Embedding Soundslides in WordPress and Hosting on Dropbox

Dropbox provides a public folder that makes it useful for hosting Soundslides projects. If you have the Dropbox syncing software installed on your personal computer, then placing the Soundslides project is as easy as simply drag and drop. Kelly Fincham has put together a nice tutorial that will walk you through the steps. However, if you don’t have access to the Dropbox software, you can still accomplish this using Dropbox’s web interface. If you’re like me, you often find yourself working on public computers that don’t allow you to install the software. Follow the steps below to upload your Soundslides content and embed it on WordPress.


Figure 1

Creating the Folders

1. You will need to go to www.dropbox.com and log in to your Dropbox account. Once you are there, click on the Public Folder (See Figure 1).

2.  Once in the folder, you are going to create several folders inside. For the first step, create a folder with your last name by clicking on the icon shown in Figure 2. You’ll see that I’ve created a folder called “Horning.” Inside this folder is where I will upload my Soundslides files. If you were putting several Soundslides projects in your drop box account, it would be a good idea to store them inside separate folders with different names.


Figure 2

3. Once you’ve created the folder with your last name. Click on that folder so you are inside it. In here, you are going to create a second folder (Figures 3). It is VERY important that all of these folders are named EXACTLY as listed. That means they should be written using lowercase and use underscores. For this folder, name it “publish_to_web” (without the quotes).


Figure 3

4. Now that you’ve created the folder named “publish_to_web,” click on that folder, and inside create three more folders. The folders will be named: 400_300, 600_650, and fullscreen (See Figure 4). These folders represent the folder structure that Soundslides creates when you export your files. For this next step we will go to the files that you exported in Soundslides.


Figure 4

Uploading Content to Dropbox

5. In Soundslides, when you export your Soundslides project, it generates a folder called “publish_to_web.” You’ll want to locate this folder, and upload each of the files you see in Figure 5 to the right location in Dropbox. Note that inside each of the folders- “400_300,” “600_450,” and “fullscreen,” there are several files. You’ll need to upload all of these files to the right folder in Dropbox.


Figure 5

6. In Figure 6, you’ll see that I’ve uploaded all of the files that I generated from the Soundslides export to Dropbox.


Figure 6

Embedding Soundslides Files in WordPress

7. Now right click on the index.html file (Figure 7) that you’ve uploaded and copy the public the link that appears.


Figure 7

8. Then copy that link into the Soundslides embed utility found here. This will give you an embed code. Make modifications to height here if needed. Then copy that embed code to the “Text/HTML” tab of your WordPress Site. The Soundslides file should now appear on your page.


Figure 8

JQuery Basics

Project 1: Building the  Before After Slider

Resources You’ll Need for This Project

Links to JQuery and JQuery UI hosted at Google

Link to the JQuery Library

JQuery Rain has lots of JQuery Projects


Links to zip file containing project files/images.

Original before after Images for practice

Link to original tutorial.

Add this code inside your main div

Add this code in your head tag under the other scripts discussed in the video tutorial

Before/After Examples

WP Syria

Typhoon Haiyan

Hurricane Sandy

Project 2: Building the Flexslider Photo Slideshow

Resources You’ll Need for This Project

See the original Al Jazeera Project titled From Forest to Food Bandk here.

Go to the orginial source here at WooThemes.

Step 1-Link your files

Add these items to the <head> of your document. This will link jQuery and the FlexSlider core CSS/JS files into your webpage. You can also choose to host jQuery on your own server, but Google is nice enough to take care of that for us!

Step 2 – Add markup

The FlexSlider markup is simple and straightforward. First, start with a single containing element, <div class=”flexslider”> in this example. Then, create a <ul class=”slides”>. It is important to use this class because the slider targets that class specifically. Put your images and anything else you desire into each <li> and you are ready to rock.

Step 3 – Hook up the slider

Lastly, add the following lines of Javascript into the <head> of your document, below the links from Step 1. The $(window).load() is required to ensure the content of the page is loaded before the plugin initializes.

Step 4 – Customization

Listed below are all of the options available to customize FlexSlider to suite your needs, along with their default values.

Thing Link


East Los Angeles College Campus News mobile

Good example of an about page

Infographic on AN-94 Assault Rifle

Creating an interactive map

Are my cell phone pictures really stalking me?

