Could It be? Yes, It Could! Something's Coming, Something Good!!!

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Ladies and Gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the very last blog entry I will ever write for a class at this university.

 

Outside press on event:

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette event preview

Pittsburgh Post Gazette event coverage

 

And now, to unveil the final product:

Intro:

On September 17, Seton Hill University held an opening gala to unveil its new Performing Arts Center. The gala was a closed formal event where donors and patrons were invited to observe the building in use. Besides a stage make-up demonstration, an open rehearsal of then current theatrical production of “Into the Woods”, and guided tours of the facilities, the inaugural music concert was held in the Carol Ann Reichgut Concert Hall.


SHUPAC Opening Gala Audio Report.mp3

Outro:

The Seton Hill University Performing Arts Center features three performance spaces: the Reichgut Concert Hall, the William Granger Ryan Theater, and the Michelle and Tom Ridge Performance Studio, where most theater and dance classes are held. The next major event at the Performing Arts Center will be the theater department's production of “Red Herring”, which runs from February 26 through March 6, 2010.


And lastly, a word to those of you taking EL 336 next semester: godspeed, and whatever you do, please stick it out. TRUST ME. You will be glad that you did.

Blanka Rothschild

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"You didn't have time to look. You were running, like an animal"

I have always found stories of experiences much more affecting when they are told by the people who actually experienced them. The vocal inflections, pitch variations, and silences are due to an emotional response to the material. When a person tells a story, certain moments are more important than others, and this fact is reflected in their speech patterns.

As Rothschild articulated those moments which were so precious to her, such as the Sedar and the warm feeling opening her home to stranger on the holiday gave her, she paused in between, emphasizing the beginning of each new word. So affecting for was it that her grandparents opened their home on Sedar to orphans and soldiers far from home, because I knew of their fate. That one little anecdote further emphasized the cruelty of the Nazis-how could they persecute shuch benevolent people?

I found the narrator's voice to be too distracting-she glided over moments like the time on the ghetto, Blanka's pain over being separated from her family, and more importantly, time spent in the concentration camps. The narrator basically acted like a fast forward button, and not a transition. Even though the interview was nearly a half hour long, it felt rushed.

I felt as if the horror was over for Blanka and her friends when she divulged a secret: after the liberation of the camps by the Russians, some of the soldiers had raped female prisoners (Blanka hid and escaped this fate). Her voice was calm and steady, which is part of the reason why this moment was so shocking to me; there was no vocal buildup.

back to class



This I Believe: It's HOW you say it

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Wow, I haven't blogged since last December.....

Contemporary "This I Believe"

Ruth Kamps: Living Life with "Grace and Elegant Treeness"

Kamps' weathered sounding voice allowed me to connect her with the weathered tree she is describing in her story. Her voice sounded like the tree. I picture her sitting on her porch as she gazes at the ancient tree, drawing an allegory between it and herself. As she goes on to explain why her and the tree are similar, Kamp's voice tone rises, and she begins to stress more and more words, whereas in the beginning, her introduction and set-up flowed smoothly.

The moment when Kamps belief system begins to change, a day when she went to church to find solace after her mother's death and the priest would not unlock it for her, her voice enunciates every word. There is a definite sadness and age to her voice during this section. Then she takes a long pause, because the entire tone of the piece changes. Kamps then begins to talk about how nature gave her the comfort that religion once had but no longer did, her voice becoming softer and less harsh.

Deidre Sullivan: Always Go to the Funeral

This was the essay I moldeled my own "This I Believe" writing on, and I wondered if Sullivan's work was even more wrenching when read by the author herself.

The result: No. It was not wrenching at all. Wonder why? Sullivan's voice and tone. She read the essay like a bored 16 year old. She sounded like Darlene from "Roseanne". Her voice was slow and monotonous. What was such a touching story on paper for me (I cried as I read it last week) no seemed like no big deal. "So what?" I thought, as I listened to Sullivan's 2 minutes 30 seconds long Darlene impression. There was no stress or volume change at the important parts of the essay, such as when Sullivan was distrubed over the funeral of her 4th grade teacher.

