I hear and read so much about “the cloud”. What is it, and why should I care?
The cloud is a unique way of storing your files in a remote location. With all your files stored online, you can maintain a workspace anywhere you go because you have access to all of your files from your computer, mobile, tablet, or even a friend’s computer. This method of file sharing also allows you and your cohorts to collaboratively edit a document, all without the frustrating process of emailing it back and forth.
There are risks that one takes when entrusting their files to the cloud, though. Data can be lost if the servers fail or if files are lost during their synchronization across platforms. In light of this, I definitely suggest backing up all of your important files on an external hard drive, CD, or flash drive. At times cloud services do go down, causing your files to be temporarily inaccessible. Again, a backup source for your files would be helpful in this case. And last but not least, security is in question any time your confidential files are “given” to a company’s cloud service.
Literally, though, the cloud is very much like its name suggests. It is a group of servers and client computers that provide access to one or more resources, whether it is file storage, applications, file sharing, video/music streaming, etc. via the connections found on the internet. This technology is important because it is changing the way we are computing and what we are using to do it. Instead of traditional laptops and desktop computers, individuals are now turning to tablets and mobile phones to get their work done. With access to the cloud being available on almost any device, the possibilities are far extended from the workplace of the 90s and early 2000’s. Work is being done everywhere and offices are becoming more and more of a rarity.
Do you have a question of your own? Ask Andy!
There are several ways to go about capturing a single frame from a video.
(1) On the iPhone If you take videos on your iPhone, apps such as MovieTolmage make grabbing stills from these files easy. Use the app's simple scrubbing interface to locate the precise frame you want. When you find the perfect shot, tap the Save button in the bottom right corner of the screen. The still will be saved to your Camera Roll.
(2) Screen Grab: If you’re working with SD video you can do a screen grab. Open the movie in QuickTime Player, and make sure you’re viewing at actual size. (To do this, choose View -> Actual Size, or press Command-1.
Press Command-Shift-4, and your cursor will turn into a crosshairs.) Click and drag to pull a selection around your video window. When you release the mouse button, an image file will be written to your desktop.
(3) Export from iMovie: To export a still using iMovie, first import the clip into iMovie, then create a new project. When you find the frame you want, right-click or Control-click and choose Add Freeze Frame from the drop-down menu. A new clip will be added to the end of the segment. Right-click of Control-click on this frame and choose Reveal in Finder from the menu. A Finder window will open that shows the newly created JPEG still image file. Hold down the Option key to drag a copy of this file to wherever you like.
(4) Use Aperture: If you have Aperture 3, you can create a still by importing a movie into an Aperture project, playing it or scrubbing through until you find the frame you like, then opening the gear menu on the right side of the playback controls. Choose New JPEG From Frame, and a new still frame will be added to your project. Click on this frame and choose File -> Export Version to save it as an image file.
Remember when smart phones became really popular? The reason they became popular was because they put the internet in the palm of your hands. You could check your email, book airfare, even do all of your holiday shopping without having to find a computer. While it’s not wise to carry a 55 inch TV wherever you go, the concept of “smart” for TVs is essentially the same as the evolution of smart phones.
TVs now have the ability to let you surf the web, post a tweet, watch movies from your favorite movie service, and check your email, among many other functions. Many of these TVs come with full size keyboards for typing websites and documents…quite handy if you don’t want to leave your living room.
The newer models of Smart TVs also use gesture control to let you scroll, select, and move items around. If you are a certain distance from the TV, moving your hand in front of the screen gives you the same functionality as a mouse on your computer. Smart TVs are quickly becoming a fan favorite, and don’t be surprised to see every major brand of television release a Smart TV within the next 5 years.
A Smart Board is a device that allows users to interact with displayed content, using simple finger touches or specially designed pens for annotation, highlighting, moving images, etc. Essentially, a Smart Board works in tandem with a computer and special software to bring content to life.
Most Smart Boards come with 4 interactive “pens” that write with digital ink along with an eraser that can “clear” the digital ink. The colors can be changed on the fly to allow instructors to make clear, color coded references if necessary. Smart Boards have been a vital tool to make PowerPoint slides interactive, primarily for folks studying education. They enhance student participation, allow instructors to illustrate points more clearly, and also eliminate the need for them to go back and forth between the computer and the board.
The possibilities of Smart Board uses vary greatly with each field of study. Smart has tutorials available for folks who are looking to apply Smart Board use to their curriculums.
This is a question that has occurred quite frequently as the college transitions to digital systems in the Smart Classrooms. The important concept to remember is that while a projector may be digital, the source needs to be digital too. Currently, many of our computers and DVD players have analog outputs. If you are using a laptop with HDMI (digital) and displaying it on a current smart classroom projector (analog), you will not see an improvement on your image: in fact, you’ll have to account for factors such as resolution and scanning lines to make it look decent.
