Friday, December 12, 2008

Cheap portable hard drive!

Ok, this was just too crazy not to post. has a 320GB portable hard drive for $79, with free shipping. Here's the link. I plan to buy 1 of them for myself, too. Go! Buy them! They make good presents--for yourself or others.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Hours

Happy early Thanksgiving. We're closing at 6pm this Wednsday, and we'll be closed this Thursday and Friday so we can go home and fill up on food. But we'll be back Saturday 12-5, and Sunday we'll resume our regularly scheduled hours. You can also always check our hours online.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A little chilly

They're going to be working on the air handlers in this part of the building this weekend (starting today at 3pm), so I'm told it might get a little cold down this way tonight and tomorrow. There's nothing we can do about the temperature, so if you get chilly, you might want to grab a laptop from Rosengarten and work in a warmer part of the building until the heat comes back on.

Monday, November 17, 2008

iWeb Demo Today

Today from noon - 1pm, we will be holding a free workshop on how to use Apple's iWeb software, which is available in the Digital Media Lab, and comes free with every Macintosh computer.

iWeb makes it easy to create a website that’s stunningly beautiful — and totally you. Start with an Apple-designed theme, then customize it with your own text, photos, movies, and podcasts until it’s exactly what you want. And switch themes with a click anytime.

Apple's own Mike Wolk will be teaching the workshop in the Seminar Room in the Weigle Information Commons. See you there!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tin Eye

Tin Eye is an image-based search engine. The way it works is you submit an image (via upload or by entering a URL) and TinEye returns other versions of that same image that it finds on the web. I've used successfully this in 3 ways.

1) I've used it to find higher resolution versions of an image I only have a thumbnail of. This is especially helpful when you're making a poster or a print of some sort and you need something with a higher image quality.

2) I've used it to find full versions of images when all I have is a cropped version. For example, I want a picture of a $100 bill, but all I have is a crop of George Washington's face.

3) I have an single image that I know is from a set of similar photos. If TinEye can find a page with the image I already have, often it will be a page that also shows the other photos from the same set.

Give it a try. It's still in beta, and it does require you to register for free before you can use it, but it currently indexes over a billion (that's Billion with a 'B') images. So check it out at

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Poster Printing Fable

Joan woke up this morning and decided to come to the Vitale Digital Media Lab in Van Pelt Library to print a poster for her Urban Studies presentation. She got to the lab at 9:15am, just a few minutes after it opened. But when she arrived, Joan discovered that the poster printer queue was already full for the day! In fact, the lab consultant on duty told her that people had been waiting in line outside Van Pelt at 8:20am--ten minutes before the building even opened--so that they could be assured one of the day's 7 lucky poster printing slots, and even THEN, the lab consultant had to turn away 3 people who'd been waiting since before the lab was open. So Joan went home unhappy, wondering how she'd ever get her poster printed in time without having to spend $120 at Kinkos or Campus Copy.

The moral of this story is The Early Bird Prints the Poster. We open at 9am on weekdays and 12noon on Saturday and Sunday.

Disclaimer: The preceding story is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Ok, that was a dumb fable, but no joke; they really were lined up outside at 8:20AM. Get here EARLY.

CS4 Trial Downloads Available

Exciting news! Adobe has finally made the free 30-day trial versions of their CS4 software (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.) available on their website for you to download onto your laptop or home computer. If you don't already have one, you'll need to register for a free Adobe account, but that's a small price to pay for a fully functioning copy of Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended!

You can download the trial versions at

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Indesign CS3 has arrived!

InDesign CS3 is finally up and running on the machines in the Digital Media Lab! Our licenses arrived today, and we got it installed this afternoon. Sorry again for the delay, but we're glad it's finally available for everyone who needs it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Embedding Video

So you want to put a video on your website...

Well, the easiest way is to upload it to YouTube and then embed it that video onto your website. The benefits of this are:

1) It's free!

2) You aren't paying for any of the bandwidth. So even if a million people visit your website and watch your video, YouTube is paying for the bandwidth instead of you.

3) YouTube gives you the HTML code you need to paste into your webpage, so you don't even have to know how to write HTML to embed your video successfully.

4)You're likely to get more viewers because other people will stumble across your video on YouTube, whereas if you just store the video on your own web server, you have to do all the advertising yourself to make sure people find it.

The problem with services like YouTube is that you don't get much control over the quality or compression of your video. You're also bound by their artificial time and size limits (for example, YouTube limits you to 10-minute videos. If you have a longer one, you need to break it into 10-minute chunks).

If you're using iMovie 08, there's a built-in upload-to-YouTube option. Otherwise, YouTube offers advice on its website at

Vimeo ( ) is still fairly new, and not as familiar, but it offers some distinct advantages over YouTube. Along with the benefits listed above, Vimeo has:

1) Better quality video (including support for HD video!) Check out one person's Vimeo/YouTube comparison at

2) No specific length limitation (although there is still a 500MB per week upload limit)

3) A for-fee service with even more features (see )

Vimeo offers advice on how best to compress your video for upload at and has a short video on how to upload at

For maximum control over your video, you'll want to store the video on your own web server. If you're a student group, you probably already have a web space you can use. Otherwise, you can usually purchase a domain name, storage space, and bandwidth quite cheaply from a web hosting service (just Google it or ask for a recommendation from a computer-saavy friend.) The following advice applies only to people who have access to a web server and the ability to edit or upload webpages to it. If you aren't sure whether you have this access, check with the local service provider (LSP) for your home school, department, or organization.

We recommend using the FLV (Flash Video) file format (which is what YouTube uses) for your video, which gives a good balance between file size and video quality, and ensures it'll be playable on almost everybody's computer, since just about everyone has Flash installed on their machine.

In the lab, you can do this from within iMovie or Quicktime Pro. Open existing video file in Quicktime Pro or open your iMovie project on one of the machines in the lab and export as FLV it at Medium Quality using the "Expert Settings" option, since it will give you a smaller file size, which is friendlier to your viewers, who won't have to wait as long to watch your video and won't have to worry about having a fast enough connection to the internet.

(Note: If you're doing this on your own Mac, you may need to install the free Perian plugin ( ) which enables QuickTime Pro support for FLV along with some additional audio/video file formats.)

Watch the video to make sure it's a high enough quality. If not, export it again, this time with "high" quality.

Next, you'll need a FLV player for your website. Fortunately, there's an excellent player created by Jeroen Wijering, who generously makes it available free of charge for non-commercial use. You can download from his site at You can then upload the player along with your FLV video to your own website.

Jeroen has also provided a setup wizard ( ) which gives you the HTML code you'll need to paste into your webpage. And he has a list at which explains all of the variables you can set to customize the viewer to your needs.

If you need help at any step along the way, just stop into the lab and ask for help!

Friday, October 31, 2008

And the winner is...

Nick Salvatore! For submitting the only Halloween picture this year! As promised, Nick wins the smug sense of satisfaction that comes from knowing he's better than everyone else. If anyone else still wants to submit a photo of themselves all Halloweened up, just send it to us, and I'll be glad to post it!

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween! Be sure to stop by the lab today for a piece of Halloween Candy!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

8GB USB Flash Drive cheap!

People often come into the lab with tiny little USB keys/flash drives/etc. By "tiny" I mean 256MB or 512MB. That's not even as much data as a CD holds! I don't think they even make them that small anymore. Time to upgrade, people!

Way back in February, I posted an item about a 4GB USB flash drive for only $17. Well guess what. Now the 8GB flash drive is the same price--with free shipping! 8GB is almost 2 DVD's worth of data, more than enough to hold thousands of photos or MP3s. It'll even hold a decent amount of video. I just ordered one for myself. Check it out at The 4GB is now only $12, but you don't get as much bang for your buck as you do with the 8GB.

