Hidden Columbia

Tuesday I had to make one of my occasional trips down to Columbia for a meeting. The meeting was being held in an unusual location, and there were traffic detours all around the school. That meant that I saw more of Columbia neighborhoods than I normally see on one of these visits. Seeing the abandoned … Continue reading Hidden Columbia

Multitrack Madness

Sgt Sony

A CappellaBack in 1985 my brother Houston introduced me to Todd Rundgren’s innovative album, A Cappella [sic]. Rundgren used digital sampling to create an album made up only of the human voice. He added distortion and manipulated the sounds to emulate drums and other instruments. Back then this was really impressive, and I was amazed that one human voice could create such music.

Of course, now this is common place. Beat-boxing came in with rap music about the time Rundgren’s album came out. TV shows like Glee have renewed interest in a capella singing, specifically with Do Wop and other popular music that wasn’t originally arranged for voices only. Combine that with technology that can turn just about any computer into a multi-track recording studio, and you have many people turning out their own a capella renditions. Continue reading “Multitrack Madness”

Dance, Dance Evolution

I think this is why the name “Random Connections” is so appropriate for this blog. Two seemingly unrelated events come together to form a semi-coherent thesis, and for some reason I feel compelled to write about it. Here’s what happened… Last Thursday Laura was in the mood for a French Dip sandwich. We were amazed … Continue reading Dance, Dance Evolution

Easy(-ish) Video Embedding

Part 2 of 2

In Part 1 I covered the easy stuff. Working with audio is trivial compared with working with video. Not only do you have many more file types and codecs, but now you’ve got to worry about aspect ratio for HD and compression quality. Given two video files with the exact same file extension, one might work in one situation, but the other may not. It can be maddening.

The easiest thing to do is to upload your files to a video sharing site such as YouTube or Vimeo. However, sites like that are usually blocked by school districts. There is SchoolTube and TeacherTube, but sometimes those can be problematic, too.

Less likely to be blocked are sites built on the Ning.com platform. A Ning site is free, and will support up to 30 videos as long as each is no larger than 100 MB. That’s fairly generous, and will support most classroom needs. Videos that are uploaded to the site are provided embed codes for blogs and social networking sites. Here’s a sample video I recorded in Space Mountain on a trip to Disney World… Continue reading “Easy(-ish) Video Embedding”

Discovery Education MediaShare

The citizens of South Carolina really have some wonderful online resources available to them. For ten years now the State Library has made available a wealth of research and reference materials through the DISCUS project. This is available in all schools, libraries, and colleges, and available at home if you obtain a free password from one of those sources. Then there’s KnowItAll.org and all of the other amazing resources from SCETV. One of the best of these is the Discovery Education video clips available from StreamlineSC. Like DISCUS, this is available free to all schools in the state through a special licensing arrangement with Discovery. At the SCETV conference this week I learned about a new feature that Discovery is promoting called MediaShare. This new service looks really cool, and looks like it will be another great resource for teachers.

As the name suggests, MediaShare allows users to share files of various types – PowerPoint slide shows, Smart and Promethean files, podcasts, and video clips. The idea is that these types of files often take up more space on servers than some districts allow, so Discovery has created this place to host the files. MediaShare is monitored for appropriateness of content, and districts can also set approval levels for files uploaded by their users.


Continue reading “Discovery Education MediaShare”

Super Simple Time Lapse

When we were in the Bahamas I tried my hand at some time-lapse video using my little Nikon S50 camera in movie mode. The results were pretty good, but I found myself battling the twin hurdles of battery life and patience (as well as lack of a tripod.) The result was a shorter-than-desired video clip that went by far too quickly.

Then a couple of weeks ago I read a good blog post on the Digital Urban blog with simple instructions on doing time-lapse photography with a webcam. While Digital Urban’s instructions look great, and I want to try those out, it occurred to me that there might be an even easier way to accomplish this – use someone else’s webcam! Here’s one that I created very quickly using some simple software and the webcam for Table Rock State Park…

All you need for this project is a computer (duh) that no one will need to use for a few hours, a good steady Internet connection, a website with an embedded webcam image, and the BSR Screen Recorder. Other screen recorder programs will probably work, but I like the BSR program because it’s very easy to set the record rate, and that is the lynch pin in this method. Continue reading “Super Simple Time Lapse”