Friday, August 22, 2003

Some posts from earlier in the week from Nebraska:

August 19 , 2003:

A post that I penned during the flight from Calgary to Minneapolis. The first leg of a journey which will include a flight from the Twin Cities to Sioux Falls, followed by a trip in a rental car to O'Neill, NE.

I was a little late in getting to the airport this morning -- I was only there about one and one-half hours prior to my flight. I usually like to be at the airport a full two hours or more before scheduled departures. I've found that being early improves my chances of securing a seat in one of the exit rows, and extra room (i.e., a couple of inches) for my knees these seats offer.

Long lineups -- at the ticket check-in counter, U.S. Customs and security screening -- meant I was close to missing my flight. In reality I had lots of time (~10 minutes to spare), but I find it stressful waiting in lines minutes before my flight.

The fact that I wasn't at the airport as early as I might have been also meant that all the seats in the emergency row(s) on this plane were taken. On the upside, my friendly neighbourhood Northwest Airlines representative saw her way clear to upgrade my ticket to First Class today. Thanks to her, I'm enjoying the bigger seat, breakfast and beverages in seat 3B on today's flight.

I can still hear the screaming babies a few rows back, but they don't seem to bother me as much on a full stomach ;-)

August 21, 2003:

Another post from a plane. This time a "puddle jumper" from Sioux City to Minneapolis. I heard the flight attendant telling another passenger that the plane we're on is made by Saab. It's a twin prop with space for about 30 passengers. "Space" is a relative term as I sit with my knees up around my ears and crushed into the seat in front of me.

Yesterday's session with the teachers of O'Neill Elementary and invited guests went well.

There are a couple of "power users" at the school and it was good to have them involved in the session and I know that having Katie and Cole relate their experiences with the SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard in the classroom was beneficial to all in attendance.

On the school front, I wasn't able to connect to our term project disscussion space as often, or for as long as I'd have liked -- I'll have to make up for lost time in the next couple of days.

I've installed Helix Producer from Real Networks and have been playing around with it as a tool for "encoding" Real media files for our project.

Ideally I'll be able to work up versions of "streaming media" in Windows, Quick Time and Real formats.

Of course having these three formats for streaming media will go some way towards ensuring accessibility.

Notwithstanding the question of file format, the biggest challenge remains solving the question of file size vs quality of media. I still struggle with the question of " do we make streaming media accessible for 'net-based audiences with slower dialup connections?"

The more I work with "low res" videos, the more questions I have about the use of the medium itself and I've not been able to reconcile the "size/quality" question. In essence, if I get the files, and streaming bit rates low enough to be accessed over dialup, the quality is so poor as beg the question, "why bother."

The answer may lie in a blend of media -- audio, graphics, html, text and video -- to ensure coverage for all audiences as well as the integrity of the content itself. Above all, I think it's imperative to ensure that all audiences have "equal access" to multimedia resources.

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