Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) Cameras and Color Bars!

Hi folks,

Our Learning Environments team has been in lockstep with all of the construction and renovations going on here at Creighton and that includes setting up new BlueCast equipped rooms and

The Sony EVI-D70, our standard for PTZ cameras.

The Sony EVI-D70, our standard for PTZ cameras.

classrooms. Some of the multi-use rooms are receiving awesome new Pan Tilt Zoom (or commonly referred as PTZ) cameras that allow the user or faculty member to use a remote control (Just like the one at home for you home theater) to move the camera around the classroom and zoom in and out of the image to get the best angle for your lecture. These cameras are immensely useful and flexible and I hope everyone gets a chance to use a room with one installed and see how they can capture your lecture.

smptebars

The color bars generated by our capture cards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before we get excited and seek out equipped rooms with these cameras, I do want to talk a little about Color Bars (or SMPTE Engineering Guideline EG 1-1990 if you want to get technical :) ). In our standard BlueCast setup the capture card we use generates the color bars test pattern when it does not see any signal coming from the room’s camera. This serves two purposes: 1. It lets you and us know that there is a problem with the camera in this room and 2. It tells us that the capture card is functioning. If you see these color bars in the Panopto Recorder’s preview please pick up the Classroom Support phone to let us know so we can fix it!

The reason why I’m telling you about a test pattern is because this it’s important to understand what these mean in the rooms with PTZ Cameras. The Sony EVI-D70 has a remote control that allows you to turn the camera on and off. If the PTZ camera is turned off it won’t be sending a video signal to the capture card in the computer, thus show color bars inside the Panopto Recorder’s preview. In this case what you should do is ensure the camera is turned on by using the remote control’s on/off button. If the video does not pop up after that then please use the Classroom Support phone and we’ll come on down and get the camera functioning.

Now that i’ve gotten that caveat out of the way, the Equipped Classrooms list has been updated so click here to find a room with a PTZ camera and get recording!

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What’s been happening on the BlueCast front

It’s been awhile since we last gave an update on BlueCast. We’ve been busy with the impending closure of BlueLine Classic and transitioning to a new Web Conferencing solution (WebEx), but we haven’t forgotten about all the BlueCasters out there! We’re currently focusing our efforts on integration between BlueCast and BlueLine2 offering single sign-on and course provisioning. This is something that both vendors have been working on and we’ve been beta testing, providing feedback and trying to help out in any way we can. In order to bring this new integration on board we’ll need to do system upgrade before the end of Spring 2013. The exact date is still yet to be determined.

This update is going to be big one. Lots of enhancements and major improvements in the backends of the system. Almost every aspect from the Panopto Recorders, Web UI, Indexing, and Processing servers will become more stable, resilient against failure, and overall much more awesome.

We’ll post another announcement on the Blog with some of the awesome new changes soon so keep an eye out!

It's a Blue Cast, get it?

All that BlueCasting deserves a relaxing break! (not really though, we have work to do!)

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Help Select the Next BlueCafé

Help Select the Next BlueCafé!

Two vendors will be presenting their web conferencing solution to campus over the next two weeks.  A search committee comprised of representatives from academic units, admissions, online programs, libraries, various business units and DoIT has previewed nearly a dozen possible solutions and narrowed the search to two.

Presentations will be held:

Tues., Feb. 12    1:00 – 2:00pm    in HLSB 188         WebEx
Tues., Feb. 19    1:00 – 2:00pm    in CHSC 452        Adobe Connect

Open Labs will be held:

Wed., Feb. 13    noon – 2:00pm  in eLearning Lounge       (bring laptop if possible)
Wed., Feb. 20    noon – 2:00pm  in eLearning Lounge       (bring laptop if possible)

 

We are extending an open invitation to the Creighton community for all these events. The demonstrations will be recorded and available for later viewing if you cannot attend.  This search was prompted because Wimba, the software behind BlueCafé, is being retired by its vendor, Blackboard. Contact Barb Stephens, bsteph@creighton.edu (402.280.2263) for more information.

