I'm notorious for buying myself presents that really aren't presents -- stuff like mops and storage containers. I did it again, this time with something a tad more exciting. I bought myself Corel's VideoStudio Ultimate X9 (Windows) for Christmas. It's on sale until December 1, 2016 for $39.99. The Pro version is on sale for $29.99. (I have a previous version of VideoStudio, so I opted for the upgrade. I presume one can upgrade from any type of video editing software, including Movie Maker included with Windows. In any case, the upgrade software is the same as the full version.) If you miss this sale, just keep your eyes open and check the Corel website from time to time. The price fluctuates to just about this level as a low point. You'll just have to act when you see a discount.
If you're on the fence over which version to buy, get the cheaper one for $29.99. On the other hand, if you can afford the extra $10, some video editing afficionados think it's worth the price. The Corel site has a table for comparison. As for me, I've been video editing on early versions of this product prior to it being acquired by Corel. That in itself is a story. It's hard to imagine that back then, the Ulead software cost $500 and had to run overnight just to render a five-minute clip. So, in other words, I'm not flnching over the extra $10.
But, let's get to what you get for your money.
1. The software package itself, which contains a number of standalone modules in addition to the editing package itself. One is called FastFlick X9 and out of the box, without reading any instructions, I was able to put together this video in less 8 minutes, including rendering (processing).
FastFlick is a quick and easy add-on solution to the otherwise longer learning curve that main module of VideoStudio software requires.
Another standalone module of VideoStudio X9 is the screen capture module. This does exactly what it sounds like, capturing what is on your screen and turning it into a silent video. This is an excellent tool for creating technical how-to videos.
As for the main module, the user manual is pretty straightforward and there's also a complimentary 30-day tutorial subscription. When I buy a new piece of software, I expect to put in at least six hours of intensive learning effort. With six hours of effort on VideoStudio X9, a first-time user should be able to create a nice video: removing the parts they don't want, doing voiceover or music where needed, and enabling fancy transitions between clips.
For comparison, I've also used Adobe Premiere which was less intuitive. I've also tried free options such as Chrome add-ons. Ultimately, I deem Corel's product well worth the price.
As part of this year's CyberMonday deal, Corel is also throwing in Corel AfterShot 3 and WinZip 20.5.
AfterShot is a post-production RAW image editor that additionally works on lossy formats like .jpeg. I found it both intuitive and the easiest way to do a quick crop, exposure correct and sharpen. Unlike most consumer products, it also comes with batch processing; something usually reserved for professional level editing.
WinZip is a file compression program. These days, simple extraction and zipping is included with the WIndows OS. WinZip is a fancier version of compression software that also allows users to encrypt and password-encode their files. It's a good middle ground for anyone considering storing their sensitive files on the cloud.
I really don't buy software much anymore. Most products are available without charge, and I'm more inclined to use open source options. Still, after taking this newest version of VideoStudio for a run, I'm walking away happy. I'm our family's in-house tech person, so this will save me quite a bit of time when helping the kids with video presentations. It's at least as useful as a mop and far more fun than storage containers.
It's here, It was rumored that Netflix was going to allow downloading of its video files for offline viewing, but they've delivered an early Christmas gift to Stranger Things lovers everywhere. Not all videos are available, but all of the Netflix series are, as well as select others. This new feature is available on both Netflix's Android and iPad apps and I just tested it out.
For the past week, I had been bingewatching Mischievous Kiss, a Fuji TV Japanese drama series. One of the best features of Netflix is its subtitles. You can choose the language on a number of them. On some series, you can even choose the audio language too.
In any case, I had been watching it first in Japanese, then in English to see how well I actually understood the story. I'm now going back and rewatching it again in Japanese to commit more words and sentences to memory. Now that I can take my movies on the go I'll be able to squeeze in even more study time -- although the series is so addictive I doubt I'll think of it as study at all.
In any case, Netflix lovers, your offline prayers are here. Check your Netflix tablet app to see if your series is available for download.
The Hawaii State Library recently updated its website to a more dynamic format. RSS feeds are available, as are .ics calendar imports. I like it, it's a tad more intuitive than before, but it does require changing your bookmarks and relearning where to find your favorite links.
Recently, I visited the library and couldn't find my library card. I had the number however, so I was able to download their app, available for both Apple and Android devices. Finding the app wasn't intuitive at all. To get the app, type in the words "Chilifresh Hawaii." The app isn't new. It's been there for two years, but due to a lack of publicity -- even on the new site -- it's underused.
