Words about Word

After reading several articles that were written for the sole purpose of bashing Microsoft Word, I had to reflect on my personal use of the program, and whether it was really as bad as everyone was making it out to be. One complaint that authors of the articles all shared was that the layout of Microsoft Word, with it’s metaphorical blank paper page and structured margins, was that it was uncreative, and as a result, stifled the user’s creativity in writing. I don’t agree with this at all. What is more promising, more open to artistic expression, than a blank page, just waiting to be filled? Even when experiencing writer’s block, I don’t blame the clean slate. Rather, I consider it a strong, demanding audience pushing me to continue on, no matter how bad my thoughts are currently being expressed. What kind of cruel, demoralizing,  joke would it be for me to have a canvas that is more attractive, more creative, than my own work that I’m about to fill it with?

Another beef that the authors of the articles had with Word was the fact that it is so broadly used. I understand if they are annoyed with the company for buying out competitors and trying to control the free market. I have doubts that Microsoft is legitimately attempting to become a monopoly. People make those sort of accusations about any big company that they personally dislike, just because it’s an easy target. If Microsoft is indeed being that manipulative, more people need to talk about it, and more credible research needs to be performed into the matter.

People obviously like Microsoft Word, or else they wouldn’t use it as much as they do. Personally, I was raised using Microsoft word whenever I had to write on the computer, and it’s become second nature to me. It was a struggle for me to get this WordPress account, and even here, the influences of Microsoft Word remain. When I start composing, I imagine that “uncreative” blank page in my mind. Technically, since this writing is going on a website which automatically puts spaces between paragraphs, I’m not supposed to indent my paragraphs. But I do anyways. Why? Because that’s what Word taught me to do. I’m not just being old-school and nostalgic. If I had even a slight problem with Word, and there was another word processor that was better, I’d happily switch. But I honestly love it. It’s not often that a product gets a 100% satisfaction rate, and when it does, it deserves to be praised.

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Exploring Social Media

I’ve recently been acquainted with the social media scheduling platform HootSuite to manage the Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress for a local toy store. This cool site makes it easy to schedule posts for a variety of social media outlets. It’s easy to use, convenient, and takes the stress out of having to write that perfect tweet on the spot. Especially for local business owners who have the upcoming holiday season to worry about, tools like HootSuite can help make their digital lives much easier.

Today, I taught the store owner and manager, both middle-aged women, the what, why, and how of Twitter. It was neat to see them get so excited over 140 characters- a limitation they were previously scared of. It is exciting, really, when you find that you can have such influence online by simply tweeting at, replying to, or retweeting another user. As my two new friends said to me today, “the Toy Experts are now Twitter Experts!” I’m glad I could finally get them on board to this new platform.

The toy ladies from the store will be accessing their Twitter and HootSuite accounts from a laptop, iPhones, and an iPad. This means they will be working within the parameters of three user interfaces. From my experience, the Twitter mobile app is my favorite. It’s so easy to see the newest posts, write a tweet, and view notifications. I don’t often go on Twitter from my laptop, just because it’s more convenient from my phone. I experimented with the HootSuite mobile app today, and it was not hard to figure out. Granted, I did have some prior knowledge of how the site operates from its web-based format, but the idea and execution were basically the same.

My next project is an analytical essay about the user interface for the movie editing app PopcornMaker. I am currently investing how it operates from a user standpoint, what its limitations are, and how it’s used. Diving this deep into an app is something I’ve never done before, so I’m looking forward to it.

 

 

Midterm Reports

So, last week we had a review in our Writing and Digital Media class.

We had to write down what we liked most about the class and what we wished would be improved.

As you might expect of a liberal arts class in a technology-central university, we admired the free atmosphere when most of our classes are very structured with rigid projects.

Also not surprising, the thing that we want to improve is the journals. The fact is that those assignments that you are not checked constantly on will not get done until the last minute. We had these journals due at the end of the semester, but most had stopped after the initial posts because there were most pressing assignments.

We now have our professor check for at least one blog post every week. Which is good in a way, but disastrous in others.

One, we not won’t wait ’til the last minute to do them

Two, we’re far too used to pushing them already that it’s hard to get into the habit of doing one every week

Three, I don’t really have a third currently, just feel the need to follow the rule of three. :)

But yeah, listening to some music put to animes that I know. Gotta say – feeling pretty bummed that I couldn’t pull something like that off for my first assignment in my Writing and Digital Media class. They even got the characters to lip-sync the words and dance to the beat of the music. Admittedly, we couldn’t put dancing characters to music as our project, but there is so much more I could have done if I’d put forth more effort.

