adventures with video posting

After some time I eventually figured out I can not only take pictures with my Nokia N70 but I can also take video in bot mp4 and 3gp formats. It was really cool to take video with sound when I went round to see Frances and I was impressed by the quality–but as usual I managed to take one video on its side by holding the phone sideways.

When I take pictures I upload them to flickr, usually making the necessary rotations and corrections first. I know several ways to tweak jpeg images, but when it came to video I was at a loss. I needed to

  • rotate the sideways video
  • put both of them somewhere where the rest of the family can get to them and view them without too much effort
  • do this without compromising the quality further

Perhaps it is a sign of age, coming from a non-networked computing background, but my first though was to find an application that would do the editing (by searching the network). I did find a couple of free candidates but I was not able to get them to work properly.

Web 2.0 to the rescue.

Eyespot made everything very simple. I was able to upload the video as a “clip” and then add it to a mix. Mixes are suppose to bring together lots of different assets, but I just added one and applied one effect to the whole clip, rotate. The resulting mix was a copy of video in the right orientation with the audio intact. Making it available was more tricky.

Eyespot allows you to publish on your own eyespot blog or a number of social networking-cum-video sharing sites, none of which were really the sort of environment that made viewing the videos easy for family. However, in common with other similar site, eyespot does generate a fragment of html that can be pasted into a website or blog which will embed the eyespot player.

The embedded player is the route I have chosen. It is a bit limiting because there is no control over the size of the video, but the controls are straightforward and it is of course easier to annotate when you are embedding a video in a page rather than adding notes to a media page. So you will find the videos here under the “family” tag.

I also experimented with but did not find that it added much in this context. The interface for viewing videos is arguably better than the eyespot embedded player, with links to alternate versions of the video, etc. But it is not particularly friendly for family use and there is no obvious way of controlling access. In fact neither eyespot nor offer access control like flickr, but I think that posting the video on an obscure blog offers a little comfort.

While worked well with the video I took the right way up there is no option to edit the clips as this is not really the point of the service. I did experiment with the facility to post edited mixes from eyespot to but could not get it to work, and had already decided not to use the site as the viewing portal anyway.

Another feature I experimented with was’s option to post videos into flickr. What seems to happen is that the clip thumbnail (which you upload separately from the video file) is posted to flickr with a link to an embedded player. This seemed to work as advertised by there were two problems

  1. I had uploaded a rubbish thumbnail that did not make any sense with the video
  2. the embedded player did not seem to be the proper player and did not work properly also promised the facility to cross post to this blog, but the results were not that great

Finally the html fragment that generates does not produce a preview (in Opera at least), but links back to the original file on the site. This would be handy for downloads, but not for the average user.

Video thumbnail. Click to play
Click To Play

EDTECH exhibition of work by BSU students and staff

Includes a number of low price/free tools with an education purpose, but also includes a number of powerpoints on boards.

Quote from EDTECH group announcement

Group Notice From: Mali YoungPlease drop by our new exhibit on EDTECH island. This exhibit hosts work conducted by BSU grad students (many who are faculty and teachers) who are currently enrolled in “Teaching & Learning in Second Life.”

Questions related to educational resources and tools available are answered in such areas as blogging, podcasting, biology and literature resources, and more! Drop by and send an author your comments and questions. There is a handy email laptop in the exhibit.

posted by Jeestirling Nungesser on EdTech using a blogHUD
blogHUD map and teleport permalink

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NoMachine NX 3 on Xubuntu 6

Previous posts documented the trials of setting up VNC on Xubuntu for the old machine that runs as our family server. Since the install I have been careful not to include vncserver in any updates as it has a habit of breaking the setup, but this is not really viable long term.

While reading another post I came across NoMachine NX 3.0 improves remote access to Linux boxes which reminded me that I have been planning to look into NX as an alternative to vnc that would not be broken by Xubuntu updates. The post was not too encouraging but I went ahead with the help of Install NX Server on Ubuntu Dapper Drake.

Prepare Xubuntu

Installing glib libraries brought back memories of the early days of using linux. I suppose it is an inevitable consequence of open development but a bit of pain and a real barrier for new users.

Using synaptic install libstdc++2.10-glibc2.2 (this advice came from the NX support site article for NX 1.5 so it may not really be necessary)

Download NX components

Downloading nxnode and nxclient DEB files from NoMachine Downloads was straightforward. Finding the free server was not entirely straighforward as there is now the desktop server. I chose to navigate from the homepage from the article on the free server.

Install from the command line

Again a bit of a throwback to earlier days, but just three commands executed from the directory where the installation DEB files were stored

dpkg -i nxclient-XXXXXXXi386.deb

dpkg -i nxnode-XXXXXXXi386.deb

dpkg -i nxserver-XXXXXXXi386.deb

I found I needed to install the nxclient before the nxnode because of dependencies.

Run the client

Everything had gone smoothly to this point, but it was here that I came across a problem that I only solved by trial and error.

The client install in Xubuntu and in Windows both created nice menu items making it easy to specify a connection. All would go well up to getting a remote desktop to come up in the nxclient window at which point the client reported that the it was unable to run the required file. The problem was that all the advice assumes a straightforward gnome-based Ubuntu installation and this is Xubuntu.

The configuration setting required for Xubuntu is

Desktop = Unix XDM

This gives you the Xubuntu login screen (just like vnc).

Still to do

At the moment this is running on the local network, but the intention is open things out. In which case I need/plan to change the port settings from 22 to something else as suggested in this blog post. I will also create a user specially for logging into the nxserver. NAT port forwarding also needs to be sorted out.

