Mystery Education Theater 3000

Month: March 2012

Everyone Needs a Public E-Mailbox

There are lots of e-mails I receive that are of general interest to people. Some of them might be the basis for a blog entry…eventually. But, what about now? Or, what if I just want to tweet about it? How do I link to something in the tweet?

For these reasons and more, I use a public mailbox for stashing various announcements and other items of public interest to make the e-mails linkable and findable. Here’s an example of how I used it recently.

I contacted the Contra Costa County Office of Elections to get the full text (not scan) for the WCCUSD parcel tax for the June ballot. They e-mailed it to me promptly. Although I wanted it to use in a blog post later, for now I wanted to share it and give a hat-tip to the Office of Elections. So, here’s what I did:

  1. I redirected the e-mail from my in-box to the address for my public mailbox. (You could forward, too.)
  2. Because my public mailbox is actually a Google Group, the e-mail is posted in a public page. The e-mail post includes the attachments.
  3. I opened the posting and copied the URL as a link.
  4. I then used the link in a tweet.

Setting Up the Mailbox

You just need a Google account to set up a Google Group. You can then make any e-mail address a “member” for posting e-mails. Just remember to set it up so only members can post and no one can become a member without being invited first. This should keep out any spammers.

Redirect vs. Forward

Redirection is like forwarding except that it pretends to have come from the original sender and is more likely to preserve original formatting. It’s available in Outlook and as an extension in Thunderbird. Either approach works though.

The Overall Picture

Public Comment Clips for WCCUSD BOE Meetings

Every West Contra Costa USD Board of Education meeting includes a segment for general public comment on non-agenda items. In the meetings I have attended, this can be an interesting direct insight into what people are thinking about. There are two problems with this:

  1. The minutes only show the names of speakers, not what they said.
  2. The speakers are called in order, not by what they are speaking about, so it can be hard to follow a single topic when listening.

As a solution to (1), I’ve started a project to clip out these public comment segments from WCCUSD board meeting archives and post to my YouTube channel. I’ve started working my way back and will continue to add to a playlist I’ve set up that contains all of these clips.

One Way to Create Video Clips from a Streaming Source

Regular WCCUSD school board meetings are televised and archived online on the City of Richmond Web site. These archived videos are playable through an embedded Windows media player. However, you might be interested in just one part of the meeting. To share it with others, you’d like to grab this part and post it to YouTube. How do you do it? There may be other ways, but here’s how I do it. Even though this is about processing a video file in an embedded Windows media player using a specific program, it should be adaptable to many other situations. Continue reading

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