening (the beginnings of the graphic being "painted" on their display) -- about 1/2 of the graphic after 15 - 20 seconds @ 34.6 kps -- and may be more inclined to "play along."

If it takes too long for visitors to see your content, they'll be scrambling for the stop button on their browsers and heading elsewhere.

A panorama of Calgary in early spring

Click the picture above to see the "full-size" version of the 175 KB graphic.

I'm experimenting with file sizes and screen resolution quality as both relate to graphics and video on the web as my term project for CTL 1799.

I've been playing with MS Photo Editor and Media Encoder to produce JPG and WMV files. I'm also using use Adobe Premier to combine file formats (i.e., AVI, WAV and MOV (QuickTime)) and export to AVI format. These are then "encoded" to Windows Media Video (WMV) for streaming.

Videos require Windows Media Player for playback -- free viewers are available for Windows and Macintosh operating systems. Keeping file sizes small and therefore "more accessible" will be a prime objective at each step in the process.

I'm using the Olympus C720 for stills and videos. I've been using the C720 for about 6 months and am very impressed. I used the Camedia software which ships with the camera to "stitch" the pic above.

As always, watch this space for updates.