Blogging

April 15, 2010 at 10:10 am (Assignments, Thoughts)

Well, its been interesting.  I can’t say that blogging is my most favorite activity, but I can see how it could be for some.  It is definitely hard to put yourself out there, and I think it is probably a good thing that we have this reluctance.  Writing in general should be something carefully considered.  It should be something which is approached as if it could have positive and negative consequences – because it does.  There is a reason Heidegger said, “Language is the house of being.” He meant language has the possibility for either wonderful or dire consequences, and therefore, we must be very careful about how we use it.  We all know these possibilities, or at least we have a sense of them.  And That is why we are so reluctant to “put ourselves out there,” especially on the internet where our words may end up lasting forever.

On a more appropriate-to-this-class note, I chose to blog about topics suitable to this course for the majority of my posts this semester.  I did give some feedback about some of the critical theory topics in the Landow book, but I mostly wrote about the process of creating my website.  I found that every time I sat down to write a new post, perhaps with the exception of the first two or three, I had no problem with completing the post within a matter of minutes.  There was always a fresh supply of material to write about, provided I had spent some time working on my website.  I think the website theme was an appropriate topic to blog about for this course.

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More Audio Problems…I will move on.

April 11, 2010 at 10:59 pm (Assignments)

In all of our (Dr. Kearney, Wilbert, Andrew and myself – thanks for trying guys) attempts to fix my audio problems for Section 2, there was no success.  The problem, as I have constructed it, has not been solved, and I am regretfully moving to a new solution, one which involves less complicated audio demands.  I plan to simply embed my audio on the page itself without having it “triggered” in any way.  The audio will have an on/off switch, but there will be no complicated behaviors as the mouse cursor moves over the text (I am sad to have this go).

I still have a short bibliography page to add for Section 2, which will document the location of all the pictures which I have borrowed from other pages.  The pictures will be complete with links, and perhaps a small description of why I chose to use the particular pictures where I chose to use them.  This work should complete Section 2 for the final net portfolio.

Further, I still have some general maintenance to do on the aesthetics of my page.  It was suggested a couple of times that my background color did not contrast well with my font color, I plan to change this soon.  Also, the font itself has been suggested as distracting from its content.  This is a problem I certainly don’t want, so it too will be changed shortly.  After I add an update page as well as these changes, I should be ready to tackle Section 3 in all its massiveness.

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Sec 3 Work and Audio Problems

April 8, 2010 at 10:54 am (Assignments)

Section 3 work

As I have been working on my bibliography page, I came across some very interesting information about optical character recognition software.  This is software that converts imaged or scanned text into modifiable text which most word processing software can then recognize.  I believe software such as this has been around for quite some time, but it is obviously not that popular yet.  Just imagine the possibilities though.  For example, I am thinking about taking pictures of text with my phone, having it automatic converted into text, sending this text by e-mail to a friend, and then they may use it for any type of modification within a personal document.  Research possibilities, general reading or any type of editing could be enhance greatly by such software.

I am already searching for an app on  Blackberry appworld that might perform this type of task.  I have found the bar code scanner app and a business card app thus far.  The bar code app will allow a shopper to take a picture of a bar code on a particular piece of merchandise, and then they may compare prices with multiple other pieces of that same merchandise within the area.  The buisness card app, more directly related to the character recognition software, will allow  a user to take a picture of a business card and have it modified into text which the software will then automatically store away among other contacts in an address book.

More relevant to the work I am interested in for this project, Microsoft Office has a program which allows the user to scan and modify any image document.  Although, I have attempted to use this software for pictures of text without success.  Unfortunately the program “Microsoft Office Document Imaging” does not recognize .jpg files.  I am still trying to work around this issue with conversion software.

Audio Problems

Section 2 is still a work in progress.  I have attempted to upload audio in a manner which allows me to play it on a click or rollover, kind of like a behavior; however, I have not succeeded as of yet.  I was able to embed audio so that it will play as soon as the user enters the site, but this is not my goal.  Other than those issues with Dreamweaver, Audacity has been very easy to use.  I would recommend using a small file format for any audio, like .mp3, because of upload time – .wave is much too big and slow.

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Audacity and Section 3 Prep

April 1, 2010 at 12:50 pm (Assignments)

Audacity Work

Section Two Work

I thought I would give a visual of some work I have been doing on Audacity.  I finally purchased a microphone, so I have been playing around with some of the audio, which I would like to upload and integrate for Section 2.  Audacity can be a little time consuming, but the more I use the program, the easier it flows.

I have recorded the full “Wodwo” poem, and now I am going to break it up into parts so that it will correspond to the various lines in the poem.  Since I already have the full poem recorded on file, I plan to include it on the site along with the individual audio files.

I have not looked any further for art work, but as I stated in my last blog, I do plan to remove the current pictures I have.  It just seems like it would be less “random” if I included one or two particular authors rather than pictures which I just stumbled upon.

Section 3 Planning

Planning for section 3 is going alright.  Now that I have an idea and the outline put together, it should be a matter of research and some monotonous work on the design side.  For this section, I would like to use some of the behaviors we learned about for section 2, but I would like to use them in a non-creative way.  I am thinking of the potential for menu “effects” in particular.  It seems like I could do some type of pull-down action with them.  It should be interesting to see how this unfolds.

