Thursday, April 23

Wired Lapel Mics

Hi everyone just a short post this time about the Wired Lapel Mics. Last week a student brought back a mic that we checked out to them having issues with it working, the battery turned out to be dead. After that we checked the rest of the mics and found half of them were left on and as such the batteries we all dead.

The on/off switch is easy to miss but it is still a good idea to check if the returned mics are off.

Tuesday, April 21

How to Embed YouTube Videos in Power Point

Hi guys,

I recently had a student ask us how to embed a video in power point. I feel this could be a useful tool to know.

You will first go to the "Insert" tab, then the "Video" icon. Here you will be presented with two different ways to embed your video. You can either insert it from online (YouTube) or you can insert it from a locally hosted file. My suggestion is to use the second option, and download whichever video you need from the internet. is a safe way to do this. This way avoids any issues with Power Point trying (and failing) to connect to browsers.

Once your video is embedded into your presentation, you have a few options when it comes to saving. If you only need the presentation to be a PPT file, Save As will take care of it. (I would recommend saving the video file on your drive with the PPT file just to be safe.) However, if you are sending your presentation via email, uploading it to canvas or sakai, etc.. You may want to consider Exporting it. 

In the "Export" options, you may either:
-Export your presentation to a PDF/XPS file. This will preserve everything but I believe it will make your video into an image, and it will not play.
-Export your presentation as a video, which will allow your embedded video to play, but your entire presentation will play automatically. This could work but may not be ideal.
-Export your presentation by choosing "Package Presentation for CD." This will create a folder of all of the files embedded in your presentation. This is the best way to be sure that everything will be playable on any device.

This last option is the one I would recommend. You can save this folder digitally, and obviously does not need to be saved to a CD. Upload or send this folder and the recipient should have everything they need to view your presentation.

Hope this is helpful! 


Tuesday, April 14

How to remove background noise in Audacity

If you happen to listen, you will find that there are many things in life that should be silenced. 

Working with audacity for the first time, you really start to appreciate just how much wacky stuff you can do with it. You can make you're voice sound like a chipmunk, or the devil himself (or herself, lets not impose gender roles on angelic beings); you can crank up the amplifier so you make yourself deaf, or you can make the voice over in your presentation practically inaudible. Why you would want to do any of these things? I have no idea, but you can, and that is justification enough. 

Sometimes you've gotta get rid of that background noise; that big, loud fan, that kitchy pop music, the discussions of you're peers, that spectral, demonic voice. Never fear, audacity has a (decent) way of getting rid of that stuff. 

If you've got background noise in something, open up audacity, hit file and open in the upper right to bring your audio file in. 

What be this tiny bit of static that interrupts my ranting?

In the above example, a small bit of background noise was interrupting my carefully crafted voice over. You can tell its background noise because its small...and stupid. But Audacity will kill it for us.

Begin the purge.

Step one of getting rid of that little guy is to select it on the timeline with the main select tool (found in the upper middle of the toolbar; click and drag to select an area). Now that we've got it selected, hit the effects tab at the top, then hit the aptly named Noise Removal option.

Hit the noise removal button to get a noise profile of the sound.

Now that we've got the area of the clip selected, we need to get a noise profile of it; basically, the noise profile is the sound that audacity will look for; when it finds other sounds that match that profile, it will remove them. So when we select this little tiny bit of background noise, we are making it so that Audacity will be able to delete that and similar noises from the entire track when we tell it do. 

As long as nothing is selected, Audacity will apply the noise removal to the entire track

When you hit get noise profile, the prompt for noise removal will go away and it will look like nothing happened, but Audacity is prepped and ready to execute that annoying little man. If we want Audacity to apply noise removal to the entire track, make sure no specific part of the track is selected. If we only want audacity to get rid of it in say, the first 5 seconds, all you have to do is select the first 5 seconds. 

There's no going back now...(except for ctrl Z) 

Once Audacity has the noise profile, we simply need to hit effects and noise removal again; hit the ok button to annihilate *cough* I mean remove that offensive little thing from your track. 

The silence is so perfect...

Note that Audacity isn't perfect; it might leave a little itty bit that you don't want. If you care that much, you can just do the process again. 

A friendly reminder...

But lastly, a warning; the noise removal tool is great for getting rid of that annoying background noise, but in doing so you are removing chunks of your audio. Thats fine if you want dead silence between words, but if you want to completely remove the sound of that fan thats making you're voice difficult to hear, you might end up with robotic, overly processed sounding audio that is no more audible than what you originally had. So watch out!

The Latest in Fashion: Wireless Microphone Kit Protective Cases

Have you ever felt embarrassed by carrying around an unfashionable, clunky bag to house your wireless microphone case? Worry no more! New cases have been introduced, rocking a unique, structured new case!

What is even more impressive is what is inside. Slots are cut out in the foam to perfectly fit the two microphones and battery pack. The slots are labeled to inform you where the antenna side and the receiver side of the microphone should go. The microphone is similarly labeled, telling the user which side should face up in the case.

Not only is the new case fashionable and fabulous, but it is easy to use, safe, and protective. Enjoy the new cases!

SMART Software in the Studios

Hi everyone,

Today a user came to the desk asking if any of the studios had SMART board technology. John had affirmed that Studios 1 through 4 do indeed have the SMART whiteboards installed. Later, the same user came back to reserve one of the studios but wanted to make sure that she could utilize SMART software. Studios 1 through 4 also have SMART Notebook 11 installed on the desktops. The software allows users to further design and edit their lesson plans.

Here is a PDF detailing all the features of SMART Notebook 11 and may be helpful to those interested in creating lessons.

Hope this is informative and lets users know that while we do have the whiteboards to project material from other commonly used programs, we also have the SMART software to offer further opportunity in lesson design!

Monday, April 13

Become a Wrap Star

Hey guys!

Lately I've been noticing a lot of different cables, especially the laptop and the headphone cords incorrectly wrapped. As a reminder, we fold all of our cables in a bow. One way we can do this is by wrapping the cord around your four fingers and then tie the velcro around the middle, making it into a pretty, neat bow.

Some of the reasons we wrap them like this is that it makes the area it's being stored in, tidy, it doesn't create much pressure on the connection, and it just looks better than having a cord dangle.

So because no one likes a loose cord that just dangles and some of us here are obsessive compulsive (cough cough), follow the instructions we learned through training and if you need a refresher just ask one of your fellow student assistants.

I apologize for the boring blog post but it does seem necessary and the supervisors do notice when we wrap the cords wrong.

Have a great day,

Saturday, April 11

Lytro Light Field Camera

Hello everyone!
I did not realize we owned a Lytro camera until today, so I thought I would share with everyone a little about it (although I've never seen this camera go out, but why not). The Lytro camera is a square tube about 5 inches long (almost pocket sized). This light field camera is specifically designed and capable of refocusing images after they've been taken. To do this, the camera uses a light field sensor that captures the color, intensity, and vector direction of the rays of light. This directional information is lost with traditional cameras. These three components - color, intensity, and direction -create a blueprint for the reconstruction of elements of the image such as focus point. To sum it up, the Lytro camera lets you selectively change focus in images after they are taken, which admittedly sounds pretty cool. 

However, it is questionable who would need to use a camera like the Lytro. The technology is ingenious, but in reality, most people probably would not require such a camera (which is probably why no one has really checked it out here at SMDC). Despite this, I did play with the camera for a bit today and it was interesting to see how different in style and technology the camera is from traditional point and shoot cameras. 
I hope everyone has a great weekend!