Cool Links #55: Busy Bees Bust Behinds To Begin Year

It’s been a while since I’ve felt like posting a cool links post and if you read my blog for the other stuff beyond the links, then you know I’ve been the Drama King lately.  But I’m feeling fairly good after my first week of school and I’m ready for a bunch-o-links.

1 – Let’s kick this off with a superb article on social photojournalist Dorothea Lange.  Every photography teacher knows about the Migrant Mother photo, but this post has several other gems, like this ironic photo of a Japanese-American US Army soldier picking crops at an internment camp farm with a relative of his.

2 – This is for all of us Type-geeks out there, Typedia – a Wikipedia of typefaces and fonts.  Fun and useful. Thanks to Net@Night podcast for the resource.

3 – This video really spells out for students why privacy is so important on the internet.  I’ve seen it before, but not sure if I posted it here.  Great for classes about internet usage or web design.

4 – This is good for both journalism classes and web classes – an AP Style Guide Quiz about Internet terms.

5 – WARNING: DISTURBING IMAGES!  This is an incredible video.  My school did a Shattered Dreams video/reenactment several years ago, but this focuses on Texting While Driving and has a lot of money behind it.  I think the video is great. The video is from Wales (Great Britain) and occasionally the accents are a little thick.

6 – The New York Times has a good slide show about photo fakery and it has a few photos I’ve not seen before.

7 – Great how to video from Nicole Young at Photofocus on making pure white backgrounds in photographs.

8 – This next video is near to my heart, it is about the damage to Galveston Bay and the marshes in the Texas Gulf done by Hurricane Ike.  We need more videos about this, ours is the forgotten hurricane.  We still have a lot of blue roofs in our community and other damage still not repaired from the storm.

9 – Alex4d is a top notched source of Final Cut plug ins and he also makes his usable by Express users too.  His latest are a video crop plug-in and text crawl.

10 – Cheat sheets for Audacity, Photoshop, Final Cut, iMovie.  (Not cheating by the way!)

11 – Interesting graphic.  Publishing has a 13.9 percent increase in unemployment as an industry, but salaries have risen.

12 – This is terribly funny, the map of The Semicolonial State of San Serriffe.

13 – Great graphics about how much underwater Internet cable is out there and telegrams vs. email.

14 – More tool how to’s from the Photoshop Basics blog – Lasso.

15 – Great list of video terms from TV and online and how to use VO, SOT, PKG, Balcony, Founder’s Box, etc.

16 – Web 2.0 Horror Trailer.  Oh, the humanity…..

17 – Testing Improvement Service (can you feel the drip of sarcasm)

Improve Your Test Scores Today!

Improve Your Test Scores Today!

18 – Google for Educators – lessons and lesson plans for web search, linking and reasonableness of results.  A companion video is Common Crafts – Web Search in Plain English.

19 – Again the NY Times has a fun and scary game about texting and driving.  I was 33 percent slower but missed 2 percent less gates than other drivers.  I did not see the gray lady.

20 – Know a lot about print and photos, but are frightened of the web?  JEA has the answers with a handout for putting your pictures on the Internets.

21 – This is a cool product, the Portabooth, but it seems to me you could make one with a cardboard box and some foam (especially since his product is $129).  Might be worth a try.

22 – My blogging friend, Clix, is taking over the Carnival of Education.  Let’s all wish her good luck.  I know she’ll make it a success.

23 – News photos that took photoshop too far.  Great post.

Wow, what a list.  Got to get back to a once a week cool links schedule.

Cool Links #53: New High Score!

I have a new high for one-day visits to my site – 332 in one day, this past Tuesday.  So, of course I’m pumped and here we go with links:

1 – I know I’m often Mac-centric, so today I’ll start off with a Windows link.  Free Technology for Teachers has a video on how to retrieve deleted files in Windows Vista only.  I use XP at work, so this doesn’t help me much, but hopefully it helps someone out there when an important yearbook spread is deleted or something.

2 – Black Star Rising has joined the ranks of high school photo teachers and has a great tip for teaching newbies – tell them every photo needs a verb!

3 – Journalism.co.uk has a terrific post on How To Write a Press Release.  With so many journalism/media majors going into PR, it’s a good bet they may have to do one sometime.

4 – This one is NSFS, so don’t show it to your students without cleanup first, but the ideas are good.  What the F… is Social Media.  Great slide show about the usefulness of the platforms. As a companion to it are 20 Mind Blowing statistics about social media.

5 – Web design teachers, JEA has a useful PDF handout on their site for choosing a URL and getting a hosting service.

6 – If you teach web design and you don’t read hongkiat.com yet, you should.  They have 30 useful scripts for dropdown menus.

7 – I use several tools developed for teachers by Kagan, but here is a free Online Stopwatch when you want to time your students on a certain task.

8 – The CJR (Columbia Journalism Review) has a survey that shows newspapers are still read mainly on dead trees.  Even I’ve been reading the hometown Deadtree Daily more this summer, but I think I won’t have time for it once school starts.

