21 July 2014

Job Vacancy - Editorial Designer Bourne

Logo of Adobe Photoshop.
Logo of Adobe Photoshop. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Due to expansion we need to fill the following position:

EDITORIAL DESIGNER

We need an experienced and enthusiastic designer to join our expanding team working on a number of market leading magazines. You will need to work closely within the publishing team, looking at ways to take each title forward, improving the feel and style of your titles while appealing to each specific demographic. Previous experience designing for magazines would be an advantage.
You will need to demonstrate
  • An in-depth knowledge of InDesign and Photoshop
  • An excellent eye for accuracy
  • Pro-active design development capabilities
  • Very strong organisational skills
  • Effective time management abilities
  • Communication and teamworking experience
Working for a family-run business has many benefits and will provide you with an attractive salary, company pension, life assurance, a 35-hour week, free car parking and a real career path.
Warners Group Publications Plc is a rapidly growing multi-million pound Publisher and Publishing Services Company offering real opportunities to individuals with the right attitude, skills and ambition.

If you would like to be considered for the above rewarding and challenging career opportunity at
 a time in Warners that has never been so exciting, please send in your CV with a cover letter (stating your current salary) to:

Sharna Tomlinson, HR Manager, Warners Group Publications Plc, West Street, Bourne. Lincs, PE10 9PH or jobs@warnersgroup.co.uk

Closing date for applications is Monday 18th August.

13 July 2014

How to publish to multiple platforms more easily

multimedia.jpg

Trade publishing is a fun business to be in, and it is challenging too. The challenge is not only the constant need to publish news items, features, videos, interviews and social media updates, but the requirement to publish content into digital and print media.

Keeping track of it what you want to publish, onto which platform and when is a major part of an editor's job. Being organised is essential if you are to meet print deadlines and keep websites up to date.

In our editorial office, we receive twenty to thirty press releases per day via email, if not more. Added to that, I receive between five and ten calls a day, at least, from PR agents calling me to pitch articles.

Sifting (or curating) the content to choose the most interesting, relevant and informative pieces to use is the next daily task to carry out, which we do through a 'daily news conference' each morning.

Storing & organising content

How_to_Browse_Network_Folders_using_Folder_Dialog_Box_Control_...
The content we are going to use is written into the 'flat plan' for each print issue and saved into a folder on the network for each issue. In addition, there is original content we write in-house which is saved onto the network too.

The content is then 'marked up' and sent to the designers who prepare the page with appropriate designs and the images to make up the magazine.

Format frustration

Publishing the same content creates its own challenge by way of each platform requiring a different format. i.e. The designers get content from us in Word format (.doc or .docx) to use in print through Adobe InDesign. To publish on the website, we run Word documents through 'MarkdownPad' to strip out all the unnecessary code, mark them up in Markdown format, which we then convert to HTML. This is then pasted into the content management system.

Time saving content creation

draft in
Draft - a great tool for writers
 With all of this conversion into different formats for print and digital mediums, it can become very time consuming. We have to minimise duplication of work, which is why we use a great tool called 'Draft'.

Draft is an online tool (there are free and paid-for versions) to help you create content once and export into different formats.

For example, I write an article in Markdown format on Draft. When I finish the post, I export it into text/Markdown format or HTML for using on our website. Or, I export it in Word format to send to the designers.

Furthermore, I can write a post in Draft and publish it directly into Blogger, Wordpress or Twitter. Working with a tool like Draft saves an enormous amount of time.

Being mobile

Make_Dropbox_more_useful

But, storing content on a network server presents a problem.

The folders are only accessible when logged onto the network. If I am out on the road, I have to send files to my colleague to save to the network.

We could, of course, use Dropbox which would make it very easy to share content with the 'team' which publishes each issue. The designers and editors can access it whether in the office, at home or on the road.

Content creation apps

The only challenge with Draft is that it works well on a laptop, even when offline. But, it is less good when used on a iPad (which I use most of the time when out and about).

There are other apps which are pretty for creating content on an iPad.

writing kit.JPG
 'Writing Kit' is a good app which is native to the iPad (i.e. not reliant on a web browser so you can work offline) in which you can create content in Markdown and export it to Dropbox or email the content as a text file to be converted.

quip.JPG

'Quip' is a very good app for writing articles on an iPad. It syncs nicely so you can share documents with colleagues in the office to edit them together. But, it only allows you to export it to Word format, which is a bit frustrating. It is easy to share links to documents with colleagues, however.

Being an efficient editor

Junior_Journalist
 Creating good content is difficult enough. The last thing I want to do is to waste time struggling to convert it into different formats. That way of working takes you away from researching articles, interviewing people and taking photos.

Being an efficient editor as well as a good journalist helps you provide useful, interesting or entertaining content to your readers. And, it takes pressure off your shoulders, which makes it more enjoyable.

08 July 2014

What does the closure of Orkut mean for social networking?

Google_Shutting_Down_Orkut_Its_Original_Social_Netawork_...

On 30th June 2014, Google announced that it was closing down its ten year old social networking platform, Orkut. What does that mean for social networking?

Orkut was among the first social networking platforms and became popular in Brazil and India. i.e. two of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) which were identified by investors as the four fastest developing and powerful economies in the world, which have recently been joined by the 'MINT' countries (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey).

Orkut's popularity reflected the developing internet infrastructure in Brazil and India, as well as their growing middle classes which could afford the technology to get onto the internet.

Orkut's popularity has waned in recent years. Nonetheless, some users were saddened by its demise, if you are to believe their Twitter posts:
and

Platforms are back

Google_logo

Meanwhile, in June 2011, Google launched another social networking platform, namely Google+, to compete with Facebook and other 'platforms'.

Platforms are expensive to build and to run. The costs come from hosting vast amounts of data in the form of photos, videos, text, conversations and live streaming.

Of course, Google can afford Google+, much as Microsoft has kept its Hotmail (now Outlook.com) platform free for all these years. The benefits they gain from hosting all of that data which users put on it for free is worth the cost, as long as they have scale (i.e. lots of users uploading lots of data).

With scale, Google will benefit from being able to market other products and services to its users and be targeted about the messages it helps advertisers convey. This is exactly what Facebook does.
Orkut's closure was inevitable. Why keep two platforms running when you can migrate all those users over to a single social networking site? Google+ has over 540 million users. It is likely that with Orkut users migrating over to Google+ will increase the latter's user base by several million, maybe 10 to 20 million.

It's not just the cost of the platform either. Orkut has been facing a number of legal problems in Brazil because of some groups set up on the site. Google looks like it is trying to minimise these problems by getting control back of its users who may have to sign a new agreement to use Google+.

Above all, the closure of Orkut will help to develop Google+ and to make its competitive position stronger in a world where social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook are fighting like 'cat and dog' to keep people using their sites by keeping them up to date with new tools and lots of interesting, user generated content.

07 July 2014

Portable Power

Lithium-ion

Technology has revolutionised journalism and the working life of journalists and editors. But, without power, you cannot work.

A couple of weeks ago, I was out of the office for four at a conference and on a press event visit to a factory in France. I had packed my digital SLR (It's a Nokia D3100 and I love it!) into my case, along with my iPad, bluetooth keyboard, iPhone and their respective chargers, except for the D3100.

Cutting to the chase, I opened my camera up on the first day out and saw the battery was nearly empty. The power button had been knocked in my case. No charger, no camera, no high resolution photos. It was a stupid mistake which could have been avoided by removing the battery and bringing my charger.

And, that is why keeping your smartphone, digital SLR, tablet PC, laptop or mobile internet device charged is a constant challenge to most people, not just journalists.

The weight of charging

Despite the lightness of most of the kit I use, the weight of the chargers, and their bulkiness, can be a pain. The chargers take up space in my laptop bag, so I usually carry them in a suitcase. Fortunately, the iPhone and iPad use the same charger. But, I need different chargers for the other devices I have. The cables are not really a problem, the adapters are the bits that weight most and are the most awkward to carry.
That is why something like the PortaPow Quad USB Wall Charger is so handy. It cuts down on the number of adapters you need which cuts out excess weight.
You can plug in four devices at once or two if they are more power hungry. Not a bad solution for cutting down on weight and bulk.

Solar power

What about other methods of charging your batteries while on the road?
Solar power is becoming increasingly easy to use and cheap to buy. For under £20, you can buy something like the PowerBee Elite Solar Phone Charger which will charge smartphones and tablet PCs. Use the sun's energy during the day and charge your devices at night.

Extra battery power


One of the simplest methods of keeping charged up is to use a 'battery charger'. For smartphones, the Anker Astro Mini 3000mAh Ultra-Compact Portable Charger is a tiny, lipstick-sized charger which will provide a 'full charge' for your smartphone, which costs around £14. For a tablet PC, the EasyAcc Ultra is a well thought of device for charging up iPads.

There is no reason to be without power when out and about. For very little money, you can be switched on for longer and more productive as an editor, comforted by the knowledge that you will nearly always have power.

06 July 2014

Sponsored video: Being a mobile editor


Mobile editing and journalism
Mobile editing

Being an industry editor inevitably means you are often out of the office visiting factories, attending press events and participating in conferences.

That also means you spend time on trains or in caf├ęs writing articles about the events you have just attended or catching up on emails and calls.

Abandoned laptop


Lugging about a laptop seems like the obvious choice of technology to use for an industry editor to take when out of the office. But, laptops are often a lot heavier than they look and can feel cumbersome after a short time, making them less than ideal for a 'mobile editor'.

Therefore, I have abandoned my laptop when 'on the road' in favour a using a tablet PC with a bluetooth keyboard, in conjunction with a 3G mobile dongle for internet access as my 'mobile editorial kit'.

The primary benefit is the lack of weight. My tablet PC/bluetooth keyboard combination is light and compact, which means I barely notice the weight when carrying them about in my laptop bag.

Elbow room for writing


Also, being compact as a set up means that I can write articles with the tablet PC and keyboard when they are sitting on the fold-down tray when sitting in a train, or while sitting in a press event.

A bulky laptop is often just too big to be able to work on while on the go. There is no 'elbow room', literally, for me to be able to work because laptops can be too wide. Tablet PC's are, simply, smaller and, therefore, can be used more easily when on the go.

Apps and integration


Another joyous aspect of tablet PC's is the number of 'apps' and tools which make editing and journalism more manageable than with a laptop.

The integrated camera in my 'tablet' makes it easy to take a quick photo or video of a product, person or activity at an event. This can then be inserted into an article or post for my website in an instant.

Writing apps I use create files in several different formats so they can be used on different platforms. For example, the writing app I use on my tablet PC can export documents in 'Markdown' format, which is great for then converting into HTML for the web. Or, it can export in Word format which I send to designers to use for print magazines.

Better hardware


Hardware is improving all the time, becoming faster, lighter, sharper and with larger storage. As the hardware improves, so does your efficiency with getting things done on time.
ACER Iconia 4
Take, for instance, the new Ionia W4 tablet PC that ACER has asked me to look at. It sums up just how quickly hardware is improving.

Let's take weight as a measure of the improvements for a start; the Iconia W4 weighs about 430 grammes. Apple's iPad 4 WiFi version weighs 652 grammes. That weight makes a big difference when you are carrying your tablet PC about all day or holding it up to take photos. The Iconia 4 is light enough to hold in one hand comfortably.
ACER Iconia W4
On size alone, the Iconia 4 is 135mm wide x 219mm high and 10.8mm deep. The Apple iPad 4 is 241.2mm wide x 185.7 high and 9.4mm deep. That means the Iconia W4 is a third smaller than the iPad in area.

That makes it a lot less bulky to carry around, which is important to me as a 'mobile editor'.

You can watch the video about the Acer Iconia 4 below:

(By the way, this is a video sponsored by ACER, but all these views are my own).

I have not written about the usual things about tablet PC's here, such as the processor power or screen resolution (which are important), purely because space and weight are the aspects of being a mobile editor which you regret if you ignore them. Performance is vital, but not at the expense weight and bulk.

Power to the people


But, the one topic which is an obsession when out of the office and editing or writing, and that is power. Being without charged up batteries is a living nightmare for an editor or journalist.
I will cover that more in my next post.