Final Blog Post

Answering this question is a bit tough now. I did not realize that yesterday was the day to submit this post. I accept full responsibility for not double-checking the deadline. I’m hoping to not receive a failing grade. Before this submission, I would say I would’ve been at a solid B. This is because I  missed one blog post. I have completed posts 1 to 11. 

Woman finger crossing
Here’s to hoping it’s not too late.

This class was enjoyable for sure. I learned many new things. One of which is panoramas. Taking these photos was trial and error for the most part. Besides making gifs and memes, this class allowed me to become more familiar with Photoshop. I learned to resize photos and make sure they were of still quality. 

Panorama of York's empty hallways

Here is a list of my completed assignments.

  1. What Made Niko Happy This Week.
  2. It’s Gif Not Jif.
  3. Memes Forever!
  4. Donning My Content Creation Hat
  5. Creativity + Immediacy + Intuition = Niko
  6. The Mid-Semester Assessment Post
  7. Innate Domain
  8. Building My Website
  9. Customizing My Website
  10. Customizing My Website (Blog Posting)
  11. Panoramic Storytelling & Multiplicity

I plan on maintaining my website because I would like to use it for professional reasons. This includes adding it to my resume and Linkedin profile.

Man saying he's a professional.
It’s a scary thought.

Let me introduce you to Niko Balkaran – NYC Journalist.

Screenshot of a website
Home Page

On the landing page, you will find my latest stories. I currently have two of them up. I decided to change this from a static page because it will give the website some variety.

Man talking about variety
Sure is!
Screenshot of a biography page
That’s me!

Next is my Bio page. This is one that I would like to work on some more. The reason for this is that I would like to optimize it for mobile as well. I would also like to extend my biography some more.

Now, this is the page that gave me trouble. 

Boy panicking.
Me irl.

It was a difficult process trying to figure out how to add categorized blog posts to pages. I searched for what felt like hours before finally finding this video.

In it, the person went through how to do so step by step and introduced the grid block. I’m still experimenting with it, but it has been smooth sailing so far. And so, here’s my Broadcast page.

Screenshot of a webpage
Took hours to get this done!

My next page is the Contact and Social Media page. Here you can find my email address and Twitter and Instagram. 

Screenshot of a webpage
Don’t hesitate to add me!

Photography is the next page of our tour. Here, I used a slideshow plugin to organize some photos. I discovered this plugin through a YouTube video from a few years ago. I plan to expand this and have different slideshows on this page. 

Screenshot of a webpage
📸

On the Radio page of our tour, this is where my future work that has aired on York College Radio will be housed. I’m in the process of reviving a news show so episodes from that will also be on here.

Screenshot of a webpage
Will get this populated soon!

And now we come to the final stop of the tour; Written Pieces. Here, visitors to my site will be able to find my published stories whether it is from Pandora’s Box or some other publication. 

Screenshot of a web page
Will start to upload my pieces soon!

Overall, my website is simple in design. But, I think it is perfect for the content I will be uploading to the website. As mentioned above, the biggest challenge in building my website was figuring out the grid design for categorizing blog posts. While there may be unforeseen hurdles, I think the various skills learned in CT 101 have prepared me to tackle them. 

Knight facing off a giant
Until next time!

 

Assignment #11 – Panoramic Storytelling & Multiplicity

This assignment took a little getting used to. When we learned about this in class, I tried taking some panoramas with my pen. 

Panorama attempt of a pen on a desk
Needless to say, the photos did not come out the way I wanted.
Panorama Attempt of a pen on a desk
Not one bit.

So, I continued to experiment.

Woman pouring liquid into a beaker
It’s for science!

In this first panorama, I tried to depict the story of an underdog powering up in order to stop an antagonist. The underdog, in this case, is Pikachu and the antagonist, the dragon. Looking back, I think it would’ve been better if the dragon was lying down in the third shot.

Pikachu vs a Dragon
Pokemon vs Monster Hunter

It was a challenge keeping the arrow on the line while moving around the figures. The photos before this shot either came out skewed, had my shadow covering the figures, or were cut off entirely.

Failed panorama depicting a Rathalos and Pikachu
Keyboard does look cool

My next shot at panoramic exploration is one that speaks of commuting. But that concept did not work out for me because, well, vehicles move and the shots were not great. 

Panorama of vehicles like cars on a road
Part of my commute.
Woman saying womp womp
Back to the drawing board!

