Piece of Rice Cake

Technology Inside Touchscreen

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We are in a big hype of touchscreen. Touchscreen not only eliminates moving parts in electronics, but also opens up unlimited possibilities for more intuitive interface. With rising of touchscreen technology, therefore, many electronics manufacturers have begun implementing it in exhaustive lists of new products. Consumers like them too, as they convince you that you’re in charge of everything just on a fingertip. We now see them on computers, cell phones, cars, refrigerators and even microwaves (can’t believe it?).

There are three different touchscreen technologies used to register the motion of your fingertips: Resistive, capacitive and surface acoustic wave.

Resistive Touchscreen

According to resistivetouchscreen.org, resistive touchscreen consists of two layers with small space in between. When a pressure is applied, the top layer touches the bottom layer, registering the combination of voltage and distance of the pressure point, and finds the X coordinate. And then, the same voltage gradient is used to find the Y coordinate.

Some of advantages of resistive touchscreen are:

Capacitive Touchscreen

An excerpt from HowStuffWorks.com says that capacitive touchscreen uses a layer with electrical charge on top of the glass panel of monitor. When the pressure is applied, some of its electricity is transferred to the epiderm of  of skin. The decreased charge is detected by circuits located in each corner of the layer, and the amount of decrease is registered as the distance in each circuit, interpreted as coordinates.

Capacitive touchscreen

Image via Wikipedia

Capacitive touchscreen generally transmits stronger signals than resistive touchscreen. Also, since it uses only one layer to detect pressures, it transmits 90 percent of light, providing better clarity of screen when compared to resistive touchscreen.

Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW)

The surface acoustic wave technology (SAW) is one of the most advanced touchscreen technologies to the date. It consists of two transducers each registering X and Y axis on the panel, which registers electrical signals from ultrasonic wave spread on the reflector on the panel, interpreted by the controller of the transducers.

Because SAW does not overlay on the glass panel of monitor, it provides unaffected clarity of the screen. Also, it provides the strongest touchscreen sensitivity today.

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Chapter 9: Data-Driven Journalism and Digitizing Your Life

graphic design work by Emmanuel Cloix

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Digital life is based upon a gratuitous amount of information and data; therefore, managing the data is the most critical part of digital life in journalism. Organized data not only helps journalists retrieve their memories from certain events via computer-assisted reporting, but also helps keeping in contact with colleagues and people of interest, and even coming up with new story ideas. Data-driven journalism excels in the following areas: depth, customization, searchability and long shelf life. The areas of management ranges from:

  • Emails
  • Contacts
    • Digitally stored contact lists expedites search
  • To-do lists
  • Calendars
  • Notes
  • Productivity tools
    • Word processing
    • Spreadsheets
    • Presentations
    • Images
    • Databases
    • Project management
    • Web or graphic design
    • Collaboration with colleagues

Besides Google and Office Live, there are a variety of productivity tools that one can start with

  • Instapaper: Saves web pages to be read later
  • Remember the Milk: To-do list manager
  • Oh don’t forget: Reminder tool that uses SMS
  • Evernote: To-do list and note taking utility that can also record audio using cell phone
  • Jott: Audio to-do list
  • Dropbox: Collaborative cloud file storage
  • Backpack: Organizer that is used for document sharing, plus notes, task lists and calendar
  • Basecamp: Team project manager
  • Socrata: Database and spreadsheet-managment
  • MindMeister: Brainstorming helper that uses mip-maps

Often these services use cloud-computing method — in which the user accesses the third-party server outside of his or her own computer to use the service. This method requires internet connection at all times, but it is also convenient that the user does not need to always bring the storage required for the project.

The ability to share data is also a critical advantage in data-driven journalism. Several large news organizations such as the New York Times, the BBC, NPR, and the Guardian utilize application program interface (API) to allow anyone to borrow their data and build tools for their webpages. The API helps circulation of the digital ecosystem, bringing up full potentials of any data provided. Some of examples include interactive maps that geographically explain certain stories.

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Group Project: Retrieving the History of NAMI Northern Virginia

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Northern Virginia is a non-profit organization that seeks to provide educations and resources about mental illness. Founded in 1979, NAMI has helped individuals and families who are affected by mental illness, raised awareness of mental illness in the U.S. and advocated the government for the rights of people with mental illness.

