6 ways to stream local media files to Chromecast

I finally decided to buy a Chromecast to complement the new screen that I bought. Although Chromecast states that it works with TVs, it works with pretty much any screen that has an HDMI port, e.g. my new BenQ monitor.

BenQ GW2255

The next step after setting this up was an extensive amount of research which is still ongoing. Top of my list is figuring out how I can stream videos to Chromecast. I love the YouTube app which comes inbuilt with excellent support. As well as my Google Play movies app which let’s me easily stream movies to my monitor via Chromecast. But, if you’re looking at streaming anything else, e.g. my wedding video, you’ve got limited options!

All About Chromecast has 6 methods for streaming local media files to chromecast and a neat summary of these as below. I’ve already tried using Chrome and Google Cast and it does work pretty well. Next on the list is test driving Videostream.

Stream local media files to Chromecast

Flickr free = 1 terabyte; Pro accounts killed

Flickr, owned by Yahoo!, has announced that all free users will now get 1 terabyte of free storage. This comes a few days after the announcement by Google to unify its free storage across its services to 15Gb.

Flickr, owned by Yahoo!, has announced that all free users will now get 1 terabyte of free storage. This comes a few days after the announcement by Google to unify its free storage across its services to 15Gb.

Flickr - 1terabyte

At Flickr, we believe you should share all your images in full resolution, so life’s moments can be relived in their original quality. No limited pixels, no cramped formats, no memories that fall flat. We’re giving your photos room to breathe, and you the space to upload a dizzying number of photos and videos, for free. Just how big is a terabyte? Well, you could take a photo every hour for forty years without filling one.

And yep, you heard us. It’s free.

I’ve always preferred Flickr as my primary place to store photos. I’ve maintained a pro account for several years now, even though I am just a “holiday photographer”!

Flickr also has a brand new look which showcases your images much better than earlier, showing the best resolution photos automatically to all visitors.

Flickr continues to differentiate between free and pro accounts. Pro accounts continue to get unlimited storage, an ad free interface and stats.

Flickr Free vs. Pro

Existing users can choose to go Ad-free as well for $49.99 per year or Double their space for $499.99 a year.

Flickr - New Plans

Since May 20, 2013, Pro accounts can no longer be purchased. You can enjoy unlimited storage as long as your Pro account is active. If your Pro account expires, it will revert to a free account with a storage limit of 1 Terabyte.

Are you on Flickr? Do you have a free or a pro account. If you have a Pro account, will you switch to the new Ad-free account or switch to free? Eligible Pro users have an option to switch to Free before August 20, 2013 and will receive a prorated refund

Flickr - Downgrade to Free

YouTube adds Paid Channels. Any takers?

Over the past few years, YouTube has gained a strong presence in the video world. It’s one of those services that Google has bothered to develop versus others which have been neglected post acquisition. Yesterday, YouTube announced the launch of paid channels as a pilot programme with a small group of partners that will offer paid channels on YouTube.

Over the past few years, YouTube has gained a strong presence in the video world. It’s one of those services that Google has bothered to develop versus others which have been neglected post acquisition.

Yesterday, YouTube announced the launch of paid channels as a pilot programme with a small group of partners that will offer paid channels on YouTube.

YouTube Paid Channels

There are currently 53 channels available for subscription including Big Star with subscription fees starting at $0.99 per month. Every channel has a 14-day free trial, and many offer discounted yearly rates.

I don’t see anything that tempts me yet to take a subscription. But, what about you? Will you subscribe to any of the paid channels? Would you prefer a single subscription that covers everything?

How Do Music Recommendation Services Work

We love listening to great music. Great music keeps our nerves calm, our brain fully awaken and stimulates our soul. No matter how far we’ve come in the journey of evolution we still crave for great music that resonates with our hearts, and will for sure even hundred years from now on.

We love listening to great music. Great music keeps our nerves calm, our brain fully awaken and stimulates our soul. No matter how far we’ve come in the journey of evolution we still crave for great music that resonates with our hearts, and will for sure even hundred years from now on. With the development of the technology the way we listen to music, the way we discover music and everything about music has revolutionized, and as a result we have been exposed to millions and millions of tracks by millions of artists. Finding the songs that match our personal tastes is like finding a needle in a hey sack if there wasn’t any mechanism to filter out results from this gigantic database of music. And given our extremely busy lifestyles we’d sure give up listening to music if there wasn’t a quickly accessible way to filter the tracks we love. But thankfully technology has come up with a solution of its own. Music recommendation engines are the latest search engines that automatically deliver music that we love, music that best suits our tastes. Following is a concise discussion about music recommendation engines and how they work.

