PAGE LINKS

File Back-ups and the Trouble You Can Get Into with Drives and Servers

Music and MP3

Sound Files

Vectors and Bitmaps

Graphic Files

Bit Depth, Monitor Resolution and Color

Web-Safe Colors

Compression and File Size

Printing

ColorSync

Video Files

File Extensions

Sharing Files between MAC and Windows

MacOpener vs. MacLink Plus

Web Pages

Plug-ins

Storyboards and the Audience

Fonts

PDF

FTP and Yahoo!Geocities

Educational Versions and Licensing

Keeping Current with Updates, Drivers, and Patches

Getting Support

Copyright, Liability and Protecting Students' Privacy

Operating Systems: MAC or Windows?

MAC Extensions vs. Windows Registry

 

File Back-ups and the Trouble You Can Get Into with Drives and Servers

Many multimedia project files such as Web pages, PowerPoint, Director, and HyperStudio rely on resource files. Resource files like graphics, sounds, and movies are "linked" rather than "placed" in many multimedia files; therefore, GREAT CARE must be taken when such resource files are linked to ensure that they are not lost after the project is completed.

If you have ever seen this image on a Web page, then you know the result of a lost resource file. When you "link" a resource file in a multimedia file, you tell the computer where the file resides on the hard drive. Computer code is then automatically written that tells the computer where to find the resource file each time it is displayed during the presentation. If that resource file is ever moved to a different directory (folder) in relation to the multimedia file, it will not be located by the computer. Here's an analogy: suppose I draw you an accurate map of my high school for the purpose of directing you to my classroom--room 3--for a visit. Now suppose that I decide to teach in a different classroom on the day you intend to visit. You won't find me! I'm sure you would be smart enough to ask the principal where to find me and we would eventually meet! Unfortunately, computers aren't that smart. WHEN YOU back-up COPIES OF YOUR WORK, ALL FILENAMES AND THE DIRECTORIES THAT CONTAIN RESOURCE FILES MUST BE DUPLICATED EXACTLY!

If you have backed up your files and directories properly, your newly created files and directories should "mirror" the originals--with the exception that they are now on a different drive such as a Zip or the hard drive of a server. Here's where the trouble really starts: imagine that you have an image named "photo.jpg" inside a folder named "graphics" inside a folder named "project" inside a folder named "multimedia" that is inside the root directory of your hard drive that is named "HardDrive" (THE ROOT DIRECTORY IS THE FIRST OR TOP LEVEL FOLDER ON A DRIVE). If you wish to link the image named "photo.jpg" in a multimedia file, the path--OR MAP--to the image would be HardDrive/multimedia/project/graphics/photo.jpg. If your back-up is on a Zip drive named "Zip," then the path to "photo.jpg" on the Zip will be Zip/multimedia/project/graphics/photo.jpg. Unless you remove your back-up drive (unmount it from your computer), it is very easy to confuse one location with the other. You intend to link to an image on your hard drive but actually link to the back-up on the Zip. Here are screenshots of the two paths when linking. Note the similarities.

Original Image on Hard Drive

back-up of Image on Zip

Now if you hold down the mouse over the drop-down menu, the mistake is revealed!

Original with Mouse Down

back-up with Mouse Down

Unless you physically check (by clicking and holding the mouse over the path drop-down menu) to see which drive you are linking to, you will not notice the error. You would be well advised to unmount all back-up drives before creating or modifying multimedia files!

Music and MP3

Music files take up an extraordinary amount of memory unless it is compressed (encoded) into a smaller file. "MP3," MPEG-1 (Moving Picture Experts Group) Audio Layer III is a method of compression that has made popular the transferring of music files over the Internet. MP3 is not the best method of compression, but its success can be compared to the success of VHS over the superior Beta format. A typical MP3 is 4 MB and will become approximately 50 MB when uncompressed! MP3s must be uncompressed (decoded) and converted to CDA in order to play on an audio CD player.

You can find lots of info and software for music at MP3.com and eMusic.

MP3 Newsgroups

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.1950s

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.1960s

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.1970s

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.1980s

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.1990s

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.2000s

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.beatles

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.blues

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.bootlegs

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.classical

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.comedy

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.complete_cd

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.dance

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.heavy-metal

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.jazz

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.latin

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.pop

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.sountracks

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.spoken-word

alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.themes

You need a Usenet account and Netscape or IE to read the articles. MT Newswatcher is a better alternative than the browsers.

Source: MacAdict

Sound Files

You will be primarily concerned with four formats of sound files when working on multimedia projects. You will use MP3 formatted sound over the Internet, AIFF formatted sound on the MAC, WAV formatted sound on Windows platforms, and CDA formatted sound for audio CD-ROMs intended for audio CD players. You can find more at Adobe's Sound Technical Guide.

