Apologies for being so quiet lately, but I’ve been fighting a losing battle with grass. I mow it and move on to the next spot, but as soon as I turn my back, the spot I’ve just done grows a foot over night. By the time I’ve done as much as I can outside, I’m too pooped to do more than the necessities inside. When I stop, I look at videos of beautiful in-game houses. This one has become my all time favourite.
I feel rested and restored just looking at it. Hope it gives you the same sense of ‘time out’.
Just a few days ago I reached my first major milestone on Youtube – 100 subscribers! Thank you to everyone who visited my channel and subscribed. You made me feel that I wasn’t wasting my time. On such a new venture, that kind of support is gold, pure gold.
In further news, two of my videos have reached milestones of their own: 1000 views, and a couple more are getting there very quickly so I’m thrilled. This is one of the new ones that’s getting a lot of views:
If you click on ‘Watch on YouTube’ you’ll be able to see a larger version of the video.
I would like to say that my how-to and reading videos are doing as well, but they’re not, at least not yet. I hope that in time I’ll be able to use YouTube for other aspects of my work. Till then, I’m still learning, still improving and, most importantly, still enjoying the process. D
I completed this house some time ago, but my video capturing and editing skills have only just caught up. This video includes a number of new features, including a soundtrack:
I still have a lot to learn but I now know how to use the ESO in-game camera a bit better. It doesn’t matter how good your editing skills may be if the raw footage is poor quality.
On the video editing front, I’ve learned how to:
Cut and splice the video footage with still images to create a smooth flowing visual narrative,
Focus on important images using freeze frame,
Narrate the important ‘bits’,
Add a ‘soundtrack’ to help tie the whole thing together.
I’m particularly proud of the soundtrack as I was just experimenting, and it worked. lol
For anyone who’s interested, I recorded roughly ten minutes of video just for the background music. Then I took the video into VideoStudio Pro 2021 [the software I use for editing] and ‘split’ the audio out of the video. This left me with just an audio track. I then added the audio track to the completed video.
What all that means is that the video is made up of three layers:
the edited video [complete with sound effects like bird calls and footsteps],
the voice over narration, and
the music soundtrack.
Once my skills improve a bit more, I hope to be able to create how-to videos and maybe, one day, a trailer for my books. That’s all in the future though. For now, I’m still on a massive learning curve. Thanks for coming along for the ride. 🙂
Some months back, I invested in Corel VideoStudio Pro, as well the Action! video capture program. One helps me take good quality video footage, the other helps me turn that raw footage into something a great deal more professional. Unfortunately, both have required quite a steep learning curve, but I’m proud to say I can now do a proper ‘voice over’.
In time, I hope to make short how-to videos to complement my how-to posts. You saw a tiny snippet of that in my last post. For now though, I’m doing player housing walkthroughs while I learn the ropes. This is my latest walkthrough:
This particular housing project is set in an area that looks like a real wasteland, so I tried to reproduce some of the things I visualised in The Vintage Egg, in particular the story about the Christmas Roast. I think I managed to fudge the grim feel of the Undercity, but I couldn’t quite re-create the high tech architecture. Still, I had a lot of fun. 🙂
I’m off to practise some more new skills.
 My first efforts saw me recording the ‘narration’ at the same time as I was trying to film the video. Okay for simple things, next to impossible for more complex things. Now I can focus on the video first, then record the narration over the top of the video. Still need a script but it’s miles easier.]
This is going to be a very angry post, so be warned.
Some time ago I posted about being caught out by an autorenewal from a pet supply site [online]. Well, it seems that the latest money making scam is to make a lot of online purchases ‘subscriptions’. Then, those subscriptions are set to autorenew…BY DEFAULT. You are forced to opt-in whether you want to or not, and the information is often hidden way down in the fine-fine-fine print.
The reason I’m frothing at the mouth today is because I’ve been stung, again.
Until November, 2021, I was using BitDefender Antivirus. I thought I’d bought a standalone product the same as I’d done for many years. I thought I’d paid for a one year licence, and that if I wanted updates after that, I would have to buy the product again after it expired.
Nope. Apparently BitDefender is now a subscription ‘service’ that’s set to renew automatically. To renew manually, you have to consciously opt-out.
Despite being a literate computer/internet user, I had no idea I’d ‘agreed’ to an autorenewal, and I had absolute not idea the product I’d bought was being administered by a company called 2Checkout. In fact, I switched to Kaspersky Anti Virus about a month before the BitDefender licence was due to expire… -hollow laughter-
When I demanded a refund I was offered sweeteners I did not want. I’m still waiting for a full refund.
