Posted in 21st Century Ed, Audio/Video, Web 2.0 Tools

Intel Boxed Compute Stick with Windows 10 Pre-Loaded

They just keep getting smaller and smaller.  Amazon.com currently lists this for about $134 +tax, but I saw something on TV just yesterday regarding when electronics “deals” are best during the holidays season.  The Monday before Thanksgiving is supposed to be the best for these types of items.

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  • New Generation compute on device that transforms any HDMI display into a fully functional computer
  • A solution with plenty of storage and performance needed for light productivity, social networking, web browsing, and streaming media, such as Netflix, Hulu, or games.
  • Enable thin-client solutions for small- to medium-sized businesses, delivering ultra portability and reliable plug-and-play simplicity, with Windows Remote Desktop access for on-the-fly support
  • Windows 10 Pre Loaded (includes PowerShell)

It has a USB port, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 support and a mini-USB connector for power, Pre-installed 32-bit OS: Windows 10 and micro SD card slot for additional storage

128GBmicroSDcard

NOTE:  I asked about PowerShell being included with this Windows 10 because I recently have been learning some PowerShell scripting so that I could modify and use a “content migration” script via the Canvas LMS API.  *Versions of Python (v 2.x & 3.x) are included with the Rasberry Pi that I have.  I also have one of the Logitech wireless keyboards (shown below) that I use with the Raspberry Pi.  It is slightly smaller than a full-sized keyboard… and I think it is the location of the “Shift” key that causes some problems when I am using Python.

k2-_99304b86-2a51-4592-9a40-b67951aecaf4.v1.jpg-807b6a0b6318c3fb74bbfc0dae9aa375f8bff3b7-optim-450x450
A wireless keyboard with trackpad for about $20 at Wal*Mart.

I have a Chromecast that is hooked up to my 40″ HDTV so I know how nice it is to push web video/audio to the larger screen.

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Posted in Audio/Video, Web 2.0 Tools

Video Teleprompter Lite by Joe Allen

A couple of years ago I had come across a video recording teleprompter (VRT2) app that worked pretty well on my iPad.  But, after a short time, the company disappeared, and I did not see the product reappear.  As I recall, the product had some glitches, but nothing that couldn’t have been worked out with time & effort.  The one thing I do recall is that the text was displayed across the entire screen (with the video that was being recorded in the background), and this meant that it was obvious you were reading from a script (by following your eye movement).

A short time ago someone asked if I had seen the Video Teleprompter from Joe Allen.  I didn’t have the time, at the time, to go look at it, but took a look at it this morning.

IMG_0731

You might think that having the text scrolling window so narrow would be a negative, but there is method to the madness.  Focusing your eyes on the brown highlighted area on the left of the screen to read your text puts the focus of your eyes close to the camera lens… so you do look like you are speaking to the camera, and not just reading.

Here is a brief example of a video recording I did earlier this morning.

Okay, so I have my bifocals on, and you note the tilt of my head backwards in order to read the text clearly.  Still, it is pretty close to “talking to the camera.”

Posted in Audio/Video

Swivl

Swivl provides a “hook” for presenting captivating videos.  The hook is that the Swivl base tracks its remote (that you carry about or wear on a lanyard) and thereby your video recording device follows you about, as if you had a “personal cameraman”.  The current Swivl base has a very smooth tracking motion.

I think the subliminal message is that either I, or what I am saying is important enough for the camera to follow me, and if the camera is following me, the audience should be attentive to what I am saying or to what I am showing them.

The other Swivl feature that makes your videos more captivating is that the  remote also captures your audio very well.  You could record your audio remotely, and then use video editing software to combine silent video with the matching recorded audio, but Swivl saves you that time and effort.

I’m not sure the current price of the Swivl base & remote (approx. $300) can be justified by most individuals.  However, in an educational environment the device could be shared amongst instructors or teachers in a department.  On sharing equipment:  The current Swivl base and remote appear to be well constructed.  That said, there are several other plastic pieces that could be easily broken or lost =  the plastic remote holder that is hung from a lanyard, the 3 different sized shems that hold various video capture devices, the audio cable that attaches the video capture device and the Swivl base.

