OUP discount offer on a range of books for all digifest participants

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To celebrate UCL digifest 2014, Oxford University Press are pleased to offer a 20% discount until 21 December 2014 on a special selection of books, featuring titles on: computer heroes, computing & society, and computer Science.

Please enter the code WEBDIGI14 in the promotional code box at the shopping basket to claim your discount.

How to Order
Please use this link to take a look at the titles on offer. Your final discounted price for each item will show up in your shopping basket after you have clicked on the ‘add to basket’ button on each individual product page.


Feedback Mechanisms

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Throughout the week, we are employing a range of different feedback mechanisms for session audiences to participate in. We will have sessions summed up in word clouds, in Chirps and even in song!

For the latter, Samer Abdallah from the department of computer science helped us build a very simple Google form that he managed to connect to Spotify where it generates a playlist based on form input.

You can listen to how digifest is feeling right now by clicking this link.

Notes from the Advocacy and Campaigns session #dfchange

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CC-BY Janina Dewitz

Notes from the Open Access 101 session #dfopen101

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Digifest diary

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One of our session hosts made a great session intro video using an online animated presentation software Powtoon, and it looked so good that I thought I’d dab my hands into it and give it a go.

The editing layout is quite straightforward and easy to navigate, although I did take some time playing around with it before I fully grasped the formatting and processes.

Snap 2014-09-16 at 20.00.50


Basically Powtoon works like the usual presentation softwares, only with more flexibility in slide length, presentation and animation styles and with cool icons to boot!

You can either add more slides, or increase the length of one slide, which was what I did. I only had about 5 slides, but they ran between 5-15 seconds each. I also had fun choosing different backgrounds, colours and fonts to make it more interesting. On top of that you could also add music to complement the animation, making it seem like a video instead of a normal presentation.

Here’s the final product, which is basically about what I do with digifest:

Powtoon is free to use online, although there are some options that require an upgrade to a premium paid account. Have a go at it and show it off to friends for one of your presentations!

Is this ok??

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Hello lovely digifest readers,

I was having a little browse and came across a slightly terrifying toy/’teaching tool’ called The Roboroach which started its life on popular crowdfunder Kickstarter.



Credit: backyardbrains.com

These guys have basically developed an electronic device that allows anyone to control the movements of a real live cockroach using their mobile phone app.  Backyard Brains claim this is a tool designed to pique, children’s interests in neuroscience…really?

There is a little procedure everyday punters must first operate on the animal, involving submersion in ice water, sanding, using a needle to make a small hole in the thorax to insert a wire and the cutting off of the antennae and the insertion of electrodes.  Now, I realise a lot of people anthropomorphise animals rather freely due in large part to Bambi, however, this still seems a bit wrong on a purely moral level right?  Fair enough using animals for the advancement of medicine but this toy can surely not stand behind such a argument.  Yeah it’s just a cockroach, their not very intelligent or cute but then where does one draw the line?  Will we be seeing remote control chinchillas soon?

Let us know what you think in the comments and take our poll  =)

UCL Museums: 3D scanning and printing at The Petrie

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Welcome to the second and final part of the UCL Museums series, where we share how UCL museums use tech and digital things to revolutionise artefact documentation and enhance user experience. This time we went to UCL’s Petrie Museum to take a peak at the technology behind their 3D scanning and printing of artefacts.

The sofware developer at the Petrie, Giancarlo Amati, graciously took us around the museum and spent some time explaining to us about the increased accessibility of artefacts through online curation and interactive apps. Check out these videos:

Part 1

Part 2

The digitisation of artefacts using a variety of technology, such as 3D scanning and printing, app tour and Augmented Reality (AR) has allowed greater accessability and interactivity between visitors and museum exhibits. Do drop by the Petrie Museum to experience this first-hand, or download The Tour of the Nile app available on Apple AppStore today.

Community planning meeting #5

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On  Sept 8, the digifest team and a bunch of devotees had an intimate community planning session on UCL campus. We had some fruitful discussions over coffee and biscuits, joined by some enthusiastic digifest newbies and a couple of veterans.

