MacInTouch Reader Reports

Mac Marginalization: Government & Education

Mar. 21, 2009
Mar. 23, 2009
Mar. 28, 2009
Mar. 30, 2009
Mar. 31, 2009
Apr. 1, 2009
Apr. 2, 2009
Apr. 3, 2009
Apr. 6, 2009
Apr. 22, 2009
Apr. 25, 2009
Apr. 28, 2009
May. 6, 2009
May. 7, 2009
May. 8, 2009
May. 11, 2009
May. 12, 2009
May. 13, 2009
May. 14, 2009
May. 15, 2009
May. 16, 2009
May. 18, 2009
Jun. 2, 2009
Jun. 3, 2009
Jun. 9, 2009
Jul. 15, 2009
Jul. 16, 2009
Sep. 28, 2009
Sep. 29, 2009

Newer entries...
Mar. 21, 2009

item.89314

Jim Klent

This outfit:

"STARS online scholarship tracking and review system"

requires Explorer 6 or later. They produce an online program for students applying for scholarships, used by many colleges. A tech at their company says that they will not be supporting anything other than MS Explorer anytime soon. This means, of course, that Mac users must borrow a computer to apply for a scholarship at participating colleges.

Where do they find incompetent programers like that? Support ONLY MS Explorer??!

Mar. 23, 2009

item.89333

MacInTouch Reader

In response to Jim Klent: have you tried selecting Internet Explorer 6.0 as your user agent from Safari's develop menu (enable by selecting the advanced tab in the preferences menu (command-,) and checking the "show develop menu" box)? This is often all that's required to get into a supposedly IE-only site.

item.89364

Roger S. Cohen

Regarding some web pages' incompatibility with Internet Explorer, perhaps we can take some solace that Internet Explorer, itself, is incompatible with some of its own pages.

This from Walt Mossberg's recent column in the WSJ:

Compatibility

IE8 had good compatibility with most Web sites I visited. But in some cases, it didn't render a page properly. This is mainly because some sites were designed for older versions of IE, which used proprietary page-rendering features that made some sites look good only in IE. With the new version, Microsoft is moving away from those proprietary features.

To solve this problem, IE8 includes a compatibility button you can click that will cause the browser to behave like older versions of IE and render the page properly. You have to click the button only once for each page, and IE8 will automatically do it for you on subsequent visits.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123741534563477269.html?mod=djemptech

Mar. 28, 2009

item.89554

Robert Lloyd

More NASA Images Available - Only for Windows Users

NASA and Microsoft announced yesterday "plans to make planetary images and data available via the Internet under a Space Act Agreement. Through this project, NASA and Microsoft jointly will develop the technology and infrastructure necessary to make the most interesting NASA content -- including high-resolution scientific images and data from Mars and the moon -- explorable on WorldWide Telescope, Microsoft's online virtual telescope for exploring the universe."

Of course, the big problem with the agreement above is that Microsoft's WorldWide Telescope desktop program is only worldwide if you use their Windows operating system! There is a WorldWide Telescope web client in alpha, but it requires an Intel based Mac. So schools using older Macs or the Linux operating systems are left out in the cold.

NASA should know better.

Mar. 30, 2009

item.89747

Stephen Hart

Robert Lloyd wrote:

"More NASA Images Available - Only for Windows Users...
NASA should know better."

I'd go further. I'd say NASA should be required by law to make material available to all platforms.

item.89754

James Greenidge

Re: Robert Lloyd's note:

More NASA Images Available - Only for Windows Users...
"NASA should know better."

It's always a trivial point to Macheads when newbies point out that you never see a Mac on the Shuttle, ISS, or even mission control, which hints how hard Apple's been at hawking its wares to NASA. Yet research institutes all over use Macs in spite such a sorry lack of exposure. It's just Apple's neglect of NASA coming home to roost.

item.89763

MacInTouch Reader

re: Robert Lloyd's note:

I just went and looked at the Silverlight version and it is great. I understand the concern to educators, but being in education software development myself I can see how quickly Intel Macs have displaced other Macs in education, and I see this as crying sour grapes. Eventually technology needs to move on. I am no Microsoft apologist, but I see their efforts much better spent handling other issues then either creating a desktop Mac client or making silverlight 2 work on PowerPCs. The future is in web delivered services and they have done a great job. If anything, maybe focusing on an iPhone client to work in conjunction would be great.
Just my .02!

item.89771

MacInTouch Reader

On the NASA/Microsoft partnership that uses Microsoft Silverlight as the back-end, keep in mind that there is a Linux version of that software in development (in association with Novell).

As to it not working on older Macs, I guess NASA could have pushed Microsoft to use some cross-platform tools to make it more standard, like Java 6. Oh, right, that doesn't work on those Macs either.

The Microsoft end of this deal is probably to spend most of the money, develop most of the software, and cover most of the costs of the server farm, including bandwidth. The question is, are we better off having some access, or not having any at all?

item.89782

MacInTouch Reader

I sent this email off to those responsible. Both these email addresses are on the top of the web page announcing this (marginalization) project:

dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov
rachel.l.prucey@nasa.gov

Additionally, I believe this is the NASA Director's email:
michael.d.griffin@nasa.gov

My email to them:

As a tax payer funded Government agency, your platform specific implementation is not only a prime example of (Microsoft sanctioned) marginalization, it is blatantly against Federal law!

I will be contacting my congressional representatives to immediately have this program suspended, have those responsible account for their actions to the NASA congressional oversight committee.

Thank you for your efforts-- just level the playing field and please observe the law in your planning.

Mar. 31, 2009

item.89805

Daniel Griscom

I'm a Mac addict through and through, but I can't agree with the user who said "NASA should be required by law to make material available to all platforms".

