Camp Guide challenge

Welcome to Round 2 of the Ottaway Online Editors Guide Challenge.
First, please note the criteria for winning will be different than the Wifi challenge. My aim is to foster more widespread participation.
  • The Challenge:
    Craft a comprehensive guide to summer camps in your region. Use of UGC, photos, mapping, and how-to content a plus.
  • The Prize:
    Winner: 1 copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements for use by anyone at your location not currently enabled with a full Photoshop license (ideally for someone who regularly be cropping big barker photos).
    Runner-up: $25 Dunkin Donuts (or coffee shop of your choice) gift card
  • The Winning:
    Staff at Campbell Hall will be asked to participate in scoring the entries, and the best score will win. I was recently a judge for the New Hampshire Internet Awards, and am going to borrow part of their scoring system. Scale is 1 to 10 across five categories, with 10 being the best. Categories are:
    • Mission Accomplished: Did the guide complete the job to be done (help a parent decide on which summer camp to send their kids)?
    • Content: Was it easy to read, well written and concise as well as relevant to the guide's mission? Was the content useful and engaging?
    • Interactivity: Is audience participation evident, or solicited?
    • Functionality: Is the guide more than a list, and easy to get around? Was a map used? Other tools?
    • Overall Experience: A rating based on the interplay of all of the above.
  • The Deadline:
    Camp Guide must be posted on your site by close of business (5 p.m. PDT, 8 EDT), April 5, and an e-mail must be sent to onlineeditors@ottaway.com, declaring the guide's location.
Note: All entries will be shown off and discussed on the monthly publisher calls, April 9-10. That is also when the prize winners will be announced.
Here's some camp guide examples and snippets from around the Web to get you started. There's not much in the way of a interactive or comprehensive guides, so we're in pioneer-like territory here:

delawareonline is social networking

I'm traversing the Web, looking for Camp Guide examples (the reason will become apparent soon), and in doing so I came across a nifty three-tabbed social networking teaser widget on the delawareonline home page.

Those who have heard me advocate playing in the audience's spaces will know I'm a sucker for this stuff. I wholeheartedly endorse the concept.

So far, there are 151 photos on Flickr and 34 videos on YouTube with the delawareonline tag, and they have 30 MySpace friends.

It's clearly not a mass medium for them yet, in part because it's hard to tell how often they are updating and inserting their own content. I'll be so bold as to suggest that they're not doing it enough. Looks as if the front page of the paper they use as the main photo of their MySpace profile is from early March.

At least the folks at Go! at the Times-Herald Rcord are updating their cover photo and blog weekly (1,641 MySpace friends and counting). Ian Hill, a.k.a. 209 Music, has been caring and feeding his MySpace profile since 2005 and has 1,845 friends to show for it (music is a natural fit on MySpace, by the way... if you have a music critic on staff and he or she is not on MySpace, shame on that critic).

You get out of these efforts what you put into it, and as the old lottery adage goes, "You can't win if you don't play."

Anyone using Flickr or YouTube, either to post your own content or network with others?


Pocono Record - St. Patrick's Day

While I am singing the praises o' Pocono, check out their St. Patrick's Day landing page. In particular, try out the quiz, teased from the top of the right rail.

Something that will make Kurt and his staff's hearts melt: Marta tells me that a day after launch, the ad positions for the page were sold out.

Wi-Fi Hot Spots in the Poconos

Our runner-up in the Wi-fi Challenge is the Pocono Record, which posted its map of Wi-Fi Hot Spots in the Poconos yesterday afternoon, first with a tease from their News Updates block and later with a small barker, too.

Like a few of you, Marta and co. had a few weeks ago published an article about wi-fi hotspots in the paper and online (teased the days earlier with a UGC solicitation in their Noon Update), so they had a good base of data to start with. But the landing page, complete with the map, is a much more user-friendly way to present that data, and becomes a place to continue to build the library of knowledge about an increasingly important utility in the community.

As a runner-up prize, the Pocono staff will be receiving a Dunkin' Donuts gift card, so that they may celebrate their success with Boxes o' Joe and tasty treats.


