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Non Techie advice that may help with some common internet video problems
This information is not offered in any professional capacity.

WHAT IS FLASH ? Do I really need to update it ?
I DON’T KNOW WHAT VERSION OF THE FLASH THINGY I HAVE
I USE AOL
VIDEO KEEPS STOPPING
OLD COMPUTERS

WHAT IS FLASH ? Do I really need to update it ?

Flash is a free bit of software that allows your computer to play streaming internet videos. It plugs itself into your Internet Browser whether it is Internet Explorer or Firefox or one of several available.

Internet video is continually improving and Flash has to keep up by continually updating itself with newer versions.
If you find you can play some (older) videos but not others (newer), you almost certainly need to update your free Flash software to the current version but first you MUST Uninstall Flash.

To Uninstall Flash you MUST download and run Adobe’s UNINSTALL FLASH Program that removes all traces of older versions of Flash.

After that, simply INSTALL CURRENT FLASH VERSION

— watch out for sneaky ticks in boxes for installing other stuff that you have no use for — Google Tool Bar comes to mind — just CLICK the BOX to remove the tick.

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I DON’T KNOW WHAT VERSION OF THE FLASH THINGY I HAVE

LEFT CLICK on the following link
http://www.adobe.com/software/flash/about/
This will open an Internet Window that will advise you what your version is compared with the current version.

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I USE AOL

AOL has always been a bit of a mystery to website designers. Sometimes things work — sometimes they don’t.

A friend of mine recently found she could not play the videos from my site on her AOL Browser.
She had updated her Flash Player but still no good.
She opened an Internet Explorer window and the videos played just fine in that.

An interesting discovery was made when we discussed the rest of the page in question. Her AOL Browser was showing an outdated page that did not show recent updates. It was an old, presumably Cached (stored on an AOL hard drive somewhere) version of the page. She hit the Refresh Button on her Browser several times to no avail. Only when she viewed the page in Internet Explorer did she see the current version of the page.

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VIDEO KEEPS STOPPING

You have the fastest computer on the market and your Flash Version is so current that some of the staff at Adobe don’t know about it yet, but the video keeps pausing.

There are two ways to watch video from the internet:

1/ Download

Download the complete video (file size may be 400 megabytes) and then, after half an hour or so, watch it at your leisure.

2/ Streaming (YouTube, BBCi, This Site — to name but a few)
It downloads some of the video file (a Buffer) and starts playing the bit that is already down and hopes that your Broadband Connection can download the rest faster than your Player can gobble it up. If the download speed is not fast enough (the evening is the worst time) the Buffer runs dry and there is nothing left to play. The process pauses to allow the Buffer to fill up again and the video plays for a few seconds and stops again.

This is of course intolerable and your best bet is to CLICK the PAUSE button and prevent the video from playing until enough Buffer (the more the better) is downloaded to play the video continuously — you will probably want to drag the cursor back to the start (on the Play Line) to watch the complete video with no interruptions.

High Definition Video is starting to appear on the internet. These files are a fair bit bigger and PAUSING will be required more often unless you have a vereeee FAST Broadband Connection.

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OLD COMPUTERS

Old computers do not die, they just get too slow to cope with advances in resource-hungry software.
It cost a fortune when you bought it and it did most of what you were promised but streaming video through your 56K Dialup Internet Connection was never in its job description.

It will still do Word Processing and it will happily download big files via your Broadband Internet connection but the best video you are likely to view will be jerky.
You can try bringing all your Drivers up to date (nothing to do with the Highway Code) but you may need the assistance of your family or friendly Techie Person.

Next time you go to update your Windows (you should do this regularly for security reasons), don't select the EXPRESS-RECOMMENDED but select instead CUSTOM.
Microsoft will still show you the critical updates which you should install but you will see other categories including HARDWARE-OPTIONAL. If you see any entries under the category Hardware (there may well be none), it means Microsoft has a newer driver available for a particular part of your computer and it is usually a good idea to install it.
A Driver is a bit of software that tells a bit of your computer what it is and what it should do, whether it is a printer, a graphics card, a sound card etc.
If your Windows update normally happens automatically you can still make a manual visit now and then — usually through Control Panel / Windows Update (on the left side margin) — or just go to HELP and search for 'Windows Update'.
Don't go daft by installing every available update in every available category. Only install what you need to.

Did I mention Defraging ? — always a good thing to do now and then. Over time, the files on your hard drive get fragmented — every time you update your latest novel, the new bits get stored on different places on your hard drive and it takes longer for your computer to open a file. It’s a bit like having your cutlery dispersed with a fork in every room of the house. Imagine how long it would take to set the table.
Defragmenting the hard drive is like putting all the forks back in one compartment of the cutlery drawer or your precious novel into one single file rather than lots of fragmented parts — your computer will love you for it.

I had an old computer with an Intel P3 processor until it really did die recently. I used it for internet downloads. It had a good graphics card for its time but was not quite capable of playing video smoothly.

There are a lot of Intel P4 (or equivalent) processor computers still out there and they should handle video without any problem.
2009 — If you buy a computer today it will probably be a Duo Core — two processors working intimately together. The next notch up the price ladder is a Quad Core — four processors in a kind of group-hug. Four processors is a bit like four guys digging a hole rather than just one guy so the hole gets dug faster.

I dare say that within a few years we will all be familiar with new snappy names for 12 and 18 Cores and beyond.

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return to Top of Page           tell a friend about this page          email the author Nigel Turnbull