October 2010 Archives

End Scratch: Still So Late

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After my second go-round of usability testing in which I recorded screencasts for Late to Class 2.0, I realized that though taking out the clicks helped, the testers were frustrated having to sit through the whole beginning again and again. 

I tried clicking the screen to change the background, but the character's costume needed to be synched up as well. I started to make a skip button, but I couldn't get the code to match up. I went back to my first idea of the screen and found a way (creating a new broadcast) to link up the screen and the costume.

My next major change was to the text and directions. I gave two hints/tips. The first to click the screen to skip to the action. The second to not hold down the keys. I didn't say which keys to click to move (I didn't want to make it too easy), but I found the testers were holding down the keys to move the player and that would inevitably lead them the wrong way.

The last change actually came up after the game was uploaded. I found that the character showed up on the FAIL screen and the caption did not. Dr. Jerz helped me work through this because in my coding offline there was no such problem. It ended up that script stopped too soon. So I moved the "stop script/all" button to after the character is hidden rather than immediately after the background showed up.

Another student played the game and, though she brought up new ideas, she showed that I was able to fix the major kinks.

Logging On and Importing Pictures to Layout

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As a New Media Journalism student at Seton Hill University, I realize the difficulties in creating a print paper in Quark and InDesign. Because I am the arts and entertainment editor of the school paper The Setonian, its part of my job to help students new to the program. For EL 200: Media Lab, I have created two screencasts that demonstrate how to log on to the server (different from logging on to the computers) and how to import pictures into the layout.

Below you will find my written instructions:

  1. Know what pictures you need. Talk to the photo editor about which ones need to be imported. If there is no photo editor, talk to the section editor or the layout editor.
  2. Make sure the photos are in black and white. To do this follow step three to log on, but at "j" choose "Photos" intead of "Layout". If they are not B&W, start the grayscale process.
  3. Pull up the proper Quark layout file. It will be in the Setonian server, in the current semester/year/issue.
  4. First connect to the server.
  5. Go to "Go" on the Finder menu screen and scroll down to "Connect to Server" 
  6. Choose the long "afp://ximages02.setonhill.edu" and click connect. 
  7. Enter name and password as shown on papers beside the computers.
  8. Select Users and click OK
  9. By this time, you should have connected. If going on the internet and it asks for a keychain, click cancel.
  10. In the list of Users, find "setonian"
  11. Open Setonian file
  12. Pick appropriate semester and year 
  13. Pick Layout 
  14. Open working Quark layout. There should be only one.
  15. Find the pages that still need photos inserted and start.
  16. Click the empty picture frame you want to put a picture into. Picture frames should be black and 0.5 pt.
  17. Go to File. Then Import Picture. 
  18. Make sure you're choosing from Setonian, the proper issue, and photos folder.
  19. When you single click on a picture, it will pull up a shot of it. If it is not in black and white, do not insert. Make sure here the blacks and black and whites are as white as possible for the best final image in the paper. If the picture is not bright, go to Photoshop and fix it please. When you're satisfied you have the right and best picture, click open/insert/ok/return. 
  20. The picture should now appear in the frame. To move the whole frame, use the item or compass key above the content key.
  21. To move just the picture, use the content key as seen in the top left corner here. 
  22. This picture is not big enough for the picture frame. Once a photo is in Quark, it cannot be formatted. In this case, record the X and Y readings (seen here in top tool bar, second set of measurements) and take those numbers to Photoshop to resize. 
  23. Save the new picture on the Setonian server under the Photos folder and under an identifiable name with the tag "- resized".
  24. SAVE ALL CHANGES in the under the original name. Do not create a new Quark file. 

Look Again, Late Again

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Today, I looked at my Scratch game for the first time in a few weeks. I was surprised I remembered so much about my code and how Scratch worked. I had remembered it being really difficult, but this approach was much less stressful.

In only two class periods, I was able to add the down movement, two more levels, solve the problem of giving one arrow key specific directions for specific times and costumes, and add another costume to hide my main character as she goes down a hole.

I also edited some of the backgrounds in order to make them more professional, though my artistic ability is far from professional.

The one thing I very much dislike about Scratch is that only one text box can be used on each background.

Better Me Time

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"Getting the problem focused and then getting stuck, and then getting away from it -- to something else -- has always been useful to me...It's when I get distracted." - Jack Fuller

I can agree with this latest section of Coffey (Personal/Work Balance). When I'm trying to write a paper (and I have no idea), the best thing for me is to get distracted or relax and nap until I come up with an idea. The same thing when I'm brainstorming for Eye Contact. I'm trying to think of new ways to update EC and get the campus more involved. The best times to think about that are right after a meeting when my mind was on it to begin with or while clearing my mind.

"Work can be 24/7 if we let it."

