Friday, July 31, 2009

Weightless on the Finally Friday Freakout

Yes even on vacation I can freak out because I have to return to the Salt Mine on Monday. Sigh. But you can be freaked out by beauty, creativity and the unknown. I know nothing of Erika Janunger

I was researching a post and I saw this video.



It reminds me of the Fred Astair movie, Royal Wedding. It reminded me how much I miss seeing men dance, or women for that matter.

Yes, I know there are dance competition shows on television. That isn't what I mean. Not knocking it at all. Think of dance as poetry. Not enough poetry or dance in the world. Getting harder to seek and find.

It reminds me that we are care takers of creativity and we sample, add a bit of this and pass it on to the next person.

It reminds all of us how much we miss the arts, and how all of us have been funneled into a narrow view of what is and isn't in style, acceptable or creatively valid.

Enjoy.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sunset Concerts at Skirball - Summer of Staycation 7

Alright for those of you on the Sepulveda side of the fence I got the Sunset Concerts at Skirball. Thursday night between now and August 13th are covered with music of the commercial track.

This means that people actual sing and perform with tactile instrumentation and there is a good chance you never heard this music before. Not only that but you can romp around and check out the stuff at the Skirball Center and up your cross cultural quotient.

A two for one freebie - what is not to like?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Video Geek Lab - Business and Product Support Resources

This is the fourth segment virtual handout on the BlogHer09 Web Video/Videoblogging session of the Geek Lab. There is a lot of pure bunkum that is being perpetrated in this area. Lurk, observe and do not give your money until you are sure that the person or company has demonstrated experience.

This means that if you see a tacky looking slide show and they claim to be “video experts” who will teach you how to create video for a price, move along. Also Search engine optimization is not the same as producing good content be it text, audio, photos or video.

The flim flam is excessively high so be very picky about these type of content providers. What I am trying to say is the true goal is the same for all types of web video; to communicate a message.

You first need to understand what you want the video to do for you. Yes, I know for a fraction of you the goal is to make money.

I have to tell you most successful money generating people I have met, and I do know some Benjamin packing people, have in common is that they have a product or service that they believe in AND that there is a clear benefit to the consumer.

The benefit has a value of X . Honestly the focus has to be on what can you do for your potential customer before she or he commits to buying your service or product.

What Has This Got to do with Web Video for Business?

This is your opportunity to by pass your local TV and radio stations who will not sell you time to promote your product and service.

This is your time to help your customers understand what your product can do for them and explain it on your terms. Your occasional or ongoing series of videos can help make that decision.




Cori Chavez's goal is to help small business people using video with the equipment that they have. Her focus may be to be known as an expert. I don't know. But the videos on her blog do not talk about her knowledge. They demonstrate help and assistance to the viewers and potential customers.

Videos can help in product support or demonstrating how to use, wear or incorporate a product into a consumer's lifestyle. At BlogHer I received a DVD from a woman who is promoting Pilates for desk jockeys. When my box of stuff arrives I'll put in the name of the video.

Now I'm do not have an exercise blog, and I am not the first person you think of when it comes to physical fitness. But if someone asks me about desk based back and abs exercises I now have a resource for them to check out. I do know folks with back and fitness problems.

I can refer them to the website that if they have good sense, demonstrate one or two exercises that would cause a person to buy the DVD. This is Social Media 101.

Are you catching my drift? The business videos you create have to support the needs of your potential clients and customers. Not how great the product is or could be for them.

Oh, yeah, one more thing. Do not lie of deceive people. It is wrong. People will talk. And not everybody gets to go to the Country Club prison.

Equipment:
  • Upper Level Digital Camcorder
  • Prosumer Camcorder
  • External good quality microphones, tripods, lighting.
  • Hiring professional assistance to start.
There are many kinds of business videos. These are business video examples and I make no judgment or endorsement of the products or services presented.

Cisco Systems Business Video Portal

David C. Skul - video on YouTube on 5 Tips for Effective Web 2.0 Marketing. I then backtracked to his website to find out about his services and other resources that I will post below.

Gerry Oginski at The Lawyer's Video Studio is promoting the use of video for lawyers.

IRS video explaining the benefits of Retirement plans with captioning.

Megs Concession Supply has videos that demonstrate concession food machines and products.

Poor Specimen.TV caters to surfing enthusiasts and those that remember back in the day of the surf film. You purchase and view videos online.

WellcomeMat.com is a portal for real estate videos and real estate video services.


As you can see the video quality is all over the place. Yes thousands of folks are trying web video for business but only a few are doing it correctly. There will always be room for quality. Content rules but quality for business video is equally important. Like the Instructional tutorials you gotta have a plan. These following people can help.

Creating Business Video Resources

Bill Myers Online
– working on independent distribution before the Internet and has adapted to the changes. Review the sample articles and videos for free.

Cori Chavez at New Video Monday is targeting small business owners who want to use video. A new effort but she does have good video content.

David Skul's RelativityCorp.com page on business and marketing web videos. Both articles and video content.