Music Recommendation Services

Music Recommendation Process

Music recommendation engines utilize complex algorithms designed with mathematical formulas to recommend music to the listeners. Typically these algorithms make suggestions based on artist/genre similarity, users’ activity on the recommendation service such as frequently listened songs, skipped tracks, ratings given to a particular song etc. Services like Last.fm and Pandora make use of surveyed information, users’ activity logs and acoustic analysis to suggest music while services offering music purchases like Amazon and iTunes make use of the purchase history details, browsing history details to make suggestions. Acoustic analysis is a way of finding music by scanning a user uploaded audio segment, such as part of a song recorded through a cell phone. The audio track is segmented into tiny chunks, and the pitch, loudness and timbre are carefully analyzed by a software engine to find songs similar to the uploaded audio. This process is used in popular apps like SoundHound and Shazam.

Popular Music Recommendation Services

Popular music services

Pandora

Pandora is a popular music recommendation service which lets users discover new music and stream tracks. Options to rate songs, skip tracks, bookmark them and purchase them via iTunes or Amazon have been provided. Currently Pandora has over 150 million subscribers, both free and paid and maintains a library of millions of titles from hundreds of thousands of artists. Pandora serves on all major platforms including iOS, Android, Windows Mobile and BlackBerry via dedicated apps.

Grooveshark

Grooveshark is another popular music recommendation engine and a music streaming service with over 35 million users worldwide. This recommendation platform allows users to search music by specifying artists, albums, friend’s suggestions etc. Users can also share their playlists with friends via social networks including Facebook and Twitter, listen to radio stations, skip songs they don’t find interesting and discover more music via the Grooveshark community.

Last.fm

Last.fm is one of the most popular music recommendation services functioning today. The recommendation process is based on what they refer to as scrobbling. It is a way of sending data about users’ activities such as most frequently played titles, favorite songs recommended by friends, time spent on each artist’s albums etc to the Last.fm servers. This is utilized to recommend music for individual listeners. Most of the popular online music streaming services like Spotify and Rdio integrate directly with Last.fm to provide users with rich content based on their interests. Last.fm can also keep track on titles played on your regular music player in the computer via a plug-in.

Advantages of Music Recommendation Services

Benefits for Listeners

Imagine you hearing a beautiful song that resonates with the deepest rhythm in your heart all of a sudden. You have never heard that song before but finally managed to find the artist’s or band’s name, and you are now eager to listen to that song once again and know more about the artist. You are interested in exploring more works by him and also about other artists performing in the same genre. Thanks to the dedicated music recommendation and discovery engines you are just few clicks away from knowing them all, and discovering more amazing music. In a world bound by social networks you can also discover songs your friends’ like, and recommend them your personal favorites. Most of the music recommendation engines also provide you the ability to stream tracks, listen to radio stations etc. with a subscription.

Benefits for Musicians

Today hundreds and thousands of individual artists and bands struggle to grab an audience to spread the word about their music. It is in fact a fierce competition as each one of them are trying as much hard as the other to get their music heard. Music recommendation engines provide a great platform for the artists to spread the word about their music to a massive internet audience. For example news on artists new releases, concerts are automatically delivered to the listeners subscribed to that artist’s channel. And since the recommendation engine recommends songs based on genre, chances of artists’ music being discovered by a totally new listener are higher. And if a listener really loved some artist’s music there is a chance of listener recommending the track to the friends via social networks like Facebook, twitter and StumbleUpon which exposes the artist’s work to a totally new audience.

Conclusion

Music recommendation engines are the beginning of a new era in marketing music. The intelligent recommendation engines are already used by popular online market places including Amazon, eBay etc. which analyzes your browsing history to recommend products for you. However recommending music takes a lot more effort and complex algorithms as it involves analyzing millions of titles even in the same genre. Algorithms have been tweaked over the time to provide users with the best possible results; however the systems are not yet even close to perfection. For instance most recommendation engines still tend to discover songs by very popular artists rather than by new ones when suggesting music. Perfecting these algorithms will take time, but it would simply worth the effort as people truly love listening to great music.

