Thursday, December 26, 2013

Our mega, collaborative digital package on holiday lights

Lights. Lights. Everywhere.

Call us the Griswolds of holiday lights reporting. 

Last year, I helped put together a comprehensive, award-winning, digital holiday lights package. 
This year, we decided to kick it up a notch, streamline our process and provide even better, more useful information to our readers. 

Who was involved: Aimee Heckel at the Boulder Daily Camera, Whitney Bryen at the Longmont Times-Call, Jessica Benes with the Loveland Reporter-Herald and Julie Baxter with the Broomfield Enterprise worked together as a regional reporting team, in an unprecedented effort to tackle this topic on a grand scale -- and save us all lots of time in the meanwhile. 

What we did: We used a new, free smartphone app, TrackMyTour, to produce a giant regional holiday map with HUNDREDS of points, all photographed and automatically plotted using smartphones onto an embeddable Google Map, thereby removing the need to enlist photographers, web designers and page designers for the first year ever. Talk about a time-saver.

You've really got to click on this map and zoom out to see the extent of our listings! You won't believe it. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Prezi for holiday lights 2013

As always, Prezi rocked my winter socks off by being the best option for an interactive image of holiday lights.

Last year, I used Thinglink. I tried playing with it again today but it just didn't seem to be as fun as Prezi. I'm kind of a Prezi addict.

Prezi for president.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

TrackMyTour for holiday lights map: rated A

As we continue our hunt for the perfect interactive photo map for our annual Christmas lights article, I found myself once again gravitating toward travel apps.

IDEA #2: TrackMyTour, rated A

The pluses:
- Free app. Easy to use.

- Allows you to take photos with a different camera and upload them into the app (pull from camera roll), or use a built-in camera. This lets you add reader-submitted photos, too (just set the location manually so it ends up on the right spot on the map).

- Photos are also automatically saved to your camera roll, so you can access them later (like to print individually or use to create an interactive image).

- Allows you to upload live on site or save the points to upload later, like if you don't have wifi (up Boulder Canyon) or you're in a hurry (although it uploads within seconds).

- The map and photo display on the app looks more professional and aesthetic than Geospike and other geotagging apps I've used.

The great holiday lights map -- again: Instagram maps, rated C-

This is a screen shot. Not an embeddable, interactive map. Don't get excited. 

Last year, we were honored to receive a Digital First award for our coverage of holiday lights.

This year, I'm working with one of my favorite digital reporters, Whitney Bryen, at the Longmont Times-Call, to try to come up with a new solution.

THE TASK: Find a new way to plot holiday lights around Boulder County with photos and addresses on a map using smartphones. Ideally, we wanted an app that would automatically populate a map that readers could follow, and also a map that would be embeddable and look good in print.

Last year, we used Geospike. It worked well, but we wanted to see if there was a new way to do it better.

IDEA #1: Instagram maps

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The great yoga pants test

My Lululemon pants in action, third yogi in.

In light of the Lululemon controversy (understatement), and due to the fact that 99 percent of the clothes that 99 percent of Boulder County wears are yoga pants (also understatement), I decided to fuse my fashion column with my fitness review background for this Sunday's Life & Arts section.

Read the coverage here: "Getting our (yoga) panties in a wad." 

At the heart of the criticism is Lululemon's assertion that the only reason their yoga pants don't hold up over time is because of the not-fit-enough bodies wearing them -- not the quality of product.

It made me wonder: How do Lululemon pants -- the most expensive brand I know -- stand up next to other popular, less expensive brands?

Enter: The great yoga pants test.

With the help of my intelligent and informed friend and dance teacher, Renu Gupta, we reviewed seven popular brands of yoga pants worn over the course of two years, rating their various features, from sheerness to pilling to "cantaloupe factor" (how nice your butt looks -- because, well, let's be honest here).

My Under Armour pants enjoying aerial yoga.
I couldn't include every brand ever created -- just the ones I've tried. I do wish I'd included my Under Armour pants, but they're only six months old. (If they're still looking this good in a year and a half, they'll be my new faves.)

I wanted to put this information in the shape of an online infographic, and I played with plenty of great websites, including But after too much time there, I returned to good ol' trusty Prezi's interactive images, because they simply offered more -- including the zooming feature, crucial to closely examining the crotches of my various yoga pants.

My digital journalism lesson: Interactive images still beat static infographics in many cases.

My fashion and fitness lesson: Fill your closet with inexpensive Champions and splurge on a few Athleticas.