NASA has to limit itself to targeting the "most popular" platform(s), or it will go even further down a budgetary and technological rathole. Of course, I think they should draw the line somewhere *after* my chosen platform, but they've got to draw the line somewhere.

item.89808

MacInTouch Reader

As a NASA employee (and therefore not allowed to post under my own name when discussing NASA) who uses Macs at work, I can assure you that there are lots of Macs in use at NASA, particularly by scientists and NASA HQ types. I don't really believe marginalization is an issue within the agency (whose hardware and software platform standards, http://standards.nasa.gov/public/public_detail.taf?Documents_uid1=1595&doc_name=NASA-STD-2805 and http://standards.nasa.gov/public/public_detail.taf?Documents_uid1=1594&doc_name=NASA-STD-2804) allow for both Mac, Windows, and Linux machines. Partnerships for public access ought to follow that broad-minded approach, but I suspect vendors aren't all that interested.

As a civil servant, I am more concerned with NASA giving a specific vendor (in this case, Microsoft) a chance to use a NASA-provided link on the NASA HQ Website, http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2009/mar/HQ_09-067_Microsoft_WorldWide_Telescope.html, to hype the "advantages" of a Windows-only version of the client software over the Web (that is, platform-independent) version.

Also, Mr. Griffin is no longer the Administrator of NASA; until we get a presidentially appointed replacement, the Acting Administrator is Mr. Christopher Scolese. I doubt whether an Ames partnership with Microsoft, however, is on his list of top 100 problems.

item.89813

Eric Westby

An anonymous reader wrote:

"As a tax payer funded Government agency, your platform specific implementation is not only a prime example of (Microsoft sanctioned) marginalization, it is blatantly against Federal law!"

I'm not sure where the commenter got the idea that federal law requires that agencies support the Macintosh -- it seems absurd on the face of it! Of course government agencies have a mandate to make their public web content as widely available as possible, and they certainly have no vested interest in excluding specific platforms. But people are people, and for cost-cutting reasons or strategic partnerships this sort of thing happens all the time, particularly when third-party contractors build the sites. But again, while there are laws requiring government sites to meet minimum standards for accessibility to the visually impaired, there's no federal law requiring government sites to support the Macintosh.

item.89825

Taylor Armstrong

Re:

I sent this email off to those responsible. Both these email addresses are on the top of the web page announcing this (marginalization) project:
  dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov
  rachel.l.prucey@nasa.gov
Additionally, I believe this is the NASA Director's email:
  michael.d.griffin@nasa.gov
My email to them:

As a tax payer funded Government agency, your platform specific implementation is not only a prime example of (Microsoft sanctioned) marginalization, it is blatantly against Federal law!
  I will be contacting my congressional representatives to immediately have this program suspended, have those responsible account for their actions to the NASA congressional oversight committee.
  Thank you for your efforts-- just level the playing field and please observe the law in your planning.

The Director of NASA could honestly care less about your message, and may not even know what you're talking about. But please, educate us on what law is being broken here. Do they need to support all platforms? How about a TRS-80 - should I be able to access the site from there? What about my C-64?

Is it frustrating? Yes. Anoying? Certainly. Illegal, and a violation of Federal law? Not quite.

item.89833

Gordon Sick

My son is a graduate student in astrophysics. He worked for two summers at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore. These are the research astronomers who run the Hubble Telescope. They work for the Association of University Research Astronomers (AURA) under contract for NASA. You'll notice that all of the famous Hubble pictures and posters come from them.

He says that STSCi supports 3 platforms: Linux, Mac and Windows. The Windows computers are becoming marginalized as people are switching to Macs. They like the Unix underpinnings. And, they like a nice user interface when they aren't on the command line.

Thus, NASA (particularly STSCi) isn't anti-Mac, for sure. But, Microsoft saw a good marketing opportunity and jumped in there with a product that doesn't support public standards. On the other hand, there is no reason why anybody can't go in and download the heritage Hubble material from STSCi. All they have to learn is the protocols. You log in and can get heritage raw Hubble data and run your own analysis on it with your Mac, or you can get processed data like the jpegs on the Astronomy Picture of the Day site. That is all Mac friendly.

When my son was there, one of his colleagues worked on the Google Earth implementation for NASA (you can switch between views of the Earth and the Cosmos) and that works as well on the Mac as any other platform.

At the end of the day, we are talking about what materials a grade-school teacher can access for teaching astronomy to her students. She has access to the Google Earth stuff and the high-level APOD and NASA Heritage stuff for her students using Macs. If they are really gifted students, they can teach themselves how to get the raw data from STSCi and do their own processing with their Mac.

The only thing she can't do on the Mac is get a Microsoft front end to a Microsoft web site hosting some of this stuff. My feeling is that there is little real value added to the teaching opportunities, given that she can use all of this other Mac material. If the students can only learn about astronomy using Microsoft's approach to data, they aren't destined to be research-class astronomers anyway, because professional astronomers don't use those tools.

item.89837

Walter Ian Kaye

Of course even Silverlight 1 requires an 800MHz PPC, so I can't run it on my 550MHz PPC even if it were SL1 instead of SL2.

For current system requirements, point your JavaScript-enabled browser here:

http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/resources/install.aspx?v=1.0#sysreq

and the script will generate a table.

item.89839

Pete Masterson

I was a manager for a contractor to NASA and worked at the NASA Ames Research Center from 1993 through 1996. At the time, perhaps 1/3 to 1/2 of the computers there were Macintosh -- with heavy use among the research community. (There were also a lot of Sun and SGI UNIX workstations.) Human resources, purchasing, and similar functions had WIndows/DOS computers.

Just about the time I left, I heard that new IT managers at headquarters were "against" the Mac and were trying to force Mac users to WIndows. (As I was involved in graphics and publications, we were mostly left alone with our Macs.)

More than a decade later, having long since drifted apart from my former NASA compatriots, I have no idea what the level of Mac usage NASA has at the working level today -- but there was once a pretty strong cadre who were very pro-Mac even if IT management didn't much care for them.

Interestingly, the division I worked in (Technical Information Division) was Mac-based in the graphic and publications production area, but Windows-based in the libraries. We had an IT person, part time 1/2 day per week (who basically did some server backups and minor configuration/repair issues) while the Windows side had a full time IT person to keep things running. We had about 2/3 of the number of computers in the division.

