Feature Stories With Heart

Feature stories have heart. Feature stories have warmth. Most of all, feature stories force a writer / reporter to evaluate the human side of a community – beyond the facts, beyond the opinions – to find the spirit of the story.

I have always favored feature stories (or soft news) as a writer because it gives me the chance to get to know people on a higher level than straight news reporting (hard news) does. Beyond that, it also forces me to work as a reporter with feelings – yes, some reporters have actual feelings.

For the past few weeks, I've evaluated a variety of types of college feature stories in preparation for a workshop I'm presenting at the Associated Collegiate Press and College Media Advisers National College Media Convention. After sifting through stacks and stacks of archives of papers, I've come to the conclusion that college newspapers are much more active to seek out the feature elements than mainstream, professional newspapers.

My students (and former students) from The Montage, have compiled heartwarming stories of life and death, fun and frolics, and service and sacrifice. Here are a few examples:

"A Day in the Life of Mary Davis:" As a regular series, my students write personality profiles, covering students, faculty, staff, locals, etc. This particular story highlights an 86-year old student still eager to learn.

"Turning Lead into Gold:" This profile provides an in-depth look at a faculty member's passions.

"Inauguration Road:" Following a road trip to the White House for Barack Obama's engagement, two of my students compiled a piece about a 1st person account of the journey itself.

"What's Brewing in St. Louis:" Beer is a priority for many college students. Recognizing this, my students compiled an in-depth centerspread on St. Louis. Louis' beer culture, including a list of "things" to do with beer.

"The Vertical Expression of a Horizontal Desire:" Fun and frolics come in all shapes and sizes as detailed in this feature about the art of tango music.

This list of stories (found at http://www.meramecmontage.com ) includes a variety of subjects, topics, and angles. Primarily, though, these stories offer readers something "different," something soft – a much-needed break from the heart-wrenching news of reductions, murders, and swine flu statistics. Even more so, they offer reporters (whether student or professional) a chance to explore more than just the facts but rather the fun-loving spirit of life.

I could spend all day listing compelling, heart-warming and entertaining features that have been written by both students and professionals, but I'd rather open my eyes and seek the next big story that could possibly touch someone else's life and in return, touch mine.

Saving Money in This Economy For Your Family on Your Food Bill

With ten percent of the population out of work and most of the rest trying to scrape by it is important to save as much money as we can for our families. This is not to say we have to live a life of minimalism, we just have to start watching what we buy, when we buy it, and to rely on ourselves more for the things our family needs.

In a family a large portion of the budget is consumed by food. You can save a lot of money for your family by watching how you do grocery shopping, where you eat, and brown bagging your lunch. When going to the grocery store always have a list prepared ahead of time. Try to stick to that grocery list as much as possible and not to buy any food on impulse. Do not go to the grocery store when you are hungry. You will end up buying more food than you need for the week. If you have children try to leave them home when doing the weekly shopping, they have a tendency to throw extra things in the cart that is hard to say no to. This is not to say you should not buy snacks for your kids, it is just easier without them to be the one who regulates what kind of snacks they will be.

Use coupons where you can and if your grocery store has a discount card program use it. Buy generic products. Most of the time generic products are just as good as the name brand ones. Buy things that you will use in bulk if you will use all of it before the food expires. Try to keep the grocery shopping to once a week instead of going every other day. This will save on gas and you will end up buying less. Make your own coffee at home and bring it with you in a travel cup or mug. Coffee costs around $ 1.75 at the conveinence store, you can make it at home the way you like it for under 50 cents.

With both the husband and wife having to work in families to make ends meet it gets hectic. Try to cook dinners at home to save money. I love it when my wife cooks dinner, I also love cooking for her and our family. This will not only save you money in your food bill by not having to go out to eat so much, it will also give you some good family time around the dinner table.

These are some great tips to save your family on your food bill in this tough economy. These ideas should not hamper your lifestyle too much and at the end of the work week you may have extra money in your pocket.

Using GPS Vehicle Tracking Devices

It is estimated that it cost about $ 500 a day to put a delivery or service vehicle on the road. If you are a business that depends on these resources you know how hard it is to manage them effectively. The advent of sophisticated and smaller GPS vehicle tracking devices now allows every fleet manager to efficiently manage their resources. Many companies have realized tremendous savings as a result of employing this technology.

