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Thursday 17th August 2017

[Top]

Bootstrap Conversion

One thing I've been doing this year, since about April is working on implementing Bootstrap into the site.  I have been fortunate enough to use this at work in the past and thought that some areas of the site (apart from the forum) could do with modifying.

For those that don't know, Bootstrap was developed by Twitter and at the most basic level is essentially an elaborate stylesheet and script.  With it you can layout pages on your site by dividing content into rows where each row can have up to 12 columns.  It allows the content of the page to adapt based on the screen or window size the user is using.  For example on a large high resolution screen, content will appear side by side but on a mobile device will automatically become stacked so that all content is still visible without having to scroll sideways.  It also adds visual effects to form elements such as text boxes.

So far I have converted the following sections: Application Launcher, Articles, Blog2k and am currently working on HTML, which is in desperate need of a revamp.  The Application Launcher Contact page shows the aforementioned form effects.  I am also increasing the overall font size so that it is more readable on more devices.

See below's entry for my video guide on Bootstrap!

 

Thursday 10th August 2017

[Top]

Multiple Microphone Mishaps

As you probably know, I am a YouTuber and have been for a few years.  When I record myself speaking in my videos, it is done in one of three ways - using my iPhone, my camcorder or directly on to my computer.  Up until last October, I had an ageing gaming laptop, the monstrous Dell XPS M1730 running Windows Vista.

Dell XPS M1730
Dell XPS M1730
Dell XPS M1730
Dell XPS M1730

It developed multiple problems over the years and eventually died, which was fine because I had owned it for seven years and the HDD was still good so I hadn't lost any data since my last backup.  The above photos were used on eBay for when I sold it (as not working of course).  I needed to replace it and decided to go back to a desktop.  The reasons for this is that the laptop was so big and heavy that it rarely moved from its position in the office so I did not think I needed a laptop again and also you tend to get more for your money with desktops.

It was quite impractical to move due to its weight (nearly 5 kg (around 11 lbs) and not to mention the size and weight of the power supply) and next to non-existent battery life.  When not plugged in, the performance reduced noticeably and the screen darkened meaning having to turn up the brightness reducing the battery life even further.  It was designed as a machine that needed to be used plugged in and was in laptop form simply so it could be moved from one place to another more easily than moving a desktop computer with separate monitor, etc.  I had some good times with it but I think it expired at the right time.  It was not great at playing most modern games with its GeForce 8700M GT video card, even with SLI.  For example, I could hardly play Grand Theft Auto IV without having to disable most graphics options.

The desktop I bought was not new - I found it on Gumtree for around £120.  A bit risky I know but it's lasted about 10 months so far and apart from a noisy case fan when cold, has nothing wrong with it.  The main problem with it is the lack of an SSD, but I'm getting by with the HDD it has.  The video card is an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti, which although not great by today's standards, is many times faster than the laptop's one.  Although I am thinking of upgrading it to something like a GTX 1050 Ti one day.  I even bought a BenQ RL2755HM 27 inch Gaming Monitor, which has a very fast response time is great for gaming as the name suggests.

Anyway the main point is that as a desktop, it doesn't have an integrated microphone, which means I needed to get an external one.  There are two options - analogue or USB.  I had an old Creative analogue one, which I tried but for some reason, there was a lot of background hissing - so much so that it was unusable.  I then borrowed a couple of other ones from someone and the same thing happened.  This was with both the front and rear jacks.  I also remember that it seemed to only be on one channel too, which is obviously not ideal.

USB was the next thing to try.  I had next to no budget at the time so bought a new cheap unbranded one from eBay for £3.99.  This actually sounded very loud and clear but literally after about 10 minutes it just stopped working and the only sound it made was static.  I opened it up (in the vain hope of trying to fix it) and components had actually fallen off the circuit board.  The lesson here is never buy the cheapest thing you come across.  Luckily I got a refund and so decided to spend a little more.

I looked on Amazon for a while and eventually and found the "Tonor USB Professional Condenser Sound Podcast Studio Microphone For PC Laptop Computer Upgraded Version - Plug and play, Black".

Tonor USB Professional Condenser Sound Podcast Studio Microphone For PC Laptop Computer Upgraded Version - Plug and play black
Tonor USB Professional Condenser Sound Podcast Studio Microphone For PC Laptop Computer Upgraded Version - Plug and play black

I thought it was a good buy as it was reduced from £39.99 to £11.99 (as is still the case when writing this).  It has mixed reviews but is overall a good quality piece of kit and has a decent cable length.  However annoyingly and inexplicably, it seems to be much quieter than the previous one.  In desperation, since I had a video I wanted to make, I searched the web for a few hours to see if there was anything that could be done as I didn't want the hassle of returning it.  Then I stumbled upon this YouTube video by a user known as Tech It Out.

Basically you have to install two pieces of software - Equaliser APO and Peace for APO and this will allow you to boost the volume of your microphone beyond what Windows 10 offers in the Recording sound settings.  I really don't know why you cannot already do this in Windows as it seems to be a common complaint with many USB microphones (in fact you will see a comment on this video from me to this effect!).

Finally I was able to finish the video I had planned for a while and the result is below:

 


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Martin Allen 1999 - 2017.  Last updated Thursday 17 August 2017 10:58:42 PM.
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