Celebrating its three decades of dedication to the communities of mental illness patients, NAMI asked us to create a history project to retrieve and preserve the history of NAMI. As a group project, the group members and I will collaborate with former and current staff members of NAMI to explore how NAMI has gone through its time.

I will be creating a slideshow to enhance the viewers’ experience with browsing through the recordings of interviews, and also contribute my pictures to a variety of parts of this project. I will tag along with as many interviews as possible, and will also help researching literatures to better understand the history of NAMI.

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Dan Rather: ‘It’s My Job To Give People The Facts’

Dan delivered a great talk at sxsw on the medi...

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In the middle of the turmoil after the assassination of the president John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, millions sat in front of televisions to watch the announcement of the president’s death. There Dan Rather was in Dallas, Tx., suppressing all of his emotions to focus only on giving every little detail of the assassination to the audience. He was the first to announce the president’s death on television news.

“It was a hammer to the heart to each individual in America,” said Rather, reminiscing during his video conference on C-SPAN on Feb. 24, 2011. With participants from George Mason University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Purdue University and University of Denver, Rather shared his experience as a journalist and opinions on how the future journalism should evolve with the advancement of technology.

Regarding online journalism, Rather said that the coverage on the assassination in 1963 would have been different these days.

“Taking Egypt as example, social media has been tremendous tool public at large to use against power,” Rather said.

However, he was also concerned of its weaknesses.

“American journalism today needs a spine transplant,” Rather said. He said that ever-emerging new technologies often convey dangers of being manipulated by those in power or authority, and journalists should engage to help audience by verifying information floating around the globe.

He also said that today’s consumers of journalism needs to be more educated in order to “make more sense of our knowledge.”

“The public is now confused and politicians are taking advantage of that,” Rather said.

Rather advised the participating students to become responsible journalists and understand the basic fundamentals of democracy and checks and balances system that the American journalism has grown upon.

“The right attitude of a journalist is to say ‘let’s get the facts right,'” Rather said. “As a professional, you have to seal out all your emotions and focus on the job in your hand.”

Wikileaks as an example, Rather said online sources should be carefully monitored.

“[WikiLeaks] helps public service in many ways, but also risks many lives,” Rather said. He said that today’s journalists should account the duality of online sources, and always focus on verifying any information received.

However, Rather was hopeful that new fundamentals of journalism will solve the challenges that today’s journalists encounter.

“Hopefully a new business model will emerge for online journalism,” Rather said. ” The old business model is dead and shrinking.”

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Chapter 10: Managing News as a Conversation

Questions and challenges for the modern journalism:

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  • How to maintain objectivity or credibility
  • Legal and ethical issues with publishing freedom for everyone
  • How to gather the audience

With social networking tools and blogs embedded on news sites, conversing the news is possible. One can converse through comments or social networking (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.). This can enable tremendous ways to communicate and collaborate with the audience, despite potential problems due to anonymity. The benefits to news as a conversation include:

  • Transparency
  • Immediate feedback
  • Spread of news through word-of-mouth marketing

The 1-10-100 rule for participatory online communities:

  • 1 percent of the user community — including the journalists on news sites — actually create content
  • 10 percent of the user community will “synthesize” the content by posting a comment, e-mail, blog post or a link from a separate site.
  • 100 percent of the user community will benefit from actions of the first two groups.

Some of successful Web sites that utilizes user-generated communities are Wikipedia, Flickr and YouTube. User-generated communities do not cost money. However, it takes a great amount of time, energy and resources to build the sufficient community for the purpose. Major tasks for creating user-generated communities include:

  • Evangelizing the brand
  • Soliciting the content
  • Moderating comments, blogs and other user submissions
  • Solving user problems
  • Staffing booths at weekend events
  • Running contests to drive traffic

Some of ways to keep your user-generated communities clean and safe:

  • Don’t editorialize
  • Consider if public disclosure of someone close to you may become embarrassment to them.
  • Monitor offensive postings
  • Know your legal responsibilities
  • Correct errors
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Chapter 8: Telling Stories with Video

Thanks to the emergence of cheap video cameras and free video-editing softwares, video journalism has become easier than ever. Even without purchasing over $35,000 worth equipments that used to be requirements, anyone can produce high-quality videos and upload in Web. It has become  so easy that millions around the world frequently upload videos. In mid 2009, YouTube reported that 20 hours of videos were uploaded on their server every second.


Image via Wikipedia

As a beginner in video journalism, what kind of mindset should we have?

Perfection is not necessary. Just do it and make as many mistakes as you can.

