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For a post over at the Washington Post’s @innovations blog, I wanted to communicate just how fast Wikipedia users created and populated the Japan earthquake Wikipedia page after the disaster struck. I wanted to create a time-lapse video using screenshots and tried to find the least laborious way of creating one. Here’s how I did it:
Every Wikipedia page has a revisions history tab in the top right corner of the page. I right clicked pages time stamped one minute apart and opened each revision page in its own tab. I launched the Firefox extension CopyAllURLs which grabbed the web addresses of each tab and copied the list of links to the clipboard, which I then pasted into a text file.
Next, I used the Firefox extension Grab Them All to capture screenshots of each the links in the text file, which were then automatically saved in sequence in a folder on my computer.
Here’s the fun part: I launched QuickTime Pro and selected File > Open Image Sequence… and selected the folder I created. Within seconds I had a time-lapse video of the screenshots. I went back and cropped some of the images in Photoshop for clarity and pulled them back in to QuickTime to create a new video. The result was truly captivating (click the image to view the video).
Wikipedia automatically archives previous revisions of every article, but for those websites that don’t, you can use the free software SiteShoter (Windows only) to save screenshots of any website at predetermined intervals.
UMapper is a freemium tool for building embeddable online maps and is a favorite among tech-savvy journos. Its unique features make it stand apart from similar mapping tools and its flexibility means it likely has the right function to suit your mapping needs. Here’s some examples of what UMapper can do:
Create a quick embeddable map
UMapper makes it easy and fast to create a map that contains any number of points or markers. You can add text, images, audio, and more to your markers, and add lines and shapes to your map just by clicking on the map and entering some information. You can also batch upload data for multiple markers using UMapper.
Create a Twitter map
UMapper can be used to create a map that displays the latest tweets that contain a selected hashtag or keywords. To do this, create a new map and select the “Twitter search” template found under the Templates tab. Then, in the title of your map, write your headline, followed by a colon, then your search operator. For example, a map with the title “Hawaii: tsunami” and centered on the state would result in the map below.
Create a Map quiz
To mark the recent visit to the U.S. by Chinese President Hu Jintao, the Washington Post created a map that asked people to identify famous Chinese landmarks and locations of recent events. The map was created with UMapper using its “GeoDart Game” template. For instructions on how to create your own, click here.
Display the latest weather
Most major news sites have some sort of weather page or feature, but for those of us who quickly want to show off the weather in any part of the world, UMapper has us covered. Just select “Weather Map” under the Templates tab and center your map on the location you want to display. The resulting map looks like the one below.
For more information on UMapper and its features, visit www.umapper.com.
A 404 page is the standard web page displayed when an online visitor calls a page that doesn’t exist on the site’s server. The error can happen for a variety of reasons, including a mistyping a URL or clicking a dead link.
The error code itself may be standard, but the 404 page doesn’t have to be. Many news websites create special 404 pages that include site navigation, search options, links to popular site features, or any combination of the above to ensure the visitor doesn’t arrive at a dead end.
Below are examples of standard and creative 404 pages from various media websites:
In the old days, it wasn’t uncommon for rolls of photo film (remember those?) to sit around undeveloped and forgotten. Nowadays, it’s commonplace for digital photos to never leave the camera. For those of us who still appreciate holding photos in our hands, here are a few ways to print those digital images without a lot of time or effort.
Snapfish was one of the first websites to offer online photo printing and years later, it’s still one of those best ways to print your photos without leaving your computer. Snapfish allows you to upload any number of digital images to the site and print them in a variety of sizes and on various media. A reasonable shipping fee gets your printed photos delivered directly to your doorstep.
Many of the top printer manufacturers like HP, Canon, Brother, and Epson all have iPhone and iPad apps that allow the user to print photos wirelessly using a wifi connection. The Canon app, for example, lets you select photos from your mobile device, choose the size and paper type, and connect to a nearby printer using a local wireless network.
If you’ve already uploaded those digital pics to Facebook, you can easily print them using sites like Foto Friend that allow you to connect your Facebook account to the printing service. After you log in to Facebook via a link on the Foto Friend site, you can select images from your photo albums or photos from your friends’ albums. You can also print Facebook photos at Kodak kiosks at select Target stores.
Find a local store
Many pharmacy/grocery stores that have photo departments now allow you to upload your prints online and pick them up in the store. Both Walgreens and CVS here in the States offer the service, as do Tesco stores in the UK.
If you’re still not ready to print those digital photos, Mental Floss has some tips on how to store and save your files so you can retrieve them later.
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