Friday, March 22, 2013

New Location for this Blog

We want to take a moment to let everyone following us here at blogspot, that we're moving to a blog housed on our own server. We recently unveiled a redesigned Uncharted website. You can continue to follow us at http://www.uncharted.net/blog 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lost Parking Brakes and Founded Companies



I keep missing the parking brake. My left foot rises into the air, hovers over the pedal, and pushes downward, only to hit the floor mat in disappointment. I try again, this time moving my foot in circular search patterns and hitting the floor mat again. I look down. There's no parking brake. It’s back in Salt Lake City in the rental I used for ten days on a recent trip for Uncharted. 
Aside from getting into the bad habit of using my rental’s parking brake, my trip proved productive and significant. I’m pleased to say that we have further translated our vision for Uncharted into reality by forming a new company, Uncharted, LLC. We've been working on this for a long time now. 
It began a few years ago when a group of friends and professionals came together to find ways to explore the world and lead active lifestyles. Back then, there was no Uncharted, just an idea. We worked full-time jobs and funded the project with our own time and money. We even formed a company called Great Divide Media, L.L.C. 
The idea evolved and us with it. We learned new skills, met new people and broadened our understanding of things we’d never thought possible. We made some mistakes, and we learned from those mistakes. We also achieved some goals. With limited time and funding, we launched the Uncharted website and gathered a small community of friends focused on exploring the world’s geographic and cultural marvels. We brought each other to our own corners of the globe one journey at a time. With your help, we saw experiences from Africa to Asia, to the Americas, Europe and Oceania. We even acquired trademark ownership of the Uncharted name and decided to embrace this opportunity by moving on from Great Divide Media to Uncharted, LLC. 
Last year, I left my full-time journalism career and moved from Utah back to my home state of Pennsylvania to devote a more serious effort towards the Uncharted idea. It’s been an exciting year. As the President and a co-founder of Uncharted, I have spent most of that time setting up our new entity and working with our Director of Presentation, Andrew E. Clark and his team of programmers to get our website redesigned, developed and launched for 2012. Each day we get closer to realizing that goal. The new website will be home for our community of explorers and their many adventures, but it is only a small part of our vision. Our small team is working on a variety of ways to help you explore the world, connect with like-minded people and share about your experiences. We want to thank our explorers and each of you for your feedback and patience as Uncharted, now pointed to this blog, undergoes its transformation. We're excited about the next few months and the many opportunities our new site will provide as we once again prepare to explore the world with you one journey at a time. 
Alan Murray is the President and a co-founder of Uncharted. He likes to scuba dive and snowshoe. To contact Alan about becoming involved with Uncharted or to give him advice on how to use his parking brake, write to alan@uncharted.net.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Slow! Construction Zone.


Work continues on our little project, now a noticeably larger, gigantic project that has spanned several years in the making. It's a true cyber construction zone to say the least. If you thought you were going to www.uncharted.net, you may be wondering why you were taken to our blog instead. Uncharted is undergoing some server maintenance over the next day or two and we appreciate your patience as we clean things up a bit. 

And yes, you heard correctly. I was talking about our "current site."  We've taken some of your feedback and have been working like crazy around the clock for the last few months on a totally new site with some much-requested improvements and new features that will make sharing your adventures and linking up with other explorers a bit easier. We'll be giving you some glimpses into those changes as we get closer, but for now we'd like to say thanks for your support over the last few years and especially for your patience over the last few months as we've taken some much needed time to regroup and plan for the future. We'll keep you posted about the new site as it gets closer to launch time. 

Alan Murray is the President of Uncharted. He 
wishes he were out scuba diving right now instead 
of fixing websites and writing  business documents. 
You may contact him at alan@uncharted.net

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Trying to Get "Le Grille" Working Again

You may have noticed (in fact, we hope you have; that means you’re a regular Uncharted visitor) that we’re having a little difficulty at Uncharted.net.

Our photo uploader works, well, kinda, and you have to treat it like an old pickup, whapping it here and turning up the radio to drown out the noises there. The story uploader, well, that isn’t working at all.

We’re sorry.

We’re working on a solution that includes rewriting some of the programming that lies behind Uncharted.net, and doing so on a shoestring budget. We’ll try to do a better job of keeping you up to date on our progress so your visits to Uncharted.net are fun, not frustrating. Although sometimes it’s fun to watch someone be frustrated, as Homer Simpson here:


Rest assured that the experts we have working on Uncharted.net’s woes are much better at their jobs than Homer is at masonry.

In the meantime, we’re working on a few solutions that’ll keep us all sharing our photos and adventures until we’ve got the site working as we’d like.

1) The photo uploader is still working, but you just have to be patient with it. If you get an error message, just reload the page, or open up Uncharted.net in a new browser and try again. Most of the time (and trust me, I’ve done a lot of trial and error on this ) your photos will be there, waiting for more to join them or for your muse to help you write captions.

2) If you’ve got an itch to write a story, simply post it to your blog, on Facebook, Google+ or whatever space you’ve got and send us a link at Uncharted’s Facebook page, which you can find here.

3) If you’d rather leave the hosting to us, contact us via our Facebook page and we’ll work things out.

4) If you have any suggestions, want to make a donation so our site upgrade goes faster, absolutely let us know.

Thanks for your patience. We love seeing your photos and reading your stories. We hope this interim solution in keeping your enthusiasm alive will, well, keep that enthusiasm alive. Let us know what we can do to do better.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

An Oil Change's Worth of Stories to Come


View Larger Map

We just finished traveling over 3,000 miles, mostly on interstates but a lot – notably in Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Iowa – on more minor roads, on our annual vacation. That’s an oil change’s worth of traveling.

