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Videos arrive on your screen with a wide variety of extensions, and it can be confusing to keep what they all mean straight. You can use this guide to get a handle on popular video container formats and compression codecs.

What’s a video container?

A video container format, like any other digital container format, is essentially a digital wrapper for your content. They’re easy to distinguish because they determine the extension of your video file. Popular container formats include MP4 (.mp4), AVI (.avi), QuickTime (.mov) and Matroska (.mkv).

The different container formats all have different strengths and weaknesses, with certain formats preferred by certain content providers. Not all containers support all compression standards or allow for secondary features like subtitles and chapters. The container itself doesn’t effect the quality of the video directly, but it can limit the compression codecs available for use.

If you’re choosing a container format to use for an encoded video, you’ll want to pick one that has the right mix of supported compression codecs and features.

Popular container formats

Matroska (.mkv): The Matroska format is one of the most flexible container formats available, but it’s not widely supported. It can hold just about anything and supports a full range of subtitle, chapter and audio options. However, encoding and playback requires the installation of third-party utilities like MakeMKV and VLC. It’s also freely licensed, avoiding the patent-encumbered status of most container formats.

MP4 (.mp4): MP4s are widely supported and flexible and might be the best all-purpose container format for current usage. They’re not as infinitely flexible as .mkv files, but they support the majority of modern-day codecs and include options for streaming, chapters, subtitles and more. MP4 files are natively supported by nearly every modern device.

QuickTime (.mov): Apple’s proprietary QuickTime format is the choice for professional video, supporting a huge range of high-quality codecs for the highest-fidelity content delivery. QuickTime files can be played back in Microsoft’s Media Player and are supported by many non-Apple devices.

AVI (.avi): The AVI format is likely the worst on this list. It doesn’t support chapters, captions or subtitles by default, and it can’t support menus or streaming. Even players that support AVI playback typically break when seeking through a video. However, AVIs are extremely flexible, accommodating just about any video codec that exists. This once made it a key choice for heavily-compressed videos, but it has since been supplanted by Matroska’s superior implementation and flexibility.

You can see more comparisons on other video container formats on the Wikipedia page devoted to the topic.

Popular compression codecs

Compression codecs are the algorithms used to compress digital video for distribution. Unlikely container formats, they’re essentially invisible to the viewer. There are dozens in existence, but only a handful are widely used.

H.264/MPEG-4 AVC: While H.264 might be the most popular modern codec, its days are numbered. It’s a powerful compression codec designed specifically for digital HD video, achieving a good mix of quality of space savings. H.264 playback is nearly universally supported, from DSLR video to embedded playback. However, the steady move towards higher-resolution video means that H.264 won’t be around for much longer.

H.265/HEVC: Unlike it’s predecessor, H.264, the H.265 codec can handle video up to 8K UHD. This modern successor to H.264 also compresses video twice as efficiently, with files of the same visual quality using up about half as much disk space. It’s not yet supported on every device, but its popularity will continue to grow in the years to come.

WMV: Microsoft’s proprietary WMV format has drawn some flack over the years for its association with broken digital rights management implementations. It’s a custom implementation of the MPEG-4 Part 2 standard and is supported almost exclusively by Microsoft software. It’s fallen out of use in favor of more broadly-usable compression codecs.

MPEG-2: The ancient MPEG-2 codec was originally created for DVDs, and its age shows. It should only be used for legacy hardware compatibility or when mastering DVDs specifically.

Pro-Res: This professional-grade codec is used for sharing high-resolution footage with minimal degradation, and it’s best suited for content delivery by multimedia professionals.


If you need to choose a video container and compression codec, a combination of MP4 container and H.264 codec will probably be the best choice. It’s flexible and broadly playable, making it a great fit for delivery to unknown devices. But if you work with higher-resolution video, you’ll want to further investigate the H.265 standard.

Alexander Fox

Alexander Fox is a tech and science writer based in Philadelphia, PA with one cat, three Macs and more USB cables than he could ever use.

