Graziella Baratta Ventura, former Ms. United States 2008, triple threat, dance and fitness pro, and image consultant shares her latest thoughts and projects.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Beat Back-to-School Bacteria Everywhere

Schools are one of the most common breeding grounds for bacteria, as are gyms, community centers, subways...heck, any public place with lots of people! As a dance instructor, fitness instructor, & image consultant, I am around people all the time, many of them children. Although I love hugs and affection, I don't like germs! Many of them are passed onto me daily through handshakes, hugs, doorknobs, cell phones, ballet barres, weights, mats, you name it. To keep bacteria at bay in schools & other public places, there are a few simple good habits you need to form:

1- Wash hands (how to do it the RIGHT way) thoroughly after classes, gym use and practices/games, especially before eating & touching any part of your face.

2- Refrain from touching your eyes, ears, nose, mouth or face when in a public place, especially after taking public transportation, touching railings or door knobs, gym equipment, etc.

3- Carry hand sanitizer for emergency situations only. If you're at a packed baseball game seated where millions of people sit every season, brimming with bacteria and you're about to sink your teeth into a hotdog, and the bathroom line is around the stadium, THINK....& sanitize your hands. Hand sanitizers are great when you don't have access to soap and water. Keep in mind, antibacterial hand sanitizers are different than plain alcohol based ones. The antibacterial properties can also kill good bacteria, and thus be less effective. Opt for products that contain just isopropyl or ethanol alcohol.

4- Do not share towels, clothes, razors, manicure tools (bring your own to the salon ladies!!) or any personal- care items with others....not even makeup! Also be weary of any rusting on personal care items such as razors, scissors or tweezers, and use disposables whenever possible.

These good habits can make a huge difference in your health. Lastly, if you're like me and think you're Super-Woman who can do 101 things and never get tired or sick... think again. LOL. Rest is one of the best ways to restore your energy and keep your immune system healthy.
More on Bacteria Protection

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Testing 1 2 3: A Live Broadcasting Review

After many a "testing 1 2 3" I have some opinions on the different live broadcasting options available for all you web show producers & hosts. Even if you only use it to socialize, there's a difference in the options available to you. I'm not going to give you an in-depth "techie" viewpoint, but rather from the standpoint of an average Jane.

The Long....
I started out with as a fluke...check this blogpost out for more, lol. This was the most well- known broadcasting site over a year ago, so that's what I used for my first show episodes of Graziella TV and then Pageant Chat TV. I liked the video quality, but not many features to work with other than broadcast and record. To my dismay, ustream changed their whole system, and it began crashing on me every single time I broadcast. In addition, it started displaying my private videos as public, and numerous features just didn't work well or not at all (such as the download your video option & playlist order). When you have a guest co-host on your show, or display a youtube video, none of this is viewable in your recorded archive. That's a major downside for me because I want my viewers to be able to see the show in its entirety after it is live, not to mention it not making any sense if I am talking to the air (to the space where the live co-host was). Currently ustream's features are pretty much the same other than the addition of a Twitter stream on your page, the ability to create highlight clips, and general layout design. Oh yeah, and Ashton Kutcher is on ustream.

I then switched to, which is what I am currently using. Interesting set-up, and I got a lot of viewers even without broadcasting on Twitter or Facebook. The downside to stickam is that the general viewership age is very young (or super immature/perverted), so if you're in high school and want to socialize with peers, this is the site for you. :) On the
other hand, if you're trying to produce a quality, professional show with a more mature viewership (aka above the age of 19) this is not your best option. Somehow I had a delinquent appear on my show, even while my guest video stream settings were set to off. The user interface is a little awkward, as you have to change your settings every time you go live, and the chatrooms are entirely moderated by you or those you set as moderators. I usually don't have moderators other than myself, so it's difficult to simultaneously run and host a streamlined show while having to ban some jerk in the chatroom who is asking you to take your shirt off. You can disable the chat which is what I have done for the meantime until I figure something else out. I like the vast viewership of stickam, their archived videos are easy to access & play, and they rarely crash a browser. However, their recorded quality is ok compared to others and co-hosts cannot be recorded on this either. I remain with stickam for

now because of technical reliability & viewership numbers. I haven't broadcasted on this personally, but my non- bff has, and I get so angry while watching her show. Not because I don't love her (clearly she is my non- bff) but because like Stickam viewers, BlogTV users are there more for socializing and not as much to watch a legit "show." If you have a basic account, your show is interrupted every now and then with a commercial- definitely a huge downside if you have a structured show with topics, guests, etc.. If you have a pro account (for about $25 a year), that takes the commercials away. With BlogTV, co-hosts can be seen and heard in archives, which is pretty cool...and makes all the sense! I tried for a bit, but wasn't all that impressed with features, quality or variety of professional content- more details about this site in the chart below. They are great...but, oh...if they only removed their advertisements I would totally move to Livestream in a heartbeat! Um yeah, only if you pay $350 a month can you get the ads removed. Otherwise with their free account you do get this amazing production studio where you can create a super professional show with overlays, transitions, logos, add youtube videos, switch to another live location, even clickable links- and all of this can be recorded and viewed in the archived episodes. Their viewership and content is also very professional- very few hooligans here!
So, until I get a sponsor to foot the $350 a month bill for me, I will be sticking to a non- commercial/ad interruption service like stickam...or perhaps ustream again (oooh, dare I?!) This time, I will be using camtwist...a program that can do most of what Livestream does in it's studio, right on my mac...and it's free. :)
And the Short....
A quick chart reference