Monday, December 17, 2007

Time for the next adventure

It came up way to fast, but my time at WashingtonPost.Newsweek Interactive is over and I am now on my way back to California. At the moment, Suzanne, Koko and I are driving into Iowa (and I have already heard ads on the radio for wanna be presidents) on Interstate 80. We are going to detour and visit some family and friends in Idaho then spend Christmas with Suzanne's family in Salt Lake City before going back to Fremont.

My last few weeks in Washington were great. I am sorry for not posting more.

Today some of my photos are up today with a story about people cutting their own Christmas trees. I think they are some of my best photos yet.

Last week I had a story and photos about Santa Cop - where local police take kids shopping for things they need for Christmas but that their families might not otherwise be able to afford. The story and some of the photos also were printed in last Thursday's Extra. (That means the story and the photos are also on I really have hit the big time, with a story and two sets of photos printed in the Washington Post! (The other photos were printed not long after I got there.) I am still a devoted web guy, but it is pretty exciting to be a journalism student and be published in an amazing paper like the Post.

I was also able to meet Post owner Don Graham last week and photographer Bill Snead. I also was finally able to go visit the Post newsroom (they are in a separate building across the river) and saw Bob Woodward's office (of course he was not there).

I loved the time I was able to spend in DC. I learned a ton and had a ton of fun, but I will admit that I am excited to be home and see my friends and family. But I also miss some of the people I worked with already. But it is time to move on (we are driving over the Mississippi River right now). I am really excited about the next semester (my last) and am especially looking forward to working as the online editor for the Spartan Daily.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


So, I am from California, what can I say? The snow is still exciting, even though I have lived in it before and am not a big fan. We did get a couple of inches of snow earlier this week. Luckily it has started to warm up again since then. I happened to be out in Loudoun on Wednesday when we got most of the snow, so I took some photos. You can see the photos here and read the article that goes with them here.

One of the photos was taken with my cell phone and sent in so that it could go online right away and then the other photos were uploaded later. Can you tell which one is the cell photo photo? It's amazing that I could get a photo that good (not fantastic, but good for a phone) and send it to someone miles away who then put it online for the whole world to see.

I am down to one more week here. I can't believe how fast it has gone by. There is still a lot I want to see and do, but there is just not enough time. Suzanne and I did go to the National Archives on Friday and saw the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. It was inspiring to see these original documents that have literally changed the world.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Holidays in Loudoun

Last Saturday I went to the annual Holiday Parade in Leesburg to write a story for Loudoun Extra. It was great, but a little cold.

Speaking of cold, the forecast says we could get snow tomorrow! I am not sure if this California boy is ready for that!

Shel Israel on social media in government

I was very lucky this morning to meet social media expert Shel Israel. He was in town to speak at the ALI Social Media in Government conference. I attended his keynote talk and then got to sit and chat with him and local blogger Justin Thorp for a few minutes. I blogged before about Naked Conversations (by Shel and Robert Scoble) and he blogged about me.

Shel pointed out that the businesses (and government organizations) that are reluctant to use social media will eventually be irrelevant as the younger generation comes up and takes over management positions. That is true for most industries, but the question for journalists is: Will newspapers last that long?

We talked about a wide range of issues and topics. One of my favorite of Shel's points in his speech was that social media is a way to have conversations, out in the open, which should be the essence of democracy. Shel is from New England, and pointed to the tradition in some small towns there to have town hall meetings. Social media allow us, today, to have virtual town hall meetings any time, any where and on any topic. I love the openness and of social media; unfortunately, that is exactly what most organizations are afraid of, but when used properly, it can be a huge benefit to everyone.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Loudoun Football Video

Last night I did a video for one of the high school football playoff games. I was a little nervous to be on my own shooting the footage and editing it in Final Cut Pro, but I think it came out well. You can watch the Flash video here or download the MP4 here. It may make more sense if you read the story first. It was a good game and I learned a lot about using the camera and editing, of course I still have a lot to learn, but this was a good start. Hopefully I can do a few more videos before I head back to California, even though it means late nights at work.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Free money for school

A friend from NBC11 sent me a press release from Trugo, a new social networking site. They are having a contest and offering up to $30,000 for the winner to pay for college! That would go a long way at a state school! All you have to do is make a video saying why you should get the money. Then users can vote on who they think has the best video.

Trugo, a new social networking site, today announced a $100,000 college tuition contest which will award ten winners up to $30,000 in tuition funds. College students around the country may enter the online video contest by recording a four-minute video performance answering the question “Why Should Trugo Pay for Your Tuition?”
I have not tried out the site yet, and since I am graduating in May I will not submit a video, but it is an interesting way to get people to check out the site, and sounds like a great way to try and get free money for school. Some of you who are going to be in school for a while longer need to try it out and let me know how it works. If nothing else, it is a chance to practice your video skills.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

More photos and a little video

This has been a busy week for us. Suzanne has been working night shifts at the hospital and I have been working all kinds of crazy hours. Tuesday was a late night because it was election day. The election was a huge deal for Loudoun County, which voted in a largely Democratic Board of Supervisors in what has traditionally been a Republican county. I went to the Republican watch party and got to shoot some video. I did not edit the video, just a little bit of camera work, but it was a lot of fun, even though the Republicans were not having a good night. You can read about the election here and watch the video here.

Last night (Friday) was the usual Friday night football. It was really cold, but luckily the rain stopped just before the game started. You can see the photos I took here.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Kyle, a Photographer?

Last night I took photos of another high school football game. That has become my usual Friday night activity. Even though I have no photo training or experience, I really like it and look forward to doing more photography. I am still an amateur, but I think last night's photos are he best I have done. You can see them all here. I am totally open for any advice from some of you real photographers out there.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Halloween Parade Hits Loudoun

Since LoudounExtra is about as hyper-local as you can get, we spent a lot of time covering Halloween celebrations this week. I went to the local parade and wrote a nice little article for the site. It was actually a lot of fun. They gave out tons of candy!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Seven months left - where do I go from here?

I just read this post from Mindy McAdams. It brings out some of the things I have been thinking a lot about lately. I have about seven months before I am due to graduate with a degree in journalism — a degree in print journalism — and I spend a lot of time wondering what I need to do to be ready for my first job. I am really lucky to be in Washington doing an internship at WashingtonPost.Newsweek Interactive right now, but there is still no guarantee I will be working come June.

I have spent the last year trying to get the online skills I need to get a good job. I think I have some of the basics down. I spent a semester as a reporter for the school paper. I spent the summer at NBC11, and now I am working on Loudoun Extra and other projects for the Post. What else do I need to do to get companies to fight over me once I graduate?

Mindy's five points, in italics, with my thoughts:

  1. You don’t have to be a programmer. But you need to have more than one skill. Another way to say that is, You need to have more than only print skills. This is the main concern I have. All of my education has focused on print. But I don't want to be a print reporter. At the same time, I don't want to be a programmer either. What other skills do I need? Should I pick one area to specialize in?
  2. If you have not taken any online skills courses at all, and spring is your final semester, and the intro online course conflicts with one of your required courses that you waited until now to take — sign up for the online course, and delay your graduation. Do you want to graduate? Or do you want a job? I have one semester left. But I have taken all of the online courses there are (OK, I took the only online journalism class offered). Should I take some classes in photography now? What about broadcast? At least those classes would give me some good skills that will transfer to online projects.
  3. You can go home tonight and learn to make a Web page. ... I have a Web site and a blog, definitely the two best things I have done to learn new things. But I am not sure that is enough. I still have no clue what CSS is, or PHP or a lot of other things. Should I worry about that? What else do I need other than the basic HTML?
  4. You should not even be thinking about Flash if you never made a Soundslides. Download Soundslides here. Free demo version. See what kind of story you can tell. I have done a little with Soundslides. But I have gotten the impression I need to learn Flash. But from my little experience here, I think maybe there are other things that are more important. Should I learn Flash or not?
  5. Every journalist can learn to gather and edit audio for online. Start here. You probably already have a digital recorder. Buy an external microphone. Download Audacity. Get busy. Again, I have done a little with audio. But what about video? I actually really want to learn video, but don't have the money right now to fork over for a fancy camera and software. Where should I start?
I hope that I do not sound like I am depressed and gloomy about my future. Honestly, I am more optimistic and excited about this industry than ever before. I am just at the point where I have some important decisions to make and I am not sure what direction I should go.

During a brief conversation yesterday, Rob Curley pointed out to us some of the same things Mindy mentioned. A degree in journalism is not worth much. I need something more. I have been trying to get that, but I think I am worried because I have not found a niche that is quite right yet. I know I don't want to be a reporter. I don't want to be a programmer. So I am trying to figure out where the middle is, and where I might fit in best. I have started down the path Mindy is pointing to, but now I am at a fork and not sure where to go. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

News from Washington

I was chastised earlier today by someone for not blogging. I deserved it.

The highlight of the last few weeks for me was that some of my photos were printed in the Washington Post! And I am not even a photographer. They were from the Morven Park Steeplechase. I wrote a short story and took some photos, which were featured on the front page of for a few days. A couple of the pictures were in the print edition of the Loudoun Extra section of the Post a few days later. Even though it was only a few pictures and it was only in the local section of the Post that was delivered to one small area, I still consider it a big accomplishment. I am actually doing a lot more photography than writing these days, but am really enjoying it.

Suzanne and I went to Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. It was fantastic. Jefferson truly is one of the greatest minds America has produced. His house is worth a visit.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The sights

From Washington, D.C.

Suzanne and I finally got around to doing some sightseeing. You can see the photos here and read more about it here.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Busy Blogging

Sorry I have not posted here for a while, but I have been busy getting settled into our new apartment and working at the Post. I have still been blogging, this time for the university. SJSU is trying a new thing having students and faculty do short blogs for a few weeks to tell about interesting things they are doing. You can see my blog here, and read the school's announcement about it here. Cool stuff. Cynthia McCune also did a post about me on the JMC Journal blog. I also put a few more pictures on my Picasa page.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Working in Washington

Today was day two of working at the WashingtonPost.Newsweek Interactive. I feel very fortunate to be able to work there with some amazing journalists. These are some of the very best in the business. I am going to learn a ton, and have a lot of fun. The other interns are from all over the country and are pretty good at what they do. I am working on the top floor of a 12 story building, it is actually in Arlington, VA, not Washington itself. But there is a balcony that overlooks Washington, the view is incredible. You can see it for yourself online. I can not really say much about what I am doing. But I am involved with projects for and And today I actually met Rob Curley in person. Cool guy, and will be a fun boss!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Finally Done! (Almost)

We are done with our road trip!