Lots of Uncharted stories to come, obviously. Not necessarily stuff off the beaten track, but some stuff, I believe, well worthwhile to future explorers who want a little advice on whether or not to take the road less traveled. And we certainly did hit some less-traveled roads. If it hadn’t been for that one slow truck we got behind while winding down out of the Big Horn Mountains on US 14 through central Wyoming, for instance, we wouldn’t have seen another soul on that trip. Well worth it, by the way – spectacular views of the mountains, the valleys, lots of snow still on the ground and, at the top in that odd little alpine valley, a roadside spring for refreshment.

And more to see. Now that we’ve traveled those roads, we’ve got more reasons to go back when we have the time and the inclination. Maybe that’s the magic of Uncharted: Knowing where you’re going to go next.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Global Vomiting

Students participate in a press conference with the cast of "Sister Act: The Musical," on Broadway in New York City. (Photo by Alan Murray/Uncharted)

I'm an expert at throwing up.

I have an extensive resume of losing my lunch in various settings around the globe.

There's that time when I was doing some aerial photography from a small plane. We had only been in the air for a few minutes when I realized that my stomach was the stage for a people's army revolting against my choice of breakfast, a pair of strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups.

I warned the pilot. There were no vomit bags. He opened the window, rolled the plane slightly to the right and told me to empty myself over a small unsuspecting section of an equally small and unsuspecting town, unaware of the chemical warfare about to be unleashed onto its quiet, clean streets as reddish goo fell from the sky.

Then there was the canoe. And there was the amusement park ride and the racquetball courts, all rather far from any type of bucket or other suitable container for such contents.

And most recently, a New York City cab as it weaved in and out of traffic towards JFK Airport to catch my flight home to Salt Lake City after an intense week teaching online reporting and writing at Columbia University for the Columbia Scholastic Press Associations' summer journalism workshop.

The workshop, held each year, brings students from around the world to study a variety of topics, anything from photojournalism to design, to writing and multimedia.

This was my first experience teaching several hours each day for an entire week. The organizers invited me to teach a writing and reporting workshop focused specifically for the web, a first at the event that has been running for some 30 years.

I wanted to teach my students things that would not only help them become better reporters, but skills and techniques, albeit somewhat indirectly related to journalism, that would enhance their reporting.

At Uncharted we have a motto that each of our staff is taught to apply. "If you do things in ways that have never been done before, you attain results that have never been achieved before." It was with that concept that I entered my preparations for this particular workshop.

I asked myself, "What are some things that have never been taught in a reporting class focused on the web?" Answering this question inspired a whole section on teamwork and asking Uncharted's Director of Presentation, Andrew Clark, to join us as a guest speaker via Skype to discuss with my class how reporters can work in teams with designers and other visuals staff to enhance their reporting.

And Uncharted's Internet Coach, David Densley, connected in from Oregon to share with students some techniques reporters can employ to bring more readers to their stories. Given the state of the industry, with possible jobs diminishing due to cutbacks and media owners becoming more and more concerned with web traffic, a reporter who knows how to get people to their story will have more job security than the one who, despite high quality reporting and writing, knows nothing about teamwork, interacting with an audience and taking personal initiative to get readers to the story.

Students worked in an online newsroom brainstorming ideas, submitting their assignments and receiving feedback and editing that simulates a professional working environment, very similar to the one we work in at Uncharted. And Brian Davidson, Uncharted's Editor-in-Chief, volunteered his time as a guest editor to provide the class with another point-of-view slightly different than their teacher. It was a packed week with little time for sleeping.

The Columbia Scholastic Press Association does a fine job providing students and teachers with resources, ideas and opportunities to grow through attending their educational programs. CSPA's administration and staff are incredibly passionate and dedicated to making a difference in the lives of every student. It was an honor to be invited to participate in such an incredibly well organized educational program. For more information on CSPA check out their website at http://cspa.columbia.edu.

By the end of the week I was completely exhausted as I exited my cab and scrambled to catch my flight, hoping for a somewhat less eventful trip than my cab ride to the airport.

Alan Murray is the President and Executive Director
of Uncharted.
He's currently driving across the
country in an attempt to find
Buffalo Bill and UFO sightings
in Iowa. Feel free to contact him at alan@uncharted.net

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Alan Murray: Detecting Gorillas All Week Long


Within the next hour and a half, Uncharted's Alan Murray will be detecting gorillas. Much better than Dr. Bunsen Honeydew here.

Gorilla detecting is a good metaphor for what Alan is doing this week. In case you've forgotten, Alan is teaching a week-long writing and leadership seminar at the Columbia Scholastic Press Association's summer workshop series. The gorilla detecting comes in as Alan teaches his students that we have to go beyond the obvious and stretch ourselves as writers and communicators to succeed in any kind of writing endeavor, not just journalism. (I wish I'd realized the importance of the communication part when I was a journalist; that would have helped avoid several unpleasant problems.)

We've had a busy month, getting Alan ready for this week's adventure. And we're not done. Andrew will work as a Skyped-in guest speaker on coordinating writing with visuals, while Dave will also Skype in to talk about SEO and other ways to generate web traffic. As Uncharted's director of creative content, I'll be working with Alan all week as well, offering feedback on his students' writing. It's going to be a challenging week.

Alan is up to it, through. He's good at detectoring gorillas.