Yes, there is no doubt that Sullivan's "Always Go to the Funeral" is a profound and moving essay, but only on paper (for me, anyway). Content is important, but how that content is presented is equally important.

 

Once again, I find that the subject at hand ties in with one of my theater classes. I am currently taking Oral Interpretation, which focuses on the HOW; how we communicate using language (verbal and non-verbal) and how effectively those communication techniques are in getting the message across.

There are many verbal controls that we have to be aware of when speaking, such as:

-pace

-volume

-pitch

-breath

-rhythm

-tone

-punctuation

-timing

-sensory controls (sound effects)

-surprises

-onomatopoeia

Random and somewhat relevant:

I believe someone once said  communication is 30% of what you say, and 70% is how you say it. Which reminds me of a joke Eddie Izzard told a couple of years ago: President Kennedy was speaking in West Berlin, Germany in the 1960's when he said "Ich bin ein Berliner", which actually means "I am a donut" (Berliners are a German donut). But he said it with such force and confidence that the audience went nuts and applauded.

 (The story is not true; Kennedy did make the speech, but the phrase means "I am one with the Citizens of Berlin".....but Germany does makes "Berliners")

 Back to class

P.S. Covered the SHUPAC opening for my first audio story..and all the recordings came out perfect!!!!

 

 

 

Final Project Presentation-EL 236

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As I began the exit classes for my degrees here at Seton Hill University this fall, I reflected on my life thusfar. Italy kept coming to mind. Many of my childhood summers were spent in Tuscan mountain towns. Memories of those summers are some of my most treasured.

In order to meet the new media components of this class (which included web design), I decided to create an interactive memoir, complete with pictures from those summers. All of the pictures were taken before the digital camera existed.

Each page leads to more stories through keyword links. There is no navigation bar, but there is a purpose for that: I hope that you get lost in the world of the Italian Riviera. Lose yourself in the natural splendor, while reading about my childhood escapades in the Italian hills.

If you wish to backtrack, don't fret: the first word on each page is a link back to the previous one.

What I really have to say about the class and the project in general was written in my last portfolio. I worked ahead. That blog includes all my changes.


So, here it is and begin your journey through Tuscany...


The author's statement:

I began this idea back in September: to re-create Deathly Hallows and end it the way I wished it had. Ideally, I would have had Harry and Snape become "friends" at the end and defeat Voldemort together. However, considering the size of the actual novel and given the fact that the scene with Harry and Snape in the hallway took a good month to code, I decided to end the "story" with Harry finding out Snape's thoughts before the final battle with Voldemort and not after Snape was murdered. Snape was always my favorite character. I'm happy where it ended, and I don't believe I'll be revisiting this project.

It was fun. Inform 7 was the program I grew to understand the best (not that it wasn't challenging). To keep my sanity intact a few months more, I decided to choose a project that allowed me to slightly flex my creative writing muscles.

I didn't tear my hair out, nor did it go prematurely grey like I thought it would when we started Blender3D back in August.

The game was only inspired by Deathly Hallows: I own no characters and offer much love and credit to J.K. Rowling.


Course Objectives:

1. Examine a wide range of genres, styles and cultural literatures.
5. Write and speak in a wide range of formats appropriate to major emphasis... 
6. Speak and write about issues in the discipline and how they interact with the culture at large.
7. Articulate the ongoing relation between personal habits of reading and writing and the evolving study of English.
8. Produce a professional portfolio that demonstrates an awareness of and engagement with vital issues in an appropriate professional field relating to new media journalism.


