New Media Interchange

New Media Vocabulary: Widget/Web Widget

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New Media Vocabulary: Widget

“In computing, a web widget is a software widget for the web. It’s a small application with limited functionality that can be installed and executed within a web page by an end user. A widget has the role of a transient or auxiliary application, meaning that it just occupies a portion of a webpage and does something useful with information fetched from other websites and displayed in place. Other terms used to describe web widgets include:[citation needed] portlet, web part, gadget, badge, module, webjit, capsule, snippet, mini and flake. Widgets are typically created in DHTML, JavaScript, or Adobe Flash.

Widgets often take the form of on-screen device (clocks, event countdowns, auction-tickers, stock market tickers, flight arrival information, daily weather etc.).” — Wikipedia.org

Widgets are an important part of any web site these days. Myself alone I use widgets of some sort on nearly any page of my blogs or web site. I use them to link to Amazon books, cookbooks from Cookbook Cafe, show off my Twitter follower, Facebook or Google+ follower numbers and much more. Widgets allow anyone, regardless of their prowess with HTML, include high-end (and very useful features) on their web sites without having to write their own programs.

YouTube videos which are embedded in blogs and web sites are another great use for a “widget.” Bloggers need only copy the provided code from YouTube and then paste that code into their pages or blog post.  These “embeds” allow the easy spreading of content while still rewarding the original content creator.

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Filed under: Blogging, New Media, New Media Vocabulary, Technology

New Media Vocabulary: Noise Floor

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New Media Vocabulary: Noise Floor

While I have linked to some much more technical descriptions of noise floor below, for me (and I assume the average new media producer) the noise floor is the base level of noise in your recording environment. For me, this includes ambient wind noise outside my windows, the hiss of the pilot light on my gas fireplace, fans on my computers and probably a thousand other small noise sources I don’t even notice on a daily basis. All of these combined create my “noise floor”.

The noise floor is the overall hiss or buzz you hear in your recordings and in some worst scenario cases, it can almost overwhelm the “signal” you are trying to record i.e. your voice, your music, etc. The noise floor is also an issue when you find that you have recorded at too low a level and try to raise the overall volume of the recording to an acceptable level. Unfortunately, raising the overall level also amplifies the noise that was recorded beneath your voice or music. In the worst case, this noise will be so overwhelming that you will not be able to use the recording at all. Yet another reason to insure that you are recording at an optimal level when producing your audio or video podcasts.

You always want to try and reduce your ambient noise as much as possible, but without a professionally designed recording studio, there will be limits on how much noise you can prevent, so careful management of recording levels is a must.

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New Media Vocabulary: Pageview(s)

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New Media Vocabulary: Pageviews(s)

Pageviews is another important statistic for web site owners and content producers. A pageview is counted whenever a user, or external program, loads an HTML page on your site. This page can contain many linked items, including graphics, each which generates a web “hit”. Pageview has become a more important metric than hits due to the fact that one page view can generate many hits, but pages can be loaded with extraneous content in order to increase the quantity of hits a web site reports. Today, many web sites earning income from the content they provide will often split longer material over many pages in an effort to generate more pageviews and ad impressions, both which can result in higher earnings.

Due to recent advances in web technologies, though, pages can be designed to update automatically without requiring a complete reload of the page. Pages that use technologies like AJAX might have much lower page views than other traditional HTML pages on a site.

Pageviews can also be counted for information other than HTML pages including PDF files and other document types.

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New Media Vocabulary: Facebook Page

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New Media Vocabulary: Facebook Page

Pages are a fairly recent addition to the Facebook features, but I think they were a natural — and important progression — in the service once it opened up to business use as well as the typical “friending” of individuals. Pages allow anyone to setup — what I describe as — a public facing account on Facebook. Before pages, if a business of any size wanted to connect with customers and interested people, they had to make everyone a “friend.” The trouble being, though, that in order to let these friends see your status updates and other content, you were also forced to see all of their status updates. This could quickly render most Facebook feeds useless as they were filled with other, non-related information from customers and other friends.

