Monday, February 6, 2012

Blog moving!

Hi guys! I'm excited to announce that we're moving this blog over to Wordpress, where we have become part of the Weigle Information Commons "PennWIC" blog. The Blogger blog will no longer be updated, but you'll be able to find new posts at:

Friday, December 23, 2011

RealArts @ Penn Internships

Via RealArts @ Penn:

"We are sponsoring 10 paid summer internships - for University of Pennsylvania students - at MTV/Viacom Creative, Rolling Stone magazine, Brooklyn Films, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Nickelodeon animation, Shore Fire Media, the Jewish Museum, at Original Film, & with the Stern/Gibbs writing team in LA. Penn students - apply now. Current 3rd-year students given preference but all may apply."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Join us today in the lab (and, frankly, probably every day this week) for our annual viewing of the (now classic) Christmas movie, Elf.

This fantasic image comes from Scott Campbell's excellent "Great Showdowns" blog.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Converting film reels to digital video

The lab has many free resources for the Penn community for converting media. We can convert from : dvd, vhs, c-vhs, mini dv, cassette tape, 35mm film, 35mm slides, and vinyl record. From time to time we do get questions about converting different formats of film reels. We have no equipment to do this in the lab and don't know of any resources available on campus that can convert film reels. In the past we have referred people to Video City Inc. in Center City. Until recently I have never personally used them, but I am happy to say I am very please with the business. I had three reels of 8mm film from an old box at my parent's house and had no idea what was on them. I got them converted to .avi files at Video City Inc. and although a lot of the film was water damaged I was able to rescue some great moments of my older brothers' youth. The footage was a little dark, which was just the way the film was shot. I was able to clean it up quite a bit in Final Cut Pro. You would also be able to do this to some degree in iMovie. Here is a before and after shot of a small section of footage.

There is a long list on Video City's website about what formats they can convert. I would highly recommend dropping off a hard drive for them to put the footage on instead of paying for it to go directly to a dvd. If you convert to a dvd it doubles the cost. Each reel ended up being about $10 to put onto the hard drive which is a real bargain in my book.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why won't my Windows drive work on my Mac?

You may have run into problems with plugging a Windows-formatted (NTFS) external hard drive into your Mac; normally Macs can read files on these drives, but not save to them. Fortunately, some very smart people have written some free software that lets Macs use NTFS drives:

To install it, just click the banner, run through the automatic installer, and choose "no caching" when it gives you the choice. Restart your computer and you should be all set!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Smart Phone Buyer's Guide

It's "that" time of year again. Engadget has published their Holiday 2011 Smart Phone Buyer's Guide. They "examine the variety of options from each carrier, large and small, along with its most solid alternatives. Those insistent upon QWERTY keyboards will find each provider's pick of the litter, and we also select a high quality budget offering with $80 as the absolute ceiling. "

Check out the guide at

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What is 4K Video?

TimeScapes 4K from Tom Lowe

I came across this video called TimeScapes yesterday. It is basically a demo video showing off the capabilities of 4K technology. 4K is a term we might see popping up more frequently and simply put "4K" refers to a higher than high def video format; creating videos at 4096 x 2304 pixels. If you don't know... this is madness.

I remember hearing a couple of years ago that higher than hi-def video tended to make people nauseous, but I guess we are taking that leap. One of the biggest proponents of this new technology is Peter Jackson. He is currently filming two new Lord of the Rings movies, (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again) and not only are they shooting in 4K, but they are also shooting in 3D and at 48 frames per second (as opposed to the typical 24 fps). This should make for a very unique viewer experience. Here is one of the Hobbit video blogs that talks a little more about the technology and filming with the Red Epic camera to capture video in 4K.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Interview with Carrier IQ

You've all been hearing about the "Carrier IQ" fiasco/debacle/brouhaha, with the phone companies using this secretly-installed software to track all sorts of things on your cell phones. So far the Carrier IQ software has been installed on over 141 MILLION devices, but so far the details of exactly what the software does and specifically which devices have it installed are still forthcoming. Senator Franken of Minnesota is even asking the phone companies and hardware makers how they're using the software and what info collecting from their customers.

The Verge got a great interview with Carrier IQ's marketing vice president, which you can read here.

Thanks to Jordan M. for forwarding the article our way.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


If you were sitting the library studying today, maybe you were handed a sticker that looks like this "hi" logo. Well check out the article in today's Daily Pennsylvanian about the new "Hi!" app that Penn student (and frequent visitor to the Vitale Digital Media Lab) has created along with another Penn student (Tanvir Ahmed) and an Alum (Lukasz Dziurzynski):

White envisions hi! being used at events like New Student Orientation events and football games where students could meet new people. hi! generates a list of everyone in one location and based on users’ Facebook profiles, “autopopulates a list with the people that you have the most in common with or that it thinks you would get along the best with,” White said. “It’s kind of like an eHarmony match-up but for making friends instead of dating.”