There is a not-so-great bit of reporting going around lately that's designed to warn people about GPS tracking capabilities on mobile phones. Basically, the story points out that cell phones today are capable of embedding your location into photos. The story suggests that such data can later be extracted by would-be predators who are interested in finding your location. To support their findings the reporters identify the location of a young child using a photo posted online. They then go to the mother's home and inform her that the photo contains the exact coordinates of the child's bedroom. All of this, of course, sounds really scary if you are a parent who is used to posting pictures of your kids on sites like Facebook. One friend recently became so fearful that she removed all of her photos from her social network site. So it seemed to me that this might be a good time to elaborate where the media hasn't been so clear.


Recent Report on Cell Phone Tracking Data


GeoCoordinates and EXIF Data

The actual facts, about what happens to your photos are a little more complicated than the story would make it appear, and in all likelihood what you've posted to your social media site doesn't have any location data in it, though your cell phone might. Let me explain.


Image Taken with Samsung Galaxy S3

It is true that most cell phones today do have location sensing capabilities that use geotagging. This simply means that your cell phone is capable of tracking you, and that it can assign a location to various content that you create. This feature is used for all sorts of reasons. It's used to locate you in the event of a 911 call. It's what allows you to use your navigational maps on your phone. And for those FourSquare addicts, it's what helps you become the Mayor of some small town in the middle of Arkansas. 

It is also true that most cell phone photos contain this information. The information we're talking about is called a GeoCoordinate and it is stored in a photo in what is called EXIF data. While that may sound like another language, it's just a fancy way of saying that your photos contain information that you can't see, but that a computer can read. Take the picture to the right, for example. This is a photo that I took with my cell phone while fishing on the Maumee River near Toledo, Oh. When I took the image, my cell phone automatically added my exact location. This data is visible in the "properties " of the photo. Below is an example of how the data looks when you look at the photo's properties in Windows.

How to see if your phone is tracking you

If you have a Windows system you can find the data by right clicking on the photo and selecting "Properties" then the "Details" tab. Scroll down until you see the GPS coordinates. To find the information on a Mac, open the photo in Preview Mode. Then press the "Command" key and the letter "i" to open the inspector. Then click the "i" tab and select the EXIF or GPS option. If no coordinates are listed using either of these methods then your phone isn't recording a location.


Okay, so what does this data do?

GPSIf your phone shows something like the image on the left with both latitude and longitude recording a location, then congratulations, you've got GeoCoordinates! These coordinates essentially record the exact location that you were standing on the planet at the time the image was taken.

In other words, every time you snap a picture, your phone is programmed to record your location and embed that location into the properties of that photo. It does this by talking to cell phone towers, wireless access points and satellite signals that are all around you. All of this data is used to pin point a pretty accurate location of where you are standing.

If you have such coordinates then it's pretty easy for a person to find out where you were just by simply checking the properties of the photo. Journalists should be particularly aware of the existence of this data when taking pictures of sensitive subjects. For example, last year Vice.com found itself in an embarrassing situation when journalists at Vice uploaded a photo of John McAfee's, who was in hiding at the time. The location wasn't so secret once a blogger discovered and extracted McAfee's geocoordinates on the web. Soon after he had a visit from the police, and no doubt a Vice reporter just lost a lot of credibility.

To illustrate how this works, I've taken the coordinates from the photo above and I've entered them into a Google map search. You'll notice that coordinates in the map are the same as the latitude and longitude listed in the photo properties above. The location is so accurate that it identifies the exact location where I was standing in the river. The fishing there, by the way, was pretty good, though I'd suggest you show up early if you want to give it a try. It's shoulder-to-shoulder when the fishing's hot….but I digress.

View ImageGPS in a larger map

So should I be concerned?

So far we've seen that your cell phone is capable of recording your location, and that it is so accurate that it can locate your whereabouts within a few feet of where you are standing. Sounds pretty scary right? After all, we've all seen Enemy of the State where Gene Hackman is forced to flee from the U.S. government and blow up his hideout simply because Will Smith made a phone call. We know what the government does with this kind of data, and we know it always ends badly for the little guy.

But before you put on your tin foil hat, delete all your social media posts, and book a one way ticket to Tajikistan, take a breath. That isn't the whole story. It's very possible that your photos are safe.

