I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how small businesses and non-profits can leverage new media to compete online against major corporations.

Without question, the Internet has provided an opportunity. How to capitalize on the opportunity is what many have struggled with.

New media is overwhelming, confusing, and ever-changing.  Small organizations have limited resources of time and money.  The result is that they often initiate a social media initiative by signing on to join popular services (Facebook, Twitter, Blogger) and after creating them, they aren’t sure what to do next.

Interact is a ‘self-help’ program with both a Corporate and Individual edition.

The program takes a strategic approach to social media based on the goals and objectives of the corporation or business professional.  From those goals a new media strategy is developed consistent with the resources available.

Implementation is assisted through Coaching and a written Guide specific to the initiatives within the custom developed strategy.

On-going support is available to both, as is an audit/review.

To learn more visit the Nunamaker Interactive Web site.


Content Distribution vs. Conversation

Yesterday I received an email from the Placeblogger group on Google Groups regarding the impact of other social media tools on placeblogs.

Having made the decision last spring to spread out my content I posted with the following:

I’d like to add one more regarding content distribution vs. conversation.

The primary value of a placeblog, to me, is the delivery of local news and information that can’t be covered by traditional media, but is important to residents of an area.  Secondary to that is the ability of people to discuss these issues and provide a variety of perspectives toward a solution when problems arise.

From 2005 until 2009, I kept all my content ‘contained’ on my placeblog.  Since very few people solely rely on RSS, this meant a reader had to come to the site to get info.  Everyone was reading the same info in the same place at roughly the same time.  Posts on ‘controversial’ local issues would easily draw 10 to 30 comments a day.

Last spring I started using Posterous, Twitter, and opened up a Facebook fan page.

I expected a drop in traffic to the site, which I got (from average of at least 400 to somewhere between 300 and 400 per day), but I now have 200 fans on FB, 400 personal friends on FB (many of whom are readers), 80 Twitter followers with 10 lists, and I have 3 followers with 50 views per post on Posterous.

I don’t have an advertising program on my site, so this wasn’t a concern.

The biggest problem is that while the content is getting out to more people and presumably read by more people, the conversation has become fragmented.  Conversation is a key factor in having a sense of community.  If that is lost or significantly reduced, then the site has devolved into a one way stream of communications from the blog to the reader.

For many in business, the loss of site visitors will impact the bottom line, yet it happens all the time.  Content is pulled via RSS to other sites where headlines, snippets, or full content can be read.   Or, like my example above, in order to increase readership, one must relinquish the content and distribute it.

For placeblogs as well as any content that is intended to be discussed, the fragmentation of conversation is a serious problem.  If your content is being discussed by a few people in many locations, it won’t be as good as if there are a lot of people discussing it in one location.

Given this, if it isn’t already being done, I’m thinking the next great break-through will be a tool that allows one to reconnect original content’s comments from diverse sites to a central location.

Google Checkout & Docs

This week I set up an online “Box Office” for the Nazareth Center for the Arts.  To manage online sales of show tickets, I used Google Checkout & Google Docs.

I have to admit, this was one of the easiest things I’ve done online.  I set this up and created and went live with a new web page in less than one hour total time.

Google has a very easy to follow manual on how to get started (available here).  I never even got past the “store gadget creation wizard“, since the wizard walked me through everything I had to do.

First, I activated Google Checkout using the Center’s Gmail account.

Google has a template that you add to your Google Docs account.  You then remove Google’s copy and replace with your own.  The good thing is you indicate the amount of inventory you have.  For the Arts Center, this allows us to sell a specific number of seats per show.

Then you share your Doc with Google Checkout.

And finally, you copy the html that is generated into your web page.  Using Concrete 5 as the CMS for the Center, I simply edited a page, added a new block, and pasted the HTML.

Done and done.

The only other part I need to do is add the Center’s checking account information so the money is routed to it.

Visit the Center’s Online Box Office to see the end result.


I had the opportunity to give the recorder a good test during two recent trips.  Indoors and outdoors with a variety of weather conditions – cloud cover, sunshine, and light rain.

All in all, I was pleased with the recordings.  Bigger problem was my computer didn’t have enough memory and speed to properly render the .mov files in Quicktime, so I converted them to a lower resolution .wmv file to upload to YouTube.  I did keep the native .mov and plan to watch them on an HD TV with the HDMI cable.

Video taken using the device and converted to 740 x 480 .wmv is available on YouTube.  Here is one clip of a formula Mazda Pro car.