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How To Improve Your Video Calls’ Quality

Quarantines and lockdowns all around the globe have us working online and relying on video conferences and virtual meetings to get most work done. Sitting in front of a webcam for hours is now the new norm, with apps such as Zoom, Skype, etc., having taken over most of our daily lives. Many are now wondering how to improve the quality of their video calls and to look as good on the Internet as they do in real life. Whether you’re a student wanting to improve your online classroom video calls or a businessman wanting to look good on camera, these tips will help you improve your video calls’ quality.


The most important factor for any video, be it a casual or professional one, is the lighting. In a video call you need to make sure your face is well-lit. If you’re sitting in front of a window or in front of a light source, your face will be back-lit, meaning that your face will be dark and the background/surroundings will be completely white.

However, if you keep the natural light coming from a window ahead of you and position yourself in front of a light source, your face and features will be much more complemented – you can see the difference below for yourself:

Try to position yourself near a light source. The best option for this is a window with natural light coming in, but any other lamp/light source will work. I personally like to place a video call from my laptop sitting in front of my monitor – the soft, white light from my monitor helps improve the quality of my video calls.

Make sure whichever light source you choose is either positioned at an angle directly in front of you or above you. If you place a light source at a lower position, your video call may look like a horror movie.


Another very important factor to keep in mind is the background you’re displaying to the people on the other end on the call. It’s better to have a plain clean background. Having a background cluttered with things can really distract others. This may not be an issue if it’s a personal call, but if you’re in a business meeting or taking an online class, you should convey that in your background.

Camera Angle

We discussed having the correct lighting angle for your video call, and having a correct camera angle is just as important. A camera should always be placed at eye-level or slightly above that. This will be the norm for those working on a table, but if calling from another place, make sure you set the angle properly. You don’t want to position your camera so high that you need to look above it, nor do you want to place it so low that everyone can see the inside of nostrils, or your double-chin. Always keep the camera at eye level.

Internet Connection

With any online important activity, having a good Internet connection is crucial to making an online video call. Have at least a 1 to 2 Mbps connection, otherwise you may encounter frequent lag and may not be able to see/hear/understand the other person. We also recommend doing a trial run before joining an actual meeting. Have a backup network and backup equipment nearby to use in the event something goes wrong. (Yes, things always go wrong when you least expect them to.)

Eye Contact, Posture and Attitude

As in any conversation, eye contact, posture and attitude make an instrumental difference in a video call. When talking to someone, make sure you are looking directly into the camera instead of onto your own face on the screen. We recommend just checking your own image once before the call and then closing it altogether, as it can be a distraction for many. Looking directly at the camera makes people feel you are looking directly at them and lets them see you as trustworthy and confident.

Similarly, posture and attitude are of a lot of importance too. Sitting up straight and attentive makes you look way better than slouching on your chair, which may make people think of you as unmotivated and lazy.


The way you look always reflects on your personality, and this is no different when it comes to a video call. Depending on the type of video call, dress appropriately from head to toe – you don’t want to be looking like the following image in a call.

Consider the background color of your video call before choosing out clothes so that you don’t blend in. Another important tip is to try to avoid shirts with small patterns or repetitive detailing. This causes an effect known as Moiré effect and causes a distraction pattern on camera.

That’s it. Using the tips mentioned above, you’ll be able to improve the quality of your video calls. More than anything, always be confident and prepared, as it’ll help you survive any video call. If you are using Zoom, don’t forget to use some of its features for having a better remote meeting.

Image credit: Handsome smiling businessman waving by DepositPhotos

Shujaa Imran

Shujaa Imran is MakeTechEasier’s resident Mac tutorial writer. He’s currently training to follow his other passion become a commercial pilot. You can check his content out on Youtube

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Your Definitive Guide To Submitting Guest Posts For Links And Leads

Guest posting has certainly gained popularity mainly because it has a ton of benefits for webmasters. From an SEO standpoint, posting content on other websites helps you gains backlinks, thus giving you more search engine juice.

It’s also a huge boon from a marketing perspective because it gives you the opportunity to connect with your peers and your audience. Aside from getting to “borrow” the readers of another website, guest posting gives you the opportunity to form solid relationships with other webmasters and thought leaders.

When submitting guest posts, it’s important to remember that quality and relevance are crucial, and like many other online strategies it will only do wonders for your site if you do it right. Below are a few tips on how you can do just that:

Only approach websites that are relevant to your target readers. Think about your audience and go for the blogs that THEY would check out, not necessarily the ones that you would visit.