Monday, October 27, 2008


To the person who posted this very sweet "missed connection" on Craigslist:

Although you don't mention the name of the lab consultant in question, all of the age-appropriate lab consultants are already married. However, we are all very flattered, and you may buy any of us coffee anytime you like.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Halloween Costume Photoshop Contest

It's the most wonderful time of the year... Halloween! What's that you say? You don't have a costume to wear?? Well guess what. You can do it all on Photoshop instead--ask a lab consultant and we'll even show you how. Grab a photo of yourself, open it up in Photoshop, and give yourself a costume, like the ones I did below. Email them to us at and we'll judge them and post them in time for Halloween. What's the prize if you win, you ask? The smug sense of satisfaction that comes from knowing you're better than everyone else (but then, you already feel that way, don't you?)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Want My InDesign!

Apologies to InDesign users. We've been working since the beginning of the school year to have ID up and running for you, but there's an issue with licensing that's slowed things down. I don't understand the intricacies of the situation, but part of the problem is that we're in the middle of Adobe's transition to their new CS4 software suite, which has apparently made the version we've been using (CS3) harder to come by. Who knows--maybe that means we'll end up with InDesign CS4 instead. In the meantime, we'll keep you updated if we hear anything new.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How to Do Everything with Second Life

Today's featured book is How to do Everything with Second Life, by Richard Mansfield. It's available for you to read in the Digital Media Lab; just ask the lab consultant on duty. You can even sit and use Second Life right here in the lab while you peruse the book.


Filled with hundreds of hands-on tutorials, tips, and techniques, this is the thorough, in-depth reference that every Second Life resident needs. Learn how to create a unique avatar and then explore, build, socialize--and even earn real money. Inside, you'll find exclusive coverage of all the menus, features, and utilities. Whether you're a newbie or an old hand, this book will help you get the most out of Second Life.

  • Understand all the user interface features
  • Build hidden rooms, custom teleporters, secret sliding panels, and more
  • Shop for cool stuff and find the best values
  • Master the Maps, Inventory, Appearance, and Search dialogs
  • Start scripting with help from step-by-step tutorials
  • Control lag and find lost items using Preferences and the hidden Client menu
  • Visit exotic lands, travel in time, and enjoy roleplay
  • Create beautiful objects using expert texturing techniques
  • Earn money in ways that best suit your talents
  • Find land bargains, a bit of privacy, a great house, and lasting friendships

Monday, October 20, 2008

Second Life workshop today at noon

Hey guys. There's still lots of room in today's Second Life workshop. It's a hands-on tour for beginners. Sign up (or not, whatever) at

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dreamweaver CS3 for Dummies

Today's featured book is Dreamweaver CS3 for Dummies by Janine Warner. We're big fans of the Dummies books here at the Vitale Digital Media Lab. They're great for beginners, as well as for more experienced users who need a refresher, or who need a complicated topic explained in a simple manner. Our books don't circulate outside the lab, but you can use them while you're here.

Do you want to create a sophisticated Web site that's easy to develop and maintain? Whether you're a beginner or an experienced Web developer, this friendly guide shows you how to utilize Dreamweaver's newest enhancements to build and manage state-of-the-art, professional Web sites quickly and easily.

  • Set up your site and create new pages
  • Work with text, graphics, and links

  • Define and apply styles using CSS

  • Add audio, video, and Flash® files to your site

  • Use Dreamweaver'sdatabase features

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Photoshop CS3 Extended for 3D and Video

Today's featured book is Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended for 3D and Video, by Chad Perkins. Ask the lab consultant on duty if you'd like to use it. Our books don't circulate outside the lab, but you're welcome to use it while you're here.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended can do things that Photoshop has never done before, such as importing and editing video, and animating any object in a file. Here is the first book to provide a comprehensive look at the new features for 3D animation and video in Photoshop Extended. Author Chad Perkins, an established video presenter and classroom instructor on Photoshop, video, and 3D, brings the creative potential of these new features into focus. This book is a valuable resource for Photoshop users who want to learn about video and 3D using their favorite application, as well as video producers and 3D artists who want to incorporate Photoshop into their work or use it more effectively.
  • Learn to move, rotate, and scale 3D objects within Photoshop Extended
  • Understand and work with lighting and camera angles
  • Create special effects like glowing silhouettes and drop shadows on 3D objects
  • Use layer masks with 3D objects for special effects
  • Modify textures applied to 3D objects seamlessly within Photoshop
  • Edit bump maps and patterns for more realistic 3D objects
  • Import, edit, compress, and export video (with audio!)
  • Use Photoshop to animate images.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Radiohead Remix