Don’t equate Swivl with the flipped classroom.  For that matter, don’t equate video lectures with the flipped classroom.

I think the Swivl might be useful in recording student teachers who are walking about the classroom during the teaching process.  You could track the instructor’s movements and have very good audio.  But, I am not sure how well the Swivl would track the teacher if the “little” or big heads/bodies of their students block the tracking device.  Put the Swivl & video recording device high on a tripod so that “line of sight” room obstacles are few.

NOTE: I gave a Swivl presentation to two groups of faculty during the Bronco Kick-Off (start of the Fall Semester 2014).  I could not have planned for a better illustration than what Professor Denise Payton provided on the fly.

Posted in 21st Century Ed, Audio/Video, Podcasting, Web 2.0 Tools

The New Swivl, Crowdfunding & Knowmia

Earlier this week, I came across a video enhancement device called Swivl. The concept is simple. Create a rotating stand that you can put a camera device on, and then provide a sensor that will cause the device to follow you (the presenter) around automatically. The implementation was probably nowhere near as simple. Watching the demo videos was exciting.

Not only will the device follow you as you move about, but the remote sensor also records audio, so the problem of producing quality audio, wirelessly, for your video, as you move about, is solved. There is something captivating about a device that thinks you are important enough to follow your every movement;-) In one of the demo videos, the instructor moves the remote and actually uses it as a pointing device to direct the camera to what is written on the board. The signal from the remote device will also bounce off of reflective surfaces, so even if you turn around and are writing on a board (or pointing to something), the Swivl will continue to track your movements.

The first version of Swivl does not support the iPad or DSLR cameras, but the next gen products are supposed to. There is a “sports mode” that causes the device to track you, even when you are moving more quickly. Think about using this in PE or sports activity analysis.

I wonder if I could use one remote and two Swivl devices to track me with two cameras. The resultant blended video might rival Spielberg.  How about putting your iPad and new Swivl on a tripod and running the “Video Recording Teleprompter 2” app.  Walking around in a circle, while your background changes, talking directly to the camera (while reading from a script) could create an impressive movie.

I do not purport to understand the crowdfunding process, other than investors pay “up front,” have a say in the product development, and reap the rewards of first dibs on the newly released item that hopefully works especially as they would like. *For instance, I noted that the first version used AAA batteries in the remote and base. I immediately thought that I would much rather have a rechargeable battery. I see that the new Swivl will have rechargeable batteries. *The new Swivl footprint is slick and smooth.

While on the Swivl web site, one link directed me to Knowmia. This is a free site for developing and presenting short educational videos. They even have a useful, free, iPad app.

I installed the Knowmia app on my iPad2 and started testing it out. I’ll admit that I finally had to watch the instructional demo, but afterwards using the various functions was much easier. I still am enamored of Prezi for its simplicity and flow, but the Knowmia app does provide some interesting functionality in creating presentations.

Perhaps in later generations of Swivl, they will incorporate a Roomba, and you will be able to move about the house, not just in one room.

Posted in 21st Century Ed, Audio/Video, Chromebook, Podcasting, Web 2.0 Tools

Chromebook AND iPad Again!

When I first got my Samsung Chromebook, it was new enough that there weren’t any accessories, such as a carrying case, specifically for the Chromebook. I went to a local Office Depot (I think.), and found a Case Logic carrying case for it. About $25.

Both my Chromebook and my iPad can both fit, snuggly, in the same case, at the same time. Maybe a little heavy, but nice to have both, if needed. There is also another zipped pocket for my USB hard drive and a digital camera, and little tripod ($1 at Dollar Tree), and a pair of headphones.

Having both an iPad and a Chromebook provides you with alot of mobile computing capability.  I could view a video while taking notes, or blogging my reactions easily.  I could record video or take pictures with the iPad and push them to YouTube or Flickr, and then create a multi-media posting with text using my Chromebook to “easily” type a detailed article.