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Fall 2011 Deletions

The policy for keeping BlueCast recordings is to maintain them for one year beyond the semester in which the course was taught.  As such, it is now time for us to delete recordings from classes taught during the Fall 2011 semester.  Deletions will begin on January 21st for these courses.  If you wish to archive and download copies of your class recordings there are a couple of methods for doing this.

  • Archiving your recordings: Podcasts
    This method allows you to download a single MP4 movie file of the lecture which is playable on most any type of computer or mobile device and can be easily put on web pages and BlueLine.
  • Archiving your recordings: Offline Viewer
    This process downloads the presentation as several files which together can let you view the presentation just like it looked in BlueCast, but without the searching capability.  These presentations can be put on a web server for later viewing, but the process is move involved since it is more than just one file.

More information on both of these processes, including how to do them, can be found by clicking the links above.

If you teach an online course which re-uses recordings on BlueCast for multiple semesters please fill out the Long Term Storage Request form to let us know so that they will not be deleted. Please contact us if you require any assistance with re-using lectures for new semesters as there could be implications with the new student rosters.

Quick facts:

  • Since going live in August of 2010 there have been over 16,000 sessions recorded.
  • 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321
  • The BlueCast web server currently has over 3.7 TB of recordings on it (~3700 GB).
  • That figure equates to approx. 787 DVD movies
  • TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard.
  • Since going live in August of 2010, the Creighton community has collectively viewed around 22 years worth of content from the BlueCast servers
  • The Microwave was invented when a researcher walked past a magnetron and the chocolate bar in his pocket melted.


If you have any questions about these procedures please contact us at AeT@creighton.edu.

If you are planning to use BlueCast for Spring 2013, remember to setup your new courses in BlueLine Classic by following the steps here!

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BlueCast upgrades this evening

In our continued efforts to improve the quality and efficiency of CU information systems and bring updated service to the Creighton Community, please note the following maintenance:

 

What: BlueCast System Upgrade
When: Friday, November 23rd, 2012 beginning at 10:00pm (standard maintenance window)
Why: Upgrading BlueCast to the latest software version to bring stability improvements, bug fixes and new features.
Systems Affected: BlueCast and Panopto Recorders. Playback will be unavailable during maintenance.
Expected Duration: All systems are expected to be back online no later then 4AM

 

Thank you for your cooperation. If you have any questions or concerns about this maintenance, please contact the Service Desk at x1111

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Quick BlueCast Tip- Start playback of a recording at a desired time through the viewer link

Here’s a quick BlueCast tip for using the Viewer URL links: If you want your audience to start viewing a recording at a specified time simply append “&start=[seconds]” to the end of the Viewer Link. For example if you wanted to see the exact point in Rick’s BlueCast Introduction presentation where he does a funny dance you would simply add “&start=29” to the end of the URL like this: http://bluecast.creighton.edu/Panopto/Pages/Viewer/Default.aspx?id=5a85c991-db40-4568-94f8-50e4459d0667&start=29

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All Quiet on the BlueLine Front

Hi all,

Thanks for your patience with yesterday’s BlueLine Classic troubles. Late  yesterday afternoon we put everything back the way it should be for BlueCast’s Authentication system. Users should not see any more security warnings when logging into the Recorders or Web UI. Of course please let us know ASAP if you experiance any trouble or see any concerning messages by contacting us at bluecast@creighton.edu

Happy friday!

 

(P.S. if you have any questions about BlueCast or need assistance with any other technical thing make sure to stop by Blue Friday in the Center for Academic Technology (Lower Level Reinert) today from 12PM Noon to 4PM!)

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BlueLine Classic authentication hiccups this morning

Hello folks,

We’re currently having some issues with BlueLine Classic this morning and as such it affects the way users log into BlueCast. Until we’ve fully resolved this I’ve put a work-around in place that should be able to get everyone logged into the system.

