Archive for April, 2009

B-languages for Relay interpreting in European Parliament Plenary Video (2009)

You can do relay interpreting from European parliament plenary videos by selecting one of the b-languages which the parliament interpreters provide.

The (3) video download control for videos older than 20080711 allows for the recording of only one language-track in the video. You can download, from a link emailed to you, either the a- (e.g. (1) Italian here) or one b-language (e.g. (2) German here), as you can see below:

Given that software tends to always get impoved, is is rather surprising that one does not seem to have a similar choice in the new video downloader – however, the improvement is just a bit hidden.

For Videos newer than 20080710, all language-tracks are automatically contained within the downloaded (how? see here) video file. To switch between a- and b-language or between b-languages, in Windows Media Player, go to menu (if the menu does not show, right-click left from the “Now playing”button””: file / play / audio and language tracks / [now choose your language].

E.g. if you do not want to listen to Ferrero-Waldner not speaking her native tongue, choose like pictured below:

And she does not really speak “Zulu” which seems to have been chosen by the European Parliament technicians as the designator of the original a-language, there being no such concept in windows media player. Çan’t have it all. Pretty close, though.

MS-Office Templates and Macros

  • Templates
    • A number of MS-Office-templates (and Add-ins) have been set up and/or programmed to facilitate teaching and learning as well as administration in the language services environment.
    • The templates can be accessed in the language services network environment to base documents on (browse to the template in explorer, then double click the template).
    • Documents that are based on language services templates can be taken outside the language services network environment. While some template-features (i.e. the macros) will be (temporarily, until the document is brought back into the language services network environment) lost, as long as the document cannot access the template file, the instructor or student written text will not.
    • Prerequisites for the template macro code to work
      • Do this once: in MS-Office, menu:tools / macros / macro security needs be set  to “medium”, then “ok” – otherwise you will see this warning:
      • Do this every time: click “enable” when opening a document form a trusted source, like based on one of your templates:
  • Add-ins
    • Some customizations required the installation of add-ins. These add-ins have been only installed on the computers where they are needed (i.e. the instructor computer).
    • PowerPoint HALE Lookup Menu Add-in
      • The custom-made consoleadd-in.ppa has been added to the MGB-36 TEACHER COMPUTER and the code in consoleadd-in.reg added to the MGB-36 TEACHER COMPUTER’s registry to load the menu add-in upon startup of PowerPoint on the TEACHER COMPUTER.


Categories: e-infrastructure

Passing around European Parliament Plenary Video Clips & Transcripts

  1. European parliament video clips are quite big and it would be easier not to have to pass them around. But how to communicate to somebody else which video clip to watch if the clip selected is not reflected in the browser address bar? The flash application unfortunately forces you to provide the “bibliographic” information in pieces (start url, date, possibly video format, debate title, speaker name). But in the end you get a direct link which you can pass on to save others from having to jump through the same hoops: If you just need the direct link, skip to step 7. Otherwise: Start with the calendar interface:, find your (1) date, e.g. “Wednesday 14 January 2009”,
  2. The window with the recording of that date will come up; now you CAN (2) change the video format  – wmv (should work on most Windows PCs, free upgrade for MACs here: or mp4 -, an option that will show in the browser address bar. If you must, change format this first, as it seems to rewind the video to the beginning of the session.
  3. Click on your (4) speaker, e.g. “ 15:16:50 Benita Ferrero-Waldner 00:13:12 15:30:02”
  4. Instead of watching online (e.g. if you find the stream quality lacking), you can (5) download the video (in the format you have chosen, either wmv or mp4). UPDATE: The web site added a disclaimer that you have to, 2.check before you can 3. download, as illustrated below:
  5. Note: you can (6) change the b-language (for relay interpreting) when streaming. Plus, when you download the video, all the b-languages are downloaded together with the a-language. See here how to select the desired b-language when playing the downloaded file.
  6. Easier than providing all bibliographical information (calendar URL, date, debate and speaker) is the direct URL of the download clip. Right click on “Download this Speech”, select (7) “Copy shortcut” from the context menu. Then paste this, e.g. or if you chose mp4 format:, into the calendar event for the exam – completes your checklist for the exam, and at the beginning of the exam, you can download the link from here onto the students’ computer. Or, for assigning materials to students or passing them to external examiners, email this direct link.
  7. Unfortunately, it appears that the transcripts, unlike the audio channels, do not include the relay languages and have to be accessed from a different (calendar-)interface here: “The verbatim report of proceedings of each sitting (often referred to by its French abbreviation, CRE) is published (Rule 173 of the Rules of Procedure) and contains the speeches made in plenary, in the original language.”


Appendix: The file size of these videos is about 10MB per minute. If you feel you need to save the videos locally, use an appropriate location (where you have sufficient space, the file will not be erased, only appropriate users have access – consider this before using a public network share, personal drive). Not really more “local” is saving the video clip on the Skydrive which can also hold clips larger than 50MB[ doubled to 100MB on June 20,2011] if you pre-process them like described in the zipping instruction.

Watch a 5-minute narrated video-clip that demonstrates the above steps.

How to handle large files by splitting them into smaller zip-files

When you zip a large file, a nice side-effect is that you can "span” it across multiple “volumes”. I remember first using this when restricted to 360kB floppy disks. Today it could be useful for getting around the 50000kB restriction (not sure about the exact limit?) in MS-Skydrive. Tempora mutantur

Unfortunately, Windows XP’s built-in ZIP-support does not cover spanned media. However, a good zip-utility which does, 7-zip, is free. Once downloaded and installed (can’t install? try for splitting, but it does not reassemble), you can right-click on a large file, e.g. this video below, and from the context menu choose 7-zip / “Add to archive", like so:

In the upcoming dialogue, enter in “Split to volumes” the size you want, then press “OK”:

7zip will automatically generate as many files as needed out of your big source file – remember that for unpacking you also need a zip program which supports spanned media.

Let’s enjoy ourselves and not worry about details like KB-MB conversion and that you could turn compression off to speed things up if you use 7-zip this way…

Categories: e-infrastructure

How to start a blog.

There are many ways to start an open blog. One is to download Windows Live Writer which works with many free blogging services.

One such free blogging service is on Windows Live itself: Among its many services, you can start your own Windows Live Space, and part of your space can be a blog.

You can download a free copy of Windows Live Writer from this blog: (which at the same time can give you an idea what your own blog can look like, in case you had not noticed that this is a Windows Live blog also…).

I do not recall whether you will be given the opportunity of signing up for a Windows Live Account during your initial configuration of Windows Live Writer. Just give it a try – if it asks for your Windows Live Account, you can still get one here:

However students may want to consider blogging with MS-Word 2007 instead. Microsoft’s offers to students MS-Office 2007 at a considerable discount:

And yes: the Windows Live Blog lacks, among many things, multi-tag search which some WordPress users managed to implement quite a while ago. Turning out more machine-readable information, shouldn’t that be part of “Project Cool”? 😉

Categories: e-infrastructure