Friday, December 22, 2006

Casual Friday blog watching

Friday morning and I'm starting off in bed with the laptop and 96 blog posts to clear, 53 of which were from the Capital Press Agriculture News. Well, at least I don't have to check every post for profanity.

Beancounter has distracted me again with her tip about Linerider.

And if that's not bad enough, try The 10 Best Fake Movie Trailers that House of Eratosthenes touts.

Having fought off the weapons of mass distraction, I'm finished at 8:43 a.m.

At work, the blog posts keep piling up. At 12:39 p.m. Google Reader reports 48 posts in the queue. By 1 p.m. the line is gone.

The distraction this time was provided by the Trout Underground. Low and behold, it turns out that today is Global Orgasm Day.

By 4:07 I'm the last man standing. Everyone else has left. It's Christmas Eve Eve Eve. Meanwhile, another 26 blog posts have arrived. I've dispatched them by 4:21. Now if I can get my proofs for the weekend pages, I'll be off to celebrate Christmas Eve Eve Eve.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thursday of the blogs

Since I -- gasp -- didn't work at home on the blogs, it's now more than 12 hours since I last cleared out Google Reader. I had 96 posts to sort at 10:26 a.m., and it was 11:15 before I finished.

Of course, I was delayed by the need to post this comment: Everyone knows the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42. I also had to watch a squirrel waterski and an orchestra perform the James Bond movie theme with Santa Claus.

By 2:18 p.m. another 23 blog posts had piled up in the queue. They were cleared by 2:43, delayed a bit with office gossip.

Favorite phrase from a blog: woolgathering, used to describe the aimless daydreaming of a child who is NOT being productive. Off I go woolgathering.

Spent a couple of moments to install a Live Chat feature. This is powered by Crafty Syntax. I have used it before on other sites I've run. If you are looking for a free open source live chat plugin on a PHP-based web site, I highly recommend Crafty Syntax .

No rest for the wicked: 95 blogs in the queue at 10:40 and by 10:56 I was down to 58 when Firefox crashed. The cause: Jackie Christie's web site. That's Jackie and in Doug and Jackie Christie, the former Kings couple. Oh, well. Finished for the night at 11:16 p.m.

Google Reader started dishing up blog posts from 2005. This happens occasionally. I'm unsure whether it's Google Reader's bug or a bug on the server dishing up the feed. In any event, the blog posts are "dated" as if they are only minutes old. A bit annoying. If you ever find a year-old post shared, that will be the culprit.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Hump day

Can Wednesday still be Hump Day when the job of watching blogs never ends?

At 10:13 a.m., Google Reader reports 71 blog posts in the queue. By 11:06 the queue is empty. It would have taken less time but I was distracted by responsibilities of my day job.

Afternoon update: 47 blogs to process at 3:29 p.m. Done at 3:51 p.m.

Best blog news tip: Small plane crashes into raw sewage tank and the rescue divers refuse to dive in to see who died.

The last check of the blogs at work at 5:20 p.m. finds 21 in the queue. And at 5:38 p.m. I'm done with blogs.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Saturday at The Bee and at home

It's 10:55 a.m. and I went into The Bee to pick up my paycheck from last week. It really is sad that I can earn as much as I do and still feel as if I'm living check to check.

Anyway, Google Reader told me I had 50 blog posts to review and it took until 11:33 to finish.

The posts from the California Conservative writers are troubling because most of them are coming from the Los Angeles area and deal with local issues. I may have to turn off the politics tag that allows this blog to feed unmonitored into the politics category.

Several of what I call the professional blogs feed unmonitored into the politics category. The FlashReport and California Majority Report are two examples. This is the sort of content I'd like to feed into a politics-only content at sacbee. I could then add individual posts from people who talk about politics and other issues. A great example is Ruck Pad, which proclaims "because rugby and politics are both contact sports."

This arrangement would keep the timeliness of the "official" blogs while adding the value of content I've identified.

For the most part I skim the longer posts, especially the regular writers on politics. My desire to get the job of sorting done pushes against the requirement that I meet a profanity standard that remain undefined. OK, it isn't undefined. The standard is just one I don't think can be applied. Basically, I've been told "shit" in any context taints a blog beyond salvation. Since the VP for News at McClatchy has posted intelligent commentary that included "shit," I'm trying to hold out for a different standard.

Of course reading blogs is not all tedium. I found out today you can find out "Which historical lunatic are you? " by filling out a survey.

My favorite personal post among the early blogs was a discussion of dating. I marked the blog for sharing but it doesn't fit into any of the categories I now have. Unless sacbee takes a massive turn in a new direction, I don't see the people who are in theory supervising my work ever agreeing to a dating subject. But if the goal is to get people to browse sacbee, it is just this sort of content that will attract readers. Here's the post .

Finally, it is 11:48 a.m. when I leave the office.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Working on the railroad

UPDATE: In the move to Blogspot from ipsoSacto, I haven't bothered to move over several posts that simply counted how many posts I processed. The post below explains my objective in keeping track of the work spent on the project.

