Downloading online videos

Twice this week I’ve answered questions about capturing online videos for research purposes. Scholars who are doing research based on clips of historical commercials are worried that their source materials may become unavailable and that their research will be more difficult to complete or share if this happens. This is the step-by-step how-to that will allow you to capture video from sources like Youtube, GoogleVideo, YahooVideo, and other online video hosts for educational purposes.

These instructions are for users on the Windows operating system.

Before you start it will simplify things if you create a project folder somewhere on your computer where you will store the videos you capture. For example, right click on the desktop and create a new folder. Call it something meaningful like youtubeVideos. There are 3 stages to the entire process: downloading, converting, and burning a disc.

Part 1: downloading the .flv file

  1. Download and install the YoutubeDownloader from
  2. Start the new application by double clicking the new icon that should have just appeared on your desktop.
  3. In your browser find the video you’d like to capture. Copy its url (highlight and ctrl+C or right click > copy) from the address bar at the top of your browser. (starts with http://www. )
  4. Paste the url in the first empty box of the downloader where it says “Enter video url.” (ctrl+V or right click > paste)
  5. Select Download video from Youtube and then click Ok.
  6. Locate the file that you just downloaded. It will either be on your desktop or in your default save folder. Drag and drop it into the folder you created for this project.

You’re already halfway there.

Part 2: converting the file to something playable

  1. In the same YoutubeDownloader box you’ll see a browse button to the right of the first blank box. Click on it and navigate to the file you just downloaded. If you moved it to the project folder it should be easy to find. If you can’t find it you can do a system search for media > videos > .flv
  2. Select the file to be converted. Check “Convert video previously downloaded.” Click on Ok.
  3. When it’s done processing a .mov file should now be in the folder.

Part 3: Burning a disc of the .mov files

  1. Open your burning software (Nero/NTI/etc). Select create new data disc.
  2. Browse to your project folder.
  3. Select the .mov files you’d like to burn.
  4. Burninate!

How to Get Your Girlfriend to Play WoW (and other video games)

It’s all about negotiation. When I was young /*sigh — was that only last year?*/ I had plenty of time for playing PS2 or World of Warcraft with Rob. Life seems busier now with grad school and a bigger house (and bigger kids) to take care of. We played some WoW over the xmas break (when I was debating dropping out of school) but I stayed enrolled and had to give up the WoW again. Or so I thought.

He must have heard me stressing about housework because all it took for him to get me on board for a weekly 2-hour WoW date was his offer to clean the bathroom on Saturday. So for the past month, we alternate who cleans upstairs and who cleans down —– plus vacuuming the stairs every other week. Now every Tuesday night we head to a coffee shop with free wifi and get busy questing on Deathwing. Last week we each got a level, this week I did. Next week it will be his turn again.

Part of the deal is that we show up ready to play. Any training or playing barbies (looking for gear on the Auction House and/or running to the bank for new clothes) has to be done ahead of time. I’m surprised by how much I look forward to it — and love that the bathroom is clean and shiny all the time.

Compiz on SuSE 10.3

I’ve had Compiz on my desktop for almost a week.

compiz cube

At first I found it a bit overwhelming, trying to keep up with all the different cool things I can do now, and then I found a couple of cheat sheets quick reference guides here and here. Looking through the photos on flickr I’m getting excited to play around with it this weekend.

I think it would have been less confusing if I’d realized sooner that the Compiz Fusion Icon needs to be running in order for some of the features to work. Not all, just some. For example, ctrl+alt+R or L arrow will rotate the desktop cube whether the icon is running or not but the mousewheel only works if it’s on. Wobbly windows also only works with it on.

photo credit: MicheleM on flickr.

Lightning (or lack of) on Suse 10.3

I spoke too soon in my last post. I installed the Lightning extension for Thunderbird and thought everything was good to go. At first glance everything in the calendar addon looked as it should. I should have configured it before posting though because it doesn’t work. It doesn’t respond when I try to add events or tasks, and the calendar view is mashed up in one corner.

