Help my MacBook play sound for my online university course please
August 25, 2007 6:39 PM   Subscribe

Emergency Mac Help Needed! I have a MacBook and I am taking an online class. The class starts tomorrow but I can't hear any sound. If anyone has a bit of time to help me on this, I'd reeeeeeeally appreciate it.

So the website is .
You have to let the site allow popups or it won't work (it's operated by a public university, so don't worry about any data mining or sales popups).
Click the link under where it says: "Please select a link to go to the event". It takes several seconds for it to load. A video comes up but I can't get any sound. My class won't broadcast live until Sunday morning at 9am in Los Angeles, but you should be able to see the feed for whatever is on that channel right now. How do I get my sound to work? I have Flip4Mac, Macromedia Shockwave, Firefox, Safari, Camino, Netscape Navigator. I don't have Parallels, Windows, or Bootcamp so I have to get it to work with OSX. What do I do? If I can't get this working by 9am I'll be in big trouble.
(When I try it in Safari, I get a lot more content on the screen (i.e., chat capability, etc.) but that stuff doesn't show up when I use Firefox. That's OK. I'll use any browser I need to in order for this to work.)


Can you guys try fiddling with it and see if you can get the sound to work?

If you email me at I will email you back with my username and password for the site.
posted by oldlies to Computers & Internet (42 answers total)
P.S. On one of the "help" pages for the site, it said that I have to make OSX open Safari in Rosetta mode for everything to work. I followed the instructions to do so but the sound still won't work. I'm really dumb when it comes to Macs (this is my first one), so forgive my dumb questions.
posted by oldlies at 6:45 PM on August 25, 2007

At the top of this page, there's a link that says "Suggestions for Viewing Webcast". Near the bottom of that page, there's a paragraph that says:
"If all else fails, go to mms:// You will be able to see and hear the broadcast but you will not be able to send your questions and comments to the instructor during the class."

I tried opening the link in VLC, Windows Media Player for Mac, and Quicktime, but the sound still won't work.
posted by oldlies at 6:56 PM on August 25, 2007

I couldn't get sound to work either (on an intel macbook too). If you do the event "preflight" I get a broken shockwave link. I think it's because: "Shockwave Player has not yet been ported to run natively on the new Intel-based Macintosh computers and currently only runs in Rosetta emulation mode. To install and use Shockwave Player on an Intel-based Macintosh, you will need to run the browser in Rosetta emulation mode." There's a link here on running in emulation mode. Not sure if that will work for you.
posted by sharkfu at 6:57 PM on August 25, 2007

Thanks, sharkfu. I tried setting up Safari to run in Rosetta but it still won't work.
I hate my Mac!! It's these little things that make me wish I'd have stuck with a PC.
posted by oldlies at 7:01 PM on August 25, 2007

Just out of curiousity, are you sure that it works on a PC? Maybe the site itself is screwed up.
posted by bkeene12 at 7:10 PM on August 25, 2007

I called my brother who has a PC and he said it works fine on his computer...natch. Any other ideas?
posted by oldlies at 7:14 PM on August 25, 2007

In a pinch you can download a fully functional 15 day trial of Parallels. Boot up windows in it and you should be ready for tomorrow. Then use those 15 days to figure out how to deal with the audio problems.
posted by maxpower at 7:18 PM on August 25, 2007

Parallels would be great, I guess, but don't I need to have a copy of Windows? I don't have one, unfortunately.
posted by oldlies at 7:22 PM on August 25, 2007

When I try to do this (both without Shockwave installed, and with Shockwave installed but not running in Rosetta emulation mode), the QuickTime Player automatically opens, and it plays live video but not audio. Is that also happening for you?

I've tried installing Perian, and setting QuickTime to play as many plugins as I could under System Preferences > QuickTime > MIME Settings ..., but nothing seems to work so far.
posted by tepidmonkey at 7:22 PM on August 25, 2007

I'll give it a shot on my mac. Check your email.
posted by The Deej at 7:26 PM on August 25, 2007

Yes, tepidmonkey, I am also getting the video but no audio. Weird. Thanks for trying it out on your end.
posted by oldlies at 7:27 PM on August 25, 2007

Do your other system sounds work? Beeps, CDs, MP3s, etc?
posted by The Deej at 7:31 PM on August 25, 2007

