May 2008

Technology27 May 2008 11:51 am

Order Photos With Automator Action by Date Taken
I recently needed to order and rename some photos my dad and I had taken on vacation. I did a quick google search to come up with a way to do this and found my own blog post…DOH. I downloaded m own Automator Script, ran it, and photo renaming by date magic happened.

SO, since that post is on my own blogger platform blog, I am reposting it here (mostly so next time I can find it easier).

Problem: I had a directory of 115 photos which I wanted to upload to my picture gallery in the order they were taken but they were taken with three different cameras so the filenames meant nothing. With the Firefox/Apple finder you are unable to order by Date Created very easily in the dialog that pops up when you click to upload a photo to the web.

Solution: I created an Automator Action to first take Selected Finder Items then copy them just in case, then order the items by Date Taken, then rename the files in that order to 1-115.jpg. I also added a string so I could use this script for multiple directories I needed to order like this. You can download the action: Order Photos Automator Action.

To use this Automator Action, first select your photos in the finder, the double click on the Automator Script (after unpacking it from the ZIP). You will need to edit the location to save the copied items to to fit your needs and edit the filename settings if you want in to be different. Then just hightlight the items you want to rename in any finder window, go back to automator, and click the Automator Play button.

This script is nothing special or perfect but hopefully it gets you thinking about harnessing Automator to quickly perform menial tasks on your Apple.

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Programming and Software and Technology19 May 2008 12:45 pm

When I first tried to get PicLens enabled on my website photogallery I could not get the PicLens plugin to recognise my pictures rss feed. I had created my pictures.rss feed and instructed by the PicLens webmaster guide and pointed the page to the rss file using the link call at the top of my page.

<link id="gallery" rel="alternate" href="photos.rss" type="application/rss+xml">

I double checked the format of my photos.rss page but I still could not get PicLens to recognize it, and instead kept getting the error:

“This site does not yet support PicLens.”

The Cause: I discovered was that my web host (GoDaddy Shared Hosting Plan) was not correctly serving the rss file.

The Solution: Rename the photos.rss feed to photos.xml. Since the rss file is an XML file I knew it would be correctly served and would be hopefully be discovered by PicLens. For me changing the rss file to an xml file extension solved my “This site does not yet support PicLens” Error.

The second issue I discovered was that the webmaster guide does not list the guid field in the spec yet it is seems to be necessary for PicLens to match images on your site to the declarations in the rss feed. The guid field is included in the example photos.rss fied that comes with the downloadable webmaster guide which seemed to work unlike mine was so it was my clue the rss guid field was necessary. The rss spec clasifies the guid field as a unique identifier. I chose to use the filename as the guid for my photos.rss (photos.xml field as is the case for my setup) since it is unique and change the isPermaLink field to be true since it is. I could have also used the ID field of that row in my Database but I figured the PermaLink provided me with more information.

<guid isPermaLink="true">picture_214_2_1211225557.jpg</guid>

Let me know if this solves your PicLens error or if you have any others I may be able to help with.

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Sipe Family News and Technology19 May 2008 12:05 pm

PicLens Screenshot PicLens Screenshot - Wall View Detail PicLens Screenshot - Slide Show View
After viewing a gallery using the new browser plug-in PicLens, I knew I had to setup our site to work with PicLens. PicLens is a Plug-in to Firefox, Internet Explorer, and even Safari that displays pictures as a 3D wall of images that you can fly through. It also enables you to view a slide show of images all using the PicLens Plug-In. All this is done in full screen mode so the pictures look amazing.

To view the images on our site using PicLens you need to:
1) Download the PicLens Plugin at their website:
2) Install the Plugin. It is fairly straightforward but let me know if you have issues.
3) Browse to our Photo Gallery.
4) Now you can either:
   -Mouse Over an Image and then Click on the Arrow That Appears
   -In Firefox Click on the PicLens Icon in the upper left of your screen
   -In Internet Explorer Click the >> To the Right of Tools and Select “Launch PicLens”

Since I currently have ALL of our images in a single gallery, it may take a while to load. Once PicLens loads (you will see a black screen with all the pictures stacked in a 3D wall) you can grab the screen with the mouse and drag the wall of pictures to move through. You can also click on the rectangle with the 4 arrows at the corners in the bottom left of the screen to start a slideshow.

If you have any problems with this let me know. Of course you can always view all our photos using the normal method of clicking on one and moving throuugh the gallery without this plugin.

UPDATE 6/1/2008: You can now also view all of our videos using the PicLens plug-in. Just go to our photo gallery, then click on the PicLens plug-in in your browser bar or click on a picture to launch the PicLens viewer. The PicLens videos will be at the beginning of the “photo wall.”

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Sipe Family News09 May 2008 11:19 am

I have posted TONS of new pictures in our Picture Gallery. It had been quite a while since I had updated the gallery with new pictures but I finally have gotten all caught up!

I uploaded so many pictures that they go over to the second page so make sure you click through to the next page to see all the pictures! of New Pictures in the Gallery digg:Lots of New Pictures in the Gallery spurl:Lots of New Pictures in the Gallery wists:Lots of New Pictures in the Gallery simpy:Lots of New Pictures in the Gallery newsvine:Lots of New Pictures in the Gallery blinklist:Lots of New Pictures in the Gallery furl:Lots of New Pictures in the Gallery reddit:Lots of New Pictures in the Gallery fark:Lots of New Pictures in the Gallery blogmarks:Lots of New Pictures in the Gallery Y!:Lots of New Pictures in the Gallery smarking:Lots of New Pictures in the Gallery magnolia:Lots of New Pictures in the Gallery segnalo:Lots of New Pictures in the Gallery
Marketing and Technology03 May 2008 08:15 pm

I recently gave a presentation at PSU entitled: “Major Trends Occurring @ the Intersection of Web Technology & Communications. A University’s Response to Those Trends.” The topic was provided for me and I believe the idea was to investigate the future of online communications and how universities should adapt those trends. The glaring problem is universities are generally so very far behind on online trends that a talk on the future of the web would be purely a thought exercise (although no better place than @ a university for such a mental workout). I chose to go through a bit of a Cliff Note’s web retrospective in order to point out where universities are today versus where the web has evolved to followed by a call to arms.

I don’t want to rehash my presentation again (although you can view the slides here) but instead want to expand on the topic because I feel universities must place much more emphasis on online communications if they are to succeed. Lest they risk falling further out of touch with their future, current, past students, alumni, and community. The undertaking is truly monumental and requires shifts in policy and forward thinking administrators across campuses to make it happen.

For those with no experience in the higher education sector let me begin with a brief summary of the difficulties faced. When I took my first higher education position I was under the impression that since universities are many times the birthplace of high-tech innovation (Facebook, Google, etc) that their online policies would also be innovative. Strike one. Universities are notoriously slow adopters of new technologies, even ones students and professors helped to create (Facebook, Google). I also assumed that since nearly 100% of incoming college students spend almost all their free time online or with some kind of connected device stuck to them that the website would be priority one for recruitment and retention. Strike two. Universities are ruled by tried and true paper communication with glossy marketing materials and the ever present mailings dominating their budgets and efforts. Finally I hoped that even if one and two were not true with the obvious case to be made for online communication it would be possible to quickly move them in the forward direction. Strike three. Even with many administrators, students, and professors crying out for better online presence the combination of extremely tight budgets, “earmarked funds,” and aged communication strategies leads to a glacial pace of progress.

So, the environment in higher education is money poor and politics rich so what is there to do? Give up and stay with the status quo? Tempting but I say that it is not an option universities can consider if they want to survive into the future. With the explosion of information online and the subsequent organization and cataloging of that information the future of education is one of self-study. I see a shying away of classical university education in favor of experiential and self driven education. Already much of the course work is available online for free via podcasts and learning websites and many startups are pushing a broader and more structured approach to self learning. If the atmosphere of college life and exploration is overshadowed by increasing tuition bills and a recession there may be little reason left to get a classical university education.

My solution to close the university online communications chasm is to first apply some duct tape and then work like crazy on getting a completely new machine up and running that can replace the sputtering duct taped wonder and get you to the other side.

The first piece of duct tape applied is to become part of the online conversation. Although this sounds easy it requires a uncomfortable shift in message and media control for many university administrators. Your students, faculty, community members, alumni, and parents are already talking about your school and just because the university administration is not part of that conversation does not make it stop. The internet of today is a place of two way communication. Between forums, blogs, chats, social discussions, review sites, and twitters people are talking about everything including your institution. Since most universities have not built their online presences as a place where this kind of conversation can or is happening you have to go out and find the forums where it is happening and join in on the conversation. Yes, it is in an uncontrolled setting and yes people may be difficult but these are the people you are currently allowing to set the identity of your institution without you! Be warned, though, this requires open and real discourse or in other words this may not a job for your marketing team. People want to hear from other people like them, students, faculty, parents, alumni so put together a varied group of informed and passionate people who can be your face, train them in what you would like to have your brand be, and send them out to be a part of the conversation.

The second piece of duct tape is to become a part of the online social networks. This follows closely behind your first piece because these places are where most of the conversations are happening. There are thousands of people who have affinity for your university and who have grouped themselves as such across the web. Facebook, mySpace, Flickr, and the Blogosphere are populated with your students, alumni, donors, and community. These groups have little barrier to entry other than taking an active role in them. Just creating your Facebook or mySpace profile is not good enough. You must seek out friends, build affinity groups, engage the current groups, and build a significant presence there. This way when someone wants to find out more about your institution you are already a visible part of their online community and are available to provide that information.

Now that you are moving forward it is time to capitalize on the momentum you have created. The beauty of the first two quick fixes is they require little money to accomplish and in the process build groups of engaged and forward moving people. In the process of accomplishing your first two goals you have also hopefully loosened some of the aforementioned inflexible and aged notions of web communication. Building this new online machine is going to take all of the support both financially and politically that you can muster along with the trust of the university administration at the highest levels so it is absolutely necessary to be building this along the way.

Your new online communication machine is going to run on innovation and participation, both very difficult to blueprint and achieve. I can offer only recommendations and past accomplishments because you need to engage your innovators to come up with a solution that fits your location, student base, alumni involvement, and environment. Start by building a group of students, faculty, staff, alumni that are engaged and passionate about your university as well as the future of the internet and start throwing out ideas. Some past successes: Some universities have had great successes creating their own social networks, thereby having control over the environment and quickly building affinity. Some universities have successfully leveraged their student projects and innovations to build positive press and capitalized on their talent to help the university move forward.

There are endless opportunities to leverage the internet to increase admission numbers, student retention, alumni involvement, donor giving, and positively increase the profile of the university. It is up to a group of dedicated, passionate, and perhaps slightly crazy online communicators to make this happen. The key to moving forward is first changing the existing environment at the highest levels of university administration to be more internet aware and proactive. This takes education, communication, information, and a bit of pleading to make happen but I believe this is what many university online professionals in the past have failed to accomplish.

I am interested to hear what other university communicators and administrators feel about their current online strategy and the necessity and success of a proactive and innovative online presence. Lets have one of those conversations here about this and see how we can put this all into practice.

UPDATE: No more than a few days after this post about managing communications online for universities, this blog post came up on my blog radar screen: Things About Portland That Suck – Portland State University. It proves my point for two reasons: First, that the conversation about your University is going on. This is a fairly popular blog with good writing and a good following and not a place you want to be mentioned (unless you want to suck I guess). Second, as the comment shows there is a group of people passionate about your University that you could engage to help you participate in the conversation.

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