Web Video University's blog where you can sample videos and the quality of the instructor, Dave Kaminski work.

Video Geek Lab - Documentary and Journalism

This is the third section of the BlogHer09 Video Geek Lab. This one concerns resources for those of you interested in documentary videography, citizen journalism,video activism and presenting fact based videos.
  • Web Camcorder - you will have to work harder on the video but it can be done.
  • Digital Video Camcorder - upper level with more controls and features.
  • Prosumer Level Camcorder
  • Audio/Microphone Concerns
  • Tripod/Monopod
You might need better quality equipment and a bit more skills to create different versions for distribution. In addition, you might need to learn some of the techniques of traditional and web based journalism.

News University – free and paid web classes on journalism issues, storytelling techniques and new media. You will also want to hang out at the Poynter Institute for Visual Journalism page.

Online Journalism Review - Tips for shooting better online video (2007). Technology has improved since this article but it is still solid information. You should also read What Are The Ethics of Online Journalism and How To Write for the Web because slapping a video on a blog is not always the complete story.

Many of us will find ourselves interviewing people. Here are some tips from Serena Carpenter:



Audio and storytelling resources at Transom.org Please read Curtis Fox, Elizabeth Arnold and Studs Turkel on the many paths to storytelling. You will also find information about microphones and recoding software.

Knight Digital Media Center - Camcorder information specifically for those people interested in journalism.

For journalism, social media and related information visit Serena Carpenter, Amy Gahran and Amy's posts at Poynter.org

Video Geek Lab - Creating Instructional Tutorials for Users

This is the second section of my BlogHer09 Geek Lab on finding instructional video resources. You might be interested in creating videos for demonstrating a skill or a product, presentations or screencasting. Instructional videos can be done on an occasional basis or as a normal part of you blog/vlog.

Examples of Instructional/Tutorial Videos

There is such a range of content that can and will be produced that these are just examples. Whether to support your blog, product support or to advertise your business these are some idea generators our of thousands more I could show you. Use these as idea generators:
Certainly you will need to be aware of the core skills resources but you will also have to be knowledgeable about how to present information, how to deliver it via video and keeping your users wants and needs in mind. EHow has a simple outline of the instructional video process.
  • Web Camcorder
  • Digital Video Camcorder or Prosumer Camcorder
  • External Microphone
  • Lighting
  • Tripod/Monopod
If you are going to teach via video then your instructions and how you demonstrate them have to be perfect. You have to plan for that perfection. This kind of video require more planning but it does not have to be a time sink if you set up a workflow or system of how you are going to record the video.

Creating Presentation Resources

It is long past time that the presentation community and the video community got to know each other. There is much common ground. This is my peanut butter and chocolate moment. So for those of you new to presentation concepts check out the following Slideshare presentation by Kelsey Ruger:



Now you are ready to check out the following:

Beyond Bullet Points - If you are using either PowerPoint or presenting by video you need to read this book. If you are cash impaired, check out Cliff's website and blog.

Nancy Duarte - just go and explore the whole shebang. This is one of her pages on using receipt tape to storyboard an idea.

Video of Garr Reynolds speaking at Google on presentation concepts. You should also check out Garr's blog.

You should also visit Presentation Examples blog, Kathy Sierra's post on Stop Your Presentations Before It Kills Again, and download Andy Goodman's book on Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes.

Making Video Tutorial Resources

Tim Carter's Ask The Builder Video on Making Instructional Videos is a great demonstration on the mechanical process of how to construct a video tutorial and he reminds you that it shouldn't be painful to watch.

Tom Johnson at I'd Rather Be Writing goes into more detail about his process in creating tutorial videos.

Videomaker articles on creating instructional videos from Alice Patterson (it is from 2000 but good advice) and secrets on video training.

Screencasting Resources

Review of Free Screencasting Software at MakeUseOf.com
Torely at Mashible's How To Master Screencasting in Seven Steps

For business level screen tutorials and look at creating information products for profit visit ProCasts at http://procasts.co.uk and read the post Screencast Tutorial #1.

On many websites and blogs you are going to see name TechSmith and Camtasia. There is a reason for this. The software works. For casual or occasional users you might want to check out Jing. If you are an educator, professional presenter, or live in the presentation realm of the sciences then you should swing over to the Camtasia Learning Center.

Camtasia is expensive and there are low cost/free/open source alternatives like HyperCam, CamStudio and others. But if you need a functional no hassle system and your job depends on it, yes, Camtasia is it.

On the Mac side there is ScreenFlow, Screenium and Screenflick.

Full Disclosure: I have owned Camtasia Studio for two years. I also have purchased SnagIt. I was recently gifted with an upgrade to the new versions of both programs. Thank you Betsy!

But I did want to mention the upgrade. I do believe in letting you know when I have received items. I don't want to talk about transparency without standing up for my beliefs and not acting accordingly.

