Email Newsletters and the Simplenews Module

In April 2008 the Vancouver League of Drupalers featured a presentation on email newsletters by Monique Trottier of Boxcar Marketing titled: Email Newsletters: WTF?, and an overview of the Simplenews module by yours truly.

The video of Monique's presentation turned out well and can be viewed with complete show notes at Email Newsletters: WTF? (6 Mistakes to Avoid), or by watching the embedded video below. It's filled with practical information and a must-see for anyone serious about using newsletters.

My presentation didn't video so well, so here's the recreated notes:

Overview

Simplenews is a module that adds newsletters to Drupal. It has the following major features:

Zoom H2 Recording with Two External Microphones

The Samson Zoom H2 digital recorder allows 2 channel recording from external sources but uses a consumer 1/8" stereo jack for input. Even though it has those independent channels the standard microphone cabling options only allow for connection of a single device. It makes one envious of those Zoom H4 owners and their two individual input jacks. Fortunately there's a simple non-standard cable option for dual mono channel recording!

Supposed stereo/mono adaptor
Alleged stereo/mono adaptor. Didn't work.

This is purely an electrical problem, we need a cable or adaptor that splits the 1/8" stereo jack's connections into 2 - 1/8" mono jacks. Those of you comfortable with a soldering iron could put together a cable like this in 15 minutes. It's been around 15 years since I've done any component soldering so I opted for a purchased solution.

A stereo to dual-mono adaptor seems like a no-brainer, but be careful. I thought I'd found one fitting the description at a local electronics supply store, but in spite of the correct textual description the adaptor wasn't wired the way I though it was (They really need to include schematic diagrams).

My solution was slightly different. Using a stereo 1/8" plug to dual RCA connector cable as a starting point I knew I had the left and right audio channels properly separated. To complete the cable all I needed was RCA to 1/8" jack adaptors. An additional advantage of this cable over an adaptor plug is the cable doesn't stick out as far from the side.

Zoom H2 with dual mono cable

This cable is field tested and works like a charm with my Zoom H2. I've recorded "two microphone" interviews with great results.

Free Scriptwriting Software: celtx

celtx Screen ShotsA company named celtx has released version 1.0 of their free (and open source) scriptwriting software of the same name. The website is a little plain-jane, go to the Features Tour page for videos of what the software can do.

I've downloaded and played around with it a little bit. They've included a couple of samples projects so you have some real stuff to check it out with. Looking good so far!

It supports the following formats:

  • Screenplay
  • Stage Play (international and US standard)
  • AV scripts (documentaries, music videos and advertising)
  • Audio Play (radio plays and podcasts)
  • Comic Book
  • Plain Text

But it's more than just formatting, it also does story boarding, tracks characters and does scene breakdowns. A full set of features listed here: http://www.celtx.com/features.html

Although Celtx isn't overtly intended for book writing some of the tools look like they could be useful for book authors. If you've ever wished for tracking tools it might be worth checking out. The caveat is your working style needs to match the celtx workflow .

celtx also has online publishing and collaboration services, which where they make their money. One of the more intriguing services is the ability to view a project via an iPhone.

I'm looking forward to trying some real work on a podcast project to see if there's some substance to the flash.

Tip of the hat to Podcasting News (Free Open Source Scriptwriting Software).

WordCamp Fraser Valley July 2008

WordCamp Fraser Valley BadgeKnown as a Drupal (fan) boy, an evening of WordPress might be the last place you'd expect to find me. But I know a lot of people running Wordpress, and have even recommended it on a number of occasions. And I'm a bit of a conference whore. So there I was at WordCamp Fraser Valley, which had nothing to do with Microsoft Word and everything to do with the WordPress blogging platform.

The first pleasant surprise of the evening was open wireless. A big thank you to Think Referrals for sponsoring this.

