Playing with MSR Cliplets

Cliplets is nifty, free tool from MSR that allows you to take a video and turn it into what appears to be a still photo. If you have the right scene, it results can be surprising and delightful.

Here’s my first go, say hi to Finney.

FinneyCliplet1

The picture above looks like a still photo, but then Finney pricks up his ear. It’s not a video, it’s an animated gif created with Cliplets.

About a year ago Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg made a splash by hand stitching images together to create moving still photos they called “cinemagraphs”. For an example of this technique done really well, check out a blog post from the Washington Post: Cinemagraphs: What it looks like when a photo moves.

Creating their cinemagraphs probably took Beck and Burg many hours of painstaking work in Photoshop. I don’t have that kind of time or patience. Fortunately, Microsoft Research Cliplets makes creating one of these still images quite simple. The UI is fairly intuitive, but there are a few things that need a little explaining. The best way to learn the features is to watch the short tutorials on the Cliplets page.

It’s worth noting, in order to produce a quality image you really do need good source material. The video I used for the picture of Finney was shot on my cellphone camera. The camera does shoot in 720p, but even so, the dark areas are grainy and parts of the video were blurry and couldn’t be used.

You know all those times you mistakenly had your camera set to video instead of picture? Time to go back and have some fun with those pictures.

Launch your web browser as another user

In SharePoint 2013 there is no longer a quickie menu choice to allow you to indulge your alter ego. I’ll let others go into depth on why it went a way, but I wanted to share a quick tip for how to be another user when you need to test your SharePoint install: create a desktop shortcut to launch your browser with the runas CL argument.

image

New identity, no waiting

When you created your new SharePoint installation you probably gave yourself Epic Guru level access (it may be called Farm Admin in your version). This is good, it allows you to get tons done. It doesn’t, however, allow you to verify you’ve adequately secured the CEO’s Beanie Baby picture collection, or pretend to be an adoring fan posting to your My Site news feed. To do that, you need to be someone else.

For my example I’m going to use Internet Explorer, because I’m an unapologetic company man. You should feel free to swap in your browser of choice… like Netscape or Lynx.

  1. Create a shortcut to your favorite browser. In Windows I did this by navigating to C:\Program Files (x86)\Internet Explorer and dragging iexplore.exe to the desktop (by default this creates a shortcut).
  2. Right click your new shortcut and select “Properties”
  3. Modify the shortcut target by adding runas and the desired user account to the beginning of the path. Change the target to (replace user@domain with your test acct):
          %systemroot%\System32\runas.exe /user:user@domain "%ProgramFiles(x86)%\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe"
  4. Click OK to save changes.

image

(Note: if you’re not running 64bit windows, the target should be: %systemroot%\System32\runas.exe /user:user@domain "%ProgramFiles%\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe")

Double-click your new shortcut and you’ll get a prompt to enter a password. You won’t see anything on the screen as you type, so just go on faith. Type your pw and hit enter.

A little extra for style points

Because I can never leave well enough alone, I had the need to soup up my shortcut (I’m way to old to say “pimp my shortcut”… but you know I was thinking it). The icon of the runas.exe shortcut is boring. I need an icon that screams “I’m a browser shortcut!”

Once again, right-click the shortcut and select properties. Click the change icon button. I went for the globe with a mouse on top.

image Just because I want to customize it, don’t assume I have any imagination.

Finally, give yourself a reminder that you’re someone else. Double-click your shortcut to launch the browser. When your browser comes up, enable the favorites bar (in IE, right-click the title bar and choose favorites bar). Bookmark a site (any site will do) and add it to the favorites bar. Right click your new favorite and rename it to the user name of the special account.

image  Must remember to put on the glasses…

Instant split-personality. Let me know how it works out for you!