I suppose the IT folks liked the jobs that the WIndows computers ensured them to have.

item.89852

MacInTouch Reader

If you have an issue with NASA not playing well with Macintosh, it would not be helpful to e-mail the Director's address in the post: michael.d.griffin@nasa.gov

He's not there any more. NASA currently does not have a Director, awaiting Obama's appointent of one.

I suggest trolling the www.nasa.gov website and contacting the webmasters directly . They're always listed at the bottom of the pages. Also in the Media sidebar.

Apr. 1, 2009

item.89862

MacInTouch Reader

Back in the mid-90's, I followed a kafkaesque saga about the forced replacement Macs on the site with Windows machinese, written by a NASA contractor working at the Houston Johnson space center. The foil in the story was the CIO Jack Garman, who seemed to be in Microsoft's pocket and gave endorsements in MS ads and on their website. I believe the site was called something like "mad man's dream" or something like that, but I can't find it now through Google so maybe it has been taken down. I found another reference to the same story here: http://www.houstonspacesociety.org/mac.html

The recent discussion of NASA reminded me of this and was wondering if anybody familiar with this story knows how it ended up and what the current situation is regarding Macs and PCs at the Johnson Space Center?

item.89866

Torrey Loomis

I know at least one part of NASA that is very happy with Macs: the TV facility at Goddard Space Flight Center.

We just deployed a monstrous Mac installation there with Xsan and Final Cut Pro just last summer.

Torrey
------------------
Torrey Loomis
President & CEO - Silverado Systems, Inc.
Outfitter to the World's Foremost Apple Professionals
2600 East Bidwell Street, Suite 280
Folsom, CA 95630
(916) 760-0032
http://www.Silverado.cc

Check out our StudioBuilder blog at http://silveradosys.blogspot.com

Apr. 2, 2009

item.89920

Henry Norr

I, too, am curious about the fate of the Mac at NASA's Johnson Space Center because I wrote a major feature for MacWEEK about management's effort to standardize on Windows, and the vehement resistance of many Mac-using engineers, back in the mid-1990s. I'm sad to see that that story doesn't seem to be online anywhere anymore. More important, I also can't find any recent updates on the computing situation there.

I did, however, find a couple of pertinent links:

-The Texas Monthly did a short piece about the controversy back in February 1997 - it's at http://www.texasmonthly.com/1997-02-01/reporter4.php. (Free registration required to see the whole thing, but you can see the first half or so without registering.)

-At http://klabs.org/history/bios/garman/garman_oral_history.htm, there's a transcript of an oral-history interview with Garman that includes some amusing reflections on the Mac-Windows controversy. A few excerpts:

"The Johnson Space Center was like 75 percent PCs, maybe 20 percent Macintosh, and the rest were UNIX and other things. So I said, "All right, for desktop computing, as computers get old and go away, we'll replace them with what are now called Windows PCs." I did not realize the religious significance of Macintoshes in some people's minds at the time. ... it seemed like a no-brainer to me at the time. In a business sense, it was a no-brainer.

Apple Computer was in trouble at that time. They actually had a senior official that was head of evangelism. That's actually what he did. It was his business, evangelizing the Macintosh computer. He and they ran an operation where they let people who felt that the Macintosh was being unfairly moved out or what have you, they set up networks, using e-mail, which is very popular, and websites and all that, to pass the word.

Hence, the e-mails that got sent out became, "The Johnson Space Center is having trouble. They're losing their Macs. There's some guy named Garman that's trying to get rid of them all. Why don't you write to your congressman and let him know how NASA is all screwed up." And of course, by the time this goes to the fourth person, the exaggerations and the embellishments are tremendous.

We had the Inspector General all over us, we had congressmen all over us, and stir aground. I remember it got scary once. I got a bomb threat and we had to get security involved....

We started doing what diplomats do. You start negotiating, compromising, not giving up, but you start making steps to salve the wound, so to speak. Really, all we did was to write down policy.... It was most entertaining to have to write down, to agree to write down, that Macintoshes were allowed at the Johnson Space Center; in fact, they were promoted."

item.89938

Roger S. Cohen

I'm not sure where this report should be filed, either under "Grants.gov" or "Adobe Forms" or "Adobe Reader". The new grants.gov application, which runs as Adobe Forms, inside Adobe Reader, crashed on me ten times on two different Macs.

I reported previously, under the "Mac Marginalization" topic, that we submitted applications to grants.gov using the PureEdge Viewer. That was buggy and not fully functional on the Mac.

PureEdge transitioned to become IBM Workplace Forms, which was very buggy, and would not run on the Mac after OS 10.4.x (no 10.5 support, and also no Vista support).

Now, applications to grants.gov are packaged in an Adobe Forms application. It's fugly, slow and clunky, but is supposed to be platform-independent.

I am processing an application to the NIH, which will be submitted through grants.gov using the Adobe Forms package. It crashed on me almost every time I tried to do anything, using Adobe Reader 8.1.3. I updated to Adobe Reader 8.1.4, and had the same bad result. The crashes were bad ones, too. They corrupted the document. When I restarted, I found in the Trash many, many PDF temps, undoubtedly left over from the trash.

I then fired up Windows XP in Parallels. Guess what? The Adobe Forms package runs smoothly, and does not crash.

This also brings up another question that was posed on MacInTouch, but never answered. What's the difference between Adobe Reader 8.1.4 and Adobe Reader 9.1? Which one do I need?

Apr. 3, 2009

item.89976

Nathan Champagne

ODIN offers Windows, Mac OS X, and Unix boxes for NASA.

Apr. 6, 2009

item.90079

Miller Mark

Checking your Michigan state tax refund status:

My daughter and I just found out that the web site to check your Michigan state tax refund status requires IE. Setting your user agent under Safari doesn't work. Using Firefox 2 doesn't work. Luckily I was able to get a copy of IE by going to the wikipedia entry for IE for Mac:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Explorer_for_Mac

As far as I know the rest of Michigan.gov works okay, but I completed a survey and let whoever know that I thought requiring IE was a bad idea.

