Ryan's Writings…at Mason

Instagram for Android: Finally!

Today on Mashable.com, all people seem to be talking about how Instagram is now available on Android smartphones.

This news was actually announced in March at SXSW by Kevin Systrom, co-founder of the app, and ever since, Android users have been waiting for it’s release.

Well the wait’s over and people are already loving the app — and some are hating it. Read the rest of this entry »


E.C. Workshop: Dreamweaver

On March 28, from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., I went to visit a George Mason University IT Training Workshop that explained the basics behind Dreamweaver CS 5.5, which is an interface used to manage websites.

By the end of the workshop, we had practiced writing basic HTML and embedding links into HTML and using Dreamweaver’s tools, like the “Property Inspector” tool which allows you to edit any selected text or images, in order to create a page for a Website.

Before we left, we had a small quiz to implement the techniques we had learned in the workshop and to preview the page we created in a browser.

I had never used Dreamweaver before so this workshop was a little bit difficult for me, but now that I understand the basics of how the interface functions, I will be able to play around with it and maybe even use it for my own Web page!


Google’s Reinventing Morse Code

Google’s introducing the Gmail Tap, which as described in the video above, is a new typing system that uses just two buttons — one for a dot and one for a dash to simulate Morse code.

By narrowing down the standard QWERTY keyboard to something with only two buttons, this will revolutionize how quickly people can communicate with each other.

With only two buttons to “tap” and send email, this will make sending email via a smartphone much more user-friendly.

And could you imagine if this use of Morse code was transferred to our laptop keyboards as well? Instead of having to train our fingers to fit with the QWERTY keyboard style, a person just needs to understand Morse code!

That seems pretty easy to me.

This reinvention of an old technology seems simply brilliant — just why is it that nobody thought of this before??


Magazine’s Aren’t Looking Too Pretty on the iPad 3

So far, just one magazine looks perfect on the iPad3. Read the rest of this entry »


My Pinterest

Around January, one of my friends invited me to join Pinterest.com. I had no idea what “pinning” was and I had no earthly idea how addictive this news social media site could be.

My first day using Pinterest, I wasted 3 hours of my life just pinning items to my boards.

I’m not kidding. Three hours, non-stop. Read the rest of this entry »


Briggs Chapter 9: ‘Data-Driven Journalism and Digitizing Your Life”

After reading Mark Briggs’s ninth chapter of “Journalism Next,” I realized that all of the emphasis my parents and professors have put on time management will actually benefit my future career as a journalist.

Who’d of thunk, right?

Time management is essential to journalism, especially now that journalism is digital. We have e-mail, e-invites, calendars, blogs and social media to keep up with along with our already hectic lives. Read the rest of this entry »


Briggs Chapter 8: ‘Telling Stories with Video’

Painting a story with your words is something that journalists learn how to do perfectly.

But sometimes words just aren’t enough for the reader.

Videos can take a story to the next level — letting the reader watch the story unfold is the perfect way to get them reading.

Mark Briggs’s example in his eighth chapter of “Journalism Next,” is a perfect example of how a video can gain a reader’s interest better than any well-written lead:


Read the rest of this entry »


Skillset Exercise #5: GoogleDocs

Using GoogleDocs, a program offered through a Gmail account, I created a data visualization of all of the places I have been to in the United States.

First I created a Table, something like an Excel sheet, which listed the locations I have been to and the dates I went to those locations. Then, I had options as to how I wanted to have my data visualized — I chose a map as you can see here.


Workshop #2: Switching from a PC to a Mac

Yesterday, I went to another George Mason University STAR Lab workshop. This workshop just went over the basics of switching from a PC to a Mac and what are the differences between the two.

We mainly went over the differences in the toolbars, tool names and functions between PCs and Macs. Also, we learned about the “Finder” tool which is extremely helpful when looking for files or folders on the whole computer. It is like the “My Computer” file on a PC.

Macs are more user-friendly when it comes to working with graphics. Photo-editing on Macs is easier with Adobe Photoshop than photo-editing on a PC, and Mac’s have more options when it comes to editing photos, videos, fliers and other graphics.

Not every PC program is compatible with a Mac so Macs need software to become compatible with PC programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel. PC programs such as Excel are very efficient when it comes to processing data, so there are different types of software available that make it possible for Mac’s to process PC programs.


