Archive for August, 2009

Can’t play video?

It is unlikely that you may be missing Adobe-Flash. Not quite so unlikely: MS-Silverlight.

You may simply be missing a codec. Many of my videos use the H.264 codec.

Short of dealing with too many codecs or codec packs, try a better media player:

  1. VLC player or
  2. Windows Media Player Classic or
  3. Windows Media Player 12 (comes with Windows 7)).


Conference Interpreting Videos on Intranet

On campus, students can click , click , paste “\\\lgu$\multimedia student\mmedia\mmedia1\language_services\teaching_materials\online_resources.xls”, click . Click a cell with a hyperlinked  video to play the video in Windows Media Player.

In Windows Media Player, you can access (right-click on top window frame if menus are hidden) the menu: “File”/”Save” to save the video on a flash memory drive and take if off campus. You can play back the videos on MS-Windows and MAC computers (you may first have to install the support for the Windows Media Video format on the MAC from Microsoft). More help.

Interpreting Suite: How to avoid audio feedback

  1. symptom: loud squealing noise over the classroom speakers
  2. context: left lectern microphone is turned on; Creston / main room /

    [Elmo room] camera is chose (e.g. to display the speaker on the projector; may also be chosen for background recording purposes only)

  3. resolution: Creston / room controls / speaker: up/own, on/off, to turn the classroom speaker volume down or off entirely
  4. explanation: the Elmo camera works with the sound from the left lectern microphone (not from the right or DIS microphone); if the Elmo camera is room source, its sound is displayed over the classroom speakers; from where it feeds back into the microphone; etc (infinite loop, feedback).

Windows Live FAQ

Q: How do I get a Windows Live ID?
A: Click to go to the Windows Live Services website. If necessary, you will be asked to  sign up (at or sign in (at

Thoughts on use of MS-OneNote for Learner Portfolios in Interpreting?

What are aspects of portfolios, according to Portfolios “document education, work samples and skills”  “more in-depth than a resume” can. They come in different flavours: “developmental (e.g., working), reflective (e.g., learning), and representational (e.g., showcase)” and can contain “personal information, evaluations, sample work, and awards and acknowledgments”. If they are e-Portfolios, implying online, they can be “updated often” and with ease, and are “assembled and managed by a user” who controls the “varying degrees of audience access”. With this come “problems of exporting data and related interoperability issues” and the pros and cons of portfolios integrated into existing VLEs of educational institutions, who are initially easily available, but may lack in “learner-centered-ness” beyond the institutional affiliation.

In the OneNote ecosystem, there is a lot of student workbooks samples – may be closer to what I mean to be a portfolio, if they would groom it and reflect on their work –, plus a so called “Digital portfolio: Sample digital portfolio of a teacher that contains multiple sets of student work, stored and organized within OneNote. Includes homework, quizzes, tests and projects.”

“If you want to use recordings made in OneNote, be aware that the default recording quality for OneNote is not meant for speech recognition. We use a voice codec and bit rate/sample rate designed to compress spoken word audio as small as can be while still usable by human beings. In OneNote 2007 we increased the settings slightly to make audio search work better, but speech recognition (transcription) requires a much higher level of quality. To set up your future recordings in OneNote to be transcribable, first go to Tools/Options/Audio and Video. Switch the codec to Windows Media Audio 9.1 Professional. ”

8+x computers in the interpreting suite and maybe 8 extra in the language center could get us started. (an configuration of these computers which is different from the it labs configuration may save some money initially, but incurs maintenance cost permanently, which may be somewhat hidden, but is very real. so a site license for OneNote, if the licensing cost is reasonable at all, would probably be preferable. of course we are past the deadline for software image upgrades, i just managed to get the OneNote in the interpreting suite request in before the deadline).

if we want to enable students to work remotely, they need personal licenses. this is not necessarily expensive (ca 40 pounds for a full office 2007 suite from ms directly for students only which i recommend to any student just to get ms-word, much more so if you use more advanced office applications)..

one of the nicest features of ms-OneNote and which, even if i have not had a chance to test, would most likely strongly recommend using, is the following:

we can store these OneNote portfolios as shared files on our intranet so that students can keep editing /adding to them, and Danielle and other staff at the same time, without conflicts or need for copying and keeping files in synch, open for checking and giving feedback.

this seems much more usable than copying and transmitting (email is impossible, Weblearn, sans webdav and learner portfolio feature at least, very inconvenient) large multimedia files.

using this feature requires, however, a network share which the students can write to (which will also be required for the digitization of the interpreting suite, even my personal hack), and, if we want to support students doing this from home, probably VPN access (i do not think the current FTP access to the home drive would help us any with this task).

A team calendar for work groups on Windows Live

I have been asked whether we can have a workgroup calendar to coordinate who is on campus when.

We can use the hale-interpreting ( and hale-translation groups in Windows Live for this (

Remember: Members only! You need to be a member of these groups to have access to their calendars. If you have not accepted my invitation email from a long time ago, you are not a member – and there is no point in digging that email out now, since it will have expired. However, you can go to either of the group’s home pages linked above and ask for being added. Then wait for the confirmation email response.

If you go to your calendar home page (, all events from all “calendars” that you have access to (in the time span which you chose as your default – I use week view) display be default in one and the same “calendar”.

A bit of terminology: Lemma “calendar”, meaning: (1) a web page which looks like a paper calendar. (2) a series of related events (E.g. the MGB-36 events belong in one such “calendar” (2) as they all take place in this room).

