Sound Quality

Some of you may know that I have tried my hand at encoding video. I have come up with settings that I have found work fairly well in Adobe Connect. With that said I have always turned down the quality of the audio but wondered if people actually noticed. I found an article with audio samples that tells me that they may not. Give it a try and let me know how you did on the tests.

Connect Survey Reporting

Adobe Connect is a feature rich solution for immersive online meeting experiences from small group collaboration to large scale webinars. I have often been surprised by the seemingly endless way customers are able to put Adobe Connect to work because of the inherent flexibility of the platform.  With that said I recently was asked by a potential customer how they would be able to use Adobe Connect for surveys. The specific ask was related to seeing and exporting survey question responses. It turns out that this is not as simple as I thought and that is the reason for this post.

Adobe Connect has a published publicly available webservice api, unlike some competitors. I decided to use the webservice api to make this workflow much easier. At the end of this post you will find directions that will allow you to download the application. It is a simple application that requires that you use the Adobe Connect web application (Adobe Connect Central) to find the meeting or course that you would like to retrieve data from copy the sco-id ( do not worry if this does not make sense as I will explain), paste it into a field in the application and click a button to retrieve the results. There is also an option to export the results to csv.

This application will allow you to retrieve poll results from a meeting as well as responses from a course. If you are not sure what I mean by meeting and or course this should help. So what does it take to use this application? First you will need to register so that you can download the application. After you have installed and opened the application you will be presented with a login screen.

Survey Report Login
Survey Report Login

 

You will need an administrator login for this application to work. In other words only someone in the Adobe Connect Administrators group will be able to use this application. The first field is the account url, there is an example below this field of the format. This would not be the url to a meeting so make sure not to include the meeting extension. The username and password should be self explanatory.

Once you enter the information hit the login button and give it a few seconds to login.

 

Once the login is complete you should see the following:

Survey Report UI
Survey Report UI

 

It is a very simple application in that all you can do is enter a sco-id (will be covered shortly), retrieve and export the results. Well ok you can do a little more. You can drag to arrange columns, expand and collapse at the question level. By the way only questions that have the results visible can be exported. Each question is expanded by default but if you did not want to export certain results you could simply collapse that question and it would not be exported in the csv.

Alright where do you get this sco-id that is required to get the poll and or survey results? It is very simple. When you login to the Adobe Connect web application (Connect Central) you should be able to navigate to the meeting and or course that has the results you would like to retrieve. If you are not familiar with Connect enough to find the meeting and or course please take advantage of some of the resources available on ConnectUsers.

Lets start with a course, you will find courses under the training tab in Connect Central. They have the single book icon and will have the word course under the “type” column heading.

 

The following is a course:

Course
Course

Notice the single book icon. If you click the title, in this case “Meridien report quiz score” you will see the detail for that course.

For instance you will see the course name, course id, Summary, etc… This is where you will find the sco-id. It is actually in the url field of browser. You will know if you are looking in the right place if the url starts with your account url. For instance if your account url is http://acme.adobeconnect.com you will see something like the following:

http://acme.adobeconnect.com/admin/course/sco/info?sco-id=794180125&tab-id=625226553&training=true

Notice that this url starts with your account and has several other elements until you get to the “?”. Notice that just after the “?” is “sco-id“, that is label for the value you need. In other words look for the sco-id then an “=” then a number. In this case 794180125, yours will be a different number. Now copy that number (just the number and NOT  “sco-id“), in this case you would just copy 794180125 and paste it into the field in the survey reporting application, like so.

 

Paste sco-id
Paste sco-id

 

Now you are ready to retrieve the report data, just click the button labeled “Get Survey Data”.  Keep in mind that this will not work for curriculum but if you have courses that are included in a curriculum you can get the reporting data from those courses individually. It is as easy to use to retrieve meeting polls, just navigate to the meeting and copy the sco-id from the url.

Make sure that you are looking at the Name, Summary, Start Time, etc… of the meeting. That way you know that you are getting the sco-id of the meeting and not the directory that the meeting is in. Depending on the amount of data you might need to give it a couple of seconds to come back. The buttons will be disabled while it is retrieving the data.

Expand collapse rows
Expand collapse rows

 

As I said before, you can expand and collapse rows using the arrow icon. A collapsed series is not exported when you use the export feature. That is really all there is to it. If you want to report on another meeting or course after the first, simply click the x button to the right of the field where you pasted the sco-id and paste sco-id from a different meeting or course.

