Welcome to A Sense of Place.  Please read these instructions before getting started.

Logging in: Log in using the login link at the bottom of the page (under “Meta”).  Your username is usually your first name, and your password is your NYU email address.  If someone else has already used your first name as a username, you’ll have a different username — usually your first name followed by the first letter of your last name.  You can see a list with all of the usernames for the class here.  If have trouble logging in, just send me a note.

Update your profile: After you’ve logged in, on the Dashboard, go to Profile.  Change your password, and, if you like, change your display name (the default is your username).  You can also make up a nickname.  Whatever you select will be the name that appears on your blog posts and comments.  You’re welcome to use your entire name, first and last, but remember that the website is available to the general public and not just students in the class.  If you’d like a short bio to appear below your name on your author page (which appears when you click on your name below a post), write something in the Biographical Info box.

Avatar: If you want to use an avatar, you can upload your own image or get one from another site.  If you haven’t used one before, note that they are very small on the website, so pick an image that works well in that format.

Assignments: The course materials are all on the sidebar menu on the home page for A Sense of Place.  The syllabus is here, and the written assignment prompts are on the Assignment page.  The assignments are intended as prompts to focus, guide, and inspire.  You can take whatever approach seems appropriate — a short essay, a personal story, an analysis of the readings, etc.

Readings: All the course readings are online.  Please do the readings before you write the post.  They are intended to inform the post.  For many of the topics, there are several readings, some of them long, so you don’t need to read everything, but try to read for at least one hour before proceeding to write your post.

Comments: In addition to writing your posts, you’re also required to write a comment on someone else’s post for every assignment. While it may be difficult to read everyone else’s blog every week, try to read a few and comment on one.  The comments are also part of the grade.  The comments should be done soon after the post goes up. Try to keep up so that you aren’t commenting on posts from a couple of weeks back.  Note that the website contains both the posts you’re writing and posts from other classes as well as news items that I have posted.  When you choose a post to comment on, make sure it’s by another student in the class.

Due dates: The main assignment is to post twice a week, for a total of 12 posts. The first post of the week is due on Monday and the second is due on Thursday.  Submitting your work on schedule is part of the final grade.

Use Word and save your posts: While one can easily write a post using the WordPress text editor, things can get lost in the process of posting, so it’s better to write your posts in Word.  Do a spellcheck while you’re in Word, then copy and paste into the text editor box.   Keep all your posts in a folder on your computer, just in case there’s a problem with the website.

Format: The posts should be about 600 words long, and they will probably consist of four or five paragraphs. Please use block style for new paragraphs — double space between paragraphs, with no indent at the beginning of a new paragraph.  Depending on your browser and other factors, when you publish the post, the website may delete the extra space between paragraphs or add an extra space.  After you post, you may need to go back and correct the spacing.

Title: When you create an entry, you’ll be asked to include a title.  You don’t need to repeat or refer to the assignment topic; that’s included in the category that is attached to the post (it appears beneath the title or elsewhere).  Keep the titles relatively short, and use upper and lower case (not all caps).  Try to come up with a title that will interest the reader.

Categories: In the Category box on the sidebar, check two boxes — A Sense of Place and the topic of the assignment.  This will ensure that the post appears on the right places on the website.  

Saving and publishing the post: After you’ve given the post a title and text, click on “Save Draft” (in the top right of the page) in order to save what you’ve done.  Then proceed to insert the featured image.  Once that is done, you can click on the “Publish” button to publish your post to the site.

Featured image: On the sidebar, there’s box called Featured Image where you can upload the image.  Please give your selection of images some thought.  The image can be one of your own photos or something off the internet.  Avoid images that are visually uninteresting, like simple signs and words.  This featured image will automatically appear at the top of your post and on the excerpt pages.  Please don’t put the featured image or another image at the beginning of your post.  Here are the steps for adding the Featured Image and Image Source information.  There are more instructions on this page.

