Archive for February, 2013

Television History

Television history was not overnight and not invented by a single inventor

Television was not invented by a single inventor, instead many people working together and alone over the years, contributed to the evolution of television.

At the dawn of television history there were two distinct paths of technology experimented with by researchers.

Early inventors attempted to either build a mechanical television system based on the technology of Paul Nipkow’s rotating disks; or they attempted to build an electronic television system using a cathode ray tube developed independently in 1907 by English inventor A.A. Campbell-Swinton and Russian scientist Boris Rosing.


Electronic television systems worked better and eventual replaced mechanical systems.


Paul Gottlieb Nipkow – Mechanical Television History


German, Paul Nipkow developed a rotating-disc technology to transmit pictures over wire in 1884 called the Nipkow disk. Paul Nipkow was the first person to discover television’s scanning principle, in which the light intensities of small portions of an image are successively analyzed and transmitted.

John Logie Baird – Mechanical


In the 1920’s, John Logie Baird patented the idea of using arrays of transparent rods to transmit images for television. Baird’s 30 line images were the first demonstrations of television by reflected light rather than back-lit silhouettes. John Logie Baird based his technology on Paul Nipkow’s scanning disc idea and later developments in electronics.

Charles Francis Jenkins – Mechanical


Charles Jenkins invented a mechanical television system called radiovision and claimed to have transmitted the earliest moving silhouette images on June 14, 1923.

Cathode Ray Tube – Electronic Television History


Electronic television is based on the development of the cathode ray tube, which is the picture tube found in modern TV sets. German scientist, Karl Braun invented the cathode ray tube oscilloscope (CRT) in 1897.

Vladimir Kosma Zworykin – Electronic


Russian inventor, Vladimir Zworykin invented an improved cathode-ray tube called the kinescope in 1929. The kinescope tube was sorely needed for television. Zworykin was one of the first to demonstrate a television system with all the features of modern picture tubes.

Philo T. Farnsworth – Electronic


In 1927, Philo Farnsworth was the first inventor to transmit a television image comprised of 60 horizontal lines. The image transmitted was a dollar sign. Farnsworth developed the dissector tube, the basis of all current electronic televisions. He filed for his first television patent in 1927 (#1,773,980).

Louis Parker – Television Receiver


Louis Parker invented the modern changeable television receiver. The patent was issued to Louis Parker in 1948.

Rabbit Ears – Antennae


Marvin Middlemark invented “rabbit ears”, the “V” shaped TV antennae. Among Middlemark’s other inventions were a water-powered potato peeler and rejuvenating tennis ball machine.

Color Television


Color TV was by no means a new idea, a German patent in 1904 contained the earliest proposal, while in 1925 Zworykin filed a patent disclosure for an all-electronic color television system. A successful color television system began commercial broadcasting, first authorized by the FCC on December 17, 1953 based on a system invented by RCA.

History of Cable TV


Cable television, formerly known as Community Antenna Television or CATV, was born in the mountains of Pennsylvania in the late 1940’s. The first successful color television system began commercial broadcasting on December 17, 1953 based on a system designed by RCA.

Remote Controls


It was in June of 1956, that the TV remote controller first entered the American home. The first TV remote control called “Lazy Bones,” was developed in 1950 by Zenith Electronics Corporation (then known as Zenith Radio Corporation).

Origins of Children’s Programming


The American Broadcasting Company first aired Saturday morning TV shows for children on August 19, 1950.

Plasma TV


The very first prototype for a plasma display monitor was invented in 1964 by Donald Bitzer, Gene Slottow, and Robert Willson.

History of Closed Captioning TV


TV closed captions are captions that are hidden in the television video signal, invisible without a special decoder.

Web TV


Web TV was rolled out in 1996.


News Anchoring: The nitty gritty

As a news anchor, you will start your day by reading all the papers and wires to find out everything that has happened in the past 24 hours. You will work with producers to plan and write your newscast — making necessary phone calls, sending e-mails, and, well, running around the newsroom to prepare. You can work 12-hour days, but will only actually be on the air for up to four hours. Some of the things you report on will be headline news, while others may be special segments and interviews that you’ve had more time to research. But with the news, you never know what will break — at a moment’s notice there could be a plane crash, a natural disaster, or worse. You may spend your whole day researching what you thought were the top stories, and then the unexpected happens and the scripts are thrown away — this is when it gets tough and exciting!






It’s a tough road to becoming an anchor — you really have to want it. You should start as an intern, and then become a field reporter for a local news or cable access station. In smaller markets, you may have to carry your own equipment, shoot your own segments, and even edit your own film, in areas of the country where you usually would never go. But you need to know how to deal with events on a small scale before you take on the big stuff.




