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.

Monday, May 9, 2011

It's Just This Thing I Have . . .

I don't know what it is with me and ghost towns.

Back in the late 80s, a Dutch exchange student we were hosting wanted to go pan for gold. He'd gone to the local army surplus store and bought an authentic gold-panning pan -- they have everything at our surplus store, except the gold -- and wanted to try it out. I figured, why not go gold-panning where the prospectors had found gold years before?

So we headed to Stanley, Idaho.

Stanley itself is nto a ghost town, though it is almost. Nearby, however, is the ghost town of Bonanza, which sounded as a likely spot.

We camped, made a fire, monkeyed around as high school kids will do, then went panning for gold. Didn't find a single flake. But we had a ball poking through the old buildings at Bonanza, wondering who lived there, why they left, and why in the world they used such splintery wood for the seats in their outhouses.

Then on out, I was hooked.

I've been through ghost towns in extreme southern Idaho, where they built their homes out of stone because trees were scarce. I've been through several in central Idaho, where the roofs have crumbled and trees are growing up through the buildings.

And I've been to Gilmore, Idaho, time and again, hoping against hope that on the next journey, I can convince my wife to buy a lot there. They're for sale, you know. Owning part of a ghost town. How cool would that be? Read more about it here.

Gilmore, Idaho, from the surrounding hills. Photo by Michelle Davidson.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Uncharted Gets another CSPA Invite

Well, we're officially in at the CSPA. Here's what Alan says about our repeated invitation:
Here is the link to the workshop I will be teaching. The Columbia University people told me that the reasons they are having me come teach this summer are because I come well prepared and get really good reviews with class numbers increasing. The words they used to describe the sessions were things like innovative and attention-grabbing. They also like that we cross train and deal with small staffs. This invitation would not be possible if it were not for the team effort that goes into helping me prepare for these events. Each of you have played a key role in this and I appreciate it. When I go to these things and am successful it is only because of this team. You should all take credit for this. Thanks.
That makes us feel pretty good. Here's the link he mentions.

Monday, March 21, 2011

App Review: iSurvival

The time hasn't come yet that an iPod Touch is the first item I think of when I'm compiling a list of wilderness survival essentials, but a friend of mine recently recommended a survival app that just might change my mind.

It's called -- maybe this won't win points for originality -- iSurvival. But as I mock the name, I have to say that for an occasional wilderness wanderer like me, it's got some handy stuff, though I'm hard-pressed to way when, in the future, I envision myself becoming lost at sea. Published by Utah-based Fishington Studios, the app is billed as a "military grade" wilderness survival manual. And considering the friend who recommended the app worked as a paramedic and in California and follows military minutia as he has a son who is a soldier, I have to believe that this app lives up to its billing.


Wilderness Survival, ten-year-old style

There are small tells throughout the manual that reveal the text in iSurvival wasn't originally written for the leisure wilderness crowd -- the chapter on shelters, for example, advises that you choose a place to build your shelter that "provides concealment from enemy observation" -- but, in general, the tips therein echo those I've read in more expensive manuals, including a few I've got lying around the house because I haven't yet gotten around to getting lost.

Though I've poked fun at the manual a bit, it's certainly something I'd have at my side if I were wandering off into the wilds. The app's clear textual presentation, accompanied by clear, useful illustration of survival techniques ranging from shelter-building to identification of edible wild plants.

The link provided above says the app is available for $1.99. I searched iTunes and got it for free, though perhaps the "free" was a short-time promotional price. 

The only fault I can see in this app is obvious -- run out of power for your handheld device and the app is locked away forever. Perhaps they've included a chapter on locating current bushes . . .

Monday, March 14, 2011

Fixed the Photo and Story Modules

Great news! We successfully fixed the "share" function of the Uncharted website so that you can once again share your photos and stories from your adventures! Feel free to use your Explorer account to sign in and publish away on Uncharted's website. Invite your friends to do the same by sharing this link with them so they can become an Explorer too: http://uncharted.net/account/register

We look forward to seeing whatever you have to share with us as you continue exploring the uncharted and keep shooting for 2011 Explorer of the Year. For 2010 we gave away a nice Uncharted t-shirt and a couple bumper stickers to the winner, and well do the same or better this year, so share your adventures often!

Now we are working on new upgrades to the site and we will have some more news, tips and information to send to you again soon. As always, if you have anything you'd like to share w/ the whole Uncharted audience or have feedback, we welcome you to send it to feedback@uncharted.net. You can also keep in touch with us at our page on Facebook or Twitter. In the mean time, all the best!

What We Learned

Whew.

The workshop is done. I'm feeling a lot less stress now. I'm used to giving presentations, but I still get that stage fright right before it's time to go on.

And that's what we'll do with the writing workshop offered through Uncharted: Go on.

The March 4th presentation was a good experience. I used about 50 percent of what I had prepared and built the remaining 50 percent on the spot, drawing on what I know works when you've got a bunch of photos, sound clips and souvenirs on hand but you're staring into that blank screen maw, waiting for inspiration to strike.

The next Uncharted writing workshop will be better than the first. And then they'll keep on getting better as more people attend and as more people tell us what they'd like to see in this workshop, and in other workshops we've got in the works.

What did I learn from this workshop?

There's a lot of talent out there. My Uncharted compatriots, shy about sharing what they write, can write some magnificent stuff. Maybe they're lacking a little bit of confidence, or a road map or plan on how to begin. I'm hoping with what I taught them about outlining, making lists, making story diagrams and other such stuff helps them find that confidence and those road maps. I'm expecting great things from them. And you, too. Toddle on over to http://www.uncharted.net/ and show us what you've got.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Uncharted Workshop: Reconnect to Your World



One of the best things about visiting a place – unless you’re one of those secretive fishermen types – is telling the rest of the world about what you just saw. And felt. And smelled. And ate.

But when you sit down to write it all out, do you get that proverbial writer’s block?

Me too.

But by using a few simple tricks and exercises to get your writing juices flowing, you can get past that writer’s block beast and reconnect yourself to the places you love through the lively art of writing.

What to bring:

– Computer or notepad and pencil for note-taking
– Your sense of adventure
– Photos, video clips, souvenirs, sand from your shoes – anything to act as a memory trigger

Who is Presenting:

Brian Davidson, workshop presenter, spent ten years in community journalism followed by nearly five years in technical writing at a nuclear waste dump in Idaho. He babbles a lot on his blogs and has written “Considering How to Run,” a novel he aims to publish before he’s dead.

What to Expect:

Expect to have one Uncharted-publishable story done or well underway by the time the workshop is over, with a clear path on how to write more. Also, some of Brian’s blue nuclear glow might rub off. Don’t worry. It’ll fade with time.

When and where:

March 4th, 2011, 5pm – 6:30pm in Logan, UT at the Cache Business Resource Center (CBRC) Room 1901.

Best thing of all:

This is a free workshop. Come be Brian's guinea pigs and help him make the next workshop even better. Though that shouldn't be hard.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New for 2011 - Cross-Culture Skills Workshop

We are happy to announce Uncharted's first ever Cross-Culture Skills workshop! We will present the workshop in Kalamazoo, Michigan on Saturday, 9 Apr 11 from 9:00am until 12:00 noon at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum.

For those who attend, the Cross-Culture Skills workshop will help you gain useful skills in adapting to new or unfamiliar cultures while travelling, working, or volunteering in another country or culture, or it will help you while hosting visitors from another culture. The training will help you avoid some of the common mistakes travelers, expatriates, and hosts make when interacting with people from other cultures, and it will also help raise your own self-awareness to your personality and traits which either help or hinder your effectiveness when adapting to another culture. You will also leave the workshop with helpful resources that you can reference long after the workshop is over.

We are excited to provide this opportunity and hope it can serve as another useful tool to you in your efforts to explore the uncharted.

You can register for the workshop online and get additional details at http://kzoocrosscultureworkshop.eventbrite.com/ and the workshop's event page on Facebook where we will continue making updates as the workshop date gets closer.

The registration fee is $30, but Uncharted Explorers will receive a $10 discount reimbursement at the workshop. Anyone can become an Explorer for free by signing up here.

If you are going to attend and would like the instructor to emphasize a certain culture, region or aspect of training, please don't hesitate to reply to this post with that information. We want to make this as useful to you as we can!

