Cool Links #109: Not Taken By The Rapture

Contrary to popular opinion, I have not been abducted by space aliens, raptured away or joined a cult.  OK, maybe I did join a cult – or at least my son did – I was drafted by the cult known as Boy Scouts.  As a yearbook advisor, I already have very limited time. Now as a Boy Scouting leader AND still a yearbook advisor, free time has become a mystical concept that is heard about, but never seen.  I am not blog-fading, just trying to figure it all out.  With summer upcoming, I should be able to get back into a rhythm of blogging again.  (I hope.)  Now for the links…

1 – After months of indecision, the Texas Legislature has finally settled on the amount of pain to inflict on public school districts.  If you live here and want to know how bad it will be for the next two years, take a look.  Thanks to the Texas Tribune for providing our state with the best info on every twist and turn of the crazy pink building in Austin.

2 – I love photography.  Didn’t start out that way, but I love it.  I am intrigued by famous photos, especially of “regular” people who just happened to be in a famous photo.  Listverse has a Top 10 of the lives of people made famous by famous photos – especially what happened after the photo was published.

3 – Here is a great tool for creating visualizations for news stories called Many Eyes.  It appears to be free.

4 – Are our First Amendment rights in danger? They are when Police see cameras like this

How Police see SLR Cameras

How Police see SLR Cameras

5 – I recently wrote about how teachers in the US are taking the blame for a problem created outside of schools.  And Finland has been held up lately as the solution to all our problems.  But Finland and the US are nothing like each other.

6 – I deeply respect Mindy McAdams, I think she is one of the best professors in online journalism today.  I mainly agree with her post – that it is not stupid to major in journalism today, as long as the student understands the landscape.  They must be prepared to never work for a traditional news organization, or only work for one for a short time.  They must be ready to work for a small online startup, maybe even a series of them.  Their career will be very different from journalists of the past.

7 – Now this is a Facebook style photo that is worthy of being called a photograph.

Houston, that is going on my Facebook page.

Houston, that is going on my Facebook page.

8 – I love my Mac, but I hate waiting for Photoshop or Final Cut to render.  The Macintosh Performance Guide has all kinds of ways to help you get the most out of your Mac and the software on it, like the Adobe line of products.  Worth studying.

9 – This is turning into a “stuff I love” post, but I’ve had nothing but great experiences with the wonderful people at B&H Photo.  Apparently a camera they were testing (a used one) mistakenly ended up leaving their store with the photos still on it.  This gave the outside world a glimpse into the world of B&H.  I love the photos.  I love the fact that B&H is closed on Jewish holidays, just like I love the fact that Chick-fil-a is closed on Sundays.  I respect businesses that have a positive ethos and B&H does this well.  They provide a great service at a good price, by friendly people.

10 – Need a free, easy to use HTML editor look no further, just click on the link.

11 – At my school, we ditched our photo company a long time ago – too costly.  We now take our photos ourselves, and this means training the students on how to take a good portrait.  But what is good for a thin person, doesn’t work with someone like myself – someone who has a higher BMI.  dPs has a top flight post on how to photograph larger people.

12 – If you are like me, many of the photos in your yearbook are taken by staffers who never took a photo class.  They got a quick and fast version of it in yearbook class and they shoot most of their photos with a point and shoot – often badly.  Clifford Otto has a terrific post about how to hold your point and shoot to get the best photos.

13 – I know this is how many teachers and students feel about school right now.

Not sure you get 100% in May

Not sure you get 100% in May

14 – Do ethics matter in online journalism, maybe more so than ever.  Check out this post from Mindy McAdams with 10 Rules for Online Ethics.  Best takeaway – #2 Assume everything you write online will become public.

15 – Petapixel has the best explanation of depth of field I’ve ever seen.

16 – This is a fun site to teach kids about ISO, shutter and aperture – Camera Sim.

17 – I’ve heard that the kerfluffle over staging shots of presidential speeches has changed the official policy at the White House, but it is sad that they ever did it this way to begin with.

18 – This is pretty geeky and contains math content, but it is interesting – the f/stop scale is logarithmic because humans are bad at telling the difference in brightness, unless it is really big.

19 –  The owners of Leica Camera were the Oskar Schindlers of the photo world.  The untold story of how they snuck Jews out of Germany before and during WWII.

 

I have more, but I’m saving some for later in the week.

 

Cool Links #104: The One During The “Universal Holiday” Break

I heard this on Disney Channel the other day – Happy Universal Holiday.  We have now officially crossed over into the world of Big Corporate and 1984.  It is amazingly sad how newspeak is taking over our language.  When I read the book 1984, in 1984 I never thought it would come to pass.  But now I live in that world.  So, let’s use the interwebs to find something to take our mind off of it all and be better j-teachers after the break.  Here come the links -

1 –  There doesn’t seem to be a way to add xtranormal movies to my wordpress blog, but I can link to them. Here’s a funny one about a young comm. grad who wants to be a big TV news star.