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Is HopTo the solution to Office on the iPad? Nope. Rated: F

It's comical that the iPad still doesn't work well with Office.

As with many people, my entire life is stored on Google Drive. I do my work, finances, budgeting, planning and other oh-so-very-grown-up-sounding stuff there, and I've been searching for years for a free app that allows me to access Drive with the same ease of the web.

There's been a lot of chatter about HopTo lately, so I downloaded it on my iPad.

First impression: Fast. Easy. Nice. Digging it. I added my first Google Drive account. Feeling optimistic.


Um, no option to add multiple accounts? Don't tell me I'm the only person with more than one email address. That's silly. Of course I'm not. I do my newspaper work on one Google Drive and my freelance work on another. And I have my personal work on yet another.

This seems logical. I can't let my freelance and newspaper work overlap. Even though Facebook has almost entirely removed the need for personal email, I still have one. I use the Drive to plan parties, make cleaning checklists, write for fun.

A quick research blast revealed to me that HopTo does not currently allow access to more than one Google Drive at once.

Making it completely useless to me. Deleting it from my iPad. The hunt continues.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Momentage instead of Instagram? Rated B+ and growing on me.

When the folks at Momentage approached me, claiming their photo app was better than Instagram, I was soooo very convinced that it took me about three months to try it out. I finally downloaded the free app, and instantly my phone started crashing and the log in process kept messing up and I got annoyed and didn't touch it again for a few more days.

When I picked it back up, it worked like a fancy little gemstone, and I have been fiddling with it ever since.

No clue what the problem was when I downloaded it.

Here's why it's cool: Quite simply, it creates "moments" or collections of photos instead of posting one single photo at a time. If you are detail-oriented like me, this will make your insides get all giddy and do jazz hands.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Let's talk about twXplorer

See how I tried to make it look like my head is connected with that image of a lion-tamer? #nerd

Twitter is a crucial tool in the modern reporter's notebook. Why not order an upgrade?

My favorite new free Twitter tool is twXplorer, which is a much smarter tool for Twitter searches. Here are some of the things twXplorer can do, and tips on how you can use it for your next story.

twXplorer can: 

  • Search a term, and it'll offer you the most common related terms, hashtags and links. This helps you dig deeper. 
  • Search in 12 different languages -- great for bilingual communities like Colorado, and also international reporting. 
  • Save snapshots to return to later. 

Digital reporting lessons from the Colorado floods

A small workspace I carved out of the boxes of possessions
I packed and moved from the basement as my neighborhood flooded. 

Massive walls of water trapped me in my Longmont house for five days during the Colorado floods. Other journalists were trapped in our newsroom, living off Folgers and vending machine snacks.

Even a few years ago, my situation would have led me barely unable to contribute to the news coverage. But with a few digital tools and basic knowledge, I was able to help cover the flood live 24/7, other than a few hours each night of (reluctant) sleep.

Here are a few digital reporting lessons I took from my coverage of the Colorado floods:

1. Beats are meaningless when there's breaking news. You find a way to contribute and you step in. Some of my favorite coverage of the flood was by Denver Post food editor Kristen Browning Blas

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hey mom, I won! Modern Lois Lane blog receives Cammy Grande, Expert Level award

Great news! I'm super stoked and honored to learn that this Modern Lois Lane blog won a Cammy Grande, Expert level award at Colorado State University's Media Festival this year.

And that, even after I had to ditch out on speaking on a panel about "specialized topics" because we were closing on our new house at the exact same time. Aw, my sweet alma mater.

Perfect timing to be heading to CSU later this week to talk to a class about using Storify and social media for reporting. Stay tuned!

Friday, October 25, 2013

10 lessons from beyond the classroom at the ONA 2013

What could this sign have to teach us about modern journalism?

Sometimes, the biggest lessons don't come in a perfectly packaged workshop or classroom.

At the Online News Association convention in Atlanta, I learned so much in the sessions that most of my neurons short-circuited in excitement. But I also learned a lot outside of the sessions -- just observing, talking, thinking and, above all, listening.

Here are 10 things I learned at ONA13 -- outside of the classroom -- about journalism today:

1. We used to say "digital first." But to be forward-thinking, we should now be saying "mobile first." 

Increasingly more readers get their info on their mobile devices. Beyond asking, "How can we tell this story online?" we should be asking, "How can we tell this story on a smartphone?" Anything you do online should be mobile-compatible. Forget apps and websites that don't work on smartphones. They're already outdated.

