Converting GoToMeeting Video to other formats (WMV to FLV)

I regularly process presentation recordings and encode them into streaming formats. I have repeatedly run into the problem of the near impossibility of converting the gotomeeting WMV format. GoToMeeting seems to be able to record presentations in two variations: the first being their own proprietary WMV format and the second is standard Windows WMV format.

The latter is what is needed to easily convert the video file into various other formats, FLV included.

Take these steps to convert a given file from the GoToMeeting codec to a standard WMV.

  1. Go download and install the GoToMeeting Codec pack: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/codec?Portal=gotomeeting.com
  2. After installation, go find your installation folder. It’s usually something like “C:\Program Files\Citrix\GoToMeeting\”
  3. Now you want to locate the g2mtranscoder.exe and g2m.dll files — these are what actually do the conversion for you.
  4. Once you’ve located them, copy them somewhere that you can access easily. Take note of the full path of the files (ex. C:\Program Files\Citrix\GoToMeeting\g2mtranscoder.exe)
  5. Locate the video file you want to convert and take note of that file’s path (ex C:\My Documents\Videos\videofile.wmv)
  6. If you have Windows XP go to your start menu and then open the ‘run’ menu and type in “CMD” (without the quotes). If you have Windows Vista or 7 then go to your start menu and type “CMD”  (without the quotes) into the search/run area at the bottom of the menu.
  7. Now you’ll have a command window where you will call up your g2mtranscoder using the path you took note of previously and the path of the video file:
    Your command to execute should look something like this:
    C:\Program Files\Citrix\GoToMeeting\g2mtranscoder.exe source=C:\My Documents\Videos\videofile.wmv
  8. This will run the g2mtranscoder.exe and use the video file as the source. Of course the names and locations of each of these may change depending on your system. It will overwrite the old G2M WMV with the new plain Windows WMV.
  9. You can now freely convert this WMV to other formats without the difficulty of G2m codec.
  10. You can check and see if it is complete my using Windows Task Manager to see if the process is still there. You can check task manager to see if the process is still running in the ‘processes’ tab. You’ll see the name of the exe in the list. If it shows up it is still running. It takes longer depending on the length of the video file.How to bring up task manager:
    Press CTRL+ALT+DELETE click ‘Task Manager.
    OR
    Right-click an empty part of the taskbar and click ‘Task Manager’.

 

Some tips from: http://www.any-video-converter.com/convert-g2m3-g2m4-codec-video-to-wmv-avi-mp4-flv.php

 

HTML5 Isn’t ready for primetime, W3C says

According to the W3c, HTML5 hasn’t yet reached a level of maturity that would make it useful to the whole of the internet. Some browsers are capable of supporting some of the features while others don’t.

According to Infoworld:

HTML5, which updates the HTML specification to accommodate modern Web applications, has gained a lot of adherents in vendors like Microsoft, Google, and Apple. But the specification is plain not ready yet for deployment to websites, an official with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which oversees HTML5, stressed this week.

I agree. It’s awesome and has great potential, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. If we start making major time investments in developing sites in HTML5 now before it is a final standard, we could end up wasting time developing in the wrong direction. We’ll get there soon, but be patient. It’s probably more than acceptable to have fun and give the new potential tags and features a whirl….just be careful. You might shoot your eye out.

Google Instant Search Debuts

This is a welcome and logical development in the world of web search: get realtime google search results as you type. No need to hit that search button anymore. What has stopped a search engine from doing this previously? I’d wager nothing, but it sort of takes the search out of search engine and dilutes the magic of googling a bit. I’m satisfied with the interface and results it produces, although there needs to be more of a notification as to when the search results are updating.

Check out Google’s pep talk about it:

Internet Explorer 9 UI Video Leaks

I haven’t seen anything mind-blowing when it comes to IE user interfaces, and the next iteration of the popular and widely hated browser keeps the status quo as shown in the test video below.

It just looks smooshed and painful to use. It seems like there is a concerted effort to consolidate the navigation and menus to be similar to the new Firefox and Chrome builds…but it leaves a lot to be desired. It’s progress.

The only thing IE9 has going for it at this point is the 95% on the ACID3 test. But still, other browsers can pull a perfect score. IE9 seems to still be an underachiever, especially with all of the cash thrown at it. But I guess with the loads of Microsoft technologies that they have built reliance on IE there are some constraints to the possibilities.

Netflix Goes Mobile, Pay TV Subscriptions Drop

Netflix, Hulu, Tv.com, Amazon, and even YouTube are bombarding the streaming entertainment arena with awesome content, tons of programming, and options for everyone. These services are popping up everywhere from Nintendo Wii consoles, TVs and now your beloved iPhones and iPads – soon to be on the Android platform as well. The goal seems to be heading towards making Netflix ubiquitous making it accessible to anyone and everyone on nearly any platform or device.