For the next few days I'm going to keep a running log of the time spent related Blog Watch and other aspects of this site. I'm interested in how much time it takes and the goal is to decide if the product is worth the effort.

For instance, I've been off on vacation all of this week and yet I produced a weekly Blog Watch article for Forum and still updated the categories for the Feed Your Interest.

So, today, I started at 2:22 with more than 100 blog items to review in Google Reader.

By 3:10 I was close to being done, but I had to take a break to bring Richard home from school.

Back at 3:32 to take care of the last eight blog posts.

And done at 3:36.

It occurred to me that the whole Blog Watch and related efforts have timeliness issues that ought to be addressed. For instance, some of this stuff won't appear until I "make it so ." That's not going to work with the "politics" section since at least two sites currently offer live blog aggregation efforts. But there is no reason why most of the politics stuff couldn't be fed live. The only reason I have to look at anything at all is the whole issue of profanity and that's not an issue with at least 90 percent of the politics content.

But on the other topics something else is needed. Today as I was going through the blogs it occurred to me that it would be fun to provide a running commentary on the blogosphere, a little value-added for the stream of content I'm generating. As far as I am concerned, the potential benefit for the program is the ability to slice and dice the content so that everyone can find something to interest them.

Got a message from a blogger about a move of his blog to a new domain. I took care of adding the new blog and deleting the old reference.

Back with the blogs at 8:14 while taking a break from the Friday night SciFi channel ritual. At least next year Battlestar Galactica moves to Sunday evenings.

Done at 8:41 but I must admit to some heavy distraction first from Time Magazine's 2006 in photos. Having studied photography in college and landed my first job as a combo reporter/photographer I'm always interested in images. Then another blogger mentioned being inundated with office party sweets and I suggested using the Party Excuse Generator.

Both distractions point up one of the side benefits of the project: I get to hear about neat stuff. OK, it's maybe not important stuff, but it is neat.

... to be continuted throughout the day ...

Friday, December 1, 2006

NaBloPoMo Day 30: The Party's Over

UPDATE: During November I participated in National Blog Posting Month. I did not bring those blog posts here when I moved from ipsosacto to Blogspot.

NaBloPoMo randomizer

"30 days hath September,

April, June and November"

and we should all be thankful that November doesn't have one day more.

Whew, I made it -- I blogged at least one time each day for the month of November. Now if only my dental hygiene were as good.

Between my painful example of blogging this month and the example I witness daily while monitoring the regional blogosphere, I have developed a real appreciation for those bloggers who seem to crank out 1,000-plus word essays as if they were just notes on the back of a vacation postcard.

Maybe next year I will take on National Novel Writing Month. Tongue out

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Blog Watch 2.1

Blogwatch 2.0 has been upgraded to Blogwatch 2.1. With the conclusion of the first week, I needed to be able to start over for the new week, but I didn't want to just clear the database. Solution: Organize everything by publication date (the Sunday Forum publication date). Now you can see the current week's candidates for the weekend Blog Watch article in Forum or you can review the candidates from previous weeks.

In addition, I've added the total points per item and the number of people voting. You can now re-sort the list of stories in descending order for the average rating, total points and number of people voting. The default order is most recent addition on top. Obviously, you'll want to go back to last week's data to see how this works

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Blog Watch 2.0 Rating System Open

The Blog Watch 2.0 rating system is open for use. Log in using your own account and you can rank each of the blog entries being considered for the weekend Blog Watch column in Forum. Tomorrow night I should be able to produce a summary of the total for each blog entry. UPDATE: I am now offering the average for each item based on voting. From that, I can then choose which items to include.

Remember: You must be logged in. Registering for a username just requires a valid email address. For those who just want to see what it is like can use guest as the username and guest as the password.

You can access the Blog Watch 2.0 page here .

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

The Blog Watch: An Explanation

An anonymous visitor posted a very good question and rather than continue the discussion below the original post I'm moving the comment here so that I can respond.

My immediate supervisor, who is a strong supporter of the blog watch concept, wants to focus on the official blogs and the political discussions among insiders.

Hey hey,

If you feel like addressing any of the following, I always have questions:

What are the official blogs of Sacramento? Who are the insiders? What are you looking for in the posts you profile on the "Best" category? What is the tie to the opinion page? Do you expect there to be cross-over? What would you like to get from Sacramento bloggers, to make ipsoSacto better? Why don't you have a "City Life" type category? What do you think a sampling of the local blogs offers SacBee readers?


What are the official blogs of Sacramento? Who are the insiders?

I get antsy about naming names because I know I don't yet have a complete list of regional blogs, and especially political blogs. The list below are blogs that are so safe (in terms of what I expect them to offer and in terms of profanity-free content) that they feed directly into my "Politics" section without monitoring.

