Friday, August 2, 2019

Preparing a Post for Tammany Family

The putting together of a daily post article for the Tammany Family blog is not a simple process. Here are a few of the steps necessary to bring the articles to our readers.

1. Find pictures or newspaper clippings that would be of interest to folks who live in St. Tammany Parish. Since I have four file cabinets full of 40 years worth of information, more than 14,000 negatives, a couple hundred photographs, and a hundred or so slide transparencies, that is not as difficult as it would seem (although it is getting harder to find good material.) I used to have more than 3000 photographs, but Hurricane Katrina tore the roof off my storage building and drenching rain soaked several boxes full of pictures. They pretty much all stuck together after that. I tried saving some of them, but the effort didn't pan out.

2. If the pictures I need are in negative form, then I scan them, clean up the scanned image using an image editing program, and size them for posting to the internet. If they are already a photograph, scan them and size them for the internet. If a slide, scan them at high resolution, take a half hour or so to clean them up (using an image editor software program), and then resize them for the internet. For some reason, 40 year old slides really get dusty and dirty, not to mention the loss of color accuracy, which has to be restored through the color controls on the software. Sometimes pressing the "adjust color automatically" button works perfectly (but not always).

3. If the source is going to be a newspaper clipping or magazine article, then scan the material, clean it up, and try to use OCR (optical character recognition) to generate computer text from the printed text. This only works if the scanned article is clear enough. Many times I have to re-type the entire article to get it into the blog post. If I have trouble reading it, I just post it as an image to the blog and readers are on their own.

4. If the source includes an audio file, I have to digitize the original recording, usually taken from a tape cassette at real time, and put the audio in computer form. Many of those recordings have to be "cleaned up" using a sound editing program. 

5. If the source is a video file, then the fun really begins. I have to digitize the video, which means burning it into a DVD from the original video cassette VHS format, and then from the DVD I pull a video that I can convert into a format that YouTube will receive.  Digitizing and editing video requires heavy duty video editing software, and sometimes that takes hours to accomplish, especially if I want the finished video to look good, sound good, and be less boring than the original raw footage through the use of judicious editing. 

6. Once all the source material is prepared, then I have to write some introductory paragraphs for the blog, insert all the text, pictures, and video that will accompany it, and then find some "further information" on the subject that I will place in links at the bottom of the blog article. Searching the internet, using a variety of search engines, for the related material to the subject matter of the blog sometimes takes a while. Those links are placed under a "See also..." label. 

7. Then the blog article is read twice, which pretty much always discovers that some editing and transitions are called for, and then up it goes to the blog.

Software used during the above processes:

Epson Scanning Software image editor
Corel PaintShopPro image editor
Abbyy Fine Reader OCR Software
Foto-sketcher Image Enhancement Software
Audacity Audio Software
Corel Video Studio