Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Elgg blog saves the day

As well as this blog, I have a few others that address different issues. Like this one, most of these are Blogger blogs. One is the family blog intended to keep far flung friends and family up to speed with what's going on in the Romeis household. I regularly post news of achievements, milestones and heartbreaks and include pictures fairly often. The blog has risen to the occasion for these purposes.

Recently, I tried to include a video clip of my elder son achieving his personal best with the javelin in the county trials. I failed dismally, but filed the failure on my things-to-learn-how-to-do pile. That post wound up being text only, since I had taken no stills of the occasion.

Last week, my younger son took part in the class concert which marked the end of the school year and the end of primary school. Since my husband was in New York on business at the time, I took a video recording of the little guy playing bass with his young rock band, and tried to upload that to the blog. Another dose of failure.

So I set about learning how to get it right. First of all, I found a site called Videodesk that would allow me to host video clips (forgive me if I'm wrong, but I seem restricted to photographs on Flickr) free of charge. My first attempt was abortive because, the limit was 5MB, and I hadn't even noticed that my clip was a whopping 23MB.

New learning objective: learn how to use the video editing software that came with the camera to lift a small sample. Okay - got that (sort of). Upload video. Done. Embed video into blog post. Hmmm.

I faithfully copied the piece of code provided and then went to embed it into my post. No go. I got error message after error message. I knew from experience that shouting "But why????" at a computer yields no response, but I tried it anyway. Predictably: no response.

I was about ready to give up, when a little bell rang at the back of my mind. Elgg. A colleague and I once ran a workshop in blogging for some local authority education consultants and we used Elgg for the exercise. Elgg blogs have a "My Files" feature.

I created a new blog for the family, uploaded the video clip and linked to it from a post. Hey presto and voila!

Of course, by this time my husband had returned from New York and watched the clips in full, but the rest of the family and friends were able to check it out and we've had fantastic responses to it... and calls for more of the same. While Blogger suits my purposes for most of my blogs, if I am to honour the family's calls for more visual material, I suspect that I will be using Elgg for the family news from now on.

Perhaps I can now belatedly immortalise my elder son's achievements with the javelin (which his Dad was there to see in person, hence the comparitive lack of urgency).


Harold Jarche said...

Excellent example. My son uses elgg to upload files that he can later access in school, such as assignments that he has done as Flash presentations. It's handy and pretty secure, too.

Anonymous said...

There's something to be said for a tool that makes itself as simple to use as possible. Like the rest of the population, I don't like to feel like an idiot, but my experience with the video upload made me feel very stupid... until I remembered the Elgg features, and it was the simplest matter imagineable. I have very limited techie expertise and I speak very little htmlish, but I was still able to complete the task I had set myself. The sense of accomplishment was enormous. On an almost daily basis, I revisit that post and view the clip - in spite of the fact that I have access to three full length clips on my hard drive. I'm just so tickled with what I have been able to "give" to my family and friends from Brisbane to Oregon, from Gothenburg to Cape Town, and several places inbetween.