This attempt was taken yesterday! It is my attempt to convey the empty halls that remain after everyone takes finals. It was taken outside of Pandora’s Box. The middle shot is meant to emphasize a neverending hallway (like the ones in dreams) to create that liminal space that schools have when there aren’t a lot of students.

Panorama of York's empty hallways
Who doesn’t like leaving campus after their last test?

This final panorama tells the story of my nephew being excited to play video games. He first comes down the stairs, then runs past the couch and finally gets to the Nintendo Switch.

Panorama of boy running to play video games
His favorite time of the day.

Overall, this was a fun assignment. It gave me ideas on photos I would like to take in the future and how to capture a wide landscape without zooming out too much. 

10/10 would recommend
Until next time!

Assignment #10 – Customizing My Website (Blog Posting)

I thought customizing my website by posting my first blog post would be easy. 

Woman saying she's wrong.
I’ll admit it.

Let me clarify. Writing the post wasn’t an issue. Neither was publishing it.

My problem lay in getting it to show under the specific page I wanted. I spent hours trying to figure out this issue. I Googled and Youtubed but found no solution. But in the process, I became more familiar with my website. I learned more about pages, categories and menus. I saw how they connected. But I still could not get my blog post to go under the Broadcast page.  

Yaz and the Doctor saying not to give up hope.
I was pretty close.

Then I started to click on random YouTube videos. And I found the answer. 

Man giving a sigh of relief and clapping his hands.
Finally!

 Cue the crescendoing music!

For your listening pleasure.

The video was published two years ago. It opened with a similar tutorial like other videos, but then it delved into the Grid element.

Screenshot of Grid
The Grid Block element.

With this, I could sort the blog posts through the category on the page I wanted.

Screenshot of categories
Then you can sort the posts by category.
Man wiping his forehead as a gesture of relief.
It was a relief.

So, now allow me to present to you a video project I worked on over the course of the Spring ‘22 semester. 

Dinosaur? pointing to tap here.
See you on the website.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Assignment #9 – Customizing my Website

Hello everyone!

Woman with headphones saying it's been a minute.
My gif skills are a bit rusty.

But let me update you on my website.

Screenshot of website
My website

As mentioned in my previous blog post, I immediately changed the theme. The one I selected is called ‘Personal Blogily’ by Theme Everest.

Screenshot of my website
Don’t mind the tabs above.

I landed on this theme because it reminds me visually of the simplicity of a black and white newspaper. This was after trying other themes such as Twenty Twenty, Twenty Twenty-One, and Twenty Twenty-Two. 

I also changed my header to my name and a simple title, ‘NYC Journalist.’ In my opinion, this gets who I am across clearly and effectively. 

On my website, there are five pages so far. 

Hand counting to five with colorful background.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5

The first is a bio page. I’ve added a photo along with a short biography of myself. Next, I couldn’t leave out a social media/contact page. These have links to my Twitter and Instagram and two email addresses.

The other pages are mostly for displaying my work. But for now, they are still empty. 

Ghost pirate saying welcome to void and laughing.
Click the gif if you want a laugh!

Lastly, I have a placeholder welcome blog post with an Adele gif. I plan on deleting this post as I add content to my website.

Screenshot of website.
Can’t go wrong with an Adele gif.

That’s it for this update! Until next time, this has been Niko Balkaran. 

P.S. I’m trying a new sign-off. 

Assignment #8 – Building My Website

Woman reminiscing about a journey.
From making gifs and memes to creating websites.

Registering my domain, installing WordPress and working with it was much easier than I thought. It was also enjoyable! I was paranoid I would make a mistake somewhere along the way. So, I followed Prof. Seslow’s Zoom video to a T.

The first step in the process was checking to see if my domain name was available.

Screenshot of webpage
It was!

From here, it was a straightforward process of following along with the video. Everything went smoothly. After entering my information, I started to wait for the confirmation email, which went to the Junk folder.

Man walking holding up an envelope
Good thing Prof. brought that up, or I would’ve been panicking.

I confirmed my email and then went to the following page to begin installing WordPress.

Screenshot of a webpage
Success!

I decided to change a few things, such as the website’s name and slogan, during the WordPress setup phase. After a few clicks, I was presented with my brand new website.

And my reaction was:

Man not liking something.
I really didn’t.

So much so that I didn’t take a screenshot of it. The webpage was the very generic ‘Hello World’ one.

It was time to put on headphones, bust out the inspirational music from YouTube and get to work.

