Category Archives: Technologies

HTML5 – Why I couldn’t see it in IE9 and why Windows XP users never will

Download an MP3 file (2.4 MB) to listen to this blog post: HTML5 goodness Or, browser willing, play it back here:

A few posts ago I was po’ed at IE 9 because I couldn’t see video captions or HTML 5 content. Neither could my husband. Before you recommend other browsers, yes – I use other browsers. The students whose lives I am trying to make easier use Internet Explorer (or Internet Exploder as some like to call it). So I look at what I create for them through their eyes. Today, my hubby figured out why our bright shiny new IE 9 browsers were not able to see HTML 5 goodies. Internet Explorer 9 has web developer tools you can display by either clicking the F12 key on your keyboard or by going up to your settings menu (cog in far top right corner) and selecting F12 developer tools. Continue reading

Mark Smithers on why lecture capturing is a woeful use of technology

I wish I could add something pithy to this – but when someone makes the point so very, very well – all you can do is point others to it. Being me and unable to NOT state an opinion, I will preface this link as follows: As an online student who had to sit through hours of crappy video of somebody lecturing in front of a white board I can’t see clearly – lemme tell you something: watching video lectures is BORING AS HELL. It added little to the learning experience – especially considering there was no assignment following it that allowed me to apply the knowledge. NOTE TO SELF AND OTHER PRESENTERS: Unless you can juggle or do magic tricks like Jonathan Finkelstein, or you create instructive works of art as you talk like Nancy White – YOU JUST AREN’T THAT EXCITING TO WATCH Thanks to Kerrie Smith, writer of You are Never Alone http://smik.posterous.com/ for bringing Mark Smithers’ post to my attention via her daily Twitter roundup! http://www.masmithers.com/2011/03/11/is-lecture-capture-the-worst-educational-technology/

Creating ringtones for iPhone from a PC

iPhone RingtonesI have a new iPhone 4- a different OS from my previous mobile phone. I’ve loaded on new content and apps and now want some custom ringtones. Rather than purchase ringtones derived from my favourite songs, I decided to make my own. I decided I was going to share the process here on my blog in case, like me, you were an iPhone user with a PC and thus didn’t have Garage Band (which apparently does this easily for you). But then I became concerned as to whether or not creating ringtones from legally purchased music was illegal. I’m not going to sell or share the resulting ringtone. I’m using it solely for my own use.

Legal or not?

I could not find any Australian sites with information on this, so I sought out information relating to the precedent-setting Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). While being vague about it, the RIAA is quoted (according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation web site) as saying that burning a copy of copyrighted music “won’t usually raise concerns so long as the copy is made from an authorized original CD that you legitimately own and the copy is just for your personal use.” This would seem to suggest what I’ve done is okay. However, by grabbing just a portion of the song to use as the ring tone, I’ve made a derivative work. True, it’s a derivative work made from legally purchased music and the derivative is solely for my own use — but is it legal? According to a 2007 engadget article written by copyright attorney Nilay Patel, thanks to the RIAA seeking a decision from the copyright office, ring tones are NOT considered derivative works. Therefore, I am merely transferring legally purchased music from one device to another, which the RIAA says ‘won’t usually raise concerns’. So, taking this into consideration, I feel comfortable in sharing how to create a derivative from a legally purchased file. It’s up to you whether you feel comfortable in doing so. If you find anything that says it is illegal, please leave a comment. I’ve also read that music you purchase from the iTunes store has DRM info that prevents you from creating your own ringtones. I used the below steps with a legally purchased CD.