If your newsroom doesn't have a mobile editor, assign that focus to someone yesterday.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Timeline of a Timeline class, and other free easy digital tools for journalists

Talk about a tangible new skill to start using today. I just returned from a great workshop by the Knight Lab called "Up your storytelling game with these free tools for journalists."

We learned about:
* Timeline, which is an easy way to build beautiful timelines quickly. So quickly and easily, in fact, that I built a timeline of the Timeline workshop live while watching the workshop. See below.
* SoundCite, which allows you to insert audio clips directly into your text, like this clip from the workshop.
* twXplorer, a new way to search Twitter, broken down by common terms, hashtags and links related to the term you want to search.

View my Timeline below.

Mind blown: Anticipatory computing.

This is what Amy Webb does to journalists. Well, her and flying droids.  

So. I had to go take a timeout in my room after Amy Webb's presentation at the Online News Association convention today. She shared 10 tech trends for journalists.

My expectations: Hmm, I will probably learn a few nifty new things that may be useful in the future.

My experience: 

That's me, on the right, the last time I recall being this excited.
Amy Webb = Strawberry Shortcake birthday party.
I want to transcribe her entire presentation, but that'd be redundant and also called plagiarism, so here is just one highlight that knocked my socks off.


Webb called this the "ultimate tool for reporters," expected to be available next year. She says every journalist should have an iPad on her desk constantly running Mindmeld, especially during interviews.

What it does? This is the beginning of "anticipatory computing." It listens to our conversation (or interview) and populates the screen with facts, articles and background information relevant to what we're discussing, in anticipation of what we might talk about next.

(Insert astonished Strawberry-Shortcake-birthday-party-face here.) 

For example, if I were reading this blog out loud while writing it, and simultaneously running Mindmeld on my iPad, I could, in theory, turn to my iPad at this very moment to read all about the history of "Strawberry Shortcake." Berry cool.

Oh, man, I did that. Gross.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

4 ways to make a more mobile-centered newsroom

A panoramic delight of the "20 ways" session. 

You need to be more mobile. 

Here are four quick tips from former NYT editor Fiona Spruill, as heard in the Online News Association discussion, "20 ways to turbocharge your mobile efforts (before it's too late):"

1. Live like your audience. Read your news on your smartphone and tablet. 

My take: Tell your kids to put their cell phones away, but pick up yours more. If you don't like reading the news on your phone, ask yourself why not. And then come up with a solution. A mobile one. 

I'm the creepiest person at the ONA13

What's black and white and totally backward?

So I arrived in Atlanta late/early after midnight yesterday/today. By the time I arrived, my roommate -- whom I've never met before in my life -- was already asleep.

The creepiest thing I've ever done is sneak into a hotel room and tiptoe around a sleeping female stranger, take off my clothes and climb into bed near her unsuspecting, dreaming body.

The first words we exchanged this morning were not at all awkward. Me: "This feels like a weird one-night stand. Hi. I'm Aimee. We've never officially met, but I stayed here last night."

Needless to say, the Online News Association convention is off to a stellar start for me!

Follow my live tweets @Aimeemay.
I'll try not to be so creepy from here on out.
No promises.

And just as I wrote that, my poor roommate sat down across from me and looked up to see my big head in her line of vision. She startled. Understandably.

I need to try harder.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A virtual day at the Four Seasons Spa in Denver

If only computers had a ctrl+alt+spa button that could virtually pamper you through the screen.

Well, here's the next best thing.

I recently had such an incredible experience at the Four Seasons Spa in Denver that a traditional blog just couldn't capture it. In this interactive, multi-dimensional image, I try to bring you there with me. I hope you enjoy even a fraction as much as I did!

Read the original coverage on the Spa Travel Gal's site.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Integrating social media platforms into breaking news coverage

The Boulder floods. Wow. 

Just wow. 

This has been our first opportunity to really integrate the social media platforms of Storify and Scribblelive into our breaking coverage of a disaster, and there have been some big lessons. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Only in Boulder: Boulder has a unique way of dealing with the flood

Welcome to the Bubble.

Interactive map of photos throughout Boulder County of Boulder flood 2013

Still working on it and updating it, but here's what we have so far. Please send us photos and addresses to add.

Top social media videos of the Boulder Flood

It's impossible to keep on top of all of them, but here are a few of the best Twitter, YouTube and Instagram videos of the Boulder flood. I'll keep updating it throughout the day. If I missed a good one, send it to me at or on Twitter @Aimeemay.
Click below to see the stream.

Top Twitter photos from Boulder Flood

I will try to update this every hour or so. There are so many coming in!
See a great photo that is not on this list? Send it to me at or on Twitter @Aimeemay.

