Test post

Tracking down a problem w formatting - some posts are causing right hand column of home page to appear after the centre column. Trouble ticket opened.

Update - Aug 4 - aha - solution came quickly back from support. There was lots of extra formatting to the post mentioned - likely from composing in something like Evernote and then doing a copy and paste.

I'll try doing the copy-paste via Notepad now. 

Sparkly things - How new is your news, and how was that G20 conference?

Recent submission to a local newsletter ...

How new is your news?

Back in the old days, news was something we heard from a neighbour, or a traveler from another town, or maybe saw in a daily or weekly newspaper.  It was still considered current events, “news”, because it was new to us. And if there was a choice in publications to follow, we often picked the one that reinforced our own views.

Later on news came via radio and television newscasts, with hourly updates and evening summaries and opinion pieces, but still filtered and summarized and arranged with the appropriate biases.

We then moved to the ability to read news flashes on-line, or tune to CBC or CNN to watch their “live” coverage of a Shuttle launch or a hurricane or a white Ford Bronco driven down a highway by a sports icon. 

Now we have real time connectivity to friends and strangers and events, so that even “newer” news is our for the taking, via the ubiquitous cell phones. Many of these are more than just a phone, they're “smart”, packing in more power than my first computer, and adding features such as two way text messages and web access, and often the ability to take, and upload, photos and videos.

We now can easily have access to more news than we know what to do with, the challenge is to somehow act as our own news organizations. Who or what do we follow, how do we judge the accuracy of all this raw data, how do we keep it in the context of news from other more traditional sources, how do we manage this fire hose flow of information? We can bypass the filtering and spin of the traditional sources, but how do we use what we have to correct or nullify or add to that spin?

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Sparkly things - iPhone

This month's submission to a local newsletter...

This month's winner for sparkliness for me is my iPhone, a fascinating new toy tool. It's Apple's newest (for a while), a recent upgrade from my relatively clunky Palm Treo. Being a Mensoid and also retired, I’m involved in a lot of different things, such as graffiti mural promotion, local politics, tromboning, grandchildren, social activism, and photography. As part of all that I have a need to track and interconnect online with people and events, via Facebook, email, Twitter, photo sites, and online papers and blogs. My old phone sort of did that, but this next generation phone links everything with much improved speed and functionality, yet in a much smaller package. In addition, it adds features like GPS (global positioning system) access and positional sensing - it knows if it's been turned sideways or shaken. Even more possibilities, for example, as I headed out to a recent TGIF, I checked the time of the next bus downtown and found the closest ATM for a quick cash fix, then while on the bus I was able to listen to Lady SOV’s hip-hop tunes, read a Jeeves story by P. G. Wodehouse, and answer a call on my phone. OK – maybe not so much the last part, as I still encounter a fair number of dropped calls due to user malfunction. I had bought a NetBook last year for casual computing while downtown for a coffee or on a train trip - it sits at home now, as I can do most of that work still with this much smaller device.

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Google alerts

I thought everyone knew of these, but after talking with some friends - maybe not. In Google's words, 

 Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic.

Pretty simple - here's a link to the page. Using alerts you can have Google periodically search for whatever you want to follow, and you restrict the search to just web or just video, or ask for everything. You'll get a list of links and summaries sent to you as an email,  as it happens, daily, weekly - whatever you choose. I know, seems like yet another way to get more things piled up to read, but it can help to focus on some areas. 

I want to look for positive online coverage of graffiti, of graffiti murals, and of graffiti legal walls, so I have set those three searches up as alerts. Then in my Gmail  I have a filter that tells it to skip the Inbox with these messages and label all with "graff alerts". That way they don't clutter my Inbox and I can check whenever I want to pick the ones I'd like to share with others. And being online, check from wherever I have access.

Here's the web page where I share the links and summaries of the ones I like, maybe add a few words, using categories graffiti articles, legal wall, or mural.