Of course, it is always better to produce the perfect video that we think of. However, quick and less polished videos tend to attract more viewers, because of it s natural atmosphere and intimacy it provides to the viewers. Even professional video journalists intently give imperfections in their videos, such as shakes or interruptions by others in the video, to emphasize certain aspects in the story.

The following video is a footage of the protest in Egypt, which also captured the reporter being attacked by protesters in the middle of turmoil:

As shown, the imperfect handling of camera and the sudden attack on the reporter well delivers the atmosphere of the scene.

Different approaches for different projects

  • You will never know what will happen while filming a breaking news video. Although you will often not have access to the closest to the scene, capturing witnesses and surroundings of the scene can also make a good video.
  • Breaking news stories can also be connected to the press conferences to help audience analyze the situation.
  • Compilation of highlights can shorten the length of the video with the most available information delivered to the audience
  • A documentary video gives you more freedom. However, it requires more planning and resources.

There are three kinds of shots — wide shots, medium shots and close-ups. It is better to mix your shots to give your video a variety. It is recommended to use “five-shot sequences,” which consists of five different consecutive shots to keep the audience focused on the video.

Stand-up is often necessary in reporting breaking news or covering major sporting event. The below are some tips for planning your video:

Bauer Bosch Video Kamera

Image via Wikipedia

  • Keep your content short, but always be ready to provide something little extra for the audience
  • Even when reporting breaking news, always write a script and warm up
  • Be stable in posture and breathe easily
  • Use some hand gestures to make yourself look easy on camera


  • High definition or standard definition
    • With abundant resources and technologically knowledgeable staffs, don’t be afraid to use HD
    • If your resources are limited with amateur staffs, it may be better to use standard definition
  • Media type
    • DVDs have many limitations, including slow writing speed
    • Solid state media, such as flash memory cards, have faster access time and more flexibility
  • Video-editing software
    • Make sure the video format captured by a camera is compatible with the editing software you will be using
    • Some programs do not work with DVDs or with new AVCHD format
  • Accessories
    • Tapes and batteries for longer running time
    • Microphones to capture more delicate sounds
    • Tripod when the video is to be captured in a stable setting
    • Headphones to make sure the audio is being recorded clearly
    • Lighting to be used in darker environment, or to change the tone of color of the scene

How do you shoot a video?

It’s simple. Follow these steps: Focus, zoom and adjust the exposure. Aim for solid clips rather than dramatic, spectacular clips. Be selective when to run your camera to save your runtime, and avoid panning and zooming in the middle of the video to prevent the audience from feeling dizzy watching your clips. Keep your voice silent to avoid putting unnecessary, or often unpleasant sound effects in your video, and follow the rule of thirds.

Rule of thirds: When framing your video, the most important subject in the frame should be aligned on one of four axis points in your imaginary nine-square grid within the frame.


  • Keep it short
  • Choose your own fitting editing software, ranging from free softwares such as Windows Movie Maker and iMovie, to professional, pricy softwares such as Final Cut, Adobe Premiere, Sony Vegas, Corel VideoStudio, Cyberlink PowerDirector and Pinnacle Studio.
  • Publishing can be done via YouTube, Vimeo, Blip.tv and Metacafe.
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STAR Workshop: Adobe Illustrator CS4

Adobe Creative Suite 4

Image by Dekuwa via Flickr

Yesterday I went to a STAR Workshop at GMU to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator CS4. Although I have never used any Adobe software before and it was the first time I have even heard of the program, I signed up for the third level course and expected to ask many, many questions in every step the class would go over.

I have been using GNU Image Manipulating Program (GIMP). A free, what many would say ripped alternative of Adobe Photoshop. However, as I sat in the classroom and opened up the Illustrator, I quickly realized that I was already familiar with the interface, including the tool box with buttons that turn on different cursor functions, layer view, color chooser, etc. Some of shortcuts I got used to from GIMP were different in Illustrator, but for the most part, I never had to ask any beginner questions as the class went along. In yesterday’s class, the instructor Tamara Wilkerson went over how to use gradations and distort effects. It was fascinating to see how a simple copy-and-paste can create a reflection of a coffee cup on table, a distorted image of a logo can be adjusted for its color and gradient to look like a realistic shade, and a hexagon can be modified into a snowflake with 3D effect.

