No more copyright warnings: how to use indie music for your videos

If you make youtube videos and “borrow” music that you buy on itunes for your background music, chances are you get unsettling notices like the one below that I got from youtube:

If you’re like me, you find these notices unnerving because you worry about being regarded as a copyright infringer by youtube, getting a future copyright strike against you, or even having your video suddenly taken down if the copyright holder changes its policy regarding infringement.

Here’s how youtube works its copyright check: It has an enormous database containing all the music submitted by registered companies and artists. For every video posted on youtube, it performs a search to see if that video matches any of the third party content registered in its database. When it finds a match, it checks the copyright holder’s instructions on what to do, and then does it. Many times, it’s just a warning like the one above. But other times, it can be a more severe action like taking your video down or even disabling your account (don’t expect any advance warning). Read the horror stories in the youtube forum here about lost youtube videos, disabled accounts, and endless appeals. And then go to youtube’s “Copyright School” here (P.S. It’s free and very much worth your time).

Watch the fascinating youtube video here where youtube’s Margaret Gould Stewart talks about how youtube looks at copyright. A guarantee:  it won’t be what you think! They actually encourage it – sorta! According to Stewart, youtube hosts 100 YEARS of new video every day! Can you imagine. That’s a lifetime of human activity recorded every day. Despite that large amount of video, youtube’s screening process takes a matter of seconds. Amazing. In the video she encourages copyright holders to be lenient in their policies since youtube exposure can actually boost an artist’s sales and recognition.

But the bottom line is: if a copyright holder registered at youtube complains, your video is history til the matter is sorted out. No questions asked. And usually no notice given til your video disappears. And after that, if you disagree, you’ve got a long appeal ticket process.

So I’ve decided indie music is the way to go. These are artists featured on many indie websites who actually like you to use their music. That’s what they put it up for. As long as you credit them, they’re pleased as punch that they’re getting heard through your videos. Using their music on your videos is one of those rare win-win situations.

In my latest machinima here, I used indie music that I have grown to like a lot. I imported it into itunes and even listen to it sometimes as background music while I work.

Here are the songs and two of the best music sharing websites I’ve discovered: ccMixter and Jamendo. Each site and each song below is a real gem. A warning: you’ll find so much incredible music on these sites that you can spend hours doing this. You’ll also find a lot of dreadful stuff. It’s a sorting process, but well worth it.

“It’s Just a Matter of Time” by Salvatore_J, vocals by Shannon Hurley (ccMixter music sharing website)
“Give Me Time” by Code:Again (Jamendo music sharing website)
“Auld Lang Syne” traditional tune, words by Robert Burns, sung by Jim Tait
(Jamendo music sharing website)

Review of Dragon Dictate for Mac coming soon!

Nuance Communications released version 2 of its speech recognition software for the Mac September 20, and I’ll be reviewing it on this blog soon. They’ve changed its name from MacSpeech to Dragon Dictate for Mac 2, and it’s the first major desktop product for Mac OS X from the Dragon line following Nuance’s acquisition of MacSpeech earlier this year. Dragon Dictate for Mac 2.0 uses the new Dragon 11 engine released over the summer in the Windows version. I can hardly wait to try out the new Mac version!

Nuance promises big things:

  • Accuracy and performance boost over MacSpeech Dictate 1.5
  • More streamlined set-up and  revamped Mac user interface
  • New voice commands for dictation, editing, navigation, and proofreading.
  • Better “learning” than any previous version of Dictate
  • Faster response to spoken commands
  • Voice shortcuts for searching the web, email, and Mac desktop by voice

You’ll recall that I did a four-part review of the Dragon Dictation speech recognition iPhone/iPod app beginning with my post here. I tweaked the app for voice-to-text blogging from my iPod Touch when I injured my hand and had to minimize keyboarding. The iPhone app has allowed me to keep blogging when I might not have been able to otherwise, and for that I am very grateful. However, I find it a bit clunky to use and expressed my wishlist for an upgrade here. Let’s see if Nuance took any of my suggestions! rofl.

As Nuance explains on its blog and in its product announcement here, earlier this year, Nuance acquired MacSpeech, and Dictate became an official Dragon application, along with Dragon NaturallySpeaking for the PC and Dragon mobile apps.  Since then, Nuance has worked to provide the same accuracy and features in the Mac version that the PC version has.  And now they claim to have done it! Hooray for macophiles!

