What is required to view videos on Hands Online! or Hands Online! VBooks™?
That will depend on whether you're watch a live video, or a recorded (or archived) video, or a video on one of our VBooks on DVD discs. Our live webcasts are streamed in Windows Media Video (.wmv) format. These are recorded, then archived on our site and made available to the public "on-demand." These recorded videos are streamed in Flash (.flv) format. The VBooks play in three different media -- television, mp4 player, and computer. The computer presentation in a VBook plays in Quicktime. You will need a slightly different set-up to view each type.
|Why not just use one media player for all three types of video?
|We wish it were that simple -- and perhaps someday in the future it will be. We matched each type of video to a player based on stability, compatibility, and capability. For the time being, this mix of players will give you the best viewing experience for each video type. Fortunately, they're all free.
|What is required to use the text chat?
|The chat function is a PHP program that runs on our server unlike most chat rooms that require a Java applet that runs on your computer. You should be able to use the chat with any recent browser.
|Can I use my Apple Macintosh to watch videos on this web site or on VBooks?
Our live webcasts are
currently optimized for PC users with Internet Explorer and the latest
version of Windows Media Player. However, Mac users on Safari should have no
trouble, provided you have a recent Windows Media Player plug-in. We suggest
you try Flip4Mac for our live
webcasts -- they have a
decent WMV plug-in.
Our archived videos are streamed in Flash. If the latest Adobe plug-in doesn't work for you, try SWF & FLV Player. Some folks have reported good results with it.
Additionally, here are two links to pages on the Microsoft web site that may be of some help as you configure your computer:
As mentioned above, the VBooks play in three different media -- television, mp4 player, and computer. Your DVD player and mp4 player will provide the software needed to view the videos on televison or as podcasts. The computer presentation in a VBook plays in Quicktime, which is native to Apple. However you will need a recent version. We recommend Quicktime 7.4.5 or later to avail yourself of all the benefits.
|Why are the videos choppy or freezing?
The quality of the
video clip you are watching mainly depends on two factors: (a) the speed of
your Internet connection and (b) the bit rate (speed) of the video clip. The
faster the bit rate of the video clip, the better the quality. However, the
speed of your Internet connection will limit which video clip bit rate that
you can watch. For example, if you only have a 56kbs dial up connection to
the Internet, the highest video clip bit rate that you will be able to watch
will be 56kbs or less (most likely less as the majority of dial-up
connections only get speeds of 28kbs or less due to phone line issues). If
you try to watch a video clip with a bit rate of 300kbs over a dial up
connection, the video will not play. For the best viewing experience, we recommend a high
speed Internet connection such as DSL or Cable Modem.
It is important to note that even if you have a high-speed (DSL/ Cable Modem/ T1), Internet traffic congestion affects your connection speed and/or video performance. You will get slower or faster speeds at different times depending on peak or off-peak use hours. You may also get slower speeds during the morning and afternoon, but faster speeds late at night when fewer people are online. Also, streaming quality decreases when multiple people share the same Internet connection (e.g. at work or on a home network).
|Why can I hear the audio but not see the video?
|This sometimes occurs when the speed of your Internet connection is lower than the bit rate of the video clip you are watching. It can be caused by either (a) trying to view a video clip whose bit rate is to high for your Internet connection or (b) Internet traffic congestion that reduces the speed of your connection below what it should be. For example, you have a high speed DSL or cable modem connection to the Internet, but due to Internet congestion or shared usage, the effective speed of your Internet connection is actually closer to a dial up connection.
|Why can I see the video but not hear the audio?
|Like the problem described immediately above, this sometimes occurs when the speed of your Internet connection is lower than the bit rate of the video clip you are watching. However, it is more likely because (a) your speaker volume is turned too low, or (b) the "Wave" volume in your master Volume Control panel is set too low. Some programs (such as Real Media) control this panel and may reset the Wave volume without you're knowing. Check your speakers first, then bring up Volume Control by clicking the speaker icon on your toolbar and check the Wave volume.
|Even though I have all the system requirements, why can't I see or hear any videos?
