Archive for the ‘blogs’ Category


$10,000 scholarship for blogging

17 Oct 2008

For the third year, college students who blog can apply for The Blogging Scholarship. The deadline is Oct. 30.

The requirements are simple:

  • Your blog must contain unique and interesting information about you and/or things you are passionate about. No spam bloggers please!!!
  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident;
  • Currently attending full-time in post-secondary education in the United States; and
  • If you win, you must be willing to allow us to list your name and blog on this page. We want to be able to say we knew you before you became a well educated, rich, and famous blogging legend.

Video assignment for your blog

10 Oct 2008

In the effort to promote your blog, you need to let people know about it — and make it seem interesting. I’m going to require you to make a video to promote your own blog. The video must be less than 1 min. 30 sec. You must appear in the video, talking to the camera. I would like you to use a Webcam so that you can practice the skill of interacting with a little beady eye sitting above your computer screen.

You should write out a script for yourself, but you should NOT read the script while making the video. It’s going to sound like reading if you do, and that would be bad. Very bad.

You should also adjust the lights in the room to make yourself look good. A lot of people shine a bright light on their face when they are using a Webcam, but this makes their face look flat and unnatural. Experiment with two lights, such as a desk lamp and a standing floor lamp. Position them to the side. If you position a floor lamp to shine on your hair, the result can look quite nice.

Make sure your voice is clear and easy to understand.

You might need to re-do the video five or six times before you get something decent. Please put in as much time as you need to produce a good end result.

If you have a MacBook, you can use iMovie to record with the built-in Webcam (info here; also, a video about how to do it in iMovie 08). In versions before iMovie 08, just open iMovie and do what you see in the image at left.

If you have a Windows laptop, you may have a built-in Webcam, and you may already have software for recording. If you have Windows, a Webcam, and no software, have a look at this free software. If you don’t have a Webcam, find a friend who does.

You will upload the video to both YouTube and Facebook. You will send me a direct link to the YouTube video, and you will send me a link on Facebook too. If your Facebook profile is private, you’ll have to show it to me in class.

You don’t need to post the video on your blog, although you can if you’d like to.


Audio Test

10 Oct 2008

Here is some embedded audio:

I found out how to do this via the following Google search:

embed audio

… which led me to this page: How do I get music on my blog? (Tells you all you need to know.)

You can upload MP3 files to your Plaza account, although you will rapidly run out of space there.

If you do not know how to FTP, here is a tutorial.


Blog maintenance check list

4 Oct 2008

Make sure you are tending to your blog:

  1. Your blogroll: I already told you about this in class. Make sure you have linked at least two relevant blogs (relevant to the topic of YOUR blog) in your blogroll. Make sure you have deleted the link there to You may keep the link to
  2. Your sidebar(s): Use the widgets in WordPress to configure your sidebar.
  3. Your “About” page: I told you this in class last week. Every WordPress blog comes with an About page already written. Naturally, you look like an idiot if you still have the default About page. So FIND the About page and EDIT IT so that it is about YOU and YOUR BLOG. Also, make sure there is a LINK to your About page on your blog.
  4. Tags and categories: You have been writing your blog for four weeks now. You should be able to come up with suitable tags and/or categories for your posts now. Do so. Also, GO BACK to each one of your old posts and EDIT them so that you can add appropriate tags and/or categories to EACH POST. Do this by Friday, Oct. 10. REMOVE all category links to “Uncategorized.”

Learn about tags and categories:

Make good decisions based on YOUR OWN blog.


Tip: Using photos in your blog

20 Sep 2008

You’ve heard of copyright, yes? Well, it applies to the Web. You cannot just grab any photo you feel like from any Web site and put it on your blog. It does not matter if you acknowledge the source — unless you have the EXPLICIT PERMISSION of the copyright holder, you are breaking the law. Yup. The law.

So if you would like to illustrate your blog post, and you have no nice photos of your own, what can you do?

One great option is Flickr. You can’t use ALL photos on Flickr, but some are okay. Go to the advanced search page and scroll down to the bottom. Then check the box for Creative Commons licensed photos.

Use the SEARCH FOR box at the top of the page to enter keywords.

You should always include an attribution AND A LINK for someone else’s photo.

To learn more about Creative Commons, look here.


How a blogger keeps coming up with new stuff

16 Sep 2008

Are you having trouble thinking of two original blog posts each week?

For me, the trick has never been to find the one best way to get new story ideas, but to but open up a wide variety of communication lines. Though my system is not perfect and I continue to miss stories from time to time, I also have a backlog of about three weeks worth of topics in my notebook.

Read this for tips on how to get a backlog of good ideas.


Tip: Avoid MS Word garbage in your blog post text

12 Sep 2008

It is VERY bad to copy and paste from MS Word into the blog Post field — if you are in “Visual” view in that field.

Switch to “HTML” view — and then paste. This way you will avoid carrying over a bunch of bloated, foul MS Word formatting code, which will really mess up the way your blog text looks.

The Visual and HTML views are controlled by two tabs at the upper right corner of the Post field in WordPress.


Students’ blogs appear in the sidebar

9 Sep 2008

Blog post No. 1 was due today at 10 a.m.

So at 9:30 a.m., I went into the Dashboard of THIS blog and built the RSS feeds (using the WordPress RSS widget) that you see in the sidebar. Each RSS widget shows the title of the blog and the title and date of the most recent post. This is easy to do because every blog automatically has an RSS feed.

At 10 a.m., I opened each of the posts and saved it as a complete Web page to my hard drive. This enables Curt (my T.A.) and me to grade the actual post that was online at 10 a.m. Deadlines are important in journalism, so I see the 12-week blog exercise as one way to train students to respect their deadlines.


Your first blog post (graded!)

4 Sep 2008

It’s your blog. You can post whatever you want to … I hope it fits the focus of your blog, though!

On Tuesday at 10 a.m., I’m going to capture your MOST RECENT blog post. The one at the top of your blog’s home page.

That is the post Curt or I will grade for your Blog Post # 1.

It needs to be a real blog post that meets the criteria given on the online syllabus. Good headline. At least one good link. Correct mechanics, including AP style. Etc., etc. READ THE ASSIGNMENT. And suitable to the focus of your blog, as we have already discussed.

Some of you have asked me if you can or should post an INTRODUCTORY POST. That could mean many things. If your so-called introductory post does not meet the assignment criteria, then post a NEWER post that does meet them.

If you have not sent me your blog’s URL before 10 a.m. Tuesday, your first blog post will be graded 0 (because I won’t know where to find it). You can send it now — I’m not grading anything till Tuesday.


Where to keep your photos

3 Sep 2008

You might be displaying your photos at any one of a large number of free photo sites, but even if you already have a home for your photos, I suggest you take a look at Flickr.

I’ve been using Flickr since 2004. The free accounts allow you to upload 100 MB per month. There is no storage space limit! You can arrange photos in sets and also in collections.

They have some great groups of professional photographers and photojournalists there.

To get the URL for a JPG to use on your blog, do this:

  1. Open the individual photo page at Flickr (example).
  2. Click the text above the photo that says All Sizes (result).
  3. In the links above THAT photo, click the one with a width of 400 or 500 pixels to fit on your blog (see it).
  4. Now you need to get the URL to this size. Look down below the photo for the text “Grab the photo’s URL.” The box below that contains your URL for the JPG.
  5. Copy the URL and paste into the image window in WordPress.
  6. Click “Insert into Post” button to complete the action of posting an image.

Here is the result:

You don’t have to use Flickr, but if you take a lot of pictures and want a good way to organize them, it does that well.


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