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Ubuntu Hacks by Bill Childers, Kyle Rankin, Jonathan Oxer

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Hack #85. Make Videos of Your Tech-Support Questions

Have a friend or relative with tech-support troubles? Show him how to record a movie of his Ubuntu problems and send it to you, you ever-helpful, all-knowing Ubuntu guru, you.

We've all been there: Uncle Gussy is on the phone to you trying to explain a computer problem he's having, but his description isn't helping in the slightest: "Welllll, I click on the thingie, and then this doohickey opens, so I click on that, and then the computer does something weird." Gee, thanks, Uncle Gussy!

If you were smart enough to set up Uncle Gussy with Ubuntu (and being a good niece or nephew, that's what you did, right?), you could just tell him to use Istanbul to record what he's doing on his computer into a patent-free, open source Ogg Theora video file. Uncle Gussy could then email you the file, which would vastly simplify your job as family tech support.

Tip

To find out more about Istanbul, or to keep up with its development, check out http://live.gnome.org/Istanbul. Don't know what Ogg Theora is, or are only familiar with Ogg Vorbis? Then go read Wikipedia's article on the subject, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogg_Theora.

When you first set up Uncle Gussy's Ubuntu box, make sure Istanbul is installed. First look for it, to see if it's already on the machine:

$ whereis istanbul
istanbul:

Nope. OK, you need to put it on there. Make sure you have the universe repository enabled [Hack #60], and then install Istanbul:

$ sudo apt-get install istanbul ...

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