Harry Potter in the Hood…

What can I say? Enjoy!

Thanks to just giblets for posting about this gem.

~Susan Mellott

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Harry Potter 2.0 – Sims Snape Teaches Slytherins to Dance

I was looking for episodes on the internet of some TV shows for my sister and was having a hard time finding “So You Think You Can Dance” (which apparently Fox does not put on their website). But I looked for anything on YouTube and found Snape teaches Slytherins to dance. It is excellent and was created using the game Sims 2.

And fourth-rose has also written a story that goes with the video, in which Professor Snape, in order to make sure Slytherin doesn’t make fools of themselves at the upcoming Yule Ball, teaches them to dance. It is absolutely hilarious and well worth the read.

Looking around, I found that people were writing additional Harry Potter stories using Sims to illustrate them. Here is a page of Sims outtakes from a chapter of one of those stories by CloudlessNights. You can find her work by checking out her tags and links, like Harry Potter starring The Sims: Book 1 – The Philosophers Stone and Book 2 – Chamber of Secrets.

She also has a great series called the Timeturner Incident written by the Sims. As she says in episode 1: “Please bear in mind that visiting sims can’t be controlled, so whatever they did, they did it all on their own accord. I was only watching in shock, awe and amusement, and taking a lot of pictures ;-)”

And check out the Harry Potter Sim Videos on YouTube. The assortment of creative ideas is outstanding. And there is an outstanding series of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with voice actors and everything. Here is chapter 1 (he has disabled embedding the video). These were created starting in October of 2005. It is interesting to compare to the movie.

And of course, if you just search on Sims2, you end up with a ton of fun videos. Who would have thought people could be so creative with this new medium?

Enjoy.

~Susan Mellott

Politics 2.0 – Are Republicans Afraid of Us?

The CNN/YouTube Democratic Presidential Debates took place on Monday, July 23, 2007. It was a first for that type of debate format and was quite popular, especially among the younger viewers who are perhaps more drawn to this more unconventional approach. CNN says it got a boost in the 18-34 demographic – the most ever for a cable news debate. And those are real-time numbers, not including younger viewers (or any viewers) who may have watched a stream or a Tivo’ed show or even the post-event sound-biteable nuggets on YouTube itself.

Here is a great recap of the debates provided by YouTube. I love the format, it briefly states the question they were asked and then shows their response. You can also watch the videos of each question. There are also the questions that were submitted but not used and video responses to the debates.It is really ‘by the people’, people like you and me and it is real questions from real people. There were difficult questions asked and real feedback given. You can also view the questions that were submitted but not used.

I watched several of the unused questions (there were almost 3000 entries) and was impressed at the thoughtfulness and interest expressed by so many people. Sure, there were some that were just people goofing around, but that doesn’t negate the large amount of people who had real concerns and real questions and who clearly are interested in trying to make the correct decision with their vote.

Mitt Romney (Republican candidate who has refused to participate in the CNN/YouTube debate format) said “[The debates] ought to be held at a higher level than having to answer questions from a snowman.” (referring to a question about global warming that was presented on the video as a snowman sock puppet). Well all I can say is lighten up! What, your dignity and stature doesn’t allow you to interact with people who don’t care about all that? It reminds me of people who read a very thought provoking post and all they can do is nitpick about the spelling or grammar. I guess that is safer (and easier) than actually stating an opinion. And it makes a point that you feel you are better in some way than they are (without actually having to do anything that might disprove it).

I think that the Republicans (I’m sure there are exceptions, but I don’t know who they are) are a bunch of control-freaks that can’t handle anything that they have not orchestrated to the nth degree. I think they feel they know better than we do and that we are all a bunch of ignoramuses (ignorami) that need their fatherly protection so we don’t run with a stick and poke someone’s eye out. Shame on the Republican candidates for thinking they are too good to have a voter ask a question directly. Format be dammed, a voter’s question is a voter’s question and deserves an answer.

And there are plenty of Republican party youtube videos put out by the candidates or their people. But of course this is the format they like best, they talk about what they want to say and you listen. No input allowed.

I also think they don’t want anyone telling them what to do and will go out of their way to not do something just to prove it. And they feel no need to explain why they do what they do. At the NAACP GOP Presidential Candidate forum on July 12, one lone republican candidate showed up, Tan Tancredo. The NAACP invited all the Republican candidates to the forum, put out 9 podiums, but only one Republican showed up. All the Democratic Presidential hopefuls showed up for their forum. The excuses given by the Republican campaigns mostly had to do with scheduling conflicts–just too busy to make it.

Here is a telling photograph of the nine podiums and the one candidate. And here is the post that led me to this picture and from which I found out about the NAACP debacle.

There are a group of republicans who are asking their candidates to debate in this format and their website is called Save the Debate. I applaud their progressive attitude and their acumen in recognizing that they stand to lose a lot more by not attending than by having to answer a tough question or two. You can also sign a petition on that website, requesting that the candidates attend. Personally, I doubt that their opinions and requests matter that much to the republican candidates. But if enough people stand behind it, maybe they will get the clue.

