Graphics for the web: Animated GIF FormatWritten by Richard Lowe
Oh, so you've seen cool websites with animations moving all over place? You've seen balls bouncing, finger's pointing, women dancing and lots of other pictures moving on screen while you surf. And now you want to make your own homepage or website come alive and move!
Cool. What you want is animated GIFs. A GIF is an image format which supports extremely good compression and looks very clear and sharp. In 1989, a standards committee added ability to include multiple frames (images) within a single GIF file. This standard became known as GIF89a. It's incredibly powerful as you can create some awesome effects without learning curve associated with Java or Dynamic HTML. In addition, virtually all browsers support GIFs in all forms, while Java and Dynamic HTML support is sometimes lacking or turned of by user (animation can also be turned off by user, but at least unanimated version shows up in that case).
A good product to get if you want to do animation in this manner is Ulead's GIF Animator. Another excellent animation tool is Animation Shop from Jasc (the same folks who sell Paint Shop Pro). These products are both inexpensive and easy to use.
There are also many collections of animated GIFs available all over place if you are not up to task of creating your own, or if you just want to give a cool beating heart or something like that.
STREAMING MEDIA - Leveling the Playing Field for Small Business - Part IIWritten by Don Rhodes
In part I of this series, I discussed streaming audio which is most mature of streaming techniques. (If you missed it, see http://www.wbcimaging.com/articles/audio_articles.htm). Just as surely as television followed radio, rapid advancement of Internet technology now makes it possible to add high resolution images to your audio presentations on web; they can even be designed to that your images change with audio cues.
Let's backtrack for just a moment. Until recently, only way to change images on a web site was by using meta refresh tags or employing a Java applet. The meta refresh tag's reliability is highly dependent on connection speed, and Java applet is very picky when it comes to choosing browser with which it likes to work. And, more importantly, neither one of these can handle audio. Now, however, by using technology developed by RealNetworks, any number of images can be added to your audio presentations and streamed from your site. Visitors to your site are now able to view high resolution, quality pictures while enjoying near CD quality sound. Best of all, it streams smoothly over a 28.8 connection.
I have to issue a word of caution here. Don't confuse streaming slides with streaming video. There is a big difference! (Streaming video will be topic of Part III of this series.) Streaming slides consist of still images that can change over time or in sync with an audio script. You can utilize existing photos, graphic images, and quality line art for your slide show. (Most encoding companies will also be able to supply television type still graphics at a very low cost if you need assistance in that regard.) Due to flexibility of streaming slides, your sales presentations take on a whole new look and give your web site personality.
You can now show your products in an entirely different light. Instead of trying to describe unique and/or desirable features with only text or audio, you can actually zero in on those important selling points with pictures! (The old adage "A picture is worth a thousand words" takes on new meaning on Internet.) Prospective buyers can now more closely examine products that are usually difficult to sell over web, due to desire of consumers to "touch and feel." This adds a great deal of credibility to your sales pitch and to your web based business. (Items like antiques, furniture, sporting goods, and apparel fall easily into this category.)