Cool Links #50: It’s All Golden

This is my 50th Cool Links post and I’m bearing down on 500 total posts on my blog.  That is very cool.

1 – I just started reading this blog in my RSS reader, Emily Ingram who has for five weeks been posting great tutorials on how to start a blog and give it all the useful content in various forms.  Great stuff – this week is about adding plugins.

2 – This post is scary, from the Online Journalism Blog, it is about the future of journalism and journalists paying out of their own pockets to do journalism.  I’m sorry, but I can’t see very many people wanting to do this.  Not many people are going to want to pay to do journalism.

3 – This is why I keep Blackstarrising in my RSS feed, because of home run blog posts like this one.  David Weintraub reflects on 9 Things that Make a Great Teacher.  I think he hits it out of the park and for more than just media teachers.

4 – This is just plain cool.  This guy has built several cameras and made them work.  He has photos of the cameras and some example photos he has taken.

5 – When you have photo day at school, maybe you should distribute 10 Ways To Look Good in a Photo.

6 – Wired Magazine has Chris Anderson’s audio book Free available for a free download.  Snag it – for FREE!

7 – Teaching photo composition, but you don’t have any good examples. has 80 outstanding photos all from Paris with lots of great photo composition ideas.

8 – Not sure what a DIMM looks like or an HDMI port?  What is the difference between Firewire 400 and 800?  This poster has almost every RAM type, connector port and video/audio plug in I’ve ever heard of and it is visual.

9 – This is an interesting post on how game designers can help newspaper/media types.  Everything from free online games to buying games to play on your XBOX. Sometimes you have to give stuff away to get a buzz and then people will buy something too.

10 – Can’t make any money using Twitter?  Can’t make any money giving away news?  This kid is and I’m following his BNO.

11 – Most media teachers and many journalism teachers teach in a 1:1 or nearly 1:1 classroom.  This means there is a computer for every student or every student who needs one.  Free Technology For Teachers has a post 10 Things You Need to Know before Going 1:1.

12 – This is just nerdy goodness.  The Periodic Table of Videos: The University of Nottingham has a video for nearly every element on the periodic table and those that don’t, they are working on it.  What can you do like it for your school?

13 – How important is copy editing in the world of fast news?  Do some people care – yes.  Does everyone care – no.  Eat Sleep Publish says that probably less than half your readers care if your copy is 100 percent clean.

14 – dPS continues Photography 101 with a lesson on Light Meters.

15 – Reuters, the British News Agency has put their Handbook of Journalism online as a Wiki.  This means they can update it anytime to improve it.  And they have a section just for video.

16 – You need a CMS – Content Management System for your school, your publication, your blog, etc.  But which one is right?  There are so many to choose from.  Noupe has 10 Simple Rules for Picking a CMS.

17 – When you run a high school publication like a yearbook, you just can’t afford a lens that can shoot great in low light that you have on Friday Night football games.  So, what do you do with that photo to make the running back pop out from the background.  Give it a shallow depth of field in Photoshop. (Yes, newspaper journalists would never do this, but yearbooks are not hard news.)

18 – Got a new, fancy TTL flash?  Then you need to read the photofocus post on using TTL flash.  And remember to RTFM – Read The Flipping Manual.

Remember – it’s all golden!

Cool Links #25: Silver Edition

As I creep towards my blog’s seconds anniversary, I have hit the silver anniversary post of Cool Links.  Yay Me!  I’m also getting closer to 400 posts and have passed the 50,000 visits marks.  But that celebration is still a month and a half away.

So let the links begin!

1) RTNDF has a really good page with nine lessons for Broadcasting ranging from writing and editing to live shots and promotions.


Train Horns

Created by Train Horns

3) Need a free photo for your web project or online newspaper?  Morguefile has ample section of  free photos .

4) This one is too much fun.  TV Weather guy doesn’t realize his green tie is worth the price of admission on the news that night.

5) The Online Journalism Blog has posted several lessons for online journalism including how to blog, create content for the web and how to twitter.

6) Last Sunday CBS News had a tremendous piece on the artist Shepard Fairey and his struggle with the AP over the fair use of a photograph in the iconic Obama Hope posters.

7) I have been trying to find a good tool for story board creation for a long time.  I’m hoping that this will be the one – Pixton is actually a comic strip creator, but I think it will also work well for creating story boards.

