StarvingFilmCritic

Hungry for Films

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Casey Trees Pruning Recap

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Things have been a bit busy for me lately, but I don’t want to let this blog just sit and collect dust, so here’s a quick writeup for the day. Here’s a video I worked on for you all to enjoy.

You should also visit www.caseytrees.org if you want to learn more about what they do.

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Written by Christopher Siler

2012/03/19 at 23:32

Posted in Uncategorized

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Consider this an archive until further notice

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I’m moving back to www.starvingfilmcritic.com because I don’t get much traffic in either place and I have a chance to start anew. This will stay up as an archive until further notice as I try to get traffic moving on my personal website.
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Written by Christopher Siler

2012/03/01 at 05:23

Posted in Uncategorized

I’m back!

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As you may have noticed, I disappeared at the end of the summer. It’s amazing how quickly things can get busy in life before you start to get a handle on them.

You see, I’ve never had to balance school, a job, and wedding planning before. It’s a pretty time consuming affair and I’m only just now getting the hang of all that and living with my fiancée. It’s one thing to have a room mate that you can hide from in your own room when you need downtime or a private space to do work, but living with someone you plan to marry is completely different. It’s more a problem of a small apartment; we really need a den or office for our computers so that we can work in private, but I digress.

It’s a shame that it wasn’t my obligations that kept me from posting, it was me. It’s not like it takes a long time to write a post (I may or may not be writing this as I perform my morning commute on the Metro). I was letting my fear of putting it out there stop me from writing.

Now we just need to decide what we’re going to do with this blog. I also have a personal website, starvingfilmcritic.com that had been left to rot for a long time. It recently got wiped and reset when my brother and server host decided to do updates. My old data got lost, so I can have a fresh start. So, should I stay or should I go? Use one site for entertainment posts and the other for general posting?

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Written by Christopher Siler

2012/02/04 at 08:38

Posted in Uncategorized

Protecting your Online Identity

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GMA News posted an article on keeping your identity safe in the online world.  The article covers the basics such as checking websites out for legitimacy before signing in and putting your personal information into their database, using strong passwords, and avoiding phishing schemes to nab your login and password information.  The digital world is more relevant to our every day lives and we must be careful about who we give our information out to. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Christopher Siler

2011/07/25 at 21:32

Posted in Uncategorized

Make sure you get permission and attribute your photos

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One of the greatest dangers to bloggers and informal news aggregation websites is the lack of attribution that can run rampant through their articles.  The most informal news-source I currently follow is Gizmodo.  They post articles on technology and tech-related news that I find interesting, but what I find even more interesting is the lack of proper photo attribution.

Gizmodo does a good job of attributing the story to whatever source the writers first saw the story on, but there are few photo credits to be found on the website.  While a fair part of these photos are created by Gizmodo staff, many come from whatever website Gizmodo got the story from.  I’ve picked up three examples over the past couple days of stories that I feel should give better photo attribution as well as the short hat-tip they give at the end of the story.

Gizmodo posted this story about a computer repair man who loaded malicious software on computers to take naked photos of women.  While the writer properly attributes the original story to MSNBC, he neglected to point out that the photo was provided by the Fullerton (Calif.) Police Department to the Associated Press. It appears that Gizmodo is not a member of the AP because the writer didn’t just use the AP story like MSNBC did even though the MSNBC page clearly states it’s an AP story.  The online AP FAQ states:

All requests for republication of AP material must be in writing, clearly stating the purpose and manner in which the copy will be used. All republished material must carry AP credit. Unless specifically noted otherwise, all permission is given for one-time use only. No political candidate, political party, political action committee, polemical organization, or any group formed for partisan purpose may use AP copy in any publication. There may be a fee for reprint use.

Gizmodo is in violation of these terms because there is no credit in the story to the Associated Press.

Gizmodo ran a story about the discovery of an artifact related to Leonardo Da Vinci.  The story originated from a story posted on Daily Mail’s website. The Gizmodo story took photos from the original and used them in their own story.  The photos bear watermarks from Central European News, a group analogous to the Associated Press and Alamy, a stock photo website.  CEN and their photography sister company Europics, state in their copyright that, “This site is a commercial information service for subscribers. Redistribution and reselling without a written agreement with CEN Ltd is illegal.”  Alamy works on a slightly more complicated release contract, but users are still required to pay a fee for usage of Alamy marked photos.  Gizmodo used the photos without obvious permission unless they are a paying member for CEN and Alamy services.  Gizmodo also improperly credited Daily Mail’s competitor, Telegraph with the story origination.

Gizmodo’s final offense is a case of laziness that lead to theft and not ignorance of photo ownership.  The website posted a story about a threat posted on the Anonymous news website to NATO, warning of retaliation if NATO attempted to take action against the group.  The post credits story origin from NATO and  Anonymous via CNET, who also posted about the story. The photo at the top of Gizmodo’s story was taken from the original posted at the bottom of CNET story.  Underneath the photo is a credit that reads, “Screenshot by CNET.”  The image was captured from the Anonymous news website which headlined the full statement against NATO.  This case makes the ownership of the photo murky, but regardless of the photo’s origin and availability, it would be proper for Gizmodo to credit CNET with the photo at the top of the story or take a photo of their own and use it to headline on the Gizmodo website.

The big issue with the lack of attribution is that it’s illegal to take photos that are owned by some entity and use them without permission.  The over-riding attitude on the internet seems to be that any photo that can be found online is fair game for usage on personal blogs and informal websites.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.  It is necessary to ask permission of the photo’s original poster to use the photo.  Only after getting permission may you post and use the photo yourself.  You are opening yourself up to potential lawsuits if you use images without permission.

Not all images require that you ask someone for permission to use them.  There are images in the public domain that are always free to use without having to pay money or ask for permission.  These photos can be found online in a variety of areas such as the wikimedia commons and public domain images.com.  I’m not endorsing these websites specifically, but they are two websites that I know of and there are many more if you search for ‘public domain images’ on google or any other search engine.

Be careful where you get your images and always ask for permission to use them unless you’re certain the image is in the public domain.

Written by Christopher Siler

2011/06/12 at 23:39

Posted in Uncategorized

Twitter Gives Roger Ebert a Voice

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Sometimes technology doesn’t always work the way you want.  I was hoping to use Storify to help me talk about how Roger Ebert uses Twitter effectively.  Unfortunately, Storify can’t auto-post to WordPress.com hosted blogs like this one and it breaks this blog when I attempt to link the two.  I’ve cut and pasted the story here and I will provide links at the top and bottom so that you can enjoy it in the original formatting.

I’m not happy that I can’t link Storify to this blog, but it’s still in beta testing, so I can’t really complain that much.  It will definitely be a powerful social media gathering and composing tool for digital reporters and bloggers.

Original Story Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Christopher Siler

2011/06/07 at 22:38

Posted in Uncategorized

Journalists Should Learn to Write… In Code

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The internet has become a powerful tool for journalists.  It contains large amounts of data from around the world that can be accessed by anyone with the proper know-how.  It also allows for independent journalists to build their own brand of news like Arianna  Huffington or Matt Drudge and their respective websites, The Huffington Post and The Drudge Report.  While I doubt that Huffington did any direct programming for her social media empire, I would be surprised if Drudge didn’t do any of the early work on his website when it launched in 1997. There are plenty of webmasters and computer programmers employed by news organizations that attend to the technical needs of running and maintaining a website, but there are still valid reasons for journalists to learn at least a bit of programming for the web and for sorting through data.

10,000 Words wrote an article in 2008 that listed several good reasons for journalists to learn code.  It helps journalists create basic online content with knowledge of HTML and CSS, it makes the journalist less dispensable when almost anyone can report the news, and it gives journalists an edge when competing for jobs that traditionally trained computer programmers have an edge on even if they lack necessary journalism training. While knowledge of HTML and CSS is becoming less relevant with advanced backend for posts (such as the user interface for WordPress), many of these skills are extremely useful for journalists.

The article doesn’t think deep knowledge of the Django framework, which requires knowledge of Python; PHP, a scripting language; or Ruby on Rails, a framework based in Ruby, are necessary for journalists, but I disagree on this point.  Scripting languages are an extremely powerful tool for sifting through large amounts of data.  Imagine if you wanted to index a website to look for a specific file automatically without knowing how the data is laid out.  It can be done easily with a scripting language and the right know how.  Knowledge of a general programming language can allow a programmer to create powerful tools to simulate potential outcomes, process data, and perform many tasks based on the programmer’s needs. C is an extremely popular and versatile programming language to learn.  It’s been around for a long time and a variety of places online to learn it.

There are downsides to learning programming languages and crafting applications and websites to suit your needs.  Knowledge of how computers work and more specifically how operating systems, web-applications, web-browsers, and other programs interact with each-other are important aspects to understand when writing a program.  It can be overwhelming, but it is also extremely rewarding.

I would definitely recommend anyone wanting to be a journalist to at least look at HTML, CSS, and interactive web-applications like Flash, Java, Silverlight, and HTML 5.  All of these are useful languages and applications to have knowledge of if you wish to work in social media.

Written by Christopher Siler

2011/06/07 at 09:28

Posted in Uncategorized