Dragon Dictate for Mac is the first major Mac product release from Nuance, and the first to use the new Dragon 11 engine introduced previously in the PC version. IMPORTANT NOTE:  Dragon Dictate for Mac requires an Intel-based Mac, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or greater, and a Nuance-approved USB headset.

Since the new Dragon Dictate for Mac is a desktop version, I’m expecting it will be much more robust, accurate, and easier to voice edit than the iPhone app — at least I’m hoping this is the case (and so is my hand!) I’ll let you know all about it real soon!

Until then, have a laugh at David Pogue’s spoof on “Dragon Mind Dictation” below.

Three things I wish I’d known earlier about the Space Navigator and Second Life

Today I’m going to tell you three important things I’ve learned about configuring the Space Navigator for Second Life in my past week of experimentation. I found it a very easy device to use out of the box, but an extremely complex device to configure. And the Second Life interface makes it doubly so! (If you want to see something scary, open Preferences, Advanced, Other Devices in SL. There you will find the Joystick Configuration menu, which is where you configure the Space Navigator. Looks like tons of fun doesn’t it? LOL)

This post will be short — just to let you in on three underlying concepts I discovered that I really wish I’d known when I started out with the Space Navigator. It would have made the learning curve so-o-o-o much shorter. These are basic things, but not even Beast Linden’s video here or Torley’s videos here make them clear — at least to a novice space traveler like me. (Those vids do give a great introduction, however.)

It’s true that you can use the Space Nav out of the box pretty easily without much configuration at all — just use the defaults. But if you’re going in for specialized building or machinima, or if like me you’re trying to use it for physical reasons such as decreasing hand use — you’ll want to do a custom configuration.

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Second thoughts on voice-to-text blogging from my iPod Touch with Dragon Dictation — and my Wish List for an upgrade

Update Aug 19

This morning, Nuance announced the release of an upgrade, Dragon Dictation 2.1, here. It is being announced as the restoration of the app’s VoiceOver compatibility (Apple’s screen access technology for the visually impaired — a keyboard driven interface with speech accompaniment), which was degraded in the 2.0 upgrade. So I don’t expect any improvements to the  voice-driven editing interface in this upgrade along the lines of what I discuss below, but . . . well, maybe I have just a teensy hope. I’m off to download it in iTunes and take it for a spin on my iPod Touch. Back with a report later . . .

Now that I have used the Dragon Dictation iPhone/iPod app for a couple weeks, the honeymoon is over. I have found its weaknesses and come up with a wish list for an upgrade. I still think Dragon Dictation is the best voice-to-text transcription mobile app — but if you do any editing, it is a w-a-a-a-y too slow a process for blog posts or much of anything beyond a paragraph. But, then again, at least it provides a possible way to keep blogging if, like me, you have a hand injury and would be out of the blogosphere otherwise.

Continue Reading “Second thoughts on voice-to-text blogging from my iPod Touch with Dragon Dictation — and my Wish List for an upgrade”

Good Migrations: Blogger’s Checklist for moving from hosted to self-hosted WordPress blog

Wow, chickadees am I exhausted! I just finished migrating my hosted WordPress blog over to the wide open spaces of my brand-new website and transformed it into a self-hosted blog.

Sitting here in the middle of all my packing boxes (LOL), I thought I would take a few minutes to document the process of this migration — from hosted to self-hosted WordPress blog — in case any of you are contemplating such a move. WordPress offers its own suggestions here, but this post will be more of a personal account.

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Blogging by Voice: Part 1 – Voice-to-Text Blogging on Your iPod! (via Dragon Dictation 2.0 mobile app for iPhone/iPod)

Hello, chickadees. Here I am sitting in my jammies, with my cup of coffee, and my hurt hand. In case you are wondering why you haven’t heard very much from me lately, it’s because I need to rest my hand. I thought, sadly, that my blogging days were over for awhile. But guess what? I’m ba-a-a-a-ck!

Today I am going to tell you how to blog even if you, like me, have a hurt hand and cannot type very well. All you need is an iPhone or an iPod Touch, a WordPress blog, a microphone-enabled earphone, plus a newly revised totally cool — and free! — iPhone app called Dragon Dictation 2.0, available through the Apple iTunes store. Or read more about it and download it at the provider Nuance’s mobile app site here and more info on their blog here. The revised version of this app was just released two weeks ago — perfect timing for me.

