YouTube and WordPress update oEmbed player to include CC button

This is big news for those of us providing captions or subtitles for the videos published on YouTube. I noticed today that the oEmbed video player for YouTube videos, the one used for all WordPress blogs, has been updated to include the CC button. It didn’t have it the last time I checked, which was yesterday. My site subscribers would always ask me where the CC button was, and how to see the subtitles, and I had to tell them to go see the video directly on YouTube if they wanted subtitles, which was a bit of a chore, and it certainly didn’t make things obvious and easy for folks who were using that feature for the first time.

Well, I’m glad to announce that from now on, you’ll be able to turn video subtitles on or off right here, on my website, and for those videos of mine where I’m providing two separate subtitles tracks, you’ll be able to switch between them as well.

I can’t tell you enough how pleased I am about this. For someone like me, who produces video shows for international audiences, YouTube’s CC feature is key, and the ability to control subtitles from within the oEmbed player used on my websites is key as well. So I’d like to thank both WordPress and YouTube for updating the video player and for making my life easier!


Kudos to Apple for a great customer service experience

I’d like to congratulate Apple Customer Service for the way they handled the most recent issue with our iMac G5.

If you’re a regular reader, you may know we’ve had problems with our iMac right from the start. Virtually as soon as we brought it home from the Apple Store, we had issues with it. These things got worse with time, and although we took the iMac in for repairs, repeatedly, the problems persisted. I detailed that first set of issues in this post. Several months later, we took it in for service at our local Apple Store, where we had a terrible experience. A few months after that, we took it in for service again, and then, a month or so before Apple Care ran out in late 2008, we took it in for what we hoped would be its last service call.

Unfortunately, it stopped booting up a month after Apple Care ran out. We were packing for what would turn out to be a long trip abroad, and didn’t have time to take it in for service during the 90-day warranty window offered for that last repair. I kept it boxed up, hoping I’d get to it at some point and who knows, perhaps it would auto-magically boot up. I was soured up with the whole affair, and said as much in this post. In three years of using the iMac, we’d had problem after problem, and I felt as if we never got our money’s worth from that machine. I liked it, Ligia liked it, but it just couldn’t be relied upon, and it was a shame.

By the time I got to have a look at it, it was late 2009, about a year later… I followed the steps outlined in this Support Note from Apple, and according to those instructions, the motherboard was at fault, again. I called Apple Support to explain the situation, hoping someone would be kind enough to understand and sympathize. I was very pleasantly surprised when the tech who answered the call wanted to help. He got a hold of one of the senior support engineers, whose name was Christopher, and he was also willing to help. I mention his name because I hope he’ll get some sort of recognition at work for the nice thing he did for me.

Christopher authorized an out-of-warranty repair for our iMac. We were still abroad, but when we got back to the States, I took it in for service, and the folks at the Genius Bar of the Aventura, FL, Apple Store couldn’t have been nicer, too. They did some testing and discovered, to my surprise, that it was only the power supply, and, even better than that, repaired it within hours. I dropped it at the store at 11 am, and got it back by 7 pm, in working order! I was able to boot up our iMac after more than a year and access our documents, photos, emails and more. It was like reuniting with a long-lost friend.

Now that’s my kind of Apple repair experience! I don’t know if my past repair experiences were flukes, or if something changed at Apple since then, but all I can say is that I’m very pleased to see our iMac working again, and I want to congratulate everyone involved in the resolution of this support ticket for being so understanding and so willing to help us. Great job! Thank you!


Thank you Congressman Van Hollen!

This is Congressman Chris Van Hollen, the man that represents our district on the Hill. He’s got our heartfelt thanks and gratitude.

Do you want to know why? My wife and her students had to suffer for seven months at her piano studio — without heat in the winter and without air conditioning in the summer — because of Pepco’s unbelievable (one could call it criminal) inability to fix a panel on the outside of the building where she works and had caught fire. (Pepco is our local electricity company.)

The store owner and store manager called Pepco on numerous (countless) occasions to ask about the status of the repairs. They’d get one excuse after another. Usually, Pepco tried to blame the county, who they said was moving too slow in their approval of the repairs permit. Most often, they simply didn’t pick up the phone. Too busy, I gather. Hah.

The store owner even tried to contact the Washington Post, to see if they’d be interested. They weren’t. Shame on them. I guess the story was too small to bother with, right?

This went on for SEVEN MONTHS. I’d love to know how an electricity company that can respond within hours in case a tree downs a power line can’t get their act together and fix an electrical panel in SEVEN MONTHS.

I wrote about it here on my site back in April. Nothing came of that, either. I guess Pepco doesn’t care about bad PR unless it airs on big media, like the Washington Post — who didn’t seem to care.

Long story short, do you know who cared? Congressman Van Hollen, that’s who! We wrote to him on 5/27/2008, and a day later, on 5/28, he wrote a letter back to us and promised he would look into it. He put us in touch with one of his staffers, Miti Figueredo, who even called us to confirm that the congressman was interested in helping us.

Fast forward to 6/09/2008 (yesterday). It was horribly hot — temperatures approached 100 degrees. Pepco showed up in force, with a large team, and got the panel fixed within hours. The store and the studio now have air conditioning once more!

Thank you, Congressman Van Hollen! Thank you for caring when no one else seemed to care! You have our many thanks and gratitude! Thank you for truly representing your district and for caring about your constituents!