Apr. 22, 2009

item.90984

MacInTouch Reader

Can I download and run Windows media player 10 on an Intel iMac with Mac OS X 10.5.6? I need this level media player [10] minimum to run an online college course.

Apr. 25, 2009

item.91133

Doug Metz

Someone wrote:

"Can I download and run Windows media player 10 on an Intel iMac with Mac OS X 10.5.6? I need this level media player [10] minimum to run an online college course."

There are a couple of answers to this question. If you're running Windows on your iMac (either via BootCamp or virtualization software), then yes, you can.

If you want to run it in Mac OS, then no, you can't - with a caveat: You can install a plugin to allow *some* Windows Media playback through QuickTime, but if the files are protected with DRM then you're out of luck. Here's a link to the relevant Microsoft page:

http://www.microsoft.com/mac/products/flip4mac.mspx

Apr. 28, 2009

item.91251

Andrew Gillies

This years Chinese/Japanese AP exam is being given on computers via cd. Unfortunately the AP Board has chosen a solution that is only compatible with Windows. This is ironic considering the market share that macs have in the education.

May. 6, 2009

item.91577

MacInTouch Reader

I used Firefox 3.0.10 to open
 http://www.mwdh2o.com/mwdh2o/pages/news/at_a_glance/New_DiemerFS.pdf
which is linked from http://www.mwdh2o.com/mwdh2o/pages/news/news01.html. Screen display is the same mess as in Preview.

The link page says its a 464 Kb file but they lie. Its really 15 MB.

I mention this because the downloaded PDF is largely unreadable in Preview under OS X 10.5.6 Intel.

Adobe Reader 9.1.0 Mac renders it beautifully.

This site belongs to a local government agency and the PDF was likely made in Windows. How that makes it unfriendly to Preview is beyond me. I do NOT have Acrobat Pro.

item.91650

MacInTouch Reader

I went to the site referenced above using both Safari 4 Beta and the latest Firefox, which downloaded the pdf file. In both cases the file did not display correctly using either Preview or Adobe Reader.

I then downloaded the file using Internet Explorer 6/X11. The file did not display properly with Preview, but did display correctly with Adobe Reader.

item.91656

Bob Murphy

"MacInTouch Reader" remarks about a PDF document on a government website:

"the downloaded PDF is largely unreadable in Preview under OS X 10.5.6 Intel... Adobe Reader 9.1.0 Mac renders it beautifully... the PDF was likely made in Windows. How that makes it unfriendly to Preview is beyond me."

It's not a Windows issue. Adobe controls the PDF format and adds to it on a regular basis, and everybody else (like Apple) plays catch-up. Speaking as one who has written a PDF parser, the format is complicated enough that other people who devote fewer resources than Adobe can take years (if ever) to cope correctly with changes.

I'll bet somebody in that government agency generated that PDF file using a recent version of Adobe Acrobat or Distiller and used features Preview doesn't know how to handle. I notice such documents a few times a year. Knowing the complexities of the situation, what I find surprising is that there are so few of them.

item.91661

Lawrence Rhodes

I think Preview's display of the New_DiemerFS.pdf cited yesterday is just a bug in Apple's PDF framework, which results in both pages being superimposed on each page. I also see this in Tiger; a bug report to Apple might get this fixed. So, maybe not a marginalization problem.

The PDF was created by Adobe Illustrator CS3 with Adobe PDF library 8.00, which are generally well behaved. I checked it for JBIG2 compression, which Preview usually can't handle though Acrobat Reader 4 and later can (c'mon, Apple, there are open-source JBIG2 decoders), but that's not used. The PDF was exported using flate (lossless) compression of all images, possibly due to a production error. If the images were JPEG compressed the PDF might well be 464 kB rather than 15 MB.

Apple doesn't have a complete PDF 1.4 implementation, let alone the current PDF 1.6; OS X already has industry-leading graphics and extra code is not cost-free. But I do wish they would offer a decoder for JBIG2, which offers awesome compression.

May. 7, 2009

item.91664

Andreas Szabados

re. MacInTouch Reader and problems displaying PDF files in Preview vs. Acrobat:

Looking at the Properties of that PDF in Acrobat, it shows it was exported from Adobe Illustrator CS3.

I have had serious issues with PDFs I created on a Mac from CS3 applications in Preview - but only if the "Optimize for Fast Web View" option was enabled for PDF export. With this option enabled, fonts often do not render and text goes missing - but only in Preview, not in Acrobat, which continues to render them perfectly.

It may therefore not be an issue of PC vs. Mac as the source of the PDF, but rather that Adobe may have added some "pixie dust" - which does not play nice with Preview - into the its PDF export options.

Alternatively, Preview could not be implementing all of the PDF spec correctly.

item.91670

Stephen Clark

That New_DeimerFS.pdf displayed fine in my Safari (3.2.1) under 10.5.6 & Reader 8 & 9 but awful in Preview (4.1). Flaw may be in how Preview handles some PDF architecture, not the PDF itself.

The downloaded file shows 2 MB saved to my hard drive, nowhere near 15.

item.91673

Michael B

If you try the version of the New_DiemerFS file at http://www.cascadilla.com/macintouch/New_DiemerFS2.pdf (now a 1.4 meg file), do you have the same trouble with Preview displaying it? We ran PDF Optimizer on the original, and the new version tests ok here.

May. 8, 2009

item.91739

Paul Ferguson [Adobe]

I think I see what's going on with the file New_DiemerFS.pdf, and believe the problem is in the Mac OS X PDFKit framework.

The PDF in question uses optional content groups (see section 4.10 of the PDF Specification for details), which allows selective display of sections of a page. In this case, the document has two identical (more or less) pages which have different OC parameters to display them as two distinct pages, a cover page and a back page. I'm not sure why Illustrator created the PDF this way, but there it is.