Just last week Netflix announced their first serious foray into the mobile application market and beat out other similar services by releasing their own app designed to allow users to manage their queue and stream content directly from Netflix over WiFi or 3G. If you’ve got the data plan to handle it, it looks like you’re about to be connected to entertainment no matter where you are.

This announcement goes hand-in-hand with the uptick in use of networked backed services like Hulu and the first time ever drop in pay-TV subscribers. The market as a whole lost over 200,000 subscribers and I’m sure part of that group are still glued to their TVs, mobile devices, and PCs happily watching streaming on-demand content.

It’s about time that old media realize that pay-TV is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

Netflix iPhone App Video from Netflix on Vimeo.

Demystifying Web Development: What It Means to Be a Modern Web Developer

The world of modern web development is not understood by anyone outside of it. The intricacies, the intense segmentation, and the true strength of the professional community is often overlooked by the layperson.

“So what do you do?” they ask. “I’m a web developer.” I pause for a moment. “I build and design websites and web applications.”

“Oh cool I used to do some of that at my old job with Frontpage.”

I’ve had about a million conversations with people that start off like this. For sake of brevity, I usually leave things at this – but secretly I’m steaming inside. Not necessarily because they’re not familiar with my realm, but because how the profession is written off as something almost trivial. The value is constantly being eroded and stereotyped, making educating clients and consumers that much more difficult. This is partly because to get your hands dirty in development the only thing you really need is a text editor and a web browser. That’s where many people think development ends.

If web development was an iceberg that would be the 18 feet sticking out of the ocean. What you don’t see is the remaining monstrosity that sinks the hive-mind Titanic as it approaches and blows people’s minds so much so that they nearly refuse to acknowledge it exists or is even nearly as complex as it truly is.

Being a web developer means three things:

  1. You program for the web – anything you program or develop is meant to be executed on a web server or presented to an end-user in a browser
  2. Most of the work you do is never seen or understood by those who use it. They just accept that it works and don’t ask questions as to why or how.
  3. You have a specialty. You are awesome using AJAX, web design, PHP, Haskell, ASP.net, Actionscript, Zend Framework or any of the other 149.54 million tools, methods, languages, and utilities that help make web development such an interesting field.

This escapes a lot of people even in 2010. Think of it in terms of construction. You want to build a house (or website) so you draw up plans that meet your needs, find a suitable plot of land for it, start estimating costs, and start assembling a team to complete the job. You’re going to need a general contractor or foreman, a drywall crew, framing crew, clearing crew, electricians, plumbers, masonry crew, cabinet crew, and the list goes on. And within each of those general fields there are also long lists of specialties. You have to be careful to select the right candidate for the right purpose and stay mindful of each crew’s specialties and core competencies. Don’t expect your master masons to be able to run electrical wiring…

The same is true in web development. Given the nearly endless array of specialties and qualities that development professionals possess, the world that consumes the fruits of our labor needs to know what it truly takes to make a monster like facebook, a twitter, a blog, or even a digg or reddit. This comes through on sites like craigslist where someone wants to create the next facebook or myspace – for a budget of $220 and a 24 pack of Miller Light. There is no concept to what it takes to actually create something from the ground up, make it function properly, design a great user interface, and get people to start using it.

As professionals we all develop specialties to serve a certain purpose – it’s about time we stop generalizing and start educating. The next time someone asks what you do for a living tell them as succinctly as possibile – any of the following are good examples:

  • “I’m a web developer. My main focus is developing applications that balance the servers for large sites like facebook and myspace so that they will run smoothly even though 18 million people are using them at one time”
  • “I’m a web developer specializing in designing highly usable web sites and applications. I make the web sites your love easier to use – so it just works the way you expect it to.”
  • “I’m a web developer and build the technology that powers web-based video streaming so you can watch the latest “Keeping up with the Kardashians” on hulu.”

Don’t cop out. Tell people what you do – don’t be mad at them for having no idea what it means to be a developer. Educate them.

Ubuntu 10.04 LTS: First Thoughts

I have Ubuntu installed on my laptop as a dual-boot and on my work PC inside a VirtualBox. I use it for all kinds of things that Ubuntu just does better – especially heavy development.

After yesterday’s public release of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS I decided it was time to get my hands dirty and install the new version.