Vectors and Bitmaps

Vectors and bitmaps are both types of picture graphics. Vector graphics use mathematical formulas to instruct the computer how to "draw" the graphic. Consequently, vector graphics are small in file size and can be enlarged (resized) without a file size increase because the computer simply redraws the graphic based on calculations. Bitmaps (raster graphics) contain information on the color of each "painted" pixel and, as a result, are relatively large in file size. Generally, bitmaps cannot be enlarged without loss of detail because the computer cannot calculate the colors of all the new pixels that are created when a graphic is enlarged or "stretched out." Vector programs are used for drawing (including animations) and bitmaps are used for photographs. Luckily, bitmaps can be compressed into smaller files that will be discussed later.

Graphic Files

For multimedia, you will be primarily using JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) and GIF (Graphics Interchange Format). Widows' BMP and MAC's PICT must be converted to GIF or JPEG before used in most multimedia applications. However, there are a few applications that run native on Windows or MAC that require the BMP and PICT format. Graphics for Web pages must be in GIF or JPEG format before use, and soon the PNG (Portable Network Graphics) format will be widely acceptable. Use the JPEG format for photographs and gradients. Use the GIF format for line art and designs that have areas of solid color.

For more info, check out CNET.com's Glossary

Bit Depth, Monitor Resolution and Color

Bit depth is the number of colors that are in a graphic or that are displayed by a monitor. 1-bit color (2 to the first power) is 1 color, 2-bit color (2 to the second power) is 4 colors, and 3-bit color (2 to the third power) is 8 colors, etc. 8-bit color is 256 colors. When designing multimedia you must be sensitive to the fact that not everyone in your audience will have a high-end video card. Many computers in use at the time of this writing are limited with an 8-bit video card, or their monitor is set to display 8-bit color. In addition, some systems can only display higher than 8-bit depths when their screen resolution is set to 640 x 480 pixels. With this in mind, your designs should look as well at a resolution of 640 x 480, 8-bit color depth as it does at higher resolutions and bit depth.

Web-Safe Colors

Today's most popular browsers all share a color palette of 216 colors. If you create graphics using these colors, then your graphics will appear the same on every browser and system. Browsers will display an additional 40 colors (for a total of 256 colors), but these additional 40 colors can differ between platforms. To see the palette, visit Lynda Weinman's Web site on Web-safe colors.

Compression and File Size

Most graphics applications have the ability to compress files (make them smaller in memory size). This is extremely important if you wish to minimize the amount of bandwidth your multimedia presentation uses. In order for applications to compress files, data must be thrown out. Discarded data that affects the quality of the image is called lossy compression; if it does not, it is lossless. When saving images in the GIF format, I recommend the "web-adaptive" setting. This shifts the colors to the nearest web-safe colors. Select the lowest bit depth possible (if your graphic contains only 4 colors, choose 2-bit color. You should experiment with dithering (color simulation) and anti-aliasing (smoothing of edges) to see how your graphic looks, but try to avoid both as they increase file size. When saving in the JPEG format, choose a compression (quality) that still looks acceptable: JPEG compression is lossy.

The best book I have seen on graphics is Lynda Weinman's Designing Web Graphics.3.

Printing

Please keep in mind that graphics for the Web are not designed to be printed--they have been designed to decrease bandwidth. Web graphics are displayed at 72 ppi (pixels per inch) while graphics that are intended to be printed must have a 300 ppi minimum. To print photographs, buy photo quality, glossy inkjet paper and print high resolution graphics (600 ppi minimum up to 1200 ppi). You can find an EXCELLENT explanation of resolution, scanning and printing halftones at Adobe's Technical Guide to Printing.

ColorSync

ColorSync is an industry standard color manager that allows you to keep consistent the colors between you computer and its periferals. First calibrate your monitor in the monitor control panel--follow the prompts. Make sure to select the monitor that is connected to your computer. Once you have calibrated your monitor, open the ColorSync control panel and choose the input profile(camera, scanner, etc.) and output profile (printer) from the drop down menus. These profiles were installed when you installed your drivers for your periferals.

 

Professionals who are responsible for perfect color should purchase color management software:

GretagMacbeth ProfileMaker Pro

ColorVision

ColorBlind

Video Files

The most common video file formats used for multimedia are MOOV (QuickTime) by Apple (which I highly recommend), MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group), AVI (Audio-Video Interleaved) by Microsoft, and RM (RealMedia) by Real.com. All can be compressed. MPEG files can be used by most applications that work with video.

You can find plenty of information on digital video at Adobe's Digital Video Guide.

