Jim Duber Jim Duber on CALL

This is an interactive journal where I post my bits and pieces and invite readers to discuss issues and trends in the field of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL). As an instructional media developer, my primary interest is in the authoring of interactive content.

I'm happy to announce the availability of a series of new web-based audio/video groups that I'm calling "LetsTalk" discussion forums.

Teachers and students of ESL/EFL at secondary level (age 13) and above are invited to participate. All skill levels, beginning to advanced, are welcomed.

For complete details and access to the current discussions, please see the LetsTalk home page at:


(Screenshot from original version 1.0 topic--
reduced in size)


Thursday, February 24, 2005

Today, I have several update announcements to make:

1) The LetsTalk Discussions were upgraded to a new 2.0 version on January 12, 2005.

2) I released a new player for Project We Say Tomato and added new help content on February 10, 2005. See:
Project We Say Tomato (2005).

3) Today, I'm making public my new "Media Blog".

For the near future, my activities on this text-based blog ("Jim Duber on CALL") will be put on hold.

Instead, I plan on experimenting a bit with multimedia blogging in my newly designed Media Blog.

UPDATE (March 2, 2005): I've added an RSS feed for subscribers. I will add comments about RSS subscriptions in the Media Blog soon.


Posted by Jim Duber @ 12:32 PM PST [Link]

Monday, November 15, 2004

I just added an Instructor Guide with procedural suggestions for making best use of the LetsTalk discussion forums with classroom-based ESL/EFL students.

In addition, I just opened a new LetsTalk forum entitled "Introductions". All the Current Discussions are linked from the LetsTalk support website.

Posted by Jim Duber @ 05:31 PM PST [Link]

Monday, July 12, 2004

The Flash player is often able to detect the user's microphone the first time a request is made to record an audio stream via the Flash Communications Server. But, not always. So, one of the most common problems people seem to have is an incorrectly configured microphone. It's very easy to reconfigure the settings.

Here's a sample video that you can watch read along with to see how to choose the correct input device, set the input volume (the "gain"), and save privacy settings between sessions.

Watch and read along with this Video: How to Check and Adjust Your Microphone
(Free Flash 6 Player or higher required.)

Posted by Jim Duber @ 01:58 PM PST [Link]

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

If you've tried any of my recent FCS-based demo applications, you've no doubt noticed a dialogue box that pops up and asks for permission to access your camera and microphone. This is a privacy feature built into the Flash player by Macromedia, the company that produces the Flash player and authoring tool. The purpose is to let you know that a Flash application is trying to access a camera or microphone that may be connected to your computer. It gives you the opportunity to allow, deny, or even delay that request. As soon as the Flash application closes (generally, when you go to a new web page), the session is closed. So, when you return, you are asked again for permission to access your camera and microphone.

In several projects that I've worked on recently, the clients wanted to give their users a way to avoid this extra step of having to allow the access request for every separate recording session. This is relatively easy to do from a coding perspective--it's basically one line of code:


which tells the Flash player to open the dialog box with the proper panel selected among the four tabs available.

The hard part is to write instructions that are easy enough to follow because this code can only display the privacy request panel. The user must make two changes to the settings there: (1) make sure to select the option to "Allow" the access request; and, (2) make sure to check the option to "Remember" this setting in between sessions. They can then close the dialog box and skip the permissions step whenever they return to the site and are asked to record FCS-based audio or video.

Click here for a Media Settings Demonstration
(Free Flash 6 Player or higher required.)

After choosing to "Remember" to "Allow" this website to access your camera and microphone, you will now be able to skip that step when you return to my other FCS-based applications, including my "Voice Mail" demo and my soon-to-be released AV Guestbook demo.

Posted by Jim Duber @ 10:50 AM PST [Link]

Monday, June 14, 2004

Greetings all,

It has been a long time since my last entry. The usual excuses apply--too much work, not enough free time, etc. Over the past weekend, I finally found some time to update my voice recording and playback application and have just posted a new version, called 1.5c.

Updated features in the recording tool include a report of the recording length in seconds immediately after the user completes a successful recording. The user sees instant notification on screen of an unsuccessful recording as well with a tip to check their microphone settings (see below for further discussion).

I've added a set of control buttons to the playback tool for pausing, stopping, replaying, and seeking (forward and back through) a stream. In addition, there are now onscreen displays for the current and total playback time in seconds along with the length of the stream in buffer in seconds.

The following demonstration will open in a new browser window:

duber dot com: Voice Mail--version 1.5c Demo

(Free Flash 6 Player or higher required.)

There's still a bit of polish to add for the version 2.0 release (including a control bar that the user can drag, improved button feedback, and more).

Regarding failed recordings--it seems that some are the result of double-clicking on the record/stop button, which is a toggle. In the next update, I will adapt a more standard recording interface as this current version starts to do with the playback controls.

Posted by Jim Duber @ 03:23 PM PST [Link]

Sunday, February 15, 2004

I've just added a batch of 31 new entries to the playback area of Project We Say Tomato. That brings the total of published submissions to 100! Thanks again to all the participants for making this project a success.

Listen to the Contributions

Posted by Jim Duber @ 10:55 AM PST [Link]

Monday, January 19, 2004

I recently came across Steven Weinberger's "Speech Accent Archive," a project with a much broader scope, but a very similar mission to Project We Say Tomato. This truly impressive work is being carried out by Weinberger, a linguistics professor at George Mason University, and his students. The archives currently contain nearly 300 speech samples of native and non-native English speakers reading the same English paragraph.

Posted by Jim Duber @ 01:57 PM PST [Link]

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Project We Say Tomato: Help is Here!
Today I created a quick Flash-based video presentation accompanied by text instructions that show how to configure your microphone while demonstrating how easy it is to add your voice to this project.

How-To VideoLaunch Project We Say Tomato:
How-To Video
(with voice--818K)

How-To VideoLaunch Project We Say Tomato:
How-To Video
(without voice--541K)

(Free Flash 6 Player or higher required.)

And, in response to a visitor's suggestion, today I also added a recording level meter that shows the input volume during your recording. The perfect level is towards the upper end of the green area. But, be sure to stay below the red at all times. The red area indicates that clipping is taking place--and there will be some noisy distortion in the recording.

Thanks for the excellent suggestion. I agree that this addition greatly enhances the usability of the application. I only wish I'd thought of it first!


Posted by Jim Duber @ 02:58 PM PST [Link]

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