Controlling nxserver

This was not obvious from the scraps of documentation I used, probably because it is standard linux practice but as an aide memoire these are the commands to control the nxserver;

sudo /usr/NX/bin/nxserver –status/start/stop/restart

There are lots of other options, just run the command without the switches for a list

Freemind on Ubuntu

(More notes on making Ubuntu Edgy Eft do what I want it to do)

Freemind is my favourite open source mindmapping tool and it runs on java. The Freemind wiki has a section on adding it to Ubuntu and I used a bit of a mixture.

On a fresh installation of Ubuntu I started with confirmed more easy install within Kubuntu 6.10 which worked as described first installing then fixing the installation of freemind. So I had an icon on the Applications menu that did nothing when clicked. Launching freemind from a console showed that there were things missing.

Using synaptic I installed sun-java5-jre (1.5.0-08-0ubuntu1) along with all its dependencies. Freemind now launches a treat.

Portable Apps vs Web 2.0

Working in the office, at home and (occasionally) on the road what is the best way to keep all the documents accessible?

The Web 2.0 Way

Tools like zoho and google apps look very interesting offering online storage as well as an online editor that is the same wherever you access it.


  • common interface
  • up-to-date documents safely stored online
    • zoho can sync local word docs with the online account
  • nothing to install


  • needs an internet connection (not always available on the road or even at home 🙁 )
  • limited customisation of the interface (and I have years of MSWord tweaks that I use every day)
  • how safe is their online storage
  • when will these services become pay-as-u-go?

The Portable Apps Way

PortableApps allows you to have a complete suite of applications on a usb stick so you can have your environment wherever you plug in the stick. You can also save files on the stick.


  • common interface
  • always accessible
  • nothing to install
  • can customise the apps to your needs


  • what if you loose the stick
    • portableapps has a backup solution and others are available for backup and synchronisation
    • with the right online filestorage this would allow for sync-ing with remote filestore
  • what if you don’t have the stick with you
    • see above!

And the winner is

For my purposes it seems that PortableApps would be the most robust solution as long as I can get the backup process working successfully.

Ubuntu and Citrix WinFrame

The main purpose of getting the old PIII-based Ubuntu machine into a fit state was so that MySignificantOther could use it to access her work server using Citrix.

Her work has gone over totally to thinclient systems using Citrix to access word, excel, outlook and the customer account management system. The citrix plugin works nicely on a WinXP machine, but with everyone in the house using the internet as a principal source of entertainment as well as for work we needed a machine that could be “hers”.

As a thin client the old Ubuntu machine seemed like a good choice, and Citrix offer a free ICA client for unix. Installation has taken a few hours spread over the Christmas period, but we got there in the end.

The key advice came from /bin/false –help Install Guide for Citrix ICA Client on Ubuntu Breezy. Be sure to read the comments as there are updates and alternative suggestions for later versions (in my case Edgy), but it is all there!

Following this advice we were able to use the old machine to access MSO’s work, but it was a bit clunky. While everything worked fine I could not get the links on the Citrix desktop webpage in firefox 2 to launch. The work around was to save the .ica file on the desktop and then drag it onto the ICA client. (as a veteran of linux desktops I am amazed that this worked).

The trick to solving the problem is telling firefox which application to use to launch the .ica file. It is quite possible that this information is already in the /bin/false guide, but I did not see it. Instead the solution is to be found in the last step of the Citrix ICA Client How-To for Linux at Of the various executables in the ICAClient folder the one you need to point firefox at is: /usr/lib/ICAClient/wfica.

So MSO is all set. And I am sure that she will be a bit more comfortable with Ubuntu now that it acts more like it ought to.

[addendum: it would probably have been better to use the script at codetech than these other instructions, but sometimes you only find these things later]

Wrestling with Ubuntu (Edgy)

I have been playing with various Linux distributions over the last few years, primarily as a way of getting a bit more life out of old hardware. While I am no expert there are some things that I like in a set up, and one of those things is vnc.

On my little home network I use vnc to manage the Linux fileserver that holds all the email and music and to help on the other Windows machines when other household members get stuck (or find something interesting). I expect vnc to start up as soon as the machine boots and I expect to be to login in remotely; and so far I have been able to do this on Red Hat, Mandrake, Debian and Windows installation without too much trouble.

Impressed by the press on Ubuntu I have installed it on an old IBM PIII that must be getting on for 10 years old. I use this machine to run vmware virtual machines for development work. It is a source continuing amusement that I have an ancient machine running Linux that pretends to be Windows 2003 Server, and sometimes two at the same time. But I don’t really use it that often so it was a minor inconvenience that vnc (using vino Remote Desktop) would only start once logged in.

But we now need another workstation. It will just be used for surfing and as a dumb terminal for Citrix, so the Ubuntu should be fine. But before it moves into that role I want to get vnc working what I call properly.

After a few false starts I found the best instructions for vnc running in its own sessions at ubuntu forums. However this is a long thread and there are a few gotchas, the answers are in the thread but 11 pages is a lot to work through. Just in case any needs to repeat the process these are the ones that caught me

  • the path to fonts is different in Edgy Eft (why?) so the -fp statement should read /usr/share/fonts/X11/misc
    • get this wrong and vncserver will not run
  • you must set up remote login to behave the same as local log in
    • while logged into ubuntu go to System>Administration>Login Window>Remote and select Same as Local.
    • if you don’t do this vnc will run and you can connect but all you get is a grey X windows screen

So now vnc starts when the machine starts and I can log in remotely. I can also have different users running at the same time.