Well, almost. I still have not been to Washington, D.C., but we are in Virginia. Suzanne, Koko and I are staying with some friends here for a few days until our apartment is ready. We are about an hour and a half from D.C. itself. I start at the Post tomorrow.

Suzanne will be working at a hospital in Rockville, Maryland, so that is where we will actually be living, but it is not too long of a drive for me to get to work. We are happy to be done with long drives and staying in hotels, but are still waiting for our own place.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Welcome to Tennessee

Tonight we are in Cookeville, Tennessee. We drove through Missouri, part of Illinois and the western corner of Kentucky before getting here. We are staying with my Aunt and Uncle who live here, about an hour outside of Nashville. I have been here a few times before, but always flew. It is a much different experience to drive this far. Other than that, today was relatively unexciting. Tomorrow we are spending the day here to go to church and visit with the family. On to North Carolina and Virginia and Washington, D.C. on Monday!

Friday, August 31, 2007

The Buck Stops Here!

OK, I don't know if the buck stops here or not, but we did, stop in Kansas City that is. We needed a break from driving, so we spent the day here in Kansas City, Missouri and nearby Independence and Liberty. We went to some of the major LDS historical sites here. If you did not know, the Mormons spent a few years here before being driven out of the state at gun point. Some of my own ancestors lived in Missouri in the 1830s, and one of them was in Liberty Jail with Joseph Smith.

We also went to the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum. I recently finished reading Truman's biography by David McCullough. It was fantastic, so when we planed to spend a day here, the library became a must see.

Here is his house:

And the library:

Here is the famous sign from his desk:

And the actual newspaper that will always be remembered for its big mistake: (in case you did not know, Truman won that election).

I could have spent a lot more time at these sites as well as some other places we did not get to visit, but that will have to wait for another trip. Tomorrow is another long day of driving, through St. Louis and on to Tennessee.

Here are all the pictures from our trip so far.

California to Washington, D.C.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

More than half way there

After about 12 1/2 more hours of driving, we made it this evening to Kansas City, Missouri. We are in need of a break, so we will be staying here for two nights. It also means we can do some sight seeing tomorrow. We drove through most of Nebraska, a tiny corner of Iowa and a good chunk of Missouri today. I had never been to any of these states before, so it was all new for me, and very nice. But I am tired of being in the car already. We have two more days of driving left, but we are taking Sunday off as well, so we should be OK.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

In Wyoming

Road trip day 2, we are now in Cheyenne, Wyoming. So far so good. Tomorrow we will be in Kansas City, Missouri.

I uploaded a bunch of photos to my Picasa page. Check them out. I am by no means a professional photographer, nor am I using a fancy camera, but I am trying to document the adventure as best I can.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

On my way to Washington D.C.

Today was the first leg of my road trip across the country to to go to my internship at the Washington Post. It is going to be a long drive, but I am excited to see parts of the country that I have never been to before.

To confirm my absolute insanity, instead of packing and cleaning up the house last night, I went to a San Francisco Giants Game. It was a lot of fun (and we won) and was a great way to get my mind off the stress of getting ready.

Today, my wife Suzanne, our dog Koko and I drove from our home in Fremont, Calif. to Suzanne's parents', just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. This way actually the longest leg of our trip. We tried to break it up into manageable chunks. Thanks to my new Verizon Wireless Internet card, I will keep the blog updated with our adventures. More pictures are on the way, but for now, it is time for bed and then off to Cheyenne, Wyoming tomorrow.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The news is like the opera and the exercise bike

I just got home from a Silicon Valley Social Media Club meeting at Yahoo! in Sunnyvale. It was really interesting. The topic was social news sites, and featured a fantastic panel:
Karen Brophy, Yahoo! News
Amy Dalton,
Steve Huffman,
Jay Adelson,
Dan Gillmor, Center For Citizen Media

I learned a lot about this type of social news, something I have not really looked into much so far. Now I need to try out each of these sites a little more and see how they work.

The most interesting comments, I thought, were from Drew Curtis of, who spoke via Skype. Fark is not like the other social news sites because it is intended to be funny. A way to laugh at the news. Curtis said that real news does not get as much traffic as entertainment and humor, unless there is a major news item such as a space shuttle crash. He did say however, that the Michael Jackson verdict got as many hits as 9/11 did.

"People treat news like the exercise bike in their basement," he said. "They like that it is there, but they rarely go check it out."

He also said that news is like the opera. Everyone says that they like opera, but when it comes down to it, they would rather go to see Kiss than the philharmonic.

I think his comments are true, but sad. Dan Gillmor said that he fears that media literacy is falling in younger generations. But he also said that he thinks that social news sites like these are on the way to make a big difference in out society as they help people become more informed, better educated and more involved in the news.

Hopefully he is right. I love the power that the Internet gives people to be able to get news and information from a variety of sources. The opportunities to learn and express one's self are endless. But we need to teach younger people to love to read and learn, to ask questions and voice their opinions. Otherwise, we could end up with a generation that thinks that who their favorite celebrity is dating is more important than the coming presidential election. Scary thought.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

NBC11 Chat in the News

I am officially done with my internship at NBC11, but today the station was featured in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle. The article does a good job explaining the chat and how NBC11 is trying to make the newscast more interactive.

During one recent 30-minute broadcast, Aguirre made more than half a dozen references to what was transpiring online. She encouraged the audience to "get in there" - the online chat room - and asked "What do you think?" after individual stories. During the same newscast, the station's "Fast Feedback" question of the day was whether the United States should get out of Iraq. Later, she read snippets of some of the e-mailed responses on the air.

The comments on SFGate were interesting. It looks like most of the people there do not watch TV news and do not trust news organizations (so why are they reading SFGate?), and they are cynical that any news organization would listen to them. I can only assure them from my first hand experience that the journalists at NBC11 do care.
The station's experiment is still too young to see if it has increased ratings. But already, some of the Fast Feedback questions have inspired conversations and story ideas among producers about ideas for the next day's broadcast.
They are watching what is said in the chat and in the Fast Feedback. The reporters, producers and anchors all join the chat, not so they can vent their thoughts, but so that they can see what their viewers care about. As the article said, the chat is not always intellectually stimulating:
The online chatter among NBC11 viewers isn't always a colloquium of Rhodes scholars. One poster asked during a newscast, "Is (technology reporter) Scott Budman nice?" Another asked why there was an NBC11 truck outside the Santa Clara County jail. (A reporter was there to pick up a mug shot of an inmate, was the answer.)
But there are many times that I learn something valuable from participating. I think that the NBC11 chat is a huge step in the right direction, and I hope they soon expand it to the 6 p.m. newscast as well as to NBC Nightly News (but keep the chat local still, just show the national video feed).

This is all part of an overall trend to make news more interactive. While I previously did not watch very much TV news, I really enjoy chatting and watching the news online, especially since I can do it anywhere with Internet access. It means that I can still participate even when out of town or stuck late at work. I still do not use the TV as my main source of news, but it is a nice way to get an update on the top stories and breaking news and to see what other people are talking about.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Storytelling video

Today is my last day at NBC11. I have had a good time here and learned a lot. I was talking to one of the people here that works on online projects and she told me about their California Stories. These are some really great examples of quality video storytelling. They work on the web very well, even though they were done for TV. I especially liked this one, which recently won an award:

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Kyle goes to Washington

I have been pretty involved over the past week getting ready for school to start next week, working on getting stuff ready for the Spartan Daily and the like. Then last Thursday I got an e-mail from the Washington Post asking if I was interested in coming to do an internship there this fall. So after a lot of careful consideration and a quick interview yesterday, it is now official that I am dropping everything going on here in California and I am moving to Washington, D.C. (actually, I will be working in Alexandria, Virginia) for the next four months. I am really excited. We are not sure yet when exactly we will be going out there, but it will probably be in about two weeks. I will be working with The WashingtonPost.Newsweek Interactive team on their hyper-local sites, podcasts and other projects.

This is a dream come true for me. The Washington Post has some of the coolest projects of any newspaper online and I will be right in the thick of it. I am also a huge U.S. history fan and have always wanted to visit Washington, and now I get to go for a whole four months.

There is still a lot of details to work out, but I am really excited to go. I will keep updating this blog with my adventures, projects and travels.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

My first article on

Most of my time this summer at NBC11 has been spent working on the new HomeTown Web site, plus a little for the Grand Prix site and a few other random project. But today I got to watch the main people at work. It was really neat to see how they get stuff posted so fast and how they convert TV news to Web. At the end of the day, they asked me to write a story. It was nothing fancy, but I had to write a coherent story for the Web based on a very short TV script, which is a lot different from what you read online or in print. So here is the result. Short and sweet, but has all the key details. Apparently while I was writing the story, they also interviewed one of the students on the air and then had him in the chat room talking to viewers. Pretty cool stuff. I also got to sit in on the meeting with the producers and reporters to plan out the 11 p.m. newscast.

In other news, we are already hard at work on the Spartan Daily for next semester.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Don't just let me blog, teach and train me now

I guess I said something right in my last post. Shel Israel posted about it.

I think there are more and more future star employees like Kyle and employers need to pay attention now, if they want to attract the best and brightest members of the next generation.
Then Daniela Barbosa posted about it as well.
Future employees (and many suffering current ones) want to be able to participate and innovate in the ways they are used to outside of the corporation. It could be blogging, tagging, video creation, mashups- whatever just let them be. Enterprises that create environments that allow for this within their confine (there has to be some based on business laws etc.) will not only get the best new future employees out there but will inspire their current ones.
I strongly agree with both. Companies need to continue to innovate and look to the young ones in their organizations for guidance. I liked Ewan McIntosh's comment as well: "If companies don't take advantage of those currently making their coffees, doing internships and working in the lowest positions of the organisation [sic] then they'll lose out!"

As I pointed out in my comment on Shel's post, companies also need to invest in the future by working with colleges and universities in developing future employees. Even better, they should invest in education at all levels. Our public education system in the United States, at lest in California, is broken. Corporations need to take an interest in the future, or our whole country is going to lose out.

I had a nice chat last night with the head of the San Jose State J-school curriculum committee. The school is constantly trying to revamp classes and programs to meet the needs of students. But students need professionals to come visit them in the classroom. They need to do tours and internships (and preferably not unpaid ones where all they do is file and make coffee). Companies should try to be more innovative in helping students succeed.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

To my future boss: please let me blog

I just finished reading Naked Conversations by Shel Israel and Robert Scoble. Of course, Scoble is one of the people who inspired me to begin blogging when he spoke to my class almost a year ago, and I have been following his blog ever since. I also started reading Israel's blog in the last couple of months.

