Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Capturing YouTube Video to Your Desktop

From time to time, we receive requests from faculty regarding capturing video from the web (typically YouTube or TeacherTube clips) to their desktop for use in class. The reasons include:
  • Slow web access times
  • Insurance that the video clip will be available for class use and not disappear or be withdrawn
  • The need to extract a segment and not use the entire video.

There are many tools available to capture video from the web (your students probably know about more tools than you and I ever will) and it’s important to review each use to be sure it complies with educational fair use (use the "Four Factor Analysis"). If the usage is appropriate and does not infringe on copyright, you can go to, enter the URL for the video and click the Get Video button to start the download. The download frequently takes less time than playing the video over the web. Just be sure you save the file using the .flv (Flash video) file extension.

By the way, some YouTube videos, such as President Elect Obama’s weekly addresses, now have a download option (just under the left lower corner of the video image space). It provides access to a H.264 encoded version that can be downloaded and played later offline.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Zamzar: Online File Conversion

A faculty member recently inquired "My office computer used to be able to read Works, but that capability seems to have disappeared with the appearance of Word 2007. Can someone point me to what I need to do to get Works working for me?"

As a test, she sent me a couple files and I went to and easily converted them. The site is loaded with pop-ups and advertising (and it you stay on the site long enough, your computer will start talking to you ("you've won..."). Just ignore all that and you'll see the 4-step process to convert a file from one format to another. In this case, I converted a .wps file to a .doc.

Zamzar can convert to and from a variety of formats (video, graphic image, document, music, archive). Once you make your selection and identify the file, Zamzar uploads it and then emails you the converted file. There are file size limits (depending on the type of file) and it does take a few minutes to convert and then email the converted file to you.

As always, use at your own risk. I would not use for highly sensitive data (there's a copy out there somewhere) that might be used or abused. Zamzar will of course try to sell you a premium service. It's an option if you use the service frequently and want faster turn-around.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 Equals Short Web Links

Have you ever sent an email message that included a long, indecipherable URL (web link) that broke across two lines so it didn't work for the recipient of your message? If so, there's a free, easy to use service sponsored by Gilby Productions that converts those long web links to a short (tiny) URL that'll always work.

You can go to, enter the long URL in the text box at the top of the page and it'll generate a tiny URL that begins with The new link never expires, so you can use it whenever you wish (in email or on web pages).

You can also add TinyURL to your Internet Explorer Links menu (how to do so is explained at Once added, you can navigate to any site and generate a TinyURL instantly for that site using your Links menu.

As an example, here's a moderately long URL to a Wikipedia article on the birth of modern copyright:

The TinyURL for the same site is:

Obviously the longer the original URL, the more "character" savings you'll encounter.

My Blog List