All other sounds work
posted by oldlies at 7:32 PM on August 25, 2007

One of the "Help" pages says that Windows Media Player shouldn't be used to view the video on a Mac unless it is Windows Media Player 9. I keep trying to download it, but the file extension is .bin and my computer doesn't know how to open .bin files, apparently. What is .bin? How can I open the file?
posted by oldlies at 7:34 PM on August 25, 2007

It's a WMV file. Install Flip4Mac (I have it on my MacBook Pro) and sound should work fine. Please note: I upgraded to the "pro" version for $30.00, don't know if that's relevant. Good luck!
posted by ZakDaddy at 7:37 PM on August 25, 2007

(To clarify my previous, I tested by clicking on the Windows Media preflight link and it popped up a little window with a spinning AVA logo and some weird funky backbeat soundtrack.
posted by ZakDaddy at 7:39 PM on August 25, 2007

posted by ZakDaddy at 7:39 PM on August 25, 2007

Welll, my oldish Powerbook returns a "cannot find file" error. Hmmmm. Do you get video at all? I just got a black screen, and the timer was progressing, but after a minute or so it says it can't find the file, and says to check the path. I'll keep poking around though.

Honestly, I haven't seen much of anything the the Mac can't handle unless it's grossly out of touch with web standards. Something weird is going on here, obviously.
posted by The Deej at 7:40 PM on August 25, 2007

(Oh, I'm checking it in windows now. Will report back.)
posted by The Deej at 7:41 PM on August 25, 2007

I have Flip4Mac (free version) but I still only get video with no sound. Grrr. This driving me nuts. I'm gonna be in trouble tomorrow morning. And the local library isn't open on Sundays so I have no way of getting access to a PC.
posted by oldlies at 7:42 PM on August 25, 2007

A .bin (binhex) file should open with Stuffit Expander. Google it, it's a free download.
posted by The Deej at 7:44 PM on August 25, 2007

Zak: I followed the link you provided for the preflight and I got sound and the spinning logo. But when I try to view the video feed for the class, I still don't get sound.
posted by oldlies at 7:45 PM on August 25, 2007

Deej: Stuffit opens the file in VLC player, but when VLC launches, it doesn't do anything. What gives?
posted by oldlies at 7:46 PM on August 25, 2007

I hate my Mac!! It's these little things that make me wish I'd have stuck with a PC.

I understand your frustration, but just remember that this has little to do with the Mac and everything to do with a very badly designed Web site run by your university. I hope you complained to them about this and didn't take any bullshit here's-why-we-use-our-ridiclous-setup answers they might have been inclined to provide
posted by Mikey-San at 7:47 PM on August 25, 2007

Because they clearly have not given a fuck about building a good system that works on more than a specific setup. No university should require its students to use Web-based services that aren't compatible with brand-new mass-market computers. This is 2007, dammit.
posted by Mikey-San at 7:49 PM on August 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

I started up FireFox in Rosetta mode on my MacBook Pro so the Shockwave test would work. I clicked on the Windows Media link under the Media test section and it brought up the standalone QuickTime Player and loaded "/preflight_media/avalogospin56.wmv" from their site. I saw the spinning graphic and really crappy music (that's a comment on their choice of demo music, not the quality of the audio).

I'm running OS X 10.4.10 and QuickTime Player 7.2 (Pro) with Flip4Mac (the full version, not just the free one) installed along with Perian.

When I try opening up the URL with VLC I only get the video. When I try opening it up with MPlayer OS X, I get both video and the crappy audio.

My AIM is in my profile if you want to do some real-time Q&A/debugging (I'm in Seattle, so time zone isn't an issue).
posted by hrbrmstr at 7:50 PM on August 25, 2007

Deej: Stuffit opens the file in VLC player, but when VLC launches, it doesn't do anything. What gives?
posted by oldlies

That's weird. Stuffit should just unstuff your Windows Media Player software. It shouldn't try to launch anything else. I'm not quite sure why that would be.

But... is Windows Media Player now in your Applications folder? Or do you have a .DMG file on your computer? If you have a Windows Media .DMG file (Disk Image) you should be able to open it, and drag the player to your Applications folder.

These things are hard to do without being hands-on, so I hope I'm not making things more confusing.