Click below to see the stream.

Follow the Boulder flood live here

View on the Daily Camera's website here.

Click below to see the full live stream.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Boulder flood coverage for 9/11/13

The best Tweets, pics and vids from the first day of the Boulder flood.

Click below to see the collection.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Do you know how to use Twitter's advanced search option?

Before you reflexively answer yes, do you -- really?

I thought I did.

I learned a few tricks and tips at Steve Buttry's social media workshop in our newsroom this morning that will help me use Twitter to its max potential. Give them a try, too.

Here are four bullet points:
  • Bookmark this:
  • For local crowd-sourcing, type in your city or region's name in the "places" box. The default radius is 15 miles. You can narrow this by typing in "within xx miles."
  • Make sure you enable your location in your Twitter settings. (The default is not enabled.) Also, urge other people to enable their location, because this "places" search only works with accounts that have location enabled.
  • Be creative with keywords you search, and think like a twitter-er. If you're looking for local tweets about a disaster, tragedy or surprising event, consider searching for keywords like "WTF," "OMG" and "holy ish." Except the real word. That I'm not typing here. Because I'm a good girl. Not like Miley, though. OMG. WTF. Holy ish.
Steve Buttry talking about social media, over Charlie's shoulder. As you can see,
Charlie's notes contain the words "WTF." Also, it appears he has a shoe growing
out of his nose, which is what happens when you let writers take photos. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

How to do a '50s-inspired wedding

Can an interactive image replace a scrolling blog entry? Or at least be a fun addition? That's what I tried here. Of course, you can always easily pull out these images and text into a traditional blog, too. But isn't it fun to do something funky every once in a while?

Click "start" and then click on the arrows to move the images forward. Or drive with your arrow buttons.

I recommend clicking the far right bottom box to make it full screen. Enjoy, lovies!


Friday, September 6, 2013

A flash vine: The most accurate way to report on a workout of the week

I'm calling this a flash vine. (Patent pending.)
Just a quick hit of milli-second clips of an event.
I took this flash vine of my TRX class for the workout of the week.
It is by far the most accurate way to report this kind of fitness story. It is exactly how I experienced the class, in a way that words fail.
Although I will still try to write words. After the exhausted muscles in my hands and forearms stop shaking.

When else would a flash vine be appropriate?


Friday, August 23, 2013

How to make a time-lapse sunset Tout on your iPhone

Last night, the sunset was particularly fantastic, which everyone says every day in Colorado.

So I had the simple idea to make a quick time-lapse video of the sun setting, using only my iPhone.
Easier said than done.

This is where I discovered you cannot speed up or slow down time using iMovie for the iPhone. You can't really do much of anything with this relatively useless app, so I might delete it from my phone altogether and yell a little bit.

I downloaded Splice, which does offer the option to speed/slow video. But only by two times. That wasn't quick enough to create the fast, time-lapse I was envisioning. So I ended up speeding up the sunset by two times, saving that video, then speeding up that video by two times -- I did this four times, until I was left with a eight-second time-lapse of a two-minute sunset.

It took way more work than it was worth, although I did discover Splice in the meanwhile.
I'll continue my hunt for a more useful, free or inexpensive video editing app for my iPhone. Any suggestions are welcome.

View the sunset below.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Attempting: full-time mobile journalism

I've been tinkering with working remotely for more than a year. This week, I'm going to see if I can avoid the office entirely. Mojo, every darn day.

I'll let you know how it works ... or doesn't.

This is my meh-well-here-goes-nothing selfie.
Headphones left in to muffle the whining children at Starbucks.
Is it weird to work in earmuffs? 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Interactive image: Up close with a Boulder dressmaker

This story would not be the same without an interactive image.
I used Prezi, with simple circles and numbers to keep the image crisp.
All photos and videos done on my iPhone.
I really hope to get an iPhone mic some day. Ahem, boss?

Art meets fashion meets technology = my personal heaven. 

Enjoy! Happy weekend.

To start the Prezi, click "Start Prezi." (Duh.) Then press the arrow buttons either on the screen or on your keyboard to move around.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

We complained, Tout listened

Someone once told me "to be loved is to be heard."
She definitely meant it in a different context, but I am feeling a little Tout love right now.
The latest upgrades of Tout let you delete the last clip recorded, in case someone accidentally curses or you drop your phone or you are rollerskating and you accidentally fall down because seriously, guys, rollerskating is hard when you're not 8.
Not that this happened to me.
I'm a master roller-skater.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Futures Lab: Five features smartphone apps for journalists

I was recently featured on a Reynolds Journalism Institute's Futures Lab video.

