Author Archives: Michelle Lentz

by Michelle Lentz 

Quite frankly, I used to hate live blogging. I would, for the fun of it, live blog the Oscars or another awards show. It was always a pain, having to constantly save and refresh, plugging in the time stamp and everything else. For readers, liveblogging is interesting but you must consistently refresh the page.

Today I wanted to try out CoveritLive, a free (yes, free) live blogging tool out of Toronto. I was planning on listening to the audio stream for the Stevenote, er, keynote at Apple’s WWDC anyway. So not only did I listen, I live blogged it.

Earlier in the day, I registered at and set up the announcement and post for the blogging. When 1 pm EST rolled around, I jumped right into the live blogging fray, putting CoveritLive through the paces. I believe that I was only one of many bloggers using CoveritLive for the keynote. I mention that because the response time was initially slow and a lot of my posts were “eaten” and not displayed. Others displayed about 3 or 4 times. About an hour into the keynote, things somehow managed to even out, and the application functioned wonderfully. I mention this because you aren’t always going to be liveblogging at the exact same time as so many other people and I think it might have put some strain on their system.

CoveritLive is initially an embedded tool on your web site. You blog “in the clouds,” using a special window on the CoveritLive web site. This window gives you access to your media library, reader stats, standby mode and other tools. Had anyone been paying attention to my little experiment, I could have interacted with my readers via comments and polls. I was happily able to edit my liveblogging event after I finished, taking care of some of the repeated posts and crazy spelling errors.


From the readers perspective, there is no need to constantly refresh. You see each new line item as it happens, in real time. You can also interact with the host, via chat like comments. After the event has ended, you can view the liveblog just by hitting the replay button. 

Reader's View of CoveritLive

Recently, CoveritLive has upgraded their feature set. You can now download your code after the blogging session and drop it directly into your site. This gives you the SEO benefit of the liveblogging. I’ll probably do that to my own liveblogging session in a few days. You can also customize the liveblogging window. The default template is for CoveritLive, of course, but you can follow their explicit instructions (exact sizes of images, etc) to create your own template in the right colors and with your own logo. You can add Panelists & Producers, which is an option for more than one contributor to the blogging event. You can even contribute or view from an iPhone Viewer.

If you think about it, such a simple way to liveblog an event should have an interesting effect on citizen (and professional) journalism. All you need is a computer and an internet connection and you’re done. You can liveblog from a concert, from a meeting, or anywhere else, live and in the moment.

CoveritLive is still searching for the right way to make some money off of its tool. Regardless, they intend to always have a free version. While they are searching for ways to improve the tool even more and to monetize their idea, jump right in there and have a go. Liveblogging can be fun again, and no longer a dreaded event. 

Events, news, apps, and more – let me know at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net, via
Twitter, or via Pownce.

6 Jun

Gmail Labs

by Michelle Lentz

Last night, Google rolled out Gmail Labs. This is your opportunity to help Google improve Gmail. (I knew there was a reason Gmail was still in beta.)

Google employees have a nifty benefit called 20% time. This means they get to spend roughly one day a week working on whatever technology idea they want. In some cases, these ideas turn into businesses on their own. In most cases, these ideas go to Google Labs, or now, Gmail Labs.

Gmail Labs

When you log into your Gmail account, go to the Settings option. There is a new Labs tab in the Settings box where you can choose from 13 different Labs options, with more to come. Labs are ideas in the experimental stages. They might work, they might break, but they are there for you to test. Popular labs may go on to become features; other Labs might just be bad ideas.


Events, news, apps, and more – let me know at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net, via
Twitter, or via Pownce.

by Michelle Lentz

Dep't of Education Poster circa 1963 from Flickr User jestaub 

Anymore, we’re all citizen journalists. Many of us blog to multiple sources, we twitter, we update Facebook statuses. We comment and share via Friendfeed and Pownce and the myriad of social networks to which we belong.

Everything we’re publishing is news to us or someone, no matter how trivial it might seem to someone else.

So I found this BBC article interesting:

Almost 80% of social networking site users would be more careful about the details they put online if they knew the media
might use them, a poll says.

The Press Complaints Commission said 89% of the 1,000 people polled wanted guidelines on what the media could use.

And 42% of 16 to 24-year-old who used such websites said they knew someone who had been embarrassed by material which was posted without consent.

Granted, the article is focusing on UK users. But the concept intrigues me. With all the information we’re publishing about ourselves online, whether behind a “walled garden” or available forever on Twitter, how do we control what get published about ourselves by others? Or more relevant to this article, by members of the actual press?

Should social media sites be regulated? Personally, I say no. We all have a responsibility to control our own reputation online. I monitor mine by using Google Alerts. I make sure that photos I don’t want used on other web sites are not under a Creative Commons license on Flickr. But I’m hyper-aware of these things. The average user is not. As a journalist (I write for a legitimate food/wine publication), I will always ask permission before using random quotes or things I’ve found on-line. But that’s me. Do all journalists do that?

So, how much personal responsibility do we have and how much information should be regulated, as Britain’s PCC is considering. Thoughts?


Events, news, apps, and more – let me know at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net, via Twitter, or via Pownce.

Img source: Dep’t of Education Poster circa 1963,
via Creative Commons, from Flickr User jestaub.

by Michelle Lentz

Today YouTube released a new feature: annotations. I can only imagine how this is going to improve the quality of those videos already on YouTube.

The annotations feature is just like it sounds. You can add thought bubbles and call outs to the videos. It’s really easy to do as well. There are some catches, thank goodness.

 - You can only annotate videos you uploaded. This is good. Can you imagine if you could annotate any video? 

 - The annotations only show up on YouTube’s site and not in embedded video. This is actually a great way to drive even more traffic to YouTube, but something you need to keep in mind when annotating.

Annotations could be used rather effectively for education and more in-depth information on a topic. I often search for “how to” videos. However, I tend to search Vimeo and Viddler.

I often find (and this isn’t necessarily accurate) that more professionally produced videos end up on the other options, and, with notable exceptions, some crazy or poorly produced stuff ends up on YouTube. I’m guilty of this myself. My YouTube channel consists of concert footage and Peabody ducks. I worry that while annotations have the potential to be an awesome feature, it will mostly be used for “hey look at her butt!” or some other lovely sentiment. You see where I’m going with this.

However, this is a pretty nifty video about how the annotations work.


Events, news, apps, and more – let me know at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net, via Twitter, or via Pownce.

3 Jun


by Michelle Lentz

I’m practically chomping at the bit for June 9 to roll around. That’s when Steve Jobs will present his keynote at the Apple WWDC and any Apple-related news will be announced. I’m usually intrigued, but not this impatient. This year I’m on the verge of purchasing a much-needed new MacBook Pro, switching from my PC, and I’m afraid to buy it before the conference. Whenever I purchase a Mac product, something new is announced immediately thereafter, rendering my purchase obsolete. (My 4GB iPhone is a perfect example of this.)

So until I let myself buy the new Mac, I’ve tried to make my PC function a little more like the Mac by installing RocketDock.

RocketDock is a fully customizable application launcher that is quite reminiscent of the OS X dock. It works wonderfully and allowed me to clean up my desktop. You can put it on any edge (I use it at the top of my screen) and can even download Add-Ons to further customize the dock.

RocketDock is a fun and free download from PunkLabs.

Events, news, apps, and more – let me know at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net, via Twitter, or via Pownce.