How to create ringtones for iPhone from a PC

  1. rip your CD
  2. download the very latest BETA version of Audacity (at this writing, 1.3.13) from http://audacity.sourceforge.net/
  3. download  the ffmpeg for Audacity file from the Audacity manual wiki web site (note, full ffmpeg from ffmpeg.org did NOT work)
  4. install both Audacity and ffmpeg
  5. open Audacity, go to libraries, browse computer to where you have ffmpeg for Audacity, find the .dll file you need (described on Audacity wiki)
  6. load in your song and edit it
  7. export file as a .m4a AAC file
  8. right click and change file extension to .m4r
  9. import file into iTunes library
  10. connect iPhone, drag file to ringtones folder of iPhone
Save as M4A

Three’s/Vodaphone’s sorry excuse for “customer responsiveness”

Attention corporate customer service centres: your customers are getting smarter.  Whether or not you’re all dipping into the same cupboard of pre-canned responses or not, we know when you are copying, pasting and ticking us off a list. I present for your review – an email I received from Three, Vodafone Hutchison Australia Pty Limited that contains absolutely no mention of the topic I raised or steps they were going to take to resolve it. I contacted them via a contact form on their web site to complain about the links to soft core porno they post to the new tab of their mobile web browser.  My message was: Please advise on how I can stop the objectionable images and links displayed on the  “New” tab of the Three web browser.  Some of these are so disgusting and graphic that I am warning friends away from your services and wish I didn’t have a contract with you. What's for dinner? From Tup Wanders The reply I received was a Frankenstein of cut and past canned responses: Dear Kerry, Thank you for your email regarding your 3 service. We apologize for the delay in responding to your enquiry. It must be frustrating to have gone through an experience like you’ve mentioned in your email. Kerry, we strive for all customers to have a positive experience when talking to our staff or using your service. We are happy to investigate or diagnose any difficulties you may be facing and appreciate your patience and taking the time to write to us. However, we’d appreciate and value your feedback provided. We take your feedback on board to improve our service. Not only does it allow us to diagnose and fix any difficulties with your 3 service, it helps us to provide a better service for all of our customers. We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused and highly appreciate your patience in this matter. You are our valuable customer. We will do our best to make sure the rest of your experience is better. If we can assist you further, please contact us again via email or call 3 Care on 13 33 20. When replying to this email, please ensure you include your 3 mobile number and four-digit account PIN. Regards Shawn 3 Care www.three.com.au It’s good to be 3

DIY blog themes – drag and drop

I fell down a rabbit hole today — originally I was looking for a blog widget for my linkedin account.  The Linkedin blog has a few they are testing and the site itself has some very plain ones — but none were quite right.  At 300 px for a blog sidebar badge, the test ones aren’t going to work. However, this quest got me thinking about my blog theme — 3 columns seems a bit much.  I tend to use my blog as a testing ground, but over the past year it was resembling not so much a blog as the Las Vegas strip.

So I started the quest for a unique WordPress blog theme – widget-ready, 2 columns, reasonable level of customisation.  I ended up finding inexpensive software that allowed me to create my own.

artisteer

Artisteer (http://www.artisteer.com), created by Extensoft (http://extensoft.com) , allowed me to create a standards-compliant WordPress theme with a drag and drop interface that was fun and really easy to use. At this writing, the software cost $US50 for a home/educational version for one user (you can use on one desktop and one laptop computer).  It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the standard version, but will certainly do the trick for me.  Pros can buy the full version for $125 and they company is planning to release an editor for Joomla and Drupal along with Blogger, Sharepoint and other CMS packages. I had to do a bit of tweaking once I’d uploaded the theme — for me, I have to have the RSS/subscribe info at the top of the page.  I’d also have liked to add my sub page names to the editor and do tweaking on the sub page template, but it’s early days and I can use the theme editor in WordPress to upload header images for sub pages. This could be a real time saver for you pro-CSS coders – I know that for a complete CSS n00b like me, it has saved me literally DAYS of time.  Even searching for free themes costs time — so this little baby has paid for itself on the first blog for me. And in the interest of full disclosure — no, I do NOT get a kickback from the company and the links I am providing are NOT via any affiliate program. All in all – I’m very, very happy with my ROI.