Why is it So Difficult to Play a DVD? (Part 2)

In part one, we explained how to determine if the problems you have playing movies is the result of a faulty disc. Now it’s time to make sense out of the software that you’ll be using to play your movie. All of the computers in the Dedman College classrooms run Windows 7, and most of the time you will play DVDs using a program called Windows Media Player.

Here is the easiest way to start a movie:

1 – Turn on the computer and log in. (Do not put the disc in yet!)

2 – Wait until you are completely logged on and the desktop has finished loading. Now open the DVD tray and put the disc in.

3 – Wait. It can take a few seconds for the computer to respond.

4 – The Windows Media Player will pop up and try to play your disc.

Most of the time, the film starts playing automatically. It may bring up the disc’s main menu and you will have to click on the Play option, just like you would if you were using a DVD player at home.

Sometimes when you put the disc into the computer, you will be given a choice between different programs. Double-click on ‘Windows Media Player’ when this pops up, and you’ll see the movie start in a few seconds.

Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player

If nothing shows up automatically (or if you put the disc in the drive before you logged in), you can start the movie by clicking on the Windows Media Player icon at the bottom of thescreen. (It’s the orange circle with an arrow in it – like the picture on the right.) When the program opens you should see the name of your disc at the bottom of the left-hand side of the window. Double-click the title, and the movie will start.

If you’d like to see this in more detail, Microsoft has prepared a short video for you. Click here to see it.

 

The title of the movie will be at the bottom of the list on the left. (Click on this picture for a better view.)

The title of the movie will be at the bottom of the list on the left. (Click on this picture for a better view.)

Sounds simple, and most of the time it’s not complicated when you know the right steps. If the movie starts playing right away then the only problem you’ll be likely to run into is that the volume is not turned up. Read this older post to be sure you understand how to deal with that. (We have more calls about volume issues than anything else.)

What if this process doesn’t work? Sometimes, Windows Media Player cannot read certain discs. There are various reasons for this. A DVD of a different region is a common roadblock, and this usually happens when using with discs from other countries. Fortunately, we’ve installed a separate program to deal with these discs.

VLC_icon

VLC Media Player

On the desktop (or in the Faculty Applications folder on the desktop) you’ll see an icon that looks like an orange traffic cone (like the picture on the left) called VLC Media Player. Double-click this icon, and when the program opens navigate to Media in the upper left-hand corner, then click Open Disc. In the next window, click Play. This will start the movie. VLC Media player is not as user-friendly as Windows Media Player, but it will often play discs that have been stubborn and uncooperative in other players.

If you are still concerned about playing your movie, feel free to contact us at help@smu.edu and ask us to help you get it started. We will be happy to show up at the start of your class to make sure the movie starts easily and on time.

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Camera RAW

By Moez Janmohammad

Introducing Feature of the Week, where we highlight a feature of a program and give a basic tutorial on how it works. This week we’re focusing on Camera RAW in the Adobe Creative Suite.  Camera RAW is one of the single most powerful tools in a photographer’s arsenal, and often one of the most overlooked tools in the Adobe Creative Suite.  It gives the user extensive control of the post processing of an image, allowing them to edit exposure and distortion before going into Photoshop to make more advanced edits.

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Adobe Bridge CC

By Moez Janmohammad

Adobe Bridge is a digital asset management software that allows a user to organize any kind of media. The name Bridge comes from the idea that Adobe Bridge will be the link between all of the programs in the creative suite. From Bridge a user can drop an Illustrator vector image into Photoshop, or an After Effects video into Premiere. This tutorial covers the basic interface of Adobe Bridge, from selecting images, to the filmstrip view, to reading the metadata of a file.

University owned computers can download any of the Master Collection Adobe Creative products via LANDesk. For more informaiton, visit our service page http://www.smu.edu/BusinessFinance/OIT/Services/Info/Adobe.

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f.lux: Sleep and Screen Color

f.lux-before-and-after

By Moez Janmohammad

If you’re a college student, chances are you’ve stayed up late to finish an assignment, but have you ever paused to think about your eyes? The bright and blueish lights emitted from most LCD displays mimic bright sunlight and cause a disruption to normal sleep patterns (because we all have normal sleep patterns in college) and inhibit the amount of melatonin, a chemical our bodies produce that causes drowsiness. f.lux seeks to solve this problem by changing the screen temperature of your display to have it emit more red light after sunset. At sunset, f.lux automatically adjusts your display, making whites appear reddish or salmon, matching natural light cycles and our body’s Circadian rhythm.

f.lux is available for Windows, Mac OSX and Linux. It is only available on jailbroken iOS devices, and an Android version is in the works. To get it go to www.justgetflux.com.

f.lux

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Photoshop Toolbar

Photoshop_CC_iconBy Moez Janmohammad

Long time users of Photoshop can look at the icon of any tool on the Photoshop toolbar and tell you exactly what you could use it for, but chances are, the average user only knows what a handful of these tools do. The Photoshop Toolbar makes up almost 80% of anything you could ever need to do in the program, so below is a rundown of most of the tools.

