Thursday, December 24, 2009

Soundslides - a very, very quick guide

Quick guide on how to use the excellent Soundslides tool.

But first, a warning: If you add your own text slides, specifically at the beginning, DO NOT upload to YouTube as the file corrupts images on YouTube playback.

Warning two: Images do not transfer well on YouTube, they become very low quality. Alternative site I recommend is Vimeo.

Add photos. Add music. Dead easy. Add titles. Easy.

To convert your new slideshow to a file than can be uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo, do this:

Find the file publish_to_web which will be in the directory you’ve saved the new slideshow.
Right click on mouse button then select Send To… Zip file.

Once Zip file is created, go to this page on Soundslides.

Upload the file.
A link from where the new mpg4 file can be downloaded will them be emailed to you.  Download, save. Then uploads to YouTube, Vimeo or whatever you want.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Kevin Mitchell versus Amir Khan

Two photographs I took some time ago.

Super featherweight boxer Kevin Mitchell (top) was photographed at a hotel in Preston in autumn 2005. I was at the weigh-in ahead of Dagenham fighter Mitchell's fight in the city's Guild Hall against Daniel Thorpe, which he won.

And the young man next to the devil's head is Bolton's Amir Khan, photographed outside his gym in Bury. He was just seventeen at the time. He had just decided to fight for Britain instead of Pakistan and was sweating on winning a place in the 2004 British Olympic team.

He did eventually get his place in the squad. And don't you know it, he won a silver medal. When I interviewed him at Bury's Seedfield Resource Centre I was bowled over by his politeness and confidence. I've been a supporter ever since.

Khan, a lightweight fighter turned light-welterweight, is a brilliant role model for the people of Bolton, the people of Pakistan and all British youngsters.

Both these fighters won in Newcastle at the weekend and could face each other in 2010. That's why these pictures are here.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Go Broadcast Yourself You Tube

An exercise in freedom of speech.

A few weeks ago I uploaded to YouTube a slideshow of images I took in America of the Westboro Baptist Church. It was a photojournalism essay on the lives of the family.

I got this email from YouTube over the weekend:

YouTube | Broadcast Yourself˙
Regarding your account: gazcook
The following video(s) from your account have been disabled for violating the YouTube Community Guidelines

  • God Hates America - The Westboro Baptist Church - (gazcook)
Your account has received one Community Guidelines warning sanction, which will expire in six months. Additional violations may result in the temporary disabling of your ability to post content to YouTube and/or the termination of your account.

The YouTube Team
Copyright © 2009 YouTube, LLC

This church has what can be called extreme views about god and homosexuality. My journalism aims to raise awareness of issues. This is how the media works at its best.

These are some of the photos:

In Britain, the BBC and Channel 4 have aired documentaries on the Westboro Baptist Church. I often see and hear members of the church on Radio and TV in this country. I know they are in the media regularly in the US, having sat through one of Shirley's radio interviews.

So why have YouTube taken away my toy and made me sit on the naughty step?

There is nothing shocking about the YouTube video, of which some images are attached below. If my photos had included profanities, outrageous violence or hardcore sex then I would expect to be kicked out of mini-video land.

YouTube's Community Guidelines state:
We encourage free speech and defend everyone's right to express unpopular points of view. But we do not permit hate speech (speech which attacks or demeans a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status and sexual orientation/gender identity).

My photos do not do this, they merely highlight an issue. Do a YouTube search for the Westboro Baptist Church or God Hates America and you will find hundreds of videos of the WBC, many of which include speeches which could be deemed offensive. They have not been withdrawn.

My short slideshow is part of a serious, considered piece of journalistic work. I certainly don't think it's as bad as this sexual-innuendo packed episode of children's TV classic Rainbow:

I could not even contact YouTube until I clicked their I ACKNOWLEDGE button which was blocking my account, forcing me to accept their rather unreasonable reasoning for removing my video.

YouTube have not yet responded to my complaint.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Vimeo slideshow - Bethlehem
O little wall of Bethlehem from Garry Cook on Vimeo.

Budget flights with Ryanair, where you can’t paint over the craics.

If you like misery stress and despair with your holidays, there’s only one airline for you.

I’ve made around 20 return trips over the past two years with various airlines. How would I rate the flights? Some good, some bad, but the flight’s from hell are always with Ryanair.

The experience with Irish company Ryanair actually makes travelling with British Rail on a Bank Holiday Monday seem like bliss. From start to finish you are made to feel like you ruining their business by using their airline.

Yes they are a budget airline, so no-one is expecting a silver service. But am I wrong to expect any kind of service at all?

A complicated online booking service is followed by an online checking in service which doesn’t actually serve any purpose. The stress of checking in, with the worries of missing your flight, could brake the weak-hearted.

Then there’s the laughably low baggage weight limit – 20kg for a suitcase which is only 5kg more than hand luggage weight, yet comes at an extra cost of £20.

At Edinburgh airport I found myself amongst a sea of other passengers crouching on the floor over an open suitcase trying to stuff heavy items into hand luggage to dip below their suitcase's 20kg limit. This was after queuing for almost an hour because the company employs for too few check-in staff for their flights.

When I began the booking process for two people from Edinburgh to Berlin, the flights were around under £50 each for return flights. Do the maths yourself. Flights, for two people, should have cost under a £100. The total I paid out was £244.22.

This included a £5 debit card transaction fee per flight, per person - £20 in total. And £10 for a web check in – useless as you have to physically check in anyway if you’ve got a suitcase or not, plus £94.26 in ‘taxes, fees & charges’.

But it’s the physical process of checking in that turns a weekend break into a dreaded nightmare. No one smiles in Ryanair’s queues. No one laughs in the stampede to board the flights and get the best seats. Sadly, no-one even bothers to feel sorry for his overworked and probably underpaid staff.

After several journies with Michael O’Leary’s famous airline I feel so bitter that I even find myself hoping that his staff are as miserable as they make me feel. It’s not a good thought to takeaway for my onward journey.

NOTE: For complaints about this article, please contact Ryanair's Customer Service helpline on... oh, er, hang on, Ryanair doesn't do customer service.