Harrison Farm

for now, the only thing we're growing on this farm is kids - not the goat variety

Month: June 2007 (page 2 of 4)

“Link off-page” solution to using Camtasia Flash on WordPress

One way to put Camtasia's flash player on your WordPress blog is not to put it there.

Whut?

Instead, we will have a picture like this one below. It looks like a video player, doesn't it? But actually it's just a jpeg with a link to a video. Try pressing play.

test2capture.jpg

The linkI used looks like <a href="http://s174823996.onlinehome.us/test1/test1.html" target="_blank">
<p style="text-align: center"><img src="http://harrisonfarm.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/test2capture.jpg" alt="test2capture.jpg" /></p>.

The key is to use the target="_blank" to open a new page.

But wouldn't it be great to have the new page be one of those cool little pop-up pages with nothing but a title bar?

How do they do that, anyway?

Below is the code from such a link. It doesn't work because I don't have the javascript file that supports it.

Software demonstrations


Isolating Camtasia Output Mods Needed for Flash Embed

I can't access the swf files at all, they're in some kind of code (binary?).

Here are file references that I've updated in ProductionInfo.xml

  • videofilenamewithpath
  • SWFPlaybackConfigFileName
  • SWFPlaybackControllerFileName
  • SWFPreloaderFileName
  • A bunch more, and the type of data I'm seeing in this file is making me think that this file can't be essential to the flash embed, so as an experiment, I'm going to delete that file from my server and see if the video still plays. (I'm just missing the Camtasia player, as of the writing of this file.) Result: yes, it still plays, so that -- together with the fact that it has a generic name -- makes it unlikely that this file is essential to what I'm missing.

I tried moving the two .js (javascript) files into the js folder at WP. That didn't help. Could it be that I need to include full URLs with the javascript calls?

References in FlashTemplate.css

  • Only one, to the "nofp_bg.gif" Adding and AbsURL didn't change anything.

Okay, I'm stumped. Here's another possibility...

As I understand it, Kimili is running the javascript commands in the background. Perhaps I could look into the settings and/or code for Kimili and get more of the variable that we see in the .html Camtasia output file to be defined.

Just looked into Kimili code and can't make any sense of it. I think I'll be calling Camtasia on Monday.

Camtasia Settings and Process for Flash Casting on WordPress

  1. Start a project folder
  2. Prepare an outline of your audio
  3. Prepare whatever windows and graphics you need.
  4. Prepare a "Temp Pix" folder in that project folder
  5. Use Picasa to
    1. Round up all the pictures you are going to use,
    2. put them in an album, and
    3. export them to the "Temp Pix" folder.
  6. Now go through those pics with Microsoft Picture Manager and
    1. crop to a 4:3 (landscape) ratio. (click on filmstrip view -- this allows you to quickly isolate the pics that need cropping)
    2. naming is also very quick in filmstrip view.
    3. Take note of what the smallest picture is and make a decision about frame size for your video. (in general, we want the version on our hard drive to be as large as possible. we can always reduce it from there.)
  7. Now go back to Picasa
    1. open that new folder in picasa and begin an export
    2. reduce everything to the size you decided on
    3. export everything to the project folder itself
  8. Open Camtasia Studio
  9. If you're going to use screen capture...
    1. Choose "Record Video from Screen"
    2. Choose "Region of the Screen" (later I'll need to specify a movable window, right?)
    3. Set a region of 320x240 pixels (may need to modify later)
    4. Check only "record audio"
    5. Recording source should be microphone. Do an auto-adjust if you haven't already.
    6. Check to disable display acceleration (except with Sketchup or Google Earth) and then Finish the dialog box sequence.
    7. Click in the box that says "fixed region". You will see a pop-down list.
    8. Click on "fixed region" even though it should already have a dot next to it.
    9. When the settings box comes up, uncheck the "fixed starting point" option. This will let you select a region just before capture begins.
    10. Click "Record"
    11. Wait. You'll want to wait until you see the green flashing of the recorder box. Why rush? You can always trim off dead space at the beginning of the recording using Camtasia's Editor.
    12. Make your recording.
    13. At the end, choose to save it as AVI. (this keeps us from getting locked into Camtasia.)
  10. If you're going to create the video "slideshow style"
    1. Bring in all the pics/clips and order them
    2. Make the audio track
    3. Put in markers
    4. Adjust video to match markers
    5. Now clip out all the excess pauses
    6. Add in zooms, graphics, stamping, opener, closer,
  11. Now, "Produce Video As"
  12. Here's how you would proceed if you wanted to try the "Recommended my Production Settings" track. Later we'll look at the custom track.
  13. Choose "web"
  14. Choose "content types" that apply.
  15. choose quality levels for audio and video -- 15 fps seems to be needed to avoid the blocks-o-color look.
  16. choose appearance of player.
  17. click finish and the files will be created and played for you in a web browser
  18. now you can approve of the production by clicking next
  19. click "production preset" and you'll save all of these settings.
  20. okay, now we need to modify the yourfilename_config.xml -- open it in notepad and find your file name (yourfilename.flv or yourfilename.swf) in the lower half of the document.
  21. Now, we need to change this name to an "absolute URL", so first we have to figure out exactly where on the web we need for this folder to end up.
  22. Open your FTP client and go into your host filespace. I'm going to be storing my video folders along with all my other uploads in the appropriate year and date folders under wp-content/uploads/
  23. So, since my file is called test.swf, the "absolute URL" will be http://fineremodel.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/test/test.swf
  24. Don't forget to include the name of the folder in which you'll be uploading these 10 or so files (yes, I recommend you do it that way for the sake of orderliness)
  25. So make that change to config.xml if you haven't yet.
  26. Now upload the entire folder to the space you chose at your web host.
  27. If you don't have the Kimili plug-in for WP, get it and activate it now.
  28. Now create the page or post at WordPress in which you wish this video to reside.
  29. In the rich text editor, click on the little "f" icon.
  30. You need to modify that code to look like this: [kml_flashembed movie=”http://www.brooksandrus.com/blog_assets /screencasts/objectembed/320_controller.swf” width=”320″ height=”295″ fvars=”csConfigFile=http://www.brooksandrus.com/blog_assets /screencasts/objectembed/config.xml ; csColor=2E3233″ fversion=”8″ /]
  31. So now you should have the absolute references to your swf (or flv) file and your test_config.xml file in the code. Check that the quotes are real web-code quotes. You may want to include or disclude the www in the URL.
  32. Publish it.