While it is true that your cell phone photos probably have your data, it isn't true that uploading those images to the web automatically makes your location available. A recent study found that Facebook and Twitter automatically strip this data away from your photos once they've been uploaded to your social media sites. Instagram's policy is to turn off geotagging unless you opt in to the service. In other words, when a person downloads a photo you've posted to one of these sites, then the geocoordinates have already been removed. For you that means that even if some random creeper got ahold of your photos, he couldn't use your photos to track you.

However, that isn't the case with every social media site. For example, the same study above noted that Google Plus does include location. And if you're hosting images in FlickR then chances are that your geocoordinates are available for download. The same is true for cloud based services like Google Drive and Drop Box. Both of these sites simply make a copy of your original photos, so if the data is there, then it is accessible to any person that has access to your photos.

So there you have it, a basic primer on how GPS data works. While it might make an enticing headline to claim that social media sites are opening you up to privacy concerns, in this case, that's not the whole story. The best advice I can give you is to know the policies of the sites your posting to. It may be in the future that social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram decide to include GPS data in your images, but for now, you can sleep soundly knowing that your photo data is safe.

Backpack Journalism 101:
Using the iPhone for shooting and editing video content

In April I traveled with members of the BGSU SPJ student chapter to the  Regional Conference in Dayton. At the conference Glenn Hartong of the Cincinnati Enquirer shared with us some of the mobile tools and techniques being used by Gannett reporters. The Enquirer recently equipped all of its reporters with iPhone 5s and now encourages them to shoot and edit video from the field as well as report live when it's appropriate. Below is a summary of some of the ideas that Glenn shared. If you're thinking of using an iPhone, iPad, iPod or some other mobile device for backpack journalism, then several of these suggestions should help get you started.

Before you go out in the field

Reporters use video today to cover all sorts of topics from breaking news to compelling feature stories. For daily reporting, you will often shoot short, 30-120 second clips that can be included with breaking news stories and other daily coverage. If you're shooting video for a breaking news story, then remember you'll likely be uploading it to the newsroom from your reporting location and/or pushing it out to your social media almost immediately. You'll be competing with bloggers, television stations and other newspapers that are all trying to get the scoop first. As a result, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the typical workflow in these situations. During fast-paced news events, here's what might typically be expected:

Step 1. Write a few graphs about the story as it breaks.

Step 2. Use Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and/or other social media to tell your audience about the event.

Step 3. Do quick edits on the video and upload the video and the story to the newsroom to be posted on the website.

Step 4. Go back to the newsroom for finer editing for future multimedia packages and/or deeper content.


When you're in the field, you'll also want to think about what types of connectivity are available to you before you go. If you're using an iPod and you don't have a wireless connection, then you might consider purchasing a 4GHotspot that will allow you to access the web over a 4G network. There are several mobile hotspot options. This video will familiarize you with how it works and what you'll need to purchase. In addition, if you're going to be reporting from a place where 3G is your only connectivity option, then shooting lots of high resolution video can take a great deal of time to transfer across the web. In this case it's best to remember the old rule- 'audiences will tolerate poor video, but they won't listen to bad audio.' As a result, your first goal should be to make sure that you have captured some good quality sound. That's not to say that good video doesn't matter. If you find yourself in a situation where you have great connectivity, and you can upload high quality HD video quickly to the newsroom, then you should definitely do so. Otherwise, if connectivity is limited, you might consider rendering out a lower resolution video (e.g. 320×240 px) that can be uploaded quickly. You can always replace the video with a higher quality one once you get back to the newsroom.

Equipment and software

It's important to remember that the iPhone 5 shoots video in native 1080p resolution. Depending on your connectivity and the length of footage you may want to use a few apps to "downgrade" your video content to a lower resolution.  FiLMiC Pro is a useful app that gives you lots of control over your video. Among its many features, you can adjust the resolution, include GPS tagging, and frame rate. If you plan on doing some editing, then another useful app that is pretty user-friendly is iMovie. While editing video in the field on either an iPhone or iPad is going to give you less control than what you might have with more sophisticated software packages like Final Cut, using these apps will help you get the news out quickly when time is limited.

