Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ah Ha!

A few weeks ago I saw a email from ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) about a digital storytelling contest they were having to celebrate their 30th anniversary.

When I first saw the description I immediately remembered my first technology Ah Ha! moment, and it stuck with me. For the next two weeks, I could not get the idea out of my head, so I had to make the video.

So here it is, my entry in the ISTE Digital Storytelling contest-

Special thanks to VSTE for linking to the video on the News section of the site!

No matter what, I had fun making the video...


Friday, May 22, 2009

VSTE Island

Over the past 9 months I have been involved in setting up an island in Second Life for the Virginia Society for Technology in Education (VSTE). It has been a wonderful experience. I have met many new people, and expanded my technology and interpersonal skill sets.

But lately a couple of personal problems have popped up that have really been bothering me. You see, as a member of the group that has been involved in setting up this island, I am getting interviewed. By itself, that is not a concern.

I can talk in front of cameras and into audio recording devices, and sometimes I even almost sound like I know what is going on, which is nice. The issue is that I annoy myself. When I listen to myself, I think things like, "How many times can you say Um in a sentence? Idiot."

Perhaps I should have paid better attention in the public speaking class I had in college and not treated it like a joke. But really, how serious can you take a class that you can't fail? The only class that was easier was Weight Lifting. You record your progress and do an end of semester workout- A. In speech class, you stand at a podium and babble for the appropriate amount of time and you pass.

The interview that I gave for the VSTE Podcast Edge (Warning- if you try to download the video- it is very large! Patience...) really hammered home the fact that I am a "Nose Breather," or NB as I now refer to this affliction. This interview was done in Second Life and I was using a headset with a mic while the interviewer was recording a movie with his screen capture software.

I first figured out that I had this problem when I was doing some screen capture video clips for a Second Life video on Jamestown. Knowing I had this problem, I tried to breathe through my mouth in the interview, but I can still hear it.

I find my own NBing very annoying. The funny thing is that I have never really noticed anyone else doing it, so discovering that it was a problem, and thinking that I was the only one who had it, was very troublesome. I think I really started NBing after I stopped smoking. I found that I could actually breathe out of my nose and so I must have figured that it was something I wanted to get really good at. I breathe in before I speak- that is when the issue is most pronounced. So, it goes like this- deep breath in through the nose, with maybe a little whistle, then, "Yes, I like to go walking with my dog...."

I think my on camera skills are much better only because I can't hear the NBing. But just barely... I was interviewed on the local VBTV show- Access Virginia Beach (Under the embedded Windows Media File click- View Specific Segments for this video, and Click #12). In this segment I tried to suppress my natural head bobbing movements and facial expressions and ended up looking like I was about to fall asleep.

Over acting comes natural to me. Behaving normally does not, and when I try to be normal, people ask me if something is wrong. I can be the fool, but can I be Mr. Serious? Doesn't seem that way.

Recently, I was interviewed for a group of ITRT's in the western part of Virginia in Second Life. Since I am the member of a group, I tried to participate and answer one or two questions, but for the most part I tried to stay quiet. I just hid behind my avatar and and used the back channeling of the chat window. I felt like this one went better but I did not see it from the interviewer's perspective.

The most remarkable thing of all is that anyone would actually care about what I have to say. My children listen when I say, "Let's go get a Slurpee!" And my dog hears me when I say, "Wanna go for a run?" That it is pretty much it.

I am not used to saying things that are important to others... Maybe I should practice saying important things and then I won't annoy myself any longer. Probably not!

Fortunately, it seems like interview time is finished for me. While I would rather work on speaking like Captain Kirk, I think I just need to learn to breathe in through my mouth and try to act like a more normalized version of myself. Maybe I can channel the emotionless Data from Star Trek who fakes emotions to fit in with people. Or, I could just stay away from recording devices when someone wants the serious me and say things like, "I have no comment at this time."

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The New Star Trek Movie

I was terribly surpised on Friday to be offered two tickets to see the new Star Trek movie. I had been off the grid for a couple of days trying to complete some work and had missed many Twitter posts. Amazingly, no one else snapped them up! I had to change plans, and beg cooperation from my wife to make it happen.

