Monday, December 22, 2008

YouTube Shines Spotlight

YouTube continues to bring its high-definition video strategy into sharper focus with the announcement late this week of more support for HD videos. And while the new development may not make it any easier to know just where the hell Matt is -- regarding the globetrotting dancer in one of YouTube most popular videos -- his scenic backgrounds will indeed look much clearer.

The Web site has made it easier to find content uploaded in high-definition with an HD link in the Videos section. Even if you don't choose to you use that link, YouTube pops up an on-screen notice alerting you to the availability of an HD version if there's one available for whatever video you are currently watching.

Users must find a "watch in HD" link underneath the window showing the standard-quality version of a video. Once they click on that link, the video automatically goes widescreen; no user adjustments needed, although the full-screen option is still available.

Making It Easy

Perhaps in anticipation of all those HD-enabled camcorders now gift-wrapped and sitting under Christmas trees, YouTube has also added a FAQ site for instructing users on how to properly upload their HD videos in the right resolution and frame-rate speed. The less re-encoding that takes place, the better, according to YouTube.

Making HD videos easier to find, however, doesn't necessarily mean they're easier to play. On its HD FAQ site, YouTube admits that it's still in experimentation mode with higher-quality uploading. But there's still not a lot of instruction on the HD section to help users determine if they have the right multimedia software, processor or memory in their computers for optimal viewing of high-definition content.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Gmail Gadget for Windows

Google has unveiled a new gadget that allows Google Desktop for Windows users to check their Gmail accounts without having to leave leaving the vendor's desktop search application. The new gadget will allow users to read, search and send Gmail messages while in Google Desktop, Google noted. Users can also star messages and use keyboard shortcuts.

"It doesn't take up much space in your sidebar or desktop, and you can also resize it to show as few or as many messages as you'd like," noted James Yum, developer programs engineer for Google Desktop, in a blog post Monday. "When I'm at work, I keep two instances of the gadget open: one logged into my personal Gmail account and the other set to my Google Apps account for work related stuff. Instead of getting lost in a sea of tabs or browser windows, I can bring up the gadgets in an instant."

Google released Google Desktop in 2004. The application promises to make searching a PC as easy as searching the Web. It provides full-text search over email, files, music, photos, chats, Gmail and Web pages viewed, according to Google. The application includes other gadgets that allows users to be shown new email, weather updates, photos and personalized news.

Yum noted that Google's gadgets team has received countless requests for a Gmail gadget for Google Desktop, and users posting comments to the page for downloading the new gadget had mostly positive comments.