Continue Reading “Blogging by Voice: Part 1 – Voice-to-Text Blogging on Your iPod! (via Dragon Dictation 2.0 mobile app for iPhone/iPod)”

Blogging by Voice: Part 2: Edit by Voice on Your iPod Touch/iPhone in Dragon Dictation 2.0 mobile app

This is part of my series on Blogging by Voice, using the newly updated (July 23, 2010) Dragon Dictation 2.0 iPhone/iPod on  a WordPress blog. This app has helped me keep blogging with an injured hand! I have dictated all posts in this series using Dragon Dictation, and edited them by voice (tidied up with a little hand editing to insert links, headlines, graphics, and the like).

Posts in this series:

Part 1 -Voice-to-Text Blogging on Your iPod! (via Dragon Dictation 2.0) – overview

Part 2 -Edit by Voice on Your iPod Touch/iPhone in Dragon Dictation 2.0 mobile app

Part 3-Tell Your Blog What to Do! (Syntax  commands for Dragon Dictation 2.0 mobile app for iPod/iPhone)

Part 4-Edit by Touchscreen Keyboard on Your iPod Touch/iPhone in Dragon Dictation 2.0 mobile app

This post will explain how to use the app’s fabled “voice-driven correction interface.” With a hand injury, I was tantalized with the promise of voice-driven editing, but nowhere could I find it explained. After much experimentation, I finally figured it out, so I thought I would pass some tips along.

Continue Reading “Blogging by Voice: Part 2: Edit by Voice on Your iPod Touch/iPhone in Dragon Dictation 2.0 mobile app”

Blogging By Voice: Part 3 – Tell Your Blog What to Do! (Syntax commands for Dragon Dictation 2.0 mobile app for iPod/iPhone)

This is part of my series on Blogging by Voice, using the newly updated (July 23, 2010) Dragon Dictation 2.0 iPhone/iPod on  a WordPress blog. This app has helped me keep blogging with an injured hand!  I have dictated all posts in this series using Dragon Dictation, and edited them by voice (tidying up with a little hand editing to insert links, headlines, graphics, and the like).

Posts in this series:

Part 1 -Voice-to-Text Blogging on Your iPod! (via Dragon Dictation 2.0) – overview

Part 2 -Edit by Voice on Your iPod Touch/iPhone in Dragon Dictation 2.0 mobile app

Part 3-Tell Your Blog What to Do! (Syntax  commands for Dragon Dictation 2.0 mobile app for iPod/iPhone)

Part 4-Edit by Touchscreen Keyboard on Your iPod Touch/iPhone in Dragon Dictation 2.0 mobile app

This post explains how to use Dragon’s command syntax to format your dictation, thereby minimizing the need for later editing. Command syntax is Dragon’s built-in capability to recognize code words, or commands, that specify formatting, such as capitalization or quotation marks. These commands may at first seem just one more list of coding to learn, but when you discover how much time and effort they save you in editing, these commands become your friends.

Continue Reading “Blogging By Voice: Part 3 – Tell Your Blog What to Do! (Syntax commands for Dragon Dictation 2.0 mobile app for iPod/iPhone)”

Blogging by Voice: Part 4 – Edit by Touchscreen Keyboard on Your iPod Touch/iPhone in Dragon Dictation 2.0 mobile app

This is part of my series on Blogging by Voice, using the newly updated (July 23, 2010) Dragon Dictation 2.0 iPhone/iPod on  a WordPress blog. This app has helped me keep blogging with an injured hand! I have dictated all posts in this series using Dragon Dictation, and edited them by voice (tidying up with a little hand editing to insert links, headlines, graphics, and the like).

Posts in this series:

Part 1 -Voice-to-Text Blogging on Your iPod! (via Dragon Dictation 2.0) – overview

Part 2 -Edit by Voice on Your iPod Touch/iPhone in Dragon Dictation 2.0 mobile app

Part 3-Tell Your Blog What to Do! (Syntax  commands for Dragon Dictation 2.0 mobile app for iPod/iPhone)

Part 4-Edit by Touchscreen Keyboard on Your iPod Touch/iPhone in Dragon Dictation 2.0 mobile app

This post explains how to use the iPhone/iPod built-in touchscreen-driven editing interface for Dragon Dictation 2.0. As explained in an earlier post here, there are two editing interfaces that can be used in Dragon. This post concerns only the built-in iPhone/iPad interface. This interface is keyboard-oriented, although you can dictate inserts by voice. However, the recorded inserts will not replace highlighyed text. For voice-driven replacement, you must use the Dragon interface, described in my post here.

Continue Reading “Blogging by Voice: Part 4 – Edit by Touchscreen Keyboard on Your iPod Touch/iPhone in Dragon Dictation 2.0 mobile app”

How to display videos in your hosted WordPress blog sidebar using Vodpod (a short tutorial)

Hello Chickadees! A number of you curious birds have asked me how I display videos in a sidebar of this hosted WordPress blog. If you self-host your WordPress blog, playing sidebar vids on your blog is a fairly simple matter: you just copy the video embed code into a sidebar text widget. BUT –  if wordpress.com hosts your blog, then as soon as you paste that code into the text widget and press “Save” – presto! – the code disappears, and there is no way to get that video to play in the sidebar. It is easy to embed videos into a post, but not into the sidebar of a blog hosted by WordPress. (Unless someone cleverer than me has figured it out? If so, please comment here. I’d love to hear it.)

But meanwhile, I have discovered Vodpod, and that is how my videos are displayed in the sidebar. It is a third party service enabling you to build your own video channel by importing videos from almost anywhere on the web, and then share them almost anywhere – blog, Facebook, Twitter, and so on. The vodpod process was fairly tricky for me to work my way through it, so I thought I’d post a quick tutorial to guide you on the way.

1. SIGN UP FOR AN ACCOUNT AT VODPOD
Navigate to Vodpod on the Web. You’ll see the screen below, and getting an account really is as easy as filling it out.

2. DESIGNATE VIDEO SOURCE

Vodpod will ask you where you want to import your videos from. I left this form blank, as mine will probably come from multiple places. I think this window is designed for people who want to import *all* their videos into Vodpod from -for example – their youtube channel.

3. CHOOSE YOUR WIDGET SKIN AND GET YOUR WIDGET CODE

Vodpod will then display a button for you to select to “Get a Widget for your WordPress Blog.” They also offer a short instructional tour, which is worth your while. It’s composed of only 4 slides, and they give you a good headstart. Then you click the “get a widget” button and see the screen below.

OK, still awake chickadees? I hope so, because this is the important part,  where you get to choose your widget’s skin which will determine how the video is framed when it plays on your blog, and how many videos play (see screenshot above).  This skin (sometimes called a “style” by WordPress) comes in a variety of skins, all accessed on this the “Get widget for your WordPress Blog” screen. These choices are three varieties of Large, plus Elegant, Floating, and Button. The Large and Elegant skins will place up to five videos in the sidebar, which may be too many if your sidebar space is at a premium. Floating will allow you to choose the number of videos, and Button (my favorite) allows the user to click through your videos one by one, showing just one video at a time in the sidebar. (As you make your choice of skin on the vodpod site, you will see a live sample alongside the menu to show you how how it will look on your blog.)

In this screen you will also choose whether you want Vodpod to order your videos in your sidebar according to the most recent, or the most viewed. You will also fill in the title of your widget, which is how your widget will be titled in your sidebar. I titled mine “Bay’s Latest Video”.

4. PASTE YOUR WIDGET CODE INTO YOUR WORDPRESS VODPOD WIDGET.

After you have made your choice of widget skin, copy the widget code that appears in the screen (it will appear in the “Short Code” text bos (see shot below). Make sure you wait til after you have entered your choices to copy the code, as it will vary depending on which skin you choose. Then navigate back to your WordPress blog. Choose Dashboards, Appearance, Widgets, and then drag the Vodpod Vodeos widget into your sidebar. Click its dropdown arrow, and paste your code into the widget’s “Short Code” textbox.

5. IMPORT YOUR VIDEOS INTO VODPOD

Next, you must import a video (or more) into your vodpod account. As soon as you do this, the video will play on your blog when users click on it. You can import videos direct to your vodpod account from anywhere on the web (youtube, vimeo, Facebook) by using the “bookmarklet” button by clicking here once you have a vodpod account. Just drag the button into your browser bookmark toolbar, and you can import a video just by navigating to the video on the web and clicking the button. (You can also add videos by clicking the “Add Video” button on your account home page and pasting in the embed code.)

Once you have the video in your vodpod account, it will be play on your blog when you readers click on it (presentation will depend on which skin you chose). That’s all there is to it.

Also, you can post videos directly to a post in your blog from vodpod with the vodpod “Importer” tool by clicking here once you have your vodpod account.

So . . . there’s your basic intro, chickadees. There’s lots more to explore, like setting up video collections inside vodpod and following or searching other vodpod collections. But I’ll let you figure all that out. No use ruining all the fun of discovery! But this will be enough to get your started.