Nov 152010
 

UPDATED 6/24/2012 
Zamzar received a cease and desist letter this month from Google, the new owners of YouTube.   Google pointed out that downloading YouTube videos violates YouTube’s terms of service.  Read the letter.

Zamzar, a free online file conversion tool, has been around for a while. But just because it’s been around doesn’t mean that you know about it, right?

Zamzar lets you convert audio, image, document, video, and ebook files from one format to another format. I can envision many scenarios where you might want to do that, but I’m going to cover how you can download videos from a site such as YouTube. Instead of streaming the video from a website, you can download it to your computer. Once downloaded you can either open the video file on its own, or you can embed your video in your PowerPoint presentation. (PowerPoint also allows you to link to videos on the internet and stream live, but downloading videos is the way to go if are concerned about not having an internet connection in your classroom or are concerned about the video disappearing one day.)

How to do it.

When you visit Zamzar, you’ll see this. It actually defaults to the ‘Convert Files’ tab. Since we’re downloading a video from a website, select the ‘Download Videos’ tab.

Go to YouTube and find your video. Directly under the video screen, click the ‘Share’ button. The link to the video will appear. Copy it.

Paste it into the Step 1 box. In the Step 2 box, choose your file format. If you’re planning on embedding the video in PowerPoint, choose wmv. [Note: PowerPoint 2010 can now handle more video file formats than it used to, but wmv is still a fine choice.] In Step 3, enter your email address, then click ‘Convert.’

After uploading, you’ll get this message.

Now you wait. In a few minutes, you will get an email from Zamzar. After inviting you to register the email will read something like this:

Following the link takes you to a webpage where you can download the file.

After downloading, save the file to whatever folder you’d like. That’s it!

 

Nov 112010
 

For those who worry about being misunderstood in email, how about video recording your message instead? The cleverly named Eyejot provides an easy web-based user interface for recording and emailing video. They also provide a bookmarklet, a small program that runs inside your web browser, for attaching your own video commentary to web pages. Their bookmarklet is called “Eyejot This!” You just drag the bookmark to your browser’s bookmarks toolbar. Surf to any website, click the “Eyejot This!” bookmark. This window will appear – with your face on the screen, if your webcam is working. Hopefully you won’t see my face on your screen. That would just be creepy.

Click the red record button. Say what you’d like to say. Hit the square black stop button. Type in the email address of who you’d like to send it to. Send a copy to yourself if you’d like the URL. Eyejot keeps your old videos in your online Eyejot account; you can forward or delete previously recorded videos.

I used the Eyejot bookmarklet to record a video. I then emailed it to myself using Eyejot‘s interface. This is what the email looks like:

The text of the email reads “click on the image below or here to watch video.” When you click the link, this is where you’re sent. Check it out.

Of course you don’t have to tie your video recording to a website. You can record a stand-alone video. When I log in to Eyejot, this is what I see:

My inbox holds Eyejot videos others have sent to me. As you can see that’s empty. The sent tab shows my recordings. The deleted tab is more like the recycling bin. When I delete a video, it goes to that tab until I go in there and REALLY delete it. To record a new message, click “compose new message.” That turns on my webcam and launches this popup window:

When I’m done recording, I type in an appropriate subject line, the email addresses of my recipients, add any written commentary I’d like to add, and include an attachment if I’d like. Click “send eyejot,” and that’s it. To cancel a message, click the X in the top right corner of the video recording screen.

Before the beginning of a new term, I email my students with a link to my course website. Next term, I think I’ll add a little video commentary for a more personal touch. Eyejot is free for users who are fine limiting their recordings to one minute. If you’re on the wordy side, $29.95/year gets you five minutes of camera time.

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