Also, I learned that my video’s title “My Venetian Princess” will never be found on YouTube. :) Apparently, it’s a user who posts celeb song’s screen name as well as the name of a song. So I’m safe. It has only 10 views and all I can say is “Thank God”. I didn’t mean to subject all those poor YouTube viewers to my scintillating tale about how I got my doll. I didn’t realize we’d actually have to have people view it outside of class. Many pardons, you wretched viewers, that were looking for perhaps some droll humor on the song and instead had to listen to my voice….truthfully, I’m not sure whether I’m being sarcastic or not.

 

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Las cosas que dicen los ecuatorianos

http://youtu.be/mWdmd6mnCmU

El año pasado, yo estudié en Ecuador por un semestre entero. Cuando estuve allí, cada día yo aprendí algunas frasitas ecuatorianas chéveres. Siempre quería hacer un video así con mis amigotes, un “S**t Ecuadorians Say.” Bueno, nunca lo hice yo, pero este semestre, ¡un grupo de gringuitos estudiando a la Universidad de San Francisco de Quito por fin lo logró! Encontré este video gracioso a través de una compañera de clase quien estudió allí conmigo. ¡Que disfruten esto, y que aprenden un poco del léxico de Ecuador!

Last year, I studied in Ecuador for a whole semester. When I was there, I learned cool Ecuadorian phrases every day. I always wanted to make a video like this with my friends, a “S**t Ecuadorians Say” clip. I never did it, this’s group of gringos at USFQ (La Universidad San Francisco de Quito) this semester finally did! I found this funny video from a classmate who studied the with me. I hope you enjoy this and learn a little Ecuadorian vocab!

 

 

 

 

Take the Sky From Me

- Or Why Firefly is Different from Buffy, and How It’s Air Schedule Crippled It Narratively -

Aside from the obvious, Friefly demonstrates a departure from the narrative structure of Buffy. Starting from the episode Serenity, which is the canonical starting point for the series, viewers are thrown into the end of a war that serves as a backdrop and anchor into the setting that Mal and Zoe are a part of. Over the course of the episode, we are introduced to the well established crew – family – of the Serenity, rather than watching the crew form (as with the Scooby Gang in Buffy). All of this would be super overwhelming were it not for Simon, River, and Book, three passengers on the Serenity who get caught up in the crew’s antics. These three characters provide a relatable and stable (or unstable, in the case of River) anchoring point for views to get used to the banter, relationships, and conflicts common to Mal’s motley crew.

The way Firefly was aired, however, ruins this anchoring point.

Firefly’s first official episode, according to Fox, is The Train Job, which, in order of filming and production was the second episode. In this version, all viewers have in the way of anchoring is a short series of clips from the first episode narrated by Book, and even that doesn’t fully explain what the hell is happening. The bar fight does little to explain Mal all that much (though, he is a rather complex character, so not a whole lot of introductions are adequately going to explain Mal), or Zoe, or Jayne. Or Wash, for that matter. Simon and River are already established parts of this small community (though they are still outsiders) and Book is really…full of questions.

This, understandably, leaves the audience confused.

In any good work of fiction – book, television, movie, or otherwise – it is vital that you give the audience what I have been calling ‘anchors.’ These are concrete details about the setting, the main characters, or the plot that the reader can latch onto before they figure out how the universe they are entering works. In Firefly, the passengers Mal picks up are anchor characters – they are just as confused and out of their element as the audience is. When thrown into a show where the anchor characters have already been explained in an unaired pilot, the audience is left groping for a handhold and are let down. This causes them to abandon the story except for a few heroic cases (the original Browncoats).

To avoid turning this into a rant against Fox, I will end on this - Firefly is a weird story. It is a non-conventional mash up of the Sci-fi and Western genres and a mash up like that requires narrative anchors, or the story will never float. Joss seemed to have provided those anchors in Serenity, which where then not provided by the cable network. The situation surrounding this show is, of course, complicated, but some of the blame (I think) on why it failed is because the airing order and dates provided by the network ruined the narrative construction of the series.

Coding for Designers

The professor of my Graphic Design class has brought up the subject I have dreaded for quite a while – coding for web design.

A lot of the students in my year decided to take the Web Design course this semester, but I refused. I am simply too scared to start coding. I want to be a print designer upon graduation, I think, so I see no real need for me to take this course. However, that’s where the money is, so I probably should learn the basics of coding my designs.