On the left hand top, there's a menu. Enter your account credentials, and you can use your phone as your library card. It's nice. Non-electronic resources are all catalogued and you can request and hold your books on the go. You can also see what you've checked out and extend your due date if you need to.
On the subject of library apps, there are also digital collections that require different apps. These lnclude Overdrive for ebooks and audiobooks, OneClickAudio for certain audiobooks, and Zinio for magazines. You can find links to them on the READ dropdown menu on the library's homepage.
November 25 - Scuba diver found unconscious in waters off of Kahala Beach Hotel. (Star-Advertiser)
November 23 - Firefighters extinguished a Hawaii Kai fire that started in a garage on Kaeleku Street. No parties were reported injured and the fire that started around 4:50pm was put out in 15-minutes. [PressReader]
November 23 - The lender for the developer of Kalama Hokupaa, a 14-home project near the Hawaii Kai Executive Golf Course in East Oahu, has filed a foreclosure lawsuit against the developer for not making timely payments on its $6.3 million loan. [PBN]
November 23 - The State is investigating a chemical dump at the Aina Haina drainage canal. The chemical waste has turned the water purple. [HNN]
November 22 - The HPD sergeant involved in last week's bizzare SUV crash fronting Kaiser High School has asked for an independent investigation of the incident. Following the crash, he was served a search warrant and a DNA swab was obtained. The sergeant is a witness in the case against Police Chief Kealoha and his wife. [HNN]
November 23 - HPD have arrested an Aiea man for impersonating a police officer in the Kaimuki area. [Star-Advertiser]
November 18 - Residents near Kaiser High School have been advised of its ongoing construction. The track and field area is being improved and although steps are being taken to mitigate the effects, residents may experience an increase in windblown dust through August 2017, when the improvements are scheduled to be completed. [Hawaii DOE]
November 17 - In Hawaii Kai, power was restored to nearly all affected Hawaiian Electric (HECO) customers by daybreak. At about 3:30 in the morning, a SUV veered off the road and into a HECO structure. The crash took out electricity to approximately1,700 homes. [KHON]
November 17 - Oceanic Cable has an early morning 4-hour outage planned for Tuesday, 22 November 2016 | 01:30 AM – 05:30 AM On Oahu, in Kaimuki, Waikiki, Diamond Head, Kahala, Kalani, Niu Valley and surrounding areas, Internet, Phone & advanced video services, including but not limited to, Video On Demand titles, Video On Demand Channel 001, LookBack, StartOver, Remote DVR, CallerID on TV services and some video channels may be intermittent or briefly unavailable due to network maintenance. [Oceanic]
November 15 - In response to Hawaii Kai and other neighborhood boards' input, the Honolulu Police Department has changed its policy to include violent crimes in its public disclosure map. During the latest 90-day period, no violent crimes were reported in the Hawaii Kai area [Star-Advertiser] [crimemapping.com]
September 18 - Of Hawaii's 66 National Merit Semifinalists, Four were from Kaiser High School (Emerson Goo, Shiori K. Green, Seo Jin Song and Kaylee R. Young) and two were from Kalani High School (Kacie T. Kajihara and Emily Yang). Kaiser is the public school with the most semi-finalists in 2016. Finalists will be named around February. [Star-Advertiser - library card req]
November 11 - Motorists are advised of lane shifts on Kalanianaole Highway between Sea Life Park and the Makapuu Lookout. Work will take place on Monday, Nov. 14, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., for rock fall mitigation netting replacements. A helicopter will be used for a portion of the work. Drivers are reminded to stay focused on the roadway and not on the work occurring above. Officers will be on site to help direct traffic. [HIDOT]
November 10 - Former Kaiser High School teacher and local educator Dr. Maenette K. P. Ah Nee-Benham has been recommended as UH West Oahu's next chancellor. [UH]
November 8 - Former Honolulu City Councilman Stanley Chang will be East Oahu’s new state senator. Chang ousted Sam Slom, the last Republican in the State Senate. Slom says he will continue to work for the community by attending neighborhood board meetings and staying vocal on issues. [KHON]
November 8 - Civil Beat highlights the East Oahu town of Kaimuki as a little vintage, a little hipster. [Civil Beat]
November 6 - Kaiser HS performs Aladdin for 2016 Kamehameha Schools Tournament of Bands [YouTube]