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Being Creative

March 24, 2010 at 2:47 pm (Thoughts)

Now that we have talked about the Section 2 project in class, I thought I would share a few of my thoughts.  My own project  does what I want it to do now, as far as the behaviors and effects of showing the pictures and so forth.  As was suggested in class, I would like to make it a more collaborative text; however, I am not sure if I will keep the same pictures.  It would be much more “my style,” so to speak, if I were to use a more artistic approach to the use of images within my text.  In other words, rather than going out and finding random pictures which fit my text better, I think it would be more interesting if I linked Hughes’ poem to an artistic representation of nature through one or two artists.

Besides this modification of images, I also plan to use recordings of my voice, which will correspond to each line.  I believe the trick here will be not to make the reader so passive that there is no effort required other than for them to move the mouse.  I would still like the reader to explore the text from their own view point, adding a style of their own to the reading experience, but still transforming their experience of interaction.  For instance, if I link an audio file of a reading for one line, and the reader moves the mouse over that line and hears the reading, but then moves too fast onto the next line, the audio will overlap, it will confuse the reader, and the text will disappear from view.  This type of effect would aid the reader’s experience of the text, but also force them to slow down while reading it, otherwise they will be bombarded with too much data.

Perhaps I could also create the same text with a completely different set of experiences, and then let the user choose which poem to reader before they even enter the hypertext. I do see a number of possibilities with this project.  I am having fun, and looking forward to doing more.

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Hypertexting

March 4, 2010 at 11:50 am (Thoughts)

I spent about 20 minutes in Jason Nelson’s world, and I can’t handle much more than that for now.  I did get some ideas though, and I am sure the audacity program and tutorial will come in handy.  I haven’t had much time to work on the site itself yet, but I do have some pretty good ideas about what I want to do.  My biggest concern with hypertext in general is that it doesn’t really have an entry or exit point.  Even when I clicked directly onto a link from Google, I was not sure if the page I ended up with was where I should start or not.  I am aware there is no right or wrong answer to this, but it concerns me for a number of different reasons.

I am a pro-technology person who does not believe we are somehow separate from it, but what I was experiencing when I went to these hypertext sites was an extreme lack of patience.  Perhaps that is exactly what one needs to commit themselves to learning something from the hypertext literature itself, but I really did not feel like journeying through all the possible paths a certain link or rollover took me on.  T.S. Eliot once said that modern poetry should be difficult, and I understand what he meant, and perhaps it is the same case with hypertext; however, at times it was even hard to read the blurb before it disappeared forever (at least I couldn’t get it back).

Now that I have given my concerns, I do think there are some great opportunities to be had here.  I am sure most of the modernist writers would have loved this as well as existential and phenomenological philosophers.  So it is difficult and it takes a little patience…I guess I can deal with that.  A professor once told me there are one-read books and then there are multiple-read books.  Well, hypertext literature seems like a multiple read/visit type of text.  I think it will be useful, and I am sure we can learn something from it.  Furthermore, I look forward to contributing my piece.

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Blog 3

February 2, 2010 at 12:31 pm (Assignments)

Download.com

Any time I am looking for a new type of software (always free) whether it be an image editor, file converter, audio player, video editor, etc., I start with download.com.  I have been using this site since the late 90s, and I have always been provided with decent results (as good as free can be).

Download.com has a number of different categories from security software to video editing software, and they usually rank and clearly label all listed products for the user.  When viewing a product, the specs reveal price, OS, two different rating systems, date added, and a tally for the number of downloads.  The editor provides a short blurb about the software giving a brief summary of capabilities as well as shortfalls.  Also, just like Amazon, the listed software usually has “other recommendations” which tend to be close matches with the chosen product.

I would say the number of quality software editing programs available for free on the web is relatively small; however there are many out there which are available for a limited time trial (like taking a car home for a few days before you purchase it) or limited capabilities (only able to use certain tools within the software).  Unless someone is doing web editing for a living, most of the trial versions seem to be suitable for web startup or short-term tweaking for long-term blog/web design.  Users also have to watch out for some of the image editors (in the trial versions) because they can leave a watermark on any image edited.

Free Software

I chose three different software programs to highlight, but I am guessing there are much better options through download.com.

FontCreator – Free 30 day trial.

Easy Gif Animator 5.1 – Limited to 20 uses for free, great for creating your own customized animations.

WavePad Sound Editor 4.27 – Free 14 day trial, mostly for editing multiple sounds/music files together.

As far as video editing software, I use the Windows Movie Maker software which comes free with every Windows operating system since XP.  It works great and you do not have to settle for any trial version download from the internet.

“2.0,” Creative Commons, WCAG, and GNU Project

A simple Google search for “2.0” brings up a number of different topics; however, there were only two which made the most sense within the context of Creative Commons licensing, and GNU project.  The sites Creative Commons and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 have more information on these topics.

