Spotter Network: Embedded videos in training test inop

P Clay Underwood

Enthusiast
Jul 15, 2021
1
1
1
Oxford, Mississippi
Adobe cancelled Adobe flash player in Dec 2020. The videos in the training tests run on flash player and need to be converted to updated playing software. I took the intro training test for thunderstorms and could not load the videos. I would pass if they were operating, but Flash player doesnt exist anymore.
 
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James K

EF4
Mar 26, 2019
372
148
6
Colorado
Yep..flash is 'dead'

I can still play the videos on the training pages (just tried today) ... but really its a special case because I took some extra steps ahead of time to block all adobe spyware & auto disableing of outdated plugins.

Out of curiosity, I just grabbed some of the videos & converted one to MP4 today...in testing at home (on a locally saved version of the training page), it worked perfectly! (see example below)

Note to SpotterNetwork admin:
This is actually pretty easy to do, I should be able to convert the rest (going to try a few more sometime later). If you're interested let me know I'd be willing to try them all...
 

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David Cavaceci

Enthusiast
Aug 14, 2021
3
0
1
Madison, WI
Yep..flash is 'dead'

I can still play the videos on the training pages (just tried today) ... but really its a special case because I took some extra steps ahead of time to block all adobe spyware & auto disableing of outdated plugins.

Out of curiosity, I just grabbed some of the videos & converted one to MP4 today...in testing at home (on a locally saved version of the training page), it worked perfectly! (see example below)

Note to SpotterNetwork admin:
This is actually pretty easy to do, I should be able to convert the rest (going to try a few more sometime later). If you're interested let me know I'd be willing to try them all...
How does one "Block all adobe spyware & auto-disabling?" Or "grab one of the videos" for conversion locally?
 

James K

EF4
Mar 26, 2019
372
148
6
Colorado
David Cavaceci said:
How does one "Block all adobe spyware & auto-disabling?" Or "grab one of the videos" for conversion locally?
Blocking Adobe spyware/spying can be done through the windows 'hosts' file, which is what I'd originally done (Its very simple as long as you have admin access. It has to be done separatly on each computer if you have more than one)... Eventually I went with a way to block it at the network level (that takes something like a pi-hole or firewall).
For how to edit the 'hosts' file, just google "edit windows hosts file"

* Add the following entries to block Adobe/flash/etc spying (possibly disableing)
127.0.0.1 adobe.com
127.0.0.1 www.adobe.com
127.0.0.1 assets.adobetm.com
127.0.0.1 macromedia.com
127.0.0.1 www.macromedia.com

* And these for palemoon/firefox
127.0.0.1 addons.palemoon.org
127.0.0.1 addons.mozilla.org
127.0.0.1 versioncheck-bg.addons.mozilla.org

(note: you may get a security warning from you anti-virus .. you will need to allow / or add an expeption for these changes. They are safe no matter what it says)


Taking care of auto-disabling just means changing some browser settings. (and blocking )
This is for FireFox & PaleMoon (plus other variants) only .. won't work in Internet-Explore or Chrome

In the address bar type about:config
Click the warning about being careful
change the following (if needed). Note you may/may-not have all of them.

services.sync.prefs.sync.xpinstall.whitelist.required - false
xpinstall.signatures.required - false
xpinstall.whitelist.required - false
extensions.update.enabled - false
extensions.update.autoUpdateDefault - false
browser.download.hide_plugins_without_extensions - false
dom.ipc.plugins.flash.subprocess.crashreporter.enabled - false
dom.ipc.plugins.reportCrashURL - false
app.update.enabled - false
app.update.auto - false
browser.search.update - false
services.sync.prefs.sync.extensions.update.enabled - false
services.sync.prefs.sync.app.update.mode - false
services.sync.prefs.sync.browser.search.update - false
extensions.blocklist.url - (delete the url / leave blank!)
extensions.blocklist.enabled - false

(I think I got them all)
when done, simply close the window. All changes are auto-saved when you make them

---be aware of just what these settings are doing---
In simple terms its "turning off" checks for whitelisted addons, which is one way an addon can end up disabled.
Its also "turning off" addon and browser updates, this if left "on" is where most disabling/removing will happen.
 

James K

EF4
Mar 26, 2019
372
148
6
Colorado
Oh and grabbing a video file requires the browser addon "Video DownloadHelper" (but I think you need flash working or it won't 'see' the video).
You can watch the downloaded videos in VLC without converting them too.

-----------------
I had went and grabbed everything in the training section, with the plan to convert all the videos to MP4...then try to contact a SN admin & send them the files...haven't had time to go through any of it yet though.
 

David Cavaceci

Enthusiast
Aug 14, 2021
3
0
1
Madison, WI
Blocking Adobe spyware/spying can be done through the windows 'hosts' file, which is what I'd originally done (Its very simple as long as you have admin access. It has to be done separatly on each computer if you have more than one)... Eventually I went with a way to block it at the network level (that takes something like a pi-hole or firewall).
For how to edit the 'hosts' file, just google "edit windows hosts file"

* Add the following entries to block Adobe/flash/etc spying (possibly disableing)
127.0.0.1 adobe.com
127.0.0.1 www.adobe.com
127.0.0.1 assets.adobetm.com
127.0.0.1 macromedia.com
127.0.0.1 www.macromedia.com

* And these for palemoon/firefox
127.0.0.1 addons.palemoon.org
127.0.0.1 addons.mozilla.org
127.0.0.1 versioncheck-bg.addons.mozilla.org

(note: you may get a security warning from you anti-virus .. you will need to allow / or add an expeption for these changes. They are safe no matter what it says)


Taking care of auto-disabling just means changing some browser settings. (and blocking )
This is for FireFox & PaleMoon (plus other variants) only .. won't work in Internet-Explore or Chrome

In the address bar type about:config
Click the warning about being careful
change the following (if needed). Note you may/may-not have all of them.

services.sync.prefs.sync.xpinstall.whitelist.required - false
xpinstall.signatures.required - false
xpinstall.whitelist.required - false
extensions.update.enabled - false
extensions.update.autoUpdateDefault - false
browser.download.hide_plugins_without_extensions - false
dom.ipc.plugins.flash.subprocess.crashreporter.enabled - false
dom.ipc.plugins.reportCrashURL - false
app.update.enabled - false
app.update.auto - false
browser.search.update - false
services.sync.prefs.sync.extensions.update.enabled - false
services.sync.prefs.sync.app.update.mode - false
services.sync.prefs.sync.browser.search.update - false
extensions.blocklist.url - (delete the url / leave blank!)
extensions.blocklist.enabled - false

(I think I got them all)
when done, simply close the window. All changes are auto-saved when you make them

---be aware of just what these settings are doing---
In simple terms its "turning off" checks for whitelisted addons, which is one way an addon can end up disabled.
Its also "turning off" addon and browser updates, this if left "on" is where most disabling/removing will happen.
Interesting. I'm used to editing the hosts file to allow access. I guess I'm preventing access by mapping those URLs to 127.0.0.1 for networking reasons I don't understand, but that's cool.

After updating the hosts file, I see thumbnails that I didn't see before, but they just link to a separate page with no content. I tried using Firefox, and some of the settings you listed aren't found in my instance but I changed the ones I could find, but no change. If you go through the training now, are you able to play/download them?
 

James K

EF4
Mar 26, 2019
372
148
6
Colorado
@David Cavaceci
127.0.0.1 is from what I understand a special/reserved IP its basically a loopback or local-host (basically you're telling your computer to look at itself). Using the hosts file in that way is basically a nifty little trick to block sites you don't want accessed (most commonly used for blocking ads or spy stuff)
With those Firefox settings, it varies by what version you have if they're there or not.

I have a feeling the thumbnails you now see are for the videos, but flash itself isn't loading.
I can indeed still watch the videos in training (just checked to make sure before posting).

I did think of something else that might work (it did for me just testing):
With FireFox, go into training (a page you know has videos)
right-click in a blank area.
click 'save page as'
make sure type is set to 'web page complete'

That should save the whole page including any images & videos.
Look through the downloaded files, videos will be *.swf (ShockWave Flash) and as mentioned will play in something like VLC (but probably won't work in windows media player)
 

David Cavaceci

Enthusiast
Aug 14, 2021
3
0
1
Madison, WI
@James K
Thank you, saving a complete page included the contained files, including .swf, which I was able to play in VLC. Thanks for the tip. The issue now is that some flash media seems to have been removed completed. E.g.,

The Lightning page has a section with four lightning strike videos.
1629576763672.png

Downloading this page yields only one .swf. If any of the thumbnails are clicked, you're redirected to a sub page, Training: Login to the site. It appears as though this sub page once had these four videos posted, but none are there now. Downloading this page yields no videos. Do you experience the same thing in Firefox?

