MakerLab Videos 2016: Wrap it Up!

13 Apr

Time to shoot some video.

Studio time: Week of April 25. Shoot what didn’t work out in the lab or on location

Green screen shoot available in the studio.

Book 45 minute slot on:

  • Monday Noon – 3p
  • Tuesday Noon – 3p
  • Wednesday Noon 5p
  • Thursday 3-6p
  • Friday all day

email tubbs at illinois to schedule

Time to edit some video.

Can’t edit without the script. Submit them via box and send tubbs the box link by noon on April 20. I will drop into class with critiques.

Time to upload some video.

Take a look at and figure out how to upload video. Questions will be answered on April 25. I will drop into class.

MakerLab Videos 2016

10 Feb

MakerLab Team Videos

eLearning Support

Johnivan Darby –


The whole project team. Split roles up in the various sections

Suggested Storyboard

Opening Graphics

Some sort of video background generator with:

  1. logo if available
  2. product title/name
  3. subtitle

Rather than the usually clumsy group introduction, let’s use name plates (AKA lower thirds) on screen for your names, title, etc. as you speak. The second video below
demonstrates this. It will let us move more fluidly and quickly through the video.

Suggest/Demonstrate Need

On Screen Talking – Write Script:

Create the situation and vibe that demonstrates the need
of the product.

  • The Shelfie video below does this well
    with the shots of cyclists and them trying to store their

B-Roll footage:

People engaging in the activity that will
be improved with you product. Show the frustration or dilemma
they face.

State the rationale for the product

On Screen Talking – Write Script:

  • What is your solution to this need?
  • Why your solution is unique?
  • What did it take to get your idea rolling?

B-Roll footage:

early prototyping, design process, drawing, molding, etc…

Design Process

On Screen Talking – Write Script:

  • Goals in design
  • Choices made
  • Problems solved

B-Roll footage:

early prototyping, design process, drawing, molding, etc…

The Beg

On Screen Talking – Write Script:

Ask for the support
> What is appropriate here? Please chime in Prof. Rindfleisch

B-Roll footage:

Product in action, MakerLab or other manufacturing

Rock it out at the end

On Screen Talking – Write Script:

  • Summary Statements
  • Thanks for watching and future support

B-Roll footage:

People using the product.


Return to video background generator

  1. Closing phrase
  2. logo
  3. title/name
  4. Thank you’s, credits (TBD by Prof.)


From Kickstarter

This video shows good flow of setting the stage and vibe of who the
products is for and the process of design and prototyping.

Last Year’s Student Projects

2015 MakerLab Videos

The Plan and Your Milestones

For sake of time we will be creating these videos based on a template
that the eLearning Video Team will fill in with your your talking and
any images or videos (B-Roll) that add to the description of what you
are talking about or doing.

eLearning Video Team will be available on April 23 to shoot your
on screen talking, product close-ups and any staged “working on the
project shots”.

The eLearning Team Needs the Following From You:

Set up a shared folder with and,
make us the co-owner of folder to share the items below:

  • Roster of all projects in a Word doc. (February 24)
    • team members names
    • title of their role in the project
    • year, major (for rolling credits at the end)
  • Weekly pix or videos (February 24). Each week post at least five photos and 5 videos (short – as in 15 seconds, unproduced clips) to your folder
    • the process – your team working
    • your product getting printed
    • prototype pix
      > Your phone works just fine for these shots.
      > Hold it steady or use a tripod, have decent light, don’t worry about audio for non-speaking video. The Library Media Commons has items for check out to help with this.)
  • Script (April 20)
    • Fill in the “On Screen Talking” sections above
    • I’d suggest a hand-in of the assignment for review for Prof. Rindfleisch prior to shoot.
  • Bring to shooting day (week of April 25)
    • rough models
    • the finished product
    • SCRIPT!!!

China Batch One

23 May

Pollution – yes
Traffic – insane
Great Wall – really steep
Wild Study in Business – yes

It’s just incredibly big. 30,000,000 people.

Nothing else need be said.


They don’t like trumpets


Beijing at Night


The real pix will be up soon.