File Extensions

File extensions (.jpeg or .jpg, .gif, .html or .htm, etc.) tell the computer how the file is fomatted--and the application to use to open it! If you use the Windows platform, make sure that you have unchecked the option to hide file extensions when viewing folders in detail this is in the View menu (Folder Options) and can also be set for all folders in the Settings/Control Panel. MAC displays file extensions. Regardless of platform, make sure that you use the correct file extension when naming files. When working with Web presentations, a broken image icon appears if the the file's actual format and the extension used in its file name are not in agreement. Here are some common Internet file extensions. More file extensions from Apple.

Sharing Files between MAC and Windows

Successfully sharing files between MAC and Windows depends on two things: use of correct file format extensions and the ability for your PC to read MAC disks and vice versa.

Conversions Plus vs. MacLink Plus

If you use a MAC and wish to share files with a Windows user, make sure you own MacLink Plus. A limited version used to ship with all Apple operating systems--but no longer! MacLink Plus allows the opening of PC formatted drives and files. If you use Windows and wish to share files with a MAC user, make sure you own Conversions Plus which includes MacOpener--the PC version of MacLink that allows the opening of MAC formatted drives and files. As a teacher, you will want to be able to share files with your students. Do not put students who use MAC at a disadvantage. Likewise, when you are creating multimedia presentations, you will want to make them cross-platform (about 1/6 of students use MAC). Both of these utilities are from DataViz.

Web Pages

Many applications have the ability to export to a Web page (HTML) and more that can be displayed within a Web page with the use of a plug-in for the user's browser. Microsoft Word and PowerPoint are two common applications that export to HTML. QuickTime, Acrobat, Flash, and Director all make files that can be displayed through a Web page but require a plug-in installed in the user's browser in order to be displayed properly.

We will be using Macromedia's Dreamweaver Fireworks Suite to create Web pages for publishing multimedia. Here is the training area for Dreamweaver

CSUN's Information Technology Resources is an excellent place to find support for technology at CSUN and includes Web Development Resources. And you should visit the World Wide Web Consortium to read all about the state of the art and future World Wide Web.

Plug-ins

In order to see many Web multimedia presentations over the Internet, you will need a plug-in installed on your browser. Specific plug-ins for each file type (that requires a plug-in) must be downloaded and installed before you can view the file through your browser. Make sure that you re-open your browser after the installation of the plug-in.

In addition, make sure you always have the most up-to-date plug-ins for your browser as files created on the most modern versions of software will not work with outdated plug-ins. If you use Netscape Communicator, keep your plug-ins current by downloading and installing them. Here are Netscape's Browser Plug-ins. You can also go to the Web site for the specific software you wish to view and download the plug-in from there. For example. Macromedia has downloads for the Shockwave Player plug-in. If anyone knows of an Internet Explorer plug-in Web site, send me the link and I will add it here. Otherwise, you will need to download from the individual software companies. BrowserWatch Plug-in Plaza is a Web site that has links to all plug-in developers for all platforms.

Storyboards and the Audience

Before you begin any multimedia project, you must create a storyboard to work from. Begin by determining your audience and the goals of the presentation. You can then make rough sketches of how the presentation will proceed. Make sure you include all the elements (graphics, text, sound, video, animation, and navigation) so that you will know at the onset what you will need. You should also show your sketches to others to get feedback before you commit your time to the project--it is easy to overlook something obvious!

Fonts

When designing multimedia presentations, keep in mind that the fonts you select to use may not show up as you intended unless the user has the same fonts installed on their computer. Until recently, fonts were designed for print and looked ugly on a screen. Luckily, screen fonts such as Verdana and Georgia are becoming common. This Web page uses Verdana and should be easy on the eyes as it was designed for Web pages. Microsoft's TrueType core fonts for the Web has a variety of free font downloads. You can learn more about fonts at Microsoft Typography.

More Fonts from MacAddict

Cool Archive

Astigmatic One Eye Typographic Institute

ParaType

Abstract Fonts

Blue Vinyl Fonts

1001Fonts.com

Larabie Fonts

Acid Fonts

Luc Devroye

3D Cafe

Chank Fonts

PDF

PDF is the file extension for Portable Document Format. Many people overlook the ease at which they can present files over the World Wide Web with the use of a PDF Writer. Available from Adobe, the PDF Writer converts anything that can be printed into a PDF document. This means that a Web presentation can be made with any application that creates printable files. For example, after you have finished making a Microsoft Word document--complete with pictures, it can be duplicated exactly on a Web page without any editing!

Instead of printing to the printer, you print to the PDF Writer which creates a PDF file for you. Then you simply place it in a Web page. The drawback is that the user must have the Acrobat Reader and its plug-in installed. In addition, the file will use more bandwidth than an a HTML file.