Get organized – If you’re only submitting guest posts to a couple of websites then you probably won’t need a sophisticated system to manage pitches and articles. However, if you’re having a full-blown guest post campaign that involves numerous websites, then do yourself a favor and get organized right from the start.

Another good reason why you need to be reader first is that it allows you get acquainted with what the blog is all about. It enables you to really get to know the site’s readers and familiarize yourself with its voice, thus allowing you to write your pitch or post more effectively.

Follow instructions – Already have an idea on what to write? Good. Before you compose your pitch though, be sure to read (and re-read) the site’s guest posting policy. Different sites have different rules when it comes to guest posts. Some blogger prefer that you send them an outline first, while others want the entire article good to go. There are websites that have a special form for submissions, while some prefer to get pitches via email.

Keep an eye on these little details as they can make or break your chances of getting a response. Take note of special instructions (ex: specific subject lines, email formatting, etc.) and follow them to the letter. Some bloggers won’t even respond to people that do not follow instructions, so pay attention.

Don’t send out canned pitches – Site owners can see right through canned pitches so don’t bother sending them. Put an effort to each proposal that you send out. Make sure that they’re unique. This shouldn’t be that difficult if you’ve been a regular reader of the blog (if not, then go back to item #1).

Also remember that when you’re pitching an article to another site, your message should be about THEM and THEIR readers. Avoid being too self-absorbed with your emails and instead tell them why your post will benefit their site. How will your article provide value to their readers? If you’re able to articulate the answer to that question effectively then you stand a good chance of getting a positive response.

Provide value – Unarguably THE most important aspect of writing guest posts, the amount of value that you can offer in your article will determine whether it will be a hit or miss.

If everything went as planned and you like the results, then it would be best to build your relationship with that particular blog for future guest posting opportunities. Didn’t get the results you desired? Then try to pinpoint the reason why the post wasn’t successful. Perhaps the blog’s readers aren’t really the audience that you’re targeting. Or maybe the topic that you wrote about isn’t engaging enough. In any case, use the data and insights you gathered to improve your guest post pitching and writing strategies in the future.

Using Online Video To Persuade Others To Adopt Your Ideas

It isn’t news that people are exposed to more ideas than ever before. This is due to the fact that people are exposed to more media than ever before. It is through the media (newspapers, television, radio, the internet and more specifically the social media…) that ideas are spread, but sheer quantity makes it difficult to be seen and heard above all of the noise.

In this climate, what can you do to make your ideas stand out?

Two people who have attempted to answer this question are brothers Chip and Dan Heath. There came a point when the brothers realised that despite working in very different fields, they had both reached a stage where they were trying to answer the same question: ‘why do some ideas stick while others fail?’ This question became the title of a book they wrote together. In the book they defined six key qualities of an idea that help to make them stick:

1. Is the idea Simple?

There is value in simplicity. It is possible to narrow your idea onto a concise message without trivializing it. This is about zeroing in on the core intent of your idea so that it is easy to communicate to others clearly. It isn’t easy to create a concise phrase that is also profound, but the writers of this book believe it is work the effort because of the power of the potential impact it can have on audiences.

2. Make it Unexpected

The best way to capture people’s attention is to surprise them – do something unexpected. Capturing attention is one thing but it is obviously important to be able to hold on to it. Surprise and interest are the two essential components that are provoked by ideas that hold attention.

3. Fix it in Concrete

Ideally, as well as understanding your idea, you want people to remember it. Concrete language is the key to people not forgetting your idea or message. Finding a language that is universal and can be understood by a range of people, regardless of their background or context, is an essential part of what it means to have a ‘sticky idea’.

Some videos that are particularly concrete on a universal level, are those that use music that people cannot forget. Music can be extremely universal – it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, if a song is sticky, it will get you no matter what. Go Compare are a good example.

4. You must be Credible

There are obvious sources of credibility, such as external validation and stats. However, these aren’t always the most effective. It may be the case that a couple of important details are more effective than a bunch of statistics (which people can often become ‘blind’ to because they see so many). A rebel might be more convincing than an authority. The writers of the book are keen to assert that credibility doesn’t necessarily come in the form of status – honesty and trustworthiness can come from other places.

