Media Convert is a free and easy format changing service

Media Convert - free and on line - convert and split sound, ringtones, images, docs

Media Convert - free and on line - convert and split sound, ringtones, images, docs

As we generate more video here at AuctioneerTech, we find ourselves becoming more and more familiar with format types. One of the challenges we faced with the creation of the Auction Video Podcast was getting the video into a format compatible with the iPod. This challenge, and many others, were immediately overcome when we came across a service called Media Convert.

Media Convert is a free, web-based service that supports over 100 different file formats and will convert any file to another same-type file. It’s not going to convert your Excel spreadsheet to a movie, but it will convert your favorite song into a ringtone and your favorite downloaded YouTube clip into Quicktime format and your favorite Photoshop PSD into a JPEG. For free.

The usage couldn’t be more simple. Simply select a file for upload from your computer. The input type is immediately detected. The output format select box automatically changes based on the input type to allow you to select from the supported file types that make sense for your input.  Once you’ve selected the output type from the select box, you can click OK to begin the process or you can adjust some advanced options. For video, the advanced options allow you to adjust audio and video quality, sound volume, etc…for pictures, the advanced options allow you to adjust compression level, aspect ratio – attributes that make sense for the file type in question.

Media Convert also offers some services that are somewhat tangental to those implied by its name.

  • Thumbnails – it can do some simple image effects to small pictures
  • File hosting – we’re not exactly sure how this feature works, but it looks like you can host files up to 120 days so long as the file is downloaded at least twice every 15 days
  • Send file to mobile – Media Convert will process a file and give you the location to download the file from your mobile device
  • Webmaster partner – integrate Media Convert into your website so your users can utilize its features (we’re looking into it for AuctioneerTech)
  • Format detector – if you have a file and aren’t quite sure what format it is, Media Convert will analyze a small part of it to tell you what to use to open it or view it

Media Convert, as far as we can tell, has only three small downsides. It’s free, so it’s ad-supported. It’s chock-full of ads. It’s so full of ads that it’s tough to tell what’s part of the site and what’s part of the advertising. We’re ok with that, however. Since we’re getting a free service we can overlook the ads. The second aspect to consider is that for many file types – especially large files like video – they queue requests and notify you upon completion. We’ve had files that we’ve uploaded take several minutes to as much as an hour before we were able to download the output file. Since Media Convert saves the output file for up to 24 hours and, again, since it’s a free service, we’re not complaining. The final limitation is more of a deal breaker for some tasks. Media Convert supports files up to only 200 MB. Video is really the only media type that will exceed this limit and, unless you’re working with HD video or clips longer than 10 or 15 minutes, it shouldn’t be a problem.

We’ve been using Media Convert for the last few months and have found it to be reliable and safe. It’s a great, free tool we keep in the box for when we want a quick conversion without the hassle of installing software and learning how to do it ourselves.

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Proxibid announces upcoming embedded bidding solution

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proxibid

One of the most popular feature requests made of Internet bidding providers is that they offer a non-branded, embedded solution for auctioneers who want the ability to host bidding on their sites rather than having to push people to a third-party website.

Today, in an email to their auctioneer clients, Proxibid announced that they were working on such a solution and that it would be available soon. Here’s the official announcement.

Just when you thought it wasn’t possible for the world’s most popular live auction webcasting service to get any better…stay tuned for exciting news and information about Proxibid’s embedded online auction solution.  Our embedded solution will enable you to offer online bidding seamlessly on your Web site, making it easier than ever to provide your bidders with a full-service online auction experience.

We’re working overtime to ensure our embedded solution provides you with the leading-edge technology you’ve come to expect from Proxibid, and we’ll be ready to share the details in early September!

Allowing auctioneers the ability to completely brand their users’ experiences will be a very powerful tool. Jeff Johnstonbaugh announced in the most recent Auction Podcast that BidSpotter is working on a similar solution, and its realistic to expect that the other players in this space are working frantically on the same type of offering.

Competition is good, but it’s not quite accurate to say that the first one there wins. There are a lot of questions that will matter a great deal that have yet to be answered.

  • Pricing structure – will it cost more to use the embedded solution?
  • Simultaneous exposure – will inventories exist on the portal and the auctioneers’ websites simultaneously?
  • Branding – will the bidding experience be non-branded or simply embedded?
  • Difficulty – how easy will it be for auctioneers to integrate the bidding system within websites?
  • Customer pooling – what will the bidder registration process look like and how will buyer information be shared?