Preview has difficulty displaying the PDF because I suspect PDFKit does not support, or has a bug in their support of optional content information. It appears that PDFKit simply ignores the OC related information in the document and content stream. As a result, it shows what looks like two pages superimposed on each other.

Since Acrobat does support OC groups, it displays the pages correctly. If you resave the PDF from Acrobat and specify PDF 1.4 compatibility, then Preview shows the document correctly.

Paul D. Ferguson (yes, my initials are "PDF"...)
Sr. Computer Scientist
Adobe Systems Inc.

May. 11, 2009

item.91860

MacInTouch Reader

Michael B wote:

If you try the version of the New_DiemerFS file at http://www.cascadilla.com/macintouch/New_DiemerFS2.pdf (now a 1.4 meg file), do you have the same trouble with Preview displaying it? We ran PDF Optimizer on the original, and the new version tests ok here.

Michael's version looks just fine in Preview as well as Firefox on my Mac and downloaded at 1.4MB.

May. 12, 2009

item.91898

Kevin Spencer

It wasn't long ago that NASA's main public site (where you get access to manned flight information and links to other projects) shared video information in both QuickTime and Windows Media format.

Today I dropped in to a revised home site to take a gander at today's Shuttle launch to the Hubble telescope. However, now the only media provided is in Windows Media format.

I'm sure I could "hack" a way to get it playing natively (through WMV Player or something) or just kick on Parallels. But in this age, to use a proprietary video format is practically criminal -- and a good way to screw with your web viewing numbers. Places like YouTube and Hulu know better, both practically and financially. Sad that our government cannot.

At least, for now, the NASA TV live feed remains viewable in-browser with QuickTime (although it's unclear if this is thanks to the site or to WMV plug-ins on my notebook).

May. 13, 2009

item.91929

John Grout

I think nasa.gov's Multimedia Videos Browsers, Players and Plugins Web page might transitively intimidate Mac newbies because of what it points to for "Windows" content: a long and confusing all things to all platforms Web page on microsoft.com. Though that page has links for both Windows Media Player and Flip4Mac, the WMP links are at the top and the Flip4Mac link is well down the page.

Could nasa.gov do a better job explaining how Mac users could display "Windows" content? Sure... they could point at the Microsoft or Telestream Web pages dedicated to Flip4Mac... but I didn't have any problems displaying the nasa.gov Windows Media content I tried on Firefox, which used the Flip4Mac plugin automatically. I have run into other sites that capitalize on the good performance of Flip4Mac on Intel processors by dropping parallel QuickTime content... even a few of the pay sites I belong to have done it.

item.91931

Robin Atkinson

The NASA Quicktime Stream is still available, but you have to dig a little. Click the NASA TV link in the right-hand column. Then in the left-hand menu select 'Other Viewing Options'. The link to Quicktime is there.

Or just go here:
  http://www.nasa.gov/qtl/151335main_NASA_TV_QT.qtl

item.91932

Gerard Rejskind

Kevin Spencer wrote:

"It wasn't long ago that NASA's main public site (where you get access to manned flight information and links to other projects) shared video information in both QuickTime and Windows Media format.
Today I dropped in to a revised home site to take a gander at today's Shuttle launch to the Hubble telescope. However, now the only media provided is in Windows Media format."

Actually, QuickTime is still supported. On the right side of the page mouse over the heading "Other Viewing Options," and you'll see a list that includes QuickTime.

item.91940

Mike Pasquale

Re: Nasa Video... it's still available in QuickTime. In the frame to the right of the video window (which is WMV), click on other viewing options, then click on QucikTime, it will open the video in Quicktime player in Quicktime format (you download a .qtl file when you click on QuickTime)

item.91942

Pete Van der Goore

You didn't look hard enough. Click on "Other viewing Options". The Quicktime steam is still out there. I have a shortcut url to NASA TV on my desktop and it still works. I checked the properties of the stream and it said it was AAC MPEG Level4.

item.91945

Steven Wicinski

In regards to Kevin Spencer's note:

"But in this age, to use a proprietary video format is practically criminal -- and a good way to screw with your web viewing numbers. Places like YouTube and Hulu know better, both practically and financially. Sad that our government cannot."

Just in case you never visited their sites, both Hulu and YouTube use proprietary video formats, in this case Flash. But that isn't any less proprietary than any other format.

But these sites are a commercial concern which need to lure and keep customers. The NASA site is a gov't site, which is not looking to gain you as a customer. And the fact is that they may have cut the QT feed in order to save money.

May. 14, 2009

item.92060

Guy O'Rojo

Re:

I think that there's a bit of misunderstandinghere. The truth is that in "this age" there is no universal video format.

I suggest mpg-1 or mpg-4. The general problem is that the greedies (MS, Adobe) want to lock up/control video in their own players or interfaces.

item.92084

Frank Lowney

Yes, Flip4Mac's free WMV component will enable one to view NASA video, but to save it for educational fair use later on requires the fee-based version of this application. So Macs are taxed when Windows users get off scott free.

Alternatively, there's iTunes Store Podcast Directory for NASA where access is more universal.

No sign of NASA on iTunes U "Beyond Campus" though...

May. 15, 2009

item.92125

Stephen Hart

Frank Lowney wrote:

"Yes, Flip4Mac's free WMV component will enable one to view NASA video, but to save it for educational fair use later on requires the fee-based version of this application."

A simple, but time-consuming solution for educational use of video is to capture the video with SnapzProX (with movie).

Note, however, that not all agencies will agree that just because you're using intellectual property for education gives you the right to copy it an use it. Universities and colleges generally have their own in-house guidelines, with which the librarians and legal staffs are comfortable.

item.92133

A Kaleberg

I just went to the NASA site using Safari 3.1.2 and viewed one of their videos (grabbing the Hubble). I have the free version of Flip4Mac installed. I waited for the load to complete, as per the gray bar. Then I used the pulldown menu at the right end of the Quicktime frame of the movie to save the movie. It seems to have worked fine. I've got my own private copy.