‘The F Word: Famine is the Real Obscenity (US)’ uses credible celebrities with sparkly clean reputations to support the campaign to bring attention to the food crisis in the Hom of Africa.

5. Using Emotion to help people connect with your ideas

Getting people to emotionally connect with your ideas, to care about them, is another important component in making an idea stick. This part of the theory is based on the idea that feelings inspire people to act. This is not the same pushing emotional buttons through clever editing (I am thinking X Factor here…), it is about getting to the emotional core of your idea or message so that people sense what is at stake and care.

6. The power of Stories

This book was written in 2007. It has only been in recent years that video marketers have really caught on to power of storytelling. Stories emotionally stimulate as well as inspire action.

The theories promoted in ‘Why do some ideas stick while others fail?’ are about getting to the emotional core of an idea. It is only through fully understanding your own idea and being able to define it clearly that you will be able to communicate it to others. In the drudgery and daily grind of running a business, many of us forget why we are doing what we are doing.

This online video from Expedia uses storytelling perfectly to engage its audience on an emotional level, tapping in to universal principles of love, family and acceptance.

I will leave you with this great video in which Dan Heath explains his ideas in relation to creating presentations that stick.

Can Playing Video Games Be Your Full

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Over the past several years, the video gaming industry has evolved from a play-to-win sport to something more like the music industry, with fans paying to be entertained live by performers they love.

For those who make a living from gaming, Twitch—one of the major hosts for console and PC streamers around the world—is the main place to be these days. With half a dozen ways to gain revenue, it can be the most profitable channel, if you’re willing to work hard and play smart. But does it bring in enough cash flow for it to be a full-time job? With that in mind, we turned to two Twitch streamers who follow two different approaches to earning a living in the streaming business. We asked them how exactly they make their money, and why they ended up on Twitch.

Twitch is a streaming service. Think of it as YouTube but for live video game content. Viewers create accounts and follow streamers, who play games live, and interact with their viewers. It began as a start-up company in 2011 and quickly became one of the leading hosts for e-sports. In 2014, Amazon bought the company for 970 million dollars. Currently, Twitch has 100 million monthly viewers, each spending a little less than two hours a day watching live gaming. That’s just shy of the Super Bowl for faces in front of screens, every month, so whether you’re one of them or not, you probably know someone who is.

And then there are the streamers themselves, one million people who play for audiences ranging from hundreds of thousands to no one at all.

Narvaez doing a co-stream last month with Leah, which demonstrates some of the cross promotion that streamers do with one another.

However, the jump to full-time streaming can be nerve wracking, as it means giving up a guaranteed paycheck to move to a job where the money fluctuates from day to day. “While there is no limit on how much you can make on Twitch, there is also no safety net of ‘this money is guaranteed,’” Narvaez says. For Narvaez, the confidence he needed to keep going came on his first day when he received upwards of 20,000 dollars from people who wanted to help facilitate his transition to full-time streaming. “Once that first stream was done, I was able to take a breath,” he says.

While Narvaez made the decision to quit his full-time job and dive headfirst into Twitch other gamers also have part-time jobs elsewhere.

Leah—who, like many streamers, prefers not to share her full name in order to keep her private life separate from the streaming world— streams on Twitch as LeahLovesChief and mostly plays the game Destiny. She is also a freelance videographer, a job that is perfect to have along side streaming, she says. “[This is] partly because we have experience [in] videos and online content which is always very useful for streaming, and partly because the workload can be sporadic so I have a lot of time where I’m not working and I can stream.”

How do they make their money?

Subscriptions are the most straightforward source of income for Twitch players. While Twitch is free-to-watch for most viewers, subscribers have the option of paying a five dollar fee, which gives them some extra perks like access to previous streams and custom emojis to use in Twitch’s chat system—both of which may give them a bit more attention from the streamer. However the money coming in from subscribers doesn’t get distributed evenly to every streamer. In order for a streamer to take on subscribers, he or she must be considered a “partnered subscriber,” which is no easy feat. It requires a certain number of average monthly views as well as a certain number of people who are willing to “follow” (followers don’t always become subscribers, though) before Twitch essentially agrees to pay you for the content you provide as a streamer. The monetary compensation that streamers receive from subscriptions is a flat fee that the streamers receive monthly based on their viewer numbers, which can vary wildly from month to month.

However, that is just the base income. The best way to make money on Twitch is through tips and donations. According to Leah, tips can be very helpful to a new streamer, to both improve their equipment and simply make their life a little easier.

“If you aren’t partnered,” she says, “The only ‘income’ you could have is from tips where people can tip you some money via Paypal as a thanks for the entertainment.” However, Leah admits that this can be a difficult concept for other people to comprehend, “that people send other people money for ‘playing video games.’”

They’re not predictable, but given enough subscribers and viewers, a streamer can depend on a certain volume per hour, per stream, or per month. Both Narvaez and Leah are also making live appearances at conventions this month promoting their channels. They’ve held meet-ups for fans to come say hello and snap pictures. Both are a little uncomfortable with the term celebrity, even as they’ve had to sign autographs for fans that have potentially given them hundreds of dollars while watching them play.

And people who donate aren’t exceptions to the rule. That income is real, and when you break it down, a donation seems modest, when you consider that a few bucks per person is far cheaper than the price of, say, a concert or movie ticket, and often for more hours of entertainment. Leah sets her minimum amount at two British pounds (around three U.S. dollars), but Leah says currently the average tip amount is around 23 dollars.

If you look at Narvaez as a regular run-of-the-mill gamer, the “job” can be quite lucrative. “Sometimes I’ll have odd days where I’ll break a grand [like the first day] or I’ll be in the high hundreds,” he says, “but the consistency is in the low to mid hundreds.”

And big tips do happen, Leah says, especially in the midst of deep discussions in the chat section. “Big tips also happen during ‘tip trains’ where people want to keep the stream hype going.”

Ray Narvaez’s first stream after transitioning to full-time streaming.

The key to a livable income is making use of all avenues for revenue. What Leah and Narvaez have in common is an understanding that their viewers aren’t giving them money because of the game: They’re doing it for the personality.

A recent stream from this month, which shows Leah playing the video game, Destiny.

When they do pay, they are paying for extras, since the content is technically free. Some fans will do more for publicity than income, some will be good for a few months of income and move on. But the more loyal fans you have, the more people you’ll have around. So for those who believe their calling lies in video game streaming, video streaming veterans say to follow these rules to monetize their joy:

Demystifying Nosql: Your Complete Interview Guide

This article was published as a part of the Data Science Blogathon.


In data science, learning about database

He has two things to know. Learn as much as possible about database administration and understand how to approach it efficiently. Trust me; you’ll come a long way in data science. Data engineers must work with all databases, especially S stumble is when we need to move to a NoSQL database. It can be a little confusing at first. Getting started is always the hardest step.

(Source: src)

This article describes the essential differences between these two types of databases to clear this roadblock. This will give you two overviews and make it easier to start your journey. Let’s start

Interview Question on NoSQL 1. What do you understand and know about NoSQL in databases?

Contrary to the literal translation of the meaning, NoSQL stands for “Not Only SQL.” It is a new way of thinking about databases, which can handle many structured, semi-structured, and complicated data. It refers to various database technologies created in response to increased data being saved about individuals, things, and goods. Performance and processing requirements, as well as the frequency of access to this data. Contrarily, relational databases were not created to handle the size and agility issues that plague modern applications, nor were they meant to benefit from the affordable storage and processing power available today. So the main target of NoSQL is to create an alternate database in SQL -where textual data can be stored easily in a less-structured manner.

Unlike RDBMS, NoSQL is far more easily scalable and provides superior performance. Additionally, it helps address the issues that RDBMS failed to address:

NoSQL is capable of handling large amounts of structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data

OOPs can easily be used and integrated with NoSQL

Provides efficient scale-out architectures while RDBMS mainly operates on monolithic architectures

It provides agile sprints, and the iterations are quick because the in-memory caching option is available to increase the performance of queries.

