Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New Times looks and sounds great

Instead of listening to the news on WJPF-AM or KUNC-FM, this morning I tuned in to Pandora custom music via Foxy Tunes, and browsed the new Saluki Times web site, which looks much better than the old News Service web page. I sent an email of praise and query to the webmaster, and got some details from PR Director Tom Woolf, who explained.
University Communications' Web team, including Liz Duncan, unit director Janet Douglas, and Jessica Mann, were responsible for the design and "behind-the-scenes" work of creating the new site, designed to replace the weekly email Spotlight newsletter to faculty and staff, while "presenting the news releases in a different, more 'modern' format."
One of the key purposes of Spotlight was to keep University employees informed on various topics, such as notices from the Human Resources folks. We continue to do that; on the bottom left of the site is For the Record, which, for example, this week includes information about new parking decals for the upcoming school year.
("For the Record" was devoid of content at this writing.) My favorite feature, "Flyers Row"
... existed on Spotlight, and had been created a couple of years ago in response to a recommendation from the "Agility & Efficiency Task Force" as a way of promoting events and activities on campus while reducing the amount of paper used for flyers. Obviously, fewer paper flyers would help improve the appearance of the campus as well.
Pete Rosenbery, a member of the Public Relations staff (which generates the news releases), was responsible for Spotlight, and he continues to handle Flyers Row on new site.

Now playing: Pat Metheny - The Fields, The Sky (Live)
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, June 22, 2008

More Fruits of the Season

Following up on Scott T's post on Fruits of the Season, I went Blackberry picking yesterday at the Verizon Store next to the U8 Theater -- and came home with a 'world edition' model with broadband capability (and a barbecue basket from Larry's Pit BBQ, since I was in the neighborhood). Now, I can google in the palm of my hand, if there's a Verizon wireless signal in the air, so my clinical disorder (?) internet addiction can be satisfied wherever, whenever.

The Blackberry device I got is called "World Edition" since it has the capability of working anywhere in the world. This