1 comments Monday, April 28, 2008

This blog has moved to its new home. You will be redirected there shortly. Please update your bookmarks.

0 comments Thursday, April 24, 2008

I stay up pretty late, and get to work pretty early. That’s a combination that requires a hefty dose of caffeine in the morning; otherwise I get grumpy (although Sally would say that it doesn’t really make a difference). I’m not a fan of coffee, so I tend to get my caffeine through either tea or various soft drinks.

The other morning, I got to work, nice and early, and reached into my box of tea bags to discover that I’d already used up the last one. You’d think I’d have noticed that on the previous day, but I’m not the most observant guy in the world and sometimes things like that escape me.

Now, the vending machines here at the Tribune were recently replaced with shiny new ones, because the old ones kept stealing my money. I assume they stole other people’s money too, but I’m not really concerned about that. They stole mine on several occasions leaving me undernourished and poor. The shiny new machines, we were assured, are much better, and hardly ever steal people’s money.

Well, that’s sort of the case.

Off I walked to the coffee vending machine to test out the newly added “tea”. I put in my money, opting for a “large” cup, and punched in the code. What came out looked kind of like tea with milk, which was what I had requested, but it smelled a lot like coffee. Not to be discouraged, I took a sip and discovered that it tasted like tea, until the nasty aftertaste of coffee kicked in. Saddened and dismayed by this evil mixture of tea and coffee, that I would call “toffee” if it weren’t for the fact that it wasn’t delicious, I disposed of the drink, and went back to my desk.

A few minutes later, I returned to the vending machine with the remainder of my money and decided to buy a small hot chocolate. With a buzz, the machine sprung to life, and started dispensing my beverage. What it forgot to dispense was a cup. Leaving me penniless and thirsty.

And people wonder why I am grumpy.

This week, we launched our new California Weds publication, where you can find all sorts of wedding resources that are available in the county. There are also some articles that might help when planning a wedding. Our very own Marketing Assistant Extraordinaire, Nicole Bowers is featured in one of the stories.

We also launched a map of gas prices throughout the county. You can submit the prices near you by emailing Sally, or you can update it yourself if you are familiar with Google’s My Maps feature.

0 comments Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It’s been a while since I posted last, but I have an excuse, I’ve been really busy working on new stuff for you guys.

First, we have all new winery, dining and hotel listings which we’ve added to our community calendar software. These are a vast improvement over the old system as now in addition to finding basic information about the location, you can also read and write reviews, find directions, and list similar locations nearby.

I could go into detail about the technical wizardry that had to be performed to get these listings imported from our old database into the new one, but I’m guessing most of you don’t really care. Let’s just say it wasn’t easy, nor was it exciting.

We’ve also made some fairly major changes to the layout of MySLOCounty.com over the past few days based on some user feedback. We removed the left rail of navigation, and condensed much of what was there into a more concise horizontal bar at the top of the page. You can now access everything you want to do on the site from that bar, while the contents of the right rail display information about recent posts and other items that may be of interest.

Of course, as with all changes, we’re now getting some feedback from users (mostly grumpy Tribune employees), who have issues with the main column being too wide, and we’re examining what, if anything, needs to be done about that. If you feel strongly one way or the other, please let us know and we’ll take your suggestions into consideration (unless you’re a grumpy Tribune Employee, in which case, we’ve heard from you already, so you can shut up about it now. Thanks).

I’ve been using my membership to the IWA to attend some online Flash classes, which came in very handy with this week’s Grudge Match. After all, what is more convincing in an argument than a poorly made Flash animation demonstrating the merits of paper vs. rock or scissors? You’re right, nothing. Paper is clearly the winner.

0 comments Monday, April 7, 2008

I'm not sure how many of our regular story commenters actually read this blog (as many keep asking the same questions that I've already answered here), but here's my answer for another issue that I saw crop up recently:

A story about three men arrested for allegedly soliciting lewd acts at an Atascadero Lake Park restroom was posted to the Web site Wednesday, March 12. It got a fair amount of views for a day or two, and then - like most stories - fell off the homepage to make room for fresher news.

But then, a week later, the story showed up on the homepage again. This time it was under the "most popular stories now" section. A few readers saw it there, and left these "helpful" comments:

"This story is a week old...move on!"


"tt- c'mon...even on the ksby site has this is archived.
this is a sign you folks have nothing better [you think] to report on.
man up, turn off the net and go out and cover some news!"

Actually, we have nothing to do with what stories show up in that section - you, the reader, does. The 10 stories in that section are automatically updated every hour from a program that counts page views on a story. So why would a week-old story get picked up there? Several reasons. Most often, it's because it was linked to from an outside site. And once it makes it into that section, those people complaining about it being an old story on the homepage are just furthering the problem - each click you make will just keep adding it to the "most-read" list.

So no, we don't just like to keep really old stories on the homepage - even if there haven't been that many new exciting headlines (which hasn't been a problem recently).

As always, if you have any questions about the Web site, don't hesitate to ask. And if you're interested, here's some older posts explaining the inside goings-on of sanluisobispo.com:

Why does this story allow comments, but that one doesn't?

That's hardly breaking news

Baloney polls

0 comments Tuesday, April 1, 2008

This morning, I arrived at work to hear rumours that the Cuesta Grade was closed, the reason given was that there was “something to do with elephant seals”. What the seals were supposed to be doing, I have no idea. Frolicking perhaps.

Since Elephant seals really have no business on the Grade, this made for an interesting story, but when Larissa looked into it, she found that the CHP had arrived to check out the report only to find that there were no signs of elephant seals, frolicking or otherwise. The whole thing seems to have been an April Fool’s prank played by local radio station KZOZ. Well done guys.

In the spirit of the holiday, I set about with a couple of pranks of my own. I started by taking small pieces of paper, roughly an inch square and writing “April Fools!” on them, then taping them to the bottom of my co-workers’ mice over the laser. Obviously, this stops the little laser from working, and so the mouse becomes useless. Yes, I know, that’s a simple prank, but I don’t have all day to spend thinking up pranks, and this one was unlikely to end in violence, or get me fired.

Next, I sent links to this very interesting article to Sally and Sergio.

Then, at lunchtime I went to the supermarket and bought a dozen cupcakes. There they are, pictured right, they look delicious, don't they? I brought them back to work, put them on a paper plate and made a sign saying “Happy April Fool’s Day!” I put them in the table in front of my desk, and waited to see who was brave enough to eat one. As I write this, they have been there for an hour and a half and no one has had the guts. Columnist extraordinaire, Bill Morem took a look at them, exclaimed that they looked “delicious”, picked one up, read the sign, put it down, and walked away.

To put this in perspective, most food left in front of my desk is gone within 20 minutes. This may be a new record.

So, avid blog readers, do you guys have any April Fool’s pranks to share?