Great Mic Tutorial

4 May

The MXL folks have published a great doc on microphone basics. Always good to brush up on the basics.

MXL® Microphones – Recording Basics.

Godfather Leadership

30 Apr

Black and white picture of Godfather Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) seated with consigliere Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) whispering in his ear. Both wearing tuxedoes, Corleone raises his index finger.

In “An Offer You Can’t Refuse: Leadership Lessons From The Godfather author Lydia Dishman interviews Justin Moore, CEO and founder of Axcient regarding demonstrations of leadership in the legendary motion picture. Moore explains, of course, that he isn’t suggesting violent and criminal behavior and that “business should not operate like the Mafia” but there are however many universal themes that are common to the Godfather and the CEO.

The five main points Dishman draws out of Moore parallel many of the things we’ve learned over the past months with MOR. There are obvious dark spins on leadership as Vito Corleone has his business strategies carried out but on a macro level much of it informs us on the other side of the law. I do take some issue or see the need to expand on Moore’s points given my experiences of the last few years at the University and as a MOR student.

Here are Moore’s points with my thoughts included:

  1. Build a powerful community.

Someday, and that day may never come, I’ll call upon you to do a service for me. ~Vito Corleone

Uttered in the iconic rasp of Marlon Brando, the words of Vito Corleone illustrate how he creates a loyal community among those he has helped. Moore says, “By granting these favors and helping people with their problems, Vito Corleone is building a network of influence–relationships that may or may not deliver a specific or quantifiable return, but all which serve to strengthen his power base and which have the potential to be reciprocal in the long run.”

Moore says building strategic partnerships enables companies to work through challenging markets and fast-track overall success. “As a CEO, I see it as part of my job to be a super connector, networking with the technology and investment community without an expectation of reciprocation. Partnerships forged through time, trust, and mutual benefit–such as those Axcient has built with HP, Ingram-Micro, and a vast network of service providers and resellers–are the types of community relationships that bring about the greatest returns.”

Fostering relationships, networking and community have been well demonstrated in our MOR activities, an especially concrete example being the simulation we worked through at Michigan. The “expectation of reciprocation” is a significantly different matter in the Godfather. Coercion on the part of Corleone to receive reciprocation exclusively on his terms is quite different than relying on a mutually created relationship based on trust. I would equate Corleone’s methods to be similar to the “sandwich” strategy in our simulation where pressure was applied to get the desired outcome regardless of the state of or investment in the relationship. However, unlike our experience, Corleone’s sandwich would be very likely be successful and possibly painful for personal between the slices.

Never leave a Dean’s Office with the Canolli and Gun question on your mind. Enough said.

  1. Hold people accountable.

What’s the matter with you? I think your brain is going soft. ~Vito Corleone

The Godfather reminds us of the importance of being tough when necessary. “As soon as Vito Corleone allowed a few moments of weakness to be seen by his enemy, they attempted to assassinate him. And it was largely because of failures of his team,” Moore observes.

“In business, accountability isn’t achieved by a murderous rampage. But the lesson is this–to be successful in business you have to be tough, and you have to be extremely focused on hitting goals and getting results,“ says Moore. That doesn’t mean patience and understanding don’t have a place, he says, but ongoing tolerance of low-performing people or products just eats away at the success of the entire company. “You are ultimately responsible for all of your employees and shareholders, and that requires tough and swift decisions.

Many of the ideas from our readings on accountability prior to our fourth session contradict this last quote. In these readings we learned accountability often works better when there’s not a perception of a leader’s “ultimate responsibility” but a shared responsibility amongst all people across the organization. Metrics, numbers, targets, etc. are critical as they tangibly represent a shared goal or destination where all members recognize their contribution to and responsibility for. I think Vito does have it right here, when someone’s “brain is going soft” there’s not a full sharing of the responsibility required to be truly accountable to the organization.

  1. Don’t get emotional.

It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business. ~Michael Corleone

“Many people don’t like to talk about the fact that in business, there are winners and losers. When Sonny Corleone reacts impulsively and emotionally, he gets taken out. In business, if you don’t take the opportunity to out-sell, out-bid, or out-market your competitor, they’ll take you out. I’m not suggesting doing anything outside the boundaries of morality or rightness–simply pointing out that when people make emotional decisions, they start making bad decisions. To lead successfully, you have to take your emotion and ego out of the equation.”

