1. Clip Art License
In a presentation I was at earlier this year the presenter stated that you cannot use Microsoft's clip art in your slides or documents if you are charging money for them. This surprised me, so went to the Microsoft clip art site and here is the relevant part of what they say in their license: "You may copy and modify the Media Elements, and license, display and distribute them, along with your modifications as part of your software products and services, including your web sites, but you are not licensed to do any of the following: You may not sell, license or distribute copies of the Media Elements by themselves or as part of any collection, product or service if the primary value of the product or service is in the Media Elements." (you can read the whole text at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/tou.aspx) So what does this mean for the average business presenter? It means that you can indeed use the Microsoft clip art or other media elements in your presentations, books and CDs as long as what you are selling is not primarily those media elements. This should not be a problem for most of us since as I have always said, the graphics or multimedia should only be used to enhance the message you deliver with your words, they should never be a substitute for the words that you say.
2. Capturing Video
Last weekend my wife and I ran the service at church. As part of the announcements, we wanted to use two short (40 second) clips from a video tape of a recent conference (the church has permission to use the video this way). It was on a VHS tape, and the question was: How do I get it onto my laptop? If you have a traditional video capture card in a desktop PC, it is no problem, but I don't have that. So what I ended up doing was recording the two segments from our VCR onto our Sony digital camcorder (side note: digital camcorders are great ways to get audio or video from other sources into a digital format). Then, I hooked up the camcorder to the Firewire port on my laptop and transferred the video to my computer. And the application I ended up using to capture the video was Windows Movie Maker, which is installed as part of Windows XP (and may be in previous versions of Windows or downloadable). It is a great little program and worked much better than the fancy capture software that came with my laptop. It will capture video from an attached video device, which could be a camcorder or a webcam (which I have done as well). It was really simple to edit the start and end of the clip and save it in a very compressed WMV format. The WMV format was easy to import into PowerPoint and played without a hitch. If you need to capture some video clips for video testimonials or other purposes, I suggest you check out this gem of a piece of software built right into the operating system.
3. Scanning Tips
Most of the time I talk about digital formats of information, but what happens when you have photos that are traditionally printed? How do you scan them in? Do you just accept the default settings on your scanner and leave it at that? The answer is maybe. There are many considerations when scanning, and to learn a lot more about how to make yours scanned photos look much better, hop on over to a web site called http://scantips.com. The author has spent the time to research the topic and offers a lot of information that will help you understand why certain settings may be useful to you.