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Archives: July 2007

Essential Reading: Flash 8 for Dummies

It is tempting to call Flash 8 for Dummies the Flash Bible but that already exists. Nevertheless, this title from the …for Dummies line is the standard for anyone looking to improve their Flash skills. The book starts off with the basic steps of creating a Flash movie and gradually discusses more advanced nuances like embedded video and ActionScript. Intermediate Flash users can skip ahead a couple of chapters and not miss a beat. The book includes detailed how-tos on adding interactivity, using buttons and actions and even creating preloaders. All in all, this a go-to guide that every multimedia reporter should have handy.

Visit the …for Dummies website to order a copy or purchase a previously owned copy here.

How to create your own panoramic images

Interactive panoramic images are popping up all over the web. Some of the best, like this Google Street View of Miami, give users a 360° view of a particular area. In the past this required an expensive camera or a lot of time. Now all you need is a digital camera and a little bit of patience. The following instructions will help you build a panorama similar to this interactive panorama of the WEB DuBois Centre in Ghana.

Most digital cameras have a feature that allows the photographer to line up the viewfinder to create a series of photographs that eventually become a panorama. If your camera doesn’t come with this feature you can either eyeball the area and merge the images in Photoshop or use AutoStitch to create the panorama.

Once you have the final image, follow the instructions at to upload the image into Flash. Add a little ActionScript and voila! Panorama!

Also on 10,000 Words:

4 Sites for viewing panoramas (and 3 ways to create them)

Got a bright idea? Get paid for it!

From the Knight Center:

Knight Foundation has launched year two of the Knight News Challenge and plans to award as much as $5 million for innovative ideas using digital experiments to transform community news. Applications will be accepted until Oct. 15, 2007.

Do you have a big idea for building community using bits and bytes? Cell phone documentaries? New operating software for news collectors? Journalism games? Nothing is too far out to qualify. With the slogan “You Invent It. We Fund It!” the contest is open to community-minded innovators worldwide, from software designers to journalists to citizens and students of any age.

Similarly the Searle Freedom Trust is seeking applicants for grants of up to $250,000 each for the next great new media idea. From SFT:

All ideas are welcome and will receive consideration. Proposals that may hold particular interest include fellowships for bloggers who focus on government spending, tort reform, or problems in higher education; projects that encourage emerging filmmakers and video producers and help them develop their talent; and podcasting.

SFT does not make grants to individuals. Grant applicants must have a nonprofit affiliation.

YouTube channels are the latest journalism tool

YouTube, the source of all things funny and under 30 seconds, is not only a great source of entertainment but is also an easy way to reach new readers/users. Most news websites now feature some sort of video that cannot be found on any other site. Why not share that unique or interesting video with the rest of the world? Several news organizations, including the Houston Chronicle, New York Times and CBS, already use the “channels” feature of the YouTube as a vehicle for sharing their content. For those concerned with maintaining brand identity, YouTube now offers a custom video player that can be tailored to suit your design needs. The company logo can also be added to right of every video produced. Video quality on YouTube can be less polished than proprietary video players. Luckily, Crunch Gear offers tips on optimizing your video for the web.

Google Street View debuts

Google Maps recently launched its Street View component that allows users to experience 360° panoramic street-level views of Denver, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Miami and New York. If you’re hoping to embed Street View in your site, you may have to wait awhile. Unlike the original Google maps, scraping images from Street View is prohibited by Google’s terms of service. Of course a few developers figured out how to hack their way into the system, but were quickly issued cease and desist orders by Google. No word on when a Street View API will be released, but in the meantime check out this view of Times Square and the Tour de France Live Checker.