I also took some video at the Andretti Winery and I thought the picture and color were very good considering the size of the camera.  Low light is an issue for the video, though.  On a trip to NYC, I attempted some evening video and indoors at Radio City prior to the performance, and it came out very dark.

The few stills I took weren’t as good as my regular digital camera, but I didn’t expect them to be.  Here is a shot I took of the Golden Gate Bridge, through the windshield, as we were driving (not ideal conditions):


The biggest challenge with this class of camera for either video or still images is the zoom and sound.  The digital zoom results in lower resolution and you have a very limited ability to zoom in.  The recorded sound is okay, but it seems like it could be much better.

The final down-side to the camera function is a lack of flash.  Indoor photos with low light and evening are next to impossible as a result.

For me, the portable size outweighs most issues for me, and I’m glad I made the purchase.

Ultracompact Camcorder Purchase: JVC GC-FM1

I had been eyeing a Flip camcorder for some time and with an upcoming trip I decided to finally purchase an ultracompact camcorder.  I felt this product type was right for my current needs.  Highly portable, easily uploaded, and good for interviews. I should note my laptop is PC as is a desktop at the house.

Multi-part post, feel free to skip ahead:

  1. Models to Choose From
  2. Using the JVC GC-FM1
  3. Using the Bundled Software
  4. Work-arounds

Models to Choose From

I went to the store, several actually, thinking I was going to purchase either a Flip Ultra HD or a Sony MHS-PM1.  I came home with JVC’s GC-FM1.  At the store I also saw a Kodak in this market space, but it was the largest of the lot.

For an excellent review and comparison of these products see’s “JVC Picsio GC-FM1 Camcorder Review” by Kaitlyn Chantry and Jeremy Stamas.

I found this review after I made my purchase, and while I was looking up info as I ‘played’ with my new ‘toy’.  I’d recommend it to anyone who purchased or is thinking about purchasing an ultracompact camcorder.

A few items swung the pendulum toward the JVC for me, including in no particular order:

  • Video image quality (Flip not as good, lower top resolution, Sony same resolution, not quite as good video – according to the review – this was my top interest)
  • Image stabilization (Flip no)
  • Still photo capability (Flip no)
  • Batteries not required (Flip yes)
  • Charge via USB (Flip no)
  • Memory Card (Flip no)
  • No proprietary memory (Sony requires Sony memory sticks)

Drawbacks I’ve seen so far:

  • “Tacky” design, blue with reflective squares and chrome plastic sides were a hit with my 12 & 7 year old daughters, not so much with me (Only Sony I saw was purple, so call it a wash)
  • Ports are exposed
  • Review had concerns with durability, which concerns me
  • No batteries for backup IF charge goes out
  • No jack for audio input (microphone, etc, but none had this feature)

Using the JVC GC-FM1

So how did it work?  You do first have to charge it.  The guide said 180 minutes, mine was closer to 120.  You also have to buy either an SD or SDHC memory card with at least 4GB of memory.  I had several SD cards, didn’t buy a new one at the store and had to make a return trip since they were under 4GB.  I bought a 16 GB SDHC card from PNY.  In the brief printed manual, PNY is not listed as a SDHC card company, but it has worked without a problem for me (it is a standard spec afterall).

Once charged, the recording is simple, hit the center button it starts, hit it again it stops.  There is a toggle switch to move between still and video.  It automatically powers off after 3 minutes of no use.  There is no autofocus, but there is a standard and close-up switch.

Glare can be an issue making it difficult to see what you are recording.  The sun was bright and it did make it difficult at times to see the image in the screen.  I’ve had the same problem using the camera in my phone.

Using the Bundled Software

When I plugged the unit into the laptop, I had problems.  It was not clear that the bundled software and library installation was required (as opposed to simply cutting files from the unit and pasting them to a folder).  I did get the software installed, but it still doesn’t seem to automatically update files from the unit to the library.

Mediabrowser LE is the software used.  It doesn’t seem to be very intuitive.  I did go to their web site and found a manual to download to attempt to better understand it.

In attempting to use its edit feature, the software became unresponsive.  Once I restarted the software, I plugged the unit back in and turned it on.  It finds the video on the camera and on the computer, but you can’t use the software to move the file from the device to the computer.  I found no info on this in the guide, so I went to My Computer and found three drives indicated, all were parts of the device.

One “drive” is the product guide and bundled software, the second “drive” is the internal memory of the device, and the third is the SDHC card.