Creative Commons seems to be a type of labeling system for web content that allows users to be aware of copyright restrictions.  The WCAG 2.0 is somewhat self-explanatory except the goal is really to make content more accessible to users on the web.

The GNU Project, as far as I can tell, is a free operating system like linux or, ultimately windows (except GNU is free).  This is “free software” in the sense that it is open-source, that is, the computer code may be shared, distributed, and improved by any user.  This is different from most software distributed by a for-profit company because such software is primarily closed-source, i.e., the software code is not available for distribution or improvement by the user.

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Assignment Two

January 26, 2010 at 1:25 am (Assignments)

There is plenty of information about blogging on the web.  I found a number of different sites, most of them tutorials from blog-provider sites, with numerous tips and tricks for creating a successful, creative, and attractive blog.

Effective Blogging

The first informational blog which “caught my eye” was a site called Webdesigner Depot.  They had posted a blog with seven tips (along with sub-tips) for creating an “effective” blog site.  These tips are:

  1. find inspiration
  2. do research
  3. have effective writing
  4. post images
  5. take time to publish
  6. promote your blog
  7. follow up

This site encouraged, first and foremost, a “structure and commitment” to your blog site in order to blog effectively.  As far as inspiration, Webdesigner Depot encourages the use of sites like digg.com and delicious.com to find popular topics – topics which have numerous hits probably indicate good follow-up discussion blogs.  Keeping track of current affairs is also important for finding inspiration.  Keeping a blog “with the times,” so to speak, indicates what people are interested in right now.  Also, it helps to design a blog around what types of opinions people wish to read about in contrast to objective news sites.

Webdesigner Depot encourages research because it will allow for the compilation of reference material as well as the proof that the author has dedicated time and effort to creating a professional blog.  Next, effective writing skills and image posting are additional ways to attract readers without alienating them.  When I read something online, I am more inclined to revisit the site if grammatical errors go unnoticed.   Pictures add a visual break from dense text as well as an aesthetic element of attraction.  Promotion of one’s blog is pretty much a no-brainer, but Webdesigner Depot encourages the use of social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

For some reason, follow-up seems like the most over-looked tip for a blog designer.  Readers want to leave comments for the author to read, and really, this is one of the fundamental differences between traditional articles in a newspaper, magazine, or other non-digital text source.  How great it must feel to get feedback from the author of an article you just left a comment on.

Blog Basics and Advanced Design Tutorials

Other sites I found to help with blog creation and fundamentals included blogbasics.com and tutorialblog.com.

A better site for defining and explaining the components of a blog rather than the creation of an effective blog, blogbasics.com has a three-part tutorial which lays out the most basic protocol for a blog.  This would be a good starting point for someone who is not familiar with the structure of a blog, and would like to start the design process before concentrating on effectiveness.

Tutorialblog.com seems like a site for more advanced bloggers who are looking to improve an already effective blog.  This site offers ways to advance one’s blog to the next level in areas such as organization, promotion, and software improvement.  For example, one post explains how to post effective promotional ads on sites such as Facebook and Google.

Use of Blogs

My first exposure to blogging was from the political realm, such site as Huffington Post and The Daily Beast are news blogs I am most familiar with.  For example, Huffington Post, created by Arianna Huffington, is primarily a left-wing news blog which digs up the stories most mainstream news sites ignore. This blog tends to get at the juicy information, sometimes focused more on gossip and opinion rather than objective news coverage.

Blogs such as The Kenneth Cole Blog and The Case Foundation Blog focus on the social and humanitarian awareness for various organizations, communities, projects, and groups around the world.  Sites such as these can be purely informational, or they can strive for fundraising or volunteer organization.  For example, The Case Foundation Blog currently has a post about ways an individual may help the relief effort in Haiti after the recent earthquake.

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Blog One

January 14, 2010 at 8:25 pm (Assignments)

The Creation

The creation of this blog was really not too difficult (the signing up part, and getting to the editing page).  The choice of my theme took the most time, as I browsed through just about all 78 options; I found one which was pleasing enough.  My final choice does not really represent me in any special way; I just found the color and small design around the border appealing.  My title is in a font which I don’t particularly like, and I have not yet been able to figure out how to change this.  I signed up to for the “typekit” fonts from the suggested site linked to wordpress.com; however, I was not able to change the font for the title, only the title itself.

Creating the First Post

Other than the initial theme set up, I have been concentrating on what can be done under the posting of this first blog (post vs. page – generally it appears that posts are for chronological activity-recording – listed by date – and pages appear to be for informational purposes, edited on a regular basis).  I am also able to use colors, but have not yet been able to modify the font.

Gravatar

I went to “Edit Profile” under “My Account” to create my Gravatar.  I was able to upload a picture of myself, but that is about it.  What do I do next with a Gravatar?

Widgets

I modified some the the widgets on the right hand side of my page, but I have not attempted anything intense with them yet.  I figured out how to create and edit static pages; however, my “About” page is really nothing special as of now.

Inserting Links

Just as an experiment, so that I would know how to do it, I inserted a link to the PSH homepage.  I did this from the “Links” button in the editor.  The link appears under the “Blogroll” widget.

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