CodeKindness Pairs Nonprofits with Technology Volunteers

CodeKindness Logo
CodeKindness: Mobilizing Technology Volunteers for Social Good

CodeKindness is designed to help technologically skilled volunteers support nonprofits by working on projects of a variety of flavors including social networking, web design and development, hardware, and databases.

Nonprofits can create an account and post a request, which is then approved by CK. Word then goes out by RSS, email, and social networks, as well as on the website itself, about the opportunity, and volunteers can sign up to show interest in the project.

Once the nonprofit’s project manager picks a volunteer, CK helps them keep track of progress and encourages the project manager to check in with their volunteer once a week until the project is completed. After completion, the project manager is encouraged to thank the volunteer by sending them a CodeKindess t-shirt, whose purchase supports CK.

The nonprofit then rates the volunteer and statistics are shown on the site. Currently there is a relatively small amount of activity, with 2 projects completed and 4 more in progress. There are 20 open projects and 24 technology volunteers, so the balance seems to be working out well so far.

I like CK’s approach to social entrepreneurship and I encourage you to head over there and browse the projects if you are technically inclined, or register if your nonprofit needs technical assistance. Time will tell whether this model will be successful, but I applaud the effort and I imagine that both the developers and the nonprofits that get involved will realize substantial returns.

Video for Inspiration: I Met The Walrus

It’s amazing what someone can do with a tape recorder and some pen sketches.  

I Met The Walrus

Ok, so maybe an exclusive interview with a famous celebrity 38 years ago doesn’t hurt, but the point is, you don’t need much to tell a story. You can start any time, so don’t let yourself make excuses. Just start somewhere. Then keep going.

Bargain Hunting on Craigslist

What do you still buy on Craigslist?  I find it useful for finding apartments and jobs (or gigs), but since Craigslist became a household name, shopping for cheap stuff has been replaced with avoiding the people trying to rip you off.

Now you find things posted above list price rather than below.  I wonder if there are people who actually overpay for these things or if the sellers are just hoping to find someone to haggle with.  Occasionally, a good deal will crop up, but is sifting through the overpriced ones to find it still worth the virtual trip?

Personally, I use keyword RSS feeds.  I check my Google Reader almost daily (or several times depending on the day), so it makes sense for me to check there instead of going to Craigslist to browse the deals. To set up a feed for the camera flash I’ve had my eye on, a Canon 430EX, I did my search on Craigslist and clicked the RSS icon in the lower right of the page to get that feed and add it to my reader.

Most days there are no entries, but whenever someone posts a 430EX for sale, I see it in Google Reader. Most of these deals don’t even beat Amazon’s price for a brand new 430EX, but yesterday I noticed one listed for a good 15% below the best price I’d seen anywhere else.

I immediately emailed the poster, and shortly received the reply: already sold.  Even with my custom keyword RSS feed and frequent visits to my reader, I still wasn’t fast enough to take advantage of none-too-common bargain.  Maybe I should set up SMS alerts to my phone.  Has anyone had success with a similar setup?  What deals have you found on CL?

Podcasting for Nonprofits

Adam Weiss, Podcast Consultant, recently posted a roundup of his resources from the Podcasting for Nonprofits workshop he presented at Brown University last week.  There is a plethora of good, introductory information there for podcasters on a budget.  Make sure to take a look at his video on proper microphone placement.  Just a little bit of knowledge will go a long way towards improving the quality of your audio.

In a bit of a ‘small world’ moment, Anna also saw Adam give a short demo of the Manfrotto Modosteady at the Boston Media Makers meeting on Sunday.  Someone’s been busy.

Five Tips to Get Cast

In my job, I’ve found myself running more than a few auditions. I’ve come up with some tips that might help you land roles in small, independent media projects:

(1) Show up on time, show up prepared. It may seem obvious, but it makes a difference. It doesn’t matter if your last show was written up in the NY Times or if you’re on a first name basis with Marty Scorsese – the person you are meeting today has no idea who you are or why they should hire you. Showing up on time shows respect to your potential employer. If you can, ask your questions about the role before you get on site, so you can spend your audition time, you know, auditioning.

(2) Don’t worry about memorization. It is much more important that you have a good understanding of the character and the tone of the piece than whether you have memorized the side. Memorization is nice, but you look a lot dumber standing there going “uuuuuuh” or restarting the monologue than glancing down at a piece of paper for a split second.

Knightsbridge Headshots Image from dalydose’s photostream(3) Get a good headshot/resume. Even if you have little to no experience – especially if you have little to no experience – a good resume and pro headshot will impress how serious you are about being a professional actor. Don’t know what an acting resume looks like? Tisch does!