The Fostex AR-4i and the AR-101 (depending on whether you're using an iPhone 4 or 5)


Fostex AR101

are two other handy tools for mobile reporting. The Fostex connects directly to your iPhone and uses a monopod-like grip for easy shooting. Two microphones can be adjusted so that they point in both the direction of the reporter and the interviewee for better sound capture. And if you're interested in connecting to an external mic, B&H Photo has put together a nice package complete with lav mics that connect to the Fostex line inputs.

If your iPhone is going to be your only option for shooting, you might also want to consider an Olloclip. The Olloclip essentially works as a lens system for your iPhone, allowing you to do a bit more with creative photographic techniques such as fish-eye photography, macro and wide-angle shooting.

Shooting live events

You may find yourself in a situation where shooting live is critical. Several apps are available for such occasions. Qik.com and Livestream have partnered together to offer options to stream events live. In addition, Ustream is another app that allows you to stream live from their site, once you've set up a Ustream account.

What to shoot

Not every story is going to need video. Let's face it, some stories just aren't big enough or exciting enough. So when you plan your stories, you should consider whether the video you're about to shoot is worth the time. Online videos serve two purposes. First, as a reporter, you should be shooting video that tells a meaningful story. Video coverage is going to add depth and interest to your story. Furthermore, the content you shoot should complement the story that you've written for web rather than merely repeat it. Video, however, also has a practical function for a news organization. Advertisers interested in posting banner and video ads on a news website are interested in knowing the number of people that visit a website and the amount of time they spend on it. By using video on your site, you provide additional incentives for audiences to stay longer, and your video may be another space used for advertising revenue. All of this suggests that video on any news site should not just fill a news hole, it should provide additional content that audiences would want to invest the time in watching.

So when you're thinking about including a video with your story, here are a few things you might consider:

  • Remember that light and noise are important. That means that you're not likely to shoot video in dark and noisy places. If the story you are covering takes place on a busy street or in a dimly lit theater, you're likely not going to get footage that is worth shooting.
  • Choose videos that have compelling characters. One way to tell whether you have a story worth shooting is to think about the people you're going to interview. No one wants to listen to dull, boring people drone on and on about a topic, but if your subjects have interesting ideas or interesting personalities, then they might make a good choice for video content. Recently, Charles Ramsey made the news for his role in freeing three young women from a home in Cleveland. Within hours of this video, Ramsey's comments received millions of hits on YouTube. What makes this footage so compelling is Ramsey's personality and no-nonsense way of speaking. When you have subjects like this, then you might want to consider using video to capture some of that personality that isn't so readily captured with words.
  • Sometimes we use video in news reporting because our audience likes to hear the information straight from the horses mouth. In other words, we might choose to shoot some video because our interviewees bring a certain authority to our story. For example, there are often times in reporting when the information is best heard by a public official. The words of officials and experts carry weight, and sometimes that can add to your content. You might for example, include a few seconds of a city councilman talking about a proposed city ordinance, or a police officer discussing the events that led up to an arrest.
  • Sometimes video footage is worth shooting because a reporter can take an audience somewhere that they can't normally go. This might be the inside of a factory, a crime scene, or maybe the backstage of a concert. Whatever it might be, audiences appreciate it when the reporter takes the time to share the adventure with them.

The mobile phone is like the Swiss Army knife of reporting. Its portability, its ease in networking with audiences, and its ability to record photos, audio and video all make it a must-have tool for any backpack journalists. While it is true that the basic principles of good storytelling haven't changed, learning to use the new tools that are at your disposal can enhance your stories and make the online news experience more meaningful for your audiences.

Newspapers go hyperlocal

Some big players like Google, AOL, and the New York Times all began working on different strategies for hyperlocal news sites. In February of 2010, AOL announced the launch of Patch.com, a site that has plans to build over 500 micro-websites within the Patch.com domain that will focus on the news in small towns and communities. AOL’s recent partnership with online news site, Huffington Post, and its acquisition of Outside.in, a local news aggregator suggest that AOL hasn’t written off hyperlocal ventures just yet. At the same time other companies like DataSphere have also launched 300 hyperlocal news sites and have plans for another 1200 by the end of 2010, suggesting that many companies still think that there is opportunity. Below is a map that includes a fairly comprehensive collection of Patch and Lion (Local Independently Owned Online News) sites.