I bought this iPad to camera tripod connector from Amazon for about $15.

Here is the iPad connected to the camera tripod ready to take video from the classroom podium.


VRT in action:

The VRT does not work perfectly, but does a pretty good job.  You can paste in a good amount of dialogue (without having to memorize what you are about to say… I would suggest rehearsing a time or two so that you don’t stumble over difficult words or phrases.).

Posted in Audio/Video, Chromebook, Podcasting, Web 2.0 Tools

Recording MP3 Audio from Your Chromebook

One of the first things I did with my Chromebook was to record several “straight to YouTube” videos. I was in my Civic, parked outside a library, using their free WIFI connection, on a holiday weekend. I had no problem recording the videos, except for when the Chromebook started to fall from the dashboard, and I had to catch it.

I wasn’t aware until a few days ago, when I was listening to a Cool Teachers’ Podcast that there wasn’t an audio recording app for the Chromebook. I went looking and found some online services, but then I came across the most amazing site. “Dennie Hoopingarner’s Technology Showcase” http://denniehoopingarner.com/portfolio/ has several examples of his programming skills. The “Flex/Flash” MP3 Recorder is “perfect” for the Chromebook. “Recording and encoding to MP3 are all handled by the Flash file on the client,” so I’m guessing that the memory for the device you are using would be the limiting factor in how large an audio file you could record. *In my initial testing I recorded several short clips, but then did a 5 minutes & a 10 minutes clip. The recording went well. The playback was choppy, but the encoded product played without a problem, and I was able to save the clips to my Chromebook & Windows 7 PC. Since all the processing is on the client-side, there is no need to have a large storage capacity on the server side. It is just serving up some scripting and a Flash file. Once these are loaded on your device, the server goes on to another customer (at least that is how I think it works). **I’m thinking that serving this app from a web page would be useful for faculty & students who need to create short audio clips quickly & easily.

For the 10 minutes recording, it took about 6 minutes to encode it into the MP3 format. I have an Android phone with an MP3 recording app, and that takes about the same amount of time, so 10 minutes to record, and 6 minutes to produce the finished product, which is then saved to your device. *This app also has a “snip” function so that you can remove unwanted segments of your recording, before saving.

So Chrome OS doesn’t use Java, but it does Flash well. Apple doesn’t do Flash, so if you have a combination of iPads and Chromebooks, you’ll have to point them to different apps to create MP3 files.

I sent an email yesterday to Dennie Hoopingarner letting him know how powerful, and useful I thought his MP3 Recorder was, and that it was ideal for Chromebook users. I haven’t heard back from him yet, but hopefully he will work something out to make this app available on the Chrome Web Store (maybe under Educational Apps).

If you look around his web site, you’ll also notice a “Photo Taker” Flash app that also works on a Chromebook, and a Video Recording app.

Experiment #1: microphone to mp3 recorder with flash

http://www.jordansthings.com/blog/?p=5#comment-1338

Not sure who Jordan is, or if he is even interested/focused on this type of app any longer.  But, since there is a need in the Chromebook arena, someone should polish a Chrome plugin that would do this job, like it does.

What does it take to get an app on the Chrome Web Store?  Developer for Chrome Web Store link.

Posted in Audio/Video, eMobile, Web 2.0 Tools

VoiceThread Mobile App for iOS

voicethread logo

http://www.freetech4teachers.com/

I was visiting the “Free Technology for Teachers” site yesterday and saw an entry that VoiceThread now had a mobile app for the iPhone & iPad. I downloaded it onto my 1st Gen iPad and started to use it. I LIKE IT! It is easy to pull images into your VTs from your iPad Albums. I used the record voice option and used my finger to illustrate or highlight items.

http://voicethread.com/mobile/

I did see that if you attempted to create a new presentation, even if you had one or two free spaces, the iPad app told you, you had to upgrade your account. I was using the free account that allows you to create up to 3 presentations, and I had deleted two of them to free up space to create one from the iPad. *I didn’t upgrade my account, but used my Logitech Revue system to visit the VoiceThread site and create two presentations (it did not ask me to upgrade my free account) that had one or two images on each. I surmised that they would act as “holding places” for presentations, and I could go back into the app on the iPad and add content to those presentations. That did work.

One of the images I uploaded must have been very high resolution, because it filled the entire iPad screen. I’m not sure if I could have drawn to the edges of the image, if necessary, but will try that shortly.

Posted in Audio/Video

Logitech Revue w/ Google TV

[Buyer Beware! I “play” with various web tools, both software and hardware.  I do not have insider knowledge, and I don’t get a “kick back” for products I review, or even endorse.  However, sometimes I find an item that is exciting for me and I choose to share that info with others.  Here is my initial review of the Logitech Revue with Google TV and why it might be a good deal if you want to have Internet connectivity in a classroom, cheaply.  *If Logitech discontinues the product, or makes changes in the features, I do not offer any guarantee or warranty.]

From the Logitech site

About 6 months ago, I took a brief look at a “Sony WIFI BlueRay Player with Google TV” set top box with a wireless keyboard. The keyboard was surprisingly uncomfortable and unwieldy. I don’t recall what I was looking at on the Web, yesterday, but was reminded of this device and saw that Logitech had combined a hardware device, the Revue, with Google TV. *As I wrote the previous sentence, it came to me that I had been reminded of the Cisco UMI (home videoconferencing device), and in reading a review, it was mentioned that the Logitech Revue was a competing system. I googled for “Logitech Revue” and became more interested when I saw that it’s original price, somewhere over $350, had been reduced to only $99 (and there was no monthly fee as with the UMI). I suffered a “buying frenzy”, took off work about an hour early and drove directly to Best Buy to see if I could purchase the Logitech system.

I had gone onto the Best Buy web site and saw that there were Revue systems available at the Fayetteville, NC store. I walked in and headed to the back of the store. I did a quick loop, starting where I thought the devices might be, went past the cheap end of the TV wall, and finally after making a completed question mark, saw the devices just to the right of where I had originally thought they might be.

There was a flat screen TV, the black box (about the size of a small Bible), and the wireless keyboard (except for the security wire). There were no salesmen nearby, and none gravitated to me immediately. This gave me the opportunity to explore the device and see how intuitive it might be to use.

The keyboard was a light plastic, but was full-sized, with a touch pad in the upper right corner. I finally noticed the Home key and arrived at where everything starts. I saw a Google Chrome button and was in a browser. It took me several attempts to realize that the “OK” button did not work to select items after having moused over them. There is a select bar at the bottom of the touch pad, which is where it should be.  *I have since found you can make the touchpad take “a tap as select” by clicking on the CTRL+FN+PgUp keys once.

Let me suggest that after playing with the system last night and most of this morning (at work… this is what I do), I have to say, “It is a great value. It does a bunch of neat stuff. And there are many things it doesn’t do at all, but in the overall mix are forgivable.

The system can be connected via a network cable, or easily connects via WIFI. It does not come with a network cable. It probably took 5 minutes or less, at work this morning, to get it connected. I used the HDMI cable that came with the system and hooked it in the back of my 32” Westinghouse TV which I also use as my primary monitor, via a VGA connector. I had to search for the TV remote so that I could easily switch between the VGA and HDMI ports. *I have a dual monitor system on a Windows 7 System, and noted that my Outlook email window was still accessible on the second monitor, even when I changed from VGA to HDMI on my TV monitor.

You can’t have multiple browser windows open for the Chrome browser. You can’t open and view PDF documents. But, it does Flickr, YouTube and many other online video sites very well. There are even video control buttons in the bottom right corner of the keyboard.

I am typing this posting in Gmail using the Revue System. There is no way to attach an image, or other file, even though those options are included in Gmail.

Okay, so here is where I think this system would shine… if it’s not discontinued for poor sales: If you have a TV monitor, with a HDMI connection, and an Internet connection (either hardwired, or WIFI with good bandwidth), then you can hook to the Internet for $99. Where else could you pay that little for a PC, laptop, or netbook at that great of a price? If you have a Google account, then you have email (which means you can blog to WordPress and other sites), a calendar system, documents, photos, etc.