Killjoy Lets Get To Work GIF by dignitas - Find & Share on GIPHY

I was comfortable doing so because WordPress is familiar to me. I added a few pages, including ones with my bio and contact information. I also threw in a nice Adele gif. The theme I selected is a simple one. But it reminds me of how a newspaper looks. I plan to add a nice banner behind my name in the future. Feel free to stop by!

Screenshot of website.
The final product. For now.

 

Assignment #7 – Innate Domain

Guy smiling and using technique
I couldn’t resist.

It’s time to claim a domain in the infinite void of the internet.

I decided to look at the company we will be using to carve out our little space on the internet. I found that a variety of colleges and universities use them, including NYU and Baruch! Those colleges’ logos were even proudly displayed on their site, but York was nowhere to be found. I admit to feeling a bit miffed at that.

Man leaning back disappointed.
🧍‍♂️

But let’s move on.

Domain names. I admit this has been rather difficult. Two names have stood out to me, so I have difficulty finding others.

Let’s begin with number 1.

  • nikobalkaran.com

Man with manic look saying 'that's me.'
It sure is!

I chose this one for professional reasons. First, it would be my site to display all of my published pieces in one place. Some of my professors have sites in this capacity. It would be easy to put on a resume to direct potential recruiters.

  • thevagabondwolfe.com

This would be a website dedicated to the social aspect of my life online. It is my online ID that I use for all of my social media and video game profiles. All the content I create for fun would go here. From my thoughts on the latest in the entertainment world to the fantastic memes and gifs, I would make.

Two guys sitting on a couch playing video games.
Iykyk.
  • cookingwithnick.com

As you can guess from the name, this would be a photoblog of all the different types of food I cook. It’s one of my hobbies that I really got to develop throughout the pandemic. Also, I recently acquired an anime cookbook that I can’t wait to dive into. So, that could be the start of something with this site.

Different Meals
Some of the dishes I’ve made.
  • adventuresofniko.com

This would be a vlogging website.

Man putting his hands up motioning to stop.
Let me finish the pitch, please.

Vlogs are old school these days. It would take some good creativity and intuition (eh? eh?) to know when to whip out your phone and start recording. But I think this would have the potential to serve as a sort of time capsule for the me in the future to look back on with a fond smile.

  • whatsanewyorker.com

This one is a blatant copycat of one of my favorite websites; Humans of New York. This website flows, but I mostly love the content.

Photos of people with interviews
You can get lost for hours among the stories.

What’s a New Yorker would explore a similar concept. Instead of stills, though, there would be short weekly videos of interviewees talking about their lives. While Brandon Stanton (the wizard behind the HoNY) has interviewed thousands of people in New York, the state’s population as of 2022 is over 19 million! That’s a lot of stories just waiting to be told!

Assignment #6 – The Mid-Semester Assessment Post

Well, here we are. I have to say this is the most unique midterm I’ve ever had.

Woman crying and hitting a wall.
But it’s still a midterm.

How am I doing in CT101?

I think I am doing well in this class. So far, the material has not been difficult to grasp despite its sometimes intimidating look. The first time I was intimidated was building the webpage in Assignment #5. But that entire assignment was all about introspection, which helped in taking some of the pressure away from designing the page.

Man saying no pressure.
None at all.

How many points have I earned so far, and what grade do I believe I am maintaining?

That’s the question of the day! I won’t attempt the math, but I believe I’m averaging a B+. The basis for this is that I haven’t missed an assignment and have been commenting on my classmates’ posts.

Screaming artwork.

What have I learned and retained the most?

I have been learning how to use Premiere Pro and Audition because of Assignment #4. One of the things I’ve retained is how to make gifs! I absolutely love Giphy! It is easy to grab a video from YouTube and create a gif. It’s much easier than I thought it would have been. In some sad news, the maker of Gifs, Stephen Wilhite, recently died.

What new skills have I developed, cultivated, and displayed regularly in my weekly posts?

How about I show you?

Old man shooting lightning.
I love making memes!

Assignment #3 was integral in me learning how to do this and has been one of the highlights of this class. I admit I need to use more memes in posts. Because, so far, Gifs have been winning this war.

Two men agreeing.
Or maybe I can strike a balance.

How do I assess my performance through self-reflection in this class?

I assess my performance by how creative I can make my posts in this class. I’m happy if my posts incorporate some elements from previous assignments, such as gifs from Assignment #2, to supplement my writing.

What do I know now that I did not know before taking this class?

There are a few things CT 101 has taught me. As mentioned above, this class has helped me learn how to make gifs and memes. But I also have been experimenting more with Adobe Premiere. Another thing this class has taught me is that creativity and academia go hand in hand in the working world rather than stay separate like how it is in school.