About the author

Dmitri Blackthorn is a real music addict and technology expert. His favorite music services are Last.fm and Spotify. Visit Dmitri’s latest projects – free music converter and free DVD burning software.

Create sketches from your photos with Photo Sketch

Who doesn’t love a beautifully sketched photo?! In today’s digital age with mobile phones with cameras, sketching is an art best enjoyed with artists. But, with technology, you get several software and apps that let you convert your existing photos into cool sketches.

Who doesn’t love a beautifully sketched photo?! In today’s digital age with mobile phones with cameras, sketching is an art best enjoyed with artists. But, with technology, you get several software and apps that let you convert your existing photos into cool sketches.

Photo Sketch is an Android app that allows you to easily make wonderful pencil sketches from your camera pictures in an instant. Photo Sketch makes cool and fun Pencil sketch art drawing by applying sketching camera effects and filters to your photos, which you can then share on instagram or Facebook or twitter and on other photo sharing networks.

Photo Sketch

Features:

  • Click a photo from camera,or select an image from Phone Gallery, Facebook album
  • Select the area you want to apply the effect on. ie. Crop and Resize
  • Choose the Pencil Sketch effect or filter you want to apply
  • Add a frame or text to the photo
  • Preview and share the resultant pictures
  • Save them to your phone memory and use the drawing as a live wallpaper or as a lock screen for the phone / tablet

Photo Sketch comes with 15 photo effects and 5 types of frames.

Note that though the app is free, it shows popup advertisements.

Download Picture Effects from the Google Play store

7 free apps to listen to radio on your Google Nexus 7

Last week we covered 7 apps to check email on your Nexus 7. With both the 16Gb or 32Gb, you have sufficient storage space for your music files. However, if you’re looking to listen to something different and are wanting for choice, then radio is an excellent choice.

Last week we covered 7 apps to check email on your Nexus 7. With both the 16Gb or 32Gb, you have sufficient storage space for your music files. However, if you’re looking to listen to something different and are wanting for choice, then radio is an excellent choice.

Nexus 7

In this post, I’ll cover some of the popular radio apps you can install on your Google Nexus 7 or any other Android smartphone or tablet.

TuneIn Radio

TuneIn Radio

This is my favourite radio app. TuneIn gives you access to music, sports and news from every corner of the earth, with over 70,000 radio stations and 2 million on-demand programs.

I’ve used TuneIn on my iPod, iPad, Blackberry and now on my Nexus 7 and have been always pleased by its performance.

Get TuneIn Radio from Google Play

Winamp

Winamp

Winamp is a powerful media player for Android. In addition to giving you full access to your music on your Android device, Winamp also allows you access over 50k+ SHOUTcast radio stations as well as download some free music and listen to select CD collections.

If you have Winamp on your PC or or Mac (I found the Mac support still very buggy) you can synchronise your existing music or iTunes libarary.

Get Winamp from Google Play

doubleTwist Player

doubleTwist Player

In addition to Winamp and TuneIn above, doubleTwist is one player I regularly use to listen to music. It also doubles up as a radio app giving you access to thousands of radio stations neatly sorted by genre.

Like Winamp, doubleTwist will allow you to synchronise music to your PC or Mac. Support for Mac is limited currently for the Nexus 7 and you need to purchase to upgrade to use the over-the-air synchronisation.

Get doubleTwist Player from Google Play

Live365 Radio

Live365

Live365 radio gives you access to more than 7,000 free online radio stations. Featuring 250+ genres of music, Live365 showcases artists and radio producers ranging from Roy Orbison, Pat Metheny, and Carlos Santana, to commercial and public radio stations, to individual DJs who program stations in every style.

The Live365 app also allows you to access stations in new Live365 Networks catering to specific audiences.

Get Live365 radio from Google Play

Jango

Jango

Jango Radio is free, personalized radio that plays the best music by artists you love. Just start with the name of one of your favorite artists, and Jango will create a custom station that plays similar music.

You can tune in to hundreds of expertly programmed genre stations like Top 100, Hot in Hip-Hop, Indie Dance Hits & more.

Jango allows you to use your Jango.com login to access your existing stations or add new ones.

Get Jango Radio from Google Play

Stitcher

Stitcher

Listen to your favorite news, comedy, sports and talk radio shows on your Android phone or tablet.

