Talking timelines

Recently, the national online team and the Toronto Sun online editors have been trying out a new timeline tool called Timeline Verite. It’s a pretty slick tool and fits in well with our sites.


There’s a few steps involved.

1) If you don’t have one already, hook yourself up with a Google Account. This is a one stop shop for GMail, YouTube, maps, Google Docs or Google Drive – which is required to make this timeline. You may want to consider a Google Account for the newsroom to share. Here’s more information about how to use GoogleDrive, a great tool for creating a shareable document from spreadsheets to presentations. It works a bit like Word but is even more simple to use.

2) Back in Timeline Verite, scroll down to where you see “GoogleDoc” on the homepage.


Select the ‘Google Doc Template’ button. This will take you to your own GoogleDrive. You’ll see a spreadsheet that looks like this:


Continue reading


I stream, you stream we all scream for livestream

About three months ago my husband and I scaled back to basic cable. (Feel free to gasp now). Our plan: To supplement our 30 channel compliment (First World Problems) with online content. We’ve been streaming A LOT of programs <Netflix, AppleTV, channel apps> since and we’re really not missing old school TV.

Like many people, I want content on demand. That’s where I think QMI newsrooms could be doing even more to capitalize on this trend: live web is the new TV.

Becoming adept at producing quality live-streaming, particularly in local markets under-serviced by television stations, offers a huge opportunity, in my view. We could be offering more content – as it happens. Couple that with a live blog to give readers the chance to comment as events unfold – essentially building a second screen experience within one frame – and you’ve got a powerful tool. A recent study out of the UK study suggests live blogs outperform other content online by a whopping 300%.

The London Free Press is doing a lot of high quality livestreaming. Full props to LFP online editor Mike Knoll and his team. The Ottawa Sun has used it. So has the Niagara Falls Review, which ran a hugely successful livestream last year of the Wallenda walk. Leave me know if your team has, too. Send me a comment.

While I’ve played with streaming video, I haven’t perfected it. So recently, I turned to Knoll for some help:

Main websites for streaming video: Livestream, Ustream, Check out the user guide for Livestream.

Here’s what Mike has to say:

“LFP has streamed at least 150 times — the necessary equipment chain is:
Panasonic P2 -> Firewire cable -> Mac Book Pro -> LiveStream procaster -> website embed.
Like all things, there’s a ton of trouble shooting to get it right the first time but once you do, it pays off enormously. We’ve found – if pressed – we can set up a stream in less than 5 minutes. We’ve had no problems using an iPhone hotspot as an internet connection.
A great benefit we’ve found lately with the streaming is that you can record the stream in the livestream software and embed it on your site as soon as the event is done. For press conferences we’ve stopped doing produced videos and have simply embedded the archived stream in the article. Huge time saver and depending on who’s running the camera, it can come off as a pretty polished package.”

The LFP live-streamed the Joe Fontana story. Check it out:


Watch live streaming video from lfpress at




Four geeks, one girl and a Google+ Hangout

I spent my Thursday night fielding questions about a first-person shooting game called Halo 4. Ask my husband, I’m not a video game girl.

Alas, I found myself hanging out with four video game journalists, including our own intrepid Steve Tilley, from across Canada talking about the tech scene’s latest shoot ’em up installment. When I say hanging out I mean virtually on Google Hangout. The tool allows you to video chat in a group. There’s also the option of broadcasting your video chat live via YouTube. Here’s the link to the Halo 4 chat.



Here’s how I did it:

1) Ensure your writers, guests have a Google+ account. It’s easy to set up if they already use GMail or have a Google Account.

2) This will give you access to all of Google’s cool tools, including Google+, the social tool everyone loves to diss. In G+ you’ll find a button on the right saying ‘Start a Hangout on Air.’ (A redeeming feature of G+)


3) Select who you want in your Hangout. You can pick anyone who uses Google+ (you can find them by their Gmail account) and invite them to “hangout.” It’s easier if you make a circle and select all at once. See creating Google Circles.

Name your hangout and then be sure to select ‘Enable Hangouts On Air.’ This does two things: Allows you to broadcast live through YouTube (you need to have a YouTube account and connect it to Google+. It will prompt you to connect after you select enable hangouts on air) and records your broadcast at the same time. It works just like a regular YouTube video. You can embed it right into your website. Once you’re done the live event you can replay the video. Pretty darn cool.


Your participants need to have a computer with a built in video camera or a web cam. What’s amazing is the tool acts like its own camera woman, putting the spotlight on whomever is talking. It’s awesome. Tickles my techie heart.

So let’s change my headline: Let’s make that five geeks and a Google hangout.

You could interview anyone like this. You find a local who was visiting the UK when a massive storm hit; a panel of experts talking about an upcoming election. Controversial project? Pull in a panel of folks with opposing views. Great for readers, great for web hits. I used my Google Hangout in conjunction with a live blog to take reader questions.

If you have any more questions on how to do this let me know.