During the last few weeks of summer, several classrooms in Dallas Hall have been given a much needed upgrade.
Faculty teaching in these rooms will now notice that HDMI is an available source and the black AV box has been moved into the lectern to give you more room to stand. We’ve also re-designed the keypad interface so users can select a laptop input just by pressing a single button. (Previously it was necessary to also make a selection on the small switcher that was under the keyboard tray.) If you want to use your laptop, simply choose VGA or HDMI on the familiar keypad and plug in the appropriate cable. These rooms have also been given new projectors that provide a brighter, clearer image.
OIT’s Faculty Media Lab will close on July 23 for the duration of the CUL renovations. The Faculty Media Lab has provided dozens of faculty with a space for multimedia projects, digitizing, and multimedia training.
While the space will be closed, the assistance provided will continue through other areas on campus. General multimedia question and assistance can be obtained by contacting the OIT Help Desk at 214-768-HELP or email@example.com. The SMU STAR Program will still continue to work on faculty and department digital media projects; Please continue to make requests though the help ticket system. For digitizing needs, please contact the CUL’s Norwick Center for Digital Services for availability and assistance.
The Presenter View option allows PowerPoint users to show the audience the slide show while giving the presenter a view of upcoming slides, a timer, notes to yourself, and other handy tools. (If you haven’t yet, be sure to give it a try.)
The problem is that every now and then Presenter View doesn’t happen, and the laptop screen only shows the slides. Most people don’t memorize where these controls are, so in this situation users are often forced to press on without the use of Presenter View. Since this little headache pops up from time to time, it pays to know how to set this option.
For Windows PC Users: At the top of the PowerPoint screen are a series of tabs. Click on the one that says Slide Show. In the ribbon’s Monitors section, you will see a check box next to the words Use Presenter View. Check this box and Presenter View will start up when you begin the slideshow.
Mac Users: Click on the Slide Show tab and look for a section titled Setting for Two Displays. Click on the icon that says Presenter View, and then start your presentation again.
Mac users may also need to be sure that their laptop is not set to mirror the displays. To do this, click on the Apple icon in the top-left of the desktop, then click on System and choose Display. Click on the Arrangement tab at the top of that screen and be sure that the check box next to Mirror Displays is unchecked.
Lastly, if the Presenter View shows up on the wrong monitor simply click on the Display Settings button at the top of the Presenter Tools page and select Swap Presenter View and Slide Show.
Of course, Classroom Support is always available to help with this. Call us at 214-768-8888, and we’ll be glad to set it up for you.
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.
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.
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. Readthis 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
After volume problems, this is the most common issue we hear about in the Classroom Support office (and maybe the most annoying problem for users). The DVD worked at home. It worked last semester in a different room. But now the computer is spitting it out, not recognizing it, or it’s doing nothing while the class stares at a blank screen and it’s likely some may utter words you won’t find in the Bible. What makes playing a DVD so difficult? This post will help you identify bad DVD discs, and in future post we’ll discuss working with the DVD software.
Part of the problem is that DVDs themselves are not perfect. A tiny scratch, or a little dirt in the DVD tray, can ruin everything. For reasons that are too complex to elaborate on here, this can cause a frustrating situation where a scratched disc will work in one player but not in another. Making things worse, educational companies are notorious for making inferior DVDs that arrive in a terrible state even though they are brand new.
How can you tell if the disc you’re using is cheaply made? Turn it over and see if the bottom is shiny and metallic, if so, then you’re looking at a well-made DVD. These are made in factories by permanently stamping a platter of aluminum into shape and encasing it in plastic, and it’s what a disc containing professional, Hollywood film will look like.
However, if the disc was made cheaply then the bottom will be less metallic, and you will see shades of purple, blue, or green underneath the plastic. A ring of a slightly different color around the outside is often present. The purple stuff you’re seeing is a fragile dye used by consumer DVD writers, and, obviously, it’s not as durable as stamped aluminum.
These discs degrade over time until they are useless, and some of them will refuse to work in certain computers. When this happens, it’s not a software problem—it’s the result of cheap DVD manufacturing. The dye cannot be shaped as perfectly as its aluminum counterpart, and the result is that DVD players must struggle to read the information. Making things even more complicated is the fact that some of these “cheap” discs work better than others, so there is no way to tell how well one will perform; some people use these consumer level DVDs regularly without any trouble.
What do you do if you’re concerned about your DVD? First of all, you should always test out your media in the classroom where you’re going to use it before relying on it. If it doesn’t work, contact our office and we will see if we can make it cooperate.
Another option is to test it out on your own laptop. If it works there, then simply bring that laptop to class and plug it into our projector. (Contact us at 214-768-8888, or email@example.com, if you need assistance getting this set up.) This is probably the least complicated way to bring media to your students, because it allows you to make sure everything is set up just they way you like it.
Stay tuned. In an upcoming post we will tackle the other half of this problem by de-mystifying the DVD playing software.
IT Connect is published by the Office of Information Technology at Southern Methodist University.