Archive for the ‘Technology’ category

Troy-Built

December 5, 2011

The ribbon-cutting in the studio, with Troy on the left

Presenting the Dean's Award for Exemplary Service to Troy Senkiewicz

Whenever Troy Senkiewicz  fixed or upgraded something in the TV studio during his Elon student days, he’d mark it “Troy-Built.”

Even a decade later, we’d occasionally find some item branded “Troy-Built.”

Not anymore. When we upgraded this summer to high-definition in the McEwen studios and control room, Troy (class of ’98) took time off from running his California company DigiMax Consulting to return to Elon for a couple of weeks to help our engineering staff with the huge project.

We invited Troy back to campus this week to present him the Dean’s Award for Exemplary Service.

His involvement was crucial to our success in making the HD transformation and for securing gifts from vendors such as Sony, General Cable/GEPCO and ClarkPowell that totaled in the tens of thousands of dollars. Thanks, Troy!

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Steve Jobs

October 7, 2011

Two students in a Media Writing class interviewed me today about the legacy of Steve Jobs.

My answer focused on his uncanny ability to create elegant products that excited people’s technological imaginations, leading Apple at one point this year to surpass Exxon Mobil as the most valuable company in America.

Time magazine even stopped the presses this week to remake its cover, shown here.

Jobs was imminently quotable. Here are four worth rereading:

Being creative: “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.” (Wired, 1996)

The little things: “This is what customers pay us for—to sweat all these details so it’s easy and pleasant for them to use our computers. We’re supposed to be really good at this. That doesn’t mean we don’t listen to customers, but it’s hard for them to tell you what they want when they’ve never seen anything remotely like it.” (Fortune, 2000)

Mainstream media: “I don’t want to see us descend into a nation of bloggers. I think we need editorial oversight now more than ever. Anything we can do to help newspapers find new ways of expression that will help them get paid, I am all for.” (D8 conference, 2010)

Don’t settle: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.” (Stanford University commencement address, 2005)

Some Photoshop Humor

September 30, 2011

A "hover hand" from actor Jim Carrey

Time for a little silliness. This blog just passed 85,000 views since its origin three years ago. Entries are usually serious observations about the media world or recognitions of outstanding student and faculty work at Elon. But since we have Photoshop in our labs, I can’t resist passing along this satire of a Photoshop tutorial from collegehumor.com. Here is the video about how to remove those awkward “hover hands.”

Technology, Television and Troy

September 8, 2011

The School of Communications is completing the largest technology project since its founding 11 years ago — the conversion to high-definition in the studios, control room, engineering and entire student video-camera fleet.

Communications students now have access to 55 Sony NX70s and 13 Panasonic HMC-150s, and all record HD video to memory cards for tapeless transition to editing. In addition, new Mac computers and monitors were installed in three of our Communications labs this summer for writing, audio/video production and multimedia design. The overall upgrade totals about $600,000.

Our hero, Troy Senkiewicz

The summer hero is 1998 alumnus Troy Senkiewicz, founder and CEO of DigiMax Consulting in Los Angeles. His long-standing relationship with Gepco International helped him persuade the company to donate hundreds of yards of cable, saving Elon thousands of dollars, and then Troy came to Elon in late summer and spent several days helping the school rewire its infrastructure for HD.

During his student days, Senkiewicz served as a production assistant for Elon Student Television. During his recent wiring work, he came across some items in the studios emblazoned with a familiar name spraypainted in orange: “Troybuilt” — pieces of equipment that he helped put together as an Elon student.

Now Troy has left his mark on Elon television again.

Computerworld Laureate

April 23, 2011

Congratulations to the Imagining the Internet Center and its director, Professor Janna Anderson of the School of Communications, for being named a laureate in the 2011 Computerworld Honors Program. It recognizes the use of information technology to promote positive social, economic and educational change.

The Imagining the Internet Center was selected as a laureate in the education and training category from more than 1,000 nominations. Laureates will gather for a black-tie awards gala on June 20 in Washington, D.C. At the ceremony, five laureates in each category will be named finalists for a 21st Century Achievement Award.

The center, an initiative of the School of Communications, admirably involves students in its activities. For example, students travel abroad each year to cover the Internet Governance Forum under the direction of a faculty member. Their coverage of these global events both serves the public good and can be a transformative experience for the students.

You’re Staring at a Screen Right Now

April 16, 2011

Every day, the average American spends 8 hours and 11 minutes consuming radio, television and the internet, according to a survey by two media measurement firms reported in The New York Times.

This represents a 20 percent increase from 2000, when the average American spent 6 hours and 50 minutes with these media.

Yes, more Americans have internet access today than a decade ago. But we’ve also seen the demise of what once were silent spaces.

For instance, Tom Webster of Edison Research told the Times: “This morning, a colleague in the cab with me spent 20 minutes checking e-mail and listening to things online. These are times and places where media were not consumable before.”

The Clone Wars

March 6, 2011

Photograph published in Fast Company magazine

Look at all those Apple icons. This picture, taken in a university classroom in Great Britain, shows Apple’s astonishing success in branding.

At Elon, a picture like this wouldn’t be possible. Classes in the School of Communications come in four maximum sizes: 33, 25, 18 and 15. Still, the ratio of Apple logos in our classes would be similar.

I purchased my first computer in 1983 upon becoming a doctoral student at the University of Tennessee. I bought a “clone” — a Franklin computer with a floppy-disk drive — because I was a cheapskate. The Franklin had the same operating system as the Apple II and was less expensive.

Later that year, Apple successfully sued Franklin for copyright infringement, with the Third Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that copyright law can protect an operating system. (Franklin was caught red-handed, with embedded strings in its operating system containing the word “Applesoft” and the name “James Huston,” an Apple programmer.)

Apple was able to force Franklin to withdraw its clones by 1988, and Franklin soon stopped manufacturing computers.

This was only one skirmish in a decade of Clone Wars in the early years of the computer. IBM similarly battled clones (such as Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Epson, NEC, Olivetti, Tandy and Zenith) that adopted “IBM-compatible” systems. To shake off the pesky clones costing it millions in lost sales, IBM changed the design of its PCs in 1987, creating the ironic situation of IBM computers no longer being “IBM-compatible.”

Today, the computer world is basically divided into Apples and PCs. The classroom photo above shows us which is winning over young people.