Getting Camtasia’s Flash Player to work in WordPress

Update: Caveat: I only recommend Camtasia because it's the best video screen capture and editor I've found so far, but it has major shortcomings. I can't find anybody better but I'm leaving the space below so that they can find us.

Okay, so now I'm totally focused on getting Camtasia's Flash Player to work on a post or page in WordPress.

Brooks Andrus, a senior flash developer at Camtasia, says at their forum that the key is to adapt the Kimili plug-in to embed like this:

kml_flashembed movie="http://www.brooksandrus.com/blog_assets /screencasts/objectembed/320_controller.swf" width="320" height="295" fvars="csConfigFile=http://www.brooksandrus.com/blog_assets /screencasts/objectembed/config.xml ; csColor=2E3233" fversion="8" /

(Note: You'll need hard brackets like this "]" before and after the above code. Also, I had to put a space in both URLs after "blog_assets" to let the text wrap on this post.)

The point being that you're giving the full URL to all elements of both player and flash file.

I actually put in the exact code above, just as a test and it worked! It pulled down a nice flash player with a video of a guy playing guitar.

So now we know that it CAN WORK. It's just a question of getting it to work for my video. Shouldn't be too hard...

I wonder if there is a way to "follow the links/calls" through the chain of files in the Camtasia output folder?

If you look at the output from Camtasia, there are about ten files that contain tons of cross-references to each other's URLs or filenames. I'm sort-of thinking that all that needs to be updated. WHAT A PAIN!
Other things to try:

let's see how much we can learn by looking at these files at brooksandrus.com

Aha! When I just put the "config.xml" address into the browser bar, I did indeed pull of the config.xml for this video. Here is the section where it calls out a specific url -- one that he seems to have modified to be an absolute URL:

<playlist>

<array>

<fileset>

<video1>
<duration type="Number">87.13</duration>

<uri>


</uri>
<frameRate type="Number">15</frameRate>
<keyframeRate type="Number">15</keyframeRate>
<blendingMode>Normal</blendingMode>
<isFlv type="Boolean">1</isFlv>
</video1>

<pip>
<duration type="Number">87.10</duration>
<frameRate type="Number">10</frameRate>
<keyframeRate type="Number">30</keyframeRate>
<uri>320_PIP.flv</uri>
</pip>
<hasPipVideo type="Boolean">0</hasPipVideo>
<hotspotInfo>

</hotspotInfo>
<quizInfo>

</quizInfo>
<captionInfo>

</captionInfo>
</fileset>
</array>
</playlist>

I also included the rest of this "playlist" section to show that he has a "320_PIP.flv" reference that is still relative.

So based on all this, here are the places where we must modify the Camtasia output files:

  1. In the config.xml file, change the main flv (or swf?) reference to an absolute URL.

Other than that, all we know is to modify the Kimili code as shown above.

So, now I'll try all that with a fresh build of Camtasia output. Also, as I run through the wizard on Camtasia's output, I'll see if I get any clues.

See continuation of this problem-solving on the page labeled something like "Camtasia Settings for Flash Embed".

