Sunday, October 19, 2014

5W's of Downloading Media From the Web & How

It's been a while since we've addressed this topic, downloading media from the internet, so I thought I would revisit and update things for 2014. The last post I made on this subject was 2012 (click here) and it is still one of my most requested and most viewed postings on this blog. The Bush hasn't changed much since then (or in the last 10 years to be honest), and satellite internet and insane latency is still a problem. To avoid bandwidth draining, ceaseless buffering, and annoying outages, I recommend always downloading materials from the web to host locally on your computer. 

Let's start with who: everyone... I can't tell you how many keynotes or presentations I have sat through that took me to a link, sometimes in front of hundreds in the audience, only to buffer awkwardly or not play at all. Heaven forbid your favorite YouTube example of the comedy of a telephone conference get taken down the night before your big meeting... All this is to say that everyone (teachers, businesspersons, students, and anyone who appreciates a good online resource) should follow these instructions/advice. Let's try it out: Visit the download site now
(Yes, it's for Firefox, so download it first if you haven't already.)

If you are still wondering why this is necessary stop and consider the last time you were in front of a group of people. Maybe you're a classroom teacher preparing a lesson for tomorrow and you're worried if you to filter will be blocked at your school. Maybe your business person traveling to another office and you're not sure if you will have Wi-Fi or not. Or maybe just have a particular video that you use so often it would be silly to click the link for the thousandth time. You never know when an author could be flagged by YouTube or take down their content for reasons unknown to you. I'm not suggesting you break a copyright laws, but I do recommend you build your own repository of media locally on your machine. I have numerous videos from over the years. Video Download Helper is just my favorite application, but there are many. 

When you download these files isn't all that important, only that you do it before your presentation. The beauty of this application video download helper is that you can stream media and download it simultaneously. With it running in the background on your Firefox browser it takes almost no extra effort to rip. Simply click a button type in the title he was to say that I was given the location and you're done.

I prefer to click the dropdown of the spheres in my browser > select "medium" file sizes > download.

You can get as high or as low quality of videos as you prefer, limited, of course, by what is posted by the creator.  Ready to give it a whirl? 

If you want to try it with me, you can actually download this video with Video Download Helper:  

What you download is up to you. The default of the Video Download Helper addon to Firefox is that it can capture numerous filetypes, including YouTube Videos, for download. The default is only a few common file types like mp4, flv, and mov. These are a great start, but what about audio or shockwave flash items? I personally capture the following: mp4, mpeg4, m4v, mov, rbs, divx, movie, rar, mp3, asf, wmv, ram, rm, avi, mpeg, flv, mpg, and swf. If there is something on the page I want and VDLH doesn't see it, add it! 

Right-click the VDLH spheres > preferences: 

Click "capture" > Network Tab > then type in the files you wish to rip. 
Use the file extension without the dot in the front. For example, for Shockwave Flash Video files, type "swf" and you will see the "file.swf" available for download. 

Where should you keep these files? I suppose you could upload them to your own dropbox or YouTube, but that won't do us any good without an internet connection. You could save them on your computer, but then you might get lost in all the other junk on your workstation. The best advice I can give is embedding them in the presentation itself. I'll stop there and ask you to refer back to my 2012 post mentioned above. Of course the application is irrelevant. You can use anything from Notebook, Keynote, to PowerPoint: 
PowerPoint > Insert Ribbon: Media > Movie from File...

Select your file.

And there you have it. A video in .ppt format that follows your favorite presentation wherever you go. This will of course make the file massive, so break up presentations heavy on the multimedia so you don't lock up the application in front of the crowd (been there, done that). 

Well, I think that about covers it. If you need more help learning how to download music and video from the internet, let me know, I'd be happy to help or at least point you in the right direction. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

ARD Unix Command Lines

I have been in the Bush and working with Apple computers since 2006. If I had to choose one area to which every school district is deficient across Alaska, I would say it is student workstation management. With simple tools like Apple Remote Desktop available, I think every teacher who interacts with student computers should have a tool to manage their classroom. Lots of companies make management tools like this: SMART Technologies, SourceForge, and CognitiveEdge to name a few.