*Tip- Any tools with a small triangle in the bottom right hand corner has more tools hidden underneath. To reveal, simply click and hold until the hidden tools appear.

  • ToolboxIn the first box are the Selection tools. These allow you to manipulate layers and select objects. The Move tool lets you move objects in the selected layer. To use it, just click and drag.
  • The Rectangular Select tool lets you select areas of a picture, a rectangle by default. To make a perfect square, hold the shift key while drawing the shape. By using the context menus across the top of the screen you can make any shape you want.
  • The Lasso tool allows you to trace the shape of an object and the line will adhere to the hard edge of your object.
  • The Crop tool lets you cut parts of the picture out. It’s useful if there is something on the edge of the frame that you don’t want there.
  • The Eyedropper tool helps you to match color in specific parts of the image. Just click on a pixel and it will add the color to your paint swatches.
  • The Spot Healing tool allows you to remove blemishes from pictures, including red eye, acne, dust, and other particles. Photoshop will sample around the area and make it blend in.
  • The Clone stamp tool duplicates part of an image onto another spot in an image. It’s useful if you want to reposition something, like moving a soccer ball closer to a player in an image.
  • The Gradient tool creates a gradient to cover a whole image from foreground to background. You can use your own colors or choose from Photoshop’s presets.
  • The Blur and Sharpen tools both act like paintbrushes but have different effects on your photo. The Blur tool allows you to blur parts of the photo, and you can choose the strength of the blur, the style, and how much it feathers. The Sharpen tool will remove unnecessary pixels and make the area look sharper.
  • The Type tools allow you to add and manipulate text or shapes in an image. The most commonly used of these is the Text tool which lets you type into an image and create text masks.

To learn more about Photoshop and how to use it, check out Adobe TV.

Or, to learn more about downloading Adobe CC on your University owned computer, visit our service page.

 

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What’s behind the Excel Design tab? 5 tips worth knowing.

If you’ve been working with Excel for a while, my guess is that you are probably somewhat familiar with the basics of converting your data into a table. However, you may not be aware of some of the features behind the Design tab.  The Design tab will display anytime you click in a table.Design tab

Here are 5 handy tips worth knowing.  I will review them from right to left.

  1. When you click on the drop down in the Table styles options you’ll see an assortment of Table Styles available to suit your preferences.
  2. If there is a table style you like and you want to add additional customization you can do so by selecting a feature in the Table Style Options section.  I often choose to have items displayed with banded rows (every other row shaded), but sometimes it might be easier on the eye to have banded columns.
  3. total rowSelecting the Total Row not only adds a total line to your table, but it also has built in functions that you can toggle to further analyze specific data.
  4. Did you know you could add a slicer to filter through data?  Select Slicer, next select what column you want to filter.  In my example, I wanted to view specific types of charges, so I chose the account columns to filter.

Account Next,  select the item you want to filter and the results will be displayed.  filter results

5.  Selecting the Remove Duplicates button will allow you to delete duplicate values. You’ll simply need to tell Excel what column you want the duplicates to be removed from. Oh and by the way, if you remove duplicates from the wrong column, don’t forget the handy Ctrl+Z function to undo your last action!

To learn more Excel tips, check out one of my Basic Formula workshops or Rachel Mulry’s Advanced Excel training.

  smu.edu/BusinessFinance/OIT/Training

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Geekspeak 101

geekspeak-101By: Amber Clark

As you may have experienced in your own discipline, having a common language, or technical jargon, is immensely helpful.  It is a shortcut that makes communicating easier. We computer technologists have our own common language.  However, the SMU Help Desk staff understands this possible communication problem, and will gladly translate “geekspeak” in order to better assist you when you have a problem.

These are a few “geekspeak” terms that you may or may not know:

Browser, formally known as a web browser, is a program on your computer that you use to surf the Internet.  Most of you use Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari or Google Chrome.

Internet service provider, or ISP, is the company that provides your access to the Internet.  Here on campus, SMU is your ISP.  At home, you would contract with companies such as Time Warner for cable Internet or AT&T to be your Internet provider or ISP.

