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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Winooski River Slideshow

Posted By on Thu, Jul 20, 2006 at 12:03 PM

Well, here it is, our third attempt at an audio slideshow. Feel free to compare and contrast it with the Burlington Free Press' latest slideshow, featuring Magician Tom Joyce.

I thought my audio turned out ok, though we're pricing a new recorder. I won't describe the methods we used to transfer the WMA file to the editing program and to Soundslides, but suffice it to say I don't ever want to do it again.

Incidentally, the Times Argus is also running a series about the Winooski River this summer. Thanks, Heather, for the tip.

Soldiers on YouTube

Posted By on Thu, Jul 20, 2006 at 10:13 AM

Want to understand how citizen media is changing how we see the world? Watch this video (via Daily Dish) of American soldiers destroying a house in Iraq. A soldier posted it to YouTube. No doubt the military will soon crack down on such an unfiltered perspective of war.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bernie Sanders
Vermont politicians' "blogs"

Posted By on Wed, Jul 19, 2006 at 8:04 AM

Yesterday I wrote about my irritation with the Burlington Free Press blogs, which for some strange reaason, lack outgoing links. In an act of rebellion, I planted a link to Richard Tarrant's campaign website in the comments thread of a post about his site.

I went back this morning to check if the link was still functioning — it is — and I followed it to the campaign website. I've been there a few times, but for some reason, never noticed the "blog" that Tarrant "writes."

Now, politicians' blogs are notoriously dull. Spontanaeity and a strong, original voice animate the stuff we write online, and occasionally make our blogs worth reading. But in politics, both of those traits can be deadly. So it's not surprising that Tarrant's blog is utterly lifeless.

Here's how Tarrant's campaign explains his blog: "It is important for Rich to convey his opinions and thoughts to youabout the issues of the day in a straightforward and honest manner. Inorder to serve as your Senator, he needs to hear what your opinions areon these same issues."

Fair enough. But why, then, does the current page of entries consist of articles from newspapers, and a letter from Tarrant's campaign manager? But don't bother leaving a comment on the blog asking Tarrant to explain — you can't! There aren't any comments. Not a big deal, really, except that the campaign has just urged people to share their opinions. Weird, especially for a guy who founded a software company.

Bernie Sanders' blog, on the other hand, is far more net-savvy, and is so far the clear winner in the Vermont senatorial blog race. The candidate himself doesn't post, but his supporters do, and they let readers comment. Looks like they're not attracting much feedback yet.

My only complaint is that Sanders' site doesn't say much about the bloggers. Who are they? Do they work for Sanders? Are they volunteers? What's the deal? I want more transparency.

Tags: ,

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Geeky technical question

Posted By on Tue, Jul 18, 2006 at 8:03 PM

I'm having this problem. I just bought this nifty Olympus digital audio recorder to gather audio for my multimedia slideshows. Problem is, it only records WMA files, and I have a Mac. The software I'm using to synch the photos and the audio track (Soundslides) requires MP3 or WAV or AIFF files. The WMA format makes editing difficult, too.

I've been looking online all day, but I can't find a dang Mac-compatible converter that will turn my WMAs into MP3s. Anybody know of any freeware or cheap software that I can download tonight or tomorrow morning to address this issue, so I can share my nifty Winooski River slideshow with the world?

Also, should I return this recorder and buy something else? If so, what?

Best Vermont BlogVermont Blogs part of this year's Seven Days' Daisies awardVermont Blogs part of this year's Seven Days' Daisies award

Posted By on Tue, Jul 18, 2006 at 9:06 AM

Ok folks, the polls are open. It's time to vote for your favorite Vermont-based blog. The winner will receive the coveted Best Vermont Blog Daysie award.

The rules are simple:

* Anyone, anywhere can vote.
* Everybody gets one vote. No ballot-box stuffing!
* The blogs you vote for must be on my my blogroll. If you want to vote for a Vermont blog that's not listed, let me know about it, and I'll add it.
* Make sure you give us the URL, not the blog's title.
* The polls close at 5pm on July 3.

Vote here, and spread the word!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Newspapers are hotbeds of online experimentation!