I receive no money or other types of compensation for this blog. Because of my prior videos and Creative Commons licenses from musicians that have permitted me to use their music for non-commercial purposes; I do not have advertising content on this blog.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Video Geek Lab - Core Skills Video Resources

I gave a short presentation at BlogHer09 about the resources available to help folks create videos. This will be a series of virtual handouts and additional resources I did not have time to share.

This section will cover resources on basic skills for those folks using the following devices:

  • Web Cameras
  • Web Camcorders
  • Digital Still Cameras with Video Recording

If you plan on recording personal commentary/talking head videos, occasional outside events and recording people in casual settings then your needs are basic. You can produce good video with these recording devices if you understand their strengths and their limitations.
Example of Web CameraFor personal narrative and quick commentary web cams are very useful. You can tell your story, give highlights from a conference or use it as a creativity tool.

Example of Web CamcorderWeb Camcorders are best used outside for spontaneous events, recording life in the city, tutorials, digital storytelling, citizen journalism, documentation and whatever else comes into your head.

Nikon D90 with Video RecordingI think this is where the future technology will merge into; the ability to shoot quality photos and record video has to come together. In the meantime, manufacturers of upper level still cameras are working to find the best way to balance both mediums.


Strengths and Weaknesses


The strengths are ease of use, portability and with the Web Camcorders and upper level Digital Still Cameras improved video quality.

The main limitation is light. You need lots of it. This is true if you are recording indoors with the web cameras, web camcorders or inexpensive digital still cameras.

Another limitation is audio. You might record ambient sounds that you can't remove. Those sounds can spoil a good video. There are ways to compensate for those liabilities.

If you are new to creating web video or videoblogging preparing and uploading your video these are the most helpful and accessible resources:

FreeVlog
http://freevlog.org

Make Internet TV
http://makeinternettv.org

Currents TV
http://current.com/make.htm and http://current.com/make/resources.htm

Yahoo Videoblogging Group
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/videoblogging

CamcorderInfo.com
http://www.camcorderinfo.com

Friday, July 24, 2009

Stomp on the Finally Friday Freakout

Oh the humanity of good times. How could I not remember this song? Ok I've never forgotten it but like yes, I need to Stomp:



Dance, dance and dance some more.

Malibu Art Festival - Summer of Staycation 6

Well yes some of us will be out of town but no need to be bitter about it. Plenty of things to do if you are in the Malibu area, check out the Malibu Arts Festival on Saturday and Sunday.

There will be food, drink, crafts, high toned art and stuff for the kiddies. If you can hoof it that is fine otherwise $7 for the parking.

The Malibu Art Festival is located at the Malibu Courthouse which is located at 23525 Civic Center Way, Department W Malibu, California 90265.

Coaching Up Your Conference Skills

I got the jits as jitters. I know better but I'm starting to get the "What do you mean I'm meeting 1,400 plus people? What am I suppose to do and say and not say…" and the screaming Mee-Mees are in full gallop. After laying off the ice tea and other forms of caffeine I have some answers. As always I have to start with what I know.  So, in the order of each prior conference location here are some ideas on how you and I can cool our jets and make the most of any convention.

Santa Clara Lessons

Sometimes you have to take a chance. I heard about the 2005 BlogHer convention indirectly. It took about a half second to know that I wanted to go. I made it to the wait list. In the meantime, I made plans to get the money, airfare and hotel. Shortly before the start of the convention I got the word that I could attend. Did I think my way into the convention? Um, no. Yeah. Maybe.

I just felt certain that I should be there. If I couldn't get a ticket I had other options.  I could have just taken a chance and showing up hoping for a no-show. Or just enjoying a weekend in a new place. Tia Singh at CoachTia writes about Inspired Action:

Sometimes inspired action feels like a force you can’t ignore, that literally moves you to a certain action even if it doesn’t make sense to you. So when you find yourself suddenly taking a different route to work, or stopping by the grocery store even when you don’t need anything, it’s likely an intuitive sense that’s guiding you to take that action.

San Jose Lessons

I remember really firm beds and spiders. I don't mind spiders half as much as sleeping on a brick. I was a little more sleep deprived than usual and not because I was hanging out late. I didn't speak to many people. To be honest, I might have given off a vibe that said back off. I didn't mean to, I was sleepy, cranky and probably more shy than I let on.

Kathy Mallory at Coaching Biz Tip reminded me that yes I was uncomfortable and not a happy camper. But there were things within my control.

Try giving yourself three free passes on complaining about an issue, but when you've used up the third pass, it's time to stop complaining and either accept things as they are and move on, OR do something.

I had choices. I could have said something to the hotel and I could have been more open with strangers. There usually choices if we are open to them.  Yet there are times when you just got to go with it. It wasn't forever and sometimes life is not perfect. Give yourself permission to find alternatives but don't let yourself get you distracted from your purpose or the people you wanted to meet.

I liked Karyn Beach's post at Lose the Excuses - The Fear Factor. In this post she is talking about employment and creating a different kind of future but I think fear is rampant at conventions too.

Fear can be a debilitating, nerve-wrecking, soul-churning experience. What if’s snowball each one pessimistically worse than the one before it. It’s a quote that I’ve used before, “95% of the things we fear never come to pass.” Yet, the feeling of fear, the emotion of it, can be so strong that logical thinking is the first casualty of that snowball as it gains speed careening down that hill.

Chicago Lessons

You don't know who you know. Six degrees of separation is no joke. I remember being in the elevator with Carol Lin, formerly of NBC News and CNN. I didn't want to invade her space so I just nodded my head and smiled. Later in the day she was on a panel and had mention that she had been helped by Rox of Beach Walks with Rox.

I've met Rox and she does a great job on her video blog.  This is a one of her videos on Sorting Out Your Travel Energy.

I don't care if you have a cat walking blog, you might know of another blog or person that someone else might need to know about. Value what you  bring to the conference, it may have a present or long distance value. For those of you who live by Twitter perhaps you should have a look at a TwiTip post on Networking Tips for Tweeters. Read #5 and commit it to memory. Don't be afraid to approach others.

The UC Berkeley Career Center website has good tips on what to do when you really are in a room of un-met people. Definately read the part about risking rejection. It can happen. So what, one body spoken down and 1,399 to go. Don't sweat it.

San Francisco Lessons

I loved the pillow top beds! I have curves and those beds made nicey nice with said curves. This meant I was rested and ready to go. My goodness there were a lot more people coming and going. Going to get massages, going to search engine optimization, going to see Elmo and always seem to be going and filling up the seats (and even the floor spaces) of the sessions I was trying to get to.

It was too much. By Saturday afternoon I decided to walk into the first room that would have me. I didn't care what it was. That turned out to be a Room of Our Own session with some grand big legged girls who bought a wee bit of orange juice, some other stuff; I can't quite recall the name on the bottle and some cheese. I mellowed out. Cheese can do that for me.

Christy at Quirky Fusion understands where I am coming from and she has a list of tips, dig #4 Know Your Limits:

…Even though I know better, some perverse part of me insists that I’m somehow obligated (to myself and to conference planners) to attend as many sessions as possible. But, going back to number 3, that doesn’t always match my priorities. First of all, there won’t always a be a session that you’re interested in. But, more importantly, sometimes you’ll have an opportunity to chat with someone really amazing, or chat with vendors/manufacturers.

Victoria Janssen is an author of Romantic Fiction. She has been to a conference or two and has Five Conference Tips that would work for any conference, including staying hydrated (She means water and so do I).

To Recap:

  • Reach beyond the fear and trust you healthy positive intuition.
  • Take care of yourself, ask for what you want and need.
  • Be flexible. Meet new people.
  • Be open to helping other with a smile, a link or referring them to a resource. I’m telling you straight; it will come back to when you most need it and when you least expect it.

And lighten up! Fun is ok. Play is essential. Mix and match. Create your own positive experience and go with the flow.

Gena Haskett is a Contributing Editor at BlogHer where this post originally appeared.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Getting Lost In Chicago On A Rainy Thursday Night

This has been a day of metaphors and thing going wrong and then they go right. And then left. I got to the airport on time but the ATM wasn't working. But I found money in my bag.

5 hours later I get here and the ATM still wasn't working so that means the ATM network had a really bad day. Except that I wanted to have funds so I went out looking for the bank in a city that I do not know.

Chicago has upper and lower level streets. How you cross the street is different so I had to adjust for that; meaning I saw people walk in front of cars and the drivers stopped, even when the people where in the wrong.

You might not think s a big thing but where I come from there were a number of cases where the pedestrian had the legal light and bam, human roadkill. Recently a car hit a poor soul, dude landed on the windshield and the driver got out of the car and pushed him off and kept going.

Wish I could say it was an isolated, one time thing but it is not. Anyway, I got real lost and my feet hurt and it was raining and I felt like a little kid. I did ask folks but no one seemed to know where the hotel was located or I couldn't follow directions. That left/right thing is a killer.

Finally got a cab. I have to be hurting and totally frustrated to get a cab but sometimes you have to yield to common sense. Come to find out I was way over on the other side of town. I don't know how I got so far over.

Went to the party. I couldn't believe it. It was a psychology experiment playing out in real life. I got lost but it was in observing people jockeying for swag and men jockeying for attention.

Personally, them little bunny buzzer ain't up to the task. Real women need A/C or if you swing that way D/C. No, that doesn't work. Plugs, we need plug powered devices.

It was hearing this one dude complaining that no one would pay attention to him. That these women were "anti-male." He did not understand what was going on. They were not anti-male they were "pro-swag." Other men sauntered in and laid down old bait but they couldn't draw more than a breath.

Let me put it to you this way. Free liquor or a bag of swag? Yes, for some of us it is the swag. Plus you still could get the liquor so this is a win/win situation.

Except for the guys.

Tell you the truth I was lost. Again. I came back to the hotel room. I'd been in some form of it before. Not sure I want to go back out there but I will.

