Save it for later: downloading online videos

John
John Gushue
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We may live in a culture that puts a high accent on high-definition images - witness the move to HDTV or the proliferation of cameras with ultra-crisp imaging - but we're obviously willing to compromise with quality when it comes to watching online videos.

The images are squished, the resolution is often grainy, and we actually take notice when the picture looks great. Not only that, but the sound quality on many streamed videos is tinny and thin.

Surf's up - We may live in a culture that puts a high accent on high-definition images - witness the move to HDTV or the proliferation of cameras with ultra-crisp imaging - but we're obviously willing to compromise with quality when it comes to watching online videos.

The images are squished, the resolution is often grainy, and we actually take notice when the picture looks great. Not only that, but the sound quality on many streamed videos is tinny and thin.

That said, online video is more popular than ever. And even though you may like bookmarking your favourites, you don't have to rely on so clunky a way of organizing your favourites. Not only that, many videos are sooner or later removed from their hosts, which can be disappointing when you head back for an old favourite.

Good thing, then, that you can save those vids to your hard drive. Here's a preferred way of doing it.

There are other options for downloading, but I like Splandoo. For one thing, it handles more than just YouTube, and that multi-format capability can be key. For another, it's pretty easy to use.

Here's how: copy the URL of the source video, paste it into the selected field, and download it. It takes a few minutes to download a short video, so bear that in mind. Downloaded videos come in the .flv format, which represents Flash video. (Makes sense, as YouTube and many competitors couldn't operate without the ubiquitous Flash.)

Look for a link to download a free, safe player that can handle your videos.

A brief instructional video can be played if you want some extra help before you do anything.

If you're keen to burn your material onto a DVD, you'll likely need to convert the material to another format. Google the terms "converting .flv to .avi", for instance, to find the tools to do that.

Elsewhere this week

RealAge quiz

www.realage.com/RALong/QA/RE.aspx

How old are you, and not necessarily in biological terms?

The point of this quiz is to prompt you to reflect on your health, your lifestyle, your choices and such. It takes about 10 minutes to do ... and, depending on the results, it can peel back or lop on some extra time. I came out slightly older than I really am, which was enough of a poke in the side to get some exercise.

One thing to be mindful of: you'll be prompted as you move through the survey whether you'd like some information (read: promotional material, like advertising) about some of the issues you identify.

You may be fine with that, but then again, you may not.

NL Photographer Pool

www.flickr.com/groups/nl_photographer/pool

Want to see some terrific photographs of Newfoundland and Labrador? Well, there are plenty of spaces to go looking, but one great location is this group on Flickr, the photo-sharing site.

Numerous photographers thread their individual works through the group, which means you get a wide variety of pictures, all of which can be easily skimmed, on an ongoing basis.

Google Image Labeler

images.google.com/imagelabeler/

I use Google and other engines constantly to look for images, but the results can be frustrating. If the titles are not filled in with useful information, for instance, you won't find what you're looking for. Which is why this Google research project holds some promise: it asks users to help improve overall search functions by chipping in labels - that is, descriptive tags - on given images. You're paired up, in real time, with an unknown user, and you're presented with the same pictures.

Often, they're small and hard to figure out.

The object is to come up with as many words as possible to describe what you see.

Give it a shot if you have a few spare minutes.

John Gushue is a news writer for CBCNews.ca in St. John's. E-mail: surf@thetelegram.com. Read past Surf's Up columns and daily updates at his blog: johngushue.typepad.com.

Organizations: Google

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John's

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