Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hire Microsoft for $5.00 Per Month: Office 365 & SharePoint

As a Sr. Systems Analyst, a big part of my job has been to recommend business tools to national and international enterprises as well as government organizations. This article provides technology recommendations to help entrepreneurs, home businesses and small businesses gain a competitive edge to perform like a big business.

There are three key areas that big businesses care about: saving moving (through efficiency), delivering quality customer service, and adopting business tools that bring the best value. Over the past couple of years big organizations like Home Depot, ABM Industries, Lockheed Martin, Turner Broadcasting, Dell, Northrop Grumman, SAIC, Sun Trust Banks, Ernst & Young, Sogeti USA, Hewlett Packard, General Dynamics, Federal Aviation Agency, the Department of Defense, and many others have paid well over $1,000,000.00 to implement Microsoft Office SharePoint Server Online, which is part of Office 365. And, there is a product package available for entrepreneurs, home businesses and small businesses. The cheapest package is $5.00-a-month. The most expensive package is $15.00-a-month.

And, one of the most interesting aspects is this price includes access to Microsoft's support and system administration team. Yes, you read right! If you run into a problem, you contact Microsoft and one of their support persons will help you troubleshoot the issue. The following paragraphs provide additional information about Microsoft's Office 365, which includes access to Microsoft Office SharePoint Server and other office applications hosted in the Cloud.

Intranets & Extranets

Probably the most valued capability is the ability to easily create websites that meet a specific business objective. For example, entrepreneurs or small businesses that want to effectively manage customer problems can easily build a website customers can log into to submit a complaint. The organization can assign statuses to the complaint so the customer can monitor the organization's progress towards resolving the stated problem. As the solution is implemented the status is changed to keep the customer informed through notifications.

Or, entrepreneurs or small businesses may want to keep customers informed. Whenever a website is created SharePoint, which is a content management system, automatically creates a mobile version of the site. And, with two clicks content is syndicated and made available as an RSS feed to which users can subscribe.

Create a virtual meeting room website to host virtual meetings. Add Microsoft Office Lync Online to gain instant messaging (IM), the ability to make phone calls through your computer (with the appropriate hardware). And, moderate or join audio, video and web meetings with people you invite. You can give an online presentation by sharing your desktop.

Or, if working with a customer to finalize a proposal give the upload the document to the meeting room so the customer can access the document and make changes. SharePoint can notify you when the customer has completed his or her revisions.

Speaking of sharing documents users can upload, organize and manage Microsoft Office documents using SharePoint's shared documents feature. Access those documents from any location using your laptop or hand-held device such as a mobile phone or tablet.

Manage your calendar and messages.

You can also manage photographs by uploading them to SharePoint online, which means they can be accessed from anywhere.

You can learn more about Office 365; or even test drive it by visiting:

Monday, December 2, 2013

Create a YouTube Video That Is Accessible From ANY Device

One of the most frustrating things, to me, is to navigate to YouTube from my phone, select a video only to get the message "the owner has not made this video available to mobile users". That might not be the exact message; but it's something like that. This post provides instructions on one method that can be used to make a YouTube video available to any device.

The tools I cover in this article is Adobe Premiere and Adobe Media Encoder.  In the near future I will also create a post like this for Final Cut Pro. But for this post I will discuss how to make a YouTube video available for any device using Premiere.

My first step was to use Premiere to create a new project--ensuring the HDV option was selected, as shown below.

Next I imported my audio, still photographs and videos. I created a master sequence and nested sequences to develop my video. I used nested sequences (shown as green video clips below) for two reasons: 1. It would be easier to manage and  work with clips overall because my project would, in a sense, include multiple smaller sequences used to create one main sequence. This approach would make it less cumbersome to make changes. For example, if I wanted to shorten or change the transition duration for a nested clip--I would be able to simply go to the sequence that includes the video and make the change. Adobe Premiere would then make the necessary adjustments so I would not have to slide clips closer together or push them further away to avoid black gaps or other problems.  The change would then automatically show up in my master sequence.

2. I looked at the video clips I had to create the video. I noticed some clips were shaky. Using nested sequences would enable me to apply the Warped Stabilizer (highlighted using a red box in the picture below) to these clips so they would play more smoothly.

Once everything was in place and the video played the way I wanted it to I was ready to export it. I selected File -> Export -> Media to select the options that would enable me to convert my Premiere project to an MPEG-4 file that all devices could access.

After I selected File -> Export -> Media, the Export Settings page, shown below, displayed.The selections made on this page drive the size and quality of the video as well as the format. The option that drives whether or not all devices can access the video is the Format option. If you locate the Format option below you will see H.264 beside it.

H.264 is one of several video compression standards. It is commonly referred to as MPEG-4 Part 10 OR MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding (AVC). Both H.264 and AVC are MPEG-4 codecs that produce MPEG-4 files that contain video and audio clips. If you want your video to playback on not only computers and laptops; but also handheld devices you will want to select H.264 as the Format option, as highlighted by a red box in the following picture.

Adobe Media Encoder is the component within Adobe Premier that provides access to the formats used to convert the project to the H.264 or other format. However, you don't have to use Adobe Premiere to convert a video to the H.264 format. As previously mentioned, Adobe Media Encoder is available as a standalone application. It also comes included not only with Adobe Premiere Pro but also After Effects, Flash Professional, Soundbooth, and Encore.

Note that you can access a free trial of Adobe Premiere by visiting: And you can try Adobe Media Encoder free by visiting

So far I have tested the video using my Android and it played nicely. If you have an iPhone, Blackberry, tablet or other device pull it out and check out the video at, click the like button if you like it or leave a comment--all feedback is appreciated.