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March 2011

Private Stuff in Public Places

I'M POSTING A SHORT video clip made by one of the SonyEricsson Xperia X8 handsets that we use in our Web Promotion for Business course. I got the clip via Bluetooth from one of the ex-Dell workers on the course after he finished recording a quick on-location piece in Limerick's Milk Market. Although the recording is meant to complement a body of work related to local tourism, the participants also came face-to-face with an expectation of privacy that I'm discussing during a meeting of the group this week. The lesson: even when you're in a public space, those inside your focal length may not approve of your use of recording equipment.

Faces and Places


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Using Two Mics

MicsI CARRY TWO MICS (at left) in my Bihn bag because I like to have gear that works with both my laptop and my digital audio recorders. I like mics that can be used in the field with dedicated recorders as well as being useful when lined in via my laptop's mic port. A few years ago, the USB mics I used generated hiss or hum that I could not reduce by a software gate so I started using the mic ports instead. I prefer the Rode or Beyerdynamic shotgun mics (both costing more than EUR 200) because they capture a wider range of the human voice. The Audio Technica lapel mic is convenient but as its recording level shows on the Audioboo clip, it's not as good as the Rode mic. It cost me EUR 120. Both of my mics are powered by a single AA battery and they have proven to be very resistant to damage in the field. In fact, the weak link is the XLR-to-3.5 cable. As I'll explain in a workshop at the ICT in Education Conference, it's easy to pull and disconnect internal leads on that cable. To hear the audio comparison of my two mics, click the link attached to my blog post.

Two Mics on Test

On Audioboo: "Two Mics to Test IE9 Line-in".

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Measuring Real Influence

Twitter InfluenceAS AN ONLINE WRITER, I am sitting on a blog with a declining reach. I can see the numbers erode every week. I can also see the same kind of problem with social media, but I also have handy advice offered by David Armano in a Quora article. To some extent, these follower counts are just a numbers game. You can definitely boost your social reach and try to claim a position of influence by referring to a solo metric. But a single number fails to measure real influence. You need seven different measuring points to accomplish that feat. Casual observers can see those metrics by looking at the number of lists people are on, the replies people get, the number of retweets, the follower ratio, and the volume of tweets spouted by someone online. But it's a little harder to see tweets that earn a "favorite" status and it's a separate exercise to deem whether someone has quality followers. David Armano explains seven useful metrics when trying to suss out someone's influence.

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Irish Net Blocking by the Back Door

At the SceneWHEN I SPOTTED ordinary decent gurriers ransacking our local building site (see right), I expected the police response to be appropriate and effective. When I watch the Paedophile Investigation Unit of An Garda Siochana do its business, I expect the same kind of effective response. However, if the letter sent to Irish ISPs is any indication, that's not going to happen. In the document, leaked to Digital Rights Ireland, guards want the ISPs to block domain addresses when they suspect something illegal is happening. This kind of a step normally requires legislation, public consultation or democratic discussion. But if you give the official letter proper standing, you have to assume internet filtering in Ireland has moved to the implementation stage. And while this blocking attempt tries to stop access to child pornography past track records suggest it won't be effective.

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Listening to #edchatie

THE MONDAY EVENING #edchatie discussion on Twitter is another short and sweet usage of Twitter that showed me some things worth integrating to the ICT in Education Conference in Tipperary Institute next month. I've embedded a video on my blog post about the hour-long #edchatie session because it's an example of the 99 other resources previously cited in these Twitter chats. Those resources also sit as social bookmarks on Delicious where they're tagged edchatie. I culled several important facts from the Twitter cross-talk about ways to break down resistance to the use of technology in Irish schools.

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Traffic Hacks

Writing a PodcastTHANKS TO THE participants in the Web Promotion for Business course that we're running in the Absolute Hotel, I'm learning more about what drives people to blogs. In the case of my Inside View blog, the most common upstream reference point to me is Twitter. If an appealing item from my blog appears on Twitter, I know I will earn a reader. I could hack at this referrer point by tweeting more of my links from my @topgold position or by getting people to retweet things I post. The second most common referrer point to the main "desktop" view of my blog comes from mobile phones. This means someone has gone to the blog on their phone and then toggled into the main Inside View blog by asking for the full version of my website. I've discovered that my mobile blog software keeps most images and videos out of view which means people have to click to see them in the larger desktop version of my blog. The third most common place that sends people my way is Google Reader. If I want to boost that number, I need to blog more. Nothing affects my daily stat count more than a fresh piece of content. And now you know the three referrers I can hack to attract you back to read my stuff.

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Ethics in the Sunday Papers


The WinnerETHICAL BEHAVIOUR in Irish politics is a long-standing deficiency. The Sunday paper's try to unpack 2375 pages of investigation into a local national politician but even the easy-reading criticism of Michael Lowry won't derail his local machine. That's because he runs an effective constituency service and local people want to know that they can pick up the phone, call their elected TD, and get a result. Lowry got a result for Esat Digifone when he was the Minister for Communications but that result appears to be entangled in donations, currency transfers and underwritten loans. A follow-up investigation may be in the works but at the end of the day, unless Ireland implements the UN Convention against corruption, nothing will change. On top of that, the Irish political system is skewed towards electing national politicians who work more like lobbyists instead of legislators. Changing that mindset will take generations. In the meantime, Lowry's behaviour has to be judged by community standards. His professional community, the Dail, hasn't even considered censuring him. Life goes on.


Sunday News 27 March 2011

Direct link to YouTube:

Last Week: "Sunday news after the big win", March 20, 2011.

Last Month: "GE11 from an American point of view", February 27, 2011.

Last Year: "Move Along Qikly", March 21, 2010.

Five years ago I was visiting Amish country (March 27, 2006).

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Nokia Shorts

THERE ARE SO MANY reasons to love the Nokia N8 and one of them is video quality. People have been creating some amazing short films using the Nokia N8 handset. I followed the winning entries in the Nokia Producers competition a couple of weeks ago and wondered if they would go to Edinburgh's, Darklight's or Galway's film festivals. It looks like they might, based on the ambitious competition in association between Nokia and Vimeo. 

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Handheld HD with Qik Video Connect Plus



I SPENT MY FIRST coffee with Qik today, using Qik Video Connect Plus. It's an iPhone app that is totally integrated to all the social services and it incorporates several clever real time effects. There are two versions of the application available: Qik Video Connect and Qik Video Connect Plus. I paid $2.99 for the Plus version because I wanted the HD quality video. You can get a free version, Qik Video Connect, in the app store. The app is clever but it doesn't remove the need for the user to remember to turn the camera so it records in the best aspect ratio. I didn't and the result shows in the video clip that I made.

Qik -- Video Connect and my video.

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My Local My Tipp

Southtipp Is Open for BusinessI LIVE AND WORK in County Tipperary, Ireland so I'm interested in what that means to distant friends, potential collaborators and to my local community. The South Tipperary County Council have a video that pushes home the message of working in Tipperary. Since my creative multimedia students would be in the crosshairs of multinational companies setting up shop in our area, we've combed through the video to see how it reflects reality on the ground. I'll publish the results after the May exams because I plan to feature a question about the video on the public relations exam. I want to read how students would revise the video or reframe the message. Here is a direct link to the video:

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