Some of the themes we were particularly focused on are online privacy and security, and there was a collective interest in having a panel discussing the issues in these topics. It’s also worthwhile for students to be aware of these issues as their online footprint and profiles can affect employability. Check out our digifest blog for posts regarding online privacy and digital footprint for a brief introduction to these topics.

Aside from that, we also had some great ideas from attendees, some of which we are already implementing in digifest, for example:

  • Geocaching of UCL campus for a fun treasure hunt
  • Using citizen science in technology or digital media
  • Crypto party (it’s happening!)
  • Using QR codes as a promotional material or in treasure hunts
  • Using “awesome box” as a feedback mechanism
  • Exhibiting student posters on Showcase Friday
  • … and lots more!

We are hopeful for more exciting community discussions such as this, so you are welcome to join us!


YouTube Workshops: Production on a Shoestring

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Welcome to our third and final post in the YouTube workshop series!

This session deals with the dirty stuff: actually making and shooting the video, the equipment and tools needed, which can cost an arm and leg.

But for us who can’t afford to spend a few thousand quid, here are some basic gadgets and softwares you need to produce more than decent videos.


Image from TheNewCamera.com

Get a DSLR for superb, high-quality HD images. YouTube Space runs on Canon, but Nikon and Sony are also decent brands to go for. Amongst the recommendations are Canon’s ‘nifty fifty’  lens, which is a nice, affordable lens. The Canon EOS 600D has a flip screen, which is great for individuals working on their own. This allows them to face the camera and actually see how it comes out.


Image from Visual Science Lab

Lighting is important to produce a clearer footage. Some of the lights you can use:

  • 1st light – lights the best side (diffused)
  • 2nd light – dimmer on the other side (diffused)
  • 3rd light – aimed at back of the head to lift subject off the background (hard light)

All lights should be high up. Cheaper alternatives to lightings are:

  • Windows
  • Reflectors
  • Chinese lanterns lampshade (ikea Regolit)

Make use of what you have if you can’t afford to spend money on proper equipment!


Always use an external mic especially for DSLRs

Rode camera mic is the best for close ups

Or alternatively invest in:

  • Zoom h1
  • Zoom h4n
  • Omnidirectional condenser mic


After you’ve produced the raw footage, it’s time to edit you videos. Invest in a good editing software, which can range from cheap to really expensive:

  • Adobe premier (£18/month)
  • Adobe Creative Suite (£46/month)
  • Final cut pro (£200)


Another tip is to add colour effects to black to create moods and make your video more appealing. They also recommend nice round S curves for colour and contrast

So there you go, the more economical basics of video production! We must say mobile film making is the most economical of all, though of course the result does not compare. Check out our mobile film making journey and the finished product!


YouTube Workshops: Comedy Writing

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Welcome to the second video of the Youtube workshop series! This session is on comedy writing, delivered by Mark Douglas of The Key of Awesome.

In the words of Bill Cosby, good writing never goes out of style.

Mark gave us really useful tips on comedy writing and roping in audience to share some good laughs

Length: 2-3mins is enough (especially for comedy). YouTube audience has short attention spans and anything longer than that will lose them.

Here’s his 3:03 minute long collaboration video with AmericanHipster:

Preparation: Have a solid plan for your video to help you get organised. However, be prepared to improvise as things naturally happen. It’s helpful to try a lot of improv beforehand to practise. Try doing stand-up comedies to get yourself used to it.

Set a deadline: It’s quite difficult to get creative on demand. However, setting up a deadline helps you to get your creative juices flowing.

Appeal to the audience:

  • Do behind-the-scenes shots and out-takes to draw audience; bloopers are always fun to watch!
  • Respond to comments on camera
  • Give your audience a job at the end: “what should we do next? You decide!” It straight away takes the audience’s mind of what just happened & focuses on the next thing

Check out our post about YouTube creative strategy that could help with this!

The little details: Make the most of your thumbnail and meta data. This could influence whether viewers would click on your video based on the small details they see. Meta data is also useful for YouTube to index your content and bring it up in related searches.

Polish your skills: Take acting classes and practise your comedic talent!

And finally, enjoy this hilarious video that Mark recommended to us and see how they do it: