On this week’s show I mentioned “The Sound of the Crowd”, a Human League track that ignited my love of synthesizer-based music and, by extension, my continuing fascination with computers and electronics. This is the 12 inch version of the song which is what I heard blasting out of the record shop that fateful afternoon many years ago…
This, my fellow jammers, is an example of an Image Macro but it is not, I learned recently, an Internet Meme. Well, not yet anyway. While my bit of goofy photo fun meets the Image Macro criteria (it is a captioned image that consists of a picture and a witty message or a catchphrase) it has yet to sweep through the Internet like a relentless plague on humanity like this:
Those of you down with the memes will realize that the second link is actually an example of an Internet Meme using animated Internet Memes. I know! Head…Blown…
Now if the photo I used for my Image Macro ends up on one of the many meme generating sites like this one or that one and thousands of people start slapping captions all over it and posting it on various and sundry social networks THEN and only THEN does it become an Internet Meme. It has followed the first rule of Meme Club.
By the way, want to see what many consider to be the very first Image Macro? Turns out it predated LOLCats by about 100 years. In 1905 photographer Harry Whitter Frees dressed a cat in a robe, sat it on a chair, snapped a picture and added a caption that read: “What’s Delaying My Dinner?” Yes, I think it is more than a little bit creepy.
They’ve been lurking in the background for years, but animated GIFs have had a comeback in popular culture lately. People use the format to create humorous Internet memes, low-resolution video clips of events like cool sports plays or their own mini-cartoons. Tumblrs are spilling over with animated GIFs, El Kaiser has created an excellent Pop Tech Jam GIF and BuzzFeed even had a list of favorites for 2012. (Like wildlife? Check out the Animal PerfectLoop site.)
Not bad for a file typet that’s been around since the Reagan administration. The GIF format was first introduced in 1987 by CompuServe. GIF itself stands for Graphics Interchange Format and some have argued how to pronounce the acronym. (The creators of the format have said they pronounce it like a certain peanut butter-brand chosen by choosy mothers, although some dictionaries support both pronunciations.)
Animated GIF files are generally smaller than the average video file and only support 256 colors. An animated GIF, which is a series of still pictures (frames) combined together to create action or motion, does not contain sound like most video formats do. Video files also typically have at least 24 frames per second or higher to create fluid motion in a wider range of colors. This small file size of the animated GIF and its compatibility led to their relative popularity in the early days of the Web when dial-up connections were too slow to handle streaming video (or much of anything else besides text).
Before you decide how you want to make your animated GIF file, you should select the images to use for the project, like a sequence of pictures of say, a hamster on its wheel or the best three seconds of a video clip. If you’re using still photos or illustrations, all the images used should be sized to the same dimensions. The fewer pictures used, the faster and choppier the animation will be in the final GIF file. Some basic animated GIF files just use four images. For more fluid, video-like motion, use more images in the sequence.
Recent versions of Adobe Photoshop Elements, a popular photo-editing program designed for home users, can make animated GIFs using the Layers feature. If you have one of these programs, you can use it to create animated GIFs:
You can also use snippets of video and convert the clip to an animated GIF. The How-To Geek site has instructions for converting bits of YouTube clips to animated GIFs here and the Switched blog has a tutorial on the same topic here.
Plenty of Web sites also offer simple GIF conversion. You upload a series of images (or a short video clip) and the site crunches your upload into a GIF for you. MakeaGIF and Gifninja are two sites that can handle the job.
Want to animate your GIFs on the go? Check out your app store for options. Gifboom is one such mobile app with iOS and Android versions available.
But really, the technical stuff isn’t so hard. The hard part of finding that perfect GIF-able moment, but when you do, you feel like this:
The Academy Awards ceremony is a few weeks away and if you haven’t watched all of the nominated films no need to fret because Pop Tech Jam has you covered! J.D. tells us where to catch the winners and losers…legally. In the news, this year’s Super Bowl is the most interactive in history; Twitter gets hacked; Facebook continues pushing the envelope; and Microsoft helps Dell go private.
J.D. shows us how to navigate the Notifications Center on Apple’s Mountain Lion OS and Pedro has some stuff he needs to get off his chest. Let the ranting begin! In the news, Research in Motion becomes BlackBerry; Apple releases an updated iPad and a new version of its iOS; plus Twitter and Google release new transparency reports.
Data Privacy Day is January 28th each year, so start planning your 2014 parties now! Twitter and Google celebrated the event this week by releasing stats for requests from government and rights holders concerning material on the sites. To check out the stats in detail, visit Twitter’s transparency page and Google’s Transparency Report.
While Google was talking about privacy this week, it also unveiled a more detailed map of North Korea, a country known for its intensely reclusive approach to privacy. The map, created by the help of citizen cartographers including some from South Korea, shows subway stops, schools and hospitals in the capital, Pyongyang.
A digital edition of Anne Frank’s diary is now available as an app for the iPad and the Barnes & Noble Nook in the United Kingdom, with a US release expected to follow. If you find your 64-gigabyte iPad is stuffed to the max, Apple just announced a bigger capacity version of its fourth-generation iPad and the company also released iOS 6.1 this week. The update contains the usual security and bug fixes as well as the ability to tell the Siri assistant to buy you movie tickets with Fandango. The little black Apple TV also got a software update, which now lets the set-top box work with Apple’s Bluetooth wireless keyboard (and other Bluetooth keyboards), and manage music better.