I definately feel that this project (and this course) met goal #1 the best. We learned three very different and very challening programs this semester. Though the only practical application I see is of Flash, all were worthwhile in that they taught us the thinking skills needed to learn complex programs in general. Again, as I've said in previous blogs, I will be leaving the world of electronica come May 2010 (a year and a half away?!). But, for those of us going into New Media, you've been prepped for the real world. I shall be spending my life in books, scripts, theaters, and courtrooms, and hopefully some of what I learned in EL 405 will aid me. If not, I've proved I'm intelligent enough to master (almost) several complex computer programs.

As for the engagment with and awareness of vital issues, I think that objective is best applied to our first Flash cartoons (mine dealt with the Obama protest and involved two lipstick-covered pigs) and the narrated slideshow.

So know I know why Potter Puppet Pals switched to traditional puppets. Flash takes forever and a day to create something. So much for creating the next internet cartoon sensation.


Related resources:

Since I took this class out of sequences, the best resource I can recommend is EL 236: Writing for the Internet. There is an entire unit on Inform 7. Chances are you will take this class your freshman or sophmore year. Considering I missed the first half of my freshman year due to being stuck in another major, I had to take both EL 236 and EL 405 at the same time. Not to be arrogant, but I flew through EL 236's inform unit because I had already been writing games for over a month prior in El 405. So save your games, exercises, and tutorials/quizes. You will use those skills again.

There is no textbook to accompany Inform 7: it's already included in the program. The best resource is practice: trial and error will teach you much.

In case you are interested in any additional help, here are some supplemental electronic materials:

Some Observations on Using Inform 7-IF author Emily Short offers some tips on programming/writing

Write a Text Adventure-how to get started

Natural Language Game Programming-an article by Liza Daly on the operation of the Inform 7 system and coding guide.


Project Log: includes blogs from the beginning of the semester when the game started out as just an exercise

Inform Screencast and Weekly Reflection

Snape Responses-outline of what I want to happen down one of the three paths that lead to the end of one scene. This path splits into three sub-paths.

Beta Test day-beta testing for the exercise, not the project

IF Revision-in which I implement changes based on the first Beta test

IF exercise code-the source code for the section of the game that was just an exercise

Final Plan-an early storyline/actiosn sketches of the rest of the game (the project portion)

IF Game Progress Report: EL 405-I continue to add rooms and interactions with objects

EL 405 Alpha Test-ideas I came up with to improve the game based on observation of another player

Finished....sort of-where I finish roughly coding the game through the end and include my notes from the two Beat testers

update on Beta testing over break-Changes: EL 405-in which I try and implement most of those changes

And so finally, the game is finished. Hallelujah.


Tuesday, December 2nd: I was able to recode the section on telling Fawks please to accept "please" as the command instead of the specific phrase "Fawks, please", which the players I tested were not able to guess.

 In addition, I also recoded the section on "insert vial into pensieve"-neither player had been able to come up with this phrase. Instead, I coded the game to accept "dump vial in/into pensieve", "place vial in/into pensieve", and "drop vial in/into pensieve".

My main concern was to have these two actions in the game proceed smoothly enough to not infuriate the player (of the creator). The game is challenging, I think, but it's not unplayable. I had a feeling I had made sections too difficult, and testing confirmed that feeling.

Developer's Commentary Screencast:

part 1: source code explanation-


part 2: brief game demonstration




Here it is:


Finalmente

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Endgame

And so we've reached the end of EL 236. In thinking back and reflecting on what we've done the entire semester, I can safely say this is one of the few classes in this major that I've actually had fun in. Although, whenever I seemed to say the "f" word this semester, something horribly UNFUN would be assigned. I'll admit: I got really sick of those little quizzes about Html and Inform 7 programming. The two books we read, Don't Make Me Think and Writing for the Web, were beyond tedium. They were so repetitive that I would space out during reading. I found myself writing basically the same blog reactions over and over again. Yes, usability testing is very valuable, but if I had to read one more chapter about it, I'd probably puke (figuratively).