9 – My new camera has 15 MP, how big can I print a photo?  I get this question from photography students a lot.  This chart from Design215 will give you all the answers.

Cool Megapixel to print size chart

Cool Megapixel to print size chart

10 – Hadn’t watched this video in a while, but it still hits me.  Journalism students usually are “the crazy ones.”

11 – And related to Crazy is this post from Mindy McAdams – it is Time To Get Crazy in journalism.  The time for safe is past.  We can’t just keep doing what we’ve been doing, because the results are not good.

12 – Cyndy Green has been great enough to share how she deals with the first week of school in her video production class and how she manages the gear in the classroom – always a huge task.  Thanks.

13 – The incomparable Edit Foundry blog has more on Long Form Editing – this time using closeups.

Baker’s Dozen for today – enjoy and good luck on the upcoming school year.

Cool Links #47: Stress Less

I’m not without stress, but most of my summer waiting stress is over.  My wonderful bride will have a contract and a job this fall.  She is also a teacher and her district had a RIF (reduction in force) and we were not sure until early July as to whether she would have a job or not.  Stressful.  So here are the lower stress links:

1 – Here are 30 Free System Tools for Macs – my favorites are Name Changer, Growl, and Sync Two Folders.

2 – This next one comes from one of my favorite bloggers, although she does not have time to blog often, Miranda Writes has a post with a list of educational reporters who have Twitter feeds and it is organized by state, so check out your state/city.  If you have an education reporter in your town/newspaper and they’re not on her list – let her know.

3 – California State University system has a bank of free images for educational use, check it out.

4 – If you teach web design and use the Free NVU software, here are a great batch of short tutorials for using NVU.

5 – If you ever wanted to use Skype, but were afraid that it was too hard or would cost too much money, then watch this great video about how easy it is to use.

Thanks to Free Technology for Teachers for the tip.

6 – Advancing the Story has an anecdote about how a reporter found, reported and interviewed a story with almost all Internet based tools.  No Internet = no story. Too bad most of these tools are blocked an the majority of schools, because it means we can’t teach our kids how to report using them.

7 – YouTube is trying to do our job.  LOL.  But seriously, they have started a Reporter Center.  Now this link actually crashed Firefox on me earlier today and I thought I had lost this blog post forever.  But I hear there are some really cool videos once you get past the ones from big name news organizations and dig down to PBS, etc.

8 – Mental Floss has a fun post, these are supposed to be the 10 Most Expensive Photos ever sold.  Most are really good photos.

9 – The debate about the future of the news business is ongoing and the NY Times Opinionator blog rehashed a messy war of words about copyright and aggregation online they call the “fight over free.”  Yelvington’s blog has a great post about the wrong headed assumptions of news companies.    Jeff Jarvis’ Buzz Machine has a biting, but factual post about the narcissistic tendencies of journalists and how journalists must change that inward looking personality if they want to survive into the next model of news.   And finally Save The Media blog had two outstanding posts that show exactly how we must change the news business away from the old model or become extinct like Ice Harvesters, while the second post showed that we need to serve niche markets like Sewing Machines.

10 – I hate coming up with “ideas” for yearbook spreads or story topics during February for our TV news show.  The “brainstorming” never works well and students will give you the most inane ideas just to get it over with.  Well, now I will force them to listen to the brainstorming song!  My son loves the Imagination Movers on Playhouse Disney.  The song is catchy, but somewhat inane.

11 – I admire photographer David Anthony for being a true professional.  He found out his VIBE magazine shoot was killed just hours before it was supposed to happen, but he shot the photos and made the subject feel important, and even paid for the studio time.

12 – The 10,000 Words blog has an insightful post about journalists not relying on their tech skills, both because you need to be a good story-teller and the tech skills change very quickly.  I think this may actually be a part of why journalism needs to shrink as a career field.  There are not many people who can master both sides of the field:  tech and story-teller.  I see a future where a small number of these people will create most of the news in very small organizations.  The only real issue to me is how fast the tech changes.  It takes time to learn software/hardware to the point of mastery and it takes money to constantly re-equip yourself with new software/hardware, plus the training.

Happy Summer!

Year End Clean Up

Journalism and Media teachers have a lot more to do at the end of the year than most other teachers.  Sure, we have to turn in books, finalize our grades, turn in fine lists, and deal with all the end of the year check lists.  But we also have a lab and equipment to deal with too.  So, here’s another checklist of to do’s:

1 – Take out all the batteries.  If it has a disposable battery in it, get it out.  Flash units, point and shoot cameras, microphones (lavs), wireless mice/keyboards, remote controls, etc.  Check them for batteries and toss the old ones.  Order new ones. Those AA/AAA/9-volts can go bad and leak acid everywhere.

2 – Clean your lenses and sensors.  If you have DSLRs, then now is a good time to clean the sensor (usually easy) and clean the lenses.  Do NOT use canned air on a DSLR ever!  There is a built in cleaning routine in your camera.  Read the manual/menu.

3 – Clean out your hard drives, reinstall software, fonts, systems, etc.  Get rid of all the old useless junk that has accumulated on any shared disks, servers, etc.  The bigger the disk, the more junk will be hiding.  Backup important files, awesome student projects, etc.