Don’t let your age, your gender, or anything else hold you back. You have to know what you want and do whatever you can to get those internships or field producing assignments. It’s a very competitive field, but these first steps are absolutely vital.




Once you’ve scored the internship, do everything that is asked of you and more. You have to do all the little gofer jobs and love doing them. If you are asked to log tapes or get coffee, you’re on it!




Just because you’re running errands doesn’t mean you can’t learn. Take in your surroundings and always have your eyes on the actual anchors. Watch them with the teleprompter — you’ll find that what may come out of her or his mouth is often very different from what it reads. Making this look so effortless and natural is an acquired skill, but you can learn through osmosis — just keep your eyes and ears open!




Anchors at the big-time networks can make millions of dollars a year, but when you start out you might barely make $20,000. Salaries can vary in between these extremes, depending on the size of the market in which you work. A University of Missouri Journalism School study estimates anchors in the 25 biggest markets make an average of $130,000 a year, while anchors in small markets make $26,000 — the overall average is $47,000.




“This is a competitive business — there are a lot of women who want these jobs, but experience, education, and smarts go a long way. I’m still figuring it out — I learn new things every day. Once you stop learning, you should get out of the business. It’s just really about being hungry for more.” —Nicole Lapin


Nicole is a news anchor for Live — the network’s live, multistream video service — who also appears on CNN Headline News and CNN International and has covered major events such as the Israel-Hezbollah conflict and the Virginia Tech massacre. She also hosts her own weekly interview series, “Young People Who Rock,” which features people under 30 doing remarkable things. Only 24 years old herself, Nicole is certainly one of those people!

Using technology to support parents

We recently wrapped up our 5-webinar series on Parent Engagement. We developed the series to support charter members of the Grade-Level Reading Communities Network, a key community-based effort of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. We’ve archived the entire Parent Engagement Webinar Series so now it’s a free, permanent resource for all.


The final webinar focused on using technology to support parents. We had three terrific presenters: Lisa Guernsey from the Early Education Initiative at the New America Foundation, Richard Byrne from Free Technology for Teachers, and Ana Blagojevic, Migrant Education Coordinator and Advocate at at Mano en Mano | Hand in Hand and director of the Comienza en Casa Program. Each presenter shared their thoughts and experiences with using technology to support parents.


The webinar was full of good information, and I want to highlight two of the tech resources that Lisa Guernsey shared. Hopefully at least one will be new to you!


Ele, from the Fred Rogers Center Early Learning Environment. Ele is a site full of activities designed to build skills in several important areas: listening and talking, reading, writing, arts, and more. Activities can be sorted by media type (books, videos, games, interactive tools, songs, and mobile) and age (from birth to 5 years), making it easy to find just what you’re looking for.


Wonderopolis is created by the National Center for Family Literacy. Every day brings a new “wonder” on the site. Today’s was all about puzzles, yesterday’s sought to answer the question, “Why are brick houses so strong?” For each wonder, more information is provided through Did you know? Try it out! Wonder Words, Still Wondering? Wonder What’s Next? And Photos/Videos. I’ve seen it used in classrooms where kids come in to see the day’s wonder on the Smart Board. What a great way to stimulate morning conversation!

The Job of a News Anchor

At the networks the TV news anchors present the news. You know the people — the ones sitting there behind a desk (or in the field) telling you what’s happening in the world that day. Whether broadcasting from a small local station or manning one of the network’s primetime broadcasts, TV news anchors compile news stories and deliver them.


The Skills You Need

Being a news anchor requires a number of skills, the first of which is a comfort in front of the camera. There’s an element of show business in the job of a news anchor — not only do you need to be comfortable in front of the camera but you need to make people want to watch you. The latter may not be something you can learn but, certainly, gaining comfort speaking to the camera is a skill you can hone.


A news anchor also needs to be able to think on his feet. While many anchors will read scripts — off of a teleprompter or notes on their desk — information can also be transmitted aurally. If news is breaking information may be fed to an anchor on the spur of the moment from a producer. The anchor needs to be able to listen to what’s happening and then relay the information to the audience in a clear and concise manner.


The News Gathering Part of the Job


How much reporting is involved in an anchor’s job is dependent on where the anchor works and what type of broadcast they work on. Some anchors, especially at local news stations, will report their own stories (perhaps with help from a producer or other staffer), and write the scripts they then transmit on the air. In that sense, an anchor works very much like a reporter with the main difference being that they need to craft the story in a way that works for television.


Working with a Producer


The stories that are often reported by anchors are ones from the field. (An example of this is when, say, Katie Couric or Charles Gibson isn’t on the anchor desk but is instead reporting on a story from some a specific locale.) The general newscast delivered from behind a desk is usually not written by the anchor but, rather, a staff of writers who work for the show. But the stories reported from the field are often researched and worked on by the anchor. Anchors also work with producers who help conceive of stories and then help report those stories.