1629577146029.png
 

JamieTee

Enthusiast
Aug 22, 2021
3
0
1
York, PA
Hey there @James K. I too was unable to view the flash-based images in the test. Couldn't get your suggestions, above, for Firefox to work for me either. Appreciate any further suggestions you may have. Thanks!!
 

James K

EF4
Mar 26, 2019
372
148
6
Colorado
@David Cavaceci:
I think the lightning vid's worked back when I did training..
I didn't make it that far with going through & downloading/saving files. I'll try it later & let you know.


@JamieTee:
Yep, its apparently a little tricky to get to work. I also just recently read something that said if you're using Windows 10, it will block flash from running (I'm using win 7) so maybe that's it.
Did the saving complete web page trick not work for you? It should.
 

JamieTee

Enthusiast
Aug 22, 2021
3
0
1
York, PA
Thank you sir! I'm using a Windows 10 PC provided by my employer, and they've got a lot of security apparatuses on it. It may just not be possible to get around all that.

However, I do have access to a machine running Windows 7 and will try the test using this machine.
 

James K

EF4
Mar 26, 2019
372
148
6
Colorado
@JamieTee:
Welcome. and yep work computers can be pretty locked down!


@David Cavaceci:
With those lightning vid's, they are hosted on content.screencast.com rather than spotternetwork.org like the rest. I did get them to play.
It looks like the other parts in the Hazards segment are all the same way. I had to allow something for screencast.com (PaleMoon gave a notice about the site being not private & blocked by default .. since the 2 browsers are closely related, FireFox will do the same, see if there's a small symbol/icon just left of the address bar, & click on it. )
The link goes to training.disasterweather.org/mod/page/view.php?id=127 which doesn't exist (I believe that is an old possibly pre-spotternetwork link)
With some looking at other pages & a guess, I think the link should be training.spotternetwork.org/mod/page/view.php?id=82
The page loads with that url & spots for the videos appear but they won't play (a bit of digging, its because 'file not found' .. (this one I don't think I'm gonna be able to figure out))
 

James K

EF4
Mar 26, 2019
372
148
6
Colorado
@John Wetter:
I've now managed to download most of the existing flash videos off SN (from the training section), I've tested converting a couple to MP4. The converted vid's do then play in a modern browser as a HTML5 video element (no browser addons or anything needed :) )
Right now is a busy time at work (and I have a couple projects at home I'm trying to get done before summer's over & it starts getting cold out)...but when things slow down, I'm going to take a look at going through & converting them all for you (probably in bits - one subject at a time). I've determined its not at all difficult, just a bit time consuming. I can PM you or something once I have some ready to send you..

Note with the new videos:
There's a bit of HTML that you guys will have to change on the various pages (adding a few lines of code to link up the new vid (and if you wish removing the flash-video code))...but I can give the info on exactly what to do there :)
 

JamieTee

Enthusiast
Aug 22, 2021
3
0
1
York, PA
Great news, James! Thanks for taking the time to figure it out!!

I've been unable to coax them into view in any way that I've tried. Would it be possible for you to save the MP4's for the test to a DropBox, OneDrive, or Google Drive location so we could bring them up when we hit those questions on the test?
 

James K

EF4
Mar 26, 2019
372
148
6
Colorado
@JamieTee:
Welcome. Now its just a matter of when I get the time to start converting. (I'm figuring the house-projects I'm working on will take the rest of weekends in Sept, so hoping to start going through/converting the downloaded training vids in Oct)

I'm not sure if I can do the test section or not...since I've already taken/passed the test, I don't want the system to get "confused" and think I'm re-taking it by simply looking through again. This is something I'm going to have to ask one of the admins.
I don't have a DropBox or Google Drive (or OneDrive - which like anything Microsoft is network-blocked on my end .lol.). I could possibly upload to my YouTube channel as 'unlisted' (so they wouldn't be searchable/available by the general YouTube userbase) then post the links here (YT might even auto-convert flash) as a temporary solution... for that I'd ofcourse have to get permission from a SN Admin for copyright reasons.