Stones and a guy
Me at the end of the semester

Do I see my weekly blogging work expanding creatively? If so, please explain –  or am I stuck in a loop where my posts seem to look the same most of the time, how will I change that?

My work has been expanding and developing as the weeks go by. Assignment #1 looks entirely different from how it used to be. It now has a gif, photo, hyperlinks, and even an embedded video! While my posts share these elements, the content of the posts is entirely different, so they do not look the same to me.

Are there any assignments that you are missing? If so, list them. Are you commenting regularly on your classmates’ posts? Are you responding back to comments given to you by the professor & your classmates? Are you participating during the class time? If not, explain why. This is the time to be accountable. How will you make needed improvements?

I’ve been dreading this question since seeing it in class.

Man shaking his head.
We can get through this, David.

As of this mid-semester post, I do not have any missing assignments. This is mainly partly because I make sure to finish assignments in order from where I left off. And I do regularly comment on my classmates’ posts.

However, where I am lacking is replying to comments from everyone. This is a bad habit that developed during the days of Discussion Board posts. Hardly anyone ever responded to comments. But I see the purpose of commenting back. This way, it doesn’t sound like you’re talking into the void. Instead, you can actually have a conversation while developing your interpersonal skills.

Pikachu and Eevee high fiving.

While my camera is usually off during class, I ask questions and try to participate in class. And I have missed two classes. I will try to have my camera on more and won’t be missing any more classes in the future.

Man cheering to the future
We can only go uphill from here!

Assignment #5 – Creativity + Immediacy + Intuition = Niko

Creativity is when I get to make something, which is almost every day. It can be a piece of writing such as an article for the newspaper or a creative writing class. Besides words, a common factor between these two types of writing is spending time piecing together everything like a puzzle. 

Me puzzling through life.

Immediacy is having to get something done before the deadline. For me, this has always been a double-edged sword. I love procrastinating and doing work at the last minute. I think I’ve done some of my best work under this pressure. But, on the other hand, I don’t like it when I have multiple projects due or some last-minute thing comes up and prevents me from sticking to my last-minute schedule.

The question I ask myself almost every day.

Intuition is when I recognize if a situation is good or bad. You can call it vibes or a gut feeling. This is a far cry from using logic to make a decision. Instead, it is all about getting in touch with your feelings. 

It’s also good for your health!

In fact, all of the above concepts are interesting in that they are not governed by logic but rather your emotions. 

I guess.

I have moments where I become hyper-aware that I am alive. It is always very surreal realizing where you are and that you are essentially confined to a body. It can mess with your head a little. 

Being alive to me is more than the definition of breathing or existing. It is all the little pockets of time that I enjoy BBQing with my family every Memorial Weekend or defeating a difficult video game boss, crying at K-Drama, and ziplining through a forest. This is one of my favorite songs that perfectly encapsulates this idea of just living life.

When I started this post, I had no idea what to create for my mmm.page. But just sitting with my thoughts (scary, I know) and thinking through the questions, I was able to narrow it down a little.

Website with gifs, YouTube video, Spotify song, and newspaper background.
A Preview of the webpage.

Assignment #4 – Donning My Content Creation Hat

This week’s assignment is a great way to get your creative juices flowing. Checking out the repository and Daily Create was a surefire way to be overwhelmed!

Group of heroes walking
Would like to feel whelmed.

Then I saw writing assignments and grabbed that lifeline. After sorting through by ratings, I found a few that look interesting. There’s one where you have to write about your character’s past. Essentially, how did they become the person they are.

Man sitting by pool
Love solving them even more.

This assignment would not give me much headache because I have multiple characters from stories that need a past. The other two writing projects that caught my eye are creating a superhero’s backstory and writing an alternate end to a piece of fiction. Unfortunately, these three choices will be on the backburner for now because they don’t offer any challenges.

Opening up the visual and audio categories did not help to narrow down my search. I ended up with another three projects that seemed fun. But they also require skills that I would have to learn.

Man clapping his hands happily
Appa knows what’s up.

But for the sake of this assignment, I will choose the one where I will create a conversation between myself and a movie character. Below is an example from TikTok. One difference is that the assignment requires my voice to be in the piece.

@withoceans

pov : what if Harry is becoming bad…? #harrypotter #fyp #grinffindor #hogwarts #danielradcliffe #voldemort

♬ Saturn – Sleeping At Last

I also want to clarify that even though I am a Harry Potter fan, I in no way support J.K. Rowling and her hateful behavior.