Embedding SoundSlides in WordPress

1. Install and Activate the SoundSlides Plugin found here













2. Export your SoundSlides show as a Zip file.  Go to File-Export and Zip

3. Create a New Post. Add Appropriate title, tags, category, and other content.










4. Upload your zip file by clicking on the Add Media Link and then selecting Upload Files. Then drag the zip file onto the page to upload it.











5. After the file has uploaded, select the Insert Into Post option.














6. You should have a piece of code inserted in your post that looks like the one below. Note that you might be in the "Text" tab view. You may need to switch to HTML view to add more content.








7. Once you've had success publish the content to your blog.

Encounters with tech support: A short 3 act play with a long prelude


CC Licensing by Tripp @ Flickr.com

[qr-code align=”left” size=”3″ margin=”0″] I always dread calling tech support… Comcast, Dell, etc. It’s a lot like when you buy one of those cheap King Edward cigars at the gas station; it always seems like a good idea at the time, and despite all the facts in front of you that suggest otherwise- the low prices, the cheap wrapper, the mostly full cigar box- you are somehow willing to suspend disbelief and convince yourself that this time things will be different.They never are.

Today’s encounter with my Web Hosting Provider was like that. I mentally prepared myself to assume the submissive role…to be talked to like a third grader who didn't know an Ethernet connection from a USB port. I knew this would mean that I would have to unplug and reboot several times. I knew I'd have to turn off my firewall and deactivate my anti-virus software. I knew that at least once I'd have to clear my cache on my browser. And I knew all of this was going to be to unsuccessful.

But I have learned that arguing with tech support is like arguing with a referee. The power inequity it too great. At any moment he can sever your connection to wherever he is in Tajikistan or India or some other foreign country like Oklahoma and leave you floundering in the vast voiceless silence with no one to turn to but the Online Help Forum; the Help Forum is Sheol for internet users, a dark place full of other tortured customers who have never found relief from their internet woes. So, it's best to listen to the referee/ tech guy, go to the penalty box, let him do his thing, and see if eventually he'll let you in the game. This is how it went down…

First, there were several conversations with a robot "help" menu. I forgot about the robots. Tech support people should know that the only robot I’ve ever loved was Johnny 5. Then eventually a human answered.

Act 1: Much Ado About Nothing

[Me] Hi, yes my web domain is returning a database error and not loading.

[Support] (After giving name, phone number, id, mother's maiden name, secret code, and my birth date on the Mayan calendar, etc) Okay, I see you have WordPress. Have you installed anything lately?

[Me] Yes, a plugin yesterday, but it was working after that.

[Support] That could be it. Let's log in to your account at our domain.

{Then long conversation with no success. Lots of clicking things. Renaming things and other craziness I'll skip for you}

Act 2: Do you bite your thumb at me, sir?

[Support] (After going on and off of hold several times to talk to other ISP gods) Wait, how is your website even loading? You have to have your files in the root directory. I just looked and they aren't there.

[Me] Um, my website isn’t loading. That’s why I called you remember, but no I don't have to do that.

[Support] But, but, but yes you do.

[Me] (Thinking how to say this without being banished to the Online Forum) But it was working yesterday and the day before that and every day since 1996.

[Support] (In his best teacher's voice, and maybe a little miffed about the 1996 comment) I think that's the problem.

[Me](Nervous that I've crossed a line) Hold on….(thinking and opening files)…oh I see now. Look at that index file. {more details you don't care about}.

Act 3: The prince of darkness is a gentleman

[Support] Oh, That's pretty good…(realizing that I am the master of my uhmm….domain) hold on.


{comes back}

Sir it turns out that our database is down. You did everything correct. Sorry about that. It should be up in an hour.

"…You did everything correct. Sorry about that…"

No sweeter words have been uttered by a tech guy anywhere. I know it hurt him to say them, and I take it as a win.

Till the next time and the next tech support encounter. Perhaps, this weekend the cable will go out?

I just got RickRolled by the media, and there is a dead man on my pc

Last week’s fatal shooting at the Empire State Building sparked a great deal of discussion surrounding the ethics of posting gruesome pictures of the victims. These are the actual links, but be forewarned that they may be unsettling to some readers. Jim Romanesko checked with the Times and received a statement back saying, “It is a newsworthy photograph that shows the result and impact of a public act of violence.”