 

Well the only thing left is the download. I have setup a simple registration to better understand who is downloading and using the application. Just click here to register.

 

High End Cameras and Adobe Connect

For some time I have been looking at ways to expand the use of high end video cameras with Adobe Connect. There are many reasons to consider higher end cameras not the least of which are optics, sensor size and quality, features, etc… If you need convincing the following should help.

Megapixel vs Sensor Size

Camera sensor size: Why does it matter and exactly how big are they?

I was recently given an opportunity to test the Matrox MX02 Mini and jumped at the chance.

box_800

 

What better way to test it than with my Canon 5D Mark III.  I have really enjoyed using this camera for both stills as well as video.

matrox with blur_HDR3_400

The Matrox MX02 mini gave me the opportunity to see how the Canon camera and Adobe Connect would  work together.  The initial setup was fairly easy. I requested the model that came with a ExpressCard/34 adapter so that I could use my laptop.  On a slightly humorous note my laptop only has a full size ExpressCard slot so a little adjustment was required.

cardboard_adaptor_400

It turns out that cardboard like duct tape has many uses. This was obviously not a short coming of the MX02 Mini but none the less easily overcome.  I decided to use the HDMI input for the test.  The Canon 5D Mark III requires a mini HDMI connector.  I thought I had every adapter made but it turns out a mini HDMI was not one of them, a quick trip to Fry’s fixed that problem.

Matrox AppsThere is software to install for this setup to work.  The installation was easy and included a number of applications. With that said in the end the only software I used was the Matrox USB Webcam Emulator utility.  As you might expect this utility allows the MX02 Mini to appear to the PC as if it were a webcam, making it easy to use with Adobe Connect.   There are five popup boxes in the USB Webcam Emulator: Video Input Format, Video Input Source, Audio Input Source, Video Frame Size and Video Frame Rate. The first three, as expected, have to do with the video device you have connected to the MX02 Mini and the last two have to do with the video output from the MX02 Mini.

Matrox Prefs

I set the output on the Canon camera to 1920 @30 fps (frames per second) IPB. In the Matrox USB Webcam Emulator I set the Video Input Format to 1080@29.97 fps. Since I used HDMI I set the Video Input Source to HDMI and the Audio Input Source to HDMI Channel 1-2. I did not test the RCA left and right for audio input source.

Adobe Connect supports six input resolutions, three for a 4:3 aspect ratio and three for 16:9 aspect ratio. The 4:3 resolutions are: 160×120, 320×240 and 640×480. The 16:9 resolutions are: 214×120, 427×240 and 854×480. Choose the Video Frame Size (video output resolution) that is closest to one of the supported Connect resolutions. For instance the MX02 Mini does not have 427×240 but it does have 424×240. The same is true for 854×480 but it does support 852×480. If you need to change the input or output parameters you may have to restart the Connect meeting/seminar room in order for the settings to take effect. Luckily this is a simple matter with Adobe Connect, simply refresh the browser tab that was used to launch the meeting/seminar room.

Make sure that you have the correct settings in Adobe Connect to match your settings in the Matrox USB Webcam Emulator. As stated previously Adobe Connect supports the following video input resolutions:

4:3 aspect ratio: 160×120, 320×240, 640×480
16:9 aspect ratio: 214×120, 427×240, 854×480

Notice that in the Connect video preference settings of your meeting room there is a slider with four steps (settings).

Video_Quality_Slider

Each of the slider steps corresponds to a particular resolution, frame rate and compression amount.  At this point we are only concerned about resolution.  The following shows the resolution for both the 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratio for each setting on the slider from right to left (highest being on the far right of the slider).

 Quality  Resolution (4:3 )  Resolution (16:9 )
 High  640×480  854×480
 Standard  320×240  427×240
 Medium  320×240  427×240
 Low  160×120  214×120

As an example, if your output (Video Frame Size) on the Matrox USB Webcam Emulator was set to 852×480 you would want to use the following settings for the video preferences in the Adobe Connect meeting/seminar room.

ConnectVideoPreferences_664

 

I found the Matrox MX02 Mini, Canon 5D Mark III and Adobe Connect to be a great combination.

Adobe Connect Mobile 2.1 Available on iTunes and Google Play

Mobile continues to be a keep element in Adobe Connect’s success. The new release has some fantastic new features beyond the already fantastic features available in the previous version.

Key new features / enhancements include the following:

  • Deliver, interact with, and track Adobe Presenter training content in virtual classrooms, supporting multiple choice, true/false, and matching questions
  • View meeting background imagery for personalization and branding
  • View two live webcams (user and another attendee), and unlimited paused webcams, simultaneously
  • Integrated conference call audio details are included in invitations sent from within the mobile meeting app (excludes iPhone, limited to NA prefixes)
  • Improved login workflow (clicking on meeting link will go directly to Mobile client and retain the URL, or direct you to app store to get the app if necessary)

You can find additional information on the Adobe Connect blog.  You can see the new client in action in this video available on our YouTube channel here.  Be sure to download the new app from iTunes or Google Play stores as soon as you can!

Camera Test

On several occasions I have had discussions with individuals regarding camera quality. There are two elements regarding quality, subjective and objective quality.  Obviously each individual can look at the image produced and make up there own mind. In some cases it is helpful to have some objective data to help elucidate the individuals assumptions. To that end I posted a simple test.

Simply choose a typical resolution and click the test button. The video that you see show up in the application is not to scale, it is 1/3 scale. The key element is the frame per second metric and the capture size. Not all cameras will support all of these resolutions so you may notice that the capture size is not the same as the resolution that you selected. You should use a browser with a real Flash player and not Chrome. In other words Firefox, IE, etc… The reason I say this is that Google decided to write their own Flash player that does not act the same as the Adobe Flash player. As an example if you run this test in Chrome and select a resolution that is not supported by your webcam you will not see the resolution change but if you run this using the Adobe Flash player and choose a resolution that is not supported by your webcam you will see the resolution that is supported. This is a pretty cool ability because you can see what resolutions are supported by your webcam.

 

Capture

Firefox

Well after years of being a firefox user I am switching. I have had enough of the crashing and updates. I have run chrome for some time as a secondary browser and it is much more stable. I know there is a Flash plugin issue but it is easily fixed.

 

Disable the PPAPI Flash plug-in and enable the NPAPI Flash plug-in in Chrome as follows:

1.    Type chrome://plugins in browser tab (Figure 1).

2.    Expand Details in the upper-right area of the screen if needed.

3.    Click Disable for the PPAPI (out-of-process) Flash plug-in Type.

4.    Check if there is at least one NPAPI Flash plug-in listed below the PPAPI Flash plug-in. If it is, make sure at least one NPAPI Flash plug-in is enabled. Then make sure to refresh the Connect meeting client tab in the browser.

5.    If no NPAPI Flash plug-in is listed, then it needs to be installed from get.adobe.com/flashplayer . After installing it, make sure to refresh the Connect meeting client tab in the Chrome browser.

 

Thats about it. This issue should be resolved early in 2013. You might want to wait for that update but for me I am moving now.

 

Adobe Connect Connection Test

I have had numerous requests for a connection test that allows a user to enter the specific server they are trying to connect to as oppose to a generic test that tests port and protocol access to an external server. I created a simple application that does just that, allows a user to enter a connection string to a server they are attempting to access. You may ask, how would they get the connection string? If they are having issues someone will need to send them the connection string (i.e. email, IM, etc…). This could also be used to test connectivity to a new on premise server. So how do you find a connection string to an Adobe Connect Meeting? Simply have someone launch a meeting, hold down the shift key and select “About Adobe Connect” from the “Help” menu.

Find an Adobe Connect Meeting connection string.
Find an Adobe Connect Meeting connection string.

If you were holding the shift key you would then see the following dialog box.

Adobe Connect Meeting connection string
Adobe Connect Meeting connection string

Copy the text, notice that it starts with rtmp. Open the connection test application and paste the text as seen in the following:

Adobe Connect connection test application
Adobe Connect connection test application

 

Notice that there are three separate and successful tests. Adobe Connect can make connections using variations of the rtmp protocol as well as use different ports. It is a good idea to test using rtmp, rtmps (rtmp over SSL) at a minimum. It is a simple matter to change the first reference to rtmp to rtmps and to change the first reference to port 1935 to port 443.  As an example the following string will test a connection to the server using rtmp over port 1935:

rtmp://arzbs8.adobeconnect.com:1935/?rtmp://pcparapg06:8506/meetingbs3app/545995061/679960997/

The following connection string to the same server will test a connection using rtmps over port 443:

rtmps://arzbs8.adobeconnect.com:443/?rtmp://pcparapg06:8506/meetingbs3app/545995061/679960997/

This application has not been extensively tested and is provided as is with not warranty or support.

So how do you get the application? Simply fill out the registration at the following link. Once I approve the registration you will receive an email with a link to download the application.

Registration

I hope you find it useful.