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Archive for December 27th, 2006

Things learned in 2006…

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

Saw this as one of the top posts on del.ico.us and thought it was worth sharing: 50 Things We Know Now (That We Didn’t Know This Time Last Year) 2006 Edition.

Among the more random things learned in 2006:

  • Cheese consumption in the United States is expected to grow by 50 percent between now and 2013.
  • At 68.1 percent, the United States ranks eighth among countries that have access to and use the Internet.
  • At least once a week, 28 percent of high school students fall asleep in school, 22 percent fall sleep while doing homework and 14 percent get to school late or miss school because they overslept.
  • The common pigeon can memorize 1,200 pictures.
  • One of the most effective ways for athletes to recover after exercise is to drink a glass of chocolate milk.

The only thing I can think of that’s not on this list… Pluto isn’t a planet after all.

Wiping the inbox clean

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006
no unread e-mail here!

I just cleaned out my e-mail inbox.

An hour ago I had 397 unread e-mails. Right now? I have zero.

The e-mail notifier at the top of my screen is grayed out. None of the e-mails in my inbox are in bold. For the first time in at least a year, I have no unread e-mails to attend to when I have time. You have no idea how liberating this feels.

Although I still have 2,364 messages in my inbox, I have set up some new filters and labels to help manage the incoming mail. Over the next few days, I’m going to try and archive most of the mail, sort it, delete what’s unnecessary, reduce the number of items in my inbox and generally wipe the inbox clean.

The problem with having essentially unlimited e-mail space courtesy of GMail is that there is no incentive to keep it tidy. I want to reverse this and keep it even more organized than I do now (which with about 20 filters is still pretty organized). Perhaps my new years resolution can be keeping my inbox organized. Of course, not receiving about 100 e-mails a day from Stater listservs, editors, reporters, sources, etc. should help a bit.

Of course, there is also something depressing about having an empty inbox.

NYTimes in-site dictionary?

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

I was reading an article on NYTimes.com when I noticed something at the end that piqued my interest:


To find reference information about the words used in this article, hold down the ALT key and click on any word, phrase or name. A new window will open with a dictionary definition or encyclopedia entry.

It actually worked too — even on my Mac. I held down alt and clicked on slave to test it, and up popped just about everything I’d need to know to understand any reference made in the story. Clicking on Civil War brings up an exhaustive encyclopedia entry.

This has to be one of the coolest and most useful site add-ons I’ve ever seen implemented in a newspaper Web site. I never noticed it before, but now that I have I’m sure I’ll use it a lot.

Normally when I come across words I don’t know I just hit F12 and search on my dictionary widget. Now, this saves me the time and trouble. My vocabulary thanks you. If only books came with this feature.

Readers say the darndest things

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

The PD public editor discusses some of the uncalled for comments readers leave him and other reporters in his column today (as seen on Romenesko).

I will never forget the first time I took one of these calls. I didn’t even know what to say except to thank the caller. They teach you a lot of things in j-school, but dealing with angry callers is not one of them.

It was the summer between sophomore and junior year, which I spent as managing editor of the Stater while taking feature writing to justify my not taking an internship. I was in the newsroom at the ungodly hour of 8 a.m. (it was summer and I commuted 20 minutes) polishing my feature writing story before our 8:30 a.m. class. That’s when the call came in… 8 a.m. on a Wednesday.

The entire purpose of the call was to inform me that we had misspelled received in a headline. Yeah. She called just to tell us we misspelled a word. Then she admonished me, “FIFTH graders know how to spell received,” and went on to ask “Don’t you have spell check?” I explained yes, and headlines are among the last steps in the design process before spell check. And she went on, “Well, OBVIOUSLY, someone didn’t do their job.” *dies* What do you say to that? I put on my most professional voice and demeanor and said simply, “Thank for bringing it to my attention. I’ll look into it.”

While embarassing to have a misspelled word let alone a headline, I have to wonder if it was necessary to call first thing in the morning to point it out? I still don’t know why someone would feel the need to call about it in the first place. It’s not like we’re going to run a correction for a misspelled word.

But still, as far as I know, nobody ever called and left ridiculous messages about people’s headshots (a la Kim Crow at the PD). Although, there are a few “I hate thus&so from the Daily Kent Stater” facebook groups aimed at columnists, etc. Mostly, I guess we’re just developing our thick skin, and sometimes it is kind of funny the things that set people off.

… and you better believe we never misspelled received again under my watch.