A few things stuck out during the first boot and installation process:

  • Slick Graphical Interface during installation (see screenshot)
    4-30-2010 1-39-49 PM
  • More emphasis on making the user aware of features: sliding panels explaining features and benefits during installation just like Windows OS install process
  • Seems more readily geared towards a wider user base – features like music store, built-in social networking and instant messaging platforms
  • It boots up in seriously just a few seconds. Really great benefit.
  • Default theme and desktop configuration are attractive…and surprisingly not orange/brown!4-30-2010 1-53-32 PM
  • Tweaked window layout: note the ‘close’, ‘minimize’ and ‘maximize’ buttons in the top left
    4-30-2010 1-56-47 PM
  • The feel of the OS seems much more familiar than it used to. I’m impressed and I think this is a great leap towards a wider user-base.

Well, those are some first-impressions. I’m really excited about the level of polish that has been reached with Ubuntu 10.04. Props to everyone involved in the project.

Head in the clouds: Amazon s3 and CloudFront with Joomla! and PHP

I’m managing a LAMP server on a virtual dedicated setup and have recently run into some performance issues. During periods of higher user visits the CPU usage shoots up This could be partly because of the platform running on it, but I’m not sure that the PHP scripting is the root cause.

To alleviate some of my concerns, I’ve moved most of the static images, css, and javascript over to Amazon s3 and set up a CDN for that data with CloudFront. It’s fast. Really fast compared to what we’re used to. It has drastically helped load times and from what I can tell it is improving the performance of the site altogether by reducing the load on the server.

Caching is out in full force for the main joomla site while the content being served from amazon s3 is gzipped, minified, and speedy. I’m still working through YSlow to get things even more streamlined, but I’m more satisfied now than before.

I was using a minify component to grab scripts on-the-fly and combine them but that’s just a nightmare for performance so I’m going to revamp and get the remainder of those files out to the CDN and compressed.

For those who are interested, I’m serving gzipped js and css but using some varied methods also depending on if the connection is secure or not. Since S3 does not function over https using cnames, I had to set up a check to see which URL to use for my CDN files.

Something like this did the trick for my Joomla! template (placed in the template’s index.php):

//check to see if the browser supports gzip content
$gz = strpos($_SERVER['HTTP_ACCEPT_ENCODING'], 'gzip') !== false ? 'gz' : '';
if ($_SERVER['HTTPS'] != "on") {
//insert your code to execute over http here
$document->addStyleSheet('https://yourbucketname.s3.amazonaws.com/templates/css/style.'.$gz.'css');
}
else{
//enter your https code here
$document->addStyleSheet('http://cdn.yoursite.com/templates/css/style.'.$gz.'css');
}

I’ve got this loading the CNAME urls such as cdn.yourdomain.com/css/style.gzcss for the non-secure connection but using the secure URLS that amazon provides for the secure connection.

And no, style.gzcss is not a typo. There were issues with how the browser was grabbing files with the regular style.gz.css extension, even when I had set the content-encoding to gzip and the content-type to text/css. This has worked for me, but there may be a more elegant solution floating around. Cloudberry explorer has been a great asset in doing this quickly and efficiently.

The Morning After

It looks like a lot of iPad hopefuls have been let down. The high expectations for the device have led people like Jeff Jarvis, an admitted Apple fan-boy and well-known media pundit, to send the device back. Jarvis even recorded the reboxing process and even threatened to “Jimi Hendrix it on stage”.

I’m sure a lot of other people will be doing the same. It’s a novelty device for now – more of a proof of concept that someone had to produce. Wait until about four generations of the product from now until there is something really desirable. Everyone else just got some extra time to play catch-up. Or start a technology war.

Apples to Apple

During the pep rally for iPhone OS4 I was pondering how Apple has carefully crafted a dedicated culture of users, both with their computers and gadgets. It reminds me, although on a much less elaborate scale, of the method that Nintendo has used to enhance the Nintendo DS over the years and stimulate demand for new hardware and games.

I think there are at least 3 generations of Nintendo DS systems on the market now, compared with a half-dozen iPod generations and 3 going on 4 generations of the iPhone. Nintendo has made it a point to prevent the total alienation of users by maintaining backwards compatibility so users of older systems still have a similar experience to those with the newer gadgets. We all know this isn’t the case with Apple.

Once a new iPhone OS comes out, those with older handsets usually get left in the dust. They need to upgrade their OS if possible – or just fork over a fistful of Benjamins to get on the boat. Development of apps gets focused on making use of the new OS features further leaving users alienated.

Everyone is paying attention to what happens in the mobile device arena. Big things are happening and everyone wants a piece. Apple has a big piece for good reason, but now that a few other big boys are in the arena they may need to revisit their method of keeping a user base. It may not last now that people have comparable alternatives.