It provides good support for Analytic tools on top of Bigdata

It is capable of being hosted on cheaper hardware machines

(Source: src)

3. What are the different types of databases available under NoSQL?

NoSQL databases come in the following types:

Document Oriented DB – One of the characteristics of the NoSQL database is this. The data should be stored without schema. As a result, scalability will be higher, and JavaScript object notation will be used. The job will be completed more quickly and for less money. Example -MongoDB

Key-Value Stores – The data is often stored in tables in the RDBMS database, while hash tables are used in NoSQL to store data. Each of these tables has its own identity. Working with a key-value store is preferable to utilizing joins if you are looking for data. This key value will retrieve data from the hash table more quickly. Examples – Riak, Voldemort, and Redis.

Graph DB – A graph database is one of the most crucial databases in NoSQL. It is primarily tailored for navigating and storing data relationships. Edges will contain data relationships, and the idea is entity information. Banks, social media, new channels, etc., use this database. Example –  Neo4J and HyperGraphDB.

Column Oriented Stores- This gives NoSQL much more flexibility. Keyspace is a concept in column databases that functions somewhat similarly to a relational model’s schema. All column families are contained in this keyspace, which in turn comprises rows and columns. It takes a little while to get your head around, but it’s not too difficult. Example -Cassandra and HBase.

The different types of databases in NoSQL (Source: src)

4. What is the difference between Vertical and Horizontal Databases?

Vertical Database

Horizontal Database

The physical layout of data is column by column. Vertical ScalingScalingus be added, thereby adding more power to the PC. The physical layout of data is row by row. Thus horizontal scaling is achieved, thereby adding more equipment.

All data is stored in a single node. Only part data is stored in all nodes.

Multi-core scaling will be done. Single-core scaling done.

Example – Amazon Cloud Example – MongoDB

 5. What do you understand by Polyglot Persistence in NoSQL?

Polyglot Persistence suggests that database engineers/architects should determine how they want to manipulate the data and then choose the database technology that best suits their needs. This approach solves data storage efficiency problems, simplifies operations, and eliminates fragmentation.

Schematic representation of Polyglot Persistence. Note how data is fed from different sources (Source: src)

6. When should NoSQL be used over RDBMS?

You can utilize NoSQL if you seek key-value stores with extremely high-performance levels because ACID transactions are used in relational databases. The schema-based process will slow down the database performance once we employ this transaction.

Possible scenarios of potential usage of NoSQL are:

In situations of the need for multiple JOIN queries

For high-traffic websites

While using denormalized data

7. Explain the CAP theorem in NoSQL.

It is the most reliable of the three guarantees for a NoSQL database. CAP is the fundamental value of consistency, availability, and partition tolerance. The nodes will be working in tandem in the network. As a result, the entire functioning of the database will work faster.

8. What is understood by Database Sharding in NoSQL?

Database sharding in NoSQL refers to splitting the database according to NoSQL time-appropriate patterns. Data can be stored by sharding over numerous, possibly independent servers worldwide. A database administrator can readily retrieve this data from anywhere in the world with excellent data speed characteristics.

Schematic representation of Data Sharding in NoSQL (Source: src)

9. What are the ways to track data record relations in NoSQL?

The possible steps are as follows:

Embed all data into any user-object

Create the user-id credential

Following these three steps will lead to the desired information retrieval.

10. Explain the BASE Characteristic of NoSQL.

The BASE model, which is a softer approach, is used by NoSQL. The BASE stands for Basically Available, Soft state, Eventual consistency.

Available: Assures the data’s accessibility. Any inquiry will receive a response (it can be a failure too).

Soft state: Over time, the system’s state might change.

Eventually Consistent – It assumes that once it stops accepting input, the system will finally achieve consistency.

NoSQL databases sacrifice the A, C, and D requirements for greater scalability.


Throughout the ten questions, we have covered the essential concepts of NoSQL as a DBMS. Key takeaways from today’s blog include –

The general idea of NoSQL and why it originated and came into popularity

The key features and different types of databases in NoSQL

Key concepts like Polyglot Persistence, CAP Theorem, Database Sharding

When you should be using NoSQL over the existing RDBMS

The BASE characteristics of NoSQL over ACID characteristics of RDMBS

If thoroughly well versed with the above ideas and questions will surely give you an edge in the interview. Hope you liked today’s topic of discussion and you managed to add new concepts to your existing knowledge. Wishing you great luck with your future goals and aspirations!

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