Discover the best of NPR, CNN, Fox, BBC, Freakonomics, Adam Carolla, TedTalks, SModcast, Joe Rogan, Rush Limbaugh, Radiolab and over 10,000 shows, podcasts and live radio.

Get Stitcher Radio from Google Play

XiiaLive

XiiaLive

XiiaLive gives you access to over 50,000 radio stations. Stream music and explore more than 50,000 live radio stations from all over the world. Search, organize, tag, and add or save your favorite streams for easy access any time you want.

XiiaLive™ is easy to customize and optimize to your own taste with features like skin themes, data guard, notification sound FX, Bluetooth options, separate internal volume, etc.

Get XiiaLive from Google Play

Do you listen to radio on your Android device? Which is your preferred radio app.

Convert your audio, video and image files with Format Factory

If you find yourself frequently loading your iPod or Blackberry or any other portable device with audio and videos from CDs or DVDs, you’ll find the need for a multimedia converter. Format Factory is a free Windows audio, video and photo converter that supports a large range of formats for encoding and ripping. The software a wide range of multimedia formats including conversion to MP4/3GP/MPG/AVI/WMV/FLV/SWF and MP3/WMA/AMR/OGG/AAC/WAV.

If you find yourself frequently loading your iPod or Blackberry or any other portable device with audio and videos from CDs or DVDs, you’ll find the need for a multimedia converter.

Format Factory is a free Windows audio, video and photo converter that supports a large range of formats for encoding and ripping.

Format Factory

The software a wide range of multimedia formats including conversion to MP4/3GP/MPG/AVI/WMV/FLV/SWF and MP3/WMA/AMR/OGG/AAC/WAV. You can rip movies from DVDs and save them into these formats ready to be loaded onto your portable device.

It also allows you to convert your image files to and from JPG/BMP/PNG/TIF/ICO/GIF/TGA, while zooming and rotating as well as adding of tags and watermarks.

On key feature of the software is the ability to repair your media files in case they are corrupted.

The software is powerful and as a result weighs in at about 51MB, so you have a good amount of downloading ahead of you. On the bright side, it is completely free to use for as long as you like!

Download Format Factory from FileHippo.com
Other download locations

Get DVD Slideshow Builder Standard FREE this Mother’s Day

Looking for an easy yet impressive way to burn your photos to DVD or share photos online? With Wondershare DVD Slideshow Builder Standard, literally drop-in your favorite photos and music, add built-in cinematic effects with a click and instantly create a compelling photo slideshow complete with title menu, soundtrack and even special effects. Key features: Add filters like negative and black and white, adjust brightness/contrast, remove red-eye and much more Drag-and drop-text captions, clipart and audio Add special transition effects like wipes and fades Choose from an array of Intro/Credit templates to create a movie feel Create photo slideshows in 3 steps Standard version supports 140+ static templates, 10 dynamic menu templates and 210 free movie styles Supports most popular image formats including BMP, JPEG, JPG, PNG, TIF, TIFF, GIF and music formats including MP3, WAV, WMA, M4A, MKA, AAC, AC3, APE, OGG Now, you can get DVD Slideshow Builder Standard completely free until Mother’s day.

Looking for an easy yet impressive way to burn your photos to DVD or share photos online? With Wondershare DVD Slideshow Builder Standard, literally drop-in your favorite photos and music, add built-in cinematic effects with a click and instantly create a compelling photo slideshow complete with title menu, soundtrack and even special effects.

DVD Slideshow Builder Standard

Key features:

  • Add filters like negative and black and white, adjust brightness/contrast, remove red-eye and much more
  • Drag-and drop-text captions, clipart and audio
  • Add special transition effects like wipes and fades
  • Choose from an array of Intro/Credit templates to create a movie feel
  • Create photo slideshows in 3 steps
  • Standard version supports 140+ static templates, 10 dynamic menu templates and 210 free movie styles
  • Supports most popular image formats including BMP, JPEG, JPG, PNG, TIF, TIFF, GIF and music formats including MP3, WAV, WMA, M4A, MKA, AAC, AC3, APE, OGG

Now, you can get DVD Slideshow Builder Standard completely free until Mother’s day. Simply visit the giveaway page and get the software completely free.

The Mom’s Day giveaway will expire at 12:00am, May 14th, EST. The keycode is only for single use and can’t be shared. One email address generates one keycode.