Problems when Potty Training Boys

Hey Friends,

With B's permission, I've put her e-mail message here. We can use this page to share ideas concerning potty training. All the posts will be in one place, and we can easily respond to others' comments/ideas.

Here is the question she asked:

hello moms!
I'm sending out a plea for help to those of you who have experience potty training a boy!! We have begun potty training with B (my oldest, 2 1/2 years old) this week and there have been some ups and downs. Any tips? Advice? Anything that worked great for you? Please share! I feel like I'm making this up as we go! Here are some of
the issues we are facing...
-B tells me he is going - not before - but as he is going or even after. Could this mean he is just not ready?
-Sometimes he will sit on the potty for several minutes - reading books or whatever, nothing happens. He gets up, we put his pants back on and a few minutes later, he's wet. We are using the Gerber cloth training pants. Should I go back to diapers? Or just press on? We do use diapers for naps and bedtime still.
-Sometimes he is fine when I tell him to sit on the potty. Sometimes he lays down and cries. I'm just not sure if I should continue through this tough time (when does it get better? Will we ever be able to leave the house again?) or if I should
put if off for another month or two or three.

 

If anyone could offer any helpful hints or advice, I would be so grateful!!
Thank you!!

 

Potty-training challenged,
B

Here is my response to her.

Dear B,

In my experience, at 2 1/2 years, my boys have not been able to tell me when they need to pee. They were, though, able to urinate when I asked them too. So, I had to proactively take them to the potty every hour or two. My 2 1/2 year old (who I call "doodle" on this blog) has been able to pee in the potty for a year now, but he still doesn't tell me in time. He seldom empties his bladder in his pants, though. He'll squirt in his training pants, then come and tell me he has to pee and then put the rest in the potty. We've tried to get him to TELL me when he needs to...and I've decided that he's just not able/ready. (He always tells me when he needs to poop though. More on that later.)

Here's how we got my oldest (known on the blog as "Carman") familiar enough with his processes so that he could pee on command. I spent 3 mornings in a row on the kitchen floor with him and had him drinking juice or whatever he liked so that he would drink a lot. If drinking slowed down, I'd give him a salty snack so he would drink more. Whenever the pee would come, I'd say, "Pee pee, Carman" and try to catch it in the potty bowl. If, together, we could get even a drop in the bowl, he'd be rewarded with a piece of candy (candy corn or dried fruit.) (Until that day, Carman had never had candy, so he was very motivated to earn more. I have not been as diligent with Doodle about withholding the sweets, and consequently he has not been as motivated by the candy.)

After 3 days of this, he knew what it felt like to release those muscles and was able to pee when I asked.

A reinforcement we used with the boys was letting them pee outside on a leaf. They loved it, and we've had enough backyard privacy to be able to do that. I have a friend who would float cheerios or fruit loops in the toilet and let her boys aim and pee. Big fun.

As they got better about producing on command, I'd offer a reward (dessert, a bike ride, or a park outing the next day) if he could stay dry all day long.

Have you heard of elimination communication? I used it loosely with my older daughter "Sudoku" and Doodle and it made producing on command much easier for them. Also, they were willing to poop in the potty for me at a young age and could communicate that well, but Carman was resistant to pooping in the potty for a long time. I think the elimination communication method has a lot of merits...but that too is not easy.

It's great that B (your oldest) is telling you when or after he goes. At least that way you can learn his patterns and try to take him to potty proactively. He might be uncomfortable (not relaxing) on the potty. Maybe he'd be comfortable doin it outside?

I think keeping him in training pants or cotton diapers is a good idea. You want him to feel the wetness, you know?

Just some ideas. Good luck!

Hope you all are well. Your children are beautiful, B.

-Milkmaid

Swimming with my Toddler – Days 4-7

njsswimcropped.JPG

At this point, Doodle is not wanting to wear his water wings at all. On day 4 he had some chaffing and discomfort from them and wanted them off. He's only had them on a few times since then. Continue reading

Plasson Poultry Drinkers – aka Chicken Waterers

waterersmall.JPG

When we first arrived at the farm, we were fortunate to be following in the footsteps of my older brother, HighTrail. He had read extensively about grass-based farming, and was eager to share what he had learned with us. He saved us a lot of time and heartache by sharing his knowledge and experience with us.

When we were ready to get our feet wet with chickens, he introduced us to the Plasson poultry drinker. With this waterer, or "drinker," we were able to go on weekend trips and know that our chickens wouldn't run out of water while we were away. It can be used with chicks, young fryers, or full grown layers.

The tubing can be attached to a low pressure (not house pressure) hose or a 5-gallon bucket so that gravity feeds the trough. (We used a bucket.) An adjustable, internal ballast controls the water flow/level.

The dome shape keeps birds from roosting on top of the drinker and fouling the water. It's an ingenious device. Highly recommended.