I forget this all the time. I forget to shut off and do things that I enjoy. This really impacted me this weekend when things didn't go as smoothly as planned with Eye Contact and other school responsibilities. There are things more important than my fake job and grades. I recently spent a weekend in MD and loved it. I wanted to spend more time there, doing the things I used to, and so I'm looking forward to winter break.

The hardest thing is to figure out how you balance your own personhood, your true self, with the demands of the group."

This was another problem this week. I've wanted to be myself because I get sucked in and have little fun. But at the same time, I cannot lead a group that way. I'm at an impasse now and I need to find what's important to me. Leading EC, being myself, or finding a balance. I can say now that if I can't find a balance then I'd rather be myself.

For now, I'm going to do what Tom Johnson suggests and keep a private list of the things I wish to accomplish for myself.

Newseum - More Than You Want

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Earlier this week, I visited the Newseum. As a leader in EL200, I invited students who could not attend the SHU-sponsored D.C. trip. At the last minute, a few spots opened up and those students were able to take the bus. I then visited the museum at my own leisure and it wasn't what I expected.

Newseum Interior.jpg

There were several floors with walkways, glass elevators, and several moving exhibits. 

Newseum Interior Two.jpg

I realized afterwards why the lady at the ticket booth said we could return the next day. There was just so much emotion in once place that it couldn't all be seen and comprehended in one day.

If I had not had class on Wednesday, I would have gone back. I learned a bit about journalism there as well, not really about my goals established in Ex 1, but about journalists and journalism in extreme conditions/tragedies.

Here are three pictures with AP style captions:

Aja On Issues.jpg
Setonian journalist Aja with headphones at the ethics voting booth in the Newseum, October 12, 2010. Aja finds it surprising that more journalists believe in shooting the picture of the child with the vulture on standby rather than feeding the child. (Setonian Online/Carlos Peredo)

Bastards! in the News.jpg
After 9/11, The Examiner ran "Bastards" as their sole headline, October 12, 2010. During national tragedies, the formal format of newspapers can be replaced by something more emotional. (Setonian Online/Aja Hannah)

Honored Journalists.jpg
Panels and panels of names of journalists who died in their line of profession, October 12, 2010. Names are always being added as wars and crimes (especially against freedom of speech in other nations) wage on. (Setonian Online/Aja Hannah)

So though I did not attend the museum with any other Setonian students, I did reach a goal of reaching out to them, offering them my assistance and time to bond. Though I learned nothing about the actual skill of laying out the paper, I did learn about the differences in a paper under pressure and during a tragedy, the importance of plans, and how rules can be bent.

Paper Under Pressure.jpg
Setonian student poses in front of "We had a plan" display at Newseum, October 12, 2010. Despite the government's lack of plan during Hurricane Katrina, a New Orleans paper had a plan and continued to produce issues that chronicled the storm. (Setonian Online/Carlos Peredo)


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I went to the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology 2010 conference last weekend. For a non-major, a lot of the presentations were over my head, but with a few science classes I think I would understand more. My classes in Latin actually helped as well. I received a packet of the names of the presentations and presenters and much of it was "heterochrony" this and "cetacea" that.

I was able to decipher that "heterochrony" had to do with growth/change of an animal over time, and "cetacea" was about the ocean.

The presentations were only 15 minutes and, despite the pace and jargon, I actually learned a lot. My favorite presentation was "Triceratops: A Model Organism for Deciphering Dinosaur Heterochrony" in which I learned more about the idea that the Torosaurus and Triceratops are actually the same animal.

You may remember this debate: Triceratops Never Existed. Well the man that did the research, J. Scannella, backed up his claim with a presentation that even I could understand. For those not interested in the science aspect, there were also many sessions on how to clean and prepare fossils with the latest tools as well as new and innovative ways of mapping difficult specimens (aka mummy versions).

If you don't want to attend sessions, there is a seller's room where books, tools, and fossils are on sale. No money? There were rows of posters for those who did not present on their research or education experience. I found a lot of posters on reaching out to children and exploring the dinosaur world of science, something not many children get to do, something my capstone really reflects.

I took down a few names and even received a response from Beth Mowry, an educator who took her students to the Big Horn Basic Foundation (the people I worked with). She invited me to lunch for a discussion, but sadly I was out-of-town. I plan to stay in contact and learn what I can from her, about her experience and the children's, and what I can do to help.

I also plan to contact those presenters whose sessions I could not attend. There were so many going on at the same time that I had to chose.

Unit 3: HTML About Me

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We were to look at apps on the iPad that related to what we wanted to create. The two websites/apps that really struck me were The New Yorker and Men's Health. The New Yorker has a horizontal navigation bar and a full issue online. Each article is linked on a table of contents. Men's Health even had a tutorial and helpful navigation at the bottom of the app. I wanted to put the Eye Contact issue online as well as guidelines and update the homepage.

