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.