Xbox Media Center Extender – Optional Media Update Required – Play AVI, MPG on Xbox 360


Recently (actually, I don’t know how recently it was, considering I haven’t used my Xbox 360 as a media center extender in quite some time) the Xbox 360 began supporting file types other than Windows Media files (.WMV) on the Xbox 360. I tried connecting my Xbox 360 to my media center and wanted to play an .MPG file that I had on my computer from my video camera, and I got the following message:

Optional Media Update Required

A media update is required to play this content

From there, all I had to do was connect to Xbox Live and let the update download on its own. Now I can quickly and easily view any video that is sitting on my computers hard driver, whether it is an .AVI, .MPG, etc. I haven’t yet tried to stream any .MKV or DIVX files, but I’d love to hear if any of those file types have worked for you.

Fast Full-Screen Previews in Picasa – Best Photo Management Software Program


If you’ve read this blog before, you know that I’m a big fan of Google’s Picasa for managing photos, and sharing photos online. A new tip that was recently released on the Google Photos Blog allows you to view a full-screen preview of the picture without having to double-click the photo. Simply hold the “Ctrl” key and then press and hold the “Alt” key. While both keys are held down, you’ll have a full-screen preview of the photo. Once you release the “Alt” key, you will be taken directly back to the library view.

Check out the full post at the Google Photos Blog – Google Photos Blog: Quick tip: super-fast full-screen previews.

Google’s Picasa Web Albums Increases Storage to 1GB


For those of you who are fans of Picasa like I am, you were probably very pleased when they introduced Picasa Web Albums back in the summer of 2006. I had never really jumped onto the Flickr bandwagon, so I was very happy when Google debuted Picasa Web Albums.

Like all Google products, Picasa gradually changes, getting new features and updates, and so has Picasa Web Albums; recently receiving some its most significant changes yet. After chatting with a friend about some needed features/functionality in Picasa through Google Talk, the following features were added the following day… kinda creepy… is Google really monitoring EVERYTHING on the web???

  • The free version of Picasa now gets 1GB of storage (up from the original worthless 250MB). Note that it says 1GB and counting… I’m hopeful that the storage amount will grow like it does in Gmail.
  • Now, search photos from the entire Picasa community. Prior to this, you were only able to search your own photos, and public photos added by your friends.
  • And the final feature (I think… there could be more) is photo comment notification. When users comment on your photos, it sends you a notification email. This is an extremely useful feature, because prior to this, you used to have to browse through all of your pictures in order to see which ones had comments.

New Picasa Features Increased Storage : Now 1GBSearch Picasa community photos,
with the option to make your photos
searchable to the Picasa community.Comment Notification for recent
comments – very useful to see what
people are saying about you!

Picasa new comments email
Picasa New Comments
Email – Click to Enlarge

Tips to Organize Your Digital Photos – Digital Picture/Image Management


If you’re like me and the digital camera age has completely changed the way you take pictures – meaning you take pictures like its going out of style – then managing these pictures has probably become a problem for you… or, you just don’t worry about managing them. I like pictures, I like keeping them, and I like knowing that I’ll be able to find them if I need to. This article will hopefully give you some insight on how to organize your photo album(s) for easy management. Or you can continue on like many of my friends who just take pictures on the digital camera until their memory card is full, delete the pictures and start over – no printing, no downloading, nothing… what’s the point.

The first thing that I recommend doing is getting a good application for managing/organizing pictures. Here are a few that I recommend:

  1. Picasa by Google (http://picasaweb.google.com/) – This is my absolute favorite photo management tool. It runs smoothly, it’s got a great clean user interface, its got simple photo-retouching tools, and it supports video.
  2. Windows Photo Gallery (New in Windows Vista) – I’ve only used this a few times, but Microsoft is definitely onto something. I get the feeling that they’re taking ideas from Picasa, but that’s only because I’m an avid Picasa fan. Windows Photo Gallery gives you a good easy way to manage photos within windows without having to worry about extra software. The photo tags/labels idea is pretty cool too.
  3. Preclick Photo Organizer – What’s a list without at least 3 programs? Preclick seems to get a lot of good reviews, so I thought I’d add it to my list, though we all know that I’m not going to be switching from Picasa anytime soon.

