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Sunday, 8 October 2017

How To Improve The Quality Of Sound From Your Mic

By With No comments:

Almost anyone who has been to a club in Second Life would have experienced a DJ or live performer who could hardly be heard on mic, or their mic quality was just generally poor. As this can be very off putting for listeners, this tutorial will offer a few tips on how to improve the quality of sound from a mic.

So long as you have a reasonable mic (not necassarily a high quality one), this tutorial should have something useful for you.

Although this tutorial is primarily aimed at Second Life DJs there is something here for anyone who uses a mic, including all online DJs, Skype users and anyone doing video voice overs.

There is also a video version of this tutorial on our new YouTube channel.

Windows Settings

 The first thing to do is check Windows mic settings. To do this follow these simple steps.


1/ In the systems tray to the lower right of the screen is the sound icon. Left click on it and a small window similar to the above will appear. Select Recording Devices.


2/ The above window will now appear where you should see the active mic under the Recording tab, (assuming its connected to your PC). The blue bar to the right of the window shows its active. Double click on the mic icon.


3/ In the new window that opens select the Levels tab.

The first sliding setting adjusts the microphone volume. Here its set to 100%.

The second slider will boost the output of the mic. Here its set to 10dB, but the other two options are 20dB and 30dB. To find out what is the best setting for your mic, you'll have to experiement a little.

When you're ready click OK and the settings will be saved.

VoiceMeeter


 VoiceMeeter is a great little application that is pay what you want (or free if you don't want to donate), that is easy to install and set up, and can make a big difference to the quality of sound from your mic. Once its downloaded and installed on your PC, reboot to complete the set up. Now open VoicMeeter to configure it for your mic.


1/ Under Hardware Out to the top right of VoiceMeeter select the A1 tab and a drop down window will appear, similar to the above. Select the audio output you use for your PC, with the MME option. In the above image MME: Speakers (Realtek High Definition) has been selected since its the default on my PC.


2/ Under Hardware Input to the top left, select the microphone settings. Two microphones can be connected but we're just going to add one, so click the first drop down tab, (highlighted in red, above), then select the default microphone input for your PC.

Unlike the output settings, here we'll select the WDM option, so my microphone setting becomes WDM: Microphone (Realtek High Definition).


3/ Now that the mic is connected to VoiceMeeter, the sound output can be configured. Towards the lower left (highlighted in blue), M is mute so make sure you uncheck that.

Uncheck A (highlighted in yellow) so you can't hear yourself on mic immediately through your speakers or headphones, and leave B checked. You will now only hear what is said on mic when it has been streamed (i.e, you'll hear what you say on mic when others hears it).

The area highlighted in red is where the sound output of the mic can be manipulated. Grab the orange square and drag it to different parts of the darker area to see how it affects the mic output. The two most useful areas will likely be the lower right and the lower left.

The position of the orange square shows the setting I chose for my mic. To help demonstrate what VoiceMeeter can do, the first audio clip below shows what my mic usually sounds like, and the second is what my mic sounds like with VoiceMeeter.

Mic without VoiceMeeter


Mic with VoiceMeeter

Connecting VoiceMeeter to Streaming Software


All streaming software will configure VoiceMeeter differently, but the basics will be the same. Essentially you'll need to find where your mic connects to the software and replace it with VoiceMeeter.

The above image shows VoiceMeeter connected to Mixxx. Here is how it was added:

1/ Under Options > Preferences select Sound Hardware.

2/ Towards the bottom of the window click the Input tab.

3/ Under Microphone 1 select VoiceMeeter from the drop down list, then click OK.

After setting it up with your DJ software don't forget to start up VoiceMeeter before you start streaming.

If you need to improve the sound quality of your mic, checking the Window settings will be a good first step. Following that, installing VoiceMeeter should also give your mic a boost, and should help to make using your mic a much better experience for both you and your listeners.
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Monday, 2 October 2017

Adding Text To A Path With Inkscape

By With No comments:

If you need to create a graphic with text that follows a path, Inkscape is a  good choice of software to use. Although the same effect can be achieved with for example Gimp, the results are not always satisfactory as the letters can become distorted. Creating the image in Inkscape avoids this and also allows you to export the finished vector in any size you like without affecting the quality.

To follow this tutorial you'll need some understanding of the layout of Inkscape and its tools, although where convenient to do so these are explained in the hope that following this tutorial is made as easy as possible.

