I'm doing a very quick freebie today. It's a bit old, but it's a good one still. Billboard Magazine is compiling a constantly updated calendar of livestreamed and virtual concerts you can watch online.
There are a ton of events this weekend, from a Mötley Crüe viewing party to a whole bunch of stuff by bands and singers that I've never heard of because I'm old.
Google Meet is now free for everyone with a Gmail address. They already have all of your information, so head on over, read their security docs and have your meet-ups. Security docs can be found here.
Today's freebie is an image upscaler that uses AI. It enlarges images with very little loss in definition.
Generally, images become lossy when they are enlarged. Image editing software fills the missing pixels with similar shapes and colors, and it likely will appear unattractive with color loss and distortion. That's where AI Image Upscaler from Icons8 comes in. You can increase the size of your image with as little definition loss as possible.
You can chose from different sizes. If you don't see a difference between the original picture and the larger, that's a success! The program works well.
I promised someone that I would find free resources for a brand new YouTube channel, so I'm beginning with free music and a bit of information about how it works.
It's all about the free stuff, so here we are on Free Friday!
First, always check the license of a free piece of music. Always. Abide by the creator's or owner's wishes. It's a legal thing. If you use music that's copyrighted and you don't have permission, you will get your creation taken down on YouTube (eventually).
Even if you are using perfectly legal music and sound effects, sometimes YouTube makes mistakes. YouTube uses content scanning that sometimes misidentifies sound effects and music as copyrighted when it isn't or if the creator has permission to use it. Sometimes it falls under "Fair Use". Other times it falls afoul because of similarity or because of a varied use license. There are remedies to this.
That said, if you are making videos at YouTube, there are a vast array of musical pieces at YouTube that creators are free to use to their heart's content, no permission needed. It integrates with the video making software that they use, so it couldn't be more simple.
Now on to the types of licenses. I'm not a lawyer, so this isn't legal advice. (Obviously.) But, this is a general idea of how it works.
This gives the user freedom to use the music without recurring costs (royalties). Licensed music usually involves a recurring cost each time it is used. Royalty free music is pay once, use more than once. The creator decides which kind of license the work will have and the kind of cost involved for the user. It might be something as simple as a link back to the original piece. The important word for Royalty Free is "Royalty", not "Free". Always check the requirements when using the piece. It may be free for personal use and restrict any sort of public display. Generally you can't remix or change the original work in any way.
Works that are in the public domain are not protected by copyright. They can be used freely in any way you see fit. The work belongs to everyone and it can be changed, displayed, adapted, sliced and diced. Have at it. There is a ton of Public Domain stuff online. Check Wiki Media for a large collection; also museums and archives. There are far too many for me to list here.
Works with a Creative Commons license are complicated. Simply, it's a public copyright license with free distribution of a copyrighted work. It covers a huge array of works, from music to Operating Systems. The creators hold the copyright, but grant permission to the public to use the work with specific restraints; sometimes as little as attribution and a quick link back to the creator's website.
Wikipedia has a much better explanation of this.
The Creative Commons website goes deeper in their FAQs.
With all of that out of the way let me proceed with the rest! Some caveats: Most of these will require an account to download sounds or music. In these recommendations, I checked out the basic site and played around with most of them. There is no way I can download or check all of the files from all of the sites, so make sure that you scan each file URL on Virus Total before downloading.
Bensound has a wide variety of soundtracks and music clips. The license for use is clear and unambiguous.
Be very careful how you are using tracks from CCTrax on YouTube (or any other platform that monetizes their content without the creator's permission). When you are searching for music or sound effects, click on the box that says "Only the 'CC-BY' license allows for YouTube embedding" box. Check license on individual pieces.
FreePlay Music has a specific plan for all of their media and it can be found on their pricing page. It is very fair, especially when it comes to educational videos, non-monetized YouTube videos and personal use.
CC Mixter is a Creative Commons website for music. Check each piece for free use requirements. That said, the site is impressive. It's a large community that works together to collaborate and create. Explore the site and join the forum to get a feel for what they are attempting to do. Then download and let the creators know what you are doing with their work. They seem to be a very friendly group of people who genuinely enjoy what they are doing!
I think I've recommended Free Sound before. They are straight up Free Sounds. There's music and sound effects, free for use under a very clear creative commons policy.