For some reason the build that Rob had working on his suse 10.3 isn’t on the project page anymore and we won’t get into the details of why I can’t just get the xpi from him. I tried the nightly and every build in the project history but no luck. What a bummer since I was looking forward to the updates since the version I was running on Windows. Needless to say, neither of us is currently running Lightning. It’s beyond me to tell you what is causing the problem or what to do to repair it. I can however, point you towards other apps:

I went back to GoogleCalendar for a few days but missed the look and feel of Lightning. I’m also wary of creating a dependence on Google. And I hate that they know everything about me. Reading around for other Linux calendar options I decided to try out Korganizer — and I’m very pleased. I think even if Lightning were an option I might stick with Korganizer. The look and feel is very similar to Lightning, and I can have it open with or without running the mail client. Sometimes I work better if I shut down the email — but I still like being able to add to my task list so this is working out well so far.

There’s support for import and export of calendars using iCal so that will be the next step.

Back to SUSE

Spring break this year provided time for a needed format and reinstall. Leaving were an old install of windows x64 that I hadn’t used in a year or two, the current windows xp which I booted most often in case I wanted some photoshop tools, and an install of suse 10.2 that I hadn’t used much since I finished my C course last April.

I did the backup, Rob did the reinstall but by the time that was done I had a major paper due so I spent those hours on my laptop instead of the desktop since the laptop was all set to go and the new install of Suse 10.3 would need hours of tweaking (and remembering how to tweak since I’m still a Linux newb).

Finally today I got the machine turned on again and started digging around. I installed my favourite extensions in Firefox:

and decided that it’s time now to put some real effort into for syncing bookmarks. The profile backup I did in Windows with MozBackup won’t be easy to bring into Linux — I figure I’ll have to restore it on a second profile on my laptop then import the bookmarks into Delicious. If only I’d saved the bookmarks.html file before I formatted…

I also decided to install Chatzilla — since I’ve joined LinuxChix and plan to join in the irc there.

Then it was over to Thunderbird to start setting up some email and the addon I’ve been missing the most: Lightning. Lightning is the schedule, task and calendar add-on that works inside of Thunderbird. I started using it in the late fall and it was exactly what I’ve been needing. There’s a quick task list that is visible from the mail pane and the calendar allows multiple calendars so that I can categorize and track the many activities and people in the house (and my own multiple identities – heh).

I downloaded Lightning without any problem but it wouldn’t install because I’m running 64-bit Linux. Then I found this hack:

Hack for 64 bit Linux users
by p stucke on March 15, 2008 (rated 10)
This add-on can be installed on a 64 bit Linux system with a small hack.\n\n1. Extract the archive to a folder.\n2. Open install.rdf in a text editor.\n3. Change the following line: Linux_x86-gcc3\nto\nLinux_x86_64-gcc3\n4. Save the file.\n5. Zip the contents (not the entire folder, just the contents) of the folder.\n6. Rename the archive to: lightning-0.7-tb-linux_64.xpi (or something similar)\n7. Install the add-on.\n\nThat\’s it. Upon first launch, the GUI loaded incorrectly, but after a restart, it worked as expected.

Written just 5 days ago and here was the key I needed to get my Lightning working! It took some decoding to unscramble that hard-to-read formatting (\n = new line) but here’s what I realized p stucke was saying:

  1. Extract the archive to a folder.
  2. Did this by right clicking selecting “extract to” and extracting all files into a folder in my home directory (the default location)

  3. Open install.rdf in a text editor.
  4. Navigated to my home directory, found the folder and file, right click > Open with > Other > Utilities > Editor > KWrite. There may have been other choices sooner but this is the one I was familiar with.

  5. Change the following line: Linux_x86-gcc3 to Linux_x86_64-gcc3
  6. Found that line at the bottom of the document and typed in the changes.

  7. Save the file.
  8. No problems here, just saved and closed KWrite.

  9. Zip the contents (not the entire folder, just the contents) of the folder.
  10. Selected everything in the folder, right clicked then Compress > Compress as > Zip Archive.

  11. Rename the archive to: lightning-0.7-tb-linux_64.xpi (or something similar)
  12. Good old F2, same as always.

  13. Install the add-on.
  14. Back to Thunderbird > Tools > Add-ons> Install > navigate to the home folder with the new zip and Open. Everything worked on the first try!

So now it’s just a matter of setting up my tasks and calendars — and all my email addresses of course. ;)

I’m pretty happy.