FTP and Yahoo!Geocities

Once your multimedia presentation is complete, you may wish to present it over the World Wide Web in the form of a Web page with plug-ins. After you have created the Web pages, you must upload them to a server exactly the same way they exist on your hard drive.

One way to publish your presentation on the Web is to upload it to your ISP (Internet Service Provider). Most ISP's include a service to upload Web pages. You must contact your ISP to get instructions on doing this.

If you are a CSUN student, you have such a service that is included with your tuition. Here are the instructions for your account from Technology Resources at CSUN. Here you will find detailed instructions for your account and FTP instructions.

If you wish to have a free place to publish your presentation, you can do it easily with Yahoo!Geocities. Included with your free account is 15 MB of server space and a Web based interface to manage your files. If you don't mind advertisement banners, you can't beat FREE! Here is the Free Membership Brochure for Yahoo!Geocities.

Educational Versions and Licensing

As an educator or a student, you are untitled to educational versions of many software titles. Educational versions are often exactly the same as the commercial versions but cost far less. For example, Macromedia Flash Commercial is $299 but Flash Academic is $99. They are identical! The best distributor of educationally priced software that I have found is Educational Resources. You will need to fax your student or faculty ID to receive the special pricing. Encourage all of your students to ask for educational versions!

Keeping Current with Updates, Drivers, and Patches

Unfortunately, many people--educators included--never update their software. Instead, they figure the computer has become obsolete because it runs so slow or so poorly and purchase a new machine. Often, a computer will not perform well because of outdated software. Devices that use drivers (software that allows your computer to work with the device), such as external drives, may benefit in speed with a more modern driver. You can find updated drivers on the developers Web site for the device.

Sometimes mistakes in the writing of software makes your computer run poorly. Always check to see if there is a patch (repair) to download from the developer. Mistakes in software are common so check for patches if a particular application is running strangely.

Before purchasing a new machine, you may wish to try the following.

  • Make sure you have plenty of RAM
  • Make sure you have the most modern operating system recommended for your particular machine
  • Make sure you have the most modern versions of your favorite software
  • Make sure you have the most modern browser version available
  • Keep your browser plug-ins up-to-date
  • Check periodically for new device drivers from the manufacturer's Web site
  • Check to see if the developer has a patch (update) for any software you suspect to be faulty
  • Regularly Check Microsoft or Apple for updates and patches

Version Tracker: an amazing site for Mac users that collects Mac software updates on a daily, and sometimes even hourly, basis. Version Tracker is the number two Mac site in the world, second only to Apple.com.

Mac Fix-It: a collection of tips and tutorials that will help you fix whatever is ailing your Mac.

Windows Tracker: Version Tracker for Windows users

Palm Tracker: Version Tracker for Palm Pilot and Palm OS users.

(Thanks to Lauri Allen for the patch information).

Getting Support

Every developer has support. USE IT! Look on the developer's Web site and you should find their support areas. Support for software has two purposes: to provide solutions to improperly working applications and training.

Apple Computer's AppleCare Service and Support Web site includes a "Knowledge Base," "Discussions," "Tech Info Library," "Downloads," "Manuals," "AppleSpec," and more.

Microsoft's Product Support Services has a "Self Support" "Searchable Knowledge Base," "FAQs by Product," "Download Center," "Assisted Support," "Support Directory," "Online Support Requests," "Phone Numbers," and more.

Adobe's Customer First Support and Macromedia's Support are two examples of outstanding support services by developers of software. Often you can find support by adding a /support after typing the URL of a developer's home page.

Copyright, Liability and Protecting Students' Privacy

You must obey copyright laws and protect your student's privacy at all times if you do not wish to fall victim to a lawsuit.

You and your school are liable when you publish (upload) a Web page that contains copyrighted material for which you have not received written permission to publish.

You and your school are liable when you publish (upload) a Web page that contains identifying information about a student for whom you have not received written permission to publish.

An excellent Web site for guidelines in education is Bellingham Public School's Technology and Learning. Read the items under "Internet & Computer Resources."

Operating Systems: MAC or Windows?

The "holy war" over MAC vs. Windows will serve only to impede your progress toward the use of technology in the classroom. Furthermore, arguing that one is superior over the other is immature. A good "teacher of technology" uses both and teaches with both! BOTH have their advantages and disadvantages and you should know what they are in order to make intelligent decisions.

MAC Extensions vs. Windows Registry

BOTH platforms have "extensions" that extend the capabilities of the application software and the operating system--and also cause havoc when software is poorly written. The MAC contains these files within its Extension directory while Windows keeps similar files in its Registry directory.

 

Copyright ©2003 L Garcia