September 17, 2007

Animoto.com: Making your pictures come alive on video

I found this amazing site yesterday through one of the feeds on LinkOverLoad.com. Awesome video coming right up…

Animoto basically turns your pictures into a fantastic MTV-style video, with some great soundtracks available on their site for free, or you can use your own audio – with your pictures almost flashing in rhythm to the beats of the soundtrack, with some great-looking special effects.

When I signed up, uploaded my pictures, picked a great-sounding track they had on their site (for free) and tried to create my video (remember, their software supposedly creates all of this in an automated fashion), I got this very friendly error message:

Hi there,

We’re sorry to inform you that we have experienced an error in the
production of your recent video, “Beautiful People”. Rest assured, we’re
on the case and we’ll have it rendered as soon as we can–but, depending
on the complexity of the issue, it could take a little time.

We’ll email you the moment it’s ready. Thanks for understanding!


That didn’t bother me, as they are still in beta, and still hammering out the rough edges. What did surprise me, is that they promptly sent me this email the next day:

Hi there.

We’ve finished your video, so it’s time for you to go take a look.
Head to:

http://animoto.com/play/…..

We hope you like it! Give us some feedback when you get a chance to
let us know what you liked and how we can improve. Remember, no two
Animoto videos are ever the same so keep making videos and see what unique
pieces you can generate.


I excitedly clicked over, and was simply blown away by the results (see video below).

Remarkable idea, great (almost perfect) execution, instantly viral! Pass this along…

Video from Animoto.com

September 7, 2007

When You Can No Longer Help Your Child with Their Homework

(ARA) – Many of us remember when our kids were young and helping them with their homework was fun, but that pleasure can turn to pain once they enter high school.

Even if you took the same courses they are now struggling with — algebra, American literature, physics, chemistry and Spanish, to name a few — those days can suddenly seem like a very long time ago. In fact, according to the May 2005 MSI-ACI Homework Study, more than two-thirds of parents experience frustration when helping their children with homework, citing the main problems as a lack of knowledge, a lack of resources and a lack of time.

Hiring a tutor is an option, but that can get very expensive. One helpful tool is Microsoft Student with Encarta Premium 2008, an all-in-one software suite that helps students write research papers, solve difficult math and science problems, and learn foreign languages.

“Microsoft Student helps young scholars be more productive with their homework,” says Dave Brooks, product manager for Microsoft Student at Microsoft Corp. “Instead of just giving kids the answers, it shows them how to find those answers themselves. And it gives parents a resource they can use when they’re too busy — or simply unprepared — to help their kids with their homework.”

Ann Mackinnon of Minneapolis recently purchased the software to help her 14-year-old son, Ian, with his math and Spanish studies. “Things have changed so much since I was in college,” she says. “Even with the advanced math I took, the methodologies are different, so I couldn’t help my son the way I wanted to. This tool helps him help himself and makes everything much more visual.”

Mackinnon explained that instead of just giving Ian the solution, the software solves math problems step by step, just like Ian would in class. And a graphing calculator with 2-D and 3-D capabilities gives him a more visually engaging learning experience. Microsoft Student also includes a foreign language help section, covering French, German, Italian and Spanish.

According to the May 2005 MSI-ACI Homework Study, 84 percent of kids use a PC to do their homework, but 61 percent of parents say their kids don’t always find what they need on the Web. Even when they do find information, it’s hard to tell whether it’s accurate. Microsoft Student includes a premium version of the Microsoft Encarta encyclopedia, giving students an easy way to find information they can trust for reports or research papers.

Microsoft Student is available for download for $49.95 (U.S.) at http://www.microsoft.com/student. Microsoft Math, an enhanced version of the math features included in Microsoft Student, is available separately on the same site for $19.95.  

“The most important part of helping my son with homework is getting him to the point where he can do it himself,” Mackinnon says. “It not only empowers him, but it saves me time. After all, parents don’t like spending hours on homework any more than kids do.”  

Courtesy of ARAcontent