Old Clarksville


New Toolbar on SacTraffic.org

Today there’s a new feature on SacTraffic.org, a toolbar courtesy of Sacramento Connect.

Sacramento Connect

Sacramento Connect is a network of high-quality news providers and bloggers in the Sacramento region and is the brain-child of The Sacramento Bee*. Tying all the affiliated sites together is a toolbar you’ll see at the bottom of all the pages, including SacTraffic.

The toolbar will show traffic related stories from the Sacramento Connect network, allow users to search the affiliated sites and allow greater access to SacTraffic content from the other Sacramento Connect sites.

All it all, I think it’s a nice addition, but then I’m biased…

*Full disclosure: I’m a web developer with the Sacramento Bee and my group was instrumental in the development and deployment of Sacramento Connect and the toolbar.


SacTraffic updates

Just so you know, sactraffic.org isn’t dead. I missed writing up a huge number of updates I did back in October, which is a shame because they included a lot of really cool speed tweaks and other updates that are just too numerous to list here now.

Anyway, I just finished another set of updates, though this time around the changes are more subtle. Outwardly I added support for geotagging the incident location in the Twitter updates so if you use a Twitter client that supports geotagging, the location of the incidents will appear with the tweet.

Behind the scenes I put in two additional changes. First I converted to Twitter’s OAuth mechanism for authentication, which should provide some more security under the hood and second, I switched to Google’s Closure compiler which provides better javascript compression than YUI Compressor which I adopted back in October.

Last, but not remotely least — and this was something I did back in October — the sactraffic.org code is publicly available via github under an OpenBSD-style BSD license. You can check out the code there and suggest changes.


Though now, with the days filled California’s characteristic sunshine, it’s hard to believe that only a few weeks ago we had snow…

and yes, this post also serves as a fine test of the Flickr slideshow embed code…


On my desk at work, back in the ever present dust, behind the gargantuan 30″ monitor I inherited from someone who found themselves suddenly unemployed, is a kaleidoscope.

The lettering on it reads:

Charter Member
July 15, 1996

There were once 7 of those at The Sacramento Bee but today there is just one: and it is mine.

All this brouhaha about newspaper’s “original sin” (see: Alan Mutter, Steve Buttry, Howard Owens, Steve Yelvington and lets not forget Jeff Jarvis for starters) got me thinking about those pre-historic online newspaper days. In looking back, I don’t see any singular “original sin” per se. If anything a Gomorrah-like den of iniquity perhaps, but no single point of failure.

Everything was new and we were pulling the whole thing our of our collective asses as we went (perhaps that was sin #1).



The perfect is the enemy of the good. — Voltaire

Man I’ve heard that quote a lot recently, especially in the online news arena. It sounds all impressive and high falutin’, you know, being a quote from Voltaire and all. The problem is the above quote is almost always uttered as an excuse for something less than perfect or good… mediocrity.

Now, some would say that this is an outgrowth of the traditional newspaper mindset where existing in a virtual monopoly state — where “good enough” was in fact all that was needed for 30% profit margins — for so long has dulled that mindset to the realities of actual competition.

I don’t know that I’d go quite that far (tho it is fun to theorize on occasion) but I do bristle at the quote. Online operations are exceedingly competitive — and are becoming more so almost daily with the advent of local news blogs and the like — so if there are people running around thinking we can aim low and still be successful, well…


Shooting the tiny critters


Early in my photojournalism career a Sacramento Union photographer once gave me some simple advice: get a hold of all the film you can and shoot it up. But as I’ve gotten back into photography, even when shooting digital which isn’t constrained by the limits of a 36 exposure roll of film, I’ve found it’s just sometimes easier to say to yourself: nah, I’ll shoot it next time…

You don’t make good pictures that way.

Tonight as the midwest-grade thunder cracked and lightning lit the sky up, I finally remembered those words and decided, no, it was going to be this time and I headed out into the rain.

I’m thinking that’s how you make good pictures.


Media News, late to the party and underdressed too

While I hesitate to pick up on anything with Media News stink on it, if you haven’t seen the memo posted to Romenesko about Media News’ new online “direction” it’s worth a read.

I won’t repost the whole thing here but I will pull out the interesting bits…



So I got a Kindle 2 for my birthday this year and now that I’ve taken some time to get a feel for it, I thought I’d share my thoughts a bit.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Kindle is the latest “e-book reader” from our friends at Amazon.

The attraction of the Kindle is that one can carry a huge number of books around in a package roughly the size of a DVD case with even more books on demand wirelessly from the online Kindle store. This alone is awesome! Add to it bookmarks, highlights, searching and on-the-fly definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary and you’ve got a powerful tool. Throw in syncing across multiple readers (like the new iPhone app) and it becomes almost insanely great.

But not quite…