~Susan Mellott

Coverpop Mosaics – Mashups like you won’t believe!

I ran across these and they blew my mind! It is called coverpop and it is a website created by Jim Bumgardner, of KrazyDad.com, to house his experimental coverpop project. Per his FAQ page: ”
A coverpop can be a unique work of art, a software toy, or a fun way to shop for stuff.

Each coverpop is an interactive mosaic, made of tiny images, such as magazine covers. These are called “micro thumbnails”. As you drag the mouse over each micro thumbnail, it pops up to a full-sized thumbnail image, and provides some information about the item. For some coverpops, you can click again to produce either a full-sized image, or to go to another website to learn more information about the item.

Some coverpops arrange the images by time, by price, or color. Other coverpops arrange the images into a photomosaic.”

If you go to main coverpop site , you will see a random choice of oneof his coverpop mosaics. You can choose from the list on the right side to see specific ones. He creates mashups using flickr, youtube, amazon and other web 2.0 apps to create really amazing mosaics that you can spend endless time browsing and playing with.

He has a set of youtube video mosaics too. And just plain mosaics that are really interesting. Here is a description of how it works and here is a brief description from that page:

“Data for each coverpop is prepared using Perl and the ImageMagick library. Space-filling is implemented (with visual feedback) using Processing (p5). The interface itself is presented in Flash/Actionscript within a PHP webpage.

I download information about all the covers using various means. I use Amazon Web Services for the Amazon-powered coverpops, and I screen-scrape websites, such as the Visco archive for the Science Fiction coverpop. This is done using a Perl program. Then I download all the thumbnails (again with Perl), and analyse them for color, using ImageMagick to reduce each image to 1×1 and recording the color of the remaining pixel.”

You can also generate banners to put on your website with various mosaics like Harry Potter on Amazon or Time’s Top 100 Novels. These are linked to amazon and you receive credit when someone buys through your site except he receives the credit every 6 times or so. I created one just to try it out (you can generate the code from his site) and put it on the bottom of my Goggle Blogger blog Along the Path to 2.0. It is at the bottom of the blog. Go take a look at it! Unfortunately I can’t put it on my WordPress blog yet since it is hosted by WordPress.com. I hope to correct that soon!

To learn about new coverpop or just to find out more, you can go to his blog. He has a lot more interesting things on there.

He has also co-authored a book called Flickr Hacks – Tips and Tools for Sharing Photos Online that talks about the flickr .APIs and how to do some of these things and sounds VERY interesting.

Check it out! But don’t do it until you have some time to spend because you definitely will.

~Susan Mellott

Web 2.0 – Hey, that’s my data!

I was looking at my feed from Boxxnet for Web 2.0 related items and I saw one called “Hey, that’s my data!” from Canadian Technology News. And like any good blogger, I stole what I could from the post, including, in this case, the title.

Before I even read the article, I had an idea from the title, which was that what we write online is “up for grabs” from anyone and their brother (or sister). So what if someone decides to write a book and publish it and uses only information that has already been written from other people, without giving any credit (or money) to those people who actually wrote the book? Or who takes the best of flickr and makes a beautiful coffee table book from the pictures they find? Or I watched a show on TV that is ongoing that is just a bunch of YouTube videos they have found on the internet. I can’t remember what it is called but I just did a little looking on my digital cable and found a show on the Comedy Channel called Web Shows and the description is “A compilation of online videos”. When I went to ComedyCentral.com, I could look it up but when I clicked on “go to site” it took me to a page with episodes they had on the web (I think). So I looked clicked on “Go to TV schedule” instead and it too me to the schedule for that show and described it as “This groundbreaking half-hour series features several of the internet’s best webisodes and short-form content.”.

Anyway, I know I have watched shows on TV made up of videos that other people have made and posted on the web. Now I don’t have a problem at all with people sharing information that I have written or posted or videos or pictures I’ve taken. That is the beauty of the whole Web 2.0 concept. That it is greater than its parts. But what control is there over people taking the creative and hard worked things that people have done and using it to just make money?

Or what if someone wants to use something that you created in a way that you don’t agree with? What if, for example, you took a series of beautiful nude photographs and posted them on flickr as an art set. But someone copied them and put them in Hustler magazine as “Hot Chicks from the Web”?

Or for that matter, for something a little closer to home, usurped your website and redirected to a site you found offensive? We had a website at one time that we no longer use, but since I was into koi ponds at one time and posted pictures and descriptions of our ponds, there were links to it several places. However, a porno site redirected our links to its site and even worse, it had a million popups and all sorts of things so once you got there, you couldn’t get out or stop the madness. I tried every way possible to do something about it but had no luck. I couldn’t even edit the places where my link was posted, or in most cases, contact the person who could.

And back to the point of the post that originally sparked this thought, what control do you even have over anything relating to you on the internet? The original post was subtitled Why we’re all on Facebook, whether we like it or not” and dealt with a situation even closer to home that I am sure we all can relate to. It is about how this person had been at a party on a cruise ship and found his picture (looking rather raggedy) on someone’s facebook page. Here is a quote: “This is what happens to data in an age of social networking. We don’t necessarily create the content, we don’t store the content, and we have little to no control over how it is managed, distributed or manipulated. At the moment, if all you knew about me was the stuff about me you found on Facebook you’d assume I was a haggard-looking ne’er do well who spent too much time boating and not enough time sleeping. Which might be true, but it’s not the entire truth.”

I highly recommend you read his post, he has much to say on this particular issue and I don’t really need to re-state it here. I guarantee it will hit home and raise some interesting questions.

And as you can see, I am not above stealing a catchy title, or using what someone else has written. Are you?

~Susan Mellott

Celebrity 2.0 – Wil Wheaton is Web 2.0

I imagine most of you know who Wil Wheaton is. He is an actor who played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Actually, he has done a lot more than that, but that is mainly how I know of him.

But what makes him interesting is his love and knowledge of technology and his leading edge use of Web 2.0 tools. Here is the wikipedia entry that talks about him and what he has done.

From wikipedia: “After leaving Star Trek, Wheaton quit acting altogether. He moved to Topeka, Kansas to work as a programmer for Newtek, where he helped develop the Video Toaster 4000.” (I assume they meant he temporarily quit acting)

Wil was a very early adopter of blogging, creating his site wilwheaton.net (see the wikipedia article on his blog) which is currently being updated (since about last June) and is replaced for now by his blog WWdN: In Exile – Wil Wheaton’s not-so-temporary blog. Per the wikipedia article on his blog: “Rather than just a fan forum, it was a place where people could gather to talk about various subjects including movies, music, books, religion, politics, gaming, geocaching, and miscellaneous topics; the original emphasis was on topics of interest to Wil Wheaton and not the man himself.” He has entries on his blog dating back to July 2001.

Wil also has written 3 books, and most of the entries are extended versions of his online blog entries. (Take note, bloggers, this is not a bad idea if you have a following).

Also from wikipedia: “In late September of 2006, Wheaton began hosting a Revision3 syndicated video podcast called InDigital along with Jessica Corbin and veteran host Hahn Choi. ” Of note: Wil found an error on the wikipedia entry for himself and asked on slashdot for someone to correct it.

Wil also twitters regularly and has just recently twittered on the Comic-Con he attended. Interestingly, he is having a problem at the moment trying to remove people he no longer wishes to follow and is talking about it on twitter. Update: as of about 4 hours ago, he twittered that the problem was a bug in twitter and was fixed by Biz Stone.

Wil also uses flickr and has some very interesting photos. And something I found interesting too that Wil has been doing on buzznet is “What is Wil looking At?” which is sort of a cross between flickring and twittering (flittring?). It looks like he is taking pictures with his phone of whatever he is doing and uploading them. It’s a neat idea and I’m sure at some point, people will be doing that just like they twitter now.

And of course, he checks technorati for links to his blog and has a profile technorati for wilw. Here are some other things of his (from his blog):

 

And there are quite a few interesting videos of him talking about technology on YouTube. Here is one where Wil talks about Podcasting (answering fan’s question at reading of his book, Just a Geek)

And there is a lot more that he is or has been involved with. The wikipedia article and his blog has more information.

To be honest, although I knew who he was, I’m old enough that I watched the original Star Trek more than I watched The Next Generation. But I think he seems like an interesting person and certainly one who is Web 2.0.

~Susan Mellott

Web 2.0 – embedding a YouTube video in WordPress and Google Blogger

If you have been using WordPress.com to host your blog, you might be wondering how to embed a video in your post. I know I have been!  Well, thanks to what else, a YouTube video, I found the answer.  It isn’t hard, but I just didn’t know.

Essentially, you just copy and paste the code next to the “embed” tag that is part of the information listed for each YouTube video while viewing the post using the “Code” tab (not the “Visual” tab). This worked for me and I didn’t need to do anything.

It is the same in Google Blogger except you go to the Edit HTML tab to add the code instead of the Code tab.

Actually, the video didn’t really help me except to point me to the ’embed’ code and then it was obvious that it needed added to the Code section (or Edit HTML section in Blogger).  And it was even more obvious when I tried it again and forgot to go to the Code first and it just displayed the code as text (as you would expect).

But if that doesn’t work, according to the video, it may be because of the WordPress Advanced Text Editor. Now the instructions in the video seem to be a little different than what I see so I’m wondering if it is pertaining to the WordPress version that you host on your own, or maybe to an earlier version. So this may or may not be applicable. I think maybe it was an earlier version of WordPress that didn’t allow you to view the code, since all I needed to do was to copy the embed code into the post while viewing it in the Code tab. But here is the video I watched for this, and my first embedded video (I cheated and went back and put an embedded video in the post before this one too).

~Susie

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