I chose this project to become more comfortable working with audio and video editing. These are two skills that journalists need to have honed to survive in today’s world.

A black and white bear teaming up to become a panda
😎

I would need to practice with three or four projects of the exact nature. I would also be using Linkedin Learning. This is a collection of instructional videos covering a wide range of topics. The instructors are highly skilled in their fields. It is also free to Cuny students.

I would also be using Adobe Premiere Pro and Audition to edit the video and audio respectively.

Adobe Premiere Pro LogoAdobe Audition Logo

So, I invite you to come on back by Spring Break to check out my first piece of edited video and audio content for creative purposes.

Man being excited.

Update:

I could not finish this project but you can check out these two on my website that I’ve worked on.

 

Assignment #3 – Memes Forever!

This week’s assignment:

Man gesturing with the word meme at the bottom
Memes are life

Let’s begin!

Two hands shaking
This is only the beginning

I’ve found this website that seems to have more meme templates.

Last night’s news has left me feeling a bit hollow.

Man typing on computer while next to a desk fire
How I feel today

In researching the question ‘are memes art?’ I found several sites with varying opinions.

There was even a YouTube video that covered the topic.

In my opinion, memes can be considered art. After all, art is in the eye of the beholder. And if someone likes a meme, no matter how silly it is, why can it not be considered art? Some works of art don’t even look visually appealing, but they are highly prized in the art world.

Colorful scribbles.
Scribbles or a masterpiece?

Take for example the above piece by Jackson Pollock called Number 5, 1948. It was sold for 140 million dollars! But what makes this different from a meme?

Memes can be used for storytelling. The following meme called ‘Loss’ while viciously mocked does tell a story.

series of panels with a man
One of the most famous memes.

Stories in the end are just a collection of experiences that people relate to. Here are a few of my favorites.

Woman crying

Woman squinting

Anime guy talking about butterfly

And my personal favorite:

Car swerving

Assignment 2 – It’s Gif Not Jif.

So, CT 101. Where to begin?

Before our first meeting, I envisioned this class being about using storyboards online to craft a narrative. It was a CT course, after all! Then I saw we would be using WordPress.

Man with a stern face.
A lot.

I figured it would be similar to the online journalism course. And the syllabus did nothing to dissuade me from that opinion. Then the first day of class happened. And Prof. Seslow started going through the plan for the semester. It was like the sky opened up!

Cartoon characters grouped singing Hark the Herald
It was like a weight was lifted.
Just writing stories on the interwebs.

After that first meeting, I walked away from class happy.

My mind was blown.

After all, you’re saying to forget the rules of academia that have governed me for decades.

Man walking forwards. The word WHOA at the bottom.
Tell me more.

I started my academic career as an English major. There was a lot of creative freedom there. However, that freedom did not extend visually. It was usually just blocks of words.

Trio talking about freedom.
We’ve got the cross the ocean of academia to the land of CT 101 and visual freedom!

Now, my mind is racing with ideas to incorporate what I will be learning here in other areas of my work. I can make an email seem more personable if I use a Gif for example. And now I know that I do not need to be constrained by black and white anymore. It’s time to:

Man saying inspirational words
The possibilities are endless.

 

Assignment 1 – What Made Niko Happy This Week

As a journalism major, telling a story is a crucial part of my life. But even before becoming a journalism major, stories played a huge role in my life. From as far back as I can remember, I’ve always had a book in my hand, whether it was a physical copy or on a Kindle. Books are portals to many realms.

Book with turning pages and magical particles
Magical Portals

I haven’t read as much in recent years. But I am trying to remedy that this year. In the early hours of this morning, I found myself unable to sleep. And my sleep-deprived brain started to get nostalgic for books I used to read as a child. The books were small squares and had some amazing illustrations in them. One story that I remember clearly is Jules Verne’s A Journey to the Center of the Earth. But I could not remember the publisher. So Google made me quite happy when I typed in a few vague search terms and was able to find it. The books are the Great Illustrated Classics. I was excited to find them but disappointed to see that they now cost a whopping $500 for the complete set. I should’ve held on to my copies. 😫

Three men pointing and walking.
One of the Best Stories Ever Told

Another thing that has made me happy this week is a video profile by the BBC of Billy Menezes, a street magician. He has wowed the likes of Dua Lipa and Rita Ora. While the magic that we see on tv or read about in books may not exist, magic like this can still captivate minds.

The video is bound to put a smile on your face. And that’s it for the things that have made me happy this week!

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