The same applies if you display a PC (currently analog) onto a digital projection system. If an analog signal goes in, it needs to be analog on the output display to look optimal.
In principle, the source AND the output display must be digital in order to see a sharper, higher quality image. With the construction and upgrade of Patterson Hall, 9 classrooms, a seminar room and computer lab will be the first areas to house digital systems and projectors.
Most of the sources in our Smart Classrooms have one volume control. We will focus primarily on PC and laptop audio, along with DVD player audio.
1. For PCs and laptops, there are a few volume controls that need turned up in addition to the touch panel’s volume:
a) The volume of the PC, which can be found on the bottom right of the Windows Taskbar near the time and date.
b) The volume of your content, whether it’s the volume of a video on Youtube, webcast, or another video host.
2. For DVD players, the audio configuration on the DVD might need changed. Many current DVDs are produced in Dolby Digital surround sound, meaning it can have as many as 7 channels of audio. You may need to change the DVD audio settings to “Stereo”, or another available setting other than “Surround Sound.”
RCA cables are a familiar sight to almost everyone who owns a VCR, DVD player, or even a gaming console. The yellow cable is designed for video to go from point A to point B. The red and white cables each carry one channel of audio: for color coding purposes, the left channel goes through the white connector, and the right channel through the red connector.
To go a step further, technically, you can use the yellow, red and white cables interchangeably. Years ago, that wasn’t always the case: the yellow cable had more resistance to allow for video to pass through more cleanly, with minimal outside interference. (It had 75 ohms of resistance, while the audio cables had 50 ohms of resistance.) Some resistance is now built into the connectors of the devices the cables plug into, placing less dependence on the cable.
While all DVDs look the same inside the case, there are many different types of DVDs that manufacturers produce. They can be from different regions, or they can be different types, such as DVD-RAM, DVD-ROM, or DVD Video. Majority of DVD players in the United States will reliably read and play “DVD Video” discs from Region 1. Here are a few possible reasons why the DVD might not play:
a) If it’s a DVD that has been not been produced commercially (for example, your home movies), make sure the disc is finalized as a DVD Video or DVD-ROM.
b) The DVD’s region is any number except 1. The solution? Region-free DVD players are available to allow DVDs from any region to play.
With over 5,000 media titles in our media library, students can find materials that will greatly assist them with research and other academic purposes. The answer is absolutely! Media titles can be signed out by students for one week. You can browse our online catalog and see what titles we have in our holdings by going to westminster.edu/av and selecting the “Online Catalog” link on the left.
If you are a student, however, you will need to get a “clearance” from a faculty member or advisor to confirm that you will be using the title for an academic purpose. This is done by completing a Student Media Request form. You can obtain a hard copy of the form from our office OR, for the computer-savvy, you can fill out the form online! The faculty member will confirm or deny your request: once we receive that confirmation, either with a signed form or an e-mail reply, we can process your request.
ANDY SAYS: First and foremost, while you may be in front of 20 students, the important thing is not to panic. This happens quite frequently, and our AV staff members are always ready to help!
A vital, and sometimes time-saving aspect of troubleshooting is to start retracing the basic steps.
First, make sure your room’s red Master Power Switch is turned on in the equipment rack: this turns on the amplifiers, which powers the speakers.
Second, press the PC button followed by “Send To Projector” on your touch panel. Even if you have done this second step already, it’s worth another try: your touch panel is like a computer.
Third, check and make sure that the following volume sources are turned up and NOT MUTED:
- Volume level on the touch panel
- Volume level coming out of the computer (usually indicated by a speaker icon on the bottom right of the computer screen next to the date and time)
- Volume level of the Youtube video itself, which can be set next to the play/pause button of the video window.
If none of these basic troubleshooting steps restore your audio, never hesitate to contact Audio Visual Services at 724-946-7188 and report this, or any AV technology issue! You can also fill out the online trouble report form via our AV website (westminster.edu/av) for the fastest, most reliable service.
ANDY SAYS: iPads are one of the hottest commodities in the world of electronics today. As of February 2012, if the classroom you use has an RCA Auxiliary Connection Plate or a Laptop VGA input, you can indeed use your iPad to present slides, video, and photos! Audio Visual Services circulates conversion cables for iPads and iPhones that allow your device to work with our analog systems. See the “Equipment Rental” section of our Audio Visual website (westminster.edu/av) for additional details on how to sign out the cable you need.
If you are an avid iPad presenter, there is some excellent news regarding Patterson Hall’s renovation to be completed in April 2012! All 10 fully equipped digital SMART Classrooms will have an exclusive docking station for iPads! This will eliminate the hassle of cable and provide an easy way to display your content!