Some of differences I noticed between Illustrator and GIMP were:

Adobe Creative Suite 3

Image by lewro via Flickr

  • Illustrator uses vectors — direction and magnitude — to coordinate images, compared to how Photoshop and GIMP uses pixels
  • Because Illustrator uses vectors, a simple shape can be modified into fascinating artwork as long as your imagination can go
  • Artworks can be saved in many conventional formats, including PDF.

With excitation in mind, I ran to the computer store on campus after class to to purchase this awesome Adobe program. However, I was only to be disappointed at the price tag: $199 for a standard package of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Acrobat. Instead, I downloaded a free alternative, InkScape later that night to review some of techniques.

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Chapter 7: Making Audio Journalism Visible

Some might say audio journalism is not as exciting as video or Web journalism, and will die along with newspaper. Despite this belief, because of its distinct taste and unique content delivery, audio journalism is strong and will be strong as long as there are listeners who seek its essence. For example, 14 million downloads podcasts from NPR and visits its website every month. The key to success is encouraging show hosts and reporters to engage personally to their audience, therefore allowing the audience to enjoy the intimacy with them.

Jackie Martinez with a microphone 01

Image via Creative Commons

Advantages of audio journalism:

  1. Flexible to work with many different devices — file size is usually smaller than video files
  2. Opens up imaginations for the listeners
  3. Can be consumed while commuting
  4. A reporter can literally bring readers to the story
  5. Tone of voices, expressions, intonation and pauses can be reserved
  6. Atmosphere of the scene can be brought to the audience
  7. Podcast — Episodes can be uploaded without establishing difficult schedule
  8. Breaking news can be packaged in a quick audio report

How can you use audio journalism? The recipe may vary depending on the goal and the subject. However, generally audio journalism can be used with the following:

  • Interviews
    • Choose your location — pick a place that’s quite and has good acoustics
    • Gather natural sound — search for sounds that will help describe the setting
    • Prepare your subject
      • What part of the story will audio play?
      • Who is the audience?
      • How long will the interview be?
      • What kinds of questions will be asked?
      • How much editing will be done?
    • Watch what you say — keep quite while the subject is talking
    • Delayed recording — ask the subject to repeat their answer
    • Mark the best spots
  • Voice-overs
    • Write a script — be prepared
    • Warm up — practice
    • Find operative words — words that convey the story
    • Keep it conversational
  • Natural or environmental sound
  • imported sound clips, including music

Devices range from cheap compact recorders to $500 recorder with stereo recording. It is recommended to use a recorder that can upload its files directly to the computer so that the recordings can be stored securely. Also, use telephone recorder for over-the-phone interviews. It is also recommended to record the interviews in WAV format, which is an uncompressed format, so that tweaks that are made after the recording will not drastically reduce the quality of the sound. Input volume level is suggested to be set at about 70 percent of its possible level.

For the better recording for quiet subjects, external microphone can be used to amplify the sound. Headphones can be used to examine the quality of the recording as the recording is being done. While recording, make a note for each 10 minutes of the recording in the notebook. This will save time for browsing through the notes and recordings during editing.


Image via Wikipedia


MP3 is the most balanced audio format that is widely used by many different media players, while conserving high quality sound with small file size. Widely used professional audio editing programs are: Avid’s Pro Tools, Adobe Audition and Sony’s Sound Forge. However, for the most of users, free audio editing programs such as Audacity should suffice their needs.

Besides cropping and cutting pieces out of audio, Audacity offers a variety of effects:

  • Fade: A gradual increase or decrease in volume of audio
  • Cross-fading: A mix of fades with one track level increasing with another decreasing
  • Establishing music: Use of song clips to set tone
  • Segue: Smooth transition between tracks
  • Transition: Connecting different tracks
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    Great Search for Food (or Google) Lovers: Google with Recipe View

    It seems like Google is never out of ideas to make Web-searching more interesting and intriguing. The following video shows how to use Google’s recent addition, Recipe View to search recipes for any keyword you type.

    The search filter can narrow down the results with ingredients, cook time and even amount of calories per serving. I’m quite used to cooking for myself, but I never got to search for recipes to try new food by myself. As a big fan of Google, I am definitely going to try this one out!

    Chapter 6: Visual Storytelling with Photographs

    “Show, don’t tell.”

    Journalists are told of this phrase many, many times. Rather than describing the scene of news happening, it is better to find ways to take the audience to the scene. Photographs has been the most effective way to connect the audience with what the writer actually saw, and has evolved the most with the emergence of digital media. Nowadays, anyone can publish photos with just a few clicks — making the photojournalism more readily available to anyone.