Private citizens are also utilizing the new technology as well. If you own more than one vehicle, boat, motorcycle, travel trailer or motor home know exactly where they are important. In addition if you have young drivers inside your house hold you will sleep easier knowing that you can at anytime find your child and your vehicle. In addition you can monitor their driving habits in order to keep them safe while on the road. The liability of owning a vehicle that is being driven by a teenager can be serious in this litigious society. The use of GPS vehicle tracking devices that feature real time uploads will go a long way in preventing any serious problems to your financial well being.

The laws concerning the use of GPS vehicle tracking devices vary from state to state. It is generally accepted that you are legally able to place a tracking device on any vehicle that you own as either and individual or a business. Placing a tracking device on a vehicle that is not under your legal ownership or control is generally considered to be illegal in most circumstances. Penalties for violating privacy laws in some circumstance can lead to serious fines and even incarceration. Many businesses and private individuals have ignored these laws because it is reliably difficult to detect GPS vehicle tracking devices. Business that seek trade secrets or information that will give them a competitive edge frequently conducts illegal tracking activities. The very small size of the new real time GPS tracking devices makes it very easy to place a device just about anywhere on a vehicle.

In the same venue individuals also are violating the law by placing tracking devices on the vehicles of ex-spouses, girl or boyfriends. In addition there are several cases where stalkers have also used the technology to keep track of their victims. Many people think it is impossible catch someone doing illegal surveillance tracking but they are mistaken. Technology that detects cell phone transmissions can easily detect the tracking device uploads to the GPS service company that provides the tracking information you are receiving. Again this is a violation of the law use GPS vehicle tracking devices to track another private citizen. It is just not worth the risk.

Software Development Life Cycle – Introduction Model Stages and Advantages

What is the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)?

SDLC or Software Development Life Cycle is essentially the process or phases of a model or methodology, which software engineers and developers follow in developing an application or software. In simpler words, it is a process consisting of a series of planned activities for planning, creating, testing, deploying and maintenance of software.

SDLC is often referred as software development process, as it consists of all tasks, which needs to be followed while developing an application or software. SDLC is followed within IT development companies to develop, alter, replace or enhance the performance of the software. ISO/IEC 12207 is an international standard for SDLC, which ensures high quality of the newly developed software. It also helps IT development companies in improving the overall quality of their software development services.

What are the major SDLC Models, followed in the IT Industry?

There are various SDLS models, which are currently followed in the IT Industry. Often referred as ‘Software Development Process Models’, all the process models follow unique software development steps, ensuring 100% success of the development projects.

The major software development life cycle models are-

  • Waterfall Model
  • Iterative Model
  • Spiral Model
  • V-Model
  • Big Bang Model

Other related models are Rapid Application Development (RAD), Prototype and Agile Models.

The advantages of choosing an appropriate Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)-

  • Increased Product Quality
  • Increased Development Speed
  • Improved Client Relations
  • Improved Tracking & Control
  • Decreased Project Risks
  • Decreased Project Management Overhead

What are the different stages of SDLC?

Stage 1:

Planning and Requirement Analysis

This is the most important stage in the SDLC. This stage needs input from the customers, sales team, industry experts, a marketing team and their survey reports. After which, senior business managers and developers of a software development company plan the project approach and the development model.

Stage 2:

Designing

After the analysis of requirements and finalizing the Design Document Specification (DDS), the product architecture is designed by an expert team. This architecture has to stand upon various parameters such as budget, time, product robustness, risk assessment and design modularity, after which it is considered for the development.

Stage 3:

Development

The actual development of the software or application starts at this stage. The team of engineers and developers follow the coding guidelines set by the organization and use different tools for code generation. The programming code is generated as per the details documented in the DDS. The developers use different high level programming languages as per the requirement.

Stage 4:

Testing

In this stage, the final product goes through a pre-defined road of testing, where defects or bugs in the product are reported and then fixed by the developers. This stage ensures that the final product meets the highest quality standards, which are accepted worldwide.

Stage 5:

Deployment

At this stage, the final product is deployed at the client base. At times, the software is integrated with the client’s current application and database. All the deployment and integration works are done under the guidance of expert software engineers and developers.

Stage 6:

Maintenance & Support

Most of the reputed IT development companies also provide complete maintenance and technical support, post deployment of the final product at client base.