Posterous rocks!

Recently Bas pointed me to the great tool Posterous. Posterous is a blog tool where you can send an e-mail which is auto-posted to your weblog. URLs of images, youtube, vimeo, etc are automatically taken the content and show it in your blog. Files attached to the e-mail are put in your content really nice, for example images, movies, mp3, pdf, etc. But for me mail-and-it’s-posted-in-your-blog is the most important functionality.

Additional features are RSS, auto-post to twitter, facebook, wordpress, etc. etc. etc. Google analystics are integrated.

Bas showed me his site http://www.rugbynieuws.nl/ where he gathers all content in the Dutch media about rugby. He gave me the idea to do the same for Scouting. I was interested in Posterous and give it a try… and wow how incredible are the results!

I went to Posterous and 3 minutes later http://www.scoutingnieuws.nl/ (gathering local, regional and national news items in the Dutch media) was a fact (that’s not really true. it takes some time for the DNS changes are active). I’m e-mailing some news items a couple of times per day, taking me maybe 15 minutes a day. Items are auto-posted to a specific twitter account. Without promotion the twitter account is gathering new followers daily.  A couple of times per week people are e-mailing new news items to put on the site. The national organisation has asked for cooperation to get the news integrated in their site. I created a script so other people can include the news items in their website. I finished the script last week, and already a couple of sites are following.

So Posterous is a great tool for gathering information! I would encourage people to do the same and pls send me other examples of news site using posterous, maybe we can exchange some tips and tricks!

Projects are about the goal

A couple of weeks ago I wend hiking in Belgium with my Scouts. And it was really nice, good weather, a nice route. After one and a half day we crossed a road which leads to the village Hotton, and we knew we also had to go through that village. One of the Scouts suggested: “Why not follow that road…. that’s faster than hiking up and down that hill in front of us”. Of course we didn’t follow the road, not only because it was a drive-too-fast-don’t-pay-attention-to-pedestrions-because-they-shouldn’t-be-there-anyway-road, but mainly because Hotton was not the goal of the day. The route was the goal. Hike through a nice environment, enjoy the view, enjoy the route.

This is different in projects. Projects are about the end goal, the business case, the benefits. And of course if you have no fun at working towards that goal,  find other work. But the  only reason for doing the project is reaching the goal. So if you find a fast route towards the end goal, you take it. No detours just for fun, no “sitting around, enjoying the view”…. 

That’s not always easy. Not only the senior user/business/client has a tendency to add as much as possible to the scope of the project, without verifying if it serves “the big plan”. Also developers like to add as much to the scope as possible, to deliver the best and complete product possible. However there is also time, money, quality, etc to consider.

So I guess in a project with every step you take, consider: “Does this have a positive influence on the goal?”.

Movie editing

The last weeks I’ve been editing some video shots we took during the JOTA/JOTI Scouting weekend. It’s the first time I was working with video. It’s nice to do…. but takes so much time. Also a lot of the footage is completely useless. This is not only because some people don’t know how to use a camera (i.e. don’t turn it off and filming the floor for 10 minutes), but also because I just wanted short shots.

As I am becoming more and more just a typical end user in software, of course I just started out using Windows Movie Maker…. yes, because it’s default installed in Windows. But after not too much time I decided that (at least for me) it’s just not possible to deliver a nice result with WMM. You can’t play around with the sounds too much, too little possibilities for adding effects or transitions. It’s just too limited.

So I googled a bit and tried Pinnacle Studio. What a difference!! For each clip you can add lot’s of effects, play with the clip sound or add additional music, brighten it, etc. The user interface took about half an hour to understand (maybe because I ignored the manual :)), but then it becomes all quite clear and logical. Still it was just my first movie and I have a lot to learn. But my next project is already coming closer. Next week I can start editing the Kilimanjaro movie.

My lesson learned…. sometimes it’s worth checking out other software and not being a typical lazy end user.

O, btw… putting video’s online in Google Video (using the desptop tool for uploading 100 MB+ movies) is not working for weeks already, so I put this on Vimeo. Normally I am quite fond of Google products, but this time I was surprised in a very positive way by Vimeo. It’s really easy to use, looks nicer and (most important) the movie quality is much higher!

O, and of course the end result: 

JOTA/JOTI

Coming weekend Scouts all over the world are making contacts with other Scouts. They will do this with the help of amateur radio operaters, then it’s called Jamboree On The Air (JOTA). Or via internet, then it’s called Jamboree On The Internet (JOTI). I look forward to this weekend, which I am co-organising for our local group Scouting Boxtel.

So this weekend is all about communication. When focussing an entire weekend on communication it’s nice to see how much influence it has in society. Mobile phones, e-mail, chats, etc. Everybody considers it as completely normal, but only when you stop and think about it people “discover” that for example radio is also a form of communication,  but normally one-way. But because it’s communication (and fun) we include it in our program. So everybody is sitting in in a radio show and participating in that. People at home can listen to that and lot’s of people (parents, friends) actually do.

By using IRC for chat people are doing something they know, but with another tool. It’s funny to see that because people don’t know the tool the really focus on communication… what do I have to do to be able to chat with that person? Where in MSN you just chat.

 

For the radio amateurs it’s a bit different. They use technology that’s been around far longer but not really known by most people. Why use that technology when we also have mobile phones? Because it’s fun and different and showing a bit of the past of the newest technology. They need a big antenna for example. That’s why we are building a tower to have more reach.

National Jamboree

From July 21 until 30 I am going to the National Jamboree (NJ) with my Scouts (Boy and Girls Scouts from Scouting Boxtel). A jamboree is a big international Scouting camp. A lot of countries organise one each four yours. Also each four years a World Jamboree is organised. The jamboree I am going to is organised by Scouting Nederland, but is open for all countries. The NJ is held in Boxtel, on Velder, so we cannot not go there, since it’s almost in our backyard.

 

Some time ago I read about the 1st Whitby Scouts from Canada asking questions about renting materials, because taking tents, gas stoves, etc in the plane is very expensive. So I got the idea to go to the NJ together. This should be a win-win situation, with a lot of cultural exchange and new international friends. After some e-mails we decided to join forces. Now we are planning the final details.

Of course the Canadians want to see the highlights of the Netherlands, which made me think… They created a list and I noticed that I did not see everything on their list. So it looks like tourists see typical Dutch places that a lot Dutch people did not visit. So I look forward to their visit and will certainly join in some of the NL sightseeing.

I really look forward to our summercamp and am curious how the cultural exchange will be, if we find much differences between Canadian and Dutch culture, how the Scouts will adapt to the joined group and if it will go natural or needs much additional efforts.