There is also a video version of this tutorial on our YouTube channel.

Adding Text To A Path

1/ Open Inkscape and hit the 5 key on your keyboard so the page fits the workspace.


2/ Select the Ellipse tool, hold down the Ctrl key on your keyboard, and drag your mouse to create a perfect circle.


3/ If the circle is a solid colour, you can remove the fill by selecting the Fill tab to the right of the Inkscape window and hitting the X option.


If removing the fill colour leaves the circle looking completely blank then a stroke colour needs to be added. To do this, hold down Shift and select a colour from the palette to the bottom of the Inkscape window. See image above.



4/ Select the Text tool to the left and type out your text, as in the image above.


5/ Whilst the Text tool is still active, the font style can be selected from the top left of the Inkscape screen (hightlighted in red), and the font size can be selected in the area highlighted in green.

The font size can also be changed by simply selecting the text with the selection tool, grabbing a corner arrow, and dragging it.


6/ Another way of manipulating text is to click on the Text icon from the menu (highlighted in red, above). The panel below will appear to the right of the Inkscape screen.


7/ Using the Text Panel is self explanatory, and the areas where the font and text size can be selected are clearly visible.


8/ With the Selection Tool (the first tool option on the left vertical menu), select the text, then hold down the Shift key and select the circle. Both items should now be selected.


9/ Now select from the top menu, Text > Put on Path and your text will be added to the path of the circle, as in the image above.

Adjusting The Text On The Path

Although the text is on the path of the circle, if the text were to be selected and moved, it would not stay on the path. If we want to position the text where we want it on the path, we will need to follow the steps below.


10/  Select the circle then select Edit > Duplicate. Now hold down  Ctrl+Shift and drag the duplicate circle to the centre of the original. This new circle needs to be very small to mark the centre of the large circle.

Holding down both Ctrl and Shift means the circle will keep the same centre as the original circle. If just Ctrl is held, the new circle will not keep to the first circle's centre.


12/ Click on the text twice so the rotation arrows are visible. They will appear curved at the boundary of the text.


13/ The text will have a crosshair at its centre. Drag it into the small circle we placed at the centre of the larger circle.


14/ The crosshair is now placed at the centre of the circle, so if we now grab one of the text's rotation arrows, the text will follow the path of the circle and we can position it where we want it.

Adding Text To The Interior Path Of The Circle

When we add text to a circular path it will by default be added to the outer path of the circle. However, there is a way to add text to the interior path.

In this example we're going demonstrate how to do this by developing the above image into a basic logo.


15/  First duplicate the circle. then hold down Ctrl+Shift and drag the circle until it just touches the top of the text.


16/ Follow steps 2-13 above so that the text is added to the path of the circle we just created, and the text's crosshair has been placed into the small circle..



17/ Select the text and hold down the Shift key. Now select the circle, then hit the Invert icon on the top menu (highlighted in red above).


18/ The text should move to the interior path of the circle.


19/ When the text moves to the inner path, the crosshair will move away from the centre (highlighted above). Just drag it back to the centre of the circle and the text can then be positioned where you want it with the rotation arrows.

Adjusting The Texts' Spacing



20/ When the text is added to the path its spacing may be affected. To fix this select the text then hold down the Alt key. Now place the cursor between the letters, then use the keyboards' left and right arrow keys to adjust their spacing. Compare the image above to the previous image to see how spacing can make a difference.


21/ Because the text relies on the circles' paths to remain circular we can't delete them. However, they can be hidden. Select one of the circles, then to the right of the Inkscape window select the Stroke Paint tab. Now hit the X option. This won't remove the circle's path, it just removes its colour. Repeat for the other circle.


22/ The tiny circle we used as a guide is no longer needed, so select and delete it.


23/ This is what the text looks like with both circles hidden and the centre guide removed.


24/ To finish off the logo an inner and outer circle have been added to frame the text. In fact these circles were created by duplicating the circles we used as paths, just before they were hidden.

The stroke paths of each circle was increased to around 3px and positioned so there's a space between them and the text.

The image at the top of this page shows how this basic logo has been reworked to make it a little more appealling, and gives some idea how once text has been added to a path it can be further enhanced.

If you found this tutorial useful, you can find us on Facebook and now on our brand new YouTube channel so you can easily find more handy tutorials and info.
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Saturday, 2 September 2017

How To Save A Second Life Music Stream To A Media Player.

By With No comments:

This tutorial came about after following the example of  SL resident Captain A-Jay who listens to Second Life music streams via an external media player, namely the excellent and free VLC. After trying this it became clear that music quality was much improved compared to listening through the SL viewer.

However there was one small problem. If you look at the url of a Second Life stream it is clear its not easy to match it to a DJ, so picking the correct stream in VLC to listen to can be a challenge. Hence the purpose of this tutorial is to show a way to save a stream in VLC so that it has an identifying name.

After this we'll show another way of saving and listening to a Second Life stream by using MusicBee, which is another excellent and free music software package.

If you prefer, you can watch a video of this tutorial on our YouTube channel. Take a look and give us a subscribe.

Copying A Stream Url From Second Life

Before you can listen to a Second Life music stream in a media player you need the stream url. To get it follow these steps.


1/ Assuming you're already at the location where the stream is playing click on the 'i' icon at the beginning of the location address at the top of the viewer. This will open the Place Profile window, shown above.


2/ Click on the About Land button and the above window will open. Select the Sound tab. Drag your cursor over the music url, right click and select Copy from the drop down list. Keep it somewhere safe as we'll need it later.

Some locations in Second Life won't allow visitors to copy the music url, in which case you can ask the DJ if he can share the stream url with you. Most DJs will be happy to do this, although it may be a good idea to tell them why you want it.

Adding The Music Url To VLC


1/ In VLC select Media > Open Network Stream as in the image above.


2/ In the window that opens paste the music url from Second Life. Then hit the Play button.


3/ Now select Media> Save Playlist to File.


4/ Navigate to where you want to save the playlist file then give it an identifying name. The playlist is of course the music url from Second Life so I've named it after the DJ. Now click Save.


5/ To start playing the stream in VLC select Media > Open file, and if necassary navigate to the folder with the file you just saved. Double click on the file to open and listen to it in VLC.
 
Alternatively, go directly to the folder and double click on the file. This will open the it in VLC, and so long as the DJ is streaming, you'll be able to listen to them.

MusicBee

Another easy way to save and play Second Life streams is to use MusicBee. Like VLC, MusicBee is an excellent media player, but it is much more than that. You can use it to sort your music files into playlists, organise them by genre, and basically use it as a database to manage and play all of your music.

Unlike VLC which can also play movie files, MusicBee is focused entirely on music including internet radio stations, and it is this feature that can be used to add and name music streams from Second Life. Follow these steps to do just that.



1/ MusicBee is quite complex with many different looks and ways to configure it, so when you first start it up, it may look different than above. Don't worry about that though, just click on the Radio tab near the top of the window.


2/ Now click on Radio towards the top left and from the drop down menu select New Station.


3/ The small window shown above will open where you can add the stream details, the most important of course being the url and an identifying name. As you can see I have also added an image for the stream and I've called the genre Second Life so I know its the stream of an SL DJ.

Click Save, and the stream has been added to MusicBee.


4/ The above image shows the music stream and name. If more url streams were added they would form a list. To select a stream simply double click on it. Once you're connected, details of the current song and (quite often) a related image will be shown to the right.

Thats all there is to adding streams from Second Life to either VLC or MusicBee. Have fun trying out both and see which you prefer. 
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Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Adding Multiple Landmarks To A Second Life Image With Gimp

By With No comments:
Happy Hippo Building School SL-Inspiration YouTube Channel Ivory Tower Library Of prims Linden Dept of Public Works Portal Park

This is an update to an older SL-Inspiration tutorial called Adding Multiple Slurls To A Second Life Map, and is intended to accompany the video tutorial on the SL-Inspiration YouTube Channel. The information here is added to support the video, and to show a working demonstration of how the landmarks added to the image work.

To try out a landmark, click on a section of the image above. Each section is clearly labelled with the name of the Second Life destination. If you are already logged into Second Life clicking on a landmark will open the Places Profile window for the destination. If you are not logged in, clicking on a landmark will open your viewer.

Try out the above landmarks then consider how something similar might work for visitors to your blog or website. How to set this up is shown in the video tutorial which you can see here.

If you find the tutorial on YouTube useful, help us by liking it and subscribing to our brand new channel. Your support means a lot and will help us to keep producing video tutorials, as well as more posts here on the blog.

About The Landmarks

The information below describes the landmarks added to the image above and is taken from the Second Life destination guide.

Happy Hippo Building School

The Happy Hippo Building School is a long-term, well-respected and large school. The instructors provide a building course to take you from absolute beginner onward.

Ivory Tower Library of Primitives

This self-guided, self-paced, comprehensive building tutorial also includes a weapons testing area and safe sandboxes where you can try out your newly-acquired skills.

Linden Department of Public Works

Meauxle Bureaux is the home of the Linden Department of Public Works, a program focused on improvements related to the experience of living in and visiting the Linden Mainland. This intricate build was lovingly crafted by resident experts for all to enjoy, so come see the ultimate in shared creative spaces!

Portal Park

The Portal Park is your launching pad to several great experiences in Second Life. Start here for easy access portals that will teleport you to Winter Wonderland, The Cornfield, The Wilderness, Linden Realms and more!
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Wednesday, 31 May 2017

HTML5 Advertising Banners in Second Life

By With No comments:

If you have a club or plan to hold an event in Second Life, creating an in-world advertisement  can be a major boost to getting people's attention. One eye catching possibility is to use animated images, and one of the smartest ways to do this is to use HTML5 advertising banners.

HTML5 advertising banners work in Second Life as media on a prim which means they won't lag the land they are rezzed on. The images load smoothly and appear in good quality, and an added bonus is the ads can also be displayed on yours and friends' blogs, increasing your reach exponentially. If the ad is added on a website a link can be included, (hover your cursor over the ad to the right and you'll see the link address to the bottom of your browser).

The image below shows two HTML5 adverts rezzed in the SL-Inspiration location in world, and although they can't show the animation, the advert in the sidebar here gives some idea of the quality.


Invitations

Another popular way of drawing attention to an event in Second Life is to send invitations to friends and group members, and using animated HTML5 images is a unique way of doing this. One thing to remember however is that the item will need to consist of two prims; one for the animation and another to contain any information such as notecards and landmarks etc you might want to share with the recipients. (You will also need to include a 'give all' script for this).

The reason a minimum of two prims is needed is because the prim displaying the media won't also offer items from its contents, so another prim is needed for this.

Downsides

So....are there any downsides to using HTML5 animations to advertise in Second Life? The one small disadvantage is that the prim face may momentarily appear blank as the media loads. Although this can't entirely be avoided, adding a conventional image to the prim face helps a lot. Apart from this the system works extremely well.

To see how HTML5 ads work on a prim you can go along to the SL-Inspiration office in Second Life to collect a copy of an advert, and see how it looks. If you hit the 'click here' area you'll be offered a folder with a copy of the banner ad so you can see how yours will look to someone recieving it as an invitation.

If you would like to use your own HTML5 banner ads in Second Life but are wondering how to do this, get in touch here and we can discuss what you have in mind, and what SL-Inspiration can create for you. 
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Sunday, 21 May 2017

How To Add Meta Tags To Blogger

By With No comments:

Adding meta tags is an essential part of optimizing a blog for search engines, and therefore improving website traffic. The meta tags or (meta data) won't be visible to your readers as they're added to the Blogger template, but having them in place is important for the success of your blog.

There are three types of meta data; description, keywords and author. Whilst the description is most important adding all three types is pretty much the same process and can be done at the same time.

Since adding meta tags will involve editing the blog template, before starting download a backup just to be safe.


1/  First go the the dashboard of your blog and click the theme option (see above image).


2/ Hit the Edit HTML button to view the blog template.

3/ Now copy the meta data tags below:


4/ Near the top of the blog template in the header section there should already be a line of text similar to the first line above. delete that code and paste the above in its place.


5/ In the first line of the meta data (underlined in red above), replace 'Your description here' naturally enough with a description of the blog. Try to add something that summarises the blog well because it will appear as a fragment in search results and in Facebook and Google+ etc.

6/ In the keywords section, (underlined in green), replace 'Your keywords here' with the words that cover the subjects of the blog. It is important to remember not to add the keywords in the description section because search engines might block the blog as it could be considered spamming.

7/  In the section underlined in blue replace 'Admin' with your name. Adding your name to the meta data  is entirely a matter of choice, but it does help if you'd like it to appear in search results.

8/ Now hit the Save button on the template page and the meta data will be added to your blog, and with luck search engine results should be greatly improved.
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