(Still checking in Windows, by the way.)
posted by The Deej at 7:54 PM on August 25, 2007

No, Deej, you're not making things confusing. I appreciate any help I can get.
When Stuffit unstuffs, it saves as a .bin. I tried changing the file extension to .dmg and try to open it, a dialog box pops up that says it's not recognized.
posted by oldlies at 7:58 PM on August 25, 2007

And, to reinforce the comments from others, CSU should be shot for having such a horrible distribution format for their video coursework. I keep Parallels & VMware installed (along with a BootCamp partition) just in case I need Windows, Linux or *BSD (or even Solaris), but there's no need in this modern web world to have platform-specific audio & video.

They probably signed some type of crappy licensing agreement with Microsoft.

In a similar situation this week, (I just started a new job ~1.5 months ago) I had my first online presentation/telecon at work. We apparently use Centra. It's Windows only. Even Microsoft uses a presentation/telecon web service that is multi-platform. Talk about platform lock-in (and this was our company's choice to be locked-in...sigh).

Don't give up on your Mac and never wish you were back on Windows (except maybe for gaming *:^). There are enough smart folks in the Mac world to find a way out of almost any PC-originated problem.
posted by hrbrmstr at 8:06 PM on August 25, 2007

You can specifically choose what application you want to open a file by right-clicking the file and selecting from the "Open With" menu.
posted by tepidmonkey at 8:06 PM on August 25, 2007

OK, the Windows Media file you downloaded was a .bin. When Stuffit opens it, it makes a file called Windows Media Installer, with NO extension. Double click that file to install. Stuffit may have put it somewhere other than where the .bin file is, so you might have to search, or unstuff the .bin again, and watch where it's unstuffing to.

(I just went through the downlaod and install steps.)
posted by The Deej at 8:12 PM on August 25, 2007

OK, the site indeed worked fine in windows, after some bugginess.
posted by The Deej at 8:18 PM on August 25, 2007

I'm so annoyed with this. OK, Deej. It's going to take me a few minutes to try to do this. I'm slow on the Mac.
posted by oldlies at 8:24 PM on August 25, 2007

It still won't properly open the file. Maybe my computer is messed up
posted by oldlies at 8:29 PM on August 25, 2007

I'm emailing you the unstuffed installer. Gmail allows 10 meg files, and this is 7.8 so check your email in couple minutes.
posted by The Deej at 8:35 PM on August 25, 2007

Ugh.. gmail still says "sending." Typical for these situations.
posted by The Deej at 9:02 PM on August 25, 2007

You deserve a trophy or medal or something, deej. You too, hrbrmstr.
posted by oldlies at 9:03 PM on August 25, 2007

Well, my medal is tarnishing, cuz gmail crapped right on out with sending the file.

Lemme figure something out...
posted by The Deej at 9:20 PM on August 25, 2007

I just tried the site in Panther and I get the window but it stays black and just says it's reading the domain for, like, ever. I don't know if it's just my net connection but I gave up after about 10 minutes.

Do you have a net cafe nearby?

I hate it when people design websites for only a specific (myopic) computer setup. I thought we were getting over that now that the Flash-ination seems to have died down.

I've been using a Mac for 10 years (ever since I did A+ certification and decided I never wanted to say "reinstall Windows" again) and I've run into this problem only a few times but it's still extremely frustrating. Please do complain to your institution.
posted by loiseau at 9:30 PM on August 25, 2007

Well, this is odd. Maybe the unstuffed file has some copy protections, because I have tried to upload to 3 different services, and it just won't go. I've never seen this before.

I really don't know why your file won't work to install Windows Media Player. But it sounds like there may be more issues than that, anyway.

As I said, even in Windows, I had some bugginess with the site, but it finally did work. Why the uni would use such a non-standard way of sharing video is a mystery.

Good luck. Keep us posted, and I'll be happy to post anything else I can think of.
posted by The Deej at 10:01 PM on August 25, 2007

Deej: Thanks so much for your help. It was so generous of you to spend so much time helping me out with this.

For posterity, I'll post how this snafu was resolved.

, a computer genius extraordinaire, helped me step-by-step configure CrossOver for Mac so that I was able to run Windows Media Player 9 for PC on my Mac without Parallels. He's going to post the solution on his blog this weekend.

The MeFi community, once again, saved my skin.
posted by oldlies at 11:50 PM on August 25, 2007

Thanks for the update. I m still just dumbfounded that the Windows Media Player for Mac wouldn't install. You might still want to look into that, since the same problem may occur with other .bin files.

posted by The Deej at 6:57 AM on August 26, 2007

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