Tips and tricks: Workarounds

I realized earlier this week that I've figured out several workarounds for when I'm working on my school computer. With filtration that would have Mao crying foul mixed with a lack of administrative access to install programs or change settings, what works at home doesn't at school.

The setup

  • PC: running Windows XP.
  • Internets: Filtered.
  • Administrative rights: None.
  • Browser: Firefox 3 (for whatever reason, I've found that Firefox will often install even on machines where you don't have administrative access. However, the computer tech at school did put Firefox on my computer when I asked.)

How to get YouTube videos at school when they're blocked

There are many ways of doing this, but the following is simply the method that I have found the most effective.

At home: Find a video you like. Go to Click the "Download Videos" tab and paste the URL of the video into the appropriate box. Enter the file format you want the video to be downloaded in. For school I usually use the .mpg format, simply because it meshes well with all the Microsoft stuff. Put in your school email, hit convert. It can take a couple hours for your video to be converted, but it's usually ready within an hour.

At school: When the file has been converted Zamzar sends you an email with a link to a page where you can download your file. My school doesn't block Zamzar (so I doubt yours does), so I just go to the download page and save the video to my school computer to use as I see fit. I like this method because it automatically sends the email to my school address and I don't have to remember much.

TwitterAccessing Twitter from school

This is only a trick if Twitter is blocked by your school's internet filter. You need to be running Firefox for this one. Ask you tech people to install Firefox for you if you can't do it yourself. I'd bet they'd be okay with it.

Install either the TwitBin or TwitKit Firefox add-ons. For some reason they're able to retrieve and post tweets even when Twitter is blocked. I suggest both because at my last district TwitKit didn't work with the filter, but TwitBin did. Currently the opposite is true. I don't know enough about how these programs work to give you insight into why that might be, my best advice is simply to try one- if it doesn't work; try the other.

Print screenSaving and editing screenshots images on my school computer

My school computer's a PC, so the clearly superior Skitch program is right out. Other free screenshot tools that are PC compatible generally require administrator access to install, which in my situation is a deal breaker.

  1. Use your PrintScreen button to copy your screen as an image.
  2. Paste the screen image into PowerPoint.
  3. Crop the image, add text, arrows, emphasis, etc.
  4. Save your edits in one of two ways:
  • One: Use the "Save As..." function to save the entire slide as an image. This only works if the screenshot you want is as large as the entire slide, otherwise you get a lot of unnecessary white space.
  • Two: Select all the shapes and text you've added along with the image (do this by holding Ctrl while clicking on each element). Right click on the image. One of the options should be "Save as Image..." Pick that one and it will give you the options of saving your selection in a variety of formats. I generally use .jpg or .gif.

Hopefully you'll find these useful. What workarounds do you use to get around overly protected digital environments?


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