Likewise, Moore says it’s important to play to win. In business, that translates to knowing the competition and always staying at least one step ahead. “Operate your business with integrity and have respect for competition, but you also need to seize opportunities to eliminate your competition and win.”

Emotional Intelligence, the EQ or EI, that we explored in Nebraska plays a role in everything a leader does. I would differ with Moore in that every decision is an emotional decision. The skilled leader has a full knowledge of his/herself and can parse the factors in the decision making process. The leader’s EQ/EI moves into the social realm as the leader operates the “business with integrity.” Here the awareness and management of those external conduct traits are in full play.

  1. Be decisive.

Moore says that he, like most people who appreciate The Godfather, watch the movie with a combination of shock and respect. “Shock because he is so ruthless that he kills his own family member, but respect for the fact that Don Corleone knows exactly what he wants, executes decisively, and commands respect through unwavering leadership.”

While you don’t have to kill anyone to prove a point, as soon as you know what choice to make, move forward. “Know who on your team is making the right choices, and trust them to take decisive action as well. Hesitation too often leads to missed opportunities.”

As I thought about this point it strongly became apparent to me that decisiveness, successful decisiveness that is, is the result of this whole quest for improving our leadership skills. A decisive action really can’t take place without processing everything we’ve been learning in our MOR experiences. Of course a mature leader does this more intuitively than us newbies. Even I, if I put my mind and effort towards a situation, can act decisively within my current role.

  1. Spend time with your family.

Do you spend time with your family? Because a man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man. ~Vito Corleone

Moore isn’t endorsing 1940s machismo, but he is decrying 100-hour workweeks that many entrepreneurs fall prey to in hot pursuit of the next big thing. Though he’s been dedicated like that in the past, Moore finds it’s not sustainable in the long run.

“A leader can’t be successful in creative problem-solving and making excellent decisions unless that person is connected to people and passions outside of work. I find that it’s often time with family and friends that gives me the perspective I need to build the relationships and make the decisive actions required for continued success in business,” says Moore.

I would take Moore’s thought one step further; I find that if I’m not feeling good about something in my home life I lose focus and effectiveness in my work life. Realizing I didn’t give my kid a hug before dropping him off at school ends up bugging me all day. A down swing in a relationship, the loss of a loved one, a financial pinch, and so many other situations can take a toll on my ability to lead. I need to work at both aspects of my life with equal effort.

It’s often little things that help so much in my total life. Here a few examples that work at:

  • Walk out of the office at 5p unless it’s an absolute necessity.
  • Rather than read the news on my phone at breakfast we now practice my son’s spelling words for the week.
  • Attempt to practice self-awareness at all times.
  • Share the evening cooking as much as possible (when we’re not in extracurricular shuttle mode with the kid).

Work/Life balance is critical but too often are empty words in the work world. I am grateful that it feels that the higher education sphere is better at this balance than the private sector. Certainly it’s an improvement from my ten years in the private sector. Hopefully it stays that way.

(via An Offer You Can’t Refuse: Leadership Lessons From “The Godfather” | Fast Company)

Finally one thought came to mind when looking at the picture of Brando and DuVall – it has to do with appearance and impression. The image of a “secret” being whispered into the “leader’s” ear has always been something that makes me uneasy. It sets a tone that lacks transparency, in face-to-face meetings or even during public events. I’ve been on the bandstand hiding behind my bass or behind a camera for well over 500 events; a position where I’m thought of and treated like wallpaper. It’s provided me an anonymous and fascinating view of interactions both formal and informal, overt and covert. My “research sample” has representation by leaders from multiple universities, governors, congressmen/women, clergy and business leaders. I’ve seen plenty of examples that are reminiscent of the Brando-DuVall picture and many other scenarios play out right in front of me. (don’t ask about wedding party behavior on the dance floor – NSFW) After awhile one gets quite adept at assessing the “good guys” and the “bad guys.” When I say bad, for a few, it means an orange jumpsuit sort of bad. Anybody that knows Illinois can guess at who some of those people may be.