Pages allow you to contain the business-related discussions to an area outside of your own personal Facebook Timeline, allowing you follow those people and other Pages that are most important to you, without polluting your Timeline and making it unusable. Pages also allow people to add themselves (Like) your page without any further action on your part. They can also leave a page any time they desire. This helps to cut down on the amount of administration you have to do, especially if you were “friending” each person individually.

Pages also allow you to appoint multiple administrators for a page so that various members of a group can perform page tasks like moderating, banning spammers and posting new content from their own Facebook accounts instead of having to use one Facebook login shared among a group.

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New Media Vocabulary: Visitors/Unique Visitors

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New Media Vocabulary: Visitors/Unique Visitors

When dealing with web analytics, visitor and unique visitors are important metrics. A visitor is any single web site visit from any IP address over any period of time. This could include viewing a web page (html), graphic (jpg) or other file. Each visitor might generate any number of web “hits” which is the count of all items the visitor views.

Unique visitors is often seen as a more important metric, though, as it seeks to eliminate multiple visits by any particular visitor. A unique visitor is usually declared as a single IP address that visited at least once during a given time period — usually one day.

One major problem with calculating unique visitors is the fact that many computers, connected through a single router or network, often shared 1IP address. This means that multiple visits from different computers on the local area network (LAN) would only generate 1 unique visitor no matter how many different computers or users actually visited the web site.

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New Media Vocabulary: RSS (Real Simple Syndication/Rich Site Summary)

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New Media Vocabulary: RSS (Rich Site Summery or Real Simple Syndication)

“RSS Rich Site Summary (originally RDF Site Summary, often dubbed Really Simple Syndication) is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format.[2] An RSS document (which is called a “feed”, “web feed”,[3] or “channel”) includes full or summarized text, plus metadata such as publishing dates and authorship.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS

The way I typical explain RSS and RSS feeds to new users is this…where a web site is designed to be readable by humans, RSS feeds contain the same content as the web site, but they are designed to be consumed by other computer programs, such as RSS Readers, Podcatchers (software the downloads individual podcast files) and other software.

RSS takes the relatively unstructured data that makes up a blog post on a web site and adds tags and meta-data that software can use to perform specialized tasks. One important piece of data is machine-readable date field that can be used to qualify new blog posts and new podcasts that are available for download.

RSS files are simple text files and can be handwritten, if necessary, but usually they are created programmatically by blog software, like WordPress or other custom web site software. RSS files are also extensible so that new tags and new meta-data can be added. For New Media producers this added information includes a series of tags required by iTunes to contain all the specialized information used to build your show entry in the iTunes Podcast directory including the location of your podcast logo, categorization, Podcast Title, Author and more.

People are fond of predicting the death of the RSS, but for myself, I rely deeply on RSS feeds to monitor web sites and bring information to me instead of constantly having to visit hundreds of web sites to check for new information. 

Do you have questions, comments or clarifications to this New Media Vocabulary term? Add them to the comments!

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New Media Vocabulary: Plugin

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New Media Vocabulary: Plugin

“In computing, a plug-in (or plugin) is a set of software components that adds specific abilities to a larger software application. If supported, plug-ins enable customizing the functionality of an application. For example, plug-ins are commonly used in web browsers to play video, scan for viruses, and display new file types. Well-known plug-ins examples include Adobe Flash Player, QuickTime, and Java Applets.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plug-in_(computing)

To expand on the description above, plugins aren’t usually complete programs in themselves, but rather programs that run inside of — and expand the features of — other software. Plugins are very popular because they allow the extension and addition of new features to software without have include the feature directly in the base product. This also allows you to add only those features you most want or need to a product. This reduces complexity of the software and also allows you to limit how much memory the software might take to run. There is no need to load all the features when you use only 2 or 3 of the added functions.

For New Media producers, you will often see plugins as part of audio and video recording/editing software. Most all software provides for a plugin structure which allows other companies to produce niche features that might only be needed by a limited number of users who purchase the overall software.

One important item to remember is that plugins need to updated, just like the software they extend. Keep track of plugin updates to insure that you don’t run into issues with existing bugs or miss new features. Also, be aware that plugins often only work with one specific version of the base software. If you rely on a particular plugin, you may need to postpone upgrading your base software until the plugin manufacturer releases an update to work with that newer version.

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Filed under: Blogging, New Media, New Media Vocabulary, podcasting, Software, Technology

New Media Vocabulary: Condenser Microphone

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New Media Vocabulary: Condenser Microphone

“The condenser microphone, invented at Bell Labs in 1916 by E. C. Wente[2] is also called a capacitor microphone or electrostatic microphone—capacitors were historically called condensers. Here, the diaphragm acts as one plate of a capacitor, and the vibrations produce changes in the distance between the plates. ” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microphone

When you see folks using those big, studio microphones, chances are they are condenser mics. What is a condenser mic? Since there are far better descriptions of condenser micrpohones available online, I am going to refer and link to them rather than create my own, poor, definition.

For me, in general, condenser mics are great for recording my voice as they tend to add bass and an overall richness to my somewhat high voice. The proximity effect kicks in when working close to these mics and, for spoken word podcasts, can really enhance your vocal sound.

You can hear an example in my own work using an MXL 2001 Condenser microphone on my my podcast, Career Opportunities.

More information on Condenser Microphone:

 

My own condenser microphones

 

MXL 2001 | Blue Snowball | MXL 990

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New Media Vocabulary: ftp (file transfer protocol)

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New Media Vocabulary: ftp (file transfer protocol)

File transfer protocol was one of the first technologies developed for the infant Internet. Often shortened to its acronym, ftp, file transfer protocol dictates how files should be moved from one computer to another and provides the software interfaces to facilitate it. Most New Media users encounter ftp when they set up their first web site. Most web sites use ftp to upload the various pages, graphics, photos, audio and video necessary.

Ftp is a client/server protocol. The ftp server runs on the web site server and listens for connections from an ftp client program. When it sees a connection, it challenges that program for a username and password and then allows access to the file structure of the web server (the hard drive) if those credentials are correct. The user can then upload files to the web server, download files or re-organize files.

The original interface for ftp was as a command-line program, but now there are many free and commercial ftp client programs available to make the process easier and more intuitive. My first recommendation for my clients at this time is Cyberduck, available for both Macintosh and Windows computers.

More information on File Transfer Protocol (ftp):

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New Media Vocabulary: Raw Log Files

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New Media Vocabulary: Raw Log Files

 When speaking with podcasters (and other who need to track their web statistics) you may often hear the term “Raw log files.” While many of us use web statistic packages such as Google Analytics, Analog or custom statistics delivered by our blog hosting company (WordPress.com), Raw Log Files are the end-all-be-all of web site statistics.

Raw log files are text files created by your web server software. Depending on where and how you host your web site this might be done using the Apache program or Microsoft’s IIS (Internet Information Services). Whenever anything is accessed on your web site — HTML page, graphic, picture, audio file or video file  — this access is recorded in the raw log file as a one line entry. Typically this line contains the IP address of the computer that accessed the file, the date and time, the name and pathname of the file, the browser they were using and, perhaps, which web site the user arrived from.

These raw log files are the input for statistics programs that can summarize and analyze all these individual entires into a human-readable report of activity and trends over time.

Sample Raw Log File Entry:

IP.IP.IP.IP – – [01/Oct/2012:14:18:08 -0700] “GET /career/video/2012/careercompass-2012.mp4 HTTP/1.1” 200 21467820 “-” “iTunes/10.7 (Windows; Microsoft Windows 7 x64 Home Premium Edition Service Pack 1 (Build 7601)) AppleWebKit/536.26.9”

For New Media producers, though, raw log files provide one important piece of information — the number of downloads of particular podcasts, audio and video files. Statistic services such as Google Analytics cannot easily track these New Media downloads, so producers have to look to their raw log files for this information. These files are the only definitive way to track audience numbers for a podcaster such as myself. 

It is important to note that if you a re using a hosted blog such as WordPress.com or Blogger.com, you do not have access to raw log files, but only the summary statistics that each of these services provides.

For more information on Raw Log Files…

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Filed under: New Media, New Media Vocabulary, podcasting, Technology

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