I think the book should still be required reading for anyone interested in how emerging media is influencing business and culture.

Obviously I do not have a lot of business experience, and I look at the Cluetrain-based principles in this book and say "duh."

"Of course businesses should listen to what their customers are saying," I think to myself. And "Why wouldn't a company want to be transparent and open to the world." (OK, I am not that naive, I know there are good reasons not to, but let me go on.)

As I do gain more experience in the world, I am surprised at the resistance to new media. Israel and Scoble hit the nail on the head. If you want to expand your business, if you want to be prepared to deal with a crisis, if you want to really connect with your customers, you must have a blog.

I trust companies that are open and honest with me. I will pay more for their products and services because I trust them and read good things about them on the Internet. There are some inherent risks in blogging, and bloggers have to be careful to earn the respect and trust of their employers, but their activities are almost always good for a company.

I still do not know where I am going to end up. I have two weeks left of an internship and then I am back to school full time. In less than a year I will be looking for a job and I don't have any idea what kid of job it will be. But I hope to work for a company that is willing to take risks, embrace conversations and allow me to continue blogging.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Post Office Humor

I was at my parents' house last night and noticed their Newsweek magazine sitting out on the table. They recently moved and so all their mail has yellow forwarding stickers on it. Whoever puts those stickers on at the post office has a sense of humor:

Now, with this blog post I am not supporting or opposing Barack Obama, but the picture is great, and would be with any of the candidates. Sorry for the quality of the picture, it is from my cell phone.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Chatting during the news

I know that I am biased, but I do not usually get excited about things going on with television, but this is cool. Over the past few weeks, NBC11 has been doing a live chat during the 5 p.m. news. Jessica Aguirre recently moved to the station and has shaken up the newscast, but the chat is definitely the coolest new thing they are doing. All you have to do is log on to the home page and click on the red bar at the top of the page. Then enter a screen name and you are good to go. On the left side of the screen is a box with the video stream (about 30 seconds behind real time), and on the right is the chat box.

In addition to other people watching the news, you can chat with some of the reporters and producers. It is neat to chat with others about what is going on and talk with people from NBC about the newscast. Right now the chat is still an experiment, but log on and check it out. Hopefully they will soon expand it to the other newscasts as well.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Videos for the Spartan Daily

Innovation in College Media had a post recently that got me thinking more about the Spartan Daily Web site for next semester. ICM's post had links to some really good examples of college newspaper sites, so I have been browsing them for ideas. I also finally looked at the results of the poll currently posted on our site about what multimedia features we should work on:

Obviously the results are not very scientific, but it does show what at lest some people want. The big winner is of course "all of the above," which I expected, but I am surprised that videos got 21 percent of the vote so far. I was thinking that video was not a big priority for us at first. My thinking was that it would be better to focus on podcasts, slide shows and the like as we focus on getting the newsroom focused on online content. I guess I was wrong, if our users want video, we should give them video.

I really like the Washington Post video feature "onBeing." I also noticed Flagler College Gargoyle had a video series called "Walk and Talk with Jake." I would like to do something like these for the Daily. A video insight into students, faculty and staff at SJSU. What do you think?

Monday, June 18, 2007

SJSU Web site gets an upgrade

I got an e-mail today from San Jose State University that says that the school Web page is going to be getting a new look. Here is the notice:

On June 20, 2007, the SJSU homepage (, Search ( and top-level pages (News, Events, Future Students & Families, Students, Academic Programs, Faculty & Staff, and Alumni & Community) will be upgraded to an improved, accessible design.

SJSU is making the changes in response to the California State University directive to make all CSU Web sites comply with Section 508 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act. Approved by the SJSU Web Oversight Committee on May 30, 2007, the new format balances accessibility and usability needs while maintaining the look and feel of SJSU's existing Web site.

Achieving accessibility will allow SJSU to better serve all campus and community members. Thank you for your support and cooperation.

What to look for:

* Web pages are centered
* Keyboard-friendly navigation
* Banner with text links and improved contrast
* Bigger font size
* Printer-friendly pages

Read Presidential Directive 2007-02, Access to Electronic and Information Technology Policy for Persons with Disabilities at

For more information, contact the Web Services Unit at or visit
Hopefully the new site will be better. The current site is actually not too bad, and MySJSU has made major improvements in the last year, but it still has a way to go.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Olympians coming to SJSU

I have been busy working on HomeTown, spreading the word and posting content. Yesterday I posted two slide shows. One of a San Jose Giants game and the other of a press conference at SJSU announcing that the university will be the check-in location for all U.S. athletes going to the 2008 Olympic Games. The Olympic announcement is a big deal for the school. I am glad that all of these athletes will see what a wonderful city and university we have. I think San Jose needs to pick it up a notch and submit its own bid to host the Olympics in the future. We keep supporting San Francisco's failed bids. San Jose can do it better.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Welcome to HomeTown!

As I mentioned before, I am doing an internship this summer for NBC11. I am working on a new Web site there, called HomeTown. It is a pretty neat site. It is still very new and has some bugs to work out, but we are working on building up the content and will be working on marketing it soon. Jeremiah Owyang wrote up a nice review of the site (but it is NBC, not CBS). We are trying to keep it simple and clean and easy to use but still be useful.