When it comes to the specific interactions between teacher and student in the state of Alaska, then you are probably talking about Apple computers. Let's take a look at a simple example of using UNIX commands in the classroom. Don't work, there is no programming, coding, or even a terminal interface involved.

First things first, open ARD. I use ARD 5-10 times daily and still don't keep it in my dock. Click the spotlight finder and type "rem" and you should get it fast. If you don't yet have ARD, you can download it at the app store and if you work for me, just ask for the redeem codes. Now that you have opened the application, select the users you wish to make a change to. There are UNIX codes for all kinds of things ready to go or you could write your own. Be careful, though, you are about to make some serious alterations to the device in question.

To begin with a simple example, click the user you wish to send the command to and click the UNIX button:

Now you will see a dialog box and several options. Click the radio dial for user and type "root."

In the dialog box, paste the following command: 
chmod a-r /System/Library/QuickTime/QuickTimeUSBVDCDigitizer.component/Contents/MacOS/QuickTimeUSBVDCDigitizer
chmod a-r /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/CoreMediaIOServices.framework/Versions/A/Resources/VDC.plugin/Contents/MacOS/VDC
chmod a-r /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreMediaIO.framework/Versions/A/Resources/VDC.plugin/Contents/MacOS/VDC

Assuming you have a connection to the user, you should now see the effects of your command: 

The users iSight camera is now disabled. The iSight camera is used in lots of applications, so be careful to turn it back on later when you are through. Someone who is not familiar with your actions may mistakenly think the computer has been damaged. 

If you have any comments or questions, please add them below.

Remote Desktop 101

If you have been around computers for any amount of time you have probably wanted to access, control, or test things on a different machine. I often find myself wondering how a feature or application will run on Windows instead of OS Mavericks. Other times, I want to test a feature on an older OS or even iOS device. How you accomplish this is a matter of personal preference, but I thought I would talk briefly about the simplest options in the next several posts.

In this post I will take you through my preferred method of remote desktop (and iOS) interaction. I'll give you some pro's and con's and why I choose to use them. If you have any trouble with these methods check the FAQs then send me a message via email and I will try to help you out.

Apple OS - Apple OS
Single User
Screen Sharing in Apple is as simple as a check box in SysPrefs>Sharing. With this tool enable, simply open your Finder window and CTRL+click (right click) on the shared computer. If you know the admin password, click share screen and authenticate. It's just that easy. Send files, interact, or just watch. 
  • Cumbersome, Saving authentication tricky, only interaction and sharing. 
  • Free 
Multi User
Nothing beats ARD (Apple Remote Desktop) for any number of users you wish to interact with. I am probably running this application 70% of my average workday. 

  • Download from the AppStore a bit costly.
  • Hands down amazing! Unix commands; multi-user observation and file sharing; control features including drag-and-drop between desktops; scheduling of tasks; saved authentication; history; bandwidth adjustments for efficiency
  • The list goes on and on... 

Apple OS - Windows
Single User - Emulation
VMFusion is hands down the best product I have used for running a Windows environment on a Mac. Parallels has been problematic for me over the years, and my current working configuration is Mavericks/VMFusion6/Windows7

Multi-user - Emulation
SourceForge CoRD. I have been using this product for about 4 years now and even with Microsoft Remote Desktop for Mac available, I still prefer CoRD. For managing several devices, VMs, etc, CoRD is flexible and simple to set up.

iOS - Apple OS
My favorite method of remote control is SplashTop Desktop 2. I have it installed on all of my computers so I can remotely manage from any WAN/LAN with Google credentials. If you are curious about displaying iOS to OS, see my other posts on iBooks and Reflector App.

iOS - Windows
Doceri Desktop, but SplashTop is great on Windows, too.

Agnostic - Control/Collaboration
Team Viewer