– Download DVD Slideshow Builder Standard
Mom’s Day giveaway

iSkysoft DVD Creator for Mac

Want to burn videos to DVD for play with Mac’s DVD player? The hard drive disk is stacked with tons of video files? A DVD creator would be a great help.

Want to burn videos to DVD for play with Mac’s DVD player? The hard drive disk is stacked with tons of video files? A DVD creator would be a great help. Burning videos to DVD not only lets you play video on TV, but releases free space on your hard drive.

iSkysoft DVD Creator for Mac is one of the best DVD burning software on the market. It helps you convert all popular video formats (AVI, MP4, MPG, MPEG, 3GP, WMV, ASF, RM, RMVB, DAT, MOV, FLV, etc.) to DVD and burn to DVD disc for play on home DVD players or DVD drive on Mac OS.

iSkysoft DVD Creator for Mac

All popular video formats are supported: The software has support for most popular video formats including input formats (MP4, FLV, AVI, MOV, M4V(without DRM), MKV, WMV, etc.), output formats (DVD disc, DVD folder, .dvd media, ISO file). This app support DVD-5, DVD-9, DVD+R/RW, and DVD-R/RW DVD discs. Therefore, whatever videos on your Mac, you can burn it to DVD with this all-in-one DVD Creator for Mac without any hassle.

Make DVD slideshow with music: When you import multiple photos to the application, they will be transformed into a slideshow automatically. Then you can personalize it with background music, customized transitions and animated captions.

An array of DVD menus: It’s very cool to design an animated DVD menu from built-in template, which makes the DVD movie even better than commercial DVDs. A wide range of options are also provided to customize your DVD menu. It’s easy to make an awesome DVD with your vacation videos and photos to surprise your friends and family.

Professional Quality Encoding: iSkysoft DVD Creator for Mac burns videos to DVD with fast and efficient DVD burning engine. The video quality will be retained to the most extent.

Key Features of iSkysoft DVD Creator for Mac

  1. Create DVD movie, DVD folder, .dvdmedia or ISO file from all popular video formats.
  2. Create an engaging photo slideshow with music and burn to DVD disc.
  3. Ultra fast converting and burning speed to burn DVD movie.
  4. Automatically erase rewritable DVD discs to burn new content.
  5. Create an animated or static DVD menu from built-in DVD menu templates and customize it.
  6. Useful editing tools including Rotate, Crop, Merge, Trim, Effects, etc.
  7. Instant video preview and DVD real-time preview.
  8. Choose DVD burner, NTSC/PAL, and burning speed.
  9. Comprehensive technical support and lifetime free upgrade.

Final Thoughts

iDVD is the DVD creator application supplied by Apple, which is pre-installed on every new Mac before Mac OS X 10.6. Compared to iDVD, iSkysoft DVD Creator for Mac comes with more functions but fewer steps to burn videos to DVD disc on Mac. This title of software makes it a joy to import any format video, make personal changes, and then burn it to DVD quickly and easily.

iSkysoft DVD Creator retails at $49 which is well worth the price if you’re regularly creating DVDs of your movies.

Create picture collages easily with Picture Collage Maker Pro

Picture Collage Maker Pro is a powerful and easy-to-use program for creating photo collages and digital scrapbooks from your digital photos to share with friends and family. This Easter Edition contains 16 brand new stunning Easter templates. It allows people to make delightful Easter cards that they can freely share with families and friends.

Picture Collage Maker Pro is a powerful and easy-to-use program for creating photo collages and digital scrapbooks from your digital photos to share with friends and family. This Easter Edition contains 16 brand new stunning Easter templates. It allows people to make delightful Easter cards that they can freely share with families and friends.

Picture Collage Maker Pro

Key features include:

  • With 100+ various templates provided to make digital photo collages, scrapbook, greeting cards, posters, calendar, photo album for any occasion, like Birthday, Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Wedding, etc
  • Support drag and drop photos onto collage. It comes with a large collection of beautiful picture frames and masks that you can add to any of your photos
  • Personalize your creation by adding clip-art, text, background. It allows you to resize, rotate and position all the elements to make collage crafting intuitive and fun
  • Save collage as an image file, set as desktop wallpaper, share through Email, or print it out instantly to share with friends and family

The software retails at $39.90 only and comes with lifetime support. You have 15 days to give it a test drive to see if it suits your requirements.

– Download Picture Collage Maker Pro for Windows
– Download Picture Collage Maker Pro for Mac