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Merry Christmas!

by Emily Roberts ~ December 26th, 2010

I had one! This is what I got:
All 3 Toy Story movies in a 10 disk set, each movie on DVD, Blue Ray and digital copy + a special features disk
Pokemon Soul Silver (Cyndaquil for the win!)
A flip video camera (with a bee on it!)
Fingerless gloves that can become mittens
A lovely sweater
A scrabble-puzzle-a-day desk calendar
A $75 Amazon gift card
Some really nice cookware and glassware for my kitchen
A new deck of cards
And some lovely amethyst earrings from RC!

I will have to make some most excellent videos with this Flip. Shame I missed the deadline for the film fest. I had a great time in the evening with my family, and a fantastic Christmas dinner. I hope you, dear reader, had a delightful holiday and got everything you wanted!

Hey blog. I made something.

by Emily Roberts ~ December 16th, 2010

It’s an oots-style Christmas hydra. Enjoy!

There are 2 things I want you to do.

by Emily Roberts ~ December 1st, 2010

First, watch this.

It’s after Advent, so Christmas music is allowed, and it’s Die Toten Hosen, which makes it excellent.

Second, add this to your bookmarks bar, and destroy the heck out of the internet. It is great fun, and especially helpful at this time if you dislike German punk music. Thank you, Erik, for enabling this destruction!

Finals occur next week, then winter break. Hopefully it will be a peaceful break, and I will get a lot done. The part of me that is thinking about Christmas shopping is right now trying to be occupied with studying instead. I will allow myself the bare minimum of Christmas cheer, and that is Die Roten Rosen. Here’s the album version of the above song. Most of that album is fantastic. Some of it goes too far, but that is the point of punk music isn’t it!

DS106 Plays Caption This

by Reverend ~ November 16th, 2010

It all started with this Retweet by Melanie McBride this morning:

It just so happens that I caught this in the stream and my interrest was piqued when I saw Google Street View mentioned because right now the ds106 internauts are using Google Street View to create a narrative about their childhood home, a particular trip, etc. using Google Street View. And when I saw this link to the “seedy side” of Google Street View I couldn’t resist. Jon Rafman’s Tumblr blog that collects all these images is extremely provocative, and whether or not all the images are real—that aquarium seems like a hard sell as Garrett Bush mentioned in class tonight—a vision of the seemingly invisible realities of the police state, prostitution, public sex, and other random acts of craziness is fascinating.

All this to say I spent part of tonight’s class talking about this site, and sharing the examples. And what quickly became apparent to me is that everyone of these images is a prompt for a story. We all were taken in by them, but also we were let with a million questions, and the idea of stitching the story back together became an almost natural urge. I’d love to do a forensic/detective narrative using Google Street View, or a scavenger hunt on Google Earth, but that will have to wait until I actually have a plan. What did happen tonight, however, was kinda fun nonetheless. After looking at the images, I spontaneously asked the class broke up into groups and tasked them with captioning as many of these crazy pictures as possible in the time left of class. And they did. Not only that, what they did was very, very fun. I really can’t defend the “learning objective” (vomit) of this in-class assignment though, I had no other reason for making them do it other than I had an idea it might be fun, and oh was it ever. Look at the fruits of their sardonic joy.

You can’t see me… I am a Ninja!

Modern Day Abbey Road!

Hulk Smash!

Slippery when wet

“Is this how the squirrels do it?”

“Jinkeys, looks like Scooby found the Fire Sauce.”

“I better get out of here before her husband catches me.”

The Pink Portal to the Great Beyond

Welcome to STARK industries…..building the future!

Rock'n the "manddals"

Father time was not nice to you, Skeletor!

Pluto you've got you lay off the acid

Coming soon…..Google Inception!

Service Worker's Revenge

Lemonade: $1 per hour.

Dog Park Rejects

Hazards of Narcolepsy

Even heroes have the right to dream.

"Mom! There's a spaceship outside!"

Flowers do not equal happiness.

Flipper Five!!!!

I told you not to text and walk at the same time!

Police Officer “This is how you make the Y! Again from the top!”

“Onward, to Camelot!”

Hey Maverick, lets go play volleyball

Hey, HEY WAIT! I’ll take another box of the Thin Mints!

"Take me! I'm one of you!"

ultimate walk of shame


Juliet, hey, JULIET!


Image of The Birds

THE BIRDS!!!!!!!!!

Whoa. What happened to the pool?!

United States of Google America

Hello November.

by Emily Roberts ~ November 7th, 2010

I have an extra hour. I will make a brief blog post.
The grey linen I chose for RC’s pillow is resistant to any type of transfer. Pencil and chalk lines don’t show up on it at all. I suppose next step is to make an iron-on transfer. That means another trip to the craft store, but then, I’m not too sad about that. I need to go to Hancock Fabrics anyway to find fabric for the rest of the pillow.
The Iron Avatarist theme this month is PC games. I got some ideas from my nerd friends, if I wasn’t working so hard on not working on this history paper I’d make them.
I have some ideas for animations and future blog posts. We’ll see if those happen.
Only 5 weeks left in the semester. Holy cow.

Pumpkin carving contest. Also, purple hair.

by Emily Roberts ~ October 29th, 2010

We entered UMW’s pumpkin contest this year. We based our design on some doodles we drew. Awesometown is my doodle, the flaming bat is Erin’s. The “Titan” was Erin’s idea as well.

We did not win. In fact, the judges mostly just looked at it in a somewhat confused manner for 3 seconds before passing by. It was fun though.


Awesometown. It’s made of lines.

Poor Awesometown, being besieged from above and below.

It actually looks pretty cool lit up. If the judges had seen this they might’ve actually looked.

I don’t usually have burgundy hair, but now I do. I kinda like it, but I don’t think I’ll stick with it once this wears off. I should get a better pic of it though.

We did not win this contest, but I did win later this evening a contest in which I ate a donut hanging in the air without my hands faster than my opponents (Erin and Meredith.) I’m so classy.

Here is the owl that I won.

Ah, school-sponsored Halloween activities, with cheesy contests and prizes from Five Below. Harmless fun.

Updates on the pillows for RC when I stop being too busy to start them.

The Shining Commentary

by Reverend ~ October 29th, 2010

So I just wrapped up my commentary on Kubrick’s The Shining. One of my top 3 films of all time, and it feels good because I’ve been wanting to do this for a while. And luckily I gave my digital storytelling class an assignment that provided the opportunity. I’ve pretty much been eating my own dog food all semester, which has been important for the evolution of this class this semester, and taught me a ton.

The actual assignment was simple in concept: provide a commentary track on a scene (or series of scenes) from a favorite film. This assignment was aimed towards getting the students to consider and get familiar with working through digital video, using Andy Rush‘s awesome Digital Video site as a resource. I was hoping this assignment would encompass everything from ripping DVDs to downloading YouTube videos to compressing and converting codecs to editing video and laying down a voice over track. One thing is for sure, those students with Macs in the class probably have a bit of an advantage when it comes to digital video because Moviemaker only imports WMV files, and that is pretty much a huge dead end for web video.

And despite that two semesters running now this has been the most difficult section of the course to teach, I do love setting them loose on digital video even though I know it will be a humbling experience for both them and me. I constantly get my ass kicked in this department, but I still think having a strong sense of how to rip, access, and remix video is important enough that I’m willing to take the time and energy to work through it with them all. That said, getting digital video right is hard. It takes patience, a meticulous sensibility, and some pretty extensive knowledge and understanding of how the proprietary codec market works. I’m somewhat a novice at digital video, but I always have fun with it which is not often enough. But I do think it is vital for some idea of literacy moving forward, and using video to comment on our culture and mashup various clips and resources (our next video project) is becoming the lingua franca of the web and giving them the opportunity to work on it and take it seriously is important, especially using a series of free and/or cheap tools.

What’s interesting is that this course has 27 people, and less than 12 got their video project in on time? Slackers will be tolerated with digital video, I knew it was coming, I even warned them, but nonetheless video beat most of them into submission.

ds106: Video Commentary Assignment

by Reverend ~ October 24th, 2010

Note: I’m cross-posting this here as well as on the ds106 course blog for two reasons. 1) It pulls widely from Andy Rush’s unbelievable Digital Video resource blog/site, and I figured this would be a great thing to highlight for anyone working with video in or out of the classroom. In particular check out the “Fast, Cheap, and Under Control” –it’s like Xmas for teaching video. 2) I had problems with the video portion of ds106 last semester, and was hoping for some feedback. This is the first of a three (actually four assignment) video run. I’ll be blogging all of them, and feedback is welcome.

For this assignment I am going to ask each of you to select several scenes from your favorite films (or one of your favorites), and edit them together and comment on some of the filmic elements of the scenes? Why do you like these scenes? What strikes you about them? What makes them good cinema? Is there a subtext at work in this film? In short, I want you to comment on the scenes as a narrator explaining to your audience explaining what you find important about the scene, and why.

If you want more specific example of what I m talking about, here is a commentary of the 1978 zombie films Dawn of the Dead I did a couple of years ago.

I’ll also be working on a new version for the The Shining over the next few days as well.

And now, how do you do this? Take the jump for some recommendations.

First and foremost, remember to consult the unbelievably useful resource for all things video provided us by the great Andy Rush

Getting the digital video
Now, chances are you’ll probably be able to find a good number of the scenes you need one video sharing sites like YouTube, etc. This would probably be the easiest solution, and the following tools should be a great help in downloading them:
Fastest YouTube Downloader (PC/Mac) – Seriously, it’s fast!
Video Download Helper – Download YouTube videos in the browser
1-click YouTube Video Downloader

Alternatively, Andy Rush also blogged about using VLC to record segmets of a DVD straight to your hard drive on a Mac or PC. This could be an easy and useful alternative for those of you who still own DVDs, like me :)

If YouTube is not your answer, you can also rip scenes right from a DVD:
DVD Fab (PC) –
MacTheRipper (Mac) –
Mac DVDRipper Pro ($10)

And finally, if you already have your film in some digital video format on your computer (mp4, avi, divx, etc.), then jump to the next part.

