Videoblogging takes advantage of some of the latest technology. That technology, in turn, builds on features in the latest versions of the Windows XP and Mac OS X operating systems. Upgrading software is a little like building a pyramid. We'll start at the baseupdating the operating systems first, then working our way up.
To get started, your PC will need to be running Windows XP Service Pack 2. If your PC was built sometime in this millennium, odds are it has some version of XP. If you're unsure, check by going to My Computer and choosing View system information from under System Tasks (Figure 1.1). The window that opens up will list your system version. (Can't find it? Your PC may date from the Dark Ages. Try clicking on My Computer, then choose the About Windows item under the Help menu to get info about your elderly version of Windows.)
Figure 1.1. Windows System Properties displays your PC's current system version.
If the system information says you have something other than Windows XP installed (Windows 98 or Windows ME, for example), you'll need to upgrade to Windows XP in order to accomplish the things we'll show you in this book. If you have Windows XP Service Pack 1 installed, run the system updater to install Service Pack 2. You can automatically download and install the Service Pack 2 update by choosing Windows Update from the Start Menu (Figure 1.2). This will give you all of the latest security patches, the most recent version of Windows Movie Maker for editing video, and Windows Media Player for watching video.
Figure 1.2. Windows Update will automatically find and download all the updates available for your computer.
If you have a Mac, it will need OS X 10.4 or later. Any new Mac purchased in the last year should have included 10.4. You can check the version by choosing About This Mac from the Apple menu. If your Mac has 10.4, you can update to the latest version (10.4.4 at the time of this writing) by choosing Software Update from the Apple menu (Figure 1.3). This will give you all of the current security updates and bug fixes.
Figure 1.3. You can run Software Update anytime by selecting it through the Apple menu.
The information in this book is written for Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Mac OS X 10.4. If your computer is using Windows XP with Service Pack 1 or Mac OS 10.3 or any older operating system, you will not be able to follow some of the instructions outlined in this book.
There are a lot of Web browsers available nowadays. For videobloggers, and an increasing number of general Internet users, the browser most loved is Mozilla's Firefox (Figure 1.4). There are two main reasons why we recommend Firefox for videoblogging. Internet Explorer on a PC ignores the fast-start feature of QuickTime movies when they are not embedded in a Web page. So when you try to watch someone's QuickTime video (and there are a lot of those), you will probably have to wait for the entire thing to download before you can see it. Safari on a Mac has almost the same feature set as Firefox, but there is one important problem. When you use Blogger (a blog-hosting service and a big part of this book) with Safari, you lose most of the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) tools for editing your vlog, adding links, and formatting text without using HTML code.
Figure 1.4. Firefox has some cool features that Internet Explorer doesn't have yet, including tabbed browsing, integrated searching, and a popup blocker.
You can certainly view other videoblogs and create your own videoblog while using Internet Explorer and Safari, but Firefox will make your life as a vlogger much easier. Give it a try. You can download the latest version of Firefox for free at www.mozilla.com.
Do you have bookmarks you don't want to lose when switching to Firefox? Firefox's Import Wizard will copy existing settings from Internet Explorer. It imports Favorites, options, cookies, stored passwords, and more. You can access the Import Wizard on installation or later by choosing File > Import.
The three main formats for viewing videos are Windows Media, QuickTime, and Flash. Luckily, there are free Mac and PC versions of all of these players. Since you'll want to watch all kinds of videoblogs, it's important to have the most up-to-date versions.
Once downloading is complete, double-click each icon to install the new software updates.