LangLab PASSPORT is written in Java. It's a cross-platform application that runs on PCs using Windows, Macs using OS X, and under Linux, Unix, Novell, etc.
Computers students and faculty use get files from another computer--a server--and put new files on it. The server can be the same computer teachers use to monitor a class, but it can also be a different one. A teacher using the Monitor module on one kind of computer can monitor and talk with a student using the Client module on another kind of computer.
Here is what you need to run LangLab PASSPORT:
- CPU: a PC with at least a Pentium III/700MHz CPU inside or a Mac that is at least a G4; i.e., any computer except the most Neolithic machines
- RAM memory: at least 512 MB.
- The memory requirement depends on which other programs a
computer is running at the same time.
Regardless of how much RAM is installed, the computer should not be running other services that result in much less than 256 MB being available for LangLab PASSPORT. Otherwise, frequent paging may result in performance problems such as scratchy sound.
- The memory available determines how long sound clips for items can be.
E-LangLab can provide versions of LangLab PASSPORT that use 128MB, 256MB (now standard), or even 512MB of RAM. With 128MB, sound clips for items are limited to 15 minutes in length. With 256MB, you can use clips of up to 30 minutes, but for a clip of over 20 minutes you may not be able to display the waveform for the clip in LangLab PASSPORT's Admin and Teacher modules, because drawing all the squiggles takes a lot of memory. With a version that uses 512MB, you should be able to see the whole waveform for sound clips of even 30 minutes in these modules.
- To use LangLab PASSPORT for the U.S. Advanced Placement exam:
You'll need to run a version of LangLab PASSPORT that uses at least 256MB of memory. The oral response part of the exam for some languages is 20 minutes long, and all responses of a student have to be in the same file--the student recording for one item of a lesson. (The student uses LangLab PASSPORT's Client module as if it were a tape recorder, clicking on Record, then Pause, then Record again, then Pause again, etc. Only after the last response for this section does the student click on Stop.)
- The memory requirement depends on which other programs a computer is running at the same time.
- Screen display: 1024x768 recommended
- Sound card: Full-duplex sound card on which Javasound will run. Virtually any modern computer has one. Strongly recommended for Windows users is a sound card that lets the stereo mixer be turned on or off in a sound control panel, since for some instructional purposes it should be on and for others off. This feature seems not to exist with OS X, although it may be possible to combine whatever the sound card is playing with microphone input as the input source for a LangLab PASSPORT recording by using third-party mixer software.
- An OS that can run a reasonably current version of the Java SE Run-time Environment:
Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and WIndows 7; Apple OS X from 10.4 on; Unix, Novell, etc.
On the Mac, the current 3.0 release of LangLab PASSPORT requires at least Apple Java 1.5, which is not compatible with versions of OS X earlier than 10.4.
- The Java Run-time Environment just mentioned: for Windows, Java 1.6 (also known as the JRE 6) or 1.5,
and for the Mac, Apple Java 1.6 or 1.5.
Mac users: please note that Apple's Java 1.5 release requires Tiger (10.4) or later and is not compatible with earlier versions of OS X. Apple's Java 1.6 requires Leopard (OS 10.5).
Here is how to download it if you don't already have it:
- Windows users: go to the page http://java.sun.com/javase/downloads/index.jsp and click on the button for the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) 6 update to download it. With time this page may change, but the main Java SE page should always have links to the current version.
- Mac OS X users: you can find out which version of the JRE is installed by opening a Terminal window (Applications->Utilities->Terminal) and typing java -version. Java 6 for Leopard (10.5) is currently available from this Apple Web page, while the older Java 1.5 is currently available from this Apple Web page. These links may become outdated, but Java versions can be found by entering "Java" as a search term in the search field of Apple's main page.
- A headset and microphone (preferably part of the headset) for individual work; a stand-alone microphone may occasionally be useful when pairs or groups of students sitting together by one computer are asked to record, passing the microphone back and forth, though the pairing/grouping modules of LangLab PASSPORT are far superior for this purpose.
- So that it's possible to use MP3 files on a Mac, the LangLab PASSPORT installer includes the LAME MP3 encoder. The encoder installation package includes the source code for the encoder and the text of the GNU Lesser General Public License, as required by the terms of that license granted by the Free Software Foundation.
- Networking: 100 Mb backbone/10 Mb to stations minimal (100 Mb to stations recommended)
- For a client-server installation, server capability for SFTP, FTP, or the SMB protocol.
(SMB is used by default with Microsoft Windows, and is used by the SAMBA open-source utility
running on Mac OS X, Unix, Linux, and Netware machines.) Any operating system capable of acting
as a server normally has SFTP and FTP capability included. When a Mac is used as a server, it is
a good idea to have even client machines in the lab communicate with it by SFTP, to avoid problems
of inadvertent deletion of critical files that might arise if the client machines have to mount
the server volume and permissions are not managed with sufficient care.
For remote use, E-LangLab strongly recommends use of SFTP, which provides greater security than SMB or FTP and does not require managing a VPN (virtual private network). Client-side SFTP capability is already incorporated into LangLab PASSPORT modules.
That's it for a single user trying out the demo version. Here are two additional requirements for real use on a network:
Sound File Formats
Either .wav or .mp3 format (monitoring uses one format at a time). You can capture sound in either of these formats from audio files of many other types that you play in a media player.