Java is a programming language that most advanced websites need to function properly.  It is a program or applet that needs to be installed on your computer and periodically updated.  Java is needed to provide the interactivity that we have come to expect from most websites.  It allows a website to customize its content, words and graphics for you based on your activity or information you submit in a form.

Blog, or web log, is a web page made up of posts displayed in chronological order with the most recent appearing first.  A blog is most commonly used for informal information and discussion devoted to a subject area. For example, IT Connect is a blog that has posts all related to informing you about new technologies or tips for technologies you already use.  You access blogs through their webpages.  Blogs gained additional legitimacy when “certified bloggers” were given press credentials to post on events from the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.  From time to time, there are now bloggers in the White House Press Corps.

Twitter is a micro version of blogs.  Individuals post tweets, statements of no more than 140 characters, that individuals can interact with in much the same way as commenters to a blog.  You access Twitter through its main webpage, twitter.com, or an app.  OIT has a twitter account, @smuoit, for IT updates if you are interested in following us.

Those are just a few terms you will overhear in the Office of Information Technology.  Please tweet @smuoit comments asking us about geekspeak you are curious about or want to share with others!

 

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What’s Your Crash Plan?

Did you know that SMU has a backup service for University owned, primary computers?

CrashPlan Pro is a software application that Faculty and Staff can install on Windows, Macintosh and Linux platforms via LanDesk. After installation, it performs a complete backup of your profile or home directory (file folder structure). If you store your files in the default locations (My Documents, Desktop etc.), those will be included.

CrashPlan-Pro-webpage

Once the initial backup is complete, the application will backup any changes every three hours. Although the process runs continuously in the background, it utilizes very few resources. This process is fully automated and requires no user intervention! When you need to recover data, there’s a quick and easy process to locate the folders or files you need from the backup client.

It’s secure too! The backup is completely encrypted. That means your data is protected by an algorithm that only your SMU ID and password can unlock.

For more information about eligibility, obtaining the software, restoring data, and more, please visit our service page http://www.smu.edu/BusinessFinance/OIT/Services/Backup.

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How to fix common Mavericks problems?

os-x-mavericks-macbook-650x0This post by Digital Trends highlights some of the common issues and fixes with Mac OS X Mavericks.

  • Get iPhoto working again in Mavericks
  • Fix the slow Time Machine problem and make it run faster
  • Reinstall Java after upgrading to Mavericks
  • Make iCloud save your password
  • Keep Mail from crashing
  • Fix the constant Welcome to Mail message problem
  • Fix the Time Machine Mavericks install issue
  • Fix a buggy Menu Bar in OS X Mavericks
  • Make iWork, iPhoto, iLife and other apps work in Mavericks
  • Fix the ‘Contacts app not syncing’ problem
  • Fix the Wi-Fi disconnect problem
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Discover New Features in Microsoft Word (Part 2)

word_primary-100025314-largeBy Rachel Mulry

In Part 1 of this article, we discussed Quick Parts, creating your own templates, and the Screenshot tool. Today we’ll continue with two powerful Word features.

  1. Navigation view:  2014-01-21_8-37-08If you use the styles in Word, not only can you create a consistent polished document, but you can also use the Navigation view to help rearrange and jump to various portions of the file quickly.  You can enable navigation view from the View menu, or you can simply click on the page number in the bottom left corner of the screen.  There are three options in the navigation panel.  Viewing by headings allows you to view the overall structure of your document but also allows you to reorder the sections in a document simply by dragging and dropping!  The page view displays a thumbnail image of each page in the document. You can jump to the desired page by clicking the thumbnail.  The results view allows you to search for words, images etc in your document and then navigate to each instance where that search term was detected.  To turn off the navigation view, just click on the page number on the bottom left and you’re back to full screen view of your document.
  2. additionalAvailable actions properties: I admit I stumbled across this nifty feature while I was writing this article!
    By default, the available actions menu is turned off.  However, once it is enabled it will allow you to right click on certain types of data and select from additional options.  For example, you could right click on a data and create a calendar appointment! Or right click on an email address and add it to your Outlook contacts. To enable this feature, click File—Options—Proofing— AutoCorrect.  Click the Actions tab.  Then check “enable additional actions in the right-click menu”.  Select the types of data that you wish to enable these actions. Click OK.  When you are viewing or creating a document, simply right click on the text and a new “additional actions” field will appear.

These are just a few of the many powerful features in Word.  There are so many others waiting to be discovered!  So be adventurous!  Click through those menus on the ribbon or view a few new tutorials to discover something new in Word today!

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