How to Get a Job As an Anchor


Anchors need to get time in front of the camera. Most jobs are gotten with a tape or a sample of your work on-air. Before you look for a job as an anchor, you need to have done an internship at a local station (and gotten some time on-air), or studied communications in college. (A number of schools have programs, both grad and undergrad, for television journalism; you can find a comprehensive list of American journalism schools here.)


Once you have a tape, you should start looking for jobs at local stations. Many anchors work their way up from small broadcasts to bigger ones. (There are local news broadcasts in many cities and, often, the bigger the city the more competitive the job.) There are also myriad opportunities on-air at the various cable news channels.


A Day in the Life


A good way to find out more about a job is to hear about it from someone in the field. This piece, from a CNN anchor, is good depiction of what it’s like to be an anchor and the various tasks of the job. 

How to Merge Two Exposures

One of the most common problems in landscape photography occurs when photographing a sunrise or sunset: the sky is always super bright and the foreground is always super dark. This causes some trouble for your camera because it can’t handle that dramatic range of brightness.

There’s a few ways to solve this problem, but one solution is to shoot two exposures: one exposed for the sky and one exposed for the foreground. Then, you can merge these exposures later in Photoshop.

Here are some details on how to accomplish this:

How to get the two exposures


The simplest part is shooting the two exposures. Since we’ll be merging the two exposures, it’s very important to use a tripod here (so both exposures cover the exact same area). This method also works best when there’s a clear line of separation between the sky and foreground.

The first shot should be exposed for the sky. You want to make sure you capture all the beautiful colors in the sky, so keep an eye on your histogram and make sure you don’t overexpose any of your highlights (especially in the red channel)! In this shot, don’t worry if your foreground is completely black (or just really dark), because you’ll be combining this shot with another one. Here’s an example of what this first exposure might look like:

For the second shot, you want to expose for the darker part of your image (the foreground). This will usually require a much longer exposure, so keep making your shutter speed longer until the histogram shows that you’ve accurately captured the colors of the foreground. For this shot, the sky might be completely blown out, but don’t worry (just remind yourself that you’re merging two exposures!). Here’s an example of what your second shot might look like:

How to merge the exposures in Photoshop


In order to merge these two exposures, we’ll use layer masks in Photoshop. Layer masks are helpful because they allow you to control the transparency of pixels in a layer (so you can make pixels gradually go from completely opaque to completely transparent). They’re great for any kind of merging. Anyway, here’s how to do it:

1. Open both images in Photoshop

2. Copy the “sky image” (the one exposed for the sky) and paste it on top of the foreground image. So, you should now have an image with two layers: the background should be your “foreground image” and then there should be another layer on top of that with your “sky image”

3. Add a layer mask to your sky image by first selecting the layer in the layers window, and then pressing the “Add layer mask” button (see screenshot on right). This layer mask will allow you to control what parts of your sky image will be transparent, and which parts will be opaque.

4. Select the layer mask in the layers window, and then select the gradient tool

5. Modify the gradient so it’s linear and goes from black to white

6. Draw a gradient on the layer mask, starting at the top of your image near the sky and dragging it to where the sky meets your dark foreground. This should create a nice merge between your sky and foreground. You’ll probably have to experiment a bit here to get it perfect, and you may have to go in close with a paintbrush tool to smooth out the edges, but this should give you the basic idea.

7. After experimenting a little, here’s the final version of this merged image:

Other solutions


This method works best for images that have a clear separation between the sky and foreground. So, for other shots where you have dark objects extending into the sky, you might be better off with trying another method (such as HDR or exposure fusion, which we’ll discuss in future PN posts!).

The ‘Art’ or Skill of Active Listening

How to become a good listener? Communication breaks down when either one or both parties feels un-heard, disrespected or misunderstood. Find out more


‘Art’ or Skill of Active Listening by Carrie Katz


Good communication skills enhance emotional and professional success. These skills, techniques or ‘Art’ can be learned and improved upon with practice. As coaches we lead by example. Mastering our Core Competencies, according to the ICF, enables us to focus completely on our clients. We are trained to actively listen and understand their desires/wishes/dreams/intentions to support their unique distinctions and points of view in order to coach them towards success. However the challenge in coaching communication is to encourage not only self-expression and personal clarity but equally the ability to listen.


Communication is about getting your ideas across to others, and of course the reward of feeling heard. Interpersonal by nature, it is broadly defined as verbal and non-verbal behavior perceived by others. Communication breaks down when either one or both parties feels un-heard, disrespected or misunderstood.


“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place” George Bernard Shaw.


How do you notice that a client may not have good listening skills? They have communication problems! They either don’t ‘get’ those around them, or they don’t understand why so much confusion is taking place in their work or home environments. A way to guide your clients is to gently introduce some of these simple techniques of Active Listening. To start off, ask your client to pay attention to their body language. Ask them to face the other person they are talking to. Are they paying attention by maintaining eye contact to enable the other person to feel more comfortable? Remind them to minimize distractions; to turn off cell phones, T.V. or radio and to put away any books or magazines. Point out that by responding, it shows others that one is not only hearing what is being said but understanding. As well, make sure to mention the need to focus on what the other person is saying while minimizing internal distractions; when one is drifting, bring it back to the other person. And finally, explain that a good listener avoids comparing oneself; instead of giving advice, one simply listens. If your clients begin to adopt these skills but continue to find themselves embroiled in conflicts with others, there is a deeper level to communication to explore.


While being trained as a group facilitator this summer, I was given this to read by Keith Pearson. It is called: Will you please just Listen?


_Will you please just Listen?

When I ask you to listen and you start giving advice, you have not done what I have asked.

When I ask you to listen and you start telling me why I shouldn’t feel the way I do, you are invalidating my feelings.

When I ask you to listen and you start trying to solve my problem, I feel underestimated and disempowered.

When I ask you to listen and you start telling me what I need to do I feel offended, pressured and controlled.

When I ask you to listen, it does not mean I am helpless. I may be faltering, depressed or discouraged, but I am not helpless.

When I ask you to listen and you do things which I can and need to do for myself, you hurt my self-esteem.

But when you accept the way I feel, then I don’t need to spend time and energy trying to defend myself or convince you, and I can focus on figuring out why I feel the way I feel and what to do about it.

And when I do that, I don’t need advice, just support, trust and encouragement.

Please remember that what you think are “irrational feelings” always make sense if you take time to listen and understand me.


~ Keith Pearson


What I took away from this was that a person needs respect, no matter a child, a co-worker or a spouse. It was a reminder that feelings are real to the person experiencing them. No one has the right to invalidate someone for feeling a certain way. At times while listening to other’s problems, we all have this common impulse to give advice, to take care/ take over or even to micro-manage. And what we don’t realize is that implying weakness and underestimating the ability in another is to diminish them in ways that aren’t always obvious.


As a coach, have a conversation with your clients about their perceptions of listening. They may not be aware that they are not listening very well. Instead, they may be reflecting on how to adequately respond, feel the need to defend themselves, give advice or simply use energy to search and formulate appropriate rebuttals. For example, we use the technique of ‘rephrasing’ (repeating what we heard back to the person we are listening to in order to verify we heard them correctly). Especially for managers and executives, explain how they may use this to their benefit. Let them see that validating the ‘other’, and becoming a better listener will improve productivity by cutting down on interpersonal problems. It will also enhance their ability to influence, persuade and negotiate and most importantly the ability to avoid conflicts and misunderstandings.


For the coach and clients, the Art of Active Listening allows both to free up the energy needed to tackle challenges creatively. Our role as coaches is to encourage, inspire and motivate our coachee’s to acquire the skills necessary to become good listeners and thereby good communicators.

Body Language

For two days in January I took part in a Theatre Versus Oppression led workshop on understanding body language. I consider myself to be someone quite self-conscious of my body but I wouldn’t say that I had a great awareness of the meaning of body language. I think that as a result of the course my understanding of body language and also my understanding of my body as a means of communication changed considerably.


I will admit that I was quite skeptical of the idea of studying body language but I think on consideration this was probably because of my perception of what it means to study body language. I think if I had been asked what the aim of studying body language was I would have said that it was to understand what a person was thinking; having been on the course I think this perception has shifted slightly. What I mean by this is that to me it would be wrong to view body language as a way to gain some kind of telepathic powers that will tell you what a person’s inner thoughts are. For me body language is a way to understand a person’s feelings rather than their thoughts and that seems a quite important distinction.


The workshop consisted of a mixture of discussion of the theory underpinning body language as well as exercises to demonstrate the practicality of body language. For me one of the interesting things to come out of the exercises was the realization of how much of our everyday automatic assumptions are already based upon assumptions made from reading body language. I guess the important lesson here is that everybody already does read body language – it is pervasive, automatic and an essential part of how we function as social beings – however most people don’t realize they do.


I think that as a result of the course I gained an appreciation of what body language involves and how it works. I think I also had a valuable opportunity to consider my own body language and how it is perceived by others, I think this is possibly the most valuable element of the course and something that it is quite rare to have. The course definitely has given me a desire to study body language further and also to see how I can apply it to the real world.