The idea is to build a site that connects people with their neighbors and community groups. It is as local as you can get. Here is a place for the little stories that have traditionally gotten looked over by TV stations that have a limited amount of time on air. People are welcome to post about the things that matter to them, potholes on their streets, graffiti on the fence, yard sales, parades, what ever they want. Reporters from the station will watch the site for story ideas and to add their own reports. People can also post reviews of businesses and restaurants. The slide shows are also a nice feature. Anyone can upload his or her photos and videos to the site.

I am really excited about HomeTown. Hopefully other people will be too. Like I said, there are still bugs to work out, and new features will come out gradually over the coming months, but people can start adding their content and creating new neighborhoods now!

What do you think? How can we make the site better? Is it worth visiting and monitoring and posting or is it a waste of time? Please leave your comments here.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Monday, May 21, 2007

Wings of Freedom

My little sister Kelsey and I went to Moffett Field this afternoon to see three old World War II planes there as part of the traveling Wings of Freedom exhibit. It was really neat. There was a B-17, a B024 and a B-25 there. Here are some pictures:

And here is a short video of one of the propellers going. It does not look like it, but it was going really fast and was really loud.

You can see the rest of the pictures here. The planes are in town until the 22nd (schedule).

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Finals and Firefox

It has been a little quite in the SJSU blogosphere. That is what happens every semester with finals. But I am just about done! And even more exciting, I am going to be doing an internship this summer with NBC11! I will be working on their Web site, actually, I am going to be working on some new stuff for the Web. I am really excited.

In other news, some of the Blogger functions that normally work in Safari are not working. Good thing I use Firefox...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Founders' Day Donation

I am a little behind on my blog posting. I did an article for the Daily earlier this week on the announcement of a $10 million donation to the College of Education on Founders' Day. It was a great event. I am glad I was able to go. I wish I could have gone to the speech by Margaret Spellings and the panel discussion, but I was not able to.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Using Maps

I am now two for two. Today I posted another cool feature to the Spartan Daily Web site, a map. It goes with Lindsay Bryant's Gold Fold article on underage drinking. It is a good article. We ran a picture of the map, which shows the liquor stores around campus, in the paper today. The online version got posted a little late, but better late than never. We hope to continue doing slide shows and maps and podcasts and the like. I am really excited about the stuff we are going to be doing. I used Atlas to make the map. It was really, really easy to use.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Spartan Daily Online

I am proud to announce that I am going to be one of the online editors for the Spartan Daily next semester.

Yes, I said one of, there is a lot of work to do, as you can tell by looking at our site, and we are excited to do a lot of new projects. I am specifically going to be responsible for working with the reporters in creating multimedia content. That means I will be doing training sessions, helping them with project ideas and making sure that everything comes together on the site. I am really curious what you, my loyal readers, would like to see us do. What can we do to make the site more interactive, more exciting, more attractive, etc.? Let us know, either with a comment here or an e-mail to me. We are listening!

I was at the Daily late last night working on a multimedia project myself. It is teased in a large photo package on the front page of today's paper:

It is a slide show made with Soundslides:

I collected the audio (with a little help from Neal) to go with the photos (thanks Hanna, Neal and Zach!) and then I put it all together with GarageBand and Soundslides. It was a lot of fun, but took longer than I would have liked. A huge thanks goes out to Daniel Sato for all his help! I could not have done it without him.

The Mercury News also has a story and a Soundslides show from the same event. I am not going to say which one I think is better....

Monday, April 30, 2007

Founders' Week Update

Again, as promised, I had another update on Founders' Week. This time specifically about the recognition the university is receiving from the state today. I am really excited for the events this Friday.

Speaking of Founders' Day, the San Jose Mercury News had a great supplement in the paper yesterday all about SJSU's 150th. The multimedia site is also really good. There is a nice mention of it on the JMC Journal.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Founders' Week

As promised, the Spartan Daily had more information on the events next week for Founders' Week and Day. Some of the plans have changed and continue to do so. Keep checking the Daily for the latest. I promise to try and get everything right, even all the changes.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The word from Adobe's CEO

I am at the SJSU Engineering College's Silicon Valley Leaders Symposium series. Today's speaker is Adobe's CEO Bruce Chizen. He is here with Jon Fortt, the senior editor of Business 2.0. We are in the Engineering Building Auditorium. The room is not as full as I thought it would be. Most of the people here are engineering students. Here are my raw notes as he speaks:

"San Jose State is special to me," Chizen said.

"... We are neighbors," he said, pointing out that Adobe's offices are just blocks away from the campus.

He also said that as a graduate of a public college, he is happy to support other universities that are based in the community.

Chizen said that they hope to be a $3 billion company this year, about half of it comes from outside of the U.S. Half of their employees are in the U.S. with about 2,000 in San Jose and 1,000 in San Francisco.

He said that what keeps him up at night is competition from Microsoft and the changes in business models as technology changes.

Chizen said he thinks of Google as a "heat shield" from Microsoft's missiles. Google right now is a partner, but could be a competitor in the future, however, he said it is most important to get to the things that customers want before Google or anyone else gets there. "If Google ends up being a major competitor, shame on us, we blew it."

The quality of the employees in India, he said, is no different than the employees here, they are just not as experienced, so finding managers is a little more difficult. In addition, jobs for them are a way out of the slums, so they are very motivated. They also work for 1/4 of the salary of people here.