Our own Ned Eisenberg (aka Bloody Noses) has a high-ranked entry in the RadioHead remix contest. Please check his remix out and vote for him (he's already been voted for on all the machines in the lab, but you can vote from your own machine, or another workstation on campus). Listen and vote at

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Opening Late Friday

Hi all. Just a quick FYI to let you all know that this Friday, September 26, the lab will be opening at 12:00 noon instead of at 9am. This is due to the Teaching with New Media Symposium being held here in the Weigle Information Commons. If you need to print a poster, we'll start taking names at noon when we open.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Adobe Photoshop CS4

By now you've probably heard the news that Adobe has announced the next iteration of its Creative Suite software, CS4. We're very excited about it, but since we seldom switch to a new major version of software in the middle of a school year, we don't expect to have it installed on the machines in the Information Commons or in the lab until Summer or Fall of 2009 at the earliest.

We'll keep you posted on new developments as we hear about them. In the meantime, Layers magazine has a page up with video demos of some of the new features in the CS4 suite, from Photoshop to Flash. Check it out at

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


a solo exhibition featuring the work of Artie Vierkant

Opening reception on Tuesday, September 9, 2008
7:30 PM - 9:00 PM

The Philomathean Society Gallery
College Hall, Fourth Floor

Come celebrate the opening of this aptly-titled exhibition with a reception on the artist's birthday. Refreshments will be provided.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY will be on display in the Philomathean Society Art Gallery until October 7th. To schedule an appointment, email

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Poster Printer Prices

We're changing our poster printing prices from $.35/inch to $.50/inch on the longest side of the poster. This means that a 36"x48" poster will cost $24.00. (The same poster will cost you $100 at Campus Copy or Kinkos.) We continue to accept only PennCash as a means of payment. For more exciting information on printing posters in the lab, be sure to check out our Poster Printer FAQ.

Friday, August 15, 2008

BIG changes aFOOT

Stay tuned for big changes coming to the lab next week. You can expect brand new hardware and updated versions of your favorite software, from Toast to Microsoft Office to InDesign!

We'll be closed Monday to install the new equipment and troubleshoot some video connection problems we've been having. See you all Tuesday, August 19!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Some students working with the Homeless Arts Project here in Philly have been working tirelessly in the Digital Media Lab the last few weeks, getting ready for a new art show called "Rebirth - The Reality of Homelessness." It's a night of dance, poetry, and art by homeless men in Philadelphia. It'll be this Friday, August 15, from 7-9pm at F.U.E.L. Gallery (249 Arch Street), and everyone is invited. The event is free, but donations are accepted. Hope to see you there!

Below is an image of the postcard/announcement (with more info), which was also designed here in the lab.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What the Font?

A lot of people working on projects in the lab share a common problem: they're trying to identify a font. Usually they want to recreate a logo, or duplicate a style they've seen elsewhere (like using the Harry Potter font or the Simpsons font.) But identifying a font can be tricky if you're not a typographer. Enter "What the Font?!"

WhatTheFont?! identifies a font for you and lets you know where you can download or purchase it. All you do is upload a screen capture of the lettering in question, and then it automagically returns a list of fonts that match (or come close to matching) the lettering you submitted. If it can't find a suitable match, you can also submit it to an expert, or ask on the forums, where there are lots of people who apparently have nothing better to do with their time than wait for typographic n00bs to upload jpegs of hard-to-identify lettering.

Some of the fonts it comes back with are commercial and must be purchased :( But if you can find a free font that does the trick, chances are we can install it on a workstation for you to use here in the lab. Let us know if you need help getting a screen capture of the font you're trying to identify.

Thanks to Sarah for letting me know about this!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Equipment Lending

Just a quick apology to those of you who tried to borrow video cameras and audio recorders over the last week. Our system was temporarily broken after a recent mail server upgrade, so we never received a lot of your requests. Sorry about that!! We're back up and running now, so hopefully those problems are behind us. Feel free to start submitting your requests again.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Connecting Your Laptop to Wireless

As you have no doubt discovered by now, Wireless PennNet has gone the way of the dodo, replaced by AirPennNet. In addition to a fun new name, there's also a fun new way to connect. So fun, in fact, that we've had to make a web page and a hand out to explain how to change all the fun settings on your laptop to make it work.

The web page is at:

Or you can ask for the hard copy in the lab or at the front desk of the Information Commons.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Acid Free CD/DVD Markers

We've recently purchased some archival quality, acid free, non-toxic, non-corrosive, permanent, quick-dry, solvent-free markers for writing on CDs and DVDs. These won't corrode your media over time, as a Sharpie or other standard permanent marker can do. Please ask us if you'd like to use them.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Good-bye Posters

Just a quick FYI. Lots of people have printed posters here in the lab and then never picked them up. We'll be throwing out any and all posters left in the lab on May 16. If you have a poster here, please pick it up ASAP.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Missing Video Equipment

Hi All. We've had a wildly successful semester in terms of our equipment lending program. Never did we imagine that our video cameras and audio recorders and tripods would generate so much interest!

Unfortunately, we're missing several key parts of the equipment we lent. If you borrowed equipment this year, please check at home to see if you have a power cable/AC Adapter, the top plate to one of the tripods, a user manual, a windscreen for an audio recorder, a USB or firewire/iLink cable, or any other part of a kit that you may have accidentally forgotten to return. We'll be glad to take them back, no questions asked! :)

In the case of some of these parts (notably the power adapters for the video cameras), it has reduced our ability to meet existing equipment reservations, since there is no way to charge the batteries or plug in those cameras anymore, please double check at home before you move out for the summer! Thanks!

Lab Schedule

Here are our hours up to the beginning of Summer Session I. Note that startnig after Finals, we will be closed on Sundays through the end of the summer.

Mon 5/12 9am-10pm
Tue 5/13 9am-9pm
Wed 5/14 10am-5pm
Thu 5/15 10am-5pm
Fri 5/16 10am-5pm
Sat 5/17 11am-5pm
Sun 5/18 CLOSED*
Mon 5/19 10am-5pm
Tue 5/20 10am-5pm
Wed 5/21 10am-5pm
Thu 5/22 10am-5pm
Fri 5/23 10am-5pm
Sat 5/24 11am-5pm
Sun 5/25 CLOSED*
Mon 5/26 CLOSED

Friday, April 18, 2008

2008 Video Mashup Winners!

Congratulations to Emilie Froh, Vince Levy, and Andy Cao for their respective 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place wins in this years Video Mashup Contest. (Right now the page only has the winning videos up, but I'll get the videos from the other contestants up soon.) Emily won a brand-new Video Camera, and both Vince and Andy won an iPod shuffle.

We also had a guest speaker. Leah Kauffman is the singer and songwriter behind the massive YouTube video hit "I got a Crush on Obama" which now lists over 7.5 million downloads. She is the singer and songwriter for the "My Box in a Box" video which now lists over 3.7 million downloads on YouTube. (Personally I like the Ann Coulter one better.)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mashup Contest Awards and Creator of Obama Girl, Thursday, April 17, 5 pm

Please join us for the Mashup Awards Event 2008 Thursday, April 17, 5:00 pm in the Class of '55 Room in Van Pelt Dietrich Library Center. Dr. Peter Decherney, Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies and English, and Chair of the Weigle Information Commons Faculty Advisory Group, will moderate this event.

