StumbleUpon Video… Yep It’s Good

StumbleUpon Video LogoStumbleUpon, is a great service that allows users to install a toolbar in their browser and “stumble” around the web. But rather than being random it sends you to sites that are A: Tailored to your preferences and interests and B: Where you go is constantly adapted and modified according to what you like and don’t like. The result is custom made surfing, good stuff. And them came video.

StumbleUpon is approaching 1.6 million users, most are fans. Although I have had my reservations. Now they are sure to add more to this number with the addition of video. You can log into the video page using your StumbleUpon log-in. Logging in means that your history is remembered just like with the original and the results get more in tune with your taste over the time you use the service. Although you do not have to log in to use the service, once you clear your cookies your results are reset.

The videos are sourced from YouTube and Google Video and I am sure that more services will follow. You can choose from different “channels” ranging from The Arts to Video Games. Watch a video and see which other users liked it as well, plus you can watch from their favourite videos as well. Can’t remember a great video that you watched? Have a look at your own history; what you have watched and if you liked it or not. There are options to share a video and send it to someone straight from the page. In my opinion there should a link that you can cut and paste into whatever communication that you wish to use, such as Instant Messaging.

The other thing that shines with StumbleUpon Video is the fact that you stop moving the mouse, everything but the video showing dims down giving you that “Cinema” feeling. Tops, I can’t wait to try it out tonight… That’s the kid in me. Nice touch though and attention to detail. There are no ads no commercials (so far). The fact that you don’t have to go anywhere and great content is “pushed” to you is the best thing of all. All making for a great user experience.

I agree with //engtech that to go to Google Video and YouTube is tedious in so much as the signal to noise ratio is way to high. Meaning that you have to sift through hours of rubbish to find gems. That has been much more the case as time goes on, if I ever see two teenage girls lip-syncing some crappy song again I’ll scream. With StumbleUpon Video that is hopefully a thing of the past. This is the cream of the crop from YouTube and Google Video in one place and not only that; as you watch and rate it, it gets better!

This is a sure winner. Video is the hottest thing on the Internet right now. People want this type of experience. Users like me avoid YouTube for all the rubbish but this makes it worthwhile and I am sure that my usage is going to go up because of it. The best ways to watch on-line video to date.

StubbleUpon Video Screenshot

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How I Blog

Today it is a blogging challenge, I have not blogged a challenge before so this for me is new. Lorelle on WordPress is a prolific blogger for bloggers and those interested in Blogging. She has issued challenges before but this is the first that I have completed. Today Lorelle issued the challenge “How do you Blog?”. It is a question that I know the answer to but I did not ask the same questions that she has so I thought I would do so.

My motivation for blogging is that I enjoy it and I like having a platform for my opinions and thoughts. I don’t get overly concerned if I have not blogged for a while and I don’t force myself to blog, that just results in crap posts. So without looking for it I found the challenge and decided that it would be fun to do and I thought others might be interested in it. That is one of the motivations that move me to blog. I see something or read something and I get an urge to blog it.

Obviously my blog resides on WordPress, which I really like. WordPress is feature rich and while limited in some ways the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. When blogging on WordPress I use the WYSIWYG interface. I find that it suits my purpose and I don’t need much else. I have looked at some blogging clients and while enticing I don’t think they offer more than the WordPress Interface. But when I blog on the podcast blog I use a program called Qumana. A great application that allows quick posts. The big advantage to Qumana is the way that it intuitively handles links. You can drag and drop them into the post. If you are creating link by copying and pasting, when you open the window to paste it – it has already pasted it. Nice. One disadvantage to Qumana is that it does not do pictures well. I can’t get it to format them in a way that the web-page likes. So that means the text is not wrapped around the picture the way that I want it to be. I manually adjust it pain in the butt, minor gripe though. Well worth checking out if you want to post hard and fast.

I just use my home computer for blogging. Don’t use any fancy wizardry like cell phones or even a laptop. I don’t even own a laptop! I have a hard wired connection to the Internet at home. No wireless here, for me that would mean extra hassel for no reason.

I source stories from my own life experience. Often those posts are part of me working things out in my own head. But I tend to do it in a rather non obvious way and rarely use public blogging as an outlet. I like to keep my offline and online life separate for the most part. Although I have a few close friends on-line that know whats happening in my life generally. My blog mainly focuses on technology, the Internet, news and current trends. Sometimes I will blog about something amusing that I find and want to share as well, but it is usually tech based and geeky.

I love RSS. It is in my opinion one of the richest sources of information, customisation and conveniences of the modern Internet. I am the first to admit that despite these great advantages for users; for new users it can be difficult to understand and utilize. For that reason I am always trying to motivate people to take advantage of the technology and I am always willing to assist my friends and family if they show an interest. So I spend most of my on-line time reading and interacting with RSS feeds.

