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.