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Ask an Astronaut Live at Riverfront Museum’s giant screen theater June 18

Event:  Ask An Astronaut with NASA’s Col. Michael S. Hopkins
Date & Time:  Thu., June 18, 2-3 p.m.
Location:  Giant Screen Theater, Peoria Riverfront Museum, 222 S.W. Washington St. Peoria
Cost:  FREE & Open to the Public

The public is invited to “Ask an Astronaut,” live at Riverfront Museum’s Giant Screen Theater, Thurs. June 18, 2-3 p.m. NASA astronaut Col. Michael S. “Mike” Hopkins will field questions from museum Space Explorers summer camp students and the general public during this live web-based Q&A. The event, sponsored by NASA and the museum, is free and open to all.

Col. Hopkins, an aerospace engineer, spent 161 days on the International Space Station (ISS), from Sept. 2013 through Mar. 2014, with crew members from the U.S. (including Karen Nyberg, the 50th woman in space), Russia, Japan and the European Space Agency. During the expedition, the crew completed 2,656 orbits of Earth and traveled more than 70 million miles.

The Missouri native is a University of Illinois alumnus (BS, 1991) and former Illini football team captain with strong ties to the Peoria area – he is married to Peoria native Julie Stutz Hopkins. For more information on Col. Hopkins, visit: http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/hopkins-ms.html.

The museum recommends reserving a seat at the front desk (main lobby) or by calling 309-686-7000.

Citizen journalism sheds light on subsidies that are destroying the Colorado River

Here’s a very interesting citizen journalism piece from Pro Publica about how the cotton-growing industry Arizona — probably the most Tea Party states in America — thrives thanks to the generosity of American taxpayers:

Wuertz could plant any number of crops that use far less water than cotton and fill grocery store shelves from Maine to Minnesota. But along with hundreds of farmers across Arizona, he has kept planting his fields with cotton instead. He says he has done it out of habit, pride, practicality, and even a self-deprecating sense that he wouldn’t be good at anything else. But in truth, one reason outweighs all the others: The federal government has long offered him so many financial incentives to do it that he can’t afford not to.

Citizen journalsim is sexually, racially more diverse than corporate journalism

From PBS’s Mediashift:

Jama Abdirahman is a 22-year-old student at Seattle Central College. He loves photography and the Seahawks. His parents, who are from Somalia, hope he’ll become an engineer.

It’s unlikely that Jama would become a journalist. Journalism is dying, right? Plus, people of color made up just 13.34% of US newsrooms in 2014 . That’s less than half the percentage racial and ethnic minorities make up of the US population overall.

The Seattle Globalist , a non-profit news organization of which I’m a co-founder and the executive director, wants to see that number change dramatically. Our own newsroom is the petri dish: our writers are 40% people of color and 20% foreign-born. Two of our three editors are women of color. Our board includes people who identify as a range of races, ethnicities, nationalities, and sexual identities.

In praise of good old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting

According to Pressthink: Defined as news gathered when you walk away from your computer and go out and walk from place to place gathering news from multiple sources or events. It is still considered reporting at its highest form, the God whom  all true journalists worship. Picking up the phone and calling people is a close second, getting facts off the Internet is a distant third. Linking to someone elses story and publishing how you feel about it isn’t real journalism.  I do some shoe leather stuff over at Valley&Bluff, and lot of navel gazing over at The Peoria Pundit.

Advice for citizen journalists: Follow the money

Read it HERE.

‘Physical attacks against Vietnamese bloggers on the rise’

Surprise! The communists who run Vietnam aren’t any nicer to bloggers than the punks in Alabama who toss bloggers in jail:

On May 25, 2014, a Vietnamese blogger and human rights activist, Tran Thi Nga, was seriously injured during a violent attack in Hanoi, a local human rights organization reported.

Tran Thi Nga, a savvy social media user in documenting human right abuses in Vietnam, was returning home after visiting fellow blogger Nguyen Tuong Thuy when five men—now suspected to be undercover police members—surrounded her motor bike, on which she was riding with her two children, the report said. The assailants attacked Tran Thi Nga in front of her children and chased her before beating her with a metal pole. The blogger sustained serious injuries to her knee, arm, and back.

This unfortunate incident comes at a time of similar orchestrated attacks against bloggers and social media users in Vietnam. Four other distinct incidents have occurred since March 2014.

 

Here’s the situation. The authorities in Vietnam share something with the punks in Alabama who arrested Legal Schnauser publisher Roger Shuler. They KNOW he’s a journalist. They didn’t jail him because he wasn’t a reporter. They jailed him because he was, and to date they are getting away with it.  His blog hasn’t been updated since May 13.