Jeff Jarvis agrees so much that he passed the images along on Twitter and wrote a response to critics who said the posting without warning was inappropriate. Jarvis said, “I say it is a good thing that we see a more unvarnished world. Perhaps then we’ll have a real debate about guns…” Jarvis also argued “that in any case, we’d best get used to it, for as we all well know news and images of it won’t come from reporters and credentialed photographers first and won’t be filtered through media before it comes to us.”

Leaving aside the fact that Jarvis’ politicization of the event is an unnecessary red herring, the substance of Jarvis’ argument is that such images are inevitable in today’s world of Facebook, Twitter and other unmediated outlets on the web. It’s essentially the “everybody else is doing it argument” that I’ve tried to explain to my children is never a good rationale for decision making.

The Times’ perspective is slightly more substantive suggesting that there are situations when public images are so powerful that they need to be shown. It’s a point of view that no doubt every ombudsman at any news agency has had to wrestle with, and it’s almost a certainty that the growth of social media has made these questions all the more difficult for them.

I’d like to consider first, Jarvis’ argument- that the filters are long gone and therefore there is nothing one can do to stop violent images from coming through our browsers. Jarvis seems to suggest that all things are equal on the web- that the NY Times’ reach is somehow equal to this guys.   It is a false equivalent that I see used too often to justify bad decorum on the web. The fact is that traffic on the web has many similarities to “traffic” in legacy media.  If we take a look at the top 25 sites on the web, we’ll see old familiar faces like the New York Times and CNN.  There are admittedly a few anomalies on here, one of the most popular being Reddit.com.

While Reddit is admittedly a popular site, its reach is not nearly the same as other media. Google ranks Reddit’s unique visitors at 13M a month. Compare this to the Times that has 67M unique visitors a month or CNN.com at 110M. The point is that most mainstream media still have a much larger reach. The same would be true if we looked at demographic characteristic, where places like the Times and CNN still reach a broader demographic in terms of age, income and education. If Jarvis’ argument is simply that somehow the web has democratized information he might do well to check out Matthew Hindman’s research that shows that despite the vast number of independent sites, most web traffic is still concentrated in only about 20 mainstream online news organizations.

Since such sites still receive the vast majority of traffic on the web, I would suggest that in many ways they have a greater obligation to maintain public trust and to wrestle with such ethical questions. Jon Stewart summed this argument up  pretty succinctly when Tucker Carlson justified questionable activity on the political show, Crossfire, by pointing to similar behavior on Stewart’s own show.

Stewart said, “I didn’t realized that the news organizations look to Comedy Central for their cues on integrity.”

Jarvis’ argument is no different. He might instead take his cues from Uncle Ben who summed it up quite well when he told Peter Parker “just because you can…doesn’t give you the right to. Remember, with great power comes great responsibility.” Even Spidey seemed to eventually grasp this.

There is also the question raised by the Times. The argument is that there are some images so powerful that the public has the right to know. I’m in agreement with this. I don’t think that question, however, is even relevant in unmediated contexts like the web. The real question is how should such images be distributed?

In cyberspace readers need to be allowed to choose whether such content is appropriate for them. We’re in the informing business in the news- the story telling business, not the shock and awe-business. It’s up to our readers to determine how much they can handle; I don’t claim to know all the sensibilities of my readers, nor do I accept the premise that it is somehow our journalistic right to deny them agency by putting such images in front of them without any warning.

Such practices are not only bad business because they push some readers away and bring additional emotional duress to the families of such victims, they are also bad practice on the web where simple warnings, links, and other technological affordances can be used to help our readers decide for themselves how they receive the news. When the Times uses an image of a victim splayed across the sidewalk with his blood trickling into a gutter on the front page of its website, it’s already removed that choice for the reader. A truly democratic web puts the information out there in a way that gives the reader the right to decide how and when he or she receives the information. If anything, the technological affordances of the web give us a much better opportunity to do this in ways that weren’t possible in print and TV.

Anyone familiar with popular media culture is aware of the phenomenon of RickRolling, where unsuspecting readers are mislead into clicking on a link that promises one thing, and only leads them to something else- often the popular video by Rick Astley. Some unsolicited advice to the media, don’t RickRoll your readers. Leave that kind of stuff to the 13-year-olds on 4chan. Your readers will appreciate it.