Zhopped offers free online photo editing, for fun only

ZhoppedDespite the abundant tools available for digital photo editing, none include the skills to use them.

Enter Zhopped.com, a Las Vegas-based website that offers to edit photos by request, whether that request is a simple crop or complex art. All the work is performed by a community of editors and artists who are off-site and use their own tools and time for free.

In time, Zhopped hopes to become a marketplace where the community’s members bid for services.

“Zhopped was created to be an easy, fun and visual way for people looking for photo or image editing help,” the site blog says. “It’s also for creative individuals of talents to show off their skills by helping others.”

Subscribers simply post a photo, write an open request for changes to the photo, and an editor steps in to do them. Comment fields under each photo let users issue instructions and criticism. Users and editors are allowed to register with alter egos.

The range of requests to date is broad. In one, for example, a subscriber requests a tighter crop on a house photo. But in several, the editors are asked to switch out backgrounds to put photo subjects in new locations.

So, what prevents photos like that from turning up in professional publications? Zhopped doesn’t say. The site’s usage policy stipulates opposition to the use of copyrighted work, as well as pornography, and its terms of service prohibits making something commercial out of something personal.

Zhopped will cancel any account found in violation of these rules. Beyond that though, the site accepts no responsibility for artwork once it leaves Zhopped’s platform.

Zhopped went public May 1, but stumbled recently due to a hacking issue.

“We lost about five weeks’ worth of data through a hacking exploit that compromised the server host, which also corrupted some of our backup data,” another blog post explains. “Sadly, some users may need to recreate their usernames.”

A request for comment from Zhopped’s operators has not been answered.

Register now for Excellence in Journalism

EIJ 2013 logoYour time is running out.

In four days, early registration ends for Excellence in Journalism 2013, the mother of all journalism conferences.

This year’s gathering is a co-production of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Radio Television Digital News Association, and the Society of Professional Journalists — the first time all three groups have teamed up this way.

Just signing up before Thursday, July 25, warrants half-price registration at the door, which is at the Anaheim Marriott, a short transit ride from Disneyland and the Disney California Adventure. To sweeten the deal, Disney Parks is offering attendees big discounts on both attractions.

But if you think Mickey Mouse is simply goofy, then consider this: EIJ 2013 features special guests such as Kai Ryssdal of American Public Media’s “Marketplace,” Chris Wallace of Fox News, and Belva Davis, a legend in San Francisco media and one of the nation’s first African American TV news anchors. There will be special sessions on audio storytelling, personal branding, editing, leadership and media entrepreneurship. There will be book signings, job-hunting advice, and recognition of student journalism achievement.

If nothing else, I’ll be there. And I invite you to join me for coffee or lunch in discussing the future of journalism and how you can play a big role in it.

The conference will be Aug. 24-26, and the Anaheim Marriott still has rooms available. Sign up now to take advantage of the discounts, and I’ll see you there.

5 steps to S.M.A.R.T. social media use

S.M.A.R.T. iconTo most people, social media is mere fun and games ― a means of killing time and staying in constant contact whether they need that contact or not.

But social media is serious stuff in the workplace. Saying the wrong thing online, even one word, can harm your reputation and bruise your employer’s image.

That’s why employers are busy creating policy to protect themselves and their workers from assorted threats and intimidation. But policy is useless in thwarting ignorance.

People misuse social media mainly because they misunderstand it. They think social media is just technology. In fact, it’s a window others reach through to influence you, just as you influence others.

That’s because social media “sees” you. It does this by drawing a picture based on your willingness to tell everyone where you are, what you’re doing and what you’re thinking.

Thus, the more you interact with social media, the more it knows about you. And the more everyone else knows about you.

So, keep in mind, responsible social behavior isn’t a matter of policy. It’s a matter of maturity. The more mature you are, the less likely you will get yourself, and your employer, into trouble.

Think of it this way, because it’s true: The best guide to good social media policy stares at you in the mirror every morning.

Be S.M.A.R.T about social media by observing these 5 guidelines:

S= Separation ― Try to keep your professional media use separate from your personal media use. For example, connect to friends and family with your default Facebook page, but create a business page for work-related posts.

If the content calls for it, you can embed links between the two. But try to maintain a distinction, and try to maintain distinct Twitter, Pinterest profiles, too.

M= Meaning ― Make sure you say what you mean, and mean what you say. Don’t type and send right away. Type and stop, and wait for a total of 2 minutes. Re-read what you’ve written, think about how it’s written and whether it says what you want.

Remember, you are your own best editor.

A= Attitude ― Measure your mood because it will come through your writing. Don’t use social media when you’re:

  • Angry
  • Sleepy
  • Hungry
  • Drunk

These are the four behaviors when you’re most vulnerable.

R= Responsiveness ― Answer promptly, or don’t answer at all. If you can answer within a minute or an hour, great. Being prompt is a measure of respect and politeness. After 24 hours, however, others perceive the long delay as an insult, no matter your excuse.

T= Timing ― Be aware of what’s going on around you. Pay attention to office politics, current events, anything that shapes a public conversation. Then, be ready to respond ― or not respond ― to what’s happening in the proper context. Say the right thing at the right time.

Another “T” related to Timing is:

T= Taste ― Context is king; taste is queen. Minding the former helps assure the latter. And timing is crucial to both.

(Editor’s note: This was the central theme of a presentation I gave to the Community Service Public Relations Council of St. Louis on July 9.)

Why we celebrate July 4, instead of July 2

July 4th IconEvery year, Americans set aside July 4 to wave flags, march in parades, shoot fireworks and cook meat, all ostensibly to celebrate the collective rancor of a few men in frocks and wigs deciding that we were finished being British.

The timing is due to documentation. Atop the Declaration of Independence are the large words, “In Congress. July 4, 1776. The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America.” As if that were the date this deed was done.

In fact, it wasn’t, according to many historians. For the sake of accuracy, they say, we should break out the party favors and barbecue sauce two days earlier.

Why? Because the document itself is not the declaration but an announcement ― a press release, if you will ― of the declaration made July 2, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve the Lee Resolution, a proposal for independence from the British Empire advanced in June by Richard Henry Lee, a Virginia statesman.

A month of arguing in Congress followed Lee’s proposition. Some among the 56 delegates thought it too soft. Some, however, argued for immediate reconciliation with Great Britain to minimize the likely economic and social punishments expected from Parliament for colonials being petulant enough to fire guns at the king’s soldiers. Whole colonies were ready to bolt the alliance at the mere prospect of independence.

On July 2, 1776, however, the last reluctant colony, South Carolina, agreed to go along with the declaration. (New York abstained, as it awaited permission from the colony’s legislature to review and approve the declaration ― approval it received a week later.) On that day, the Second Continental Congress voted in favor of the resolution for independence.

Over the next day, the delegates haggled over remaining details in the resolution’s wording. On July 4, author Thomas Jefferson presented the revised wording in a final copy, which was approved without reservations.

But the debate over our independence date doesn’t end there for some historians. Because although the delegates agreed to independence on July 2, and ratified on July 4 the document announcing it, the signing ceremony, as it were, occurred on Aug. 2, and not all delegates signed then either. Only John Hancock, the Massachusetts delegate who presided over the Congress and whose signature is the largest, is presumed to have signed on July 4.

So, why do we celebrate our independence on July 4, instead of July 2?