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Embedding Audio December 15, 2009

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In this session we learnt how to embed Audio into a post on our site. To play audio on our website we needed to install an audio player. In order to do this you need a plugin on the site.

How to embed Audio

1. Go to Site Admin and click Add Plugin, then Add New

2. Search: Powerpress (podcasting software)

3. Install blubrry powerpress

4.  Go to Manage Plugins, click on Powerpress

5. Use Normal, save changes

6. Find an MP3 clip on the internet eg Clavia MP3 files

7. click on the link – download link to file

8. Go to Admin – Media – Add New, select file

9. Click Edit Media and copy the file URL

10. Go to your post, paste into Podcast Episode – Media URL

11. Save Draft, Preview, click play

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Embedding Video December 15, 2009

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In this session we looked at the different video sharing sites and how to embed a video we want to use. The most popular site is Youtube, but there is also others such as Vimeo and Dailymotion. The purpose of an embed code is to tell the browser how to show the video.

How to Embed a Video

1. Open a new tab, search for a video on Vimeo

2. Copy the embed code

3. Go back to the post window

4. Change to HTML mode

5. Paste the code into the window, delete vimeo at the end of the bracket.

Changing the size – alter the height and width figures at both the beginning and the end of the code.

Search December 15, 2009

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In this session, we learnt about search engine optimisation. This is the process of designing our site so that it will appear higher in the search engine rankings. In order to do this we have to think about what our audience is going to look for. The higher a site appears in the rankings, the more viewers it will get. Keywords are very important in this process. They help to identify what the audience will be searching for and are what is picked up by the search engines.Keywords can be tricky, e.g 100 MB can be typed 100 Mbit or 100mb, technically there is no rule.

Keyword Tools

Google Adwords – It can be used to advertise but is also a useful source for keyword ideas. You can either search by topic or website content – this requires you to enter the url of the website and it will analyse your website to determine keyword ideas. It will then come up with common searches related to the topic, and the volume of searches per month for each search term.

How you phrase something can be very important as to the results it will return on a search engine. For example, score cricket will bring different results to cricket scoreboard.

Acronyms

If Acronyms are used, e.g AMV (Abbott, Mead, Vickers) it assumes people know who they are. It can be difficult to decide what phrase to use, AMV or Abbott Mead Vickers as we are unsure what people will search for.

Keywords in the headline are useful for search purposes, for example, Josh Brolin stars in AMV campaign for Mercedes has a lot of keywords in it that people will search for.

Web Content – Navigation and Usability November 18, 2009

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In an introduction to online journalism, we covered the navigation and usability of web content. These two elements are important because to have a successful site, you need to understand how people consume it’s content.

We looked at the F-shaped pattern, a theory by Jakob Nielsen for how people read web content. The theory explains that users do not read content thoroughly, but instead scan it in a pattern throughly resembles an F-shape. To ensure that the most important parts of an article are read by the user, they must be placed at the top of the shape.

This practice is similar to print, but is even more crucial for the web as the average user only spends 30 seconds on a web page. On the web, the user can browse a vast amount of content extremely quickly, so it is important to hold their attention. In print however, a reader will buy a paper and having made that investment want to read it’s content. In this instance the pressure to hold their attention is less. We learned that sub heads and bullet points are a useful technique for attracting attention to information, particularly as they sit at the left hand side of a page, where the reader will look first.

It was a useful exercise to look at various websites and the different methods of navigation and their usebility. This is because it allowed us to analyse how they were or were not successful. Failblog is an example of a concept purpose-built for the web. It could only exist there as it relies on user submitted content, but this interactiveness makes it perfect for the internet. Users can also vote on the material.

Flickr is a photo sharing site that is extremely user-friendly. It has categories, search, tags and even lets users vote on organisation. The BBC site has clear categories and search, however the categories are at the side which means they are cut off with a smaller screen size. The guardian’s website has chosen to set it’s layout similar to the newspaper with the same categories, but they are clear and simple, set out across the top of the page. The material is authoritive having been written by journalists.

The navigation of a site is usually at the top as this makes it viewable whatever the screensize. Categories must be clear to a first – time reader, abbreviations are best avoided to ensure this. Analysing these methods of navigation will help me to avoid mistakes on my site navigation and to find some useful aspects to include on my site.

Group Blogging May 5, 2009

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I recently participated in a group blog on music with the rest of the class.

It was a valuable experience and a good exercise in team work to organise the set up of the blog between us. We had to discuss and come to decisions on the title, the blog’s appearance and it’s content.

We gave the blog a simple title, uca music, and spotted a graphic of a silhouette of a what could be a music crowd and thought that suited the purpose of our blog perfectly. Music blogs do tend to focus on particular genre. However the musical tastes of the group were quite varied so this would not have been ideal for us.

We decided to do things slightly differently and have a blog which incorporated each individual’s own taste in music. That way everyone would feel comfortable being able to write about what they were knowledgable about rather than struggle with a fixed genre that they did not know much about or did not particularly like.

I usually write about sport and it was an interesting experience to write about music for the first time. I really enjoyed it and would definitely consider pursuing the subject more in the future.

Wacko Jacko Vox Pop March 19, 2009

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I recently went out and made a short film capturing students thoughts on Michael Jackson’s forthcoming tour. Here is the results:

michael-jackson1

I’m not a fan of Michael Jackson myself and it is fair to say I’m pretty cynical about his motives for the tour. He would like the fans to believe it is a reward for the support they have given him over the last few years, though some difficult times. It is more likely however that the real reason is an attempt to repay the large debts that his Neverland ranch has incurred.

Premiership Play-offs- A Viable Option? March 5, 2009

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I was listening to Adrian Durham on TalkSport last night and with Manchester United pulling away from the chasing pack once again, he suggested the idea of Premiership play-offs. The idea at first seems ludicrous, having had a system that has worked so well for so long. After all we all know that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. 