4 – Shut it all down.  Unplug all your computers, monitors, printers, servers, hubs, wireless devices, etc.  Your district will appreciate you not burning power all summer on vampires.

5 – Don’t let video/SLR batteries go flat.  Exception to rule #4.

6 – Take something home for the summer.  Got a new toy or piece of software?  Take it home for the summer and play with it.  Learn it better, stretch your skills, read the manual, use it in a fun summer project.  Anytime we get a new camera, DSLR, software package, etc.  I take it home for vacation and have fun with it.  Make a video of your kids, take photos at the zoo, create a photo collage in Photoshop or InDesign, etc.

7 – Clean off your desk.  Sure you may need to check your voice mail or e-mail in the summer, but try not to leave any projects undone.  Then put everything away in storage.  Come back in the fall to a clean desk.

8 – Take inventory.  What’s broken, missing, worn out or used up?  As you pack up, make a list to stock up.  Do you need paper, toner, pens, batteries, video tape, grid sheets or lens caps?  Make a list, check it twice.

9 – Get next year started off right.  Call your yearbook rep. and your senior photographer.  Make sure the juniors know where to go and when.  Get a list to the photographer of juniors.  Sign your contract for the 2010 yearbook.  Many companies offer an incentive for signing now. Talk to the football coach, band director, dance team sponsor, cheerleading coach, etc. to schedule dates to take team pictures BEFORE school starts.  They are there practicing, so should you.

10 – Get a planner, wall calendar, set up your iCal, get all the important dates in it – like HOLIDAYS, yearbook deadlines, photography dates, etc.

11 – Go home and relax.  Just chill for a while.  You earned it.

Why Apple Rocks!

Yesterday Firefox, my favorite browser, quit unexpectedly.  This is very rare, but it does happen.  It would not relaunch.  So I deleted it and reinstalled from a fresh download.  I launched it, but it would not launch and I got a crazy error message saying Firefox was already running.  Confused?!

So, I restarted my Mac.  Still no go, same error message.  So it was time for search and destroy.  I killed every file related to Firefox.  Restart.  Relaunch.  Still no go.

OK, google to the rescue.  Apple’s website had a useful article on what happened during the crash.  Some invisible file was corrupted.  It even showed you how to find it and delete it.  I tried.  No dice.

Screaming and frustration.

So, I decided it was time to restore my software to it’s original state by erasing the hard drive and reinstall the system software.  This is no easy task.  First step – backup all data.  That took a while.  Then find the system disks.

Panic!  Can’t find them.

OK, try the system disks from the Mac Mini.  Same OS, should work.  It does fine.  Formats the drive and then installs the OS 98 percent and then hangs up.  I try it again.  Same result.

So I try it without the iLife package (where it was hanging up).  It installs.  OK, I’ll deal with it.

I start updating the Mac with software, etc. and try to run the DVD player.  No go.  Then another program won’t run.  This is now too much.  I give up.

Safari is running, so I look up the Houston Galleria Apple Store phone number.  I am now at an all new low.  The tech teacher having to call for help.

The girl on the phone is polite, helpful and even makes an appointment for me at the Genius Bar with in 90 mins. of my call.  I pack up my MacBook, get in the truck and drive.  My iPod is seriously low on power, but it helps me chill out.

I get there 10 min. early and only wait 10 min. until I am helped.  They have me up and running in 30 min. – no charge.  Nothing but helpful associates who know their product.  This is why Apple is better than Windows or Linux.  You just can’t get this kind of customer service anywhere else.

New Media and Old Equipment

Like arsenic and old lace, media and beat up equipment go hand in hand.  This year, with a fairly experienced staff in both broadcasting and yearbook, we were able to keep most of our gear in functioning fashion through the end of the year.

But we do have about four dead and two dying tripods, two beat up-but barely functioning video cameras, an aging SLR, a quartet of tired mac minis, missing mics, damaged headphones, and the end of the line for Photoshop 7.1.  Old equipment eventually has to be replaced.  It can not be made to keep running past its expiration date.

But schools across the land are tightening their belts, allocating more resources to test taking training, and trimming the budget everywhere they can.  I doubt that we will be able to replace all of the equipment that has failed or must be replaced for next school year.  This does not even begin to describe our training budget – non-existent.  We have one new software package this year and will get at least one new one next year.  Without training, I will be the one-eyed man in the colony of the blind.  Sure, I will be king – but they will be lucky to end the year as one-eyed men.

Tech teachers know this, we teach an expensive subject.  The quality of the education we can deliver is directly related to equipment, software and training we can afford.  And unfortunately none of it comes cheap.  We stretch our budget every place we can.  We squeeze as many years out of each computer, camera or other equipment as possible.  Even software doesn’t get upgraded until it just won’t load on the newest machines.

But in many ways it means that we are always behind the times and short on gear.  Lets hope that the new career clusters my state is putting in place will help to put some focus on our plight and maybe even shed a little money our way too.