Then today I thought I’d do a post on how renewals should be done. I thought I’d take some screenshots of how Kaspersky does it. Imagine my horror when I discovered that Kaspersky is now doing exactly the same thing. But at least it’s being more upfront about it….
The link circled in red above says ‘Subscription 321 days remaining’. Clicking on the link took me to:
Ah hah! Manage subscription. Just what I wanted…
Or not. Hmm… what the heck does ‘Initialize your credentials’ mean?
I tried using the id and password I had for kaspersky.com but it didn’t work. What followed was a LOT of frustration as I tried to work out how to cancel my autorenewal. In the end I found this:
When I clicked on the blue ‘How to disable license auto-renewal for Kaspersky solutions for home’ I was taken to this screen:
What the? Where did I buy it? Why, I bought it from Kaspersky…didn’t I?
The following is a close-up:
Dear god…had I kept the confirmation email??? Panic!
I did find the confirmation email, and this is what the ‘bottom’ looks like:
To get to the bottom, I had to scroll quite a long way down, way past the point you see when you open an email normally. Apparently, a company called Nexway handled my purchase. News to me:
Excuse me? Method of payment??? What the bloody fuck? How can buying something online with a credit card constitute an acceptance of autorenewal????? But, of course, it’s all there in black and white at the bottom of a very long email where NO ONE ever looks….
By this stage I have to tell you that I was getting very anxious, but at least there was a ‘hassle free cancellation’ link to use…
<<cue screaming and rending of hair>>
The ‘hassle free’ link took me to a page that seemed to require a login…but the only login I had did not work. That left me searching for technical support from Kaspersky… This is what I wrote in the online contact form that took forever to find:
I still have almost a year to go before my Kaspersky Anti Virus autorenews, and I may choose to stay with Kaspersky, but I will not be forced into doing so.
More importantly, I will not allow my credit card details to remain with a company I know nothing about [Nexway]. Those credit card details are an open door to my bank account, and I have no idea whether Nexway will be the next global company to be hacked. Fear of hacking is one reason I’m so very careful with direct debits.
Oh? You didn’t realise that autorenewals were direct debits? They are, but direct debits require a formal acceptance. Funny how a name can change things…
And just for the record, I am very familiar with the subscription model and the concept of autorenewal:
I have a domain name with Godaddy, and I choose to autorenew every year. Despite that, Godaddy sends me an email notification well ahead of time. It does not send the notification and take my money on the same day, the way the company out-sourced by BitDefender did. Yup, 2Checkout, another company I know nothing about has my credit card details.
Elder Scrolls Online has a subscription option that I use once or twice a year. It autorenews as well, but cancelling the subscription is so easy you could do it in your sleep:
After clicking ‘Manage Membership’ I get:
And that’s it. Easy. Maybe it has to be easy because by and large, gamers are very computer savvy. If Elder Scrolls Online tried to make it hard for gamers to cancel their subscriptions, they’d lose gamers by the thousands. Plus gamers are a very vocal lot.
Getting back to anti virus autorenewals, I have no idea yet how Kaspersky handles notifications when a subscription is getting close to autorenewal. I hope they do it better than BitDefender, but given how much time I’ve already wasted trying to opt-OUT of this bloody autorenewal, I’m not feeling very sanguine.
Autorenewals can be very convenient. They can also be a very expensive trap. As for this new thing of making customers accept autorenewal by default – without any formal acceptance! – and then forcing them to jump through hoops to opt-out, that is just a fraud.
Let me repeat that. Autorenewal by default, often without the customer being aware of it should not be legal. Why companies are allowed to get away with it I do not know.
Why is no one complaining?
Why are consumer rights groups not jumping up and down like me?
We have always lived in a buyer beware world, but when the corporates keep changing the goal posts to hoodwink us out of our money, that skirts right on the edge of the criminal. If you have subscriptions, check them now, otherwise you could find yourself out of pocket.
Whatever you do, do not chalk any losses up to experience. We are Davids in a world full of Goliaths. Get angry. Fight back, if not for yourself, then do it for all those people who are more vulnerable than you…the elderly, young kids, teens who never read the small print…
Down the bottom you can see a number of playlists. They’re just categories of videos. The how-to playlist only contains one video, but in time, I intend to create videos for all of the relevant sections of the free ‘How to print your novel with Kindle Direct Publishing’ book.
