Paul Sullivan on Citizen Journalism

Last week I had the pleasure of attending and recording Paul Sullivan of Orato speaking on Citizen Journalism at the September meeting of the High-Tech Communicators' Exchange (HTCE). Sullivan is a passionate and articulate speaker with a background in both classic and citizen journalism. Not only has he held senior editor positions at major Canadian newspapers and the CBC, he's Editor-in-Chief of the citizen journalism website Orato, and recently appeared on a list of the 20 most visible Vancouverites on the web.

Sullivan begins with Andrew Keen, of The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing Our Culture fame, and goes on to compare and contrast citizen journalism with classic journalism, describing how citizen journalism has changed the business landscape, and makes the argument citizen journalism is ultimately good for society. Virtues and warts, he talks about both the good and the bad. Although his talk clocks in at just over an hour, with another 15 odd minutes of Q & A, I was engaged the entire time, and from my vantage point so was the rest of the audience.

Citizen Journalism - HTCE September 2008 (Part 1 of 2)

Drupal Camp Victoria 2008

Drupal Camp Victoria (#DCVic) at North Studio was a joy. A great part of this joy was the freedom from having nothing what-so-ever to do with its organization! But it was more than that.

Drupal Camp Victoria 2008 Group Shot
Last Folks Standing at Drupal Camp Victoria 2008
Photo by nicky Tu

Local Drupalers Amir and Ryan Dempsey stepped up and organized our very own Vancouver Drupal-mobile rental van. Although the van was squishy the company was great. The trip from Vancouver to and from Victoria passed quickly. During our ferry ride over I teamed up with Dave O. from Raincity and videoed Dave doing what he does best.

One Degree's "MiniBookExpo"

Mini Book ExpoThe folks at One Degree, whose tag line is "The inside scoop on digital marketing and social media for Canadian marketers", are having a book expo. For the full details check out this post: Announcing MiniBookExpo: Business Edition!

Here's the quick overview from their website:

  • Each business day, for the next two weeks, we're going to post a selection of books (usually 3 different books, often with multiple copies).
  • If you see a book that strikes your fancy, you claim it in the comments of the post.
  • Once we confirm your claim, we'll arrange to have the book sent to you. This can take up to 4 weeks, depending on the publisher.
  • Once you get it, read it.
  • When you're finished, write a review and send it to us (either the full review or the URL of your post).

I've claimed The Codfathers. With a title like that, I couldn't resist!

E-Book Review: Make Money Online With John Chow dot Com

John Chow
Title:Make Money Online with John Chow dot Com
Author:John Chow (pictured above)
Available:Free download at
Length:59 pages
Make Money Online with John Chow dot Com is a recipe for creating a blog and getting ad revenue from it. Unlike many books in the "make money" category this one contains specific and useful information both about blogging and ad/affiliate networks.

The core thesis of Make Money Online is you (the reader) can follow John Chow's example and get non-trivial ad revenue from a blog website with lots and lots of traffic. Like me, you might find it both suspect and ironically recursive that John Chow gets lots of traffic and makes money because he's telling people how to get lots of traffic and make money. Fortunately, his advice for generating blog traffic isn't to pay him a fee, emulate his site content, or even buy his e-book (it's free), it's general best practice for blogging.

Even if you aren't interesting in making money off your blog, the content specific advice is one of the more concise presentations I've seen. It's worth reading just those chapters, if nothing else. If you do want to make money from your blog I believe this book will help you, though I'm not sure how many people can copy John Chow's success.

I had two issues with Make Money Online. The biggest issue is the self-identified "evil" practices. A smaller issue is the mildly condescending attitude found in some chapters, especially the introduction. Both of these somewhat taint what is otherwise good information.

A detailed review of the book follows.

Podcasters Across Borders (PAB) 2008

PAB 2008It's hard to find a conference dedicated to podcasting, especially in Canada. The best I've been able to find on the left coast are occasional presentations at venues like Northern Voice or Net Squared Tuesday. Back East, there's Podcasters Across Borders. I wanted to go this year, but couldn't justify the travel costs (and I think I made a mistake).

But there's good news, the presentations were taped and posted online:

And I'm having a blast listening to them!

Anyone that listens to the Canadian Podcast Buffet knows there's a strong podcasting community back East. The conference podcasts certainly can't reproduce the face-to-face goodness that conference goers experienced. But, as the saying goes, they're the next best thing and well worth a listen in their own right.

If you have any interest in podcasting I strongly recommend checking them out.

And props to organizers Bob Goyetche and Mark Blevis. Awesome presentation choices, guys!

Remembering the User - Vancouver League of Drupalers August 2008 Meeting

Oliver (Olly) Walker shared four techniques he uses for making Drupal easier for his customers at the August 28th meeting of the Vancouver League of Drupalers. Olly, better known as baronmunchowsen on GDO, is a web developer who specializes in websites for small businesses. He's promised to post presentation slides and we were fortunate enough to catch him on tape. The video is available below or at as Remembering the User - 4 Drupal Enhancements.

Update Sep 4/08: Slides are now available at Slideshare: Vancouver League of Drupallers - Remembering the User (August 2008)

Archiving Large Files to a FAT Drive

Book DriveManaging personal data storage is one of those ongoing challenges, especially as digital data sources increase in size and frequency. One of my archive solutions is a Western Digital Book Drive (so named because of it's size). It's 500 gigabytes and has both Firewire and USB2 connections, perfect for use on both my MS Windows XP system and Macintosh PowerBook G4. It's been painless, up till now.

To use it on both systems I need to use the FAT file system, which is the file system it comes formatted with out-of-the-box. This was fine until I started video editing. Now I have files exceeding the maximum file size FAT can handle. This is doubly bad since I do my video editing on my Powerbook with it's 80 gigabyte main disk drive and CDROM. Not only do I need all the space I can get but most video projects exceed 640 megabytes, so archiving to CD is tedious in the extreme.

OS X Unix to the rescue. I've solved the problem of archiving to my Book Drive by using the tar and split commands. Open a terminal console and go to the directory you keep your projects in. For example, Movies. For the sake of this example, we'll say the files are in a directory called Project1. To archive:

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:


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:

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).


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