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However, once you get past that and think about it more the concept does seem to make a lot of sense. For a long time now people have bemoaned the fact that the destination of the Premiership trophy is decided long before the final stage of the season in May. A Play-off system would change all this, and perhaps inject some excitement back into the Premiership that had been lacking in recent years.

It is something which has been in operation in rugby union for a while now and has been very successful. For one thing the Premiership is always looking for new ways to make money as proved with the idea of the 39th game. There is no doubt that it would delight the financial men at both the Premier League and the clubs involved. The prospect a huge money spinning game at Wembley to decide the title would be a big incentive for them. The television audience for such a match would be incredible. After all the prospect of Manchester United relinquishing the title after dominating all season is enough to get anyone watching right?

It’s certainly food for thought…

Citizen Journalism March 4, 2009

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This concept of citizen journalism is one that I find very intriguing. It is one that gives ‘power to people’ and anyone can be writers and give their take on an event. The idea was given a platform because of the arrival of blogging and has been growing ever since.

The true power that citizen journalism can have was seen with the Baghdad Blogger, Salam Pax, in 2003. His blog began upon the declaration of war on Iraq and continued right up to the start of the conflict. It gave a detailed insight into what day to day life was really like for citizens in Baghdad preparing for war. This was something that a qualified journalist in a Baghdad hotel could never gain access to. The strict censorship operating in Iraq at that time would have made it impossible. As the popularity of the blog grew it became recognised by the media and they realised that it could be a rich source for news. They were discussing what was being written and analysing it’s content. It is a success story for citizen journalism because the man behind that blog was yet another voice that wanted to be heard and he achieved that.

Another example of a success was The Policeman’s Blog where member’s of the police force are invited to share some of their experience of their job and importantly air some of their grievances in the process. This has the potential to be very effective to the police to try to improve the conditions which they are working under and become more effective in their job. It has given them a vehicle to expose to the public the needless bureaucracy that has been restricting the time they have to go and combat crime. It has also allowed them to reveal the failings in the criminal justice system. This useful because the larger it’s following is, it has more public support and pressure from them could hopefully change the way the police work for the better.

Finally I looked at Wikileaks, an information sharing site. It is a site that encourages people to leak documents onto it that expose information that they believe the public should know. This is a good idea in principle if it allows people to expose wrongdoings. However, there is a serious ethical issue of whether certain information is really in the public’s interest and should be released.

This is one of the problems surrounding this type of citizen journalism. Whereas professional journalists follow a code of practice restricting what they can publish it does not apply to citizen journalists. This means they may publish information that could have serious consequences for the people involved. An example of this was the recent publishing of the member list for the British National Party with their personal details. Although many of us condemn theirs views and activities it is still a legal political party and these people are within their rights to be involved with it.

It is vital to remember that publishing personal details is in breach of these people’s privacy and in this case could be detrimental to their safety. Individuals who have strong views against the BNP may wish to act on it and that puts the members at risk of being attacked. In light of this it can be said that their are many positives with citizen journalism; but it is important that those participating consider ethical issues within their work before releasing it into the public domain.

It’s over at last! March 2, 2009

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My seven day abstinence from music reached its end on Friday and what a relief that is! The last day did prove to be difficult, particularly early on. I had a theory lecture for 3 hours which can be hard enough, but with no means of lightening the burden with some music during the break.                              

     It got slightly better in the afternoon however. I had a print lecture and it’s more practical nature compared to theory meant that I was able to occupy myself and take my mind away from music. During the break, listening to the commentary on the West Indies v England test match also proved to be a welcome distraction. That’s saying something considering their performances over the last few months! Although on reflection listening to Geoffrey Boycott talking about the merits of batting cautiously doesn’t quite compare to 20 minutes of guitar playing genius by Jimi Hendrix.

In the evening, having returned home for the weekend I found solace in playing Fifa 09 on my PS3. It is virtually impossible to become bored with a football game in my opinion. I never tire of trying to find the next young player whose rapid ascent to world superstar will strengthen Reading FC’s status as the best team in the world (if only in virtual reality). A little sad? Maybe, but it was crucial to seeing me through to the finish line, and my abstinence from abstinence you might say.

I can’t tell how grateful I was to finally be able to pick up my iPod again. The satisfaction to be got from listening to my favourite music was something I had vastly underestimated in taking up this challenge. Music is engrained in my lifestyle and that of many other people, and without it the world would frankly be a rather boring place to live in.

Not Long Now February 27, 2009

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So far so good, I have somehow managed, to get this far, nearly six days without music. Today will be testing though as I will have to confront the dreaded shorthand with my only form of entertainment during breaks unavailable to me. It will definitely be a challenge. After an hour and a half of monotony, music is a welcome escape; if only for twenty minutes. If I can negotiate that hurdle then completing my task will become slightly easier. 

I will be relying on the internet (especially facebook) and my Playstation 2 to see me through to the end. One factor that is proving to be particularly testing is avoiding sampling all the new music that is on offer. I am always keen to discover new artists and their work, as I feel music is a fantastic outlet for broadening your horizons and opening your mind to genres and styles that you had never really considered before. In the midst of this abstinence I have been deprived of that. The timing happens to be very unfortunate as it my birthday next week and family and friends are quizzing me for gift ideas. New music is usually top of the list, but due to my abstinence I’m unable to sample new material.

The announcement of the line-up for this year’s Reading Festival is due next week and many people are creating mock posters in anticipation of that. I was eager to explore the music of these artists to get a taste of what could be on offer should they play at the festival. Unfortunately I must do without that pleasure for one more day, here’s hoping I make it.