In Vietnam, there is little Tran Thi Nga can do, except hope public outrage can sway calmer heads in her country’s government.

Can nanotransactions save online journalism? Answer: Yes

From StartUpSmart:

Nick Ross, the ABC’s editor of technology and games, has begun crowdfunding a project called Nanotransactions, which allows publishers and blogging communities to charge users a few cents to access each piece of content.

As with prepaid mobile accounts, Ross’ model sees users top their accounts using the online payment system of their choice, including bitcoin, to a minimum amount of $5.

Unlike current micropayment systems, which charge publishers up to 30 cents per transaction, the Nanotransaction model is envisaged to involve a charge of just one cent for an article with an access charge of up to nine cents.
The system will also be web-based, meaning users won’t need to download a specific app in order to access content.

I dunno. Seems awful inconvenient to me. I better mail in my payment for at home delivery of yesterday’s news so I can get all those coupons for out-of-town stores I’ll never visit.

The fact of the matter is, any payment system that delivers content of a viable and vibrant online-only version of your daily newspaper will invariably be cheaper and more efficient than the paperboy delivery model in use today.

Themes, themes, themes galore for Blog Peoria Pro members

Right now, a Blog Peoria Pro member can choose any of up to 293 themes. This includes any WPMUDEDV premium theme and ANY of more than 100 fantastic WOO! theme. Many of these themes are perfect for citizen journalists. And the cost to become a Pro member? Just $10 a month or $50 for a year. Use the coupon code ‘BLOGPEO15’ for a $15 discount.

Do Peoria Heights residents enjoy being a no-newspaper town?

There is no newspaper focusing on Peoria Heights. The Village Voice? Gone. The Observer (later the Times-Observer)? Killed by GateHouse Media. I’m sure the government of there runs absolutely perfectly without ANY routine scrutiny from the public. Oh, sure, the Journal Star MIGHT pay attention if there’s something going on. But then, how would they KNOW if there is anything going on? Oh, well, it’s not like it would be easy for a concerned citizen or two to create an online newspaper. Oh, wait. It IS easy … http://blogpeoria.com/wp-signup.php

It’s best that you tweek your photos in Photoshop before you upload them to Blog Peoria

Seriously. Go HERE and download your FREE version of Photoshop CS2. This is a version of the program that was released by Adobe. Go ahead. It’s legal. When I started blogging, I had to manually install about 20 3.35 floppy disks MANUALLY and it was as illegal as HELL. But it was worth it, because Photoshop is THE premier photo manipulation software. It is the gold standard.

OK, now here’s a “come to Jesus” discussion about photos on your Website.

Bigger is not better. If you have a newer camera, it can probably take pictures with about 12 megapixels. That is way, way, way too large for a Website. Lower your camera settings to about 640px or 320px.

Now upload your photos to your computer. Open one of the photographs you want to upload to Photoshop.You need to change the image size to something that will fit in your theme:

photoshop_advice1

 

What I do, is I right click on the bar above the image (or I go to “Image” in the tool bar, then go down and click on “Image size.”  When the “Image Size” dialog box appears, I click on the “Constrain proportions” check box (not visible in this photo, but it’s there) and then I manually enter the width in pixels that I want. I find that 500 pixels is plenty wide for the theme I use. You may need to set it at 450 or 400 pixels. You will find that the “Height” value automatically changes (that’s because you clicked the “constrain proportions” check box.

Now, you’ll want to save this version for the web:

photoshop_advice2

 

See? Easy peasy.

Then:

photoshop_advice3

Select “jpeg”, “medium” and “30” for quality. Then click “save.”  You will be prompted to name the image. Pick one you can easily remember and remember what internal file you are saving it to on your computer.

Then use the “Add Media” button in WordPress to manually add the photograph. Be sure to use the “attachment display settings” in the dialog box to select the image size you want.You may just want to run the image as a “thumbnail.”

Here’s why I recommend smaller sizes.

Big images eat up your total maximum file upload size in WordPress. Users are allowed a maximum of 200 MB upload space ion Blog Peoria. That’s it. I may expand Blog Peoria in the future, but for NOW, the max size is set at 200 MB. The maximum size for any ONE image being uploaded is 1,500 KB.

And here’s another problem. Too-large photos will break many themes. If your theme can accommodate an image no wider than, say, 500 pixels, the theme’s sidebar may be forced below the image, perhaps all the way to the bottom of the blog.

Or, you will get a “broken image” message on your blog (FYI: the fewer images you have on your blog, the better as far, as load times go).

Or your blog will take too long to load.

Or it won’t load at all.

Trust me, tweaking your image in Photoshop BEFORE uploading it the best thing you can do for your blog.