Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

General questions | Using NanoGong | NanoGong and Moodle 1 | NanoGong and Moodle 2

General questions about NanoGong

Questions about using NanoGong

Questions about NanoGong and Moodle 1

Questions about NanoGong and Moodle 2

 
Is NanoGong free?

Yes, NanoGong is free (since version 1.0) and open source (since version 3.0). It can be downloaded via the download page.

 
Is NanoGong open source?

Yes, NanoGong is free (since version 1.0) and open source (since version 3.0). The source code can be downloaded via the download page.

 
Why is it called 'NanoGong'?

NanoGong is named after its parent project, the Gong project. It means a very small edition of Gong. To get more information about Gong please go to the Gong webpage.

 
Can a Windows/ Mac/ Linux machine run NanoGong?

Just about any computer can run the NanoGong applet (since version 1.0). People use it with Windows, Mac and Linux machines (although we develop it on Windows). It only needs the Java environment to be installed on your machine. You can check whether your machine can run NanoGong using this web page.

 
What format does NanoGong use?

The NanoGong applet records and saves mono sound file in two types of audio format, Speex (since version 3.0) and IMA ADPCM (since version 1.0).

Speex is a very good audio compression scheme for speech. However, common audio player programs are usually not able to play voice recordings compressed using Speex. Nevertheless, any pre-recorded sound file using exactly this format can be played back using any NanoGong applet. Alternatively, you can install a Ogg DirectShow filter so that Speex files can be played back in Windows Media Player. The filter can be downloaded from xiph.org at http://www.xiph.org/dshow/.

IMA ADPCM is an audio compression scheme which can be stored in the WAV file format. That means audio files created using IMA ADPCM can be played in the common audio player programs. However, the file produced by IMA ADPCM is not as compact as Speex with the same quality. The easiest way to create a sound file in the IMA ADPCM format is to use the NanoGong applet itself. Alternatively, you can use audio editing software to create it - see this FAQ.

 
Does NanoGong need a Gong server?

The NanoGong applet does not need a Gong server or any other kind of special system (since version 1.0). It is just a 'simple' applet which you can put on any website. It is developed for simple recording and playback of voice on a webpage.

 
I don't know what is Java. Can I still use NanoGong?

NanoGong is developed using the Java technology (since version 1.0). That means your machine has to be equipped with Java if you want to use NanoGong. Nevertheless almost all 'modern' computers have Java preinstalled and therefore there is a high chance you will not have any problem using NanoGong. In case your computer does not have Java you can also install it easily from http://java.sun.com/getjava .

 
My NanoGong applet does not work any more after upgrading my Java environment to version 6 update 24. How can I fix the problem?

Since the version of Java Runtime Environment 6 update 24 (March 2011) a security checking has been included in Java which means that any Web page script does not have the permission to run privileged code in Java applets.

Therefore ANY signed Java applet which uses Web page scripting such as JavaScript may not work under this Java version because of this newly added security checking.

A standalone NanoGong applet does not use any JavaScript at all and therefore it should work fine without any problem. However, when the NanoGong applet is used together with JavaScript, i.e. when NanoGong is used in Moodle or with the NanoGong Scripting API, it may not function as expected.

We have included fixes for this problem since NanoGong version 4.1. If you have experienced a problem after upgrading your Java environment you are advised to download the latest NanoGong version.

If you want to know which version of Java Runtime Environment your computer is using you can go to this page: http://nanogong.ust.hk/try_javatest.html.

 
Will NanoGong work on the iPhone/iPad?

The iPhone and iPad don't support Java. Therefore, NanoGong won't work on those devices.

 
Can I use NanoGong with other Learning Management Systems (LMS)?

Technically, it should not be a problem to integrate NanoGong with other LMS such as Blackboard and Sakai.

If you wish to do it yourself then you are welcome to examine the code of the NanoGong module and filter (which are written in PHP) to see how the integration takes place, and use the same methods to integrate NanoGong with another system.

 
How do I record from something else into NanoGong other than using the microphone?

You can record using other input devices by adjusting the sound settings in your operating system.

By default the input device for recording is probably the microphone, for any system. By changing the input device to other media you would be able to record from other things instead of the microphone.

For example if you would like to record a CD you can adjust the input sound settings so that audio input comes from the system audio output and not from the microphone. If you are using Microsoft Windows you can use the audio control to do this. Depending on your version of Windows, you can try to select Start>Programs>Accessories>Entertainment>Volume Control, select 'Properties' then 'Recording', and you will gain access to the audio input control. (Exact instructions depend on different versions of Windows). After you have done that you can, for example, start playing the CD on your computer, and then press Record in NanoGong. The audio will then be recorded in NanoGong.