I never did find the bank.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Craziest from Transom.org

There is a power in words and those that love them. I'm not a Scrabble head but I did use it as a healing tool at one time. Yeah, this is going to be hard to explain.

Well, not really. I need to focus on something other than myself. This is tough when you are by yourself. But not impossible. I had an older version of the computer game called Scrabble. The legal store bought one. I used it to improve my vocabulary and cuss out the computer when it beat me with a word I didn't know. This took my mind off of my troubles.



So while I was looking for a diversion I found this video from Liz Dubelman. It is a
Flash Animation movie but if you close your eyes you would understand everything. And even if the video doesn't play the whole way through the first 2:41 seconds will affirm that there are better people in the world.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ethnographers That Record A Changing World

Shi Pei Pu died July 2, 2009. If you boil the story down to the essentials this is a story about a man who pretended to be a woman who fooled another man into loving him. He was the real life person that inspired the play and the movie "M Butterfly." Ethnographically speaking, it is a journey into many lands where I am an outsider trying to understand.

There are questions about the world of 1960s spies. The Chinese Theater and men performing as women. The boundaries of lies, truth and love and how they intersect when there is a heart involved. If you read the New York Times obituary you'll find that the real life escapades are a tad more interesting than the play or the movie. As I read the obituary I was aware of what I didn’t know about male boarding schools, Chinese culture, French culture and how easy it is to be fooled.

Learning about other cultures can help you from feeling like a chump. Ethnography is branch of Anthropology. An Ethnographer visits people, environments and cultures. They observe, record and document what they see and experience. We all study other people and have questions about differences in life, social order and culture. If you write, read or perform some kind of artistic skill you might be an involuntary Ethnographer.

Mia at Kahliyah-logue is an artist who loves making hand made materials. This led her to her seeing textile books as metaphors for the important things a culture wants to express. Mia was in a Cypress bookstore and discovered books that had examples of Cypriot historical textiles. One of the things an Ethnographer can do is compare her present life with that of her ancestors.

From the first moment I set eyes on this ”experience”(the written booklet with the set of photos)I was immediately stricken by a magic spell which took me at once to this ancient land in its original version,another time,when oddly enough,it seems as though ”less” was ”going on” but everything had ”more” meaning…

Some folks get paid to document those type of experiences.  Professor Karen Nakamura is a Photo-Ethnographer – she use both digital and analog cameras to record her journeys into various communities.

My own interest in photoethnography comes from a merging of two sides of me that have previously been kept strictly apart - my vocation as an assistant professor of cultural anthropology and my avocation as a photographic artist. At times, these tensions operate synergistically, at other times they threaten to tear me apart.

At her blog you can learn about her current activities, processes and what kind of software/equipment she is trying out to help her tell the story.  You can view photos of her work and check out other Photo-Ethnographers she recommends.

One of her recommendations was the work of Masaru Goto and the portraits of the Burakumin people of Japan. If this gets you interested you should also check out Global Compassion for other photographic representations of communities seen and unseen.

Traveler Laura Greeman at Ecoescape.org combined her honeymoon and a bit of ethnography when she visited Denmark and Sweden. Laura gives observations about transportation via bicycles, the behavior of the citizens and that there did not seem to be "hover moms" around the kids:

There is not only real life ethnography but digital ethnographers as well. Dr. Michael Wesch at Kansas State University is looking at environments like YouTube to get a sense of the cultures, the behaviors and the type of comments that are shared publically. What would that tell us about the users, the needs and wants of that community and what is acceptable and what is not.

Cynthia Van Guilder at Ethnography.com wonders about the constant documentation that occurs as she observes the world of her 15-year old daughter. How much do we need to record everything in a person’s life?

The fact is that what makes a person recognizable to those not fully indoctrinated in visual culture is a whole set of sights, smells, sounds, movements, and personal energy.  What does this tell us about identity, humanity, and perhaps an awareness of ourselves and the people around us, that we might be in danger of losing?

I confess I am a little biased. I say shoot first and sort it out later. But always with permission and respect.  Photographically speaking no, means no and ease up on the Photoshop. Oh, one more thing. When in doubt, everybody get naked.

Gena Haskett is a Contributing Editor at BlogHer where this post originally appeared.

The Art of Presentation – Speaker and Presentation Bloggers

There will be common elements between all of the presenters in that there will be a structure of some form. It is a skill that can be taught by people who have information and the gift of teaching. It is also something that can be learned if you find the right resources.

Let me introduce you to a few of the bloggers who help others to give great speeches and presentations. The first two I met during PresentationCamp Los Angeles. I want to start with them because they demonstrated the very skills other claim to teach.

The first is Olivia Mitchell who lives way over cross the creek in New Zealand. She has posts on What You Need To Know Before Your First Presentation.

This is an excerpt:

There’s one thing though that most people are slower to forgive - and that’s a lack of preparation leading to disorganized and rambling content. They’ve given up their time to listen to you - respect that by putting time into your preparation.