  1. image-source-361x600Rename the image on your desktop before you upload. Most images have irrelevant names (like long numbers), so give your image a short descriptive name so we know what we’re looking at.
  2. As you’re about to set the image as a Featured Image, you should see several boxes in the “set featured image” popup window. Take note of what goes in each of the boxes:
  3. Image Source: In this box, type in the name of the website where you found the image (e.g., National Geographic, New York Times, etc.). Do NOT paste in the URL for the image here.
  4. Image Source URL: In this box, paste in the URL for the website page where we can find the image. Do NOT paste in the URL for the image itself, which ends in .jpg or .png and which just shows the image on the upper left. That page is not helpful since it does not provide any information about the image. The purpose of providing the image source link is to give credit to the photographer and source website, and it’s also a way to tell curious readers more about the context of the image. So make sure the link takes us to this page.
  5. If you took the photo, just click “This is my image.”
  6. When you’re done, under your post, you should see “Image Source,” and it should look like this: “Firenze Duomo: Shaun Moss Photography.” The link should then take us to a page where the image appears, along with some info about it.
  7. If you need to fix the Image Source info, go to the dashboard > Media > Library, and hover over the name of the image, then click on “edit,” and all of the image source boxes should appear.

Image size: Large images slow down the page load time.   The image should be about 600 or 700  pixels wide, and it should be less than 200 KB.  The website will not accept images larger than 400 KB.  To make an image smaller, open it first in Preview or iPhoto or a similar program, then save it (or export it) at a smaller size or lower quality.  By the way, the worst culprits are screenshots, so if you need to use a screenshot or a large image, remember to reduce the size.

Image orientation: Your post will look better if the featured image has a horizontal orientation — i.e., it’s wider than it is tall (i.e., “landscape” rather than “portrait”).

Additional images: Aside from the Featured Image, which is required, you can also add other images to your post using the Add Media icon.  If you do add more than the Featured Image, don’t add anything until after about 100 words in order to avoid throwing off the layout of various pages where your post appears.  Also, note the formatting options (left, center, right, etc.) and learn how to use them.  Here are the steps for adding more images:

  1. After you’ve completed the post and saved a draft (or published it), put the cursor where you want the additional image to go. Don’t put the new image at the beginning of the post, though, or you’ll end up with the Featured Image and the new image at the top of the post.
  2. Click on “Add Media” and then upload the image. Remember to include the Image Source and Image Source URL.
  3. Insert the image in the post, then click on the image, then click on the pencil icon and note the display settings.
  4. If you want the image to be relatively small, select medium, and then align left or right. If you want the image to be relatively large (like the Featured Image), select Custom Size and make it about 600 pixels wide and select Align Center.
  5. Update the image settings, then update the post.

Adding text links: If you reference a book, a place, a concept, etc., it’s helpful to create a link to a relevant website. Highlight the word or short phrase you want to link from (e.g., the name of the author, article, or website, or just using the word “here”) then click on the icon that looks like a chain link, and then paste in the URL for the source page. Avoid pasting a long URL itself into the text of your post.

Citing sources: Feel free to quote short passages, but don’t overdo it; and included a link or citation reference for the source. For online sourses, include a link.

Editing your post: You can go back and edit the post after it’s submitted, so don’t worry if you see the post and need to make some changes. Just click on the title of the post so you go to the post’s own page, then click on the edit tab at the top.

Adding a video: To add a video to your post, on the right sidebar click on Video and a box should appear where you can paste in the embed code from You-Tube, Vimeo, etc.  In most places on the website, your post will appear with the featured image, but on the page with just the post itself, the video will replace the featured image.

Adding a slideshow: If you want to add a slideshow to your post, here’s how:

  1. In the dashboard, click on Soliloquy > Add New.
  2. Upload your images in the “drop images here” box. You can do several at a time.
  3. Click and drag the images to put them in the order you want.
  4. To add captions, click on the “i” link and type in the caption.
  5. Click on the “config” tab and do the settings. For slider dimensions, select “Entry Cropped (862 x 482). Once you see the slideshow in action, you can go back and can play around with custom settings.  If most of the images are “portrait” (taller than wider), try setting the dimensions to 500 x 600.
  6. Go to the edit mode for you post, put the cursor where you want the slideshow to appear (in the middle or end of your post, but not the beginning), and then just click on “Add Slider” and select the slider you just created. Remember to update the post.

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