When you try to launch the Panopto Recorder or log into the Web UI using the BlueLine Account option you may receive a security warning popup

This is telling you that everything looks good except for the name on the security certificate. It is looking for “blueline.creighton.edu” but while the DNS resolving is not working I’ve directed the log-in page to BlueLine’s IP address. So the certification is seeing a number rather then the friendly BlueLine URL. You want to Click “Yes” or “Allow” or “I understand the risks”. This will get you logged in and able to record or view sessions. As soon as this issue with BlueLine Classic is resolved things will return to normal. If you have questions with this or difficulty logging in to either the Recorder or the Web UI please contact the DoIT Service Desk at x1111

 

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How we monitor BlueCast to make sure it’s online and awesome

Recently we’ve had two major outages (during the DoIT Standard Maintenance Window) that helped us test to make sure our monitoring and alert systems were up and working properly. The cause of both outages were due to work being performed by the Network Team that caused the systems hosted in Creighton’s Data Center to be inaccessible to the outside world.

With this I thought it would be fun to shed some light on how BlueCast is monitored for uptime and awesome. The first line of defense we use in ensuring BlueCast is up and running as much as possible (24/7/365) is Nagios. This is Creighton’s primary monitoring system,  It monitors all production environments for the entire university: things like CUMail, Creighton’s website, Banner, the NEST, etc. Nagios checks to make sure not only are the BlueCast servers up and running, it also checks to make sure http://bluecast.creighton.edu is available and checks for specific items to ensure that it is indeed BlueCast and not something else hosted at that address. This check is ran every 5 minutes: If the check fails, it checks again and if the second check fails it alerts the BlueCast administrators and the DoIT system administrators via email and SMS text messaging.  These emails and SMS texts will continue to be sent out every 10 minutes if they are not acknowledged.

Because an internal monitoring system isn’t fool proof (and it’s good practice to always have a backup of everything), we have a external 3rd party tool we use and performs the same checks on http://bluecast.creighton.edu as Creighton’s Nagios does.  The idea is that there could be a problem with Creighton’s connections to the outside world, but Nagios will still be able to access BlueCast since both are internal. This service also checks BlueCast every 5 minutes. If the check fails once the BlueCast administrators are notified via email, SMS text messaging, Twitter direct messages, and like Nagios they will repeat every 10 minutes if they go unacknowledged. One of the nice features about our external monitoring tool is that it checks BlueCast from multiple locations other then Omaha Nebraska, these locations are:  Atlanta, GA | Chicago, IL | Copenhagen, Denmark | Dallas, TX | Las Vegas, NV | Frankfurt, Germany | Lisbon, Portugal | Milan, Italy | Roubaix, France | San Jose, CA | Toronto, Canada | Washington, DC.
With these added locations we’re able to ensure that not only BlueCast is available to customers on campus and in Omaha, but also any user that may be outside of the state and even the country.

Below is the system uptime graph from our external monitoring tool for the past 30 days and will update every hour with the latest uptime information.

Feel free to contact bluecast@creighton.edu if you have any questions about how we monitor BlueCast, stay tuned for more posts about BlueCast’s infrastructure!

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Upcoming DoIT Maintenance on MSCL1 and Creighton’s Internet Connection

Hello folks, we have some upcoming maintenance that will affect BlueCast. Please see the DoIT alerts below.

In our continued efforts to improve the quality and efficiency of CU information systems and bring updated service to the Creighton Community, please note the following Network outage:
What: Moving database files on MSCL1
When: Thursday, October 18 – 10 pm – 2am Friday (non-standard maintenance window)
Why: The database files are currently on the c drive and the c drive is low on space
Systems affected: Sage/Asset Management System, Informant, Pave/Judicial Assistant, Med School Testing, BlueCast, Inteum
Expected duration: The work will begin approximately 10 pm and will be completed by 2 am.
What: Creighton-Main replacement
When: Friday, October 19 – 10 pm – 2am Saturday (standard maintenance window)
Why: In order to replace with the new low maintenance gear.
Systems affected: Internet connectivity to Creighton University and network to most of the buildings during the maintenance will be down.
Expected duration: The work will begin approximately 10 pm and will be completed by 2 am.
Thank you for your cooperation.  If you have any questions or concerns about this Network outage, please contact the Service Desk at x1111

BlueCast itself will not be down, but rather not accessible during both of these maintenances. Follow the BlueCast Status Site for regular info on the status of the system. (The latest BlueCast Status message is posted on the top right corner of the BlueCast Blog)

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