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$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.
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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.

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Audio Test

10 Oct 2008

Here is some embedded audio:

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

embed audio WordPress.com

… 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.

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What to do between Oct. 7 and Oct. 14

7 Oct 2008

Here’s what you need to COMPLETE between today (after class) and next Tuesday when you arrive in class:

  • Read Kern, Chapter 6. It will help you edit a good story.
  • Edit your OWN audio file. I expect each student’s audio to be different from that of his or her teammates.
  • Edit your OWN selection of photos. I expect each student’s set of photos to be somewhat different from that of his or her teammates.
  • Write a caption for EACH photo using “File Info” in Photoshop. Carefully copy-edit all of your captions! Captions will certainly be unique for each student.

There are three links to tutorials on the Week 8 page that will help you with these tasks.

MAKE SURE that you have a ratio of at least one photo per 5 seconds of audio (90 sec. = 18 photos; 120 sec. = 24 photos).

Notice that all of these points are INDIVIDUAL work. Each person on your team needs to come to class with his or her OWN audio file and his or her OWN set of edited photos.

In addition, your TEAM needs to bring in the list of all sources and resources. Don’t forget that!

Please read the Project 2 assignment carefully.

You do not need to do anything with Soundslides, the program, before class on Oct. 14. If your photos and audio are ready to go, you will be able to complete the Soundslides DURING the lab period.

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Have you tried Delicious?

5 Oct 2008

Delicious is a site where you can save and share bookmarks. This enables you to access your Web bookmarks from any computer, anywhere. It also allows you to TAG each bookmark with MULTIPLE tags, making it easier to find your stuff later. (If you bookmark a lot in your Web browser, have you noticed it is hard to find the sites you bookmarked later? They get lost!)

You can sign up (free) and start bookmarking today. You can also look at other people’s bookmarks — except the ones they have selected not to share. For example, you can see all my bookmarks. Or you can see bookmarks I have tagged specifically —

One of the most useful and powerful features of Delicious is that you can build a personal network of people who bookmark stuff you like. My Delicious network is made up of people who are involved with online journalism. Their links point me to great stuff I might otherwise miss.

You can also look at others’ networks — for example, the Delicious network of Joe Weiss, the guy who invented Soundslides. Or, say, Joe’s bookmarks tagged Soundslides. (Are you getting the idea now?) A network is a useful thing.

One more useful way to harness the power of shared bookmarks: See EVERYONE’S bookmarks tagged Soundslides AND tutorial.

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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 WordPress.org. You may keep the link to WordPress.com.
  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.

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Learn how to use the Zoom H2

1 Oct 2008

The Zoom H2 recorder is a powerful device with a lot of features.

I expect you to monitor your audio carefully, wearing headphones, whenever you use it. NO MORE TOO-QUIET AUDIO!! For Project 1, a lot of you had audio that should have been recorded at a higher level (thus louder).

There are short HOW-TO VIDEOS for the H2 linked at the bottom of this page.

Also, a newspaper reporter made this video to train his reporter colleagues. It’s good!

You can download the complete user manual for the H2. It’s a PDF file, 2.2 MB. You could print it, or just refer to it on your computer.

TEACHING YOURSELF to get GOOD AUDIO with the device you are given is part of the job. So don’t act helpless. I know I did not teach you about the features of the recorder — I didn’t because no one on the job is going to teach you either.

TEST your equipment (and the resulting FILES, in Audacity) BEFORE you go out into the field to get the real thing. Ensure that you know how to get a good result by doing advance work.

Always carry SPARE BATTERIES!!

Your SD card holds 4GB. That should be enough for any normal interviewing and gathering of natural sound.