Our professor in Graphic Design is currently showing us a way to learn the basics of coding through a website called Aquent Gymnasium. Wow! It is really breaking it down to the basics. These simple video tutorials have taught me a lot in just a couple of hours. The task seems a little less daunting now, and a little more fun! For anyone who wants to learn Coding for Designers, the lessons are completely free, and even come with a little joke certificate at the end showing you are a seasoned code designer! I’ll drop the link below. Happy coding!

http://gymnasium.aquent.com/

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Tapestry Love

Since uploading my Unit 2 project, my tap essay “Everything You Need To Know About Life”, I haven’t tweeted or posted it on Facebook yet. However, I still have gotten a lot of love on Tapestry. The staff has featured my tap essay in their Featured section, which makes me feel pretty great about my essay. I keep getting emails of people “loving” and “subscribing” to my stories, however I can’t seem to figure out just how many “loves” or “subscribers” I have…just another flaw in the Tapestry system.

Either way, I’m pretty excited to share my tap essay with my blog, followed by my Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook followers.  I’ll post a link below, and would greatly appreciate anyone showing some love on my story!

https://readtapestry.com/s/yrUEAqGOJ/

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Jeopardy Time!!!!!

While I’m having dinner and watching TV with my fellow roommates, Jeopardy came up with its well-known music which some may find annoying. I don’t find Jeopardy that entertaining as it brings attention to how little I know about national history or any fact at all aside from the rare pop culture questions that come up (even that… I don’t get them correct often).

I don’t know about you, but the part of my brain that retains information doesn’t work efficiently under pressure. When watching the three competitors call out the price and the category for their question, I wonder “are you ready? ARE  YOU READY?” because I am curious to if they have a switch where their brain categorizes information appropriately for the question and blurt out the answer. And I also wonder, “how do they stay so calm?” because if I was asked a question that most average people don’t ask me and was given 5 seconds to answer it, I would freak out, excrete nervous sweat, and be flustered and demand more  time from the host and the producers.

It’s amazing that these contestants have so much information in their brain. I wonder if they have secret VIP access to more than the 10%-20% (the average percentage) of the brain’s system . If they do, I envy them. I want my VIP pass too. Where can I get one?

In the current society where most people obtain information through technological advances (aka smartphones and laptops), I think it’s kind of cool to be basically be your own search engine. From what I see, most of these people probably don’t use Google too often. I wish I could ask the competitors “how do you know all of this?” I wonder if they’re born with the ability to absorb any kind of information they counter or if they had to study and meticulously work for their knowledge.
Tell me your secret!

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The Creative Process: an illustrated guide

A few weeks ago in class we were asked to doodle our workspace and the creative process we used to make our video projects. It’s an intriguing subject to reflect on, and I thought I might share my sketches here — particularly since they’re done with Paper, an iPad app I’ll be reviewing shortly.

image

This is a garishly-colored version of my desk. I’ve always admired folks who can work in public, but when I actually want to get things done I have to quarantine myself in my room until I’m finished. I do my best work late at night, keep a collage of cool pictures pinned to my wall for inspiration, and have my guitar within arm’s reach in case I get stuck and want to play some music to clear my head.

image

The second sketch here is a far more streamlined version of my work process while making the video project: it’s chronologically correct, but a more genuine model would include far more dithering, swearing, and acquisition of tea. Illustrating a work process was an interesting exercise in turning complex ideas into little symbols, and it was neat to break down a somewhat more jumbled topic into discrete categories like this.

Project Done… Onto the Next one!

Taking four English classes in college is pretty tough. I mean, it is my major and all but when all those classes add up, projects stack up and there is a never-ending process.

I love writing. I love my teachers (I’ve been lucky over the years getting very positive teachers that are interactive with students). However, sometimes I think there is a miscommunication between the English professors (or the department itself) and the students.
Now lets take one professor who has maybe three to 4 projects over the semester for his or her students. In my situation, and my sure for many other students as well, lets times that by four or five. I noticed that many professors have similar schedule and rhythms and that can be good in that it is predictable so the students know what to expect but also at the same time it’s counterproductive where we, the students are overloaded with projects at similar time spans over time and are blitzed from all sides. And when I am done with a project for one class, another one attacks me before I can take a breath.
Although this becomes a rant and not much of a positive post, I must admit that these long-term projects are better than the practical tests most teachers assign every few weeks. I study for tests and try my best on them but over time when doing projects that allow me to interact with teachers as well as my fellow peers, it is more eye-opening and productive than filling bubbles on a scantron while compulsively chewing on my gum, thinking it’ll help me with my nerves and hopefully my test results.

I am not really clear if professors are aware that they are in similar trance as other professors. However, when a student is on a track of certain major, it is likely that instructors will be similar throughout (just different fields of expertise and personality) and  I think they should be aware of this situation.

 

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