How to Make a GIF

A GIF, pronounced jif with a soft g, is a moving picture. It’s not a video, just a series of moving pictures, even if the source is a short video.  That’s why a GIF can look fairly jerky. This jerkiness seems to add an entertainment factor, since a GIF is usually supposed to be funny. GIFS almost always record silly things that people or animals have done. There is no sound involved so the file size is usually quite small, depending on the size of the images.

There are several ways you can make your own GIF but we’ve found an easy and simple way to do it with the help of a website. Ezgif.com will take your short video or series of photos and create a GIF that you can then download to your computer. Here’s an example of a GIF that we made from a video that we recorded last weekend:

Gif of NASCAR trip
This might take a moment to load but it’s funny.

We’re not sure what’s happening here but it’s quite hilarious. Here’s how we did it, step by step. You don’t have to go through all of the hoops that we did but the principles are the same.

1. Your video can be from your mobile device, your PVR (as it was for us), your digital camera, anything that creates a small movie. You can also make a GIF out of a series of photos. In order to do that, your photos have to be taken over a short period of time and show the same object(s) in motion. The objects could move or you could take several photos as you move around the item.

2. Find the video or series of photos on your computer. It’s easier to copy and paste them onto your desktop. This makes uploading them to the site much easier.

3. Head over to Ezgif.com . At the top of the page you’ll see the following:

Photo of EXGIF site
GIF Maker or Video to GIF is what you’re looking for.

 

4. If you have a series of photos, click on GIF Maker. For a short video, click on Video to GIF.

5. The tools are all on site. We can’t explain everything that’s there but the principle is basically the same as the tools in Instagram, for instance. Upload your material, change it and arrange it so it looks good to you, then download the finished GIF to your computer.

6. Once it’s on your computer you can share it on various social media sites or email it to friends. About the only thing you can’t do is post it on Facebook. Renren, the Chinese equivalent (more or less) to Facebook is loaded with GIFs. We’re not sure exactly why Facebook doesn’t allow GIFs but they don’t.

7. Our process was substantially more complicated . We’ll run through what we did, just in case you find yourself in the same situation.

We like NASCAR and record every race we can, just in case there’s an interesting bit of action that we’d like to preserve or archive. We saw the stumbling man and thought it would make a perfect GIF.

Our PVR records in an unusual HD file format. We wanted to cut the funny bit out of a much longer video file, something we usually do in Windows Movie Maker, but the original file wouldn’t work in WMM. Using Handbrake, we changed the .ts file into an MP4, a file that would work with WMM. That process took a while since the .ts file was six gigabytes in size. Once we had the MP4 file, we opened it with WMM and cut out the short section we needed and saved it.

Next we uploaded the small MP4 file to Ezgif.com and took some time sorting out all of the various settings. You can change the size, the number of frames as well as adding a filter, very much like Instagram. Once we had our GIF the way we wanted it, we downloaded it to our computer.

We’ve given you the basics of GIF creation. If you have problems, feel free to ask us for help. Comments and questions are welcome but  Likes on our Facebook page get immediate attention.  Here’s the link: Computers Made Simple on Facebook .

Thanks for reading!

Windows 8 and Nexus 5 – Here’s how to make the hookup

It’s frustrating when you plug in your Nexus 5 to a Windows 8.1 PC and nothing happens. Windows doesn’t see your Nexus 5 at all, it seems. Here’s the solution:

1. Put simply, Windows uses the wrong driver for your Nexus 5. For some reason, Windows assumes the phone is an Acer so it uses an Acer driver.  Your Nexus 5 requires an MTP driver in order for Windows to recognize it as a storage device.

2. Make sure your Nexus 5 is set to connect via USB to a computer as a storage device, not a camera. Follow the steps: Settings then Storage then up to the top and press the three dots on the top right and choose: USB connection. Make sure that the top one, Media device, is checked.

3. Connect your Nexus 5 to your PC via the supplied USB cable.

4. If, by chance, your PC sees the Nexus as a storage device, Windows File Explorer will open. If not, and this is normal, it will see your Nexus 5 as a media player only. Open your Control Panel. (Either search for it using the icon on the top right or look for Control Panel on the Windows 8 app screen.)

5. Once your Control Panel is open, click on View devices. Look for your Nexus 5. It will look like this:

Photo of something
Looks like a simple MP3 player, right?

6. Right click the icon and choose Properties.

7. Click on the Hardware tab at the top and choose Properties again.

Nexus 5 MTP Connection 2
Get to Hardware then click Properties.

8. Click Change Settings on the next screen.

Nexus 5 MTP Connection 3
Change Settings is what you want next.

9. Choose the Driver tab at the top.

10. Choose Update Driver.

Nexus 5 MTP Connection 4
Update Driver now.

11. Choose ‘Browse my computer for driver software’.

Nexus 5 MTP Connection 5
Browse my computer is next.

12. Choose ‘Let me pick from a list….’.

Nexus 5 MTP Connection 6
Let me pick…

13, Choose MTP USB Device and click OK all the way back out.

Nexus 5 MTP Connection 7
The MTP driver should already be installed in Windows so choose it.

14, Open Windows File Explorer if a file window doesn’t immediately open and look for your Nexus 5 on the left side.

Nexus 5 MTP Connection 8
Your Nexus 5 should show up on the left side of your File Explorer. Double click it to see the files.

15 Double click it to view its files.

You should only have to do this once but the settings may not take the first time. Alternatively, your PC may ask you to reboot. Do that and attach your Nexus 5 after it’s finished booting. You should be able to see the Nexus as a storage device.

That’s it for today, thanks for reading! Comments and questions are welcome but  Likes on our Facebook page get immediate attention.  Here’s the link: Computers Made Simple on Facebook .

Chrome – Save complete sessions

If you want to save your current browsing session in Chrome, here’s how you can do it. Let’s say you have ten tabs open and Windows decides that it wants to restart and update itself. Grrrrr, right? Fear not, here’s how to recover that session after the reboot.

1. On the top of any Chrome tab is your bookmark bar. It’s right above the page that you’re currently on, look for a star and the word Booksmarks on the top left. Here’s where you can save your most popular bookmarks, the ones you use most often.

2. We’re going to add a folder to that Bookmark bar. Right click it and choose Add folder. Name that folder something like ‘Current Session’. Click Save.

Photo of bookmark bar.
Right click the bookmark bar and choose New folder.
Photo of Session Folder 2
Type the name you want in the space shown.

 

3. Your new folder will show up on the Bookmarks bar, ready to save your current sessions. A session is a group of tabs that you have open all at once.

Photo of Session Folder
This is the folder where your session(s) will be stored.

NOTE: If you have two windows open, each with separate tabs, you must make a folder for EACH window. The session folder on one window will NOT save the tabs on the other window.

4. When you want to save all of the tabs in your current session, right click any one of the tabs and choose Bookmark all tabs.

Photo of Bookmark All Tabs
Right click on a tab and choose Bookmark all tabs.

5. There are two ways to do the next step. If you don’t want to keep your sessions organized, simply choose the folder you made in step 2 and click Save. In your session folder, Chrome will save all of your current tabs in a new folder. You can have as many new folders in your session folder as you can handle.

Photo of Bookmark New Folder
Each New folder will contain a session. If you specify a date, it will be easier for you.

6. If you want to organize your sessions by date, change the words New Folder (the ones in blue at the top) to today’s date. Then click Save.

7. Now, if you want to go back to a certain date’s tabs, click the session folder, choose the date you want and then right click it. Choose Open all bookmarks.

Photo of Open All Tabs
Right click the appropriate folder and choose Open all tabs.

 

If you missed a step, go back and redo the whole thing. If you have questions, make a comment below.

That’s it for today, thanks for reading! Comments and questions are welcome but  Likes on our Facebook page get immediate attention.  Here’s the link: Computers Made Simple on Facebook .

Facebook – Disable video autoplay on mobile devices

If your data plan keeps you on a short leash as far as usage goes, a Facebook video that plays automatically can ruin your day. Here’s how to prevent the video from playing by itself as soon as it shows on your screen.

1. These instructions are for Android devices. They may work for iOS (Apple) devices as well but the steps may not be exactly the same.

2. Once you’re in Facebook, look for the three horizontal lines at the top of any screen. Touch them. This is what you’re looking for :

Photo of Facebook screen 1
Look for the three lines on the top right. Touch that icon.

3. On the screen that shows up next, look for App Settings. Touch that :

Photo of Facebook App Settings
App Settings is what you want.

4. Now you’ll have to scroll down from this screen. The setting you want is below this one:

Photo of Facebook Mobile Settings
Scroll down. The one you want is below this screen.

5. At this point, Video Auto-play is on. It’s on by default:

Photo of video auto-play
This is the one you want. Press Video Auto-play.

6. Press Video Auto-play to get this screen:

Photo of Video Auto-play off
We’d suggest setting this to Off.

7. There is no reason that we can think of to have auto-play on, no matter if you’re on Wi-fi or not. We think you should set it to Off:

Photo of Video Auto-play in the off position.
Video Auto-play is off. Yay!

That’s it. Now your data usage will be a lot less, depending on how many videos your friends post on Facebook.

TIP: We installed Facebook on our Nexus 5 just for this one post. Please remember that Facebook has access to everything on your phone; your contacts, your text messages…everything. While Facebook tells you that this is all very secure, you have to ask yourself if it really is. We’d suggest that you delete Facebook from your mobile device. Once we did these screen caps, we did just that.

That’s it for today, thanks for reading! Comments and questions are welcome but  Likes on our Facebook page get immediate attention.  Here’s the link: Computers Made Simple on Facebook .

a little bit of hi-tech, a little bit of common sense and a lot of fun