Alliance for a Better California

The Flash Report Blog and Commentary

The California Majority Report

Sacramento for Democracy

California Progress Report

Speak Out California Weblog

The California Observer

California Conservative

California Election Law

Calitics: Soapblox California RSS Feed

Solano Blog

Election Law

The Capitol Insider

Daniel Weintraub's California Insider

Capital Notes- From KQED's John Myers

There are many more blogs that fit the politics category, but I watch them more closely.

You can download the complete list of blogs I'm monitoring (OPML format) here .

What are you looking for in the posts you profile on the "Best" category?

"Best" is really a misnomer. I've set what I think of a fairly low standard. It is easier to say what's not best. It would probably be better to think of the "best" category as a summary of all of the categories.

Keep in mind that this is ALL a work in progress. If this EVER gets in sacbee, I might decide to limit "best" to, say, the 10 posts I found especially important. But what I REALLY want to do -- someday -- is to have a system where readers rate posts on a scale, add their topics, say what's funny and what's not, and then have the collected blogosphere sortable with that data. Basically, a model for regional blogs.

What is the tie to the opinion page? ... Why don't you have a "City Life" type category?

The tie to the opinion page is the same one that Letters to the Editor has. And since I was The Sacramento Bee's letters editor for 19 years, I have a certain expertise. In fact, I might be accused of proposing turning the blogosphere into a letters to the editor clone.

It is this view of blogs as letter-like that leads to the topics and, at the same time, the restriction on what qualifies. The "city life" topic could be included today using the Walkable Neighborhoods and several other midtown blogs. But I still need a place for stuff that's just fun to read.

What do you think a sampling of the local blogs offers SacBee readers?

In much the same way letters provide a glimpse of what residents are thinking, the Blog Watch concept suggests that a wider view of the community could be found in monitoring blogs.

What would you like to get from Sacramento bloggers, to make ipsoSacto better?

ipsoSacto is a development server -- a sandbox where I play. Once incorporates The Blog Watch, then I'll move on to something else. I would love to have feedback from regional bloggers on how, for instance, to set the bar on what's best and what other topics should be incorporated. And, of course, once the Blog Watch moves to I want even more feedback.


Wednesday, November 1, 2006

National Blog Posting Month: Day 1

Well, if I'm going to write a blog entry a day for 30 days I had better start with something I know: Me.

I've been employed by The Sacramento Bee in various editing positions since October 1980. For 19 years I was the letters editor, responsible for the daily production of the newspaper's letters to the editor packages. It was a challenging job, but I was happy to give it up last July. Now I'm the production editor responsible for the editorial page. I help out the other two department production editors. In addition I'm supposed to be working on this project ( ) to expand the opinion offerings at I'll explain that topic later in the month. Suffice it to say that since I don't work for, and my boss doesn't work for, my influence at is not great.

My interest in computers appears to be genetic. My father worked on Illiac, one of the first mainframe computers, and later worked on the guidance system for the Apollo spacecraft , among other projects in a lengthy career. My brother has worked in computers since leaving high school. Today, he is a fellow with Sun Microsystems, specializing in storage encryption.

Unfortunately, I learned in high school that I hadn't inherited the math genes. But it wasn't until I was writing letters home from the USS Midway while on Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin that I realized I'd picked up my mother's editing skill. From the Navy I went to college and on to gainful employment in newspapers.

Kaypro II: Example photo of Kaypro II computerI'm essentially self-taught when it comes to web development. I don't recall the exact year I purchased my first computer, but I remember it was a Kapro II, a portable computer about the size of a sewing machine. I taught myself the basics of Pascal, although I never did much with the knowledge. Today, I consider myself proficient in PHP and mySQL, with enough understanding of Apache to maintain a Ubuntu Linux server. (All of that is put to work here.) For my amusement, I'm currently teaching myself Python so that I can try out the Django web publication framework used by several newspapers.

That's enough for now. I need to pace myself if I'm going to last 30 days.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

National Blog Posting Month

Na Blo Po Mo 250OK. I'm not a blogger. I'm a lurker, a voyeur peeking in but never participating. That is what is behind the blogging end of ipsoSacto's "Feed Your Interest." Gather everything in one place and categorize it so others can have some fun.

The weeks I've been doing this have been fun. But I have felt a nagging guilt. I am, to use my 15-year-old son's phrase, a poser.

So when I heard about NaBloPoMo -- National Blog Post Month -- I couldn't resist. Besides, this is a great alternative to NaNoWriMo -- National Novel Writing Month. Blog at least once a day for a month? I can do that. Well, maybe not. But that goal is sure more reasonable than sitting down in my spare time and knocking out a 50,000 word novel.

During NaBloPoMo I'll be posting to the blog here, but most of those posts won't be on the front page. I'm going to keep the front here for topics related to the main project here -- looking for ways to expand the Opinion section at

Also, in honor of NaBloPoMo I'm going to open comments to anyone. I can always turn it off if it gets out of hand.

You can find out more about NaBloPoMo here.

As for that NaBloPoMo logo, that is courtesy of, one of those fun Internet sites that you stumble across while lurking in the blogosphere.