2 – The Principal’s Page has a funny about schools taking the blame for what happens at home.

3 – As journalists and educators, we should be very interested in “What is the best question in the world?”

4 – This is how e-textbooks are created.

5 – If you are a blogger, and you should be, then you should back it up!  FreeTech4Teachers will show you how.  Just backed up mine.

6 – Seen a number of Year in Photos around the web for 2010 – Denver Post, Boston Globe,

7 – My school district recently set up a moodle server and I use it nearly every day.  I love it.  Here’s a chart with the pros/cons of moodle.

8 – If you teach broadcast journalism, then you must watch and subscribe to Austin’s Josh Hinkle who has posted some great videos about what life is like as a solo-mojo on the go in Austin, TX at KXAN.  Thanks Josh.

9 – This post from WDL has a useful Photoshop keyboard shortcut desktop pattern and a color wheel sheet (printable).

10 – WDL has been hitting it with useful posts lately.  Here’s on on apostrophe and quote marks – you are not doing it right.

11 – New Term – PHObar:  Photoshopped Beyond All Recognition.

PHObar

PHObar

12 – Google has a new YouTube channel called Teach My Parents Tech.  It really should be Teach Tech to Anyone, but anyway – it is useful for teaching simple tech tips to people.  Here’s an example

13 – Since I live in Houston, I’ve been following the story of Lamar High School’s library closely and the early stories about it were dead wrong – no books burned, only 20 year old books trashed, 11,000 books kept, nearly 90 laptops for use in the library, not 20, etc.  The Innovative Educator has valuable post on the subject.

14 – As a photo/video-grapher you will have to deal with wet weather if you shoot outdoor sports.  Clifford Oto has a picture perfect post about his dealings with rain this football season.

And The Rain, Rain, Rain Came Down, Down, Down

And The Rain, Rain, Rain Came Down, Down, Down

15 – Rick Sammon is the online guru of photo.  This post is simply about one thing – GET CLOSE!

Get Closer

Get Closer

16 – Why do all “curriculum planners” act like this?  It seems like everyone has met at least one curriculum planner who has zero knowledge of actual teaching.

Have a great “universal holiday” break.

Cool Links #103: The One About the Storm Before The Calm

The days until break are getting short and the work is getting long.  I can only hope we can get 40 pages in before next Monday.  We’ll see.  Maybe chilling out today with some cool links will help…

1 – I do believe that we learn more from failure than from success, but it doesn’t mean that I want to see only failure in my classroom or in my own life.  But these tips can help you appreciate letting others fail on their own terms sometimes.

Pull Quote Fail

Pull Quote Fail

2 – Hand-in-hand with letting students fail to learn (different from flat out failure) is listening to them when they don’t understand or feel overworked.

3 – I am not a fan of the former Vice President Al Gore, but I do think that there might be some value in this project he has started with the likes of the Mythbusters and the founder of FIRST Robotics.  A discussion of how to make school relevant to students.  I think it is one of the two foundational R’s of school – Relationships and Relevancy.  Those must come before Rigor or you are setting students up for failure.

There are three more parts to this video, but part 1 is fairly boring – parts 2, 3 & 4 are good.

4 – This graphic is an interesting look into the evolution of the basic typefaces.  If you are a type geek like me, then you will like it.

Evolution of Typography
Via: VPS

5 – The Newsosaur has a useful post for teaching journalists about the past and about objectivity.  He says it never existed and we shouldn’t try anymore, but instead publicize out bias.  I like it.  I once saw a video of Walter Cronkite sitting in the back seat of a fighter-bomber in Vietnam.  He was trilled by the speed, aerobatics and even the bombing run.  He was supposed to be an objective observer, not a jingoistic voyeur.  Even he admitted it years later.

6 – Students often feel bored in school – some of this goes back to Relevance.  Some of it goes to the rote methodology of memorizing facts, working problems and writing pages of text only to be read by the teacher. Real projects that have real world application bring both rigor and relevance.  But our current Race To The Bottom has so much mandated boredom, I’m surprised any kid survives.

7 – A Russian software firm claims to have broken Canon’s software to verify photos.  I like their photo fakes.

USSR Man on the Moon

USSR Man on the Moon

8 – The dPs had a most in-depth post on the Rule of Phi, this is a modification of the old rule of thirds.  The rule of thirds works well on a more squarish rectangle, but when you are shooting video for widescreen, the Rule of Phi is better.

9 – True in high school or college.

In High School Too...

In High School Too...

10 – Tamron Lenses has another in their series of videos for better shooting – sports.

11 – Photofocus has also been running a series – Photography for Newbies – great post on White Balance.

12 – The edublogs are up for voting and I would like to recommend a few for your consideration – please stop by and vote for:

Best Individual Blog – The Principal’s Page

Best Student Blog – Moo

Best Resource Sharing Blog – Free Technology for Teachers

Best Teacher Blog – The Scholastic Scribe

Best Administrators Blog – The Principal’s Page – The Blog

Best Use of Video – Khan Academy

13 – Need a printable monthly or weekly calendar. ReprintMe has it.

14 – Want your students to see what words they use too much?  Just copy their text and paste it into wordcounter.com and it will tell them.

15 – Right here in my own city of Houston, one local high school ditched all their books from the library.  I don’t know if what they did was cost effective or even effective.  It might be brave or foolhardy – only time will tell.

Have a great week, let’s all get to the break in good health and good spirits!

YLYB #20.5: Equipment, Organization and Online

I don’t want to consider today a yearbook workday.  I did drop by the school to dump off all the gear from last night’s football game.  Sure, I could have done that last night, but the game ended at 10 p.m.   I live 5 min. from the stadium, the school is 15 min. each way.  I was tired.

So I took all the student cameras home – DSLRs and video cameras.  This morning I took them up to the school and unpacked everything.  My daughter (a junior at my school) had a choir car wash, so I had to go out to drop her off anyway.

I dumped all the photos onto a DVD and burned a copy to take home to sort and I took the opportunity to reset all the clocks on the cameras while the disk was burning.  One of the photographers had noticed that the date was wrong on their camera earlier in the week.  So, later this weekend I will be trying to upload the best of our photos to the Smugmug site, so that people can check them out.

Cool Links #93: The One About Independence Day

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  If only we could live up to these ideals.  But the first link today shows that we don’t.

1 – The First Amendment is dead.  Just ask Anderson Cooper.  Link via ShortForm Blog.

2 – If you live in Boston,  it may be too much to visit USC or if you are in Washington, then University of Miami is a long commute for a campus visit.  But youniversitytv can help your student get a look at a far away campus they are considering for a college choice.

3 – The Journal Register Company, a small chain of 18 publications is now running it’s entire operation open source.  Check it out at the Ben Franklin Project.  Freedom of the Press is for those who own the presses.  The Press is now FREE!

4 – I hate the pen tool.  In photoshop, illustrator, etc.  I don’t like it.  I don’t get it.  All Web Design Info wants to change that and help me and you learn how to control the pen tool.

5 – Don’t know how to post a video to YouTube?  It’s only seven basic steps away.

6 – Google Apps For Education has some training available for you at the right price – FREE! Learn all the basics for all the Ed Apps.  And then get certified.

7 – Royalty Free music is hard to come by – Adam Westbrook has Five Places for Cheap or Free Music for your video project.

8 – On a day when Freedom is supposed to ring, we are hearing the slow death of freedom.  At a time where nearly everyone carries a camera with them every day in their pocket, a photographer was harassed for trying to shoot video in Miami.  You have to watch this.  I can’t believe this is America, sounds more like the Soviet Union to me – “where are your papers, comrade?”  What scares me the most is that nobody seems to care.

9 – Maybe we need to show this to everyone!

10 – All Web Design Info has a simple series of graphics that explain how CSS3 Properties work.

11 – Great advice for young, starting off journalists from 10,000 words blog.  My advice via my j-prof:  “Get the secretary to like you.  The world is run by the secretaries.”  Best advice since my high school band director – “If you’re early, you’re on time.  If you’re on time, you’re late.”

12 – The Denver Post followed one kid from high school graduation to boot camp, to Iraq and back.  Great photo story telling.

13 – Not sure where I found this presentation about HTML 5, but make sure you start on slide 16 and skip the Java Script stuff unless you need to know about that too.

14 – Adventures in Pencil Integration has Six Lies We Tell Ourselves about Technology.  The biggest lies we teachers tell ourselves is:  If only I had this piece of technology or software, then everything would go smoothly in my classroom.

Have a happy Independence Day.

Cool Links #90: The One About Memorial Day 2010

As you may know from reading this blog from time to time, my father, grandfather, and several uncles were all military vets.  My family has a short history in America – four generations, but we have a strong history of military service.  So, it was instilled in me at a young age to show a heartfelt thanks to those who are and were the guardians of our freedoms.  This is especially true for those who gave their lives to defend our country.

As a teacher, I now have several former students who are serving in various branches of our armed services.  Thankfully, none are currently serving in a war zone.  I do want to send out my thoughts and prayers for all the young men and women who are in harm’s way this Memorial Day, they are somebody’s former student.  I am proud of all of the kids who have chosen to serve.

Now, on to the links.

1 – The end of the year is a time for reflection and planning.  Just for TV Teachers has a great and humorous list of things he likes and doesn’t like.