For today's students to be competitive and get jobs here in the U.S., they should do internships while still in school, Chizen said. He also said to go deep into a discipline and develop additional skills. Take business classes, travel to emerging markets like China and India,
understand how to work with people that are different than you. These are the skills that make you unique. People in other areas are focusing on the technical skills, the people that get jobs in the U.S. are the ones that can take charge, be leaders and work with others.

Engineers need to learn Java, he said. Understand the mobile, or non-PC, platforms. Know how to make web-based applications work on other devices.

On the topic of company culture, he says to fins a company to work for that has a similar culture to the one you will enjoy. He says you should enjoy the environment you are going to work in, and keep that in mind as you are looking for work and interviewing with companies.

He also said that they are trying to keep honest people honest in preventing piracy. He says they work with the US government and local agencies in trying to stop deliberate piracy. They are also working with the US government to put pressure on other companies to stop the practice. He said that piracy in some places is like J-walking in New York, it is illegal, but it is culturally acceptable. What will change it, he said, is when there are domestic companies that are being hurt in these countries that will put pressure on their governments to end the practice.

Andrew asked, and Chizen said that they are working on technology that will not replace the browser, but move programs to other applications, such as Adobe's Apollo.

Green is a big deal for Adobe, he said. All three of their buildings in San Jose are certified "green" and they do a lot to protect the environment. They also give about 1% of their net profits away to charitable causes.

He joked that he is going to ask Eric Schmidt for a job at Google. He said that most companies are not Google and they, too, will have to act like a grown-up company someday. They are really hard to compete with for employees, he said.

Chizen said that a school like Stanford is difficult to work with and he would much rather work with SJSU, and it will be more of a win-win for everybody.

Update: Burke Shartsis has a good summary of the event here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

SJSU's Birthday Celebration

I have been writing about it all semester, and it is finally here. SJSU's 150th anniversary celebration will climax next week with Founders' Week.

Here is an e-mail I just got about the events:

Distribution List: All Students
Reply to:

To Campus the Campus Community:

Our celebration of San José State University’s 150th year has been an exciting one so far. From an exhibit and symphony concert to literary celebrations, special speakers and historical books, we have discovered evidence of our remarkable history throughout the campus. I would like to invite you to continue to celebrate during Founders’ Week, April 29 - May 4.

We will begin on Sunday with a special supplement from The San José Mercury News, filled with stories of our university and salutations from our many community partners. On Monday, a delegation of campus representatives will attend both sessions of the state legislature to receive recognition by the Senate and the Assembly as the oldest institution of higher education in the state. Following will be a celebration with our Sacramento-based alumni. Tuesday we will enjoy similar recognition from our county supervisors, and on Wednesday Student Affairs will host a fun-filled birthday bash for students. Look for these and other activities at

I invite the whole campus to participate in Founders’ Day, on Friday, May 4. Faculty will be gathering in regalia on the San Fernando side of King Library at 10:30 a.m. to process over to City Hall Plaza. At the plaza beginning at 11:30, San José State will be honored with a proclamation from San José Mayor Chuck Reed and comments by California Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi. The ceremony will be followed by a birthday celebration in the Rotunda building.

In keeping with our anniversary theme, “Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow,” we have convened a panel of national experts who will discuss the future of higher education from 2 to 4 p.m. at historic Tower Hall. In a rare West Coast appearance, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings will present the keynote address. Her remarks will be followed by a panel discussion featuring top authorities on higher education, including California State University Chancellor Charles Reed.

While the university will remain open and available for services on May 4, I encourage employees to work with their administrators so that interested individuals can participate in Founders’ Day events. My thanks to administrators for ensuring that university operations are not impacted on this historic day, but that as many of your employees who would like to participate may do so.

10:30 a.m. Faculty in regalia gather at King Library, San Fernando entrance
11:30 a.m. Proclamation honoring San José State, City Hall Plaza
Noon Birthday Festivities, City Hall Rotunda
2 – 4 pm Presidential Panel with U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, Morris Dailey Auditorium

I look forward to seeing you there!
Don W. Kassing
As always, there will be more in the Spartan Daily as the events unfold.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Day of Service and Spartan Stadium

I have two articles in the Spartan Daily again today. I have been busy.

One is about the Day of Service last Friday. The story also has a photo by yours truly (but it is not the one that is online). We are short on photographers, so Mark and I wrote the stories and took photos. It was a neat event. They hope to make it an annual event, which would be cool.

My other story is a full update on the stadium deal. I was able to interview President Kassing and Mayor Reed at the Day of Service, so I could include that. I spoke with Tom Hastings from the athletic department toady for another story and he said that there are a lot of neat ideas they are floating around regarding what to do with the stadium. He said in the next week or so they may be ready to go public with them, so I will have that just as soon as I can.

Friday, April 20, 2007

SJSU responds to Virginia Tech

I got another e-mail last night from the university responding to the shootings earlier this week at Virginia Tech. Here it is:

Dear Students and their Families:

In the wake of the senseless tragedy at Virginia Tech, it is important to support one another in our living and learning communities.
Please see any or all of the following messages:

A message from the Vice President for Student Affairs:

Recommendations from the Director of Counseling Services:

SJSU emergency plans and tips from the Chief of the University Police Department:

Information from the Director of University Housing Services about preparedness in the residence halls:

Veril L. Phillips
Vice President for Student Affairs
San Jose State University

I think it is good that the university is finally responding, but it is a little late. It is nice they tell us that if we are having problems to go see a counselor and to call the university police if we see something suspicious, but the e-mails themselves raise a few other concerns.

