How RSS feeds work

The RSS symbol
The RSS symbol

For a while I’ve been badgering the students I teach to begin using RSS feeds to access a whole host of interesting and relevant information. Eventually I’ve found a (slightly cheesey) YouTube video which outlines what they are and how to set them up. I use my AppleMail programme to access my feeds, and prior to that I used my Firefox web browser. Go with whatever works for you… have a think about where you access the net and how you like your information to be organised.  Check out the video – RSS in plain English

Wonderful people

I’m working on a couple of projects at the moment that have got me quite excited. The kind of projects that make you want to shout from the rooftops about good people doing great things!

I’m currently completing an edit for Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust. I’ve been privileged to interview some great people who have spoken openly and frankly about the warmth, kindness, care and attention they have been given throughout their treatment. Whilst the media often portrays the NHS as a huge, unwieldy, impersonal organisation, it’s heartening, and absolutely vital, that these human stories illustrate just what a great service the NHS can provide. If you were one of the patients interviewed, thank you so much for sharing your story!

Another group of amazing, caring people are working away tirelessly at CATS, an organisation based in Balsall Heath which provides respite care for families of children with disabilities. It’s an absolutely vital service which the parents I met so eloquently described as making a world of difference, yet it currently operates on a shoestring, short-term budget. They provide a unique service, through one-to-one care, playscheme places for siblings and plenty of varied and exciting trips and activities!  I had a great time meeting parents and exploring the ThinkTank with the group!  The website, produced by the lovely people at Matrix Graphics is due to launch soon and the film will be added to the website soon after that – links to follow soon!

CiB wins!

I’m really thrilled to pass on the news that Created in Birmingham has been announced as the winner of the Best UK Blog at the 2008 Weblog Awards!  A huge thanks to everyone who voted, I’m chuffed to bits that Birmingham is setting the standard for innovative and constructive ways of using the internet!

What’s more, the campaign around the voting has been brilliant, with more and more people chatting, networking, tagging, twittering and commenting.  The beauty of CiB is that it is all about interacting, about dialogue, a social tool for constructing something positive and tangible in the real world.

Hopefully it signifies a shift away from this horrible adversarial blogging style, where ‘commentators’ post up their vitriolic opinions which are then followed by hundreds of comments from people who enjoy picking fights.  Yes, Melanie Phillips, I do mean you.

The thing that really excites me is that CiB will have a whole new community of readers and contributors so the hope is that it will go from strength to strength, and in turn, so will creative activities around Birmingham.  It makes such a huge difference to me to feel like I’m a part of something so exciting.  Like so many ventures, it’s really the sum of its parts, so the onus is now on us to get involved.  Yes, that means you as well.

To get you started, please have a read of this CiB blog post about how to use RSS feeds.  If you don’t already use them it is well worth having a look at, I use my Apple Mail program to access my feeds, and in the past I’ve used the Firefox Web Brower but there are many other methods, just choose one to suit you.  The CiB post also has links to a number of excellent Birmingham Blogs which you may find useful.  Oh, and don’t forget to add me too!

Created in Birmingham – vote now!!!

VOTE NOW!!!

Brummies are notoriously bad at shouting about the things that we’re good at and when we do we generally end up reeling off names of bands that haven’t seen the inside of a recording studio for the past two decades.

That has changed in the past few years with a whole host of blogs springing up to draw attention to some of the great stuff happening (or not happening as the case may be!) across the city.  Just take a look at Up Yer Brum for an eclectic mix of photos and stories voted on by the public.  Or the ever entertaining Birmingham It’s Not Shit run by Jon Bounds who brought us Talk Like a Brummie Day and urged us to spend 11 hours on the 11 bus route!

Amongst the best blogs is Created in Birmingham which does pretty much what it says on the tin – a one-stop shop for finding out about the creative goings-on in Brum.  It’s been nominated for the 2008 weblog awards and stands an excellent chance of winning.

Not only would this be a huge boost to the creative community in Birmingham and the people who have put so much time into developing the website, it also heralds a new era where people can link up more easily than ever.  I’m currently teaching film-making at Matthew Boulton College and Created in Birmingham  is an excellent means of encouraging students to share their work with others and breaking down traditional barriers between the supposed ‘Creative Industry’ and those who are making their first tentative steps into their field of choice.