Leah Kauffman is the singer and songwriter behind the massive YouTube video hit "I got a Crush on Obama" which now lists over 7.5 million downloads. She is the singer and songwriter for the "My Box in a Box" video which now lists over 3.7 million downloads on YouTube. She has created several other viral videos with the group as well as on her own. This Temple University undergraduate student's creations have been featured in several national magazine articles as well as on national TV shows. She released her first album "Folk and Fantasy" in 2005. Leah will share excerpts from her videos and her insights on what makes a YouTube video successfully "viral", attracting millions of viewers and national attention.

We will announce the award winners of the 2008 Mashup Contest, followed by an informal reception and viewing of all the entries in the Weigle Information Commons. The Mashup Contest, sponsored by Penn Libraries, the Cinema Studies Program, and College Houses and Academic Services, celebrates student creativity with video and multimedia.

Please register online to reserve your seat now!

For more information, please contact Anu Vedantham at (215)-746-2659 or send email to

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Learn to use Garage Band!

GarageBand allows you to record multiple voices, add music tracks, add still images, and create podcasts with chapters. You don't even need any musical talent to create some fantastic songs. Apple Systems Engineer Michael Wolk will be presenting on this powerful but simple piece of software this Friday, March 21, from 12noon-1pm in the WIC Seminar Room, just down the hall from the Digital Media Lab. Feel free to bring your lunch.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Obama in 30 Seconds

First of all, let me make it clear we're not taking sides here. But this is such a cool contest that I wanted to make sure all of our lab users know about it. It's sponsored by, and the goal is to make a 30-second tv ad for Barack Obama. The winner gets $20,000 (that's twenty thousand dollars) in video equipment, and gets their video aired nationally on television, so whether you're in it for the fame, for the money, or just to make a difference, this contest has something for you. even provides resources for finding collaborators (locally or online) in case you want to participate, but don't want to go it alone.

Deadline is April 1st. Check it out at

Thanks to lab user Jessica Manlove, who brought this contest to our attention! If you know of similar contests for other candidates, let me know and I'll be glad to post them here.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Don't Forget the Mashup Contest!

Ok, I've put signs all over the Information Commons, added a slide to the plasma screen presentation, and even put flyers on the various kiosks and bulletin boards around campus, so frankly I don't see how you could have forgotten, but just in case you did: The deadline for the 2008 Video Mashup Contest (March 17, the day everyone returns from spring break) is fast approaching. You just need a 3 minute video. And if you're reading this, then chances are you've already done something for a class assignment that qualifies for entry into the contest, so why not submit it? It's free, and you might win a video camera. (Last year's winner made THIS with the camera he won.) You've still got more than a week left, and it's not like classes are in session, so you really have no excuse not to make a video. We'll even show you how; just ask us!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

What Do You Want?

As we start to plan for next school year (yes, we really plan this far in advance. We'll probably make many of the purchases for next year sometime in the next 3-4 months.), we're looking at various possibilities for upgrading existing hardware, adding new functionality to the lab, buying new software, etc.

It would be very helpful to know what YOU would like to see us add to the lab. Is there a piece of software you think we should have? Have you been dying to see us add an 8-track deck so you can make mp3's out of your parents' obsolete music collection? Maybe you think we should add a combination Bluray/HD-DVD player. You want us to start lending portable hard drives? Do you think we should have a couple midi keyboards available for lab users? Well this is the time to tell us! (And no, we're not installing a jacuzzi, so please stop asking. You know who you are.)

We really do take your feedback into account when we make these decisions, so please email us ( and let us know what you'd like us to do to improve the lab.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Portable Hard Drives

Let's talk hard drives. If you're working on a project in Photoshop, or Illustrator, or Dreamweaver, or even GarageBand, a USB flash/thumb drive is probably all you'll need to transfer your files, or back them up. But if you're working on a video project in the lab that will take more than about a week to finish, we strongly encourage you to buy a portable hard drive to save your files onto. You should expect to use about 13GB per hour of standard, DV video and 40-50GB per hour of HD video.