Choosing Appropriate Size for Web Video Uploads

Obviously, the bigger the picture, the greater the bandwidth cost unless I use free hosting. But free hosting is going to come with strings attached, most likely, so I need to be prepared to self-host even if I use free hosting for now. So that's making me think of going with something small.But, on the other hand, as society goes further and further into broadband, larger videos will become the norm. So probably I should "future proof" my content by going with a larger size than what is popular now.

The viewable area of a youtube video is 450x335, but they tell you to upload videos as 320x240, so they're doing some kind of upconversion to save on bandwidth.

(...Okay, it's later in the day and I've discovered that SWF/FLV is definitely the format of choice when the video is of an instructional nature. This format gives great clarity and only has the drawback of not handling motion as well as WMV. So I'm definitely going with FLV. )

I'm seeing that FreeIQ also recommends 320x240 and does a similar upconversion like Youtube, but they favor the SWF/FLV format. I just uploaded a test and it was crystal clear. I believe my choice is made. I'll probably use FreeIQ to host it as well (After all, it's free!).

Choosing Appropriate Screen Ratio for Web Video Uploads

One project we have going here at HarrisonFarm is to begin doing some "How To" videos. We try lots of crazy stuff and would like to share our knowledge with the world.

So today I've been weighing the fine points of web video uploads. What size should I target? What viewing ratio? Here are my thoughts as they unfold:

The coolest ratio is, of course, 16:9. That's 16 units of width per every nine units of height. This is known as "widescreen". It's the ratio used in movie theaters, I think.

But we're considering making much of the content from still pictures off of our digital camera, which shoots a 4:3 ratio, slightly wider than a square.

I did, however, notice that my camera has a setting which allows shooting in a 3:2 ratio. Hmmmm. That might be a good compromise.

Youtube's defualt screen has a 4:3 ratio, for what it's worth. I don't think I would use Youtube because of the low-professionalism issues and their cross-presentation of other (not family friendly) videos. (Interesting tidbit: Youtube's own instructional videos are shot in a 3:2 ratio, so on their own player there is an unfilled zone above and below the picture. I'd say they're in favor of a 3:2 but are temporarily making accomodations for all of us 4:3 Luddites.)

The typical amatuer video on the web seems to be shot at 4:3, whereas the more professional vids are at 16:9.

However, if you're talking about professional instructional video, like at FreeIQ or at the help section of a software provider, the screen ratios generally tend to be more square. Text elements like a bullet list would not do well in widescreen.

So, since were more on the instruction track, I think I'll go with the "slightly cool" 3:2 ratio. If I change my mind and want to go to one of the extremes, it hopefully will still look okay since this ratio is about in the middle of the range.

FreeIQ Title Screen and Putting Flash on WordPress (Quest, pt 1)

FreeIQ is great, mostly. But I've hit a problem that may be a dealbreaker for me.

When you embed their player at your site, the title screen shows "FreeIQ". Besides the obvious unprofessionalism, my biggest problem with this is that, if I have a video "above the fold" on my homepage, then the black FreeIQ screen is going to dramatically change the look of the page. Unless I can get the video player to look good and contribute to the page -- even before it starts playing, I don't want it there.

So I guess I'm back to using Flash and self-hosting the videos, but can I do that in WordPress?

I researched plugins and found the "Kimili Flash Embed for WordPress" plugin. I'm going to try it with an eye to:

  • Does it include a player? I don't really need one since that is generated with my Camtasia files.

Answer: no player included, it just loops round and round with no ability to pause or anything.

  • Is it a pain to use? I've got to come up with something that shortens the tutorial-generation time.

Anwer: not a pain at all. very nice functionality, but doesn't seem intended for video play.

Other info on kimili: won't play a .flv file.

Before I go on, here are links to the pages that seem to have relevant info to what I'm trying:

http://www.w3schools.com/flash/flash_inhtml.asp

plug-in for embedding flash in WordPress

wordpress forum discussion on embedding flash

flash video onto a blog

Okay, so i've decided that trying to use a 3rd party player is more trouble than it's worth. Isn't there a way to simply call the nice Camtasia file family into my WP page?

I tried simply inserting the javascript command from the Camtasia html file. It didn't work.

Let's try putting a <?php include("filename.html"); ?> call into a WP entry. The only problem i foresee is that camtasia's output html file has a head and body of it's own. Let's just try it.

Doesn't work. I just tried every iteration I could think of for the filename and it just doesn't call it in. I even tried <!--#include virtual="http://fineremodel.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/njhtest.html" -->, which is a Server Side Include, which should work from an html page, but in wordpress it doesn't seem to.

My journey to good web video continues as I try the option of just putting up a static picture that is a link to the video, then have the video come in as a pop-up box to play in a separate window.

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