May. 16, 2009

item.92208

A Kaleberg

In general, U.S. government documents are not copyrighted and are open for reuse. I checked the NASA policy by searching for "copyright" on their home page and found on http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/multimedia/gtv_copyright.html that:

"NASA images generally are not copyrighted. You may use NASA imagery, video and audio material for educational or informational purposes, including photo collections, textbooks, public exhibits and Internet Web pages. This general permission does not include the NASA insignia logo (the blue "meatball" insignia), the NASA logotype (the red "worm" logo) and the NASA seal. These images may not be used by persons who are not NASA employees or on products (including Web pages) that are not NASA sponsored."

Their primary concern is that commercial enterprises may try to represent themselves as NASA or having a NASA endorsement. There are exceptions, but this is generally the case with U.S. government documents including tide tables, aerial photographs, census data, topographic maps, laws and reports, and so on. There are a few exceptions. For example, I gather that one company has an monopoly on government real time lightning data, granted as part of a deal for developing the detection system. I also believe their are restrictions on certain satellite imagery that was developed for commercial sale.

The U.S. is much more open in this regard than many nations.

item.92241

Frank Lowney

Re:

A simple, but time-consuming solution for educational use of video is to capture the video with SnapzProX (with movie).

That's $80 for the version that captures video as well as stills. More than the cost of WMV Studio ($29).

Re:

Note, however, that not all agencies will agree that just because you're using intellectual property for education gives you the right to copy it an use it. Universities and colleges generally have their own in-house guidelines, with which the librarians and legal staffs are comfortable.

University personnel who aren't directly involved in teaching often take the path of least resistance so are not a good source of information about what is and isn't fair use. A more enlightened and up-to-date view comes from the Center for Social Media of the School of Communication at American University:    http://www.centerforsocialmedia.org/resources/publications/code_for_media_literacy_education/

item.92279

Stephen Hart

Frank Lowney wrote, in response to my suggestion of SnapzProX:

"That's $80 for the version that captures video as well as stills. More than the cost of WMV Studio ($29)."

These are two entirely different products. If the many features of SnapzProX, in addition to movie capture, are not worth the cost, don't buy it, obviously.


"University personnel who aren't directly involved in teaching often take the path of least resistance so are not a good source of information about what is and isn't fair use."

A claim of fair use is a defense against a lawsuit for copyright infringement, not a list of what you can do. What is and isn't fair use is determined in court.

If you're at a university and you choose to ignore the university's guidelines on fair use (even if they're more conservative than you like), you probably shouldn't expect the university to defend you in court.

My point was that "eductational use" is not a blanket defense against claims of copyright infringement.

Yes, government intellectual property is generally not protected by copyright. Unless it is. Certain uses of postage stamp images require written permission, for example. Also, the government often contracts with others to create IP. The creator may retain copyright. It pays to check.

May. 18, 2009

item.92298

Pete Masterson

A further note on NASA and other government publications copyright:

NASA and almost all Federal and most state government publications are free from copyright restrictions. For example, in years past, before electronic download was possible, some low cost "tax guide" publications have simply reprinted the IRS publication 17 (available free from the IRS) and sold it as a commercial publication. While this was ethically dubious, it was not a violation of copyright.

Care must be exercised in that some government publications may contain material sourced from private, copyrighted material. Such material does not give up its copyright protection when it is included in a government publication. Such material is usually well marked in the public document with a copyright notice. (I once supervised publications production at a NASA facility, and we occasionally had copyright material in those publications.)

Some states have made deals with publishers to (for example) publish state codes and regulations. Sometimes there are copyright issues due to those relationships.

I note, too, that there are clip art collections of "military art" and/or NASA photos. Often the included material is public domain, but copyright is claimed on the collection itself. (The work of putting together the collection is protected by copyright.) Often, however, the copyright claim made by the publisher is overstated (e.g. there are no commercial photos taken on the moon) but it may (in other cases) be tricky to identify true government produced public domain material that might be mixed with privately produced (and therefore copyright protected material) that is included in such collections.

Any art (photo, diagram, or illustration) produced by an employee or contractor to a Federal agency is done as work-for-hire and is automatically in the public domain. Most NASA drawings, diagrams, and animations are simply identified "courtesy of NASA" or "NASA art" -- but in recent years, local NASA officials have allowed artist names to be attached to a work, e.g. "NASA art by (Artist Name)." Such a reference does not, however, indicate any copyright claim.

Jun. 2, 2009

item.93187

Evan Dreyer

My daughter is trying to access the open learning initiative through Carnegie Mellon University; part of which is actually featured on the APPLE web site:

http://edcommunity.apple.com/ali/story.php?itemID=11365&version=1981&page=2

Unfortunately,

System Requirements

To use this course, your system must satisfy the following requirements:

Operating System

Microsoft Windows 98, ME, 2000, or XP
Works with Parallels Desktop virtual machine running Microsoft Windows XP

Kudos to Apple; nothing I like better than rooting for the other team.

Jun. 3, 2009

item.93214

Stephen Clark

Somehow this interested me so I went to the CMU program to look into what Evan reported & found:

https://oli.web.cmu.edu/configure/statics-1.9_default-1.0.html

Those requirements may be course-specific but according to the information at that URL Mac's are quite capable for (at least) this course (the only one I looked into) as long as they're configured as described.

Which course was your daughter interested in, specifically? Can you provide more info as to where you found that System Requirements disclaimer please?

item.93233

Bill Andersen

That's odd. I used the link you provide and got the page without a problem, using Safari and Leopard. The links from that page work, too, for me.

Jun. 9, 2009

item.93520

MacInTouch Reader

Add Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Workforce Development System to the list of sites that don't want to play well with non-Microsoft browsing. Here's an email exchange I had with a representative from PA CareerLink, edited for clarity and brevity.

[Support request submitted via a webform:]
Earlier today I started to create a resume from my home computer. I walked away from the computer for a while, and when I came back I found out that I had been automatically logged out and my work had apparently not been saved. I had not seen any prior warning that this would happen.[...]

[first email response:]
I understand your frustration; unfortunately there isn't anything that can be done about it. For security reasons the site was designed to exit out if there's been no activity for 30 minutes. On the bottom of the page is a status bar that counts down the 30 minutes, and then a minute or so before signing out a popup message appears telling you... but if a person walked away for a break they wouldn't see the popup.

[my followup:]
Thank you for your prompt and courteous reply. Unfortunately, I have checked the page I was using previously ("Create Resume"), and do not see the countdown status bar to which you refer. [...] I am using the Firefox browser on a Mac computer. [...]

[email response to followup:]
I'm pretty sure either the Mac or Firefox, or both, use a different format of Java than windows... CWDS doesn't handle it very well. We've had similar problems with the countdown timer and other java related functions with other users with similar setups as yours. Most websites with access to personal info (Social Security #, date of birth, etc) have log out timers for security reasons. I guess none of this really matters now that you are aware that CWDS has one as well.

We've submitted several times to try and get the developers to extend the forced log out time, but they are simply not willing. We did get them to change it from 20 minutes to 30, but any attempts for additional modifications have been rejected.

Jul. 15, 2009

item.95977

MacInTouch Reader

I just filed periodic financial reports with the New York State Board of Elections.

The system requires the use of antiquated (and difficult to use) software, which looks like it was cobbled together in the Eisenhower administration.

It runs on Windows only.

When I called the BOE and asked about a Mac version, they said, "Oh, yes, we a version that runs on the Mac. But you need to run it on Windows on Mac. Don't you have one of those?"

Jul. 16, 2009

item.96012

Matthew Pirrone

I have a customer who also needs to file with the NYS Board of Elections. They have had to acquire a used PC in order to file their reports. This PC only gets used during that time. Contacting the BOE and requesting that they not discriminate based on computer platform has not resulted in the situation being resolved. NYS Government agencies have a very pro-Windows slant, and there are several other departments where use of a PC is a de-facto requirement.

Sep. 28, 2009

item.101334

MacInTouch Reader

This Summer the Division of Student Affairs and Student Government at the University of North Florida reduced the purchase of outdated Macs. It took quite a bit of maneuvering to get some machines restored to Mac purchases but by and large Macs are considered high end machines and will not be purchased except for a few graphic or TV production units. The Director of Student Media was only allowed to retain a Mac after heavy lobbying. Others were less fortunate.

Employees who have had Macs for 15 years were told to either hold on to their older macs or switch to Dell. ITS both at the division and institutional level are not Mac friendly. The reasoning is that Macs cost more per unit than Dells and even though we pose very little upkeep in man hours and replacement parts Macs loose out on price point and more and more problems interfacing with ITS infrastructure. It is far easier to service one platform university wide.

Anyone else seeing this trend occurring in Higher Ed?

Students, however, are showing up with increasing numbers of Mac laptops.

item.101385

Peter Nelson

Thought you might want to throw this link out there for the community to comment on:
  5 Reasons Windows 7 Is A Better Deal For Students Than Snow Leopard

Sep. 29, 2009

item.101402

MacInTouch Reader

At a lot of universities and schools, computer purchases are made directly by some kind of governing body (school board, board of trustees, etc). IT maintenance, however, is budgeted to the individual school, or sometimes the individual department.

That creates a battle of sorts, where the purchasers of the computer systems want to show off how much money they saved even if it's at the expense of dramatically increased maintenance. After all, maintenance is not their department or their problem.

Often, this causes a situation where a school or university will homogenize with bargain-basement Dells because they can negotiate directly with Dell for a substantial discount. The fact that a third to half of those machines will need replacement due to failure during the year, leading to eventual increased costs, is the problem of IT maintenance instead. IT maintenance getting an increased budget to handle it is their own problem, and not purchasing's.

The same situation occurs at many businesses. Computers are bought cheaply in bulk by the Purchasing department, and basically handed over to IT. If there are any problems with those bargain-basement PC's, it's IT's budgeting problem, not Purchasing.

Only solution is that more companies, schools, and universities need to get IT involved when they make purchasing decisions, and have someone present at buying decision meetings who can intelligently educate the participants about the concept of total cost of ownership.

item.101413

Leonard Cecil

Two years ago when I took over the job at the Univ. of Zurich, Ethnological Seminar, I used raw economics to convince the then chair that we should dump the PC and replace them with Macs running OSX and XP SP3. The users could choose what they wanted to use, we did however strongly recommend, that they do all emailing and surfing on the Mac side.

When the size of the Seminar is doubled during the coming year, I might get a bump from my present 50% position to 70%. If they had kept up approx 50-50 Macs-PCs, they would have been forced to hire another 50% supporter.

Using Deploy Studio, I can setup a new computer with user profile in one hour - fully configured for both OS's. My buddy over with the Sociologists needs one full day to set up an XP box with all software installed and configured. There are two of them working over there. I'm alone.

Our oldest Macs are actually our servers. Two G5s will be replaced in January with low-end Mac Pros. Two other servers will remain where they are: a 1.25 GHz G4 and a white 1.83 GHz 17" iMac with a bad graphics card. This iMac is 3 years old and running Server 10.6.1 as our Deploy Studio Server. How many 3-year-old PCs run Vista comfortably or Win Server 2008? Our 2-year-old Alu iMacs are good for another 2-4 years. How many Windows PC does one hang onto for 4-6 years like these? None of the PCs I found at the Seminar were 100% Vista compatible. All needed more RAM and better graphics cards. Most were just borderline too slow - PIV 3 GHZ one year old when I took over.

Looking at how long Macs are actually useful and how many people it takes to service and keep them up, there is no contest, yet Windows "claims" to have costs on it's side. Ok, if you think so.

item.101415

Dana Baggett

This is in response to the post about the Univ of No. Florida tossing Macs out in favor of PCs. The IT staff is not Mac friendly and claims that "Macs loose [sic.] out on price point and (create) more and more problems interfacing with ITS infrastructure. It is far easier to service one platform university wide." Right. Sure.