Facebook had an update for its iOS app as well, a week after it updated the Android version of its mobile software with voicemail, video recording and other perks. Twitter’s video-sharing service, Vine, arrived week the iPhone and iPod Touch and is already a favorite for people who like to share those really special pornographic moments.
Research in Motion held is BlackBerry OS 10 launch this week. In addition to announcing new phones and software and changing its corporate name to “BlackBerry,” the company confirmed that the BB10 OS is will eventually make its way to the BlackBerry Playbook tablet.
Yahoo is also trying to climb back from mediocrity and beat its fourth-quarter earnings estimates by 14 percent and YouTube is set to launch channels that require paid subscriptions. Microsoft has finally officially launched Office 2013 desktop productivity software and its Office 365 premium Web service this week.
Up on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover continues its testing in preparation for drilling into a rock to collect a sample. And while the rover going through drilling drills is exciting, it was the news about J.J. Abrams directing Star Wars VII that really sent a tremor through the Force. (The announcement even inspired an online musical number with a tap-dancing Darth Vader.) A new hope for the galaxy, indeed.
This week J.D. lists some useful apps that will get you through the Thanksgiving Holiday and Pedro laments the lack of decent gaming controllers for his tablets. In the news, a political scandal with a tech twist; high-level changes in the executive ranks at Apple and Google; RIM is finally ready to unveil the Blackberry 10 OS; and Youtube distributes cancellation slips.
Well, the first flurry of Apple fall product announcements finally hit this week with the revelation of the iPhone 5, a revamp of a few iPods and a sneak peak at the next version of iTunes. The iOS 6 software and the phones will be out next week, but everything else isn’t available until October. Google, wasting no time after Apple removed the built-in YouTube app from the iOS Home screen, released its own free standalone iPhone YouTube app.
Amazon certainly wasn’t waiting around for Apple to hog all the limelight either, announcing big updates to its Kindle line of tablets and e-readers last week. (While all the new Kindle Fire HD tablets were going to include spam — whoops — Special Offers on the Home screen, Amazon says users can now opt out of that for $15.) A slight upgrade to Amazon’s original Kindle Fire tablet is now selling for $160. This is just $10 more than the new tablet-for-kids announced by Toys R Us this week.
Also on the Apple front, as a follow up to last week’s story about 12 million Apple device ID numbers that were not hacked off an FBI computer — it turns out the compromised machine belonged to the Florida-based app developer BlueToad, which assured and apologized to its customers in a company blog post. (GoDaddy, the domain-name and site-hosting service was thought to have suffered a hack attack itself earlier this week that took many of its sites offline for hours, but the company said it was an internal glitch that keelhauled all those Web sites.) When it is not defending itself from false hacking claims, the FBI has found time for a billion dollar upgrade to its biometric identification technology systems, although some privacy advocates are feeling a whiff of the Orwell on this one. The FBI has some info about its Next Generation Identification technology here.
Now then, contrary to popular reports, other hardware besides smartphones and tablets is headed to stores this fall. Pentax announced new mirrorless and DSLR cameras. And thin is in at Western Digital — the company has just launched a super-skinny 5 millimeter thick hard drive for ultrabook laptops.
Housed in an 18-wheel tractor trailer, the Digital Bookmobile travels around the country and shows people how to use e-book lending services from their local libraries with instructional videos, interactive workstations and a gadget gallery with all the popular e-reader models. There’s also a section for audiobooks inside the truck. Remember kids, reading is fundamental, no matter how you do it.
As it announced in a recent blog post, Google is changing up its search algorithms in what some are calling an attempt to impose a “pirate penalty” on those who illegally post copyrighted content online. The new Google math is designed to push sites with valid copyright removal notices farther down in the results rankings so that legitimate content sources will rise to the top. Skeptics to the new policy are concerned that Google’s own YouTube and other popular sites like Facebook will likely escape the dragnet anyway. (And on the topic of original content, Google is buying some: the company just bought travel-guide publisher Frommer’s from John Wiley & Sons.)
Moving to Android news, HTC stated on its Facebook page that the update, also known as Android 4.0, will be rolled out by the end of August for several popular handset models including the Thunderbolt and the Desire S. Okay, who’s up for Jelly Bean?
You don’t need an invitation to join Pinterest anymore, but the FBI says you should decline the invitation to give ransomware hackers a bunch of money to unlock your virus-snarled computer. The agency has been receiving complaints about malware known as Reveton, and it and can be installed with just a drive-by click on a poisoned Web site. Check out the FBI’s Reveton warning page and tips for dealing with the scumware if it latches onto your machine. The Internet Crime Complaint Center lists other current scams as well.
Even serious stuff, let’s talk entertainment. For starters, if you want a color e-reader with a little mini-tablet mojo, Barnes & Noble just whacked the price tag on several of its Nook devices. If this weekend’s opening films on the Forever Geek movie calendar don’t pique your interest, there’s always the Saturday release of The Hunger Games on home video. Target is totally jumping in to the whole Merchandising Games, with all sorts of pricy collectibles including a $349 Katniss Everdeen replica leather jacket a solid 14-karat gold Mockingjay pin for $999. Well, at least the official District 12 socks are only $9…