This move will be a win-win for both Proxibid and their customers – both auctioneers and bidders – regardless of the details. We’re very excited about this announcement, and we look forward to learning more about the details of this next evolution in real-time Internet bidding methods.

Posted in announcements, services | Tagged , , , , |

Auction Video Podcast Episode 3 – GalaGal

GalaGal Jenelle Taylor talks with Aaron Traffas from AuctioneerTech about Gala411 and the Bootcamp for Benefit Auctioneers. Recorded at the 60th International Auctioneers Conference and Show in Overland Park, Kansas, on 18 July 2009.

To get more information, visit www.gala411.com or www.benefitbootcamp.com.
Posted in Podcasts

Email folders and labels should be based on task, not sender

LOST: Folder
Image by jaqian via Flickr

There are many different approaches to email usage. While some, including John C. Dvorak, say that email is dead, we feel that if used properly email can be a valuable tool and can successfully double as a to-do list.

Google Gmail is superior to any other  email service. The stunning feature set dwarfs other web-based email accounts like Yahoo! Mail and Microsoft Hotmail and the use of labels instead of folders, not to mention threaded conversations, makes it better than using simple IMAP and, gods forbid, POP email access. It’s true, Gmail can be accessed using IMAP so that you can use your favorite email client like Outlook or Thunderbird, but they translate the folders that you create in Outlook or Thunderbird into labels.

An email label is more like a tag you affix to a message than a bucket you store the message in. Because of this difference, the same email can have multiple labels. For example, if you have a label for meetings and you go to a meeting about technology, you can label emails related to that meeting as both meetings and technology. Using the old school of thought, you’d have to create folders for meetings and technology and create a copy of the message to place in each folder.

Another concept that Google is famous for pushing everywhere is search. Gone are the days when it took any time at all to locate a message. Simply type a word of the subject or the sender or another recipient in the search box and select from a list of matches.

There is still hope for those of us who are stuck using Outlook for a non-Gmail email experience. The concepts Gmail has taught us about how to work with email more efficiently can be used to help us spend less time managing our email and more time working with the content of that email.

There is some value in the Inbox Zero philosophy, inasmuch as keeping items in your inbox makes it harder to work. We use our inbox as a task list, and as soon as an email is no longer relevant it gets filed away into an addressed folder. Once it’s in that folder, it can be searched very easily using the built-in search function of Outlook which, while not quite as good as Gmail, is very sufficient for day-to-day use.

We’ve seen many email users, however, who needlessly create folders for each person who sends them email and, whether through a need to create busywork or through an overdeveloped sense of diligence, spend minutes each day faithfully dragging from the inbox to the folder that matches the sender. This silly practice generates a bunch of needless folders that makes it actually more difficult to find emails relating to a subject, not to mention wastes time that could be much better spent actually working.

The best and most productive email users keep their inboxes empty and their folder list small. It’s okay to let search manage your email account so you don’t have to.

Posted in services, theory | Tagged , , , , |

NAA forum adds custom groups

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New private groups on the NAA discussion forum

Perhaps one of the most valuable benefits to being a member in the National Auctioneers Association is the networking and community of friends and neighbors in the profession. The ability to bounce ideas off of someone doing the same type of business as you are is invaluable.

Not every auctioneer knows the right auctioneer to ask every question. Sometimes, knowing how to phrase the question can be as hard as knowing who to ask. NAA Online Networking and Mentoring is a bulletin board or forum that allows any member to post or replay to any question or topic.

Members on the discussion forum correctly understand that auctioneers compete with other types of secondary-market sales, not with each other, and are always happy to help the novice or experienced among us try to generate a bigger pie rather than a bigger piece.

Recently, the value of the forum was increased even more by the addition of private groups. These groups are based on NAA designations and committees. If you have an active and current designation, you should see new sections at the bottom of the main section list. These new sections, visible only to auctioneers with the same designation or on the same committee, will allow auctioneers to restrict the audience to experts in the appropriate specialty.

Are you a member of the NAA who hasn’t seen or posted on the forum? Try it today. Go to forum.auctioneers.org and login.

Posted in announcements, community, designations | Tagged , , |