The files download as .mov files, which are Quicktime.  I couldn’t get Quicktime to run them correctly, very choppy.

The Mediabrowser software has some editing features and works with .mov, but for anything more than cutting out some frames, if you’re not on a Mac, you’ll probably need to convert the files first.

To edit in Mediabrowser, open the shortcut and upon arrival you’ll see a calendar on the right and a left side bar file folder.  You can either click on the date on the sidebar or on the calendar (there are screenshots for each video).

Once you click on the left sidebar date, the calendar will shift to a day and indicate at what time video was taken.  Select the file you want by double-clicking.

Now you have a left sidebar that appears to be cut off, and the right side looks like a typical player.  In the left sidebar, there is a scroll bar at the bottom.  By scrolling to the right you will be able to read details about the files from that day, the file you selected will be highlighted.

At the bottom central/right portion of the screen is a button titled “Movie Edit.”  When selected you can trim the ends of your video, or create multiple clips from one larger piece.  It doesn’t appear you can cut something out of the middle.

Now you will see two pointers under the start and end of the timebar.  You will use these to indicate what portion of video you want to use to make a new clip.  Whatever is between the arrows will become a new file.  So if you have a three minute clip and you want to capture several short sequences you can do that, but if you want to take a chunk out of the middle you can’t, you have to make two new files.

The video will be stored in My Documents/My Videos/Media Browser LE/Edit  In the edit folder will be a numbered folder containing your edits for each project.

What I found difficult is that the videos do not run smoothly on my laptop (am guessing this is a memory issue – the JVC box indicates a memory of 1GB ram and a dual core processor, I have neither on my laptop).

Easiest option is to simply upload the clip unedited.


I downloaded “Any Video Converter“, which is freeware and seems to be working reasonably well to turn .mov into .wmv, with one considerable drawback, I couldn’t covert a framesize larger than 720×480 in MPEG-2.

I selected the MPEG-2 format from the drop-down and adjusted based on the JVC specs.  Under video options, I set Frame size to 1440 x 1080 with a 30 (29.970) framerate.  I didn’t do anything with the audio.  I hit “convert”, but at the end I got a “fail” message.  I tried again at 1080×480 and again got “fail”. At 720×480 it worked fine.

So if I want to edit/enhance video at this point in time using Windows Movie Maker or another product I found, Wax by Satish Kumar (also freeware – looks good, but haven’t tested completely yet), I have to do so with a converted file in 720×480 frame size.

If you want to regularly edit, best bet is to probably invest in editing software of which there is plenty on the market.  In this way you won’t have to compromise quality of video for some enhancements and edits.


Too early to tell how good this product is, but I will put it through its paces this weekend and post a follow-up.  I’ll need to shoot close-up, distance, sports (high speed) and edit and upload daily from a remote location to YouTube.

If you have comments or info to share please make a comment.

Working with Alice

I read Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture while traveling recently and upon my return looked up  I have tried on a few occasions to learn object oriented programing, and I get a bit of it, but not to the point where I could actually program anything.

I downloaded the software, followed the tutorials and began playing with Alice 2.2.  I then downloaded Storytelling Alice and showed my daughters, ages 12 and 7.  They loved it.  Each went to a computer and started writing stories.  My older daughter showed the younger one how to do it.

To date, the stories have been fairly basic.  I’d like to get a hold of the teaching material used by schools, then we could get into developing some actions that will serve them well down the road.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to let them play and experiment with this great product.  Thanks to everyone involved in the project!

Facebook’s Impressive One Year Gain

I was reading an article by Dana Oshiro titled, “How Facebook Beat MySpace: From College Dorm to Platform“.

In it Oshiro included a grid from Hitwise tracking share of visits in social networking sites between Facebook and MySpace.  From October 2008 to September 2009, Facebook surged from 20% to nearly 60%, while MySpace fell from 60% to 30%.

The article also notes that Facebook is now second only to Google in the US.

October’s surge by Facebook correlates with their making Facebook Connect available to all developers.  As a result, third party products were released and traffic surged on the site.

Moral of the story – sharing is good.

The reality is that these sites cannot exist in isolation of one another.  Oshiro  describes Facebook as an ecosystem, which is somewhat correct.  The bigger point is that we are heading toward online convergence and 3rd party apps are a good first step in that direction.

Facebook is not the ecosystem, the web is the ecosystem and all these sites will one-day interconnect and we will be able to move seemlessly from one to the other.

Sites that understand this will thrive, while those that wish to stand alone in isolation will become the online equivallent of uncharted islands.