Read the full article online at:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gadget Day This Wednesday

Join us this Wednesday, December 7, in the Weigle Information Commons for our Fall 2011 Gadget Day!

This time around we're looking at Evernote, iPads, smart phones, Wordpress, Google Hangouts, and more--including a lunchtime "Bring Your Own Gadget" show-and-tell session.

See the details and full schedule at

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Where Do All the Servers Go?

Join us for lunch on Friday to hear MES Alumna, (and Penn Library staffer!) Stephanie Alarcon, discuss the environmental consequences, social justice issues, and policy options for the growing E-Waste problem. The talk will be based on the research she did for her MES Capstone. And you don't have to be a hardcore geek nor treehugger to appreciate the content!

Free lunch for the first 15 guests. Please RSVP.

Hayden Hall, Room 358
Friday, December 2, 2011 from 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM (ET)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Adobe Software just got cheaper

Adobe is discounting their already-discounted student and teacher prices on their software through december 3. Check out the details here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wacom Inkling

Wacom has produced a new, unique product that we are very excited to try out. It is called the "Inkling" and it has the ability to capture what you draw with a physical ink pen on any plain sheet of paper. You can then transfer your drawing into the computer as vector lines. This is an incredible idea that will be very useful for illustrators, designers, and anyone who likes to doodle. Here is Wacom's promotional video for it.

Here is a comparison of a scan of an original drawing (left) and the vector file (right) that Inkling generated.

You can see it isn't exact, but still pretty impressive. If you click the image above you can see the YouTube review of the Inkling that this still was taken from. The lab will hopefully be adding the Inkling to our checkout inventory soon. Wacom has been releasing it in small batches on Amazon, and we haven't been able to grab ours yet.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Which is the best Music Service?

Life Hacker has a new post up evaluating the 3 major music services: iTunes, Google Music, and Amazon Mp3. In addition to a straightforward evaluation of each service, looking at the pros and cons of each, it goes a little deeper and talks about WHO will get the most out of each service, recognizing that people with different needs, likes, and personalities will prefer one service over another. They also touch very briefly on some of the smaller services and streaming music services that are out there.

As always, be sure to also read the comments section. One reader posted about a site called Beatport, which I was unfamiliar with, for listeners of electronic music, trance, house and (*shudder*) dubstep.

Friday, November 18, 2011

User Storage Down

Our User Storage drive has crashed, so the files on it are currently unavailable. We are hoping to have it working again next week, but we can't make any guarantees. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you. Please let us know if you have any specific concerns we can help to address.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cory Doctorow tonight!

Author, activist, journalist and blogger (co-editor of Cory Doctorow will be giving a free talk tonight at Huntsman Hall, open to the general public. You should go.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Free $50 Store Gift Card with iPad 2

The Computer Connection (that neat computer store at the back of the Penn Bookstore) is having a deal:

"Buy any iPad2 and receive a $50 Computer Connection gift card".

This applies to all models of the iPad2, and is open to all folks purchasing with individual funds. The promotion will run from now through December 2nd.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lab closing

Hi all. The lab will be closed this Thursday, November 17, from 4:30pm-6:30pm for a class. Sorry for any inconvenience!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lab closing

Hi all. The lab will be closed this Thursday, November 10, from 4:30pm-6:30pm for a class. Sorry for any inconvenience!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November Workshops

  • PhotoShop Basics, Wed. Nov. 2, 10 am to Noon
  • Illustrator, Thurs. Nov. 3, 10 to 11:30 am
  • iMovie, Thurs. Nov. 3, 6:30 to 8 pm OR Wed. Nov. 9, 10:30 am to Noon OR Thurs. Nov. 10, 10 to 11:30 am
  • First Year Fridays - Make Your First Movie! Fri. Nov. 4, 2 to 4 pm
  • Networking with Twitter, Mon. Nov. 7, 5 to 6 pm
  • Census Data with New American FactFinder, Tues. Nov. 8, 10 to 11:30 am
  • Top Hat Monocle, Wed. Nov. 9, 2 to 3 pm - Vendor presentation on mobile and web open-ended audience response during classes
  • From Assignments to References: Zotero, Wed. Nov. 9, 5 to 6 pm
  • Excel Basics, Sat. Nov. 12, 2 to 3:30 pm
  • Social Media 101, Mon. Nov. 14, 10 to 11:30 am
  • Majors Dinner, Mon. Nov. 14, 5 to 6:30 pm
  • Excel Charts, Wed. Nov. 16, 11 am to 12:30 pm
All workshops are open to Penn students, faculty, and staff unless otherwise noted. Registration and details: