Geeks in Phoenix

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Mix static and dynamic video elements with Microsoft Research Cliplets

As many of you know, when I'm not working on computers, I like to work with photos and videos. And some of the coolest software I've found for doing panoramic photos has come from Microsoft Research. I have written about Microsoft Research before, Microsoft Image Composite Editor and HD View, and they have recently released a new project for video called Cliplets.

View of main screen inside of Microsoft Research Cliplets
View of main screen inside of Microsoft Research Cliplets.

With Cliplets, you can combine static and dynamic elements from a single video together to create some pretty cool effects. It works by isolating different elements on individual layers. Each layer has it's own action (still, loop, mirror or play) and timeline. Just open a compatible video and Cliplets will ask what segment you would like to use. The maximum amount of time that Cliplets can work with is only ten (10) seconds.

This video is a sample of what Microsoft Research Cliplets can do. The palm tree on the left has been frozen, while the palm tree on the right sways is the wind. Also, look for the bird is flying through.

When you are all done editing, you can export your final Cliplet in three different formats, animated GIF (*.GIF) , MPEG-4 video (*.MP4) or Windows Media Video (*.WMA). Cliplets works with 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7. Here's a quote from their site:

Cliplets: Juxtaposing Still and Dynamic Imagery

What Are Cliplets?

Microsoft Research Cliplets is an interactive app that gives users the power to create "Cliplets" -- a type of imagery that sits between stills and video, including imagery such as video textures and "cinemagraphs". The app provides a simple, yet expressive way to mix static and dynamic elements from a video clip.

About Cliplets

Cliplets is a research project from Microsoft Research. This project explores a form of visual media that juxtaposes still image and video segments, both spatially and temporally, to expressively abstract a moment. The tension between static and dynamic elements in a cliplet reinforces both aspects, strongly focusing the viewer's attention or conveying a narrative. We develop a set of idioms, essentially spatiotemporal mappings, that characterize these cliplet elements, and use these idioms in an interactive system to quickly compose a cliplet from ordinary handheld video. A key challenge is to avoid seam artifacts by maintaining spatiotemporal continuity in the cliplet composition. We address this using several algorithms from computer graphics and vision.

For more information on Microsoft Research Cliplets, just follow the links below:

Microsoft Research Cliplets
Microsoft Research Cliplets Gallery

How to dual-boot with Windows 7 and Windows 8

I really wanted to install Windows 8 on one of my production systems, but didn't want to perform an upgrade to my existing version of Windows 7. I have had dual-boot systems in the past, so why not try it with Windows 7 and Windows 8. And to have some fun with it, I decided to use my Netbook.

Windows 7 / Windows 8 boot manager screen
Windows 7 / Windows 8 boot manager screen

I was surprise as to how easy it was. All that is required is an existing Windows 7 installation, Windows 8 installation media and enough free space on your hard drive. I didn't even have to edit the boot loader, Windows 8 did it automatically. Here's how I did it.

Rename the existing Windows 7 partition / volume

Once your system is dual-booting, you will need to be able to identify which partition has what operating system. Renaming the existing partition now will make things easier later (see image below).

  • Open My Computer and right-click on the C: drive and select Rename. Give it a name that indicates which operating system is installed on it, something like Win7 or Windows 7.

Create a system image of your existing hard drive

Next thing to do is to create a system image, just in case you need to recover your system back to it's original state.

  1. Click the Start button, then click on Control Panel. Inside the Control Panel click on System and Security, then click on Backup and Restore
  2. or
  3. Click the Start button. In the search box, type Backup, and then, in the list of results, click on Backup and Restore

In the left pane, click Create a system image, and then follow the steps in the wizard. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Shrink the existing Windows 7 volume

You will need some free space on your hard drive to install Windows 8. Windows 7 makes shrinking the existing partition really easy. If you are logged in as an administrator, you can repartition your hard disk by using the Shrink feature in Disk Management. You shrink the existing partition to create unallocated disk space, from which you create a new partition during the installation of Windows 8.

  • Click the Start button, then click on Computer, which will bring up Windows Explorer. Inside of Windows Explorer, right-click on Computer, then click on Manage
  • or
  • Click the Start button. In the search box, type Management, and then, in the list of results, click on Computer Management.
  • If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
  • In the left pane, under Storage, click Disk Management.
  • Right-click the volume you want to shrink, and then click Shrink Volume. Follow the instructions.

install windows 8 on the free space

Insert the Windows 8 installation media (DVD or USB drive) and reboot your system. If your system does not automatically boot up on the Windows 8 media, you may have to modify the boot options in the system's BIOS.

Once the installation starts, you will be prompted to do an Upgrade or Custom installation. Select Custom and then you will be asked which partition you would like to install Windows 8 on. Select the unnamed, unallocated disk space you just created and let the installation complete.

I have built quite few dual-boot systems in the past and had to use a third party boot editor to finish the setup. Not this time. Windows 8 modified the existing boot loader.

The reversed drive letters on a Windows 7 / Windows 8 dual-boot system
The reversed drive letters on a Windows 7 / Windows 8 dual-boot system

Once the installation is complete, open up Windows Explorer using the instructions above. You will notice that that drive letters associated with the partitions have changed. The partition you renamed earlier is not the C: drive anymore under Windows 8. Both Windows 7 and Windows 8, when in operation, will make their active partition the C: drive. Rename the unnamed Windows 8 partition Win8 or Windows 8 and you're set.

Clean up and optimize your computer for free with CCleaner

Do you want to clean up and optimize your computer but just don't know where to start? Maybe you want clean out all of the temporary Internet files for security purposes. Or clean up all of the temporary files from other applications to free up some space on your hard drive. You can do all of this and more for free with CCleaner.

The Cleaner tab inside of CCleaner
The Cleaner tab inside of CCleaner

CCleaner from Piriform is complete system optimization tool for Windows. It cleans out temporary Internet files from most browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc.) and cleans out various Windows files (recent documents, temporary files, search autocomplete, etc.). It can also repair various areas of the registry too.

The Registry tab inside of CCleaner
The Registry tab inside of CCleaner

CCleaner can also rename, delete or uninstall programs listed in the 'Uninstall a program' or 'Add/Remove Programs' section in the Control Panel. It can even manage the system restore points. Here's a quote from Piriform's website:

CCleaner is our system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system - allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it's fast (normally taking less than a second to run) and contains NO Spyware or Adware! Cleans the following:

Internet Explorer
Temporary files, history, cookies, super cookies, Autocomplete form history, index.dat files.

Temporary files, history, cookies, super cookies, download history, form history.

Google Chrome
Temporary files, history, cookies, super cookies, download history, form history.

Temporary files, history, cookies, super cookies, download history.

Temporary files, history, cookies, super cookies, form history.

Other Supported Browsers
K-Meleon, Rockmelt, Flock, Google Chrome Canary, Chromium, SeaMonkey, Chrome Plus, SRWare Iron, Pale Moon, Phoenix, Netscape Navigator, Avant and Maxthon.

Recycle Bin, Recent Documents, Temporary files, Log files, Clipboard, DNS Cache, Error Reporting, Memory Dumps, Jump Lists.

Registry Cleaner
Advanced features to remove unused and old entries, including File Extensions, ActiveX Controls, ClassIDs, ProgIDs, Uninstallers, Shared DLLs, Fonts, Help Files, Application Paths, Icons, Invalid Shortcuts and more...

Third-party applications
Removes temp files and recent file lists (MRUs) from many apps including Windows Media Player, eMule, Google Toolbar, Microsoft Office, Nero, Adobe Acrobat, WinRAR, WinAce, WinZip and many more...

100% Spyware FREE
This software does NOT contain any Spyware, Adware or Viruses.

CCleaner is available in three editions: Free (no support), Professional (priority support) and Business (premium support). For more information on CCleaner, just follow the links below:

CCleaner - Optimization and Cleaning
CCleaner - Features

Try Windows 8 for free with Windows 8 Consumer Preview

You would think that doing computer repair for a living, the last thing I would want to do is try out a beta operating system. But I have to admit that I love playing around with new operating systems (been doing it since Windows 95). And now it's time to try out Windows 8. And you can try it out too, for free, with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

Desktop interface inside of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview
Desktop interface inside of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview

The first thing you will notice is that the Start button is gone. It's been replaced by a row of charms that appears when you swipe away from right side of the screen. And the Start menu from previous versions of Windows is also gone, replaced by the Metro interface. You can access it by clicking on the Start charm on the ride side of the screen or by pressing the Windows logo key.

Metro interface inside of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview
Metro interface inside of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview

The Metro interface inside of Windows 8 is more touch screen intensive, incorporating gestures like pinch / stretch and press / hold. But with a little customizing, I was able to make the Metro interface work for me on my desktop computer without a touch screen (I'm a big Windows logo key user). Here's a quote from the Microsoft website:

It's Windows reimagined and reinvented from a solid core of Windows 7 speed and reliability. It's an all-new touch interface. It's a new Windows for new devices. And it's your chance to be one of the first to try it out.

See what's new

Swipe, slide, and zoom
Touch a full-powered PC. It's fast and it's fluid. Take natural, direct, hands-on control.

Apps, front and center
Apps in Windows 8 work together to get things done faster. Get them from the Windows Store.

Your Windows, everywhere
Windows 8 can connect you to your files, photos, people, and settings, wherever you sign in.

Wall-to-wall web
Internet Explorer 10 Consumer Preview brings you immersive web browsing on screens big and small.

The familiar, made better
Still devoted to your mouse and keyboard? Windows 8 makes the tried-and-true feel brand new.

Geek note:
Windows 8 Consumer Preview is a beta version of Windows 8. Fun to play around with but in no way should you use it in a production environment. It is recommend to install it on a virtual machine like VirtualBox or a non-production computer. And remember that some of the features and/or functions may not work properly.

For more information on the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, just follow the links below:

Windows 8 Consumer Preview
Download Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Manage e-mail, sync files and more for free with Windows Live Essentials 2011

Are you looking for a program to manage your e-mail? Or maybe one to write a blog with? Want to remotely connect computers and sync files between them? How about creating a photo gallery or movie? You can do all of these and more for free with Windows Live Essentials 2011.

Windows Live Essentials installation options
Windows Live Essentials installation options

If you're familiar with Windows, some of these programs you will already know about. Photo Gallery, Movie Maker and Messenger, for example, have been around for a few years. Writer and Family Safety, on the other hand, are new. And Outlook Express users will be happy to learn that Windows Live Mail is an updated version of OE. You can import all of your settings from an existing version of Outlook Express into it.

Main screen in Windows Live Mesh
The main screen in Windows Live Mesh

With Windows Live Mesh, you can synchronize files, folders and program settings between different computers, PC or MAC. Or you can sync files to the cloud using SkyDrive. You can also use Live Mesh to connect remotely to another computer. There are so many programs / features included in Windows Live Essentials it's hard to list them all. Here's a quote from the Windows Live website:

Windows Live Essentials is a suite of products available in one easy download. Get them all at once, or choose just the ones you want.

Manage multiple email accounts, calendars, and your contacts, even when you're offline.

Family Safety
Help keep your kids safe online.

Kiss your zip drive goodbye—keep your files and photos synced on your PCs. And connect remotely to all of your files and programs.

Create stunning blog posts in minutes, with photos, videos, maps, and more. Then publish them to any of your favorite blog service providers.

Messenger Companion
Bring your friends along when you browse the web. See and comment on links your friends have shared as you visit websites in Internet Explorer.

Outlook Connector Pack
Manage Hotmail from within Outlook.

Bing Bar
Get search results from Bing without leaving the site you're on.

See rich, interactive websites with this browser plug-in.

Windows Live Essentials is available for 32-bit or 64-bit versions of Windows 7, Windows Vista with Service Pack 2, Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2008 with Service Pack 2. For more information on Windows Live Essentials, just follow the links below:

Windows Live Essentials
Windows Live Essentials Overview

Customer service is #1

Here at Geeks in Phoenix, we take pride in providing excellent customer service. We aim to give the highest quality of service  from computer repair, virus removal, and data recovery.

Bring your computer to us and save

Diagnosing PC problems can be time-consuming. From running memory checking software to scanning for viruses, these are processes can take some time. We base our in-shop service on the actual time we work on your computer, not the time it takes your computer to work!

Contact us

Geeks in Phoenix
Professional service at an affordable price!
4722 East Monte Vista Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85008
(602) 795-1111

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Geeks in Phoenix is an IT consulting company specializing in servicing laptop and desktop computers. Since 2008, our expert and knowledgeable technicians have provided excellent computer repair, virus removal, data recovery, photo manipulation, and website support to the greater Phoenix metro area.

At Geeks in Phoenix, we have the most outstanding computer consultants that provide the highest exceptional service in Phoenix, Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, and Tempe, Arizona. We offer in-shop, on-site, and remote (with stable Internet connection) computer support and services.

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