The topic: Reporting apps, GitHub and election coverage.

Amid an ever-increasing number of options, we identify five of the most useful smartphone apps for mobile reporters. We also hear from journalists and app creators about how these apps are being used in the field.

The featured apps: 


Here, I talk about how Camera+ has become a staple for my mobile journalism pursuits.
I also need a better microphone (ahem, boss?).

Check out the full video here, full of tons of great information and ideas for the modern journalist. Or watch it below.

Mega props to Chelsea Stuart, who did a stellar job on this project.

I won! Watch out, Atlanta!

The cat memes worked! I am humbled and grateful to announce I am one of five journalists from across the nation chosen to attend the Online News Association's conference in Atlanta in October. Thank you so much for rallying behind me and voting for me! Kapow!

Moral of this story: Cat memes always work.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Tout for videos: Rated B-

So everyone's really into Tout. At first, I thought it was the same exact thing as Instagram, minus the reputation and followers, but the more I play with it, the more it grows on me.

I'm still not fully sold. Hence, I rate it a B-. Here's why. Plus some tips on making it work for you.


Captures short video clips on your iPhone and uploads them to Easy to learn. Offers stop coverage: shoot, pause, shoot, pause, up to 45 seconds for upgraded version; 15 seconds for regular. (I rarely recommend shooting the full 45 seconds, for attention-span reasons).


I think you can find a Tout opportunity for almost every story, whether it's the subject (or reporter) giving a short teaser for an upcoming story, a daily weather story, a peek into a scene you're writing about or just a video equivalent of a stand-alone glimpse at the community.

Stand-alone: What Boulder does on a hot summer day
Addition to story: Chain-link fence "fabric-bombing" project at historical house

Last call!

Last call! This is one of those things that takes five seconds that can make a big difference to a hardworking reporter.

I'm one of the 20 finalists to attend the exciting Online News Association's conference this fall. Please vote for me here. Share with your friends, if you can. Most votes wins! Thank you oodles.

Anyone can vote through 6 p.m. today at:

Vote for Aimee and then brace for the magic.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Dear The World, help a sista out

I'm one of the 20 finalists to attend the exciting Online News Association's conference this fall. But I need YOU (and your mom) to vote for me, because the Homecoming Queen with the most votes wins. It takes 10 seconds. Please do it! Vote for Pedro, and I will make all of your wildest dreams come true. 

Anyone can vote through Friday, at

To further encourage you to vote for me, I have created an animated gif. Isn't that how democracy works now? I used It's super easy to use and free.

Vote for Aimee on Make A Gif

Friday, June 21, 2013

An interactive map of our death-defying road trip to Mesa Verde

I don't even know what happened last week, but somehow we're all alive.
Three cars, two wildfires, three states and too many close calls later.

I am updating a part of the Fodor's travel guide books, and I dragged my family along on a road trip while I did my reporting. We had quite an adventure. And of course, the jouronerd I am, I had to document it in an interactive map. Because duh.

To view the Prezi, click on the middle button and then press your arrow left/right keys to move through the pictures along the map.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Who needs coding when you can Scrollkit? Grade: C

I used Scrollkit to create a special webpage for coverage of Boulder's huge yoga festival, the Hanuman Festival.

How it works: Scrollkit is a super easy way to build a webpage for a story. Insert text, photos, videos, links. It gives you the power to express a story that used to only belong to web designers.

I liked: How easy it was, and how fast customer service was. Yes, I had a few questions.

I didn't like: Mainly, how to embed the page onto our newspaper site after I spent all day designing it. Turns out, it works with Wordpress CMS but not what my paper uses or blogger. Darn it. Wish I learned that before designing the full page. The customer service gave me information on how to export the embed code, but I still don't know what to do with it.

In this case, I'm not exactly sure how Scrollkit is different than NewHive -- which gives you the same freedom to build a webpage PLUS an easy-to-find embed code.

While designing, I also had trouble with these little dotted lines taking over my page and refusing to go away. Tech support helped me find my way around this, by saving and refreshing the page, but it seems like they might want to fix this glitch. (See photos below.)

Messy! Yucky!

Regardless, here is the Scrollkit page I made for the Hanuman Festival, shared to you via screenshot with a link (boo).

Even though I still don't know how to get it on my webpage, I am still pleased with it. We will have to just link to the external page from our website. Due to this, I'm rating Scrollkit a C.

Click here to view the full page.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Live coverage of the Hanuman Festival (ScribbleLive)

I'll be covering the Hanuman Festival, Boulder's huge annual yoga festival, in downtown Boulder tomorrow. Follow the #hanumania all in one place here!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

How technology has improved my reporting

Aka: The case for using a note-taking/recording app, like Notability, on your iPad. 

From a recent subject of a story: 

GREAT JOB! I think you covered every important aspect and issue. You showed empathy, humor and in depth research. I don't remember you writing anything down and our time with you was comfortable, honest sharing.....not interview-esque! 

I'm very impressed by your style!!! Congratulations and thank you for spreading the word!!!!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Business of Me webinar

Today, I am popping in on a webinar called the Business of Me.

Click here for a self-guided tour of the lesson.

The Reynolds Center for Business Journalism webinar is run by Mark S. Luckie, author of "The Digital Journalist's Handbook." The workshop is designed to teach us how to teach a variety of things, but I'm most curious about how to "brand yourself and project your worth."

My worth? My daddy says I'm worth my weight in gold...
We'll see what Luckie says. Probably not that.

Here is the main question I hope to get answered: I'm curious how to brand yourself without limiting or pigeonholing yourself. And how to keep branding from interfering with the traditional journalistic standards of being an unbiased observer. In other words, how do you draw the line between being a person and being a professional? 

More webinars tomorrow and Thursday, too.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Newsroom workshop on interactive graphics

A few weeks ago, I ran two workshops for the Daily Camera and Colorado Daily on how to incorporate interactive graphics into your stories. First, I talked to reporters and editors. Then, I talked to designers.

Here are some things that came out of the workshops:
* It seemed like Prezi was a favorite, but NewHive was less intimidating.
* We can't embed the videos that our photo department uploads to Brightcove -- only YouTube. In some cases, this may mean an extra step of uploading to YouTube. I'm hoping some of these apps will consider expanding to other video hosting sites, too.

Several reporters have already made their own interactive graphics, like this one by Colorado Daily outdoor reporter Sarah Kuta.

Last-minute tips for the BolderBoulder.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

What is on my Macbook right now?

I shared what apps are on my iPhone and iPad, and although a laptop is way less elusive, I thought I'd round out the mojo package and share the goodies that are on my Macbook Pro right now, too.
In case you're feeling super nosy/curious (same thing, right?).

What apps are on my iPad?

Wonder what a mobile journalist's iPad looks like? No? Well, I'm telling you anyway. Here's the full list of what's on my iPad right now.

What apps do you love? What should I try? Tell me and I'll review them.

What apps are on my iPhone?

This is the modern version of "what's in the bag?"

Here is the full list of the apps on my mobile reporting iPhone right now:

Interactive maps are the bomb-diggity

An interactive map just begs to be part of a story on an international art exhibit. See how I put it together below.

One catch I discovered: You can't insert Soundcloud audio files into Prezi -- just Youtube videos. I made audio clips of the artists talking for this story, and had to lay the audio over still images in iMovie to make it compatible with Prezi. Took way longer than I planned because iMovie is a slow application to start up, upload and for some gosh darned reason it always has to make new thumbnails for 90 minutes.

Note to self and others: Just make short video clips instead of audio clips if you think you might use Prezi with a story.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Journalism engagement workshop in Denver

Steve Buttry's journalism engagement workshop in Denver yesterday went gloriously, and I left with a ton of new ideas and projects, which you'll be seeing here in weeks to come.

Here's a link to Buttry's blog about our workshop, including a slideshow for your educational delight (two words that have probably never been paired together before).

One of the many successes that came from this event is the continued pimping out of our NoCo New Journalism Collective. I'd like to welcome our two newest members:

Julie Baxter, from the Broomfield Enterprise

Jenni Grubbs, from the Fort Morgan Times

This brings our representation up to six Northern Colorado newspapers. We will try to meet monthly to chat about new journalism strategies, problems, accomplishments, ideas and general nerdery.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Creative live coverage from our engagement workshop

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic
Cords, cords, everywhere!

Thanks to Ivan Lajara for these above pics.

My first experiment with a live ThingLink:

Friday, April 26, 2013

DFM's Engagement Workshop: Three ways to get the most out of your iPad

Part of the resistance from journalists against new technology and digital reporting is the feeling that it's just one more thing you have to try to cram into a day.

But technology, particularly an iPad, can actually save you time and make your job easier in a lot of ways.