Together we have learned that we are always on stage as leaders. Do we want to be compared to Brando?

Getting Published Digitally.

28 Mar

This is fabulous. No company or digital personality gets left out.

eText Best Practices for Document Creation

19 Feb

Digital Textbook Format Workflow

For Etext Best Practices project.

Concerns of Format

Too often accessibility is an afterthought. The goal of eText.Illinois was and is to develop a workflow that creates or starts from a core document that fully separates semantic mark up and presentation styling. This separation provides document curators with the best Wikipedia does good job summing up

Semantic HTML is the use of HTML markup to reinforce the semantics, or meaning, of the information in webpages rather than merely to define its presentation (look). Semantic HTML is processed by regular web browsers as well as by many other user agents. CSS is used to suggest its presentation to human users.

(via Semantic HTML – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

This HTML and CSS approach is well accepted basic and solid best practice for web content creation. When considering a long format “book” much of the authoring process place away from the web professional and solely under the control of the author. It is all too often that in this period of crafting the book the adherence to purely semantic document creation slips.

For nearly all authors in academia, the writing tool of choice is Microsoft Word. This is a double-edged sword. On one side is MS Word’s ability to “Track Changes,” especially across multiple users is an important collaboration tool. While Track Changes is an important feature, the remainder of MS Word’s unique and powerful toolset is primarily tied to a printed document.

The other edge of the sword are the tools that create beautiful pages visually but not necessarily semantic organized for conveying meaning. The main problem is that Word gives the writer too many tools for presentation at a time when the process should be on clear writing and organization. Arbitrary application of formatting methods such as font size, typeface, indenting, and underlining may visually deliver meaning and emphasis but do so without any semantically correct markup. While semantic meaning can be created with consistent application of MS Word’s paragraph “Styles” it still is difficult to impossible to extract clean HTML that moves away from making the web look like the printed. There is no process in MS Word that puts the screen first ahead of the page. In an eText project that’s backwards.

With a well crafted HTML document can result in a beautiful printed page with the appropriate CSS. If advanced features such as automatic printed table of contents, indices, footnotes/endnotes the HTML document can more easily be adapted to print that performing the process in the reverse direction

A (Not the only) Solution

While MS Word is a perceived as the ubiquitous format, in reality plain text is even more so. With only the caveat of the missing “Track Changes” feature plain text, as an authoring format, is without peer for long term use and compatibility. Working with plain text is a bit foreign to many today, but is the basis of all text creation and consumption on the screen. A rising movement among professional writers is the move to drafting and shaping their narrative as plain text files. Plain text keeps the mind on the content and not the look of the page. Additionally working in plain text lends itself to working on mobile and tablet devices becoming more and more popular. As an example, this document is being created on an iPad with the “Writing Kit” application.

The goal is to create a document with the least amount of friction as it moves through the editorial and production process. Plain text captures the words, but suggestions for meaningful structure such as headings and emphasis on particular words must also be included. Once we have words and structure in a single document as plain text the destination of the document is completely flexible.

The Notion of an ÜberFormat

The flexible destination idea is so critical to the whole work flow described here. Documents created could go to one or many of the following possible situations:

  • Printed for distribution
  • Specialized document for reading by text to speech reading devices
  • Printed to Braille type
  • Distributed via digital book formats
  • A website
  • Integrated into a learning management system
  • A blog
  • Master document draft to go to a publisher

This list not complete because a text document can end up anywhere. The überformat should be thought of like this:

From a single semantically correct document a conversion process can deliver a variety of formats for screen display and print.

Semantically Correct – Structural Formatting That Carries Meaning

For the smoothest conversion to other formats but with all the structural meaning of the document proper markup should be in used to:

  • Create structured, nested sections with Headings
  • Provide means to place more importance on words or phrase. There are two levels: Strong and Emphasis.
  • Create lists that are either unordered (bullets), ordered (numbered), or combination of the two
  • Ability to organize tabular information in row/column tables
  • Designate blockquotes
  • Offer hyperlinking of words or phrases
  • Blocks of code
  • Horizontal Rules (separating lines)
  • Images

Where appropriate these items should have the appropriate “alt text” and “long description” to provide low vision users with options to gather meaning from the text.

Optimum Flow – How Can it Work?

The process of creating digital documents that provide the most flexibility with the least amount of labor to output in a variety of needed formats requires a commitment all along the creation path of the document. Any creation path and set of document formats can eventually create an überformat document but the goal is too make it as painless as possible for everyone involved and save time and money. Without this process goal the ability to scale up document production is only a dream.

The basic idea is the seamless transfer of documents between authors, editors, proof readers and final digital publishers. Editing a text file with appropriate markup as discussed above provides for the best process. The solution that has been used for the last year and a half in the eText.Illinois initiative is Markdown formatting. Markdown provides appropriate options for semantic structure and keeps authors and editors focused on the actual content and not the “making it pretty” trap that full blown word processors tempt the writer.

Markdown Overview

The creator of Markdown John Gruber is a well-known tech pundit, former programmer most notably with application BBEdit. As a writer, for both print and screen, he devised to ease his own workflow.

Philosophy (From John Gruber)

Markdown is intended to be as easy-to-read and easy-to-write as is feasible.

Readability, however, is emphasized above all else. A Markdown-formatted document should be publishable as-is, as plain text, without looking like it’s been marked up with tags or formatting instructions. While Markdown’s syntax has been influenced by several existing text-to-HTML filters — including Setext, atx, Textile, reStructuredText, Grutatext, and EtText — the single biggest source of inspiration for Markdown’s syntax is the format of plain text email.

To this end, Markdown’s syntax is comprised entirely of punctuation characters, which punctuation characters have been carefully chosen so as to look like what they mean. E.g., asterisks around a word actually look like emphasis. Markdown lists look like, well, lists. Even blockquotes look like quoted passages of text, assuming you’ve ever used email.

(via Daring Fireball: Markdown Syntax Documentation)

See the formatting for Markdown from John Gruber’s Markdown Syntax Page

The eText.Illinois Workflow

In a perfect world we would have authors writing, or at least delivering, their works to the editors as Markdown (or other similar lightweight markup languages). While the real word experience with three different text book projects has provided three unique document conversions.

  1. Introduction to Bioevironmental Engineering was a MS-Word document with well over 100 hundred scientific equations.
  2. ACES 101: Contemporary Issues in ACES was compiled from a all sorts of document sources including MS-Word, PDF, webpage text and newly written content in plain text.
  3. Writing @ The University of Illinois was delivered completely in HTML.

Learning from these three experiences the model eText.Illinois is moving forward to new projects is based on the following process flow:

Flow chart that traces the process documents take as they come from authors and then are prepared for the überformat. Once prepared the documents can be used to provide all possible publishing endpoints for print, web, reading devices and accessibility hardware and software readers.


The Introduction to Bioevironmental Engineering book required the conversion of MS-Word created scientific equations. Through much research and experimentation it was discovered that to have equations that can be properly displayed in a browser, ePub formatted eBooks, copyable and usable in advanced mathematics software such as Mathematica, and as source for reading by text to speech software and hardware multiple methods must be employed. There isn’t one magic format that allows publishing to all major web browsers with proprietary and limiting software plugins and applications. Specifics on the equation methods placed in HTML and digital will follow.

Of concern at this stage is the ability to extract equations from the MS-Word source document. These additional steps are added to the workflow above to convert MS-Equation Editor or MathType equations to LaTeX formatted equations that become the backbone for screen display as well as some speech to text.

Flow chart of steps converting MS-Word docs with equations created in MS Equation Editor to LaTeX (MathJax Flavor). Then wrap up by exporting the whole document as plain text.

Additionally eText.Illinois is recommending that written out text scripts of how the equation would be read is being gathered. This is basically a transcript in words of the the symbolic representation of the equation. As a test a Graduate Assistant provided this transcription for the Introduction to Bioevironmental Engineering digital textbook.