Monday, May 14, 2007

Make Internet TV

Make Internet TV has a guide to getting started with video, that includes short online videos that demonstrate the various steps.

Semi-professional videos

Download Squad has a great introduction to making cheap but decent videos:
Produce your own semi-professional videos - Part 1 and
Produce your own semi-professional videos - Part 2

Task One: Setting up your video rig

What you need:
1.Digital still (with video capability) or video camera
2. Tripod or other similar rig
3. A rolling apparatus
4. Duck tape, preferably black
5. A laptop, Audacity and a Microphone

Task Two: Action!
So now you have your camera, securely fastened to the tripod, which is securely duct-taped to the rolling cart (or whatever) which has your laptop and microphone on the back of it. Great, now you're ready to rock, and roll both your cart and roll film. You are ready for action.

Task Three: Pre-production and video conversion
Many times, the video format in which you record will not be compatible with the editing software you have.

Task Four: Editing and effects
To edit my movie I used Windows XP's built-in Windows Movie Maker. Sure it has its glitches and problems, but it is A) free, B) available, and C) quick and dirty.

Task Five: Adding sound loops (optional)
My favorite site for this being Flashkit (registration is free but not required) offers several hundred sound loops, most user-submitted, that are free for non-commercial use.

Task Six: Rendering
This task is simple, but takes time, so don't plan any LAN parties for a while. You'll need all the processing muscle you can get. I would usually use the highest quality setting available to render my videos, and then use a better, non-WMM third-party conversion or compression utility to make a smaller version if needed.

Task Seven: Finishing Touches
Another great idea to help put a glowing touch on your finished video product is to burn it to CD-ROM.
Labeling a CD with a nice gradient or bright graphic on the label always help the customer or other audience feel compelled to pop in your CD-ROM to "see what is on it."

PR Photos

Marketing and Branding gives advice on How to Take a Decent PR Photo

# Try to limit the number of people in the photo to three.

# Solid color clothing works well.

# Plain backgrounds also help to keep the clutter to a minimum. Often the photos are converted to black and white so contrast between the foreground and background is helpful.

# A triangular photo composition is best where the main person is looking at one of the others and is being looked at by the other two.

# If the organization you are trying to promote has a symbol or a logo, make sure that it is seen proximately in the photo.

# Is it possible to show a little action? The best PR photos do not have the subjects looking at the camera, but are actually involved in what they a doing.

Huge images

Homokaasu provides a free online feature called Rasterbater that takes any photo and returns it as a pdf file suitable for printing huge posters from your home printer.

Bad Charts and Graphs

Gary Klass writes on How to Construct Bad Charts and Graphs

"The three fundamental elements of bad graphical display are these: Data Ambiguity, Data Distortion, and Data Distraction."

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Easy mistakes worth avoiding

VermontBSD presents a list of common writing errors.

  • They're / There / Their

  • Than / Then

  • Apostrophes (when to use them and w'hen no't to'o)

  • To / Too / Two

  • Affect / Effect

  • "Alot" is not a word

  • By / Buy / Bye

  • Loose / Lose

  • Passed / Past

  • Some spellings are rediculous

  • Plain / Plane

  • To unthaw something is to freeze it. (see "thaw")

  • Wander / Wonder

  • Weather / Whether / Wether

  • Where / Were (vs "wear")

  • Who / Whom

  • Whose / Who's

  • Your / You're

  • Brake / Break

  • Breath / Breathe

  • Compliment / Complement

  • Fair / Fare

  • For / Four / Fore

  • Be well, and do good work.

  • Lead / Led

  • Allowed / Aloud

  • Hole / Whole
  • "

    Thanks to Pogue's Posts

    Ephemeral stores

    Trendwatching writes on Pop-up Retail

    "If new products can come and go, why can't the stores that display them do the same? Well, you guessed it, retail outlets increasingly do. From gallery-like shopping spaces with one-off exhibitions to mobile units bringing innercity-chic to rural areas, TRENDWATCHING.COM has noticed an increase in temporary retail manifestations around the world."

    Tuesday, May 8, 2007

    Press release

    Scott Baradell writes Eight Telltale Signs That Your Press Release Is Bull... These lessons can be applied to many other types of writing.

    "1. Vague claims. Are you a "leading" provider of this, that or the other? So's everybody else."
    Be specific. Provide details. Quantify. Source your data. Where appropriate, include a quote from a third party to verify your claims.

    2. Industry jargon abuse.

    3. Business nonsense talk. Paradigm shift. Scalable. Best of breed. End to end. Mission-critical. World-class. Targeted completion date. Long tail. Crowdsourcing.

    4. Silly superlatives. If what you were announcing were really "revolutionary," you wouldn't need to put out a press release.

    So do yourself a favor and keep your press releases straightforward in structure, clear in language, and supported by facts."

    Tuesday, May 1, 2007

    PowerPoint defense writes In Defense of PowerPointism

    "Microsoft’s PowerPoint is frequently blamed for the poor quality of many presentations and for a supposedly- disastrous state of communication in both the private and the public spheres. Public speakers are lambasted for their wooden stage presence, crippled by their over-reliance on projected slide shows and meaningless bullet-points. The slides themselves, too, are often rife with design crimes ranging from clip-art diarrhea to impenetrable verbosity."

    But, they ask, is it the technology?

    "I wonder if the majority of the world’s crappy presentations wouldn’t be just as bad, or even a hell of a lot worse, if the presenter didn’t have the slides to use as a crutch."

    They finish with these tips:

    "Slim down. If you are a good speaker, yes, consider dramatically limiting your use of slides to help you remember what you want to say...

    You and your slides are inseparable. Do not worry about whether or not each slide makes sense by itself. The best slideshows, in fact, are almost completely nonsensical outside of the context of the live presentation...

    Explore a variety of alternative presentation styles ...

    Evolve. I’ve found that my style has evolved over time specifically because I’ve been watching and emulating other speakers I admire. Every presentation or keynote I attend, no matter how boring or tiresome, usually offers some insight ..."

    thanks to Pogue's Posts