Posts Tagged ‘tutorial’

Get familiar with Google Maps Engine Lite

Google Maps Engine LiteIf you haven’t tried it yet, try it now: Google’s Maps Engine Lite.

The stripped-down version of Google’s corporate-level Maps Engine, Lite, still in beta, lets you get geospatial without cost or high-level mapping skill. Lite debuted in late March, but the latest good example of its use can be found in a recent blog post by multimedia consultant Robb Montgomery.

“It’s a great tool for learning to build maps with data, making tailored maps without a lot of clutter and for adding database information to location and routing maps,” he writes.

Montgomery’s example was a small map he drew to show a travel route through downtown Berlin. But Maps Engine Lite also allows users to download small spreadsheets and up to three data sets for a much more nuanced presentation.

As Montgomery demonstrates, for most journalists, Maps Engine Lite is a great tool for devising simple locators that can fit neatly and effortlessly inside news sites, blogs and mobile apps, and best of all it doesn’t require a degree in cartography to master. Start with the tutorial, which takes newbies step-by-step through their first map.


David Sheets is a freelance editor, Region 7 director, and past-president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at, on Twitter at @DKSheets, on Facebook and LinkedIn.


The Flip Camera: Small, Convenient, and Easy To Use

Last month, I was at the mall when I saw some security guards tackling a woman with a baby in one arm and a purse stuffed with clothing on her other arm.   At that moment, I wished I had my Sony Cybershot camera with me.  I never thought I’d see  a struggle in front of my eyes.

What I do know is two things; that video of the security guards and woman could have come in handy on a story on shoplifting, and I should have had a Flip camera in my purse.

Most of us will try to use the best video camera we can on a story, but in a pinch—a Flip camera is not a bad tool to have in your bag.  There are several versions of this small camera, including the Flip Ultra HD that costs about $200.

It’s easy to use, because you press a button and you’re recording.   It’s very convenient when you need to upload your video right away, because it has a flip out USB connector.  You can plug your Flip camera right into your laptop. Yes, it’s that easy. 

You can also buy an underwater case for your Flip camera.  This is great if you want to take shots in a pool.  I bet it would come in handy right now for those reporters covering the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.   

I found this video blog by a citizen journalist who uses a Flip camera for her reports.  It’s an excellent tutorial:FreeVlog

Here are some basics on the Flip:


-Fits in your pocket

-Records about 2 hours of video on 4GB

-Uses double A batteries

-Any standard tripod can be used with Flip

-Also has microphone


-Fits in your pocket

-Captures about 2 hours of HD video on 8GB built-in memory

-It comes with rechargeable AA battery pack

-Also has a microphone

-Any standard tripod can fit the tripod mount

Search YouTube for more tutorials on the Flip camera.  Good Luck!

Rebecca Aguilar is a freelance multimedia reporter in Dallas.  She has 29 years of news experience and has been awarded numerous awards, including several Emmy awards.  She’s also on the board of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.  Rebecca conducts reporting workshops around the country (Finding Sources and Stories, Networking, Live Shots, Getting the Best Interview, Writing to Video, and The Basics Of Multimedia.) She can be contacted at


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