Posted By on Mon, Jul 17, 2006 at 8:28 PM

That's what this Media Life Magazine article  says. I believe it. Publishers are so worried about declining circulation that they'll try almost anything. "The new catchphrase," the story says, "Try it, see if it works."

I like that. 

Speaking of which, the Burlington Free Press has added yet another new blog: Vermont Field Journal, by Outdoors Editor Matt Crawford. Cool.

You would think that with all my posts about their blogs, they would, like, link to this site... but oh, wait, not only do they not have blogrolls, but their posts are mysteriously devoid of links! What's the deal?

Look at this post about a Tarrant campaign web ad. The post is about something on the web and they don't link to it! Is this a software glitch? Or do their corporate overlords fear that once readers leave the site, they'll stay gone? Hotbed of experimentation, indeed.

But I'd like to end this post on a positive note, so I'll point out that Scott Monroe of the Stowe Reporter has a MySpace page. He friended me recently, which is how I made that remarkable discovery. I've never actually met Scott, but I read his blog, 49 School Street. Yay for reporters willing to experiment! I like the title of his profile: "When news breaks... we fix it."    

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Summertime on the Winooski

Posted By on Sun, Jul 16, 2006 at 4:11 PM

If you're reading this, you're probably not outside. Too bad — it's a beautiful day. Of course, I'm not out enjoying myself, either. I'm hunched over my desk writing a story for next week's paper. Sigh.

Fortunately, I spent all day yesterday outside, traveling the length of the Winooski River with Charles Fish, author of In the Land of the Wild Onion. His capable narration caused me to view that waterway with new eyes. Here's a shot from the most scenic spot we visited, above the Bolton Dam.

I-89 runs across the bank from where I was standing when I took this picture. I drive past it all the time, and I had no idea this gorge even existed. That's Camel's Hump in the distance.

You can read all about our trip on Wednesday.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Last Chance

Posted By on Sat, Jul 15, 2006 at 7:25 AM

To buy space on the Kajillion Dollar Car. That's the very small vehicle Vermonter Seth Beck will be driving from London to Ulan Bator later this month. If you want to help him compete in the Mongol Rally 2006, today (Saturday) is your last chance to give him some cash.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Report from Baghdad

Posted By on Fri, Jul 14, 2006 at 10:45 AM

Looking for a first-hand account of life in Iraq? Here's one from Baghdad Burning. There are many, many others, representing various points of view, and I invite you to mention some in the comments section. But this one struck me as particularly powerful when I found it on Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish this morning.

All of this is brought to you by the amazing Internet.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Using common sense on the Internet

Posted By on Thu, Jul 13, 2006 at 9:33 AM

Hey, it's about time! MySpace owners News Corp. have launched a campaign to help parents understand how to keep their kids safe online. Their website, Common Sense: Internet Safety Survival Guide, explains the online world to parents and others who don't yet comprehend MySpace, YouTube, blogs, iTunes, etc. 

Yes, this is run by the company that owns MySpace, so you've got to take that into account, but it still looks to me like a potentially handy resource for parents tired of the one-note media fearmongering. It would be great if an objective third party would step up and create and promote such a functional site, but if a better one than this exists, I don't know about it.

Here's an example of the "Common Sense Tips" from the site's page on Online Social Networking:

  1. No social networking for kids in middle school or younger.

  2. Balance your teen's need for privacy and self-expression with concerns about safety and responsibility.Forbidding social networking sites probably won't work for kids in highschool, so focus your energies on appropriate postings and safetyinformation.

  3. Create safe privacy settings. Make sure they're set for “friends only.”

  4. Tell kids to think about their photos and entries before they’re posted.Since anything can be downloaded and forwarded, ask your kids if theywant the world to see what they post. Remind them that future collegesor potential employers could be checking them out.

  5. Make sure they avoid all personal identifiers and avoid postings about parties, events, or activities where a stranger could find them.

  6. Don't let kids meet strangers.

There's plenty more, along with descriptions of how sites work, and how parents can snoop on their kids if they choose to. I haven't dissected it all yet, but on first glance, I'd say it looks useful.

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