I'm certainly not the first person to observe this, and it wasn't a surprise, but it was still really interesting seeing how different the WordPress audience was versus a typical Drupal audience. Many, many end users versus a tiny number of developers. It really brought home how successful Automattic is evangelizing their product with WordPress.com and making it accessible to non-technical types.

The evening consisted of lots of interesting short talks. For the best coverage of the evening, see Miss 604's blog post: WordCamp Fraser Valley Liveblog.

WordCamp Fraser Valley

Surrey Drupal Meeting July 2008

Last night at the Surrey Drupal Users Group Rick Vugteveen from ImageX Media gave a great presentation on creating a blog site in Drupal 6 using CCK, Views and a number of support modules. He lugged his 20 odd inch monitor for the presentation and it worked rather well at the restaurant table. Not sure if he's going to post his slides. I haven't asked him yet, but hoping we can get a repeat performance for the Vancouver group.

Surrey Drupal Meeting July 10, 2008

In an interesting experiment the Surrey group has decided to go with a presence on Meetup: http://drupal.meetup.com/18/ in addition to hanging out with GDO Vancouver. I'm curious to see if and how this influences the community development.

Props to ImageX Media for their community support. They were one of our star sponsors for Drupal Camp Vancouver by being one of the first to sign up, first to get their cheque in, and additionally making office support staff available. If they keep this up they'll do for Drupal in Surrey what Bryght did for Drupal in Vancouver. It was, of course, fated that I misremembered and horribly mangled company president Glenn Hilton's name no less than three times before my miserable lump of a brain found a neuron cluster capable of simple long term retention. Sorry about that, Glenn!

And thanks to Katy at Seascape Web Design for taking on the group organization.

NetSquared Podcasting for Social Change Presentation

NetSquared LogoFor those that might be interested I've posted a recap of the Net Tuesday Podcasting presentation over at Digital Doodles: Podcasting for Social Change. There's lots of links to event coverage and a couple of photos.

A User Facing Content Management View

Drupal does not have user facing content management out of the box. Fortunately, a user facing content management page can be created in 5 minutes using Views. It's not a panacea, but can provide part of the solution.

User Content Management View

I typically use this view in conjunction with a menu block. The menu block has visibility set by role and contains links useful to the user, such as a link to this view, the content creation URL (node/add/foo), and the user's profile.

Northern BC Drupal User Group

Northern BC MapBritish Columbia is a big place, 1180 km (730 miles) from North to South, with most of the population in the bottom third of the province. In the North there's one population center of around 85,000 people but most of the cities fall between 5,000 and 15,000 people. With the economy being primarily resource and tourism based it's a hard place to find fellow Drupalers, but Glen Ingram is up for the challenge. Glen (bermin@drupal.org has started the Northern British Columbia User Group.

If you're a Northern BCer, or have an interest, please become a charter member of the group! (I grew up and graduated in a place called Quesnel, so consider myself a honourary quasi-Northerner, even if Quesnel is technically the central interior)

Northern BC certainly isn't the only place with a low population density and an interest in Drupal. If you have tips on running a user group in this kind of situation please share!

Good luck, Glen!

Free Guide on Podcast Marketing Basics

Tagged:

8 Step Guide to Podcast Marketing Basics  CoverChris S. Penn has released The 8 Step Guide to Podcast Marketing Basics as both a PDF and MP3 audio book.

Don't let the "Marketing" in the title throw you off. The advice covers getting listeners. Period. For example, "Can you find your podcast easily". Seemingly obvious, but it's easily forgetten in the myriad of details. And for the people who seriously want to build audience or meet tangible goals, there's a couple of tips on how to start. It's a quick read, so also makes a decent checklist for those wanting to review their setup.

Tip of the hat to Podcast News.

Great Intro to Podcasting Production

Derek Miller at Inside Home Recording has a great video piece on how he produces his wife's podcast: IHR TV #3 - Podcast Audio Production. It's specific to the equipment he uses, not a general tutorial, but this provides a focus and conciseness I like. As long as you can extrapolate how to mix and match you'll be able to adapt the technique just fine.

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