I might worry about the keyboard being easily broken if students were allowed to play with it.

The system might be totally useless if the Internet was unavailable (or the DNS server wasn’t re-routing your URLs correctly). It might be, but maybe not. There are two USB ports in the back. I’m sure Logitech would like to sell you a web cam to hook into one of them. But, you could also plugin a flash drive and play or view any audio, video or photos, even without Internet connectivity. *Oh, I haven’t got this working yet, but you can also use Windows Media Player to “stream” your media from a PC, and the Revue can connect to this.

Also, I do not have a set top cable box, so I do not have a TV Source, but if I did, I could use the “PnP” (picture within picture) function to watch TV while I surfed the web.

So, I would suggest that you go out and get one of these great deals at Best Buy, or online via Amazon.com. You are taking a chance that poor sales, so far, will cause the company to discontinue production… But, if it doesn’t, what a neat tool for your classroom!

Posted in Audio/Video, eMobile

Providing “Audio Only” – Part Deux

Providing “Audio Only” – Part Deux

If you use the Firefox browser, then get the “Download YouTube Videos as MP4 and FLV 1.3” extension.

Installing this will add a button on the YouTube site to assist you in downloading the video in either MP4 or FLV format. Install, restart Firefox, visit YouTube, select the video format in which you want to save, and download.

I have a registered copy of Cucusoft’s Video Converter Suite, but if you don’t already have an app, get the free VLC media player. Follow the steps listed in the article below and you will easily have the mp3 audio file ripped from the original YouTube video:

http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/2719/how-to-convert-video-files-formats-to-mp3-with-vlc/

Copyright and permissions aside, but adhered to, technically, it doesn’t get much simpler or “freer” to set up a simple system to rip the audio for your YouTube videos and be able to add the mp3 (audio only) file to your blog posting. Install one free extension to your Firefox browser, download and install a free app to your Windows System… viola!

(downloaded mp4 – approx. 5MB size).

and the ripped audio only (approx. 2MB file size).

Posted in Audio/Video, eMobile

Providing “Audio Only”

As I rode around yesterday, I started to listen to a video podcast from the “Higher Ed Live” web site. At first, I started playing it on my iPad, plugging the audio jack from the iPad to play on my car stereo system, since even the comfortable Apple earpieces hurt a little. This worked fine until I noticed that the iPad was running low on battery life, and then I found that I had left the USB connector at home. So, I pulled up the video on my EVO 4G and plugged the audio jack into it. It wasn’t too long before the video started to stop intermittently, and then eventually stopped altogether. That’s what happens when you start to get fewer and fewer bars on your phone. The data in just can’t match the data out.

So, I thought, “It would be nice if I could rip the audio from a YouTube video for a much smaller file size of ‘audio only’.” I wasn’t sure there was such an app for that, but figured I wasn’t the first with that need. I also recalled that ODIOGO would work well to provide an audio transcription of the blog text.

Today, I sent an email to “HigherEdLive” and made the suggestions above, knowing that with Seth Odell’s move across country, it might be a long time before he had time to focus even a little attention upon this. I then googled for “ripping audio from YouTube” and found several entries, of which I chose the following: http://www.video2mp3.net/

I was really happy with the result. This service is free (with ads), online, and doesn’t even require an account creation. I entered a YouTube URL and the process began to chug away. When it was done, a download link appeared (with advertising). The “Standard Quality” (High) file was perfectly audible.

So, I would suggest if you are thinking about providing a mobile friendly version of your site, adding “audio only” alternatives to your text and video content could be useful.

— Addendum:

A week or so later, I am riding around Raleigh, and pull off to see if I can rip the audio, via my iPad.  It worked well on a couple of clips, but signal strength and file size were a problem in others.  Not sure, even if converted successfully, if a large audio file downloads completely.

http://www.flickr.com//photos/billg2/sets/72157627653303780/show/

The ClipConverter site also works very well.