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 Tech Tip Friday
 11/4/2011-Online video buffering?
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Posted - November 15 2011 :  07:13:03  Show Profile  Email Poster  Visit 1029usr078198's Homepage  Click to see 1029usr078198's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Listen now. Download the archive. or Watch on UStream.

Question: Connie asks, "When I try to play a video (such as on YouTube) it buffers and pauses for 10-15 seconds. How do I fix this?"

Answer: Good question, Connie. Video requires faster Internet speed than audio. The higher the video quality, the greater the speed required. If your computer downloads video faster than the video plays, you won't experience any buffering except maybe at the start. On the other hand if the video plays faster than it can be downloaded, you'll get periods of buffering while your computer downloads more video. So...

What's happening is that the videos you're watching on YouTube require more speed than you have available, or (if the buffering happens at the start of the video) it's compensating in advance. If it's buffering at the start only, there's nothing to fix; in fact that kind of behavior is desirable. On the other hand, if a 5-minute clip is punctuated by randomly spaced 10-20 second pauses, then you can avoid them one of two ways: 1) faster Internet (that one can always work), 2) buffer half or more of the video manually. You can do this by clicking Play, then before the video starts to play, click Pause. This doesn't work all the time, but if it's going to, you'll see a timeline growing next to the play button. When it gets beyond halfway, click Play and you should usually be able to watch anything all the way through. In the illustration I've provided, the red line denotes what has already played, the circle shows where we are right now, the light gray segment shows how much of the total video has been buffered, and the darker gray at the far right hasn't been downloaded yet. Notice also that a triangular play button is visible, rather than a pause button.

Cool Site: eHow.com: This week's site is one we've seen a couple of times as part of our answer, but it hasnít had its own spot yet. eHow.com is a website where users can learn how to do things. Things you can learn about cover a number of topics like food, home projects, money, family, style, and way more. Just today, the site featured a video of how to make apple cider donuts which really sound great, by the way, an article about putting old wood to good use, and planning family meals, which might be great for newlyweds. You can find articles on Arts and Crafts, and I even found a whole section on making paper airplanes. The site is free to use; I didn't see anything that wasn't family-friendly, and doesn't even require a login, but is ad-supported, so be prepared for that.

Cool Gadget: PowerUp Electric Power Module for Paper Airplanes: This week's gadget is going to be Zak-approved. I mentioned paper airplanes a bit ago, and he's kind of gotten into making them, and this week's gadget again from Vat19 is called the PowerUp Electric Power Module for Paper Airplanes. It uses 3 AA batteries which you put in a charger. You make the paper airplane and then attach the PowerUp to the front so that its propeller sticks out the back of the plane. Then plug the charger into the PowerUp. The propeller will immediately start to spin and in a few seconds when it gets up to speed, you unplug it and your airplane will take to the skies under its own power. The PowerUp is very light, with a propeller shaft made of carbon fiber and will accommodate most any plane up to 8-inches long. One charge can last as long as 2 minutes, but because there's no steering, they warn that you'll need a large area. It runs $20, which is a bit pricey, but hey, you're bonding with your kids, or at least your inner child.

Cool App: Iris: The new Apple iPhone has a very cool voice recognition feature called Siri. Well, Android users, rejoice, because there's a free app called Iris that will let you do what your iPhone-toting brethren have been doing lately. If you didn't notice, and I didn't until I saw them both written side-by-side, Iris is Siri backwards. Iris lets you ask your Android phone anything you want. It will then speak to you and give you an answer. The app's speech recognition is still a bit rough so be sure to speak clearly and with a small space between each word for best results. You'll have to install Voice Search and TTS Library, but according to the Android Market, most phones have these preinstalled. Skip the video review, though - trust me on this one. In addition to general answers, you can use Iris to make calls, text your friends which may be handy while driving, surf the web, look up contacts, and more.

It's All "Geek" To Me: Alpha: Today, Geek is Greek. This week's cool app, Iris, is what they call alpha software. That means that the software developer has only just begun testing it. In something programmers call the Software Development Lifecycle, alpha means that the programmers have tested it on their equipment and are making the program available to more people so that it can be tested more widely. It's kind of like when you look at a problem the same way over and over and you can't find the answer. Someone else comes up behind you and sees it immediately. It's the same with programmers. They try to anticipate what people will do accidentally and handle it but can't anticipate everything, so Alpha is the first round of this wider testing. Beta is the second. So, please understand, that if you use software that's classified as Alpha, it will probably have bugs, and need to be updated frequently.


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