8 ) Mindy McAdams is continuing her considerable series of RGMP posts for online journalism skills.  The newest one is how to add photos to your blog.

9) Need stupendous Open Source designs for your newest web project, then OSWD had lots of pre-designed web templates.

10) Newspapers need to do more News You Can Use to drive traffic to their sites.  This incredible, searchable Stimulus Watch web site is exactly the kind of real journalism people want to see, but don’t.

I’ve also updated my Broadcasting, Newspaper and Photojournalism Syllabii.  Check them out.

Update:  Thanks to the makers of Toondoo, I think I’ve found an easier and better cartoon creator to make storyboards with.  Here’s my first attempt.


Cool Links #24: Jack’s Back

I am an on again, off again fan of the TV show 24.  I usually don’t watch it on FOX television because it has always competed with a show I like better.  So I wait patiently until the DVD sets come out and then I watch it marathon style, renting it on the Internet and getting the discs in my mailbox.  Yet another way tech is killing old media.  But that is not what today’s post is about – mostly.  Today is about cool stuff!

1) The Credit Crisis Visualized.  I saw this via Neatorama and it is worth the watch.  Why aren’t more online newspapers doing creative, easy-to-understand, almost fun online graphics like this? (If it is possible to have a fun graphic about the meltdown of the global economy?) This is the best explanation of the credit crisis I’ve seen yet.

These posts were created by a grad student – Jonathan Jarvis.  Great job.  Too bad someone didn’t produce this two years ago and show us all the danger we were in. Isn’t that the media’s job?

2) Our cousins down in New Zealand need our support, even if we can’t help directly.  The government of that beautiful country seems to have lost their minds and has decided that you are guilty before anyone proves you did anything wrong.  Their new “copyright” law will make Kiwi’s averse to creating anything on the Internet for fear of being accused of violating someones copyright.  The mere accusation is enough to put them in jail.

New Zealand's new Copyright Law presumes 'Guilt Upon Accusation' and will Cut Off Internet Connections without a trial. Join the black out protest against it!

3) A professor of journalism at the University of Scranton posted this list on his blog, J-Scranton.  The list is a must learn for 21st Century journalism. He writes…

According to an excerpt of the memo posted by The New Republic:

Stories need to be both interesting and illuminating–we don’t have the luxury of running stories folks won’t click on or spend several minutes with in the paper.

a) Would this be a “most e-mailed” story?

b) Would I read this story if I hadn’t written it?

c) Would my mother read this story?

d) Will a blogger be inspired to post on this story?

e) Might an investor buy or sell a stock based on this story?

f) Would a specialist learn something from this story?

g) Will my competitors be forced to follow this?

If you teach journalism students, please read his entire blog post and then find a way to convey this to your students.  I think the list can be tweaked for student media very easily – mainly letters e and g.

4) Mindy McAdams has a great post in her series RGMP (Reporters Guide to Multimedia Proficiency) and this one is all about photojournalism.  It has so many links, it is going to take me a while to go over it all.  Lots of goodies.  Thanks Mindy. There are six other previous posts in this series too.

5) This is a great post on how creative lighting, makeup and technique can be used to make one model look 10 – 20 – 30 – 40 – 50 – 60 years old.  This should show anyone in photography that photos can, do and will lie – it doesn’t always take Photoshop either.

6) The Nieman Journalism Lab has posted the top 15 papers based on visits and out of the list 14 have increased their total number of visits from 7 percent to 132 percent from the same time last year.  Most posting increases of more than 30 percent with an average of nearly 40 percent.  The only one with a decrease was the Houston Chronicle.  I think this is evidence that even in this economy, online can support news gathering to a certain degree, especially when newspapers stop duplicating content and cut the costs associated with that.

7) If you are trying to increase yearbook sales or “market” your yearbook more effectively, then you might want to consider reading the Definitive Guide to Word of Mouth Advertising.  Word of mouth seems to be the only way to reach teens these days.

8) The has an interesting article about how journalism is not dying, it’s just returning to its roots.  The article compares the models of hyperlocal online to broad sheets of the 1700s.

9) There are some days where I really think my kids are doing great work and then there are days where I think we can do so much more.  Watch Out! makes me want to do more.  Here’s a group of middle school kids creating great video projects.  Awesome.

10) It just works.  Cueprompter is an online telelprompter solution that is free and works great.  I think we are going to put it to use in our studio.