This is the first semester in which I've been able to apply the concepts I've learned in other journalism classes to each other. Throughout this course, I've mainly drawn from CA 100 (Communication Theory and Technology) and EL 336 (which was on oral, manuscript, and digital culture). Because I squeezed this major into half the time people usually take to create it, I had to take classes out of sequence. EL 336 was difficult because I was reading all about hypertext and interactive fiction without a clue about what they were or how they worked (and more importantly, what the value was of learning about the two mediums).It all makes sense now.

I must admit, I really didn't understand the value of Inform 7. I see no direct real-world applications for learning how to program an IF game, but I suppose that learning a complex program is sort of a warm-up for the real world. I understand many of the graduates from this program go into computer and technology fields. Since I'm not going to be working in New Media after graduation (it's law school and  Broadway for me), I've had a hard time seeing the relevance of much of the subject material. But I have to remember that I'm an exception to the rule and remind myself what kind of students the NMJ program is geared towards.

Am I a Html programmer? A Blogger? A Flash designer? A sound editor? No.

But I know how to do all of these things, and do them well. If life was spent learning only things we were interested in, no one would graduate college.

Above all, I am a writer, an actress, and a singer.

I'm a sometimes guitarist. I'm a comedienne. I'm a lover of everything that is Wilde, Meyers, Rowling, Hugo, Cabot, and Green.

I'm a litigator. I'm a philosopher. I'll probably be an expatriot someday.

That is who I am.


I'm also neurotic. I'm anal-retentive. I make things harder for myself than they have to be. I push myself too hard. I care way too much about my grades and what they say about me. I sometimes measure intelligence by GPA. I sometimes care too much what people think of me. I set my goals too high, but reach them eventually (driving myself up the wall in the process).

That is also who I am.

I have a year and a half left at Seton Hill. I don't have many classes within this major left. From here on out, I'm finishing up this degree, taking the rest of my core Theater classes, and filling in the spaces with the two gen ed classes I need. I only have one more class that I have to blog in-Media Lab, sometime senior year. I've written some 214 blog entries in the past year and a half.

This is the end my friends, and I offer you the following words of wisdom based on my observations these past 2 1/2 years (2 of which where spent as a journalism major):

1) Whatever you are learning is NOT B.S., regardless of whether you will use it in your future. Everything in this world has value.

2) Clear hours long blocks to work. Saturdays are golden.

3) Not doing your work and half-assing assignments is not going to spite the teacher. Learn the material. Complete a kick-ass project-that is your "so there."

4) Be respectful. Regardless of your personal feelings towards the course,  the professors have earned their degrees and therefore deserve your respect.

5) You do not know more than the teacher. Pay attention and don't be apathetic. Apathy gets you nowhere. 

6) You do not have to love everything, but love at least part of what you do. I hate New Media-but we have to use it. Society has to adapt to technology. I love writing. That is why I am a journalism major.

7) stop and smell the roses, the bushes, the trees, and even the grass and leaves. Don't let life pass you by.


 

And finally we had freedom. Sweet, sweet freedom to create our own project using what we had spent the first two and a half months learning. 

Rejoice greatly, for you've weathered the fires of hell. (excuse the dramatic license).

Now here's the actual portfolio:

The progress: from term project proposal to finished product

Sorry for the lateness

Progress Blog the Second

Alpha Report

Progress Blog the Third

E Finito-EL 236 Project nearly done

The Hopefully Last blog Relating to my Term Project Besides the Portfolio

The Finished Project:

My Italy

Helpfulness-I offered constructive criticism and suggestions to my peers

Jed:

My part is finished

Bomb Squad Progress

Alpha Test

Jessie:

King Arthur Lives Again-My IF Game Progress


Christina:

Hypertext Fiction Report

Alpha Report

Kevin:

You can't take everything

Andy:

Getting There

Denamarie:

Getting There


And there it is. Finalmente.

Grazia a dio.


 

E finito-EL 236 project nearly done

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The title explains it all. I've formatted the pictures for the individual stories, and added them all yesterday morning. However, I was going through some old family albums and found pictures of my Italian relatives that I really want to use for the "family tree" story. So I'll scan those and add them Sunday night, then quickly upload the project to people.setonhill.edu

The project is suitable for Beta testing at this point.

Thank God.

UPDATE:

the finished project

comments much appreciated.

Narrated Slideshow

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The end is near....Portfolio 3 comphrehensive blog

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As much as I'd like to both deny and fight it, the reality is that journalism is no longer just a print medium. It seems that every couple of months, there is a new form of delivering a message available. I can barely remember life without youtube. That may seem really sad, but it is true. Youtube has become such an integral part of our lives now. I frequently have spanish homework that consists of listening to a song on youtube and deciphering the correct vocabulary words.

I never could figure out how the heck my uncle could afford to live in the house he does: beachfron property in Daytona. He is a web marketer (and one of the founders of the dreaded pop-up). Just clicking on a banner pays off for the host website, because it is assumed that clicking translates into buying. The host site directed customers toward a product, and based on the "turn-over", or # of clicks, the designer gets paid.

Print alone does not draw in readers. Photos capture frozen moments, and real reactions. Matching a facial expression with a quote makes the story resonate even more with the public. In order to obtain these jewel moments, use the utmost sensativity when approaching an irate/hurt/upset person. 

There is a difference between censoring and using editorial judgement. One of the functions of an editor is to protect the paper's reputation, and judge whether printing a potentially offensive story is worth the possible backlash. A school paper should adhere to the school's code of conduct. Private schools, being a smaller community, tend to have more conservative views.Large state schools are more liberal and must take into consideration the views of their large population. Diversity=less homogenization. The point is, editors and advisors exists to help prevent you, the student, from making a mistake that could get you in trouble. They're not here to silence you. No one cal really be silenced anymore, thanks to the "blogosphere". It's just that people are more likely to find the information you want them to in a school paper

And all that Jazz

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Going Digital

"as a student myself, I can view the past through the lens of The Miscellany's coverage and see national events on a more recognizable scale than ever before"

"student editors must consider both uses of their papers: the present-day and the historical"

National newspapers tend to generalize large events. Local and school newspapers are less lofty, closer to the people. They are more likely to contain humanizing feature content. Plus, I'd like to be able to look back and review years from now what my generation thought about what was going on in our country. We've had a lot of great political articles written these past two years: it would be interesting to compare what was written now 20 years from now when our children are living through a campaign. How much would be similar/different? How much would the world have changed by then?

"all of these flaws are shocking when one realizes that Generation Y, the most tech-savvy ever born, maintains and codes these sights"

"reporters can contribute live blogs, attach videos and other multimedia to their articles"

Well, I can understand why, after taking New Media Projects. The amount of time one has to put into creating multi-media is sickening. Thank god we don't have heavy blogging in addition-I'd pull my hair out. But I've never been what they call "computer/tech-savvy"-I'll say it: I hate computers. I use them because I pretty much have to. AIM, and youtube are great convenience tools, and there is no longer a need for me to purchase cable when all the news shows are posted online within a few days of airing. But do I want to create electronic presentations, slideshows, and all that jazz?

No. I'm a traditionalist when it comes to journalism. I just want to write. I didn't pick this program because of the new media tag. But the world is changing, so we have to accomodate. And think about it: if we only did what we wanted, the world would never evolve. So this electronic stuff, this "new media", is necessary (as much as I hate to admit it).

But I will reiterate: heavy blogging may, quite frankly, suck at times, but it is a much more effective tool for learning than quizzes and tests. Instead of spitting back facts, we can discuss, and learn from our peers. It's just so tedious at times (can you tell I'm burnt out?)

The Setonian online should have a citizen reporter section where people can post additional photos and content to add to the story. We can't get all the viewpoints into an under 500 word article.


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