Windows Live puts/displays all “calendars” (2) you have access to in one “calendar” (1), and differentiates the “calendars” (2) by giving each “calendar” (2) a distinct colour within “calendar” (1). The colours displayed in the picture below may be different for you – you can choose you own colour scheme from the calendar options –, but you, too, will have different colours per calendar.

You will note that the Monday “Exam” above should be in the (red) MGB-36 calendar, not in the (light blue) interpreting group calendar. That is something you will have to pay attention to when you add an event, now that you have more than one ”calendar” (2) at your disposal (actually, you always had, and the most common initial error was users putting events in their personal ”calendar” (2) (coloured green above), with the result that nobody else but them could see those events).

You can set which “calendar” (2) to add an event to in the dropdown box labelled “Calendar” (framed red below, meaning “Which one?”). Also note the “All day [event]” option which should prove especially useful for a work group leave calendar (If you find a multi-day span option, let me know).


And here is the result, viewable for all users that have access to the hale-interpreting group calendar:

If colouring is not clear enough, filter the calendar (1) for specific “calendars”(2) = display only events from selected “calendars”(2). To do that, in the left menu, uncheck the box next to the calendar to hide all events from this calendar. Result if you view only the interpreting group calendar:

The natural next step is to have better collaboration even when not all workgroup members are in the same location, using instant messaging, including what is called presence. Windows Messenger 4.7 is already installed and ready on our computers (NOT if you have not abandoned Windows 2000 yet – do it now!). Just follow the quick start under my portrait picture at the right of my spaces home page . If you use your Windows Live login, a few things things should just fall into place. If you also want group messaging (multipoint), have the newer Windows Live Messenger installed.

Digitization of the SAVILLE analogue Conference interpreting recording facility: Booths. Technical instructions


The original SAVILLE setup to add (floor and booth) video and enable recording in the DIS 6000 conference interpreting facility. The cabling, switching and interfacing can all be used unchanged, and the VHS recorders should indeed be used as backup. OTOH, once you feel confident about digital recording, you can  fade out the VHS recorders (or replace them by yet another output device).

Digital video capture card – the cheapest I could find was this and it tested to work (including lip synching),

Miscellaneous AV splitters and cables.

Windows Media Encoder 9 and the Windows Media Encoder SDK, both available from Microsoft and installed by campus ICT support.

Windows Media Encoder Configuration Files and in \\stushare_server\StuShare\Humanities, Arts and Languages\Language_Services\configuration

AutoIt3, a scripting language used on campus for computer deployment.  The compiled executable I provide has no prerequisites on our MS-Windows installation. If you want to make changes in the au3 script, you will need the free AutoIt3 language and development environment.

The script relies on impersonation to access the network shares. If the user/password this impersonation is based on changes, you can still work with the recordings on the local PC. To restore the network archiving/sharing functionality, you have to run trpPwdEncrypt.exe (a slight adaptation from the AutoIT3 help file example) and follow the included instructions:

Then recompile the script trprecord.au3 (both files are stored on the instructors-only share) and put the resulting trprecord.exe on the student-accessible share.


  1. Check the AV cables and connectors.
  2. Check the screenshots and their filenames which the software produces for logging in the local temp directory (note that this directory gets purged on restart).
  3. If you make changes in the environment, do not fail to also change the corresponding configuration strings at the top of trprecord.au3,  then recompile.

Digitization of the SAVILLE analogue Conference interpreting recording facility: Booths: End-user

The instructor sets the booth AV sources as usual (using the CRESTRON remote control).

The student in the booth starts the trprecord.exe from the student-accessible share (if the application is already running, an attempt to start another instance brings the current instance to the foreground).

In the GUI (which should not be hidden by blocking the student screen with AV signal; one more reason to stop the wasteful sharing of one screen between AV and VGA signal):

  1. choose whether to record “Audio” or “Video”(the disabled (grayed out) non-live recording modes are not yet implemented. they would be a completely separate extension of the SAVILLE system.).
  2. press “Start”, wait for the message indicating recording has begun
  3. pressing “Start” enables the “Stop” button; press “Stop” when finished
  4. once the “Play” button has been activated, the student can listen to the last recording in the default player for WMA or WMV files (normally Windows Media Player).
  5. both student and instructors can listen to other (past and/or peer) recordings by “open[ing the network share] folder”. The instructor (having full control permissions on the network share folder) controls the release of network share videos. Students can only read from this network share folder. The filename, e.g. trprecord_2009_08_04_18_24_47_MORLIB–PCC6392_plagwitt.wma, indicates this:
  6. Prefix

    Date  recording started

    Time recording started

    on which computer

    for which logged-in user

    Audio or video







  7. Currently, the computer in the booths of the interpreting suite have the following names (note that the computer names are not aligned with the booth numbers; update this when the computers get upgraded):
  8. Booth














  9. When listening to the recording in Windows Media Player, use the “Balance” slider which you can enable by clicking Menu:File / View / Enhancements / Graphics Equalizer. Wiggle the slider
  10. Press F1-key for (this) Help. Pay attention to program feedback messages in red.

View trprecord_demo_walkthrough.AVI (your problems with videos are addressed here; no screencast this time, as 2 simultaneous video encoding sessions would overtax the recording computer and could not demonstrate the interaction with the new secondary video screen) which demonstrates ease of use of the program itself and recording files it