I have to give a serious Woot! shout out to @SteveBFW who gave me the tickets to the Virginia Beach Premeire. And I also have to thank @LAlconcel for putting in a good word for me when I was temporarily out of contact. I love my Twitter peeps!

Yesterday morning at 10:30am I found myself at early screening of a Star trek movie with my daughter Savannah. She was excited to spend a little time with Dad, probably because she knows she gets whatever she wants when we are together. Funny, she didn't want much before the movie. I gave her a twenty to go to the candy counter and she only came back with bottled water and Twizzlers.

I was so geeked out to be at this sneak peak, I nearly emitted a constant squeal from the time I jumped in line. I am surprised that I didn't embarass Savannah in public by trying out my Klingon language skills, or my Captain Kirk persona.

I have stayed away from all of the spoiler sites and waited with much excitement to see this movie, and there I was seeing it before anyone else in the city. Wow!

They gave out stickers and posters as we entered the theater. Savannah and I rushed to the lower level of the theater and grabbed the center seats in the top row- which are the best seats ever!

Savannah and I at the Movie. Notice my shirt?

During the movie there was a Paramount guy wandering around making sure no one was taking pictures or movies of the showing. Security was tight. I have never been to a movie like that.
CW27, a local TV station, was sponsoring the event and took a picture of Savanah and I. I had to sign a waver, and they said that they were going to post our picture on their website on Monday. I will add a link when I find the slide show...
Update! 5/4/09 Here is the Link- Savannah and I are on the CW 27!

Movie Review
While I refuse to ruin a good movie by telling the story, I do think I need to say something about it. The movie was AWESOME! It is by far, the Best Star trek Movie yet!

I have grown up on Star Trek, and some people might say that this fact makes me an impartial judge of the movie, but I would have to disagree. Good is easy to pick out and so is bad, but my love for the Star Trek is like my love for my dog. She can make a mistake and I will still love her, but I don't have to like her poop.

In my opinion The Wrath of Kahn used to be the best Star Trek movie because it was true to the original series. It had action and passion and was just plain fun.

Generations was was a close second because it tied the past from The Orignial Series (TOS) to The Next Generation (which I also loved). I also thought it was the best story of all the movies.

The worst movie was the first one, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It was stuffy and difficult to sit through. I must say that I have seen it many times since that day in December of 1979, because there is still much to love about the movie. The bald navigator Ilia is mesmerizing.

There were some other Star Trek that were also pretty bad, but luckily the new Star Trek movie is not one of them. There is lots of action and excitement that will thrill people who aren't into Strek Trek. From the first minutes of the movie to to the last few minutes I was glued to my seat.

The special effects were out of control good. Explosions and space scenes were perfect. The special effects did not take the viewer away from the story, which was very important to me. Otherwise, it would have been a very painful time in the seat for me, because the story makes the movie.

The best part was the storyline. It stayed true to the characters from TOS, but added a surpising twist. This is the beginning of more fun things to come from the Star Trek franchise. If you have never liked Star Trek, now is the time to give it a chance.

At one point in the movie Savannah turns to me and says, "I have to go to the bathroom." Normally I would never send her out by herself, but she is seven and growing more indepenant every day, and I couldn't go into the bathroom with her anyway, so I asked her, "Do you know where the bathroom is? Do you need me to come with you?"

I felt terribly guilty because I didn't want to leave, and the burden of parenthood told me I should have gone with her, but she was ready and was back in only a min or two. Does that make me a bad parent, a Trekkie, or both?

As Savannah and I were walking out of the theater we were asked to give a quick review. I said,"10 out of 10 stars. The best Star Trek Movie yet." Having had a whole almost a whole day to think about it, I still think that is accurate.

I want more! I never go to the movies anymore, but have already told the kids I would take them all to see Star trek when it opens later this week for the world to see.

I have already ordered my Cheezit Star trek shirt and have plans to order them for the whole family, I just need a few more boxes! While I wait patiently for my new shirt, I will probably Trek Myself a few more times...

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