Five things series … How to get started on Twitter

“I’m ready to get started using Twitter. What do I do?”

If that’s your question, this blog post is your answer.

1. Set up your Twitter account. If you already have one, go back in and add a photo (no default eggs, please) and update your bio. Include a link to the page on our website that best features your content.

2. Go to the Star-Telegram on Twitter list and follow your colleagues. Many of these folks have mastered Twitter, and you’d be surprised what you can learn just by watching what they do.

3. Pull up in a browser tab, sign in, and check your feed once an hour. This is the best way to keep up with what others are reporting.

4. Re-Tweet (RT) a post you find interesting. For extra credit, add a few words of your own.

5. Check out these great tutorials, including several from your colleagues:


Five things series … Editing video on your iPad

Colleague Eva-Marie Ayala and I had some fun with the iPhone and Fort Worth’s new parking meters on Monday. In the process, I learned five key things about editing in the iMovie iOS app.

1. Move clips from iPhone to iPad: After shooting the video, I used Apple’s camera connection kit to import the clips to my iPad. (Editing on the iPhone’s small screen is not a fun experience.) Unfortunately, you can’t import just any video format, so if you shot video using something other than an iPhone, you’ll just have to see if the iPad will accept it. You’ll know it worked if the Photo app opens.

2. Keep your expectations low: I edited the clips in the iMovie app and overall it worked OK. The biggest drawback: The app version does not allow you to separate audio and video tracks, so B roll is not an option.

3. Use WiFi to export full-res video: I exported the video at full resolution to YouTube (It took only a few minutes.) and was happy with the quality. Uploading the HD file to Vimeo took about 15 minutes on WiFi (for a 44-second video), and I saw little difference in the quality.

4. Export to your Mac if necessary: I ended up exporting the clips to iPhoto via the sync cable so I could handle B roll in Final Cut Pro, thus ruining the entire iPad-only experiment (oh well).

VIDEO: Fort Worth parking meters, on YouTube

5. The iPad works for breaking news: Trying to shoot and edit the entire project on mobile devices wasn’t as awesome as I had hoped. But if you’re not as addicted to FCP as I am, and especially if you’re handling breaking news, the setup will work just fine.

Just know going in that your post-production options are limited, unless you want to move to a laptop.

5 things to know about … apps for your iPhone

Apple says there are more than 500,000 apps in the iOS app store.

I’m going to focus on just five here. These are the suggested “must-have” apps for Star-Telegram journalists, for both the iPhone and iPad.

(Another post will list some specific iPad must-haves.)

1. Star-Telegram iPhone app. Built for iPhone but works on iPad. Our only iPad app at the moment is the Star-Telegram e-edition, which costs $7.95 a month or an extra $2 if you already have a print subscription. (It’s a great way to read the paper!)

2. Twitter. The best free app is Twitter’s own. The best paid app is Osfoora. (In my opinion, of course.)

3. Facebook. I recommend using Facebook’s own app.

4. Meebo, an instant messaging client that works with your Google apps (Gmail) account.

5. Photoshop Express, a quick way to crop and adjust photos shot with your phone.

Some specialized apps, depending on your beat and needs:

iMovie, for video shooters.

TypePad, for bloggers.

CoveritLive, for chatters.

Dropbox, to access files anywhere (if you have an account).

Evernote, to keep and categorize notes (if you have an account).

— The Voice Memos (audio recording) and Notes (quick note-taking) apps come with the phone and work very well.

Please share your favorite apps by posting in the comments section. 

5 things to know about … blogging for the Star-Telegram

A newspaper blog should be much more than an online notebook. At its best, a blog:

Our computers

Photo by Pablo Ruiz Múzquiz; Flickr Creative Commons

1. Is interactive. Use it to communicate with your readers. Ask them questions. Read and respond to their comments.

2. Aggregates. Imagine that your blog is a water-cooler spot for your subject. Look for what others are saying or doing and repost their content. Use the same general guidelines we use for print: It’s OK to quote or paraphrase a couple of graphs, as long as you include attribution and post a link to the original source.

3. Includes multimedia. Photos, videos, source documents and other rich media content can be easily uploaded to a post and can often tell the story better than words. It’s OK to use photos pulled from our Merlin archive with two exceptions — if the cutline forbids web posting (usually in red) or if the photo is from Getty Images. Include attribution somewhere in the post.

4. Has a voice. Write in a conversational tone rather than the formal writing you’re used to for print. Let your inner personality shine through. Have some fun. You can be colorful yet still remain impartial, as per our ethics policy.

5. Starts with a strong headline. Bloggers are headline writers, too. Remember the rules of search optimization — think about what search terms people might use to find your subject matter and include them in the headline. Keep the headlines relatively short — 8-10 words at most. Learn to write provocative headlines that summarize the content of your post.

Instructions for posting to Typepad, the Star-Telegram blog tool.