(4) Don’t question the director’s choices unless you think there’s a good reason to go there. If the director says “This character has an American accent” – don’t launch into your best cockney English, even if you think it sounds better. Again, obvious, but true. In industrial films and non-broadcast work, choices are not always made on their artistic merit, but because a client needs the product to come out a certain way. Try to be flexible.

(5) Don’t bring props or costumes. The director needs to map their own image of the character onto you. Wear neutral clothing to the audition – and by that I don’t necessarily mean color. If your character is a sharp 1920’s gangster, don’t go out and find a zoot suit and a fedora. You can wear a blazer you have in your own closet. The director will understand that you get the general sketch of the role, but it won’t look like you are second-guessing the director’s vision. I know you’ve all heard the stories of Hollywood celebrities blowing the director away by coming into the audition with a totally new look – but for every one of those there are probably a hundred people who showed up to play Harry Potter with a fake lightning scar on their foreheads. Don’t let that be you.

Finally, a bonus tip: Audition, audition, audition. Just cause you’re dead wrong for one role, it doesn’t mean you won’t get called back for something else.

Take note: Casting agencies work very differently than independent producers holding auditions in their offices, so check their policies before you show up!

Twitter Shapes Advertising

Forbes has an article, Twitter Moms Sink Motrin Ad, covering the recent events in which general outrage among mothers on Twitter caused Johnson & Johnson to pull its advertising campaign about using Motrin to treat pains from carrying babies.

Twitter Bird Image from Twitter.comWould the backlash have gained such momentum so quickly without Twitter? The speed with which news and opinions travel is astonishing to marketers who are unfamiliar with the micro-blogging space. What are people saying about your brand on twitter? Try out and subscribe to an RSS feed that updates whenever a new tweet matches your search query.

Keeping tabs on your brand on twitter and responding, especially when people have a complaint, is a great, inexpensive way to interact directly with your audience and manage their perception of you.

Stop Prop 8 Ads from being served in Adsense

Vote No on Prop 8 Image from HBC4511Several websites have reported unwanted advertising from Google Adsense from the “Yes On 8” campaign supporting the banning of gay marriage in CA.

Here is the quick fix to make sure this doesn’t happen on your site:

  1. Log into Adsense
  2. Click “AdSense Setup”, then “Competitive Ad Filter”
  3. In the appropriate text box, add “” to the list of disallowed domains.

That’s it. Your account should not serve any more ads from the “Yes On 8” campaign. There are however, other campaigns that could still place advertising on Prop 8. You can add more domains to the competitive ad filter in the same way. If you know of more pro Prop 8 domains using AdSense, lets us know in the comments.

Now go vote!

Canon 5D Mark II Video Footage

Canon EOS 5D Mark II Image from Steve KeysCanon lent a prototype of the new 5D Mark II to New-York-based commercial and editorial photographer Vincent Laforet for 72 hours, and this short film is what he put together: beautifully shot, put to music (no sync sound), using only footage from the 5D Mark II. The footage is 1/4 size (from the original 1080P) and shot with mostly L-series glass. The 5D Mark II retails for about $2700 (body only) from B&H. The combination of excellent lenses with the full frame sensor yields some gorgeous low-light shots.

I’m certainly interested to see some of this tech make it over to the prosumer video side of Canon. After seeing this kind of result, would you consider shooting your next project on a DSLR?

More Steadicam from Garrett Brown

Image by mikefats
B&H has Part 2 of their interview with Garrett Brown, inventor of the Steadicam. We featured Part 1 last month. In this addition, Brown talks about his early experiences using the Steadicam on film sets, the advent of post-production tools for correcting shaky footage, and combo-shots using the Steadicam along with dollys and cranes.

B&H also has a video with Garrett Brown demonstrating the Steadicam Pilot, one of the lightweight and lower-cost alternatives to the full-scale film camera version. If Garrett Brown’s Steadicams are a bit of your price range, take a look at Johnny Chung Lee’s $14 Steadycam.

Johnny Chung Lee: My newest hero

Steadycam Pieces
Image by ElDavid1
Chances are you haven’t heard of Johnny Chung Lee yet – but it’s probably only a matter of time. Lee has demonstrated some pretty neat tricks with the Wii remote, and actually tells you how to accomplish them at home (I could devote an entire post to how awesome he is at explaining technology, but I’ll refrain). If building Minority Report style finger tracking and a home-made multi-input whiteboard isn’t enough for you, Lee makes his own $14 Steadycam. He has some really nice demos up on the site, too. The side-by-side comparison between his Steadycam and a camera on a folded tripod is pretty impressive.

What I like about all of these projects is that they are not focused on the most perfect means of exploiting technology, but the fastest, cheapest and simplest. Teague is quite taken with the $14 Steadycam.  Now you all know what to get him for his birthday.