If I’ve not convinced you, have a read of this post from another nominee, Pete Ashton, urging you to vote for Created in Birmingham.  I’ll save my blood pressure and let him explain why the current leader, Melanie Phillips shouldn’t win!

You can vote every day until 13th January – VOTE NOW!

Them and Their Movie

The BBC ‘Me and My Movie’ workshop which I worked on last week turned out to be a really action packed day with lots of great ideas and enthusiasm from all of the young people who took part.  The finished two minute film will be put forward for a CBBC ‘Me and My Movie Award’ in association with BAFTA.

This article on the BBC Birmingham website gives  a flavour of some of the activities we got up to.  Huge thanks are due to Jenni, Tessa and Andrea at the BBC for all their hard work.  Well done to all the young people, keep on making movies!

Me and My Movie

Would you like to make a movie in a day and potentially win an award in association with BAFTA?

On 28th August I will be running a one day workshop at the BBC Public Space in The Mailbox, Birmingham to help young people between the ages of 6 and 14 to produce a film which will be entered into CBBC’s ‘Me and My Movie’ competition.

You will work with up to seven other young people to produce the two minute film, taking responsibility for scripting, filming, directing and editing the entire film. Winners get to go to a glitzy awards ceremony in London!

Read more about Me and My Movie and then check out the BBC Birmingham website for details on how to apply.

One Wedding and a bike tour…

On 24th May Rachel Smith became Rachel Gillies and for once was the one in front of the camera!

I will be on my Honeymoon, cycle touring through Central Europe, until early August. I won’t be picking up e-mails or phone messages during this time, so if you do need to get in touch please make a note to get in touch in early August.

Rachel Wedding

Be Yourself!

Girls in action

With only a few days to go until I get married, I’m running short on time to type out a much needed post about the absolutely fantastic Mediabox funded project with ‘Girls in Action’. It’s been a whirlwind of a project, with the weeks rushing by in a haze of planning, filming, editing and lots and lots of giggling! However, to give a bit of a taste here’s the press release. I’ll try and write more soon! Well done to Anisa, Sabriya, Hannan, Houaria, Maryam and Eaman for all of their hard work!

Be Yourself Birmingham, Urge Young Movie Makers

A world-premiere brought a touch of glamour to the Millennium Point ThinkTank Theatre last night as friends, family and excited fans were treated to a new film by six young Muslim Women from Sparkbrook, Birmingham. The fifteen minute short-film, Be Yourself, which stars and has been written and directed by members of the Girls in Action group, works to challenge stereotypes and combat prejudice.

Girls in Action was formed as part of the Balsall Heath extended schools programme, in April 2007, as a direct result of consultations with parents and young girls living in the area who wanted a safe and secure place to meet and the chance to develop new opportunities.

The Balsall Heath extended schools programme brings local schools and organisations together to provide young people with the opportunity to engage with new and exciting initiatives including healthy lifestyle projects, family learning programmes and after school clubs such as sports, arts and crafts and cookery classes.

“It has been great to be part of this media project and watch the group develop together,” said Alison Moore, Extended Schools Coordinator. “This film is a great example of the really positive impact schools can have on the community by providing extra opportunities for all.”

The premiere was brilliant and the whole night went so well. In the end, it was a wonderful opportunity for the girls to showcase all of their work and people commented about how impressed they were with the professional standard of the film.”

“Seeing the film on the big screen was a fantastic feeling,” said Houaria Mohammed, 18, one of the young women involved. “  It gave us the chance to show everyone what we have achieved and also give people an insight into our lives and experiences. As young Muslim women, people put us into pigeonholes and it’s about proving to people that we’re more than those religious stereotypes – we have a life with interests and ideas that are common to everyone. Plus, the after party was great!”

With research showing that extended schools are already benefiting the children and communities taking part, every school in England will offer extra services by 2010 ensuring that all communities can participate and benefit in this way. More information about extended services offered through schools can be found at www.direct.gov.uk/parents.

 

Written By Pat Awty
Geronimo Communications

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