Based on my experience and observations in state government, education and the private sector over 25 years, this is par for the course. IT staffs are not Mac-friendly because their self-interest trumps the interest of the employer and end-users.

Geeks typically are interested in Micro$oft "certifications" and polishing resumes that indicate large numbers of PCs supported so they can apply for better paying jobs somewhere else. Their career enhancement is uppermost in their thinking. The present job is just a stepping stone.

Macs even threaten present geek job security since it's well documented that Macs require less support than do PCs. And those pesky Macs that use industry standards don't work well with proprietary M$ crapware. So, let's make it "easier" on the geeks and get rid of the Macs.

Obviously, at the Univ. of No. Florida the geeks are running the place. Until management gets control of their own IT shops and starts looking at ROI, it will be ever thus.

item.101419

Matt McCaffrey

Re: "5 Reasons Windows 7 Is A Better Deal For Students Than Snow Leopard"

The blogger's first four reasons are the same old tired and inaccurate rehash of anti-Apple arguments: "twice as expensive," "90 percent of the business world is on Windows," "Macs are for artists and kids," "thousands of applications instead of hundreds," and so on.

But his fifth reason seems to betray the reason for the whole sorry mess: he's still steaming over Apple's "shabby treatment of education resellers 20 years ago"! Since he also used the phrase "It's about the applications, stupid" (a clumsy recasting of the phrase "It's the economy, stupid" from Bill Clinton's 1992 election campaign managers), it's pretty clear that he's stuck in a time-warp ca. 1994 or so, or else he's written a brilliant piece of satire.

The commenters are taking him to task and trying to catch him up to the new century. My favorite observation: "Microsoft has also provided the richest development environment for antivirus applications."

item.101420

Gregory Tetrault

Re:

"Employees who have had Macs for 15 years were told to either hold on to their older macs or switch to Dell. ITS both at the division and institutional level are not Mac friendly. The reasoning is that Macs cost more per unit than Dells and even though we pose very little upkeep in man hours and replacement parts Macs loose out on price point and more and more problems interfacing with ITS infrastructure."

The key phrase is "we pose very little upkeep in man hours." Informatics technical support bosses often hate Macs for that reason. If all the PCs were replaced by Macs, they'd have to fire most of the IT staff. Places I worked at typically had 1 IT worker per ~100 Macs and 1 IT worker per 10-25 PCs. Bureaucratic IT managers don't want fewer employees (since number of employees is a measure of success and prestige), so Macs must be suppressed. The IT bosses can never admit this, so they invent illogical technical and economic reasons for keeping Macs out. In this circumstance, the only successful fight I've seen was when the superior to the IT boss wanted to cut him down. Our Macs were approved not because of logic (greater productivity and lower costs of ownership), but because of internal politics.

item.101428

James Greenidge

All the more reason why it'd be highly prudent for Apple to extend support for Tiger and Leopard (and not necessarily hardware-wise) for a few more years to tie school boards over till a more prosperous economy can swing MacTels and Snow Lep. I know schools in New York State, and perhaps most New England too, are highly reluctant to purchase Macs sheerly on price points.

item.101429

MacInTouch Reader

Referring to a reader's complaint about higher education institutions' IT departments: I am located in Austria and we are having the same problem with IT staff and ordering new Macs at our university. Their superficial argument is price and they refuse to accept the fact that Macs in general need less maintenance because the average user can recover from system glitches more easily by him or herself than an average Win User. However, based on my psychological and sociological research, it is easy to see why overall cost is a non-argument for IT reps. No institution and no department will embrace a strategy that, at the end, means that it might shrink and become less important in the future. ALL institutions are geared to grow as does the IT department at my university. At present they are the biggest intra-university service provider consuming enormous amounts of money for their personnel only... thanks to MSoft.

item.101433

Terrence Meehan

Peter Nelson writes:

Thought you might want to throw this link out there for the community to comment on:
5 Reasons Windows 7 Is A Better Deal For Students Than Snow Leopard "

I would swear that this article has been around since the late 80's. Someone simply updates it with the current OS versions and sends it out. Most of it wasn't true then and it is even less true now.

item.101441

Luke Rademacher

I read the link that Peter Nelson posted "5 Reasons Windows 7 is better than Snow Leopard" and felt peeved off.

I don't have Snow Leopard yet as I am still using a PPC G4 Mac for my main Mac. But Mac OSX regardless of what Animal species it is, is so much better than any Windows OS ever.

I routinely am called upon in my family/friends circle to help out fix computers, Its frustrating to no end trying to work with Vista.

I admit I've never seen or used Windows 7 so I cant say much about it. But if its anything like XP or Vista then it will probably be a pain in the arse to learn, use, and support.

The One reason in that list that bugged me the most was number 3...

"3. Windows 7 Is Playing Nice With Open Source. Snow Leopard Is Not: Microsoft has changed its tune on open source, and that's an advantage for students compared with Apple's proprietary stand....Microsoft has changed its stance on open-source software, and that's an advantage for students. Apple is all about a closed proprietary environment and will never open up Snow Leopard to support open source."

This is a load of horse shite... Snow Leopard is Mac OSX 10.6, What do they think the X is??? OSX is built upon the greatness & power of Unix..
I use more OpenSource apps than I do mainstream apps, All on my Mac!
Firefox, Thunderbird, GIMP, Blender, Audacity, Inkscape, OpenOffice are just a few that I use every single day!

Sorry Windows 7 will never see me using it, ever.

item.101442

James Greenidge

Peter Nelson's link with ChannelWeb on the Windows 7 vs Snow Leopard feature is damning because most school boards go with that flow. It truly behooves Apple to extend support for earlier OSes (Tiger and Leopard) which most schools are using on _PPC_ machines until the economy picks up and school boards can think about new Intel Macs and Intel-only OSes like Snow Leopard, else see what remaining Apple-based schools slip to Dell.

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