The Software

To do these courses, you need some software to record both yourself and any presentation you show on your computer.

Initially, this whole thing started with the Covid-19 pandemic, where the university switched over to distance learning. The first solution to this was using Zoom, since that’s what the university uses, and frankly, it’s the software that works best. At least if you’re not too worried about the security of it. On the other hand, there aren’t all that many security risks associated with online lectures.

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The Captions

This post is severely out of chronological order, since working with captions is more or less the last thing you do when publishing a course. It’s what I’m doing now, and believe me, it’s the least fun part and the part taking the most time (except for actually preparing and recording the course material, but that’s not my problem; Hania did all that).

The way this works with Udemy is that once you’ve created your entire course and uploaded it, you can ask the system to generate captions for the videos. They’re using speech-to-text for that, and it’s amazingly good. It’s almost perfect, but that “almost” is the problem. It may be great for a cooking course, and if the speaker is a native American, but mathematics… not so much.

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The Space

In this era of working from home, doing everything online, Hania (my wife) has started producing online material for her students.

Initially, this was simply Zoom recordings which were then published on the university servers for the students, but we tried to up the ante a bit by producing her lectures beforehand.

After a while of this, we decided to go the full commercial online teaching route by producing courses for Udemy. The first of those courses was made public just two days ago. If you click that link you get to the course’s page on Udemy, and you get a low price if you decide to buy it. If the coupon has lapsed, look for later blog posts, since it needs to be updated every month.

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iPad stopgap

What I really want and need is a real laptop like the MacBook Pro 16”. But as I already posted about that didn’t turn out as well as I hoped. So now I have to wait until the next generation of the flagship MacBook Pro before trying to order again.

Meanwhile, my wife got the other MBP 16” and my iPad Pro for making online math lectures, so I was left with nothing, or seen as a positive; an opportunity to buy a new iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard case. The iPad Pro arrived yesterday and the keyboard just an hour ago.

First impressions (I’m writing this on the new keyboard, by the way) are: it’s an amazingly nice keyboard to type on. It’s sturdy and very stiff. You can lift the whole thing by a corner without any bending. It’s also the exactly right angle for the screen.

I’m writing both in Swedish and in English, and occasionally in Dutch, on my keyboards, so I always order “International English” and then switch keyboards in software. That works just fine on this keyboard, too. I’m still getting used to there not being any escape key or home key (the latter is replaced by a trackpad gesture). The cmd-. combo sometimes works as an escape, but mostly not. Applications clearly weren’t written with keyboards in mind for the iPad.

I’ll probably be back with more impressions later on, but for the moment I’d just like to keep on writing, even if it makes no sense. That’s the kind of satisfying feel this keyboard has.

Sad about MacBook Pro

Having lost my 17″ Macbook Pro from 2011 to the ravages of time, in december I bought a Macbook Pro 16″, the larger standard config, the one with 2.3 GHz CPU, Radeon 5500M 4 GB, 16 GB RAM, and 1 TB SSD. It’s a fantastic machine, and I was very happy with it. So, naturally, I gave it to my wife and ordered another one for myself, but this time a litte more pimped out; 2.4 GHz CPU, Radeon 5500M 8 GB, 32 GB RAM, and 2 TB SSD. I think that was a mistake.

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Zoom video file conversion

It seems that if you record a zoom video meeting and then interrupt the file conversion after the meeting, the video file may disappear from zoom, so you can’t restart the conversion later. At least, that happened to me.

If you go looking for the unconverted files, you’ll find them, on MacOS, in the folder ~/Documents/Zoom/<date> <time> <meeting name>. In there you’ll find, among other things, a file named double_click_to_convert_01.zoom.

So, naturally, you double-click it, but that will only get you errors. No application is set to handle files with the “.zoom” extension. A search on the net give me dozens of articles telling me to double-click it anyhow. Won’t work. Dragging the file over the app doesn’t do anything either.

But, a little spelunking in the app shows us they’ve hidden a transcoder inside it at:


If you run that app from the commandline with the raw videofile as argument, it does convert the file just fine.

I think Zoom forgot to associate the “.zoom” file extension with this Transcode app in the installation script, but now I’ve described it here, I won’t forget for the next time. Example command line (all on one line):

/Applications/ ~/Documents/Zoom/2020-04-16\ 16.30.10\ Martin\ Wehlou's\ Zoom\ Meeting\ 94043638090/double_click_to_convert_01.zoom

Reflowing a Macbook Pro GPU to no avail

My 2011 Macbook Pro 17″ failed again. A few years back, the GPU went bad so I sent it to a guy in the UK that replaced the GPU, and then it worked for maybe two years. It failed again a couple of months back, but I don’t think it’s worth having it repaired now. I did, however, just do a reflow on it for kicks. It didn’t fix the computer, though, but that won’t stop me from describing what I did. So this is an example of what doesn’t work.

I first removed everything removable from the main board and set it up in a preheater. I stuck the Fluke thermocouple into a mounting hole close to the GPU so I could monitor the temperature of the board.
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Battery replacement in an iPad Pro

Replacing the battery in an iPad Pro is a horrible, terrible repair procedure. It’s all about heat and glue. Jeez.

This sounds like a good idea, but it isn’t. I heated the iOpener in the microwave for 30 seconds on full power as prescribed and it was fairly hot. Let it rest on the iPad for a couple of minutes and the iPad turned maybe lukewarm. Or maybe not even that. It really didn’t work for me.
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A very disinfected stethoscope

A couple of years ago I bought a Littmann 3200 electronic stethoscope. Love the thing. Fantastic (and adjustable) sound and recording capability and Bluetooth connection to upload those sounds to a companion app.

A couple of weeks back, the stethoscope started to glitch. Every now and then it would hard reset when I pressed the “-” button so I thought that was the end of it. I ordered a new one, planning on disassembling the old one once I had another good one. Today was that day.

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