Archive for October, 2012

A few tools for speech transcription

  1. For teacher (research, learning material production etc.) transcription tasks (as opposed to language learner tasks, for which we can use the Sanako),
  2. if you have
    1. no switch (foot pedal) hardware (which usually comes with its own software), :
    2. no budget (a professional, but not free tool described here earlier is Swift-TX)
  3. available freeware tools that can speed up your transcriptions tasks are:
    1. Simple enough, but functional for the occasional transcription task:
    2. More oriented towards research and large-scale (corpora) transcriptions:
      2. LDC’s

How to retrieve students’ recordings under student login name if you saved under position or computer name in Sanako Study 1200

  1. Why? Most (though not all) times you will find it easier to manage student files if their names contain the student login names
  2. How?
    1. Change the classroom layout naming scheme from menu:”Tools”/ “Admin”/ “Change student names to” / “Student login name” image and
    2. collect or repeat a prior collection of the student recorder buffer by using the activity pane: files icon image(this requires that you have not yet used activity pane:button:”clear session”).

How to conduct a Sanako Study 1200 functionality test before oral exams

  1. Why? Before high-stakes oral assessments, it is best practice to test the functionality of all computers in the digital audio lab.
  2. How?
    1. Log into 2 computers with your own account (these will serve as a backup computers. Should you need backup computers later, there will be no delay waiting for them to start up and become operational).
    2. Change Sanako classroom layout names to computer or position name (whatever makes it easier for you to identify any non-functioning machines).
    3. If you are doing this for a first time with a class, load your test exam audio into Audacity and display the voice graph to students on a projector. This way you make sure that students  understand from the voice graph that they are supposed to
      1. hear an instruction over the headphones and
      2. respond to the instruction by saying their names into their microphones.
    4. Perform a name-test recording using Sanako activity:”Model imitation”and examine the results:
      1. Make sure the Sanako collection folder opens – meaning all student recordings could be collected. If not, identify the offending positions from the Sanako collection dialogue and open the folder with the remaining collected recordings manually from the Sanako collection dialogue
      2. Drag the recorded files into an empty Audacity window and examine the collected recordings visually, plus, where in doubt, aurally, by clicking “solo” and play on the track in question.
    5. React accordingly:
      1. If some positions show problems, move students to one of the backup machines that you logged into earlier.
      2. move backup machines not needed to a different session by right-clicking on their classroom layout icon.
      3. if more than one backup machine is indeed needed, Sanako – since it is you who are logged in on both – will ask you later for permission to number collected files for duplicate students sequentially. Allow that and rename the files manually.
    6. Don’t forget to change Sanako classroom layout names back to student login name. image. Or else here is how you can later recover student recordings by student login names.

LoC says on DVDs: Excerpts, but no space-shifting

And: foreign language faculty seems now included.
“The most complicated exemption focuses on DVDs. Between now and 2015, it will be legal to rip a DVD “in order to make use of short portions of the motion pictures for the purpose of criticism or comment in the following instances: (i) in noncommercial videos; (ii) in documentary films; (iii) in nonfiction multimedia e-books offering film analysis; and (iv) for educational purposes in film studies or other courses requiring close analysis of film and media excerpts, by college and university faculty, college and university students, and kindergarten through twelfth grade educators.” A similar exemption applies for “online distribution services.”
The Librarian also allowed DVDs to be decrypted to facilitate disability access. Specifically, it’s now legal “to access the playhead and/or related time code information embedded in copies of such works and solely for the purpose of conducting research and development for the purpose of creating players capable of rendering visual representations of the audible portions of such works and/or audible representations or descriptions of the visual portions of such works to enable an individual who is blind, visually impaired, deaf, or hard of hearing, and who has lawfully obtained a copy of such a work, to perceive the work.”
But the Librarian did not allow circumvention for space-shifting purposes. While public interest groups had argued that consumers should be allowed to rip a DVD in order to watch it on an iPad that lacks a built-in DVD drive, the Librarian concluded that no court has found that such “space shifting” is a fair use under copyright law.”
Jailbreaking now legal under DMCA for smartphones, but not tablets | Ars Technica

Use SharePointDesigner here to quickly and cleanly edit legacy static web pages

  1. Confronted with the need to have faculty classify my variable speed animated GIF collection of Mandarin characters linked from static HTML pages, I find:
  2. SharePointDesigner is a FrontPage derivative, but still beats dealing with the special markup MS-Office tends to smuggle into your legacy web pages.
  3. And you can download it for free from MS here, install and open a file by right-clicking it and “Open with”, like so: image .
  4. User then can e.g. select a pinyin word, right-click it, access the font-dialogue, like so: image, and, to align this alphabetic pinyin list to the progression in the syllabus if the Chinese language program, assign a heat-scale like so: image. E.g this would denote an easy character for Chinese 101: image.
  5. Note 1: Do not use SharePointDesigner 2010,, this doe not allow easy editing of single web pages anymore: image.
  6. Note 2: The CSS style markup that SharePointDesigner puts in smartly for  the font color change is ignored by Internet Explorer 8 (Huh?!), so we will have to TBA:ask students to use Firefox instead.
  7. Note3: Why not just use MS-Word as HTML-Editor. Even if you save as and choose “Web-page filtered, like so: image, to avoid MS-Office specific markup, MS-word puts spurious markup in that makes it not only slow down the road to open the file, but also difficult to post-process them with regular expression (I have a few hundred copies to make for different animation speeds). Compare the file sizes here:
  8. image

How to switch the input language in Respondus Lockdown browser, e.g. to Arabic

  1. Short answer:
    1. Right-click the Language bar on the taskbar and choose “Restore the  Language bar”, like so:
    2. language-bar-restore
    3. This makes the language bar a floating toolbar on top of the screen, like here: image. This floating toolbar you can still access when in Lockdown browser.
    4. The language bar can be temperamental, you may need to bring it up again, try switching back and forth between input fields.
  2. Long Answer:
    1. Respondus Lockdown browser blocks many functionalities, including the shortcut combination to change input languages (usually LEFT ALT + SHIFT) and access to the Language bar on the task bar.
    2. This is not an issue when your quiz is in a western language and you have US- international keyboard layout configured as your default (which lets you type most Western diacritics without need for keys blocked by Respondus Lockdown browser )
    3. It is an issue with e.g. Arabic. You cannot even temporarily set Arabic to your default input language before starting lockdown browser, since then you cannot log in (with MS Maren IME, you can override the Arabic default to enter your username in western characters, but not the password. Respondus Lockdown Browser is built on Internet Explorer, but it does not share the cookies, so being logged into your LMS in Internet Explorer does not carry over to your Lockdown Browser session).
    4. Workaround: See above.

STM Crash

Oops? Haven’t seen that one before, and the Sanako Study 1200 has been stable. Networking issues again? (availability of file share S-drive?) See similar crash of licensing service recently.

System.MissingMethodException error when installing recorder standalone light

Do we know why? – Still not, but looking into whether all prerequisites are fulfilled (this looks like a .Net error, but the my framework check says higher than version 2 is installed on that faculty computer).