Okay, so now we’ve got a list of programs that we can use to help us view/manage/organize our photos, but the best tool of all is built into your computers operating system – the file system. I use folders to manage and organize all of my photos, and I’ve found the following format to be very useful in helping to find any photos I’ve ever taken.

Each time I connect my camera to download photos, I create a new directory. I’ve read articles that say to give the directory a meaningful name, this makes perfect sense, but what happens when you have 300 folders with meaningful labels? We have Christmas every year, my wife has a birthday every year, so rather than just naming folders “Christmas 2005”, “Christmas 2006”, etc. I precede my descriptive meaningful name with the date the picture(s) were taken, i.e. “2005-12-25 – Christmas at the Folks”. This serves 3 purposes:

  1. I have the date the pictures were taken (makes them easy to find).
  2. I still have a unique, meaningful folder name (in case the date isn’t enough).
  3. All of my folders will be organized chronologically – this is very helpful when looking through years worth of photos.

I think this is the most integral part in photo organization, using the following method to name folders:

YYYY-MM-DD – Description of Photos

if your photos span a couple of days, or you went on a trip, use the following:

YYYY-MM-DD-DD – Description of Photos

Once you get your folder structure in place, the rest is easy. Just find a program that you like (Picasa) and set it up to monitor your “My Pictures” folder (or whatever directory you might keep all of your pictures in.

I hope this helps all the photo buffs out there, post links to the best pictures you’ve taken… I’d love to see them!

JVC Everio HDD Camcorder – PowerDirector and PowerDVD


Creating .AVI and/or .MPG files from PowerDirector – I don’t recommend using PowerDVD.

I actually just found another program (that comes bundled with the JVC Everio) called Cyberlink PowerDirector. This program will allow you to export your video(s) as .AVI or .MPG1 or .MPG2 files. Here’s a brief overview of how to do it:

  1. Open PowerDirector (Duh)
  2. Import all of your .MOD files.
  3. Add all of your .MOD files to the timeline (or) If you want to create individual .AVI or .MPG files, add the files to the timeline individually.
  4. Once your timeline is setup how you’d like it, Click “Produce”
  5. Now select Save to File
  6. Finally Select .AVI or .MPG and select the directory that you’d like your file stored to.

I hope this helps, if anyone has a better method or a better software for doing this, please let me know!

Thanks in advance!

Convert MOD files to MPG or AVI – JVC Everio HDD Camcorder


So anyone who has purchased a JVC Everio HDD video camera has probably learned that they chose to use some god forsaken proprietary video format – the .MOD extension. Apparently this is some sort of MPEG2 encoding, however, most major video editing suites prefer not to accept this format… what we need is something more common… such as .AVI or .MPG. I would be happy with the .MOD file format if the software that came with the JVC Everio actually worked. I’ve tried creating multiple DVD’s using the PowerDVD software with no luck so far, it’ll get halfway through the process, and then something will fail. And instead of giving me a decent explanation of what failed, it says:

Disc buring has failed due to:
Not very helpful.


I actually just found another program (that comes bundled with the JVC Everio) called Cyberlink PowerDirector. This program will allow you to export your video(s) as .AVI or .MPG1 or .MPG2 files. Here’s a brief overview of how to do it:

  1. Open PowerDirector (Duh)
  2. Import all of your .MOD files.
  3. Add all of your .MOD files to the timeline (or) If you want to create individual .AVI or .MPG files, add the files to the timeline individually.
  4. Once your timeline is setup how you’d like it, Click “Produce”
  5. Now select Save to File
  6. Finally Select .AVI or .MPG and select the directory that you’d like your file stored to.

I hope this helps, if anyone has a better method or a better software for doing this, please let me know!

Update
This site has many different ways to convert MOD files. Check out some of the solutions.

Thanks in advance!