I’m not there yet in terms of skill, but the video below is my first attempt to do a how-to for the ESO housing editor:
This video will be the first in a series, but boy was it hard to do. Having a chatty narration ‘style’ is one thing, waffling on is another.
Lesson number 1: boring viewers is a cardinal sin!
Lesson number 2: waffling on is boring, especially when the viewer only wants information. 😦
As my narration style is naturally, um, ‘chatty’, I’ve had to do a lot of cutting and splicing to get rid of the waffle. Great practice in editing, not so great for the sound quality which waxed and waned with each splice. In the end, I was forced to do one long take with deliberate pauses so I could edit out the worst of the gaffs without affecting the sound quality too much.
Those hiccups aside, I’m really enjoying this learning curve. If any of you are already experienced in creating videos or have recommendations for tools to use, I’d love to hear them. I’m currently using RecMaster which is a great entry level video recorder, but maybe not quite powerful enough for my ambitious projects.
I also have a favour to ask – could you please subscribe to my channel? Youtube will allow me to have a customised URL for my channel – i.e. something with my name in it instead of hieroglyphics – but only after I reach the magic number of 100 subscribers. At the moment I have 4. It’s a big ask, I know, but I would really appreciate your help on this one.
This is another video walkthrough that I’m posting, partly for posterity and partly because I’m proud of the level of editing I was able to achieve. Still not ‘professional’ by a very long country mile, but getting there.
I’ve turned comments off as these posts are mostly for gamers.
Apologies! I mixed up the names of two of the houses, both of which are getting videos. The first video is of ‘LUCKY CAT LANDING’, not Cat’s Cradle. -sigh- It’s the second one that’s called ‘Lion’s Cradle’.
I’ve updated the subtitles etc but otherwise the video is exactly the same as before. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly recommend watching it on Youtube as it’s much bigger than what you’ll see here on WordPress:
My cinematography is still a bit too fast and ‘jerky’, but I’m getting pretty good at the editing. The finished video is at least a third smaller than the raw video I shot. Ums, ahs, stammers and oopsies all gone. 😀 Oh, and I learned how to put in subtitles!
The video above is the first part of an ongoing walkthrough of a house I built in Elder Scrolls Online, ESO for short. This house is probably the most ambitious thing I’ve built in-game, and you’ll see why when I show you what the original looks like:
Thank god a friend hadn’t built anything on her version of the house yet so I could get a ‘before’ video.
As you can see, the estate appears to be quite small, with just a single room house, a below deck area and a wide deck out front. But…this house has the best view of any house in ESO. So I built out [from the fence] and down as far as the envelope would allow.
In coming videos I’ll show views from the new areas so you can see how much extra space you can make by building out. For my money, Lion’s Cradle is an unsung gem.
And now a bit about the process of creating these videos in the first place. Let’s just say it’s been fraught. In the last three days I’ve tried out:
Shadowplay video capture [nVidia GEForce Experience]
and Ease-Fab video converter
Shadowplay uses the nVidia graphics card [if you have one] to create great videos, but because they’re created with variable framerates, I couldn’t upload them to anything. It may be possible to make them compatible with Vimeo etc, but I couldn’t work out how, so, no go.
Democreator I couldn’t get to work, can’t remember why. Again a no.
Movavi was okay but I simply don’t have the money to buy software that I may only use once in a blue moon. So, no.
OBS…this is open source software and the most popular app around at the moment, but I had major problems with it. For starters, my operating system [Win 7] is not supported by the app, but I read that I could still use it. So I tried. I could get a screen capture going, of sorts, but the hotkeys didn’t work so I had to record manually from within the app. As a result, I had junk at the beginning and the end. Also I couldn’t get it to record in mp4. So then I tried Ease-Fab to convert it to mp4 but the result was…ick.
And finally, I tried Bandicam. Almost fell off my chair when it worked first time, straight away. I had to experiment with different resolutions, but I think the ones in the videos above are a reasonable trade-off between quality and size. Plus my pc is oldish so it’s not that great with super high resolution.
If you’re using Windows 10 you’ll probably find that most of these apps work better simply because your pc is likely to be more powerful. But…if you use Win 7 like me, it’s nice to know that we still have options.
And finally, to salve my conscience, I have to say that learning how to do all this will come in handy as I try to create video tutorials. That, however, is still some way off as I need equipment and a video editor, none of which I currently have. But knowledge never goes astray, right?