Workshop #1: Photoshop

Yesterday, I went to the George Mason University STAR Lab Workshop for Adobe Photoshop.

It was an introductory level workshop that just explained the basic tools and functions of Photoshop.

We learned about the different editing tools to enhance photos as well as the tools we could use to cut photos and rearrange objects to create new photos.

The one tool that I found unbelievably useful was the “Quick Select” tool, which selected a specific object in a photo without selecting other objects or the photo background. When cutting and pasting, this tool was extremely useful.

As a type of “test” at the end of the workshop, we had to take objects from other photos and place them in a photo of a bowl using the Photoshop tools we learned.

Applying my knowledge in that way was very helpful in that I was able to assess what I needed to learn more about.

I had never used Photoshop before, and I think now that I know how useful it is and what all it can do to enhance and fix and edit photos, I am definitely going to start using it more often for projects.


Learn How to Pitch

Pitching an idea isn’t anything new to journalists. In newsrooms all over the world, editors and writers pitch story ideas and try to sell them to get the front page of their publication.

But now, since media has gone digital and mobile, pitching has become a useful tactic for journalists on the entrepreneurial end of the spectrum.

It isn’t enough for journalists to just write and report — they need to be able to have something new and innovative that can sell.

So this is where pitching comes in handy.

What’s the point of a great idea if you can’t even sell it?

Mashable.com posted an article that explains how you can use new platforms in order to make a better pitch. By using up-and-coming platforms, technology and gadgets, a pitch can be seen as relevant, fresh and innovative.


Slideshow Skillset Exercise


10 Google Search Tricks From Mashable

Searching Google these days seems easy for younger generations who grew up with popular search engine — and it is — but I bet it would be easier if we actually knew how to conduct a proper Google search.

Usually, we just type in exactly what we’re looking for. Boolean Search…what’s that?

Well, thank goodness for Mashable.com, because they put together a slideshow of the top 10 Google search tricks that every generation should know in order to make the most out of their Google searches.

Whether you’re doing research for your Master’s or searching for that new pair of Carlos Santana sling-backs, these tips will be a great help save a lot of time when finding exactly what you’re looking for.


Briggs Chapter 11: ‘Building a Digital Audience for News’

Since journalism has taken a liking toward the Internet, as well as mobile platforms, you can bet that is where our audience is going to be.

People reading the morning paper with their coffee and a bagel are far and distant memories that will soon be long-lost; but that doesn’t mean what they are reading has to go in the newspaper industry’s time capsule.

People still want and need news; the platform has just changed, which means the business model for journalism needs to change.

According to Mark Briggs, in his eleventh chapter of “Journalism Next,”  journalists need to build their online audience.

Read the rest of this entry »


Briggs Chapter 10: ‘Managing News as a Conversation’

News used to be a process where audiences just consumed the news from varying media sources.

Well, not anymore.

In Mark Briggs’s tenth chapter of “Journalism Next,” Briggs discusses how news is becoming more conversational as media becomes more social. Read the rest of this entry »


How to Care for a Journalism Student’s Best (Tech) Friend

While mobile journalism and using the Internet for everything is great, it doesn’t work unless your smartphone or laptop are working — which means we have to keep our gadgets in tip-top shape.

That’s why Mashable.com created this great list of tips for keeping a happy, healthy laptop. Read the rest of this entry »


Briggs Chapter 6: ‘Visual Storytelling with Photographs’

Words have the ability to paint beautiful mental pictures for the reader; but what’s better than a mental picture?

Read the rest of this entry »


Briggs Chapter 5: ‘Going Mobile’

In Mark Briggs’ fifth chapter of “Journalism Next,” Briggs discusses how mobile appears to be the future of journalism.

People are having most – if not all of their content – going directly to their smartphones, so journalists need to keep up with the audience’s mobility by entering the world of mobile journalism.

Read the rest of this entry »


Video Skillset Exercise: GMU Benches

George Mason University’s student organization benches.


Pinning Wars: UK vs U.S.

Pinterest, a new form of social media, is booming in the United States as a place for men and women – well, mostly women – to “pin” and share ideas for crafts, DIY projects, future homes, art, wedding planning and more.

And while Pinterest is still growing in popularity in other places, like the U.K., there is already a noticeable difference between the uses of Pinterest in other countries (according to an article on Mashable.com). Read the rest of this entry »


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