I can't use the site because my browser says it can't find the correct plug-in. Can you help me?
When dealing with computer problems, it is very difficult to do that via e-mail, especially since there are so many different operating systems and browsers available in the world. To view this site, you need a browser that is properly set up to view "Shockwave for Director" material. If you are not familiar with using computers, I strongly urge you to ask a friend, colleague, or neighbor that is used to working with computers. The Shockwave for Director Plug-in is available from Macromedia, and they have a very helpful page for dealing with installation problems. You can then use the "Test Page" on their site to insure that your plug-in is functional.
How do you create these files?
The program used to create the files is Macromedia Director. It is one of the best tools available for creating multimedia (at least in my opinion). It is rather expensive, and has what many refer to as a "steep learning curve." I've been using Director for several years and still feel as if I am learning. Lingo is the OOP language that is used for programming, and the vast majority of my modules are very "light" in terms of graphics, but rely heavily upon Lingo to control the motion and interactivity.
How many people are using this material?
I really wish I knew the answer to that one. I keep statistics on the site traffic (this site had over 10,000 visitors in August '98!), but don't really know how many people find this worthwhile. Several school systems have a mirror of this site, I have no idea how many people view the mirrors, and I don't know how many people use the site on their own computer(s). I know that at least four universities use my site for classroom assignments, and I've received feedback from about a dozen high school teachers. My site has gotten quite a bit of recognition over the past few years, so I hope people find it useful :)
I enjoy getting e-mail from users, so please drop me a line and let me know what you most/least enjoy about the site, what you would like to see, what your students thought of it, etc.
I'm looking at the site with a PC and some of the text is out of place. Why?
This was all developed on a Mac, and often I don't have time to check to see the appearance of everything on a PC. If you spot strange things, please drop me a line and I'll try to fix them. I know there is currently a small problem in the Mouse House. If I had time I would fix everything - but time is a scarce commodity :)
Can I use this site with WebTV?
With the current WebTV, you can view Flash files, but not the files created with Macromedia Director. Since the features of this site can only be created with Director, you will not be able to view the interactive material. I encourage you to contact the distributor/developer of WebTV and let them know that you would like "Shockwave for Director" support in the next version.
Can I use the material on my own site?
Yes, I offer the material to those that want to run it on their own computer or a local network for easier access at your local school/home. You can not charge money for this material, or include it with any product that will charge fees, unless you get my prior agreement. Please drop me a line if you plan to use it on your local school network. I'm just one guy that does this stuff..I'm not a lawyer or a big company, so please don't rip me off in any way..please.
Why don't you charge for the material?
The web was originally designed for the exchange of information, not big business making an easy buck. I am just trying to continue with that goal in mind. I am developing a CD-ROM for High School Physics/Science courses that will incorporate many features not available on the web. It will be marketed by Science Curriculum Press. If you are interested in that, feel free to contact me. I also do some contractual/consulting work in my spare time (why do I have less spare time with every passing year?). The web is a great way to show people how much fun multimedia can be when used for educational purposes.
I use a PC and downloaded the site, but got a "File may be corrupt" message when trying to "unstuff" the file.
When using Expander for Windows, that is a common message if the file was not entirely downloaded. That often happens if the network connection fails near the end of the download. Since this site is sitting on an old Mac, it occasionally restarts itself, which can lead to the bad file. There are no known viruses on any of the material (scanned with a current anti-viral program).
My browser seems to crash when I view the site. Can I do anything about that?
Well, let's face it - this flashy interactive stuff that you can experience via the web requires a rather robust system with rather up-to-date software (although my old 7100/66 is no longer a big tiger in the jungle :).
The basic requirements for these labs/modules are a browser which can handle third party Plug-ins, and of course the proper Plug-in.
Currently, this requires a browser such as Netscape 2.0 or Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 (or greater). The Plug-in that is required is the Macromedia Shockwave Plug-in, preferably the latest since some of these modules were done with Director 4 and some with the latest software Director 6. Thus, I suggest you have the latest Plug-in which can handle both formats.
When you get the Plug-in, it suggests that you have your RAM and CACHE set for rather large amounts, and it really is necessary - I know this from the many system crashes I've experienced :).
Most of these modules will fit on a 14 inch monitor (or greater) with your pixel resolution set to at least 640x480. On smaller monitors you should set your browser preferences so that navigation buttons, current page, and the many "options" aren't visible.
Macromedia has a lot of tips for optimizing your browser and getting Shockwave to work properly at http://www.macromedia.com/support/shockwave/installation/
As a side note, many of these labs are still "under development" which means there could be a few bugs floating around. Please let me know if you find any :) These have all be developed on a Macintosh and I haven't had a chance to see how they run on PC's but I hope they look reasonable - eventually I'll fix them up so they look good on at least the mac and pc platforms.
And as a last note, I test the modules using Netscape 4 on a PowerPC and a Pentium. I have heard rumors that Microsoft Internet Explorer sometimes has problems associated with Shockwave files. When I find the time I will try to examine that issue, but unfortunately, I rarely have access to a PC running MSIE.
Here are the links for the above mentioned products: