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Mark S. Luckie

7 Show-stopping headphones

As any audiophile will tell you, good audio starts with a good pair of headphones. If you want your headphones to look as good as they sound, check out some of the cool models below.

 

Swarovski DJ Headphones

These Swarovski crystal-studded Audio Technica headphones will make both your audio and you shine. At £1799.99 (about $2,900 USD) they may be pricey, but at least they come with free delivery.

 

Philips O’Neill Stretch Headphones

These cool headphones also come with some cool features — a tangle-proof cord, a stretch headband, and soft ear cushions — and for made for those on the go.

 

Skullcandy Roc Nation Aviator

Add a touch of class to your audio experience with these headphones that include suede and leather lining and gold accents, in addition to some powerful sound.

 

Miles Davis In-Ear Headphones

The spirit of legendary jazz musician Miles Davis are invoked in these in-ear headphones specially made for listening to jazz music.

 

Crochet Bow Headphones

These handmade, crocheted headphones look both cute and comfortable. While there are no guarantees on the audio quality, at least you’ll look pretty sweet.

 

Star Wars Headphones

R2D2, Boba Fett, Darth Vader, and other Star Wars characters and iconography are emblazoned on these Coloud headphones that include a built-in microphone/remote.

 

9mm Bullet Headphones

Who shot ya? You’ll be number one with a bullet with these in-ear headphones styled after some heavy-duty ammunition.

Rip and read: 6 OCR tools put to the test

Journalists have been handed wonky PDF files or had to scan mountains of paper documents for years, but until relatively recently there hasn’t been an easy way to translate those docs into digital text. Several tools for converting PDF files into text using optical character recognition or OCR for short have popped up recently, but which one works best?

To see which OCR tools did the job and which ones fell flat, a one-page online document was printed and scanned on an HP DeskJet F4280 printer at 200 DPI. The results are below and you can view the original document here.

 

SimpleOCR

Downloadable software available for PC

Accuracy: The software gets the majority of the text right, but portions of the document are translated into indecipherable characters, especially the italic text.

View results of OCR with SimpleOCR

 

DocumentCloud

Private document storehouse and analysis tool for newsrooms and journalists

Accuracy: Pretty close with a few errors here and there.

View results of OCR with DocumentCloud

 

SayWhat Translator

OCR app available from iTunes for $9.99

Accuracy: Total fail. Couldn’t recognize a single word. The results aren’t much better with larger or less text.

 

 

Google Docs

Free document creation, sharing, and storage system with OCR feature

Accuracy: Close to perfect with a few odd characters throughout the text.

View results of OCR with Google Docs

 

OCR Online

Online OCR and conversion tool; several format and language options; free with restrictions

Accuracy: Near perfect with a few missing punctuation marks. Great results for a free tool.

View results of OCR with OCR Online

 

Adobe Acrobat X Pro

PDF management software with OCR capabilities; $499

Accuracy: Results are near perfect and comparable to OCR Online. Which means unless you already have the program or are willing to pay 500 bucks, OCR Online is a more attractive choice.

View results of OCR with Acrobat X Pro

Interactive video: View the world from 360 degrees

Online panoramic photos were already cool when they were just high-resolution, interactive images. Now, the bar has been set even higher with interactive video that allows the viewer to experience a scene from an infinite number of angles. The following are examples of how the immersive technology is being used online:

 
In what is reminiscent of an explosion-filled Michael Bay movie, visitors to the Dallas Cowboys website can experience the implosion of Texas Stadium from inside the arena as well as control the angle they see it from. Even more impressive is the navigation system below the video that shows you what area of the stadium you are viewing.

 
Edmonton Journal captured the excitement and action of a massive dodgeball game by placing a camera in the middle of the action. Instead of a single-camera video or a text story describing 2,000 participants hurling 1,000 red dodgeballs at each other you can experience it yourself.

 
Want to go on a wilderness adventure via helicopter but want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth first? The folks at Nimmo Bay have you covered with their virtual helicopter tour. As you view the video shot from the helicopter, you can use your mouse to see the beautiful vistas from whatever angle you choose.

 
CNN’s interactive video shot in Haiti was featured in this previous post when panoramic video was just starting to catch on. The video, however remains innovative, compelling, and worth a look.

 
Since last year’s post, there have been some significant advances in 360° video and the iPhone app BEP360 is a prime example. The app features an interactive component that pairs augmented reality with 360° video to create one of the first interactive, augmented reality music videos.

As you turn your body and your iPhone, the video reveals more of the action around you. The experience is too cool to capture in words so be sure to check it out.

 
The advantages of interactive video are pretty clear: instead of choosing an angle for the viewer to see, the viewer can experience the scene however they choose. Of course, producing such a video takes resources and equipment, but based on these examples it is worth the effort.

Starting a blog from scratch: One blogger’s tale

How do I make my blog popular?