There are 2 types of hard drive to consider:

1) There are the tiny portable ones, that fit in your pocket or almost into the palm of your hand, and only require a USB or Firewire cable to connect them to your computer. These tend to be in the 100GB-200GB range for $75-$150 depending on what brand you get and where you buy it. They're extremely convenient, and if you don't mind paying a premium for their extra portability, they're probably the best option.

2) There are the bulkier, heavier drives that tend to be a couple inches thick, and require you to plug them into a wall outlet in addition to connecting them to your computer via USB/Firewire. They tend to range 300GB-750GB for $100-$200, so you get a lot more bang for your buck, but you can't just throw them in your pocket, and you need an electrical outlet to use them.

You can find refurbished hard drives a little cheaper, but in my opinion, it's not worth risking your data just to save a few bucks.

You can buy both types of drives at:

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Three Days

Although we would love to be able to store all of everyone's files forever and ever, we just don't have the storage space to be able to handle it all. So we have a policy that we will store your files on our networked hard drive for up to 3 days. And if you come back during that time and work on them some more, we'll keep them for an additional 3 days. And so on. And so forth. Etc. Etc.

Until now, we've managed to be pretty liberal with this policy, deleting files only when we run out of space, and we've kept files for weeks, or even months past the promised 3 days. But recently we've seen an explosion in the use of Hi Definition video in the lab, which takes exponentially more room than plain old DV video. Anywhere from 40-50GB per hour, in fact, compared to the 13GB per hour for standard video. So our User Storage drive is filling up much faster these days, and we've been forced to start following our deletion policy much more strictly. (Today, for example, I deleted over 150 GB of files to make room for the people working in the lab.)

So if you're working on a project in the lab, be sure to come back every 2 or 3 days to work on it to avoid risking deletion. And please consider buying an external hard drive to store your project on. This gives you total control over your files, and you never need to fear that we'll delete them when you need them most. More on external drives in a future post, coming soon.

Friday, February 29, 2008


Our very own Nick was hit by a car this afternoon on his way to work. (see artist's depiction, complete with sound effects.) He's alive and seems to be ok. Or at least as OK as Nick ever seems. If you see him, please give him your sympathy.

Penn Humanities Forum - Siva Vaidhyanathan

As part of the Penn Humanities Forum, media scholar and cultural historian Siva Vaidhyanathan gave a talk at the museum tonight titled The Googlization of everything -- One Company's Disruption of culture, Commerce, and Community. It was a great discussion of the effect Google has on our lives, on the information we consume, and on the way we communicate. I'm posting it here because I saw several library staff and regular users of the lab in the audience, so I'm guessing it has a fairly wide appeal among our blog readers. I'll link to the event page in anticipation of PHF posting footage from the event. The library also has a couple of his books if you're interested in checking them out.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New to Using a Mac?

New to using a Mac? Switched recently from a Windows PC? We'll offer tips to use your Mac productively, perform basic trouble-shooting and housekeeping tasks, and easily move files between Macs and Windows computers. Feel free to bring your Mac laptop with you.

Friday, Feb 29, 2008 , 12pm - 1pm
WIC Seminar Room, Van Pelt Library
Register Now!

Presented by Al Matthews and Jason Watkins from SAS Computing.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Edit Audio with Audacity

Learn to work with audio with Audacity, a free, open-source program for recording and editing sounds. It is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. In this class, you'll learn to combine music and voice, improve sound quality, and create polished podcasts. There are still seats available for our class this Wednesday, February 27 from 10am-noon. Register free online.

Cheap Flash/Thumb Drives

Just wanted to point out a couple places online that are currently selling a 4GB USB Flash drive for only about $17. Keep in mind we're not endorsing any vendors here, but and and NewEgg have this thumb drive available at a price that makes it difficult to turn down.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Music 258 Students

If you're in Music 258, please be sure to tell the lab consultant on duty when it comes time to save your files so that we can save your work on the appropriate hard drive for your class.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Apply for $1000 Technology Grant Soon!