Getting the specific clips you need
Onc you have gotten digital video of the film you will be commenting on, you will need to get the specific clips you want to talk about. This is where I would recommend a tool like MPEG Streamclip (PC/Mac), though there are others. Important: When using a Mac and working with video editing/conversion tools like MPEG Streamclip (or even Quicktime, Evom (Mac), and Handbrake (PC/Mac)) I highly recommend that you make sure to install Perian, which is a free utility that adds a series of codecs recognition tools across various video compression tools on your computer.

What MPEG Streamclip will allow you to do is select and trim exactly the clips you want to discuss from the longer scenes. Doing this in MPEG Streamclip will save you time and energy before importing it into a video editor like Moviemaker or iMovie, both of which bloat video unnecessarily and take a lot more time. Not that you may have to cut a longer scene up into various clips, that you will then edit together in your final version. Also, when converting the clips, make sure they are the same aspect ratio, and that you are saving them in the proper codec for your video editing software.

Editing your video, and adding the audio
Most of you will have on of two basic video editing tools: Moviemaker and iMovie. I will expect you have some basic competence in either of these. If not, there is this thing called Google…. What you will need to do here is import your clips, organize them accordingly to the logic of your commentary, and then record your commentary on top of the clips (which can be done in either of these applications).

Also, if you don;t have either of these tools and are lookingfor an online editor, check out Jaycut, it is free but there are alos some real limitations. Also, Videospin might be a good alternatives for you PC users.

Upload it to you Video Hosting Service of choice
Finally, upload your finished video to you video service of choice. Here are some recommendations if you don’t have one already:
* YouTube –
* Vimeo (HD) –

This assignment is due by this Thursday, October 28th.

The Art of Commenting

by Reverend ~ October 21st, 2010

king of comments
Image credit: Not in HD

In DS106 one of the things that I have been pushing harder than anything else is commenting on each other’s work. I want it to be honest, plentiful, and sustained. In fact, I have the same expectations of commenting as I do of blogging, and, as Alan Levine notes, “Commenting is sharing, and its easy. We all need to spend more time commenting.” (And we all know the cogdog practices what he preaches.) That is absolutely right, and the value and importance of commenting is so greatly underrated in the larger discussions of blogging and social media in higher ed. What’s more, a lack of concern with absence of commenting when using blogs in a course is often a sign that what you are trying to accomplish with “social media” and “networked learning,” could probably be achieved with any old media.

In my mind commenting is key to such an experiment as DS106, it’s a sign of both engagement, distributed sharing, and relationships outside of some central discourse of learning. With every comment, there is the possibility of a whole new conversation. It’s not lways the case, and not all comments are equal, but the expectation has to be established immediately in my mind. Be part of the community, even if somewhat forced and arbitrary as we often find in any given class at the beginning. We all have to move beyond the impulse to remain unengaged and do the minimum, without the willingness to to explore and discover how we learn out in the open you can not truly be a part of this course. The whole enterprise requires that we feed off each other’s ideas, we think hard about how we create for others, and both offer and respond to feedback regularly.

There have been very few of the over 7000 comments on my blog that I have not appreciated. In fact, comments have been, and remain, the lifeblood of my blog. And when they start going, or I am failing to get them, it tells me something. It tells me is that I am not commenting enough on other people’s work, I am not reading widely enough, I am not linking to other people’s work enough. Because comments are born out of a reciprocal sense of interaction, community, and respect. A relationship with an audience that is both present and mindful of your wok, and ready and willing to push you to more, by way of links, ideas, thoughts, and criticisms. All important, and all part of what makes this space more than simply “journaling.” It’s conversation, it’s relationships, and it’s a sense of community born through a holy trinity of characteristics the best blogs exude: personality, honesty, and thoughtfulness.

And this is exactly what I said to the ds106 internauts this evening: if you aren’t getting comments, than you aren’t commenting on the work of others enough. if you aren’t getting comments, than you aren’t linking to the work of others enough. And if you aren’t getting comments, than you aren’t engaging your audience enough. And I have no qualms with saying any of it, it’s part of what I expect of this class. Understand you are engaging an audience, understand you are part of a conversation, and understand you have to take responsibility for that fact. I can and will not comment for you, but I will engage you once you do.

One of the many things I have learned from ds106 thus far this semester is that comments are key. And the fewer you have on your blog, the fewer you’ve made on the blogs of others. And it has proven to be absolutely right when looking at the 28 blogs I am following regularly for this class. Those who comment get comments, those who don’t, don’t. and for me, that tells the tale better than anything else has thus far this semester.

Kenny Powers: Greatest Hits

by Reverend ~ October 21st, 2010

My digital storytelling class is about to embark on the wonderful world of video story telling, and I found a beautiful example from my favorite new HBO series, Eastbound & Down. I don’t know why I like this show so much, but the character matchup of Kenny Powers and Stevie Janowski just crack me up to no end. Anyway, I wonder if I can work in an assignment to try and make the cheeziest video possible, using this as the model.