If Kalamazoo is to far away for you to attend, but you are still interested in having this workshop brought to your area, reply to this post to let us know of your interest. We are considering holding other workshops in 2011 and if there is enough interest coming from a location we might be able to make it happen. Also feel free to let us know if there is another workshop topic you would like us to provide.

Looking forward to seeing you at the workshop if you can make it! If you have any questions or need additional info, please feel free to reply to this post or make a post on Uncharted's Facebook page.

Your friends in the journey,
"GeoJoe" and the whole Uncharted team

Explore. Live. Feel.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Uncharted Explorer of the Year 2010

Uncharted is happy to announce the winner of the 2010 Explorer of the Year!

The Explorer of the Year is recognized by Uncharted's editorial staff as having made the highest quality, most innovative, and most influential contributions to Uncharted and the community of Explorers through the course of the year.

We are happy to announce Explorer "Lisa M Dickson" was selected as the Explorer of the Year for 2010!




Lisa's content was endorsed by the Uncharted staff and featured on the http://www.uncharted.net/ homepage in 2010, in particular her story, "Italy - A Permanent Etch Into My Heart". She has also posted content from her discoveries in the past at the following locations: Bahamas, Tetons (Wyoming), Alaska, France, Niagara Falls, and Switzerland, just to name a few. Now that's an Explorer! Head over to her profile to see where else she has been and drop a line to congratulate her. We are very impressed not only with her photo and writing talent, but also her continuous commitment to explore the world. Congratulations Lisa! And thank you for everything you have contributed so far.

Lisa will receive an Uncharted T-shirt and bumper sticker, and she will be featured in our blog, facebook page, and historical archives.

There were many other excellent contributions from other Explorers, and we wish we had the ability to give something to everyone who contributed. Just about every story or photo we get from each Explorer inspires us and motivates us to reach higher, so thank you again to all Explorers.

We will continue recognizing the Explorer of Year winner annually, and hopefully we will get to the point that we can provide even better incentives not just to the winner, but to all Explorers. In the mean time, we wish you the best in your journeys and encourage you to "shoot" for Explorer of Year in 2011!

All the best,
The Uncharted Team

Explore. Live. Feel.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year! The journey continues in 2011.

Happy New Year to everyone, including our fellow explorers, friends and families! All of us with Uncharted want to wish you the very best at the start of your 2011 journey.

In the coming weeks we will reveal new Uncharted tools, content and opportunities that we hope will help make your start to the new year even better. But before that, and more importantly, we will announce the Explorer of the Year award winner for 2010!



We also continue working on fixing the photo uploader "share" functionality on the website. We apologize to anyone who was affected by the problem. Once we get it fixed we will let you know and it should run even better than before, so don't stop taking photos you can share with the rest of the audience once it is repaired.

We can't thank all of you out there enough among our friends and fellow explorers for the shared adventures, advice and support since we published our first website content about two years ago. Special thanks also to everyone who took the survey and provided the great feedback which will help make the website even better. The website was only a beginning in our journey to explore the uncharted. 2011 will bring new firsts in this journey, and we look forward to sharing them with you soon!

GeoJoe and the rest of the Uncharted team

Saturday, January 1, 2011

MSNBC Featuring Andrew's Pink Bunny Suits Sunday Morning

Uncharted's own Andrew Clark, our Director of Presentation, will be making an appearance on MSNBC's "Your Business" show Sunday morning, Jan 2nd, at 7:30 am to talk about his experiences as an entrepreneur in the pink bunny suit manufacturing industry. Yes, that's right, the pink bunny manufacturing business! Let's just say that we are lucky to have such a creative go-getter with us. Here's the show's website: www.openforum.com/msnbc

Following is a preview from MSNBC:

"It's a classic holiday movie enjoyed by families every year, but "A Christmas Story" has actually been the source of inspiration for some small business owners. Find out how Brian Jones went from selling "leg lamps" in his garage to purchasing the actual house from the movie and running a full-scale retail operation with a licensing deal with Warner Brothers, and see why Andrew Clark, seller of bunny suits, has chosen to avoid licensing deals."

Check out http://www.pinkbunnypajamas.com/ while you're at it. Chances are you know someone that would just love to receive one!