Cool Stuff #21: The Blackjack Post

My box of cool stuff runneth over.  I may hit 21 items today (maybe).

1) Ever wonder why no one wants to buy a yearbook anymore, or needs a newspaper or TV for the news?  Because we are the media now!  Everyone has a camera and a video camera and it seems no matter where news happens, someone will shoot it and blog it.  Check out this pic from the Obama inaugural ball.  That being said, journalists need to leverage their access to areas that most people can go and get great shots and post them on their web sites and then link them all over.

2) Journalists can/should/need to use and get used to using social media.  Here’s a great beginners guide to using Facebook as a Journalist, which is different than using it as a casual user. Best takeaway – you do need to realize that people misrepresent themselves on the site sometimes, so don’t trust everything you read.

3) Police and other “officials” do not have the right to take your camera away, nor do they have the right to tell you to stop taking photos in a public place.  You do have to comply with their instructions, but they can’t take your property without a warrant and you can sue them for unlawful arrest, unlawful prosecution and unlawful search and seizures.  But that does not mean they can’t make your life a living hell in the meantime.  Check out Carlos Miller’s blog Photography is Not A Crime.

4) Video teachers and other teachers are always looking for ways to share YouTube videos in the classroom.  In most schools, video sites like YouTube are blocked due to content restrictions as well as bandwith issues.  KickYouTube is a great way to download YouTube videos in different formats.  Try it out.

5) All grayscale images are not the same.  Sometimes a photo has really rich colors that are lost in the conversion to grayscale for publication.  An alternate way to convert an image is to use just the Red, Blue or Green channel for the grayscale levels.  The Digital Photography School has a really cool article on how to use your software to get the best results in an RGB to grayscale conversion.

6) I’m always trying to get my student video jocks to see why handheld, zooming, autofocused, no-white balance shots look bad.  10,000 Words blog has a great list of nine ways to make your video look amature.

7)  If you read my blog, you know I’m always looking for ways to recruit non-traditional students into areas that have not been dominated by a specific gender or ethnic group.  Basically, I would like my classroom to look like my school, only in miniature.  Here’s a great article on Girls in Tech, too bad the link to their web site doesn’t work right now.  But we do need to get more girls into video and web design.

8 ) It was so cool to see move into the 21st Century this week.  As a web design teacher it was a teachable moment.  Here’s a great pictoral history of from it’s humble beginnings in 1996, to its slick new design in 2009.  I do hope we see a more tech-savvy government and one that sees the value of tech education in schools too.

9) I’m trying to get my newspaper staff to move beyond writing and do more research and visual journalism.  Here’s a great visual that teens should be interested in, since there doesn’t seem to be a body part they wont pierce.

10)  The journalism department bought our first netbook this year.  It is a little ASUS netbook for under $400.  I hope that we can use it at workshops and to live blog or at least post stories directly after a football game next fall.  But as we move into the world of Linux, we need a guide and I found a good article on how to install Linux software.

11) Straight from Hollywood is a list of how to conduct a confrontational interview a la Frost/Nixon.  Good List.

12) This is a great inspirational nugget for yearbook, video and web design teachers out there.  Nothing is orginal, everything is stolen. I always teach my kids to look at great video, design, etc. and then copy it and adapt it to your own needs.  You will learn a lot just by copying someone else’s design.  Then adapting it will teach you even more.  Eventually, you will learn how to create your own designs.

13) With the economic downturn, maybe some IT people and technology departments will finally get on the Open Source bandwagon and stop feeding the Microsoft Sloth.  I buy Microsoft Office because my district force feeds our students Word and PowerPoint from Kinder on through senior year.  But I agree in principal with the Blog of helios, if there is a low cost or no cost solution available – stop wasting money.  Even the WSJ had an article telling Apple to wake up and smell the downturn.  They can’t keep their caviar product line up and profitable when people are looking for crackers.  Cheap is the new Chic.

Bonus 🙂 As a teacher, one of my pet peeves is when students come in each day and ask me what we are going to do that day in class.  I am glad that they show interest, but what most are really saying is – are we doing something I can zone out or sleep through?  Plus I post on my board a little “what we are doing today” block for each class.  And at the top of it I have a sign with “Pinky and the Brain” on it that says, “What are we going to do today Mr. C?”  I couldn’t resist bookmarking this little gem – an evil plan generator for taking over the world!

Ok, I only made it to 14, hit me again or double down?


  1. Wow, almost too much Cool Stuff for me to wrap my little ol’ head around, especially since I’m in the midst of grading more than 100 journalism portfolios! I’ll keep all this in mind, though. I’m still trying to get my cherubs to make sure the digital camera is on “auto” before taking a snap! BTW, don’t forget Sx3 today…we could use your singular sense of style!

    • You compliment me too much. You have a silver tongue you do!

  2. I have 13 little HP notebooks that the district bought and handed out to teachers who would write a grant for them. My students absolutely love them as they are so easy to handle around the classroom. What software do you have on yours? We only have Microsoft product as our soul has been sold to Microsoft and HP.

  3. I always use the Pinky and the Brain line when students ask what we’re going to do today. Same thing we do every day, Pinky….

  4. We have Open Office on ours since it comes standard on ASUS netbooks. Our district hasn’t yet picked a MicroSloth owned vendor yet for Netbooks, so I can pick what I want!

  5. This is a conversation that I really want have with you sometime soon. Do we really need to be investing all the time and money into yearbooks and newspapers? How can we better serve students with new media? I’m quite sure no one in GPISD is even thinking about this. If we don’t change our kids will be left behind.

    Drop me an email!

    • I’ve been promoting new media for a while with limited success. Don’t know that we will be able to get rid of yearbooks yet, but we definitely need to be doing lots more online, video and multimedia. I look forward to talking to you and it is still kind of weird that someone in my district reads my blog, even though I’ve told nearly every media teacher in our district about it.

  6. You know, I haven’t really given Linux a chance. Perhaps I should.

    This is my first time on this blog. You run a great little site!

    • Thanks. I appreciate the support. I am kind of new to Linux myself, but my little ASUS netbook does fairly well. It really only has trouble with wireless networking. It is a lot harder to set up than on the Mac and a lot less intuitive. A recent episode of Leo Laporte’s The Tech Guy podcast suggested that it may be because there are fewer drivers made for Linux.

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