It’s a question many bloggers who are just starting out ask themselves. To gain some insight on the process, I talked with Charli Penn-Watkins, author of the five-month old blog Man Wife and Dog, a daily account of her new journey into married life, about the successes and pitfalls she has encountered and how she’s working to expand her brand.

 
MSL: Why did you decide to start blogging?

CPW: I love to write. I love my husband [Gibran]. And I love our marriage. This blog felt like the way to join all three passions. I also personally believe that chronicling something from the beginning is the perfect way to look back and reflect over time. So when I got engaged I vowed to write about my marriage from the very start. Now I’m all about keeping a daily record of my thoughts, experiences, and highs and lows involving my marriage.

 
MSL: What is your blog about?

CPW: Ultimately, my marriage. I recently married the man of my dream — my soul mate if you will — and after dating for seven years, we’ve got the whole love thing down solid, but it’s the marriage thing we’re working on perfecting — together, of course. So I’ve chosen to chronicle that journey online and to be as transparent as possible as so as to create a dialogue for other women who can somehow see some piece of a reflection of their own life or story within mine.

 
MSL: How often do you blog?

CPW: Blogging is a much bigger commitment than most people realize, I think, even for a writer. So, in the beginning it took some getting used to so I only blogged two or three times a week. Then I got hooked and now I blog almost daily, and I’ve learned my readers really appreciate that. They say they like coming back every morning to find something new up for discussion.

 
MSL: What kind of strategies have you used to promote your blog? Do they work?

CPW: I’m finding that promoting my blog is the tricky part because the key is to target the right audience, and that’s not always easy to find. For now I’m all about utilizing social media; something I know and understand well. I created a Facebook fan page for my blog and rebranded my personal Twitter account to match as well.

I also joined a lot of online blog communities that offer support and multiple opportunities for partnerships and link shares. Right now my favorites are BlogFrog which even lets you set up your own blogger communities and share widgets for it on your site and 20 Something Bloggers. I feel that they’re most inclusive of new bloggers who aren’t “famous” or “top listed”.

I’m able to meet lots of other new and amateur bloggers like me who are blogging about similar topics, visit their blogs and then include links back to my site using my custom Gravatar to comment on their sites and within the community forums. I also make a point of fully optimizing my posts and images for search engine terms.

So far I’ve found the most success through promoting my blog on my personal Facebook page and through my Facebook fan page, as well as through search engine referrals for relevant keyword searches. Adding a Facebook “Like” button plug-in to my WordPress blog really helps because a lot of people give when people give my posts a “thumbs up” it pops up in their personal feeds for their network and friends to see.

 
MSL: What are some of the obstacles you have had to overcome?

CPW: Before I started blogging personally, I spent years as an online editor for large professional brands. This meant I had a lot of experience working with content management systems and writing for the web but there was always a team of developers and tech support to help with all the back end stuff we never had to see or do.

Now that my blog is privately hosted it’s up to me to understand how to edit each individual element without the use of a dashboard or simple CMS. It’s really forced me to teach myself each step of the blogging process and to take my knowledge past basic HTML and to focus on CSS and stuff.

 
MSL: What obstacles do you still face?

CPW: I’m still lost on a lot of the CSS and the tweaking of all the behind the scenes stuff, but it’s a lot of fun learning as I go. I can spend hours trying to find and install a plug-in I need and make it look the way I want it to. I don’t mind the learning curve, but I am constantly afraid I’ll break my blog and there will be on one in the next cube for me to beg to fix it.

I think what’s probably most frustrating also is knowing what I want to do, but not having the skill/knowledge to do it myself and having to seek out someone to teach me how or do it for me whose services I can actually afford.

 
MSL: What keeps you motivated?

CPW: Although I’ve only been blogging for a short time, I already get a lot of feedback from readers saying that they appreciate my honesty and that they got something useful or therapeutic from one of my posts. I have a 9 to 5 so that gets me through the late nights I stay up planning posts and tweets and Facebook status updates for the next day.

 
MSL: How do you define success for your blog?

CPW: In two ways: 1. Whenever I put a post that I’m proud of I feel successful because I’m doing what I set out to do. 2. When someone I don’t know randomly shouts me out on Twitter or leaves a comment saying “I love your blog and I visit every day” that makes me feel like something’s working out.

 
You can follow Charli and her blog at Man Wife and Dog Blog.

Happy V-Day: Valentines for Journalists (Part III)

Can you feel the love? Let the journalist in your life know you care this Valentine’s Day with these specially-designed digital cards. This year’s love notes were submitted by you, the 10,000 Words readers, both on the blog and through the Twitter hashtag #journolove.

Feel free to share or distribute any of the cards and check out valentines from previous years here and here.

 

Submitted by @JRudis

 

Submitted by @modernsara

 

Submitted by @DebGH

 

Submitted by Sandi

 

Submitted by @Carolcdt

 

Submitted by @ohmykevin

 

Submitted by @nortonbrian

The winning journo valentine caption was submitted by @SarahMaslinNir. Sarah will receive selected paper versions of this year’s valentines.

Thanks to all who contributed!

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