2 – Whenever you are creating a web page, you must wonder – what will it look like on a ____ (computer model), using _____ (operating system) in the ______ (browser).  Hongkiat has a list of tools that are useful for testing Cross-Browser compatibility.

3 – On a related note, many people new to creating web sites want to learn how to get a domain name as well as hosting for the site.  All Web Design Info has all the answers for these questions.

4 – If every journalist out there wrote about stories like this one, we’d have no trouble getting people to read newspapers/magazines.  This is the kind of journalism that people want to read.

5 – The digital Photography School has two related posts on understanding how the camera takes good photos – the first is about the exposure triangle and the second is your camera explained in plain English.

6 – I wish we could access Google Docs at my school, I’d love to use this technique to speed up the clean up of our yearbook index.

7 – Advancing the Story has 10 Tips to Help Get a TV News Job.  Most of these tips can benefit any journalist at any time.  The most difficult one: Tip #1. Previous professional experience.

8 – Thanks to Aaron Manfull at jeadigitalmedia.org for mentioning my site in his post 5 Ways to Learn without Taking Over Your Student’s Site.

9 – If you are like me, your journalism program is run on a shoestring budget and you have to save money wherever you can – like group photos.  I take them myself.  dPS has five tips for taking better group photos.

10 – Mindy McAdams, as always, makes online simple.  She wants us all to understand HTML 5 and some of the basic tags that will make life easier.

11 – Need something to read this summer?  Then fire up your RSS reader and check out these 100 Teachers Who Blog – including my pals The Scholastic Scribe and DKZody.   I’ll be adding MrTeachBad to my RSS reader.

12 – This is a great idea.  How to get your camera back when it was lost. I plan to do something similar with our photographers next year.  Great way to keep up with who took the photos.

13 – The 10,000 Words Blog has a list of 3 Important Skills for any journalist.  Most important – Math!

Have a great weekend and for those of you who are still not done with school yet – the light is at the end of the tunnel, and so are we.

Cool Links #78: The One Where You Wonder WTH

There seems to be a lot of What The Heck? (WTH) kind of thinking going on in schools today.  Maybe it’s all the pressure from high stakes testing, maybe it’s all the economic cutbacks, or maybe it’s just plain dumb.  But there have been stories about spying on kids, cranking up the pressure on teachers about testing, and changing their shirts in the yearbook.  OK, on to the links.

1 – Let’s start off with the WTH #1.  Why would a yearbook adviser want to get mixed up in a FREE SPEECH debate?  Shouldn’t a journalist be on the side of freedom of expression?  Especially when it is not disrupting school? J-School profs all over America are sighing and face palming.

2 – If you don’t already read Bob Kaplitz’s blog, then you should.  He has the best tips for MMJ’s (multimedia journalists).  Like this one about using cell/web access and two laptops to shoot video while driving. (Safely we hope.)

This second video is about how MMJ’s can add spice to their writing by writing to the video.

3 – This article was just too interesting to pass up.  The mathematical equation responsible for blockbuster movies.  Apparently there is a way to determine if you can keep an audiences attention based on the length of the cuts in a movie.  Very interesting.

4 – The “Google” Newsroom is an interesting idea.  I think it is the future of journalism.  We have to rethink how we staff a newsroom and how the media products we put together are created, staffed and edited.  We even have to decide which medium a story should be told in – because there won’t be video, photo, writing and online in the future.  There will only be one newsroom for all of it.

5 – From looking forward to looking back at the last 20 years of Photoshop from MacLife magazine.  A great retrospective, including toolbars and splash screens.

6 – The Edit Foundry has a great video over at his YouTube page about using simple transitions with your stories.  Great video.

7 – The Web Design Ledger has these Most Common HTML and CSS mistakes.  Useful for beginners in web design.

8 – This was one of the most fun links this week – how cliches link to typesetting by Seth Godin.

Stereotype

Stereotype

9 – Tamron Lenses has posted Episode 5 for Beginners Exposure and Metering.

10 – Why can’t we all just get along?  I mean, can’t there just be one format to rule them all in photos, video, etc.  I guess not.  And there are new formats all the time.  My favorite conversion site is Zamzar.com, but the Format Factory seems to also be a good backup.  Here is another translator – just for PDF files to Word files.  I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks promising.

11 – Here’s a quick cheat sheet for Grammar.  Keep the Nazi’s at bay.

Grammar Nazis

Grammar Nazis

12 – The iPad was recently announced by Apple, and many in the print community see it as the savior that they need and that the music industry didn’t see with the iPod.  But the Daily Beast thinks the iPad could actually kill newspapers, not save them.

13 – WTH #2:  If you haven’t already heard the story about the administrators spying on students at home via their school issued laptop cameras, then here it is a great big WTH.

Well, I hope your yearbook deadlines, newspaper and broadcast deadlines are going well.  Good luck.

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