    However, equipments do not immediately make an amateur photographer a professional photojournalist. There are basics of how to operate the camera and how to work with the subject for the best outcomes.

    Digital Photography

    Tips for starters:

    1. Take as many pictures as you want
    2. Immediately see if the picture you just captured is what you wanted
    3. Upload the pictures and show to friends and family
    4. Edit the pictures — crop them, enhance them, toning them, etc.

    — Pixel: Abbreviated form of “picture element”, pixel is the visual representation of data in a digital image or graphic

    There are standard resolutions used in each medium. On computer screens, pictures are shown in 72ppi (pixels per inch), therefore the photos should be compressed to 72ppi to be uploaded on Web. Thus, printed newspaper uses 200ppi and glossy magazine uses 300ppi.

    Ownership, Copyright and Fair Use

    Photographs are easy to be shared digitally. They also can easily be infringed of copyrights. Basically, don’t steal. Images found on search engines such as Google or Yahoo may be protected by the fair use clause of the U.S. Copyright Law, but users must be aware that the search results are not limited in the U.S. Use Creative Commons to search images that are legally approved for the fair use.

    Two Kinds of Digital Cameras

    • Point-and-shoot: Compact cameras that are easy to use and more affordable. Most of them are equipped with lens and flash
    • Digital SLR (DSLR): Professional-level cameras that are equipped with larger image sensors — up to 10 times larger than point-and-shoot cameras. Most of them can have lens and flash replaced. They are more expensive and more complex to use.

    How to Use Digital Camera

    • Camera modes: Usually the camera is equipped with a dial to select camera modes such as the following: portrait, sports, landscape, low-light or automatic mode.
    • Zoom: Point-and-shoot cameras offer optical zoom and digital zoom and DSLR cameras use optical zoom. Digital zoom affects the image quality while the optical zoom does not.
    • Flash: There are usually automatic, red-eye reduction and manual modes. Flash can also be adjusted for the angle of the light.
    • View/delete: This function lets the photographer browse through the pictures that were captured and decide which to keep and which to not.

    Lighting is the most important aspect in photography. There are three ways to provide lighting:

    1. With natural (or ambient) light only — guarantees the best image quality, especially in cloudy and partly sunny days.
    2. With flash only.
    3. In mix of natural light and flash.
      More CHIMP'in

      Image by Illusive Photography via Flickr

    To take better photos, practice the following:

    • Hold the camera steady
    • Fill the frame — try to fit the head of the subject to the top of the frame
    • Focus on one thing — focus on the subject’s eyes to produce the sharpest portrait picture
    • Get closer — don’t be afraid to move all around the space to catch the best angle for the photograph
    • Go vertical — when the subject is vertically oriented, flip the frame to fit the subject
    • Shoot action — capture the action at the shutter speed of 1/500th second.

    Mug Shots

    Avoid flash and strong sunlight. Use the flash as the last resort. Pick the right, neutral background. Position the subject away from the walls. Make sure there is no pole-like subject “growing” out of the person’s head.

    Working with Digital Photographs

    Store them well. Always remember to backup your pictures to prevent loss in case of computer failure, bad memory card, etc.

    Manage them well. Categorize your photos and store them in separate folders. It will make the photos quickly accessible when you need them, without browsing through hundreds of pictures.

    Edit them well. There are tons of options out there: iPhoto, Windows Photo Gallery, Piknik, Snipshot, Picasa, Flicker and Photoshop.

    There are a few simple steps to follow when publishing your photos:

    1. Never post original photos. Edit them for the better.
    2. Crop the photo to omit unnecessary parameters.
    3. Resize to fit your needs
    4. Compress the resolution to fit your needs
    5. Tone and color-correct
    6. Save a Web version — compress your photos to 72ppi and save them as separate files. Posting pictures in higher resolution will result in slow loading time of your Web page.
    7. Keep it simple — if all you need to do about your photo is to crop, use simpler applications such as Piknik. This will save time in editing.

    Publish Your Photos Online

    1. Wrap text around photo
    2. Use intuitive alternate text. It will optimize your post for search engines, as well.
    3. Remember that it is only a link to a photo — storing images in image-hosting websites will make the process more efficient
    4. Use a screenshot and a link

    Even with all the technological knowledge, however, creativity and fearlessness makes one a great photographer. And it takes a lot of practice.

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