11) This is mainly for US readers who are also bloggers, the Electronic Freedom Foundation has a great blogger’s rights site.  There is a lot of info on their rights in the US including a legal guide for bloggers.

12) I love listening to TWIP (This Week in Photography) with Scott Bourne and all the others, he has a simple, easy to follow explanation of how to use levels to tone a photograph in Photoshop.

13) “You are smarter than your camera.” What great advice.  I tell this to my students too.  The Digital Photography School wants you to use your camera on manual mode and they have a great guide for doing it.

That’s it for this installment.  The links you saw were presented in real time.

Screencasting Solutions On A Budget

As educators, we are always on a tight budget.  So when it comes to extras like screencasting (recording your computer’s screen) software, Free is the right price.  I just finished testing four solutions for screencasting ScreenToaster, Screencast-0-matic, Jing and CamTwist (mac only) and have decided the winner is Screencast-o-matic.

My criteria were 1) runs on my mac (but PC/Mac solutions OK too), 2) good resolution of final files, 3) download file for later use 4) easy to use.

ScreenToaster – This is an online solution that will work on any computer with Flash.  The resolution of the files is pretty good, but you can’t download the files for offline use.  And you have to register for the Beta, which took 24 hours.  (2.5 stars)

Screencast-o-matic – This is also an online solution.  The name is bad, but the flash package is super simple to use.  The files can be saved as .mov (quicktime) files for later use.  The resolution is great and can be set to 3 different levels.  Works on Mac or PC.  I recommend getting a full version of quicktime to easily edit the files and crop out mistakes.  (5 stars)

Jing – This is a software solution and the most professional looking.  The interface is weird (on Mac anyway) I would suggest watching the how to video and adding it to your title bar.  It can be used online or offline.  But the files do not share well offline because they are kept in the Jing browser.  The broswer is nice looking and the quality is good.  Jing has great controls for starting, stopping and pausing.  The only thing Jing lacks is a standard file format like .mov or .flv for sharing.  (4 stars)

CamTwist – This is a Mac only solution and easily has the worst resolution.  The files are very blurry.  It is also clunky to use and requires Quicktime for recording.  The worst of the bunch, but it does not require internet access to use.  (1.5 starts)

I think I will use both Screencast-o-matic and Jing as solutions depending on if I have internet access or not.


I forgot to add iShowU (Mac only), but I have not tested this myself – only seen an example on YouTube.  It is also not free – it costs $20-$60 US depending on which of the three versions you choose.

DIY: Handheld Camera Mount

Great how to video for a DIY camera mount.

Mr. C

DIY Camera Mount & Teleprompter

We recycle everything and we try to do as much as we can on the cheap. We don’t have a choice. I’m currently getting my studio ready for next school year. We hope to do the announcements every day.

So, we are finishing the teleprompter system. Right now it is nothing more than a simple 4-port VGA video splitter, but you could do it with a 2-port VGA splitter. This is hooked up to two monitors and a computer with Power Point installed. We write our scripts in Power Point and then use that as a Teleprompter via the VGA splitters. You will also need at lest two long VGA cables to hook up your monitors.

For the cameras, we are going to mount them right on top of the monitor. To do this costs about $4 for two mounts. What you need are two standard 3/8 inch cable wallplates like these from Lowe’s, cost .57 cents each. And you need two 1/4 inch -20 bolts with nuts and about 6 lags or washers. On the bolt, place one washer, then the plate, then five washers and then the bolt. This should leave less than 1/8 of an inch of bolt to mount your camera on. Duct tape the completed plate assembly on the top of the monitor. The monitor needs to be the kind that tilts up and down. This allows you to tilt the camera into the proper position. Flip out the camera’s monitor and turn it so the anchor can see themselves in it. That way, they know if they are out of the frame.

We are using firewire miniDV cameras that will hook up to two old blue iMacs. These have the double firewire ports and 20 GB hard drives. I’m stripping all the software off of them except iMovie. Then we will record our daily show directly to iMovie “live.” No need for tape, and it saves editing time.

I’m still working on the audio side. The two cameras I want to use do not have a mic input. This is bad. Either we need to find a work around or we will have to use different cameras.

One possibility is one or two older cameras that have issues with their video tape “decks.” The camera still works, but we can no longer put a tape into the camera. I hope to discuss how we handle the camera/audio setup in a week or two.

Mr. C