Another thing that is very helpful is that she does presentation critiques. Check out the analysis of a presentation by author Malcolm Gladwell where Olivia breaks the presentation down to the elements to shows you what works and what could be improved.

Lisa Braithwaite at Speak Schmeak has a tremendous amount of posts on her blog. There are posts on anxiety, voice and when Audience Members Attack.

Being a speaker or presenter means believing in yourself and having confidence.  Either you have a knowledge that someone values or you couldn’t run out of the room fast enough. Either way, you have to believe that you have the power.

Other Speakers and Presentation Bloggers

Sarah Gershman at the Greenroom blog gives short concise tips on public speaking, behavior and being focused and present. Yes, we’ve all seen speakers that are able to stand before us and still phone in the talk. I liked her post on Listen to the Pop to Know When to Stop.

Ellen Finkelstein's PowerPoint Tips blog is information dense, just the way I like it. She has got information on how to give presentations, customize PowerPoint and other resources that help presenters use Microsoft PowerPoint better. I’m definitely going to be snagging an idea or two from her.

Contrast Ellen’s ways she uses PowerPoint with Joan Curtis and her post the Perils of PowerPoint.  Dr. Curtis is reminding folks that slide presentation programs are a tool, it should not be the whole experience when your give a presentation.

For those that might be giving science or technology based presentations you might want to check out Lisa B. Marshall’s blog, The Art of Speaking Science. Lisa also has The Art of Speaking Business blog. You might want to check out her Seminar page where she has downloadable pdf  on topics like How To Build and Maintain Your Network and How to Give A Research Based Presentation.

This is an extremely small sampling of the world of speaker and presentation bloggers but these folks have much to offer. Dive in and soak it up.

Gena Haskett is a Contributing Editor at BlogHer  where this post originally appeared.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Let's Groove on the Finally Friday Freakout

These are the times for conscious healing and transitions. It is a time for finding solace and joy and the liberal (or conservative) application as your needs demand.

Me? I needed extra sleep so that is why the Freakout is being posted on Saturday.



For your musical balm of the week coming out of the Grooveyard is the beloved Earth, Wind and Fire with their spacey rendition of Let's Groove

So that is the thought for the next week. If you are in Staycation or airborne mode this is your life; let's groove while we still have the chance.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Clean Coal Research Using Information Literacy Skills

One of my first memories of being in downtown Los Angeles was the sensation of feeling acid rain in my eyes. It stung. I did not know what it was or the cause but I knew that something was dreadfully wrong. That was a long time ago.  The air quality in Los Angeles has improved. It was an involuntary lesson that continues to help me to remember that environmental concerns isn't a buzz word or a hoax perpetuated on the gullible. You see, it really doesn't matter to me if you believe in global warming or not.

I say that because I know that humans and human activities have an effect on the environment. Environmental concerns matter if you breath, use water or sleep on the planet. It is a multi-level problem. It is so much more than changing the type of light bulbs in your home.

Congress will make a decision on an energy bill. There are many vested interests. I want to be a participant; but before I can put my two cents in I need to know and understand a lot of different issues. One in particular is the concept of Clean Coal. Coal is not clean. The process of extraction is certainly not clean or environmentally friendly. Remember that Coal Ash spill in Tennessee a while back?

I need to know more. This is gonna be a two-fer. I want to find accessible information about Clean Coal. I also want to share with you the consumer friendly version of quick research and information evaluation process.

What Do I Want?
I want to know what is "Clean Coal", what is the process of making coal clean and what is the environmental impact both short and long term. I would like to get the information from authoritative sources like scientists or science educators but I need the information presented in plain English. If I can't find science accessible resources than environmental reporting would be acceptable if I can identify the source and verify information.

Definition:
I need to know what the term means. Since I am not going to write a master's thesis I can go to Wikipedia for an introductory background. I will not accept anything presented as fact because there are vested interest who can, have and will manipulate information. It is a just a starting point. Another definition I found is Ask an Engineer at the MIT School of Engineering.

Cornel University Legal Information Institute does have a definition that is being used by the U.S.Government under Title 42 > Chapter 85 > Subchapter IV-A > § 7651n where you can find out that there isn’t necessarily one simple definition.

Next, I’d use a couple of search engines to find definitions but 'I’d go into the advanced function and confine the search to the .edu domain. I’m looking for unbiased academic information. That said, I do know that certain colleges and universities get funding from coal production companies to aid in supporting research, products and services. Look for disclosure statements, outside associations sources of funding or where the school is located. If it is smack dab next to a mining community there may be issues both pro or con.

For example, from the University of Kentucky there is Understanding Clean Coal Technologies with links to videos and podcasts. Digging deeper into the website they have extensive information about mining coal, gas and oil. If you look at the list of collaborators there seem to represent companies with a vested interest in mining. It doesn’t make the info good or bad, it just means you have to consider the source of the information. Compare the University of Kentucky’s site with the one at Purdue University. What do they have in common, what are the difference and what are the vested interests, both inside and outside, of the university?