I noticed that I only got these two e-mails (here is the other) on my campus e-mail, even though that is not the e-mail address I have told the university to use to contact me. I did not get the e-mail via the address I gave the school via MySJSU. I do not know how many students at SJSU have school e-mail addresses (the ones), but I would guess that it is not many, as they are someone what difficult to obtain and use. I have mine set to come into my Gmail account because it is so much better. (The school should consider using Google Apps, it is free, but I digress. Tell Google here.)

One of the things that Virginia Tech has been criticized for is not notifying students when the first shooting took place. An e-mail was sent out two hours after the first incident. Since I only got these messages via my SJSU e-mail address, does this mean that I would only get messages in the event of an emergency via this e-mail address as well? What if I do not check it as often? What about the hundreds (I would guess, maybe thousands) of SJSU students that do not have an official e-mail address? I only got one so that I could sign into Facebook.

I am not overly concerned about my safety at SJSU. The bookstore seems to be able to send me junk mail from the address I put into MySJSU, so I assume that the school can as well, I just hope it does if needed. As a reporter at heart, I would probably be running towards the shootings, not away from them, but that is a another concern.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

E-mail from Kassing on Safety at SJSU

I just got an e-mail from SJSU President Don Kassing on my school e-mail account. It is something of a late response to the Virginia Tech tragedy earlier this week. It is also posted on the school's Web site.

To: The Campus Community

From: Don W. Kassing, President

At San José State, our hearts, thoughts and our prayers go out to the Virginia Tech community. We are one family in higher education, with the common goal of assisting students in improving their lives. When senseless, horrific tragedies such as this occur at any campus, it is felt throughout all campuses.

While we constantly strive to create a campus environment that is safe, sometimes a rare act of violence does occur. To this end, San José State prepares for and is ready to respond to any type of violence. Our University Police Department is well trained to prevent violence from occurring and to act swiftly in the case of any incident. We have agreements and joint protocols for response with the San Jose Police Department and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department. In addition, our residence life staff and counselors are trained to anticipate and respond to emergencies. While we can never fully prepare for such random acts, we are proactive in researching and implementing best practices in dealing with any kind of emergency on campus.

Campus Resources
In the event of an emergency at San José State, information will be provided for students, faculty and staff on our emergency hotline, 408-924-SJSU, as well as on our SJSU Web site home page,, and via broadcast e-mail. Our Emergency Information Web site at includes detailed information for faculty, staff and students on what to do in the event of an emergency. For specific information on crimes in progress, see

Breaking News - No New Spartan Stadium

I just learned from Larry Carr at San Jose State, that there will be no new stadium. Here is the article I wrote really quick for the Spartan Daily:

After months of negotiations, plans for a new combined Major League Soccer / San Jose State University football stadium have fallen through.

Larry Carr, the associate vice president for government and community relations said today that President Don Kassing and developer Lew Wolff realized today that the stadium plan was not going to work.

"They agreed this afternoon that they are not going to reach a deal that was going to work," Carr said.

According to Carr, the problem was in potential revenue sharing for the facility.

The proposed stadium would have been built on university land adjacent to the existing Spartan Stadium.

Wolff, who is also a part owner of the Oakland Athletics, proposed to pay for the stadium with funds made through the development of property in the Edenvale area of south San Jose, according to a report released by the City of San Jose on Monday.

Carr said that the university was concerned about the joint use of the facility based on its experience with the old Earthquake soccer team that played at Spartan Stadium before being moved to Houston.

Wolff negotiated the rights to open a new soccer team in the Bay Area, also to be named the Earthquakes.

Wolff told the San Jose Mercury News earlier this week that he would prefer for the team to be in San Jose, but it does not have to be.

"My absolute preference is to do it in San Jose," Wolff said. "And my second preference is that if we do it in San Jose, it would be fun to do it with the university.

"If for some reason we can't do it with them, I'd still like to do it in San Jose. But our option is for the entire Bay Area."

The Mercury News also reported that Wolff has been in preliminary negotiations to build a stadium in Placer County, outside of Sacramento.

Carr said that this does not end the university's plans to continue to improve the South Campus area. The university has been in talks with the city about how to improve the area, including nearby Municipal Stadium and Kelley Park, since before Wolff approached the school with a plan for a new stadium.

"We will go back to those discussions with the city about South Campus," Carr said. "In regards to the stadium, we are staying in Spartan Stadium. …

"We will always look for ways to improve where we are, but we still have a facility to play in."

Update (6:43 p.m.): The article is finally on the Daily Web site (here). The Merc also has the story. I got the phone call at 5:07, My story was done and to my editors at 5:33. The Merc had their story posted at 5:59, the Daily did not get it online until about 6:40. (I am not sure exactly, but I was watching for it and that is when I finally saw it.) My original post here was at 6:13, only because I was already late for class, the Daily came first.

Update 2 (7:02): The Merc's college sports blog has a post here about the deal. Interesting to see people's comments, some for the new stadium and others against. I think this is a huge lost opportunity for the school, city and the community. Kassing is a businessman. He will not do anything unless the money is right. Maybe time will prove him right, but the way things are now, I think we are missing out.

Here is a discussion from San Jose Earthquakes soccer supporters (and blog here). Look how fast this is being talked about all over the 'net. Too bad it happened late on a Thursday so that most students will not be on campus to hear about it until Monday.