Wi-fi winner

Editors, we have a winner in the wi-fi map contest:

Erik Gliedman actually sent me three e-mails yesterday, updating me on his progress. He met all of the requirements, and went the extra mile by eschewing his co-worker's app in favor of his own map coding.

For his efforts, he has won the promised handheld video camera. Share with your colleagues, Erik, but nice going! Please share a product review of the camera when you get a chance.

Stay tuned for the next challenge....

Wiki/UGC/Guide to airport outlets

Wiki and UGC is probably redundant, eh?

Nevertheless, check out AirPower Home, coming to my attention today via my daily Thrillist e-mail. It's a guide to airport power outlet locations.

Job to be done, baby! Outlets are always at a premium when you need to stock up on battery juice before boarding a flight. A sample:

Boston, MA

  • Logan has several phone card vending machines which are plugged into dual outlets. The second AC jack is exposed, but you may want to bring a thin extension card because a blocky power adapter won't fit.
  • There are some tables with outlets near the wall in the dining areas (near Sbarro, Starbucks, etc.), but the cord will go across a walkway, so make sure it's long enough to lay on the ground so you don't trip anybody.
  • If your flight leaves from a lower level terminal (i.e. near the ground), there are a couple plugs behind the rows of seats. You may have to push the seats out a couple inches to get to them though.

Wi-fi challenge

OK, folks. I'm issuing a challenge. We'll make it a contest, actually.

First Ottaway Web site to have a wi-fi guide like this will win for its staff use a Pure Digital PSV-352 60 Minute Point-and-Shoot Camcorder (shown off by Hank Ankerman of the AP at the assignment editors conference and now in use at the Pocono Record).


  • Must show a map of the wi-fi locations (Patrick Mullen has an app he's willing to share to help you with this).

  • Must include ability for users to submit new locations and update existing ones.
It would also be good to distinguish between free wi-fi and paid access.

(Note: The Tacoma map came to my attention today courtesy of MediaShift.)

Time-saving software

While teaching a photo gallery/video production session at the Cape Cod Times yesterday, I mentioned a few pieces of software I've collected in my arsenal over the years that I have found to be great time-savers for a multitude of Web production tasks. So now sharing with a broader group (and so Gene can share the list with the class participants):

  • NoteTab Light
    Text editor on steroids. Has an invaluable Pasteboard feature that allows the user to collect a series of CTRL-C/copy commands in a single document for handy pasting later. Best of all, it's freeware.
  • Picassa
    Picture organizer from Google. Has some basic editing features (cropping, toning, etc.), but best of all for our purpises is it's Web-page creation capabilities that will batch resize photos -- which eventually leads to a much faster upload process for Saxotech photo galleries. I'll post a how-to on the DevCenter soon. This software is also free.
  • VideoZilla
    Video converter that can aid the encoding of Flash video for use in Saxotech sites. Got an old Quicktime or Windows Media file that you want to put into your new Saxotech-enabled video player? This program worked great for me when I tried it on some old Southcoast Safety at Sea special report videos to ready them for the new site launch. My favorite feature? It installs an option whereby in Windows Explorer you can right-click on the video and start the conversion right from your computer's file and folder view. Again, how-to coming soon. It's not freeware, but at $29.95, how can you live without it?
Note: That Southcoast link is on their staging server, so you have to be on our network to view it... when the site launches next week, the special report will be more widely availabe here.


Half loaves of bread - Slashfood

Half loaves of bread - Slashfood: Certainly you would have to file this product under "Jobs To Be Done."


NYT: Photo Scavenger Hunt

If it were my universe and I were king, I would definitely steal... umm... borrow this idea for UGC photo galleries in any one of our markets. Certainly there could be any number of riffs on the idea, tied to either specific events, places or topics -- or just as a general, regularly scheduled scavenger hunt.

Plus, you could even use this tactic to solicit photos for specfic needs you have in building guides. You're all creating guides for wifi hotspots, right? You need photos to illustrate, right? Solicit them in a UGC slideshow, and then repurpose them for the guide.