 
NanoGong seems to be working fine but I can't hear anything. Any ideas why?

Here are the main reasons we have encountered when users have this problem.

  • Your computer is playing the audio, but at an extremely low level. You need to increase the volume level. For Windows, you can do this by selecting Start>All Programs>Accessories>Entertainment>Volume Control, select Options>Properties, select 'Playback' and press OK. Then you can increase the levels of the relevant sliders such as the 'Volume Control' and 'Wave' sliders. Also, make sure those two sliders do not have the 'Mute' or 'Mute all' box selected.
  • The recording may have been made with a broken microphone, or with the microphone not plugged in, and so no sound was recorded, only silence.
  • If you are using loudspeakers, perhaps they are not plugged in to the computer, or they are not turned up loud enough.
 
I have made a voice recording in the system but when I play it back it contains horrible noise.

Here are some of the more common reasons we have encountered:

  • You made your voice recording under a noisy environment, or you have a bad microphone. If this is the situation then you will need to move to a less noisy environment, or change your microphone.
  • You are 'eating' the microphone. Most microphones are not designed to work when they are placed right next to the mouth. Try having a bit of space between your mouth and the microphone. Also, don't put the microphone directly in front of your mouth. Instead, put the microphone to the left or right of the mouth.
  • We have found that it is very common for extra noise to be added by a laptop when sound is recorded and the laptop is plugged in to the power supply. We have experienced this happening on several different makes and models of laptop. The 'noise' is then picked up by any audio recording software - the problem is not related to NanoGong in itself. However, there is no problem when the laptop is running from the battery. Therefore, one solution is to simply unplug the laptop power cable before making the recording.
 
Why do I need to click on the applet before it works inside Internet Explorer?

Microsoft introduced a new security feature in May/June 2006. For an applet to run inside a web page the user needs to first click on it (anywhere). Then he/she can access the applet in the usual way.

If you don't like this 'feature' then one solution is to use another browser such as Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome.

 
Can NanoGong play or record MP3 files?

No, the NanoGong applet cannot play or record any MP3 file (because of the licensing restriction with MP3) (since version 1.0).

MP3 is a patented technology. The patent is held by a company called Thomson. Because of this anyone who would like to use the MP3 technology to encode or decode audio is required to pay a license fee. That means it is not possible for NanoGong to play or record MP3 without paying for this fee, which is not a small amount of money.

 
Can NanoGong play sound files in different formats?

The NanoGong applet can only play sound files which have been recorded and saved as a particular type of WAV file (since version 1.0), or as a Speex audio file (since version 3.0). It does not support playing back of other sound files with any other format.

 
Can I use other programs to record a sound file which can be played by NanoGong?

Yes, you can. If you want to use audio editing software instead of NanoGong itself to record the sound file, you can do that as long as you save the file in exactly the correct format.

For example, using the Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/) software, select Edit>Preferences>File Formats, and for Uncompressed Export Format select 'WAV (Microsoft 4 bit IMA ADPCM)' then press OK. Then you can save your file in the appropriate WAV format by selecting File>Export as WAV. You also need to make sure your sound file is mono before saving. The resulting sound file can then be played by NanoGong.

 
How can I adjust the quality of audio recorded by the NanoGong applet?

You can adjust the audio quality of the NanoGong applet by setting the appropriate applet parameters (since version 3.0). The related parameters are AudioFormat and SamplingRate.

The default audio format and sampling rate of the applet are Speex and 44100 respectively, which is almost the best quality you can have (except the audio format of ImaADPCM and a sampling rate of 44100).

To lower the audio quality, for example in order to have a smaller filesize, you can lower the sampling rate. Similarly to improve the audio quality you can use a large sampling rate as well as ImaADPCM, which can usually achieve a better quality over Speex.

 
I cannot play the audio files created by the NanoGong applet using common music software. What can I do if I really want to play them without using NanoGong?

The NanoGong applet records audio in a format called Speex by default (since version 3.0). This format is not a common audio format and therefore the audio files produced by the NanoGong applet cannot be played using common music player software. Nevertheless, if you want to play back audio files produced by NanoGong you can either:

  1. Select ImaADPCM as the audio format

    You can choose to use the common ImaADPCM format (one of the forms of the WAV audio file) in the NanoGong applet (since version 1.0). If this format is used you will have no problem to play the audio files using any music software. To change the format you can configure the applet using the AudioFormat parameter (since version 3.0). Changing this parameter to ImaADPCM will let you create WAV audio file in NanoGong. A detailed explanation can be found on the NanoGong configuration page.

  2. Use a plugin to play Speex file using Microsoft Media Player

    You can install a plugin for MS media player so that it can play Speex audio files. That means you don't need to change anything on NanoGong. The plugin can be downloaded from here:

    http://www.xiph.org/dshow/

    Discussion of the audio format used by the NanoGong applet can be found in one of the FAQs here. However we have not heard of any plugin or component for real player or any other players so that they can be used to play Speex files.

 
What versions of Moodle 1 does NanoGong work with?

We have checked the latest version of NanoGong works OK with these versions of Moodle 1:

  • Moodle version 1.7.7
  • Moodle version 1.8.14
  • Moodle version 1.9.2
  • Moodle version 1.9.4
  • Moodle version 1.9.6
  • Moodle version 1.9.7
  • Moodle version 1.9.8
  • Moodle version 1.9.9
  • Moodle version 1.9.10
  • Moodle version 1.9.11
  • Moodle version 1.9.11+
You can see our test results here.

 
Can I use NanoGong in my version of Moodle 1 that is not listed on the download page?

Yes you can.

We have not tested NanoGong against Moodle 1 other than the versions listed on our FAQ:

What versions of Moodle 1 does NanoGong work with?

On our download page we have released a NanoGong activity module and a NanoGong HTMLArea patch. The NanoGong activity module should work fine in more recent versions of Moodle 1 because it uses the standard module format in Moodle 1 (since version 4.0). However the version of HTMLArea patch only works for the version they are specified for. This is because the patch involves modification of the Moodle 1 files. In particular, the weblib.php file is modified and this file is changed a lot in different versions of Moodle 1.

If your version of Moodle 1 is not listed in the FAQ from the above link and you would like to use the NanoGong patch, you would have to manually change the weblib.php file. The NanoGong patch has only one modification in the file. You can look for that line in the weblib.php file in our NanoGong distribution. For example, it should be on or around line 97 in the file from our 1.9.7 distribution and we have a comment right above that line. The original line looks like this:

$ALLOWED_TAGS = '<p><br><b> ... <annotation-xml><tt><code>'; and the patch changes it to: $ALLOWED_TAGS = '<p><br><b> ... <annotation-xml><tt><code><nanogong>';

Because this is the only place modified for the weblib.php file you can modify the weblib.php file from your Moodle 1 the same way as in our file. For the rest of the patch files they should be okay to put them in your Moodle 1. However it is always safe and important to make backups before you do any changes. However, this patch is for Moodle 1. It will not work in Moodle 2.X.

 
Do NanoGong and Moodle 1 have integrated student activity reports?

At the moment there is no integrated activity reports between NanoGong and Moodle 1.

 
How can I backup the voice messages recorded using NanoGong in Moodle 1?

You can backup/restore the voice messages recorded in NanoGong Activity by the standard backup/restore procedure of the course (since version 4.0). At the moment there is no backup utility for voice messages created from the HTMLArea editor. However you can backup the voice files yourself from the Moodle data directory.

For any voice messages created from the HTMLArea editor they are stored in 'nanogong_files' under the site directory inside the Moodle data area.

 
Can I only use the NanoGong activity without using the NanoGong filter and the patched HTML area for NanoGong?

Yes you can use the NanoGong activity only without using the NanoGong filter and the patched HTML area, and vice versa. The NanoGong activity and the HTML area for NanoGong work separately (since version 2.0).

 
I cannot see the NanoGong audio icon after I added the NanoGong activity in my course. What is the problem?

One potential problem is that you have used a customized theme for your Moodle 1 site. However, the icon from the NanoGong activity is not copied to the theme directory.

To fix it you can copy the file

<your moodle directory>/mod/nanogong/icon.gif

to

<your moodle directory>/theme/<your theme directory>/pix/mod/nanogong/icon.gif

Afterthat you should be able to see the icon for the NanoGong activity.

 
The NanoGong recorder does not upload my recorded sound. How can I fix the problem?
 
Do NanoGong and Moodle 2 have integrated student activity reports?

At the moment there is no integrated activity reports between NanoGong and Moodle 2.