Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Alternatives to PayPal

Not a fan of PayPal?  A lot of folks aren't.  The reason so many web sites use PayPal for processing payments is that it's cheaper and easier to set up than merchant accounts.  With PayPal, web sites can take credit cards or electronic transfers from your bank to the web owners quickly and easily.

Until recently, web owners didn't have many choices available.  You either paid merchant fees or you set up PayPal.  That is no longer the case.

Thanks to PayPal exposing their liberal connections (and PayPal restricting donations to sites they didn't like), several websites have closed their accounts and moved their business over to their competitor, GPal.

GPal was founded by a Pro-2nd Amendment advocates and they basically function the same as PayPal.  Even their fees are comparable.  Folks can sign up for personal and business accounts.

If you're not familiar with the service, you don't have to be a business owner to use PayPal or GPal.  With an account, you can send money from your account to somebody else's account.  You don't need Western Union anymore. 

And if you're a web site (or blog owner), you can use PayPal or GPal to accept donations and credit card payments. 

So if you really don't like PayPal, you might want to give GPal a try.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

How to Embed You Tube Videos into Your Blog

Many college students today are being asked to do their homework assignments on blogs.  And often times, they are asked to upload video assignments to You Tube and then post that video on their blog.  If you're not very computer savvy, the task can be daunting.  But the good news, is that it's easier than it looks.  This post will explain how to embed a video posted on You Tube into your blog.

If you're not familiar with computer terminology, "embedding" a video simply means that you are allowing others to watch the video from your own blog (as opposed to sending them to You Tube to watch the video.  Below is an example of an embedded You Tube video. Notice that even though this video is hosted on You Tube, you can watch it here, without ever leaving this blog.

The first step is to shoot your video and upload it to your You Tube account. You Tube does have a size restriction on videos, so you'll want to make sure your video is no larger than 2 GB or longer than 10 minutes.

Once the video is uploaded to You Tube, you'll need to copy the embed code.  After the video has uploaded, scroll down the page to "Sharing Options".

There are two options for sharing your video (URL and Embed).  You'll want to copy all of the code in the "Embed" box.  Single left clicking in this box should highlight all the code in blue for you.  Then just RIGHT CLICK (while the text is still highlighted) and select COPY. If you managed to un-highlight the text while copying it, you'll have to repeat the process until it's copied.

Now open your blog and create a new post (or edit an existing one).  This process works best if you use multiple tabs in your internet browser so you can easily go back and forth between You Tube and your blog. 

Once you're in the post you want to embed the video in, select the "EDIT HTML" tab (these instructions are for blogger, but the process will be similar in other blog formats). 

Now put your cursor where you want the video to appear in your blog post.  Then RIGHT CLICK and select PASTE. If done correctly, the Embed code that you copied from You Tube, will now be pasted into your blog. Now select the COMPOSE tab to go back to your post and finish editing it.  You can center the video if you like and leave the rest of the text left-justified (this usually looks best).

Publish the post when ready.

There are other ways to grab the embed code off You Tube.  You can also get to it from the page that you're watching the video on (as opposed to the page you've uploaded it to). Sometimes, you may see different size boxes along with color options (as shown below).

The purpose of these features is to give you more control over how your video will look on your blog.  When embedding video on Blogger, the smallest size box typically works best.  You can change the color scheme to match that of your blog.  The important thing to remember is that every time you change one of these features, your embed code will change also. So be sure you're copying the embed code that matches your desired size and color scheme.  You can also manually edit these features if needed.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Saving Pictures from Windows Live Mail to Your Computer

It's not uncommon to get pictures or other attachments in email these days that we'd like to save.  One of the questions I frequently hear is, "how do I save pictures in email?".  Unfortunately, the answer is different for everybody asking because the answer mostly depends on which program use for email.  Although there could be a couple of factors that affect the answer to this question too.

Generally speaking, to save pictures from email to your computer, you have to "Save the Attachment".  Some programs will tell you to "download the attachment".  These two terms basically mean that you're saving the picture (or other attachment to your computer). 

It's too difficult to try and answer this question for all the different email programs in this one post.  So the instructions below only show you how to save pictures from Windows Live Mail to your computer.  If you are using MSN or Hotmail for your email, these instructions should work for you (assuming you're using the MSN, Hotmail, or Winodws Live Mail website to check your email).

  1. Log into your Email account and find the message with the pictures (or attachment) you want to save.  Note that messages with attachments usually have a paperclip next to them. 
  2. Open the email message with the attachment (or pictures).
  3. If you see a yellow box with a message telling you the image or attachment has been blocked for your safety, you can click the link to "show content" in that box (assuming you trust the person who sent you that email).  Once you click that link, you should see the attached picture.
  4. Click the image and a small gray window should pop up.  Make sure the box to "Save the image" is checked and then click OK.
Repeat the steps above until every image (or attachment is saved).  This is where it gets tricky.  Depending on how your computer is configured, the image may be saved in one of several different places.

If you're using a computer that is running Windows Vista or Windows 7, then the image was most likely saved to your "Download" folder.  To get to that folder, just click your START button (lower left corner of taskbar) and then click your Username (which is usually your name).  After you do this, you should see a list of folders, one of which is named, "Download".  Open it, and the images you downloaded should be there.

If you don't have the download folder, then your image will most likely be saved in one of other places listed below.  Check them all.
  1. The Desktop (the main screen on your computer)
  2. The MY PICTURE (or PICTURE) folder
  3. The MY DOCUMENTS (or DOCUMENTS) folder
  4. You may also have a "DOWNLOAD" folder inside the MY DOCUMENTS folder.
In most cases, your saved pictures will be in one of the places mentioned above.