Posts Tagged ‘video’

Watch media files with VLC

Whilst Windows Media Player suffices for most video files, it’ll refuse to play some without installing numerous codecs. These codecs can cause slowdown, and some video types don’t have codecs that work with Media Player. Therefore, you’re going to need an alternative if you want to play some odd video files. VLC Media Player allows you to this, and best of all, free of charge.

Playing a .vob file in VLC

Playing a .vob file in VLC

When running the software you’ll be greeted  by a simple interface. VLC lacks the media library and such features that Media Player sports, but it seems to be intended for a slightly different purpose. Media is opened from the ‘Media’ menu, where you can then browse through your folders to find the file, folder, or disk that you want to play. You can even open media streams from a local network through the same menu.

The quality of the playback seemed to be pretty good; possibly better than Windows Media Player’s offering, but with no obvious differences between them. However, it’s difficult to judge since Media Player won’t play most of the files which VLC will, so I can’t compare. The interface, whilst not being the most attractive offering, is feature-rich and customisable if you’re willing to explore the menus and options within. I was very impressed with the various choices which are available; everything from audio output to network proxies can be set. This plethora of options lets you customise just about every detail of the software, allowing you to make it work exactly the way you want it to.

If you think of yourself as being one of those artsy types, you might not be impressed that VLC doesn’t, visually speaking, look quite right when compared to most of your other software. Luckily, like-minded people have come to the rescue by creating skins which can be downloaded from the VLC website. These can be downloaded and applied to your player to change the way it looks. You might want to consider the Media Player theme, which makes it look the same as Windows Media Player – the software you’re probably used to grappling with. Or, if you’re a fan of Apple’s brushed aluminium style, you might wish to opt for an iTunes or Quicktime lookalike. However, all these themes seem to take it upon themselves to hide the menus away, making them difficult to access, and unless I’m missing something, making some of them impossible to access until you revert to the default theme. This is fine if you just want to open files, but I like to have easy access to the menus at whim.

VLC is a smashing little bit of software for playing obscure video and audio files. It’s also very small in size and pretty lightweight, so it won’t be a drain on your hard-drive or system resources. You can download it from


Shots and screencasts with Jing

If you’ve ever need to show someone how to do something on their computer, or log a scary error message, you’ll be familar with taking screenshots and possibly recording videos of your screen. Screenshots in Windows can be a fairly long-winded process: take the screenshot, paste into an editor, crop/change, add annotations, save, upload to the Internet. That’s where Jing comes in.

It’s a small program that sits in the form of a little yellow bubble at the top of your screen, ready and waiting for you to call on it when you’re in need of a quick and easy snap or recording of your screen. Hovering over this bubble will

Jing makes it simple to take screenshots and videos

Jing makes it simple to take screenshots and videos

allow you to select a certain area of your screen, Jing then offers to either take a screenshot or start recording a video. It’s a doddle to simply hover on the title-bar of an application and have it ‘automagically’ selected by Jing for a screenshot. If you want to choose a more refined area, you can drag your own selection. Once the screenshot or video is recorded, Jing then allows you to add annotations to it in order to make it more clear, followed by choosing what you wish to do with your image or video, including: copy, save, or upload to the Internet for a quick way to share it.

I think one of the simplest, yet most useful features is the ability to add a key command to quickly take snaps, mine is set to ‘Ctrl+Print Screen’. This ability saves you having to click on the program each time you wish to make a recording. Also included is a zippy little gallery which lets you view and edit all your previously taken screenshots and videos, ready to be opened and edited again.

Whether you’re a student who has to take hundreds of screenshots to prove your work to an assessor, or you’re often making video tutorials for others, you’ll find Jing a lifesaver. It may just help you keep your sanity by making it so much faster and less monotonous. Give it a try and see what you think by downloading it from