Here are three ways to get the most out of your iPad: 

1. Determine its role. This depends on the other technology you have available and your individual preferences.

* I view my iPad as my notepad, and I primarily use it for all of the same purposes: taking notes, my calendar, lists, audio recordings, communication (Facebook, Twitter, Skype, email, etc.).
* I think the iPad works great for reading newspapers and magazines via Flipboard -- much more eyeball-friendly than a phone.
* The iPad is great for managing and browsing Pinterest.

The iPad for taking notes: Notability
So, is the iPad the journalism god? What the iPad is good for.

So you want to be a journalist?

Alyssa wants to be a journalist when she grows up. 
I tried but cannot convince her otherwise. 

She came with me to work on Thursday and helped me report a story. I showed her how I use my iPad to record interviews, and she even contributed some questions. One of the main things I wanted to instill in her is the crucial balance between being prepared yet flexible:

* I knew all of the background information possible on the topic when we arrived, but I did not prepare questions, because I wanted to let the conversation guide itself naturally. 

* I had a vision for how my final interactive graphic would look, and I edited/deleted my photos as I went along. I knew I wanted one photo and one video of each performer, and I deleted everything extra, to speed up my editing process back at the office. It ended up taking me one hour to put together a pretty extensive interactive photo, including dowloading/uploading time. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Prezi as an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at a show

Press "start Prezi" and click around on the interactive image, or click the arrows to navigate.

DFM's Digital Engagement workshop: Interactive images 101

I will be doing a presentation about interactive images at the Digital First Media's engagement workshop in Denver next week. Here is a glimpse at what I'll be sharing. I hope you come and ask me questions and share your ideas.

A rough estimate indicates there are 900 zillion new toys, apps, gadgets, website and ways to tell a story. The pressure to know and use them all scares many journalists away from trying. And it's no wonder. Our jobs have never demanded more work of us with fewer resources and a smaller staff.

But, if approached with focus, knowledge and strategy, "new media" can make your job easier. It can save you time. And it can provide new outlets for job satisfaction and achievement.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Using Prezi to tease an upcoming story

We had the Cassie Taylor Band in the Second Story Garage live recording studio today.
I hopped in and captured a few behind-the-scenes clips to tease the upcoming story and videos.

Interactive graphics as an alternative to photo slideshows

When writing a story with a list of visual items, such as a story about jewelry trends for spring, your first instinct is probably to put those photos in a slideshow online.

Every once in a while, why not throw them into an interactive photo instead?

Unlike a slide show, this allows you to do a more scrapbook-style approach to design and include as little or as much text as you want. You can also pair the photos with video and audio files -- and you can include clickable links.

Here's an example of a recent story about spring jewelry trends where I created an interactive image instead of a photo slideshow.

Click on the rainbow icon in the bottom left corner of the picture below to see the full interactive image, with video.

My three favorite ways to make interactive images

Presented to you in the form of an interactive image -- what else?

To learn more, click "Start Prezi," allow it to load and then click around on the image to learn more.

Introducing: The New Journalism Collective

The New Journalism Collective is an unofficial but very official-sounding group of journalists, comprised of representatives from various Northern Colorado newspapers who act as the modern journalism representative for those newspapers. 

Members of the NJC are tech savvy or simply curious about digital reporting, technology, social media and exploring how to push journalism into its next evolution. We meet monthly to share what we are working on, apps and gadgets and websites we've discovered, ask questions and throw around ideas on how to improve our storytelling, reach, productivity and creativity. 

Back in the newsroom, members continue to explore with digital reporting, while spreading the message to and offering to assist their colleagues, in an attempt to gradually but permanently transform the way news is reported.  

The current members of the NJC are: 

Currently seeking journalists from other area newspapers who are interested in joining our crew. Email and check back here for our next meeting. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Using Thinglink as a creative, visual way to preview an event

I'm writing a full preview about this aerial dance event on Thursday, but I'm also playing around with creative, visual ways to preview the event.

Here's a simple-to-do, interactive "photographic go box" that can be embedded into a story instead of or in addition to a traditional go box.

Using Thinglink interactive graphics to tease a front page

We've been playing with Thinglink more, to see if it might be a way to drive traffic from social media sites to our website.

What do you think?

Here is an interactive front page teaser from the Colorado Daily, made by editor Jenn Fields.
Here's a link to the other Colorado Daily Thinglinks.

I talked to Jenn about her experience with Thinglink front pages. Here's how it went down:

How long did you take to put one together?
It's quick -- maybe 10 minutes. Maybe 12 if someone distracts me with Internet cats. Basically, it's fast enough that I feel like there's no reason not to give it a whirl.