I found these goals too lofty though with my minimal education on html. I decided to create a guideline app instead.

To start, I modified my professor's html code to practice by creating my own resume. In the process, I learned how to find my own resources. On one page, I wanted the links to be see-through so the background image would stand out. I searched sites and found w3schools and used their source code for this problem. 

 border:1px solid black;
/* for IE */
/* CSS3 standard */

After this, I branched out, creating internal pages, changing the background and styles, and finally starting work on Eye Contact Guidelines. I wanted to create an app that was user-friendly, that submitters could quickly look to when trying to submit work.

I had some trouble-shooting with the arrows and re-sizing/having ellipsis when the page is shrunk. Dr. Jerz was apple to help me with the second problem and I hashed out the first myself. (The problem was in the style sheet/css page.)

I realized there was more to put into the guidelines then I originally thought. I now needed to include a FAQ page, a page about the special issues, and separate pages for the different guidelines' styles. This threw off my plan of reconstructing the Eye Contact homepage with a horizontal toolbar and graphics on the front.

In one test, I found they disliked the EC color, in another I found the links/scrolling don't work the same on different browser formats, in a last the tester was satisfied with the ease of navigation and the website as a whole. I plan to fix these links and formats for the web browsers and change the color slightly.

If I had more time, I would expand the Eye Contact website. I would also tone down the color (as some have suggested) and make the app better adjusted for the iPad (when it flips around). I sketched out what I wanted and right now I have another student who said they would work to complete/fix the site. I hope that what I've done already will help him in that process.

Midterm Portfolio: Not All From Scratch

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Introduction: The purpose of this portfolio is to observe the strides I have made in my New Media Projects class. My journey with learning code started with html in Writing for the Web and has come full circle to creating a better website/resume in New Media Projects. So far I have learned the basics of code, how to turn my mind from writing to coding, and learned the appropriateness/place for both. I also improved my skill in assisting others and learning from them, including Usability Testing.

Unit One: The first program I was introduced to was Scratch. My first (and only) scratch game is: Help! Africa is Late. In the beginning, my standards were low and my plan was simple, to take an story and make it interactive. I ended up frustrated by the lack of control and options that I had. By the end, I had complicated my game in code (in a good way). On the outside, it was still simple, but I had specific costumes for scenes and limited actions. I also had a plan for if I took the game further. 

In Scratch, I really found the value of Usability Testing as well. Because I didn't know the code as well (I've done IF and html before) and I've never made a visual game, I saw the testers/players use different keys and actions throughout the game.

For Unit Two, our class worked on Interactive Fiction (IF). Though I've written a short game before, I forgot many of the basic steps. After refreshing my mind and creating a plan, I learned some new tricks. My game, created after my own story, was called: "Rebellion Run - The Start of It". I was excited by the endless of expanse of ideas and creations. The problem was figuring out the Recipe book. The book and the error codes were very hard to understand. I got through it with help/translations from friends and the professor and their examples. Through this unit, I learned to manage and think in technical terms.

From Usability testings, I explored teaching Inform Seven because two of the testers had never played the game before. This gave me a better understanding of the game's coding as well. 

In Unit 3, we refreshed and rehashed html. I learned the importance of meta-tags and constructing a site for different formats. HTML allows for even more freedom so I found I need a basis to start. I used my professor's example and modified from there. I branched out from a website about me and my achievements to working on Seton Hill University's (SHU) literary and art magazine Eye ContactIn testing this site, I learned that people have different desires when it comes to color, style, and items of importance. Through the whole unit, I also learned the importance of minute details, like closing a tag or adding an order to a specific element (like paragraph) to create a larger change.

Conclusion: From all of this, I would want an employer to know and to see:
  • my mind is adaptable
  • I can write creatively and technically 
  • I can combine skills to create a useful, entertaining product.
  • I can work with a team to create a better product from scratch, including testing and improving
  • I can take an established product and refine it

Recent Comments

Jessie Krehlik on Final Project - Inform Extension: (sorry if this posted already)
Kiley Fischer on Final Project - Inform Extension: I agree with Megan. You were
Megan Seigh on Final Project - Inform Extension: I am not sure what your game i
Dennis G. Jerz on Newseum - More Than You Want: A bit of fill-in flash would h
Dennis G. Jerz on The Start of My IF Adventure: Looks like you learned a lot f
white gold diamond earrings on The Necklace: This is really sad. I was actu
Dennis G. Jerz on IF Game Plan: "Rebellion Run": I like the idea of romance poi
Dennis Jerz on Useful Usability Review: You might also say, "What are
Aja Hannah on dinoEnding: Thanks. Hopefully, I'll have b
Aja Hannah on Tourist Adventure: Part One: I did go across the bridge and
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