Thanks to the generosity of Jeffrey L. Seltzer and Ana L. Seltzer, the Penn Libraries (Weigle Information Commons) is proud to offer undergraduate research awards for up to six students to conduct research using new media and information technologies. Each award will provide about $1,000 worth of equipment (both hardware and software) and supplies to support a research project for up to one year.* These awards include special consideration for students enrolled in the Huntsman Program. After one year, equipment purchased through the award will return to the Weigle Information Commons for general use. Some examples of technology items that could support research projects include: digital videocameras, audio recorders, virtual reality camera peripherals, microphones, scanners, mobile devices, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Happy Lupercalia!

Yeah, the rest of the country (and much of the world) is celebrating Valentine's Day, but here at the Digital Media Lab, we celebrate a different sort of holiday. No, we won't be sacrificing anyone, but I put some chocolate out which you can enjoy while it lasts.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Possible World Record

Ok, i've been known to exaggerate. But it's still pretty impressive--or at least long overdue. As of this morning, we have all 11 Macs in the lab up and running again! This should help a lot as we head into finals, making sure we have as many workstations available as possible.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Spring Robot

I've had at least 2 people ask me when we're going to put up a new robot sign on the door of the lab. One of them even noticed that the one we've been using was just a re-use of the robot from last Spring. Well, at long last, we've put up our new robot hours sign for Spring 2008. Thanks to Jesse, our robot-artist-in-residence, for the new sign!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Ultimate Steal

This was just too good a deal not to let y'all know about. Microsoft is making MS Office 2007 Ultimate Edition available to any and all university students for $60. That's sixty, not six hundred. Even the educational price for this package is usually over $200. You just need a .edu email address andyou have to be enrolled in at least 0.5 credits worth of college classes.

Office 2007 Ultimate includes:
  • Access™ 2007
  • Accounting Express 2007
  • Excel® 2007
  • InfoPath® 2007
  • Groove 2007
  • OneNote® 2007
  • Outlook® 2007 with Business Contact Manager*(see Obtaining Software below)
  • PowerPoint® 2007
  • Publisher 2007
  • Word 2007
I don't even know what half of those programs do, but they still sound pretty cool. More info at (yes, this is an official Microsoft website, despite the funky url)

Also, they say "Office 2007," not "Office 2008," which probably means it's a Windows-only thang, at least for now. Definitely check it out if you've been wanting to get office, but you haven't wanted to shell out the $239 it would otherwise cost you as a student.

Thanks to Neal at the Computer Connection for the hot tip! (also, thanks to Neal for showing me the new Macbook Air. Day-am! That thing is thin! Go check it out if you haven't seen it yet.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

User Storage Down!

Our user storage drive is currently unavailable due to a hardware failure in the lab consultant's workstation. This means that any files you've saved here in the lab are not accessible at this time. We are hoping that the files themselves are unaffected, but we won't know for sure until we can get the machine up and running again. We know how important it is to our users that this problem gets fixed ASAP. We've alerted the Library's systems department that this is a top priority, and we hope to have access to everyone's files again by the end of the day.

[update: We've got everything up and running again. All the files on the drive appear to have survived intact. Thanks to Doug for his speedy response!]

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Improve your Memory

Well, we improved ours, anyway. In response to user requests, we've doubled the amount of memory in all of the Macs here in the lab. Each machine now has 4GB of RAM, and the performance improvement should be immediately apparent to anyone who has used the lab before. As I write this, we still have one machine left to upgrade, but we expect that to be done by the end of the week. Keep those suggestions coming!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Stay Up Late

So now, not only are we getting up early to make the donuts *yawn* but we're also staying open a little later each night. Starting today, we'll be open until 10pm every night of the week (update: except Friday and Saturday: til 9pm). Please thank all of the lab consultants, who clearly have nothing better to do at night than hang out here.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Newest Lab Consultants - Ariela and Ned

Please welcome the newest members of the Vitale Digital Media Lab family, Ariela Nurko and Ned Eisenberg (you'll have to figure out which one is which from the photos below). You'll be seeing plenty of them here in the lab during the coming months, so make sure you say hi to them when you see them.