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Technical Tips

This page offers a few tips regarding issues frequently encountered when dealing with multilingual materials on the web and in using the materials on this site. Here are the questions answered on this page:

Viewing Text

Audio and Video Content

Downloading and Saving

Viewing Text

Question: When I visit certain pages in a foreign language, the text is all garbled with accented characters like this:  Ï ÛîÑÛî âÕÑï . How can I fix this?

This probably means that the web page does not specify which character encoding your browser should use. (See the next question about character encodings.) When this happens you need to force your browser to use the correct encoding. To do this, go into the View menu of your browser and find the section on encodings. There may be more than one encoding possible for your language. For example, two possible encodings for Chinese are Big5 and GB2312. Pick an encoding and look at the results in your browser. You may need to try more than one encoding before the page is displayed correctly.

Question: What is character encoding?

Every web page you view uses a character encoding, which is a standard that tells your browser how to display the text of the page. In the Americas and Western Europe, the default is the Western encoding ISO-8859-1. However, for languages not written in the most common Latin characters, other encodings are used by default. This includes languages using non-Latin alphabets (such as Russian, Chinese, and Arabic) as well as some Eastern European languages that use the Latin alphabet (such as Romanian and Czech).

To give you an idea of the effect encodings have on how text is displayed in your browser, in the Western encoding an Ï is displayed as  Ï  (upper case i with two dots), but in the Arabic encoding ISO-8859-6 the same character is displayed as  د  (Arabic daal), and in the Russian encoding ISO-8859-5 it appears as  Я  (Cyrillic upper case ya).

A web page should ideally either include an HTML tag telling the browser which encoding to use or write the special characters in a way that doesn't depend on encodings. But many web pages don't do this. Just as many American web pages assume that your browser will default to the Western encoding, many pages originating from Russia assume that your browser will default to the Russian encoding. When your browser fails to guess the intended encoding, the text will be displayed as garbled. For example, when you try to view a page with the Russian text  Я люблю тебя , it will appear in your browser as  Ï ÛîÑÛî âÕÑï . See the previous question for what you can do to view the page correctly.

Question: How can I view files in PDF format?

On Windows, the most common way to view files in PDF format is using either Adobe Acrobat Reader or the Adobe Acrobat Reader Plugin, which are available for free for several platforms from Adobe. On Mac OS X, no special software is required to read PDF. Linux systems typically have preinstalled software for reading PDF files.

Audio and Video

Question: How can I listen to audio and view video content on the web?

Audio and video content on the web is presented in a variety of formats. Your ability to listen and view this content depends on having appropriate software to read the format in which the content is presented. Here are pointers to software for the audio and video formats most commonly used on the web:

  • RealAudio, RealVideo. These are proprietary formats for audio and visual content requiring the RealPlayer program, available for free from Real Networks. It is available for Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and other platforms.
  • QuickTime. This is a proprietary format which requires a QuickTime player available for free for Windows and Macintosh from Apple.
  • Windows Media Format. This is a proprietary format for both audio and visual content which requires the Windows Media Player. This program comes preinstalled on recent versions of Windows. For older versions of Windows and for Mac OS X, the Windows Media Player can be downloaded from Microsoft.
  • Adobe Shockwave Flash. This proprietary format is frequently used for complex animations in web pages and for short animated films intended primarily for viewing in a web browser. Players and browser plugins for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux can be found at Adobe.
  • MP3. This is a very popular proprietary format for encoding audio. Because this format does not require a decoding license, many different software packages have become available to play MP3 files. Most recent computers should be preconfigured with software to play MP3 files, regardless of operating system. On Windows, MP3 content is typically played using the Windows Media Player, RealPlayer program, or iTunes. On Mac OS X, MP3 files can also be played iTunes. A variety of players are used on Linux, including the popular XMMS player.
  • Ogg Vorbis. This is an increasingly popular non-proprietary audio format. The format can be played on some of the players already mentioned. Complete information on Ogg players and the related Theora video format can be found at Xiph.org.

Question: How can I download and save audio and video content?

Audio and video content can be delivered in two ways over the Internet: as a download or as a stream. When presented in download format, an entire file is downloaded to your computer, allowing you to store the file locally. To save an audiovisual file linked to in a web page, right-click on the link in your browser and a pop-up menu will appear, giving you the option to save the "target file". (If you are using a Macintosh computer with a one-button mouse, the equivalent of right-clicking is holding down the Ctrl key and clicking.)

When the content is streamed, it is delivered to your computer in a continuous "stream" rather than as a file. For live programming, streaming is the only method used. It is not usually possible to save streamed content.

It isn't always easy to tell whether a link points to a downloadable file or to streamed content. To determine this, right-click on the link and choose to save the "target file". Then find the file in your file manager (such as Windows Explorer on Windows) and look at the file details. If the file is very small in size, such as 1 kilobyte, the content was most probably streamed, and if you double-click on the file, the player will not succeed in playing it. Conversely, if the file is large, if you double-click on the file, the appropriate player should open and play the file.

Downloading and Saving

Question: How can I download and save materials from this site?

To download and save an item from our web site, right-click on the link in your browser and a pop-up menu will appear, giving you the option to save the "target file". (If you are using a Macintosh computer with a one-button mouse, the equivalent of right-clicking is holding down the Ctrl key and clicking.)

Question: How can I download and save a web page?

In your browser, click on the File menu and select Save or Save As. If you choose the “complete Web page” option, graphics, stylesheets, and other files associated with the page will be put into a special directory created by your browser as a subdirectory of the same directory where the page itself is saved.  For example, if you save a page named news-item.html, your browser will save the associated files in a directory named news-item_files or something similar.

Question: How can I download and save images displayed in a web page?

In your browser, right-click on the image. A pop-up menu will appear allowing you to save the image. (If you are using a Macintosh computer with a one-button mouse, the equivalent of right-clicking is holding down the Ctrl key and clicking.)

Question: Why should I download images instead of just printing them?

When you print directly from the website, the browser software re-sizes the image and prints it at a lower resolution. You can avoid this degradation in quality by downloading the image and printing it from your own computer.


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