Finding Resources

Certainly I would also look at science specific magazines like Popular Science, websites like How Stuff Works, blogs, non-profit organizations, television and government agencies. Remember this is still in the discovery phase. I'm just sucking it in at this point.

You can Twitter your way to being informed. You can using the basic search feature to enter the term or use hash tags to find folks that mention the term. But did you know about the advanced Twitter search? It gives you more options like finding a specific person, date ranges or if there are links in the tweet.

Do you use a URL shortner? Some of those have search features as well. Bit.ly has a search function. For those URLs that were shortened by Bit.ly I can do a search for Clean Coal. I came up with 340 links that way - everything from parody, rants, educators, manufacturers and publications. Similar sites have search features as well.

Here is one more way to find folks that are talking about this topic. Blog Pulse tracks blogs and the topics like Clean Coal that bloggers are talking about. This is everybody into the pool; you will see links to politicians, newspapers, blogs, partisan opinions and if you dig long and hard a scientist or two.

Credibility

So you spent some time getting the lingo down, understanding concepts and weeding out the pretenders and political bloviates. How do you know if you are getting the straight scoop or not?  It does come down to transparency and credibility.

  • What is the background of the writer?
  • Who owns the website or blog?
  • How is it resource supported, by ads, what kind?
  • Is there an "About Us" page that fully discloses the author and the source of information?
  • Is it academic writing or is it some guy on a coach?
  • Is it a public relations tool or it is an advocacy site?
  • Does it give you the information in the way that you expect?
  • When was it updated?

Purpose

The last thing I’d want you to think about is the purpose of the site. I’m sure that if I go to a few environmental  or green websites they are not going to be too crazy about the concept of Clean Coal. I want to know why. I’d want them to be specific and give examples. I would not expect the coal manufactures to give me a complete picture either. This however would be their opportunity to present their point of view. I would equally expect them to be specific and give examples.

This is a very important issue. I’m not going to give you answers, heck I’m still putting together my own. I do want you to have skills in finding those answers for yourself. I am not unbiased. I think the coal industry is doing the equivalent of what automakers have done, known to my ancestors as the old shuck and jive. But I might be wrong. Or not.

I need to be able to ask questions of the energy plan. I hope you will do the same.

I know I missed the one resource that folks would want others to know about. Don’t hate, participate and plunk them in the comments.

Other Links About Clean Coal

  • Janice Weis, Associate Director of the Environmental Law program at Lewis and Clark Law School moderated a discussion with a representative from the Sierra Club and the American Coal Council in April 2009 at  You can listen to the podcast or view an on-line presentation.
  • CE Virginia DeBolt also had questions about Clean Coal in her April 2009 post.
  • At the Environmentalist Dr. James Hansen wants the President to know about the destruction of Coal River Mountain
  • At This is Reality you can view the anti-clean coal commercial, obtain facts about coal and environmental effects of coal and check out the blog.

This post originally appeared on BlogHer, where I am a Contributing Editor. 

Monday, July 13, 2009

Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles - Summer of Staycation 5

Most reality television is toxic to your brain. Real music and performers will make you healthy and engaged in real communities. Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles has 50 count them 50 summer events so what are you waiting for?

Consider this your invitation to bus a move out of the house. This is the New MacArthur Park. Not only can you breathe but you can dance, rock your body and enjoy free music five nights a week.

Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles
Depending on where you live you could hop on the Red Line, get off at MacArthur Park Station, pop in the 99 Cents Only Store for picnic items and hippity hop over to the Pavilion. There may or may not be vendors on the street selling fruit, roasted corn or other items.

I cannot say yes but I won't say no. If you see LAPD approaching said vendors the answer is no.

Coming up this week:
  • July 15 - La Charanga Cubana - you know there will be dancing on the grass and hands swinging from side to side.
  • July 16 - West African Highlife Band - another opportunity to bust some arterial grease out of your body and sling it Afro Old Skool style.
  • July 17 - Locos por Juana - a little Reggie, some Ska and a dash of Hip-Hop. All this and some bacon wrapped jalapeno scented hot dogs someplace in the vicinity.
  • July 18 - Jim Lauderdale - for those of the Country music and Bluegrass persuasion come on out and get your twang on with pride.
Shows start at 7:30p.m. but check the schedule just in case something changes. Levitt Pavilion MacArthur Park is located at the intersection of West 6th Street and S. Park View Street.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Old Pasadena Film Festival - Summer of Staycation 4.1

Mary Pickford in Daddy-Long LegsTonight is a great night for an outdoor movie or two. As part of the Old Pasadena Film Festival tonight the screenings are gems.

At 8:00pm it is the silent film Daddy Long-Legs at One Colorado Courtyard, 41 Hugus Alley.

This is the tale of orphans IMDB gives info on the film as a comedy/drama starring Miss Mary Pickford.

According to the website the Malibu Coast Chamber Orchestra will be performing the soundtrack of the recently restored silent film live.

Then at 9:00pm – move a degree closer to Kevin Bacon in Footloose, this is showing on the rooftop of the Schoolhouse Parking Garage, 33 E. Green Street.

Yes, I suspect that there will be some toe tapping, sneaker wearing and blue jeans a spooning as we travel back to a time when the beat was banned and the feet stood still.

What, you never heard of Footloose? Tsk, tsk. Let me help you out a bit. This is Kenny Loggins singing the title track and scenes from the movie, Footloose:



Should be a hoot and there are a bunch of places to grab grub. Enjoy! To keep up on events in Old Town Pasadena check the Calendar of Events.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fly the Friendly Skies on the Finally Friday Freakout

I can hear the old commercial in my head. A promise to adventure and new destinations. When I do research on a trip I do check out what other people say about an airline. Years before this video was conceived there was anger at airlines customer service and the handling of consumer complaints.

United? Damn, it was scary bad about them. Not good and not going to get better anytime soon. I don't fly United Airlines. Wait a minute, check out the video first if you haven't seen it.

This is David Carroll and the Sons of Maxwell taking a positive and funny licking stick to United Airlines in United Breaks Guitar



Back? Ok. Now cruise on over Consumer Reports or any of the other places about airline complaints. Then hit up online consumer reaction before this video. The video isn't about the baggage manglers, er handlers. It was the corporate and front line failure of anyone at United to honor what was put down in print as a recourse.

It wasn't like he didn't try to comply with ridiculous rules it was the rules kept shifting like quick sand. It isn't really just about United. It is your cable company, your HMO or the repair company that shows up three days after they said they would and still jack up the repair.

United has a systemic customer relation problem that they refused to address. So after a year flows by and the video comes out they now apologize and want to use it as a training video?

Dave, just say no man. Please release Part 2 cuz they still don't get it. Don't take no stinking vouchers. United had their time, now it is yours. Go for it and make Canada proud with a few Yanks standing in humble adoration.

While we are waiting for that second dose of medicine, I'd like to remind folks of a mythical airline that was more than willing to give "service." All aboard for Air Fosse. From the movie All That Jazz this is the intro to the Take Off With Us segment.



Those of you about to head out on your airline of choice I strongly suggest you bring your Zi6, The Flip or your still digital camera of choice. We can freak out baggage handlers from coast to coast without a word. An image or recording will do.

Solidarity!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Sling That Swing Dance at the Paseo - Summer of Staycation 4

The Cha Cha need you at the Paseo Saturday night starting July 11th into August. Pasadena Ballroom Dance Association is taking up the slack cuz the city can't afford it this year; they are continuing the Swing Dance series with Live Bands.

It really is a lot of fun and the music is jumping. Bring your dancing shoes or your tennies around 6:30 or so for a free starter lesson and then prepare make with serious hoofing from 7 to 9:30 p.m.

For more info you want to glide on over to the Pasadena Ballroom Dance Association.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Odeum Guitar Duo at Norton Simon - Summer of Staycation 3

What are you doing June 10th? This isn't totally free but not a wallet buster. If you haven't been in the Norton Simon or you only recognize the logo from the Rose Parade you owe yourself and a friend a visit.

Seriously, $8 bucks you get art and music. With the other $11 you can head into old town Pasadena and buy some Gelato, Pinkberry or the refreshment of your choice.

And if you have to bring your car parking is free if you actually go into the museum. It will be towed if you don't. Metro gets a little erratic at night but if you know to work the 180/181 buses you won't have a problem.

For the price of admission to the museum you not only witness fabulous works of art but between 7 and 8 p.m. you get to hear guitar music from the 17th and 18th centuries. Human performed and amplified music and not a computer in sight.

For more information check out the Norton Simon where you can find out about upcoming events, podcasts and videos.

Friday, July 03, 2009

In My World of Fantasy on the Finally Friday Freakout

I was truly blessed to grow up in a musically open and abundant time. You couldn't really roll up and be a half-ass performer and expect to stay too long. We had so much talent there wasn't room for everybody. Well, that and radio payola, protecting regional turfs and other shenanigans had a huge effect on who broke through to the big time.

This is another musical group of siblings that should have been promoted and nurtured to prominence. The 5 Stairsteps were vocally exquisite, musically lyrical and they were successful but I think got caught between the transitional shift between R&B/Soul and what would be known as Funk.

There were hits recordings but they are most known for Ooh Child. Some would try to classify them as one hit wonders. Not so, not true and pure bunkum. Here is my proof:



In hindsight, it might have been a good thing that they didn't have monster fame. There seems to be a hell of price to pay if you have that constricting kind of attention. I mention no names and I ain't looking for trouble.

Just saying life balance is a wonderful thing to achieve and don't underestimate the joy of peace.

And just as things are heating up financially in California, both fiscally and temperature wise it will be more of a struggle to remember the deep breaths of staying focused and calm.

There will be turbulence but things are going to get easier if we collectively work together to transform what is to what is can be. Easier said than done. A thought for Monday. In the meantime, crank up the box and make with the singing Ooh Child.



Peace and safety on the Fourth of July.