Using Vine for quick and dirty weather coverage

We've been having quite an unpredictable winter this spring in Colorado.
I've found the Vines app as a quick and easy way to give a glimpse at the changing weather.

Walking in a spring wonderland.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Add a watermark to your pics with Marksta: Rated B

This app might appeal more to pro photographers, but it has potential to benefit journalists/newspapers, too. Marksta is a nifty app that allows you to easily add a watermark and add a copyright notice to your photos before posting them online.

Why would a newspaper do this? Oh, I don't know -- copyright issues, to starters. Getting credit. preserving your work. Especially with social media, so many photos are lifted and reused without permission or proper credit these days. Marksta won't prevent the intentional cropping out of a watermark, but it makes it harder to steal images.

Cost: $1.99, which is pretty high for an app. I would rate this app higher if it were cheaper.

Here are some examples of what Marksta can do for your photos.

Original image, taken with my iPhone out the window of my car in a snowstorm, as I sit in the parking lot working, before my next appointment. Don't ask; I don't want to have to buy another coffee to get in a hour of mobile work.

Image 2, using a cropped version of the logo from my blog -- obv not designed to be a watermark. 

Image 3, created in about 30 seconds using some of the Marksta presets. 

Image 4, also using Marksta presets. Super easy to do -- and try to crop this sucker out, thieves! OK, don't. 

CP-Pro for quick video editing: Rated B+

Lately, I've been schmoozing with other smart journalists, and stealing their ideas and tips to make myself look better. And then I can share it with you, and then you can look better. It's win-win-win-win-win, really.

Last week, I sat down with Whitney Bryen of the Longmont Times-Call. She's been leading the new technology/digital first efforts on the east side of Boulder County. We shared a plate of guac and chips and shared our favorite apps, tricks and ideas for how to enhance our reporting.

Here are two apps I learned about from her and why they're worth your time and money.


Cost: $1.99

Why it could possibly be worth SO much money: Busy journos don't always have time to sit down with iMovie and edit a full video, with 19 different clips. This super simple app allows you to record a series of video clips in a row -- in other words, edit as you go. If you make a mistake, you can even go back and edit a clip and remove a section.

Vine videos: Rated B

Here's about the easiest way to create and share short video clips of events. Vine reminds me of Instagram, but for very short, looped videos. As a mobile journalist, I like to take pics of the places I go and post them on Instagram/Twitter, so people in the area know I'm around. Now I'm mixing it up with Vine, too.

How it works: Download the free app. Click the camera icon. Then touch/hold down the screen as long as you want it to record. The length of your video is pre-determined, and best to pick a few short scenes for your clip. Then add a location, title and share.


Why it's useful: It captures a little more of the scene than just a photo, and is especially useful for action, such as this Vine clip of my daughter playing ball in the Dollar Tree (oopsie).

Friday, April 19, 2013

My new favorite photo app: Camera+: Rated A

You know this app is solid when our chief staff photographer recommended it to a reporter, who is also a professional portrait photographer (who doesn't have second jobs around here?). That's a lot of photocred. 

What it is: Camera+ is my new go-to photo app for my iPhone. My favorite feature is the ability to separate exposure from focus. This allows you to control how light or dark your shots come out, while maintaining the focus.

Take this photo taken at Starbucks, below: a screenshot photo of my computer taken with a bright window background. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Glogster: Because I like the name: Rated C-

I played with Glogster today, mostly because I like the name.
It's actually for students, so I had to pull out my metaphorical fake student ID and remember how old I actually am.

Glogster's designed as a way to help students (and teachers) organize paperwork and assignments visually.
I picked a pre-designed page and turned it into a little display of my favorite journalism tools.
All in all, it looks neat -- but it's nothing I couldn't do on my own on NewHive. And it's easier to add hyperlinks on NewHive. Every time I tried to add one here, it failed. And the image uploads took too long.

That's why I only rate it a pretty lame C-. It's easily replaceable and took more effort than I think it was worth.

Regardless, Glogster is a thing and yet another way to organize information visually online.
Try it yourself. Maybe you'll love glogging. Maybe I'm too old for it.

Check out my Glogster here:

Cincopa: An easy solution to photo slideshows: Rated B

What is it:
What it does: All kinds of fun stuff for free. I used it for a photo gallery to run with my fashion column. 
What I loved: Easy to figure out and fast. Very quick uploads.
What I didn't like:   I wish you could click on a photo to enlarge it, and include cutlines and a header. 

Overall, I'd rate it a B.

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