Getting a head start on the next article: Thanks to James Stamler at Unsplash for the photo.
It's Friday! The day we can all walk out of our ... Um ... Living rooms and go to the kitchen? Okay, so we're not going to be doing much in the near future. Especially since the surprise snow. (My poor Rhododendrons. 😒)
Today's Free Friday is about an app for Android and iPhone. It's called Smartify. Normally it is not free. Rather than try to explain it all, I am going to let the Smithsonian Magazine do it for me. There are other links in the article that lead to other wonderful stuff. Check it out.
Free Friday is here!
You can download Google's worldwide reports to "See how your community is moving around differently due to COVID-19". It's free.
From the web site:
" What’s a Community Mobility Report?
Each Community Mobility Report is broken down by location and displays the change in visits to places like grocery stores and parks."
The result is a PDF that connects all the data from Android users who leave their location tracking on. (There are instructions on how to turn off tracking. That's free advice.) I sincerely hope that this does some good now and will be discontinued in the future. Google has used it's tracking program for other projects in the past, however, so it probably won't.
Looking through the data, I now understand why there are arrests at parks and beaches. That's where the spread is happening.
For specifics on where we live:
Tioga County, NY/Bradford County, PA
Happy Friday! You can turn off your computer tonight!
Hope everyone is settling in okay. It can be difficult working from home, as many are finding out. There are a million distractions and concentration can often be hard to find when all of your senses are engaged with "home" and your brain is telling you that you need to "office". If you have never worked from home before, it can be difficult.
Coffee is generally the taste that comes to the rescue. A scented candle that you burn only when working can bring you back to the job. Clearing out a special space for work only (and blocking off the rest of the house) also helps.
Background noise played on a loop can also help! For that you can go to AmbientMixer!
Right now I'm listening to Old Engineering Office. It's a quiet office atmosphere with an old building hum. There's also a faint crackling sound, either rain or old-school tape noise. It's nice. It's also a long loop so you don't feel as if you are listening to the same sounds over and over.
If you'd rather have thunderstorms, the ocean, a Hogwarts common room (Hufflepuff has a purring cat), a forest, or pretty much anything you can imagine, there's plenty to explore. You can also create your own ambient sound mix and let it play in the background. It's all free and lots of fun.
Um, then get back to work. Ya slacker.
Hello Friday! What a week, huh? 🙃
The world is a little weird right now because of COVID-19. Our small towns here in The Valley (and a bit beyond - Looking south down 220 and along our scenic NY border!) aren't feeling the full weight of what's happening in larger cities. Frankly, that's one of the reasons that many of us choose to live here. We don't have the personal space problems of overcrowded cities.
But, we know that it could and probably will reach us eventually. The danger of the disease itself is a worry for older and compromised people, as well as our local hospitals. You can stay updated by checking in with local authorities on Facebook or Twitter. Our local newspapers and television/radio stations will also have updates on their websites.
For our part, we can help local businesses set themselves up for employees working from home. We are developing a short checklist of things that a small business should take into consideration when employees are at home communicating and working from networked computers. We will have that available over the weekend and will post when it is ready. It will not be all inclusive as each business has individual needs.
Here's the free stuff for Friday.
Right now both Google and Microsoft are offering free versions of their enterprise collaboration software. Slack has always had a free version.
Microsoft Teams is highly recommended by us. It is also a favorite of some of our current enterprise clients. It's secure, easy to use and will blend well with any business already using Microsoft products. Obviously, you need a Microsoft account to sign up.
It is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. It is also available for iPhone and Android. Click on the image to learn more.
Google is offering a limited version of their GSuite service for free for a limited time. I use GSuite and have always found it a bit confusing, but usable. There is extensive documentation available. The free software as a service they are offering is basically secure teleconferencing for small to large groups.
It is Software as a Service, so it is available for all platforms. Click below to learn more.
Slack is one of the most used collaboration apps online and they have always had a free version for small teams, but it is very limited. You can view what their free/paid software does here. You can also learn how Slack works by clicking the logo below. It is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android.
Give us a call today for a consultation. (570-882-8851) As always, we here at Sayre Computer are here to help all the small businesses here in the The Penn-York Valley (and beyond, south on 220, east and west along the NY/PA border and north into the Finger Lakes) get through this thing and help people stay safe and healthy by working at home.