Try reducing your browser's security setting. In particular, make sure that
your browser allows you to play "active content." If you use
Internet Explorer, go to Tools>Internet Options>Advanced and look in the
Security section. Place checkmarks in the boxes that refer to active
5. If you are using Firefox with Adblock Plus, Adblock may not allow the video to play. Click on the down arrow next to the red stop sign marked ABP in the upper right side of the screen. Then select the option to disable ABP for our site.
6. If all else fails and you need advice straight from the horse's mouth, here's a link to the Microsoft Windows Media Knowledge Center.
|How do I configure Windows Media Player to improve streaming?
For optimum viewing,
we recommend the following:
|To Find Out What Version of Windows Media Player You Currently Have:
1. Start Windows Media
2. Click on Help in the menu bar or just right click on the frame.
3. Click About Windows Media Player.
4. If you need to upgrade, click here to go to Windows Media Download Center.
|To Find Out What Version of Adobe Flash Player You Currently Have:
1. Search your operating
system folder (/Windows) for "Flash" files. The Adobe Flash Player is
labeled "FlashUtil__." The numbers and letters in the blank spaces
will tell you the version of your player.
2. If you need to upgrade, click here for the latest version of Adobe Flash Player.
|To Find Out What Version of Quicktime Player You Currently Have:
1. Start Quicktime
2. Click on Help in the menu bar.
3. Click About QuicktimePlayer.
2. If you need to upgrade, click here to upgrade to the latest version of Quicktime Player.
|Here Are Some Tips To Optimize Streaming On Windows Media Player:
1. Start Windows Media
2. Click the Tools menu and choose Options.
3. Click the Performance tab.
4. Click "My connection speed is:" and select the appropriate speed for your Internet connection. Select Modem (56 kbps) or a lower speed if you have a 56k dial-up modem connection. Select DSL/Cable (256 kbps) or a higher speed if you have a high-speed connection (DSL, Cable Modem, T1, etc.).
5. Click OK.
6. NOTE: You can change these settings at any time.
You can also find helpful advice at the Microsoft Windows Media Knowledge Center.
|Optional Advanced Settings for Windows Media Player:
1. Click the Network tab and select all the protocols: Multicast, UDP, TCP,
|What does bandwidth mean and what is the difference between 56k and 300k?
|Bandwidth is a term used to describe connection speed to the Internet. The numbers 56k, 300k and others describe the minimum Internet connection you need to experience the associated video or audio program. For instance, 56k requires a minimum of a 56 kbps connection to the Internet. The content may be transferred at a lower rate as long as it is suitable for the connection speed. You can always play the lower speed content over higher speed lines, but a higher number (100k, 300k, 500k, etc.) generally provides better overall quality of streaming.
Can I download Hands Online! videos to my computer?
You may view our free
videos as often as you like while you are visiting our web site, but we ask
that you not copy, download, or "rip" them. We have posted this notice on
those pages that act as gateways to our videos:
There is a misconception that the “Fair Use” doctrine incorporated into the new copyright laws allows copying for personal use. This is not true. Section 107 of the United States Copyright Code defines “fair use” and offers theses examples: “…quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author's observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported.” Nor is copying permitted if you acknowledge the source of the copied video. Again, Section 107 says, “Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.”
|Why is Hands Online! video viewer cutoff at the bottom of my monitor?
The bottom of Hands
Online! video viewer may appear cutoff if your computer's screen resolution
is set to 800x600 pixels or less. To adjust your screen size complete the
1. Click the Start
button at the bottom left of your desktop.
|How do I switch between small screen and full screen video when I'm viewing a video from the Hands Online! Virtual Classroom?
When viewing a
live video (such as an interactive class or Sawdust Session):
1. Click on the small screen and it will enlarge to fill your computer screen.
2. To return from a full screen to a small screen, press the ESC key.
pre-recorded, on-demand video (such as an archived Sawdust Session or
When viewing the computer portion of our VBooks, you must have a copy of Quicktime Pro to change the size of the screen. This is available from Apple for a fee. If you don't want to spend the extra money yet still see the videos larger (and in much greater detail), play them in a DVD player and view them on your television.
I just can't seem to get
whatever to work with Windows Media.
|We suggest you download a copy of Internet Explorer and use it just to view our live video streams. IE is the native environment for Windows Media Player and (hopefully) it may work for you. It also works well with those pre-recorded, on-demand videos we post in Flash.