Not long after I discovered podcasting I found myself a very good RSS reader, I use FeedDemon. Even though the trend is towards web based applications I have stayed with FeedDemon. Top application in my opinion. So it is here that the source of a story might hit me. I don’t usually replicate a story, rather put my own spin on it and I think that is what blogging is all about. I don’t write to be read either. If no one reads this I don’t care, it would be nice though.

I am heavily involved in podcasting and the community around it. So you will see here posts on topics revolving around podcasting and my podcast The Global Geek Podcast. I won’t just blog to promote the podcast but talk about issues related to it. Like the audio production and editing. Also the dramas that are behind the scenes. This to me is great if you like the podcast as you get a feel for the other side of the production.

In our WordPress stats I get the search terms that people use to find Rooster’s Rail. I have used these as a basis to answer a question that a reader has posed in their search term. Especially if this is one that comes up a lot. I have also posted a top 10 search terms post which was fun. This is very rewarding for me because I am addressing peoples problems without them knowing that is what I have done. I think that is cool. In that is another thing that I blog about; I tell people the mistakes that I have made so that they don’t make them! Or help them resolve a problem that I have had in the past.

As far as my post construction, I have never used video. I am not keen to either. It seems like the opposite to what a blog is all about. If I wanted to do that then I would hit YouTube or something similar. Unless I found a video that I could write about, but even then it would have to be rather compelling. I would prefer to link to it rather than embed it. I do tend to use company logos a bit and sometimes a great picture that I took, but not so often with the pictures. I do use screen-shots to illustrate a point or highlight a website, I think you need that sometimes.

I have two blogs and they are very different and the motivation for writing to both is just as different. Here I write for me and on the podcast blog I write for my listeners. Not sure if that makes for very different blogs; but I think it does.

I hope that I have fulfilled the challenge, do you think I have? One criticism I have of myself is that I tend to write long posts. I find that I have yet another thing to add or opinion to have. I wonder if I would have more readers if my posts were shorter. But I could never say that I didn’t say everything I wanted to. Thanks for the challenge Lorelle.

Video Calling Here… What it Means to Me

Video for phone calls may be here but not the way the we might have expected it would be. Certainly not the way I thought it would when I was a kid.

So I thought when I was younger that one day we would have phones that had video in them of the person you were calling. As in home phone that is. I know this feature is available on some mobile phones but it costs a bomb and I would not say that it is widely available and it is price restrictive.

Skype on the other-hand is available, functional and free. The power of Skype was made very clear to me a wile ago when I got a web-cam and a close friend of mine got one as well. We could talk and see each other and it was second best to being there. It is that feeling that, if I can’t be there then this is great and I am feeling like we are hanging out; that is the difference.

With Skype now supporting Mac on the video front I have had a few more of these “being there” experiences. My brother recently converted to Mac only, yup every machine that he owns is a Mac. He was bummed that video was not supported in the Mac, but a week or so ago it happened. Skype for Mac now does video and James and I were able to chat and talk and see each other for the first time. The cool thing in this instance was the fact that we had our kids with us and we were able to interact and have fun, the kids loved it. I think they found it a little strange as well though. This is something that I cherish, my brother’s family is the other end of Australia near Sydney. So Skype gives us something that we would not otherwise have.

Screenshot of Skype Call

Yet another experience that I had recently was that of the Trans-Continental variety. And we took a screen shot to boot. Good mate and podcaster Knightwise from The Knightcast Podcast (from Belgium) and I were chatting on Skype and we fired up the video. He has a Mac as well so this is new to Kinghtwise as well. But the thing that made it absolutely hilarious was the fact that I was talking to Knightwise, using the video and he was cooking potatoes. Don’t know what is was it was just funny. It gave that being there experience and the fact that it has all the ambient sounds of him making his dinner. It seemed a normal thing to do. Talk to The Rooster and make dinner. Not something I thought I would ever do when I was a kid.

The most amazing thing is that all this is free. I can chat for hours to anyone that has Skype for free. Admitedly; a broadband connection is required, but taking something that I would have anyway and using it in this way has blown my mind. That is to say nothing of the fact that this is a free service! Sure phoning me from a land line to Skype costs money, but it is very, very competitive at the cost of a local call in Australia or to call out from Skype is cheaper still at 0.027 cents per minute (no the zero is not a mistake). I am slowly dumping my home phone. I have been saying and will continue to say that the telecommunications companies have a lot to worry about. This is further demonstration of the fact that in the end they will either have to evolve or die.

My home phone just can not give me the experience that the Internet and Skype can. I ask what they are doing about it?

So the ride to where we are now is not what I expected it to be nor have we arrived to where I thought we would end up (since when is that the case anyway). But I am excited about being a part of it and will continue to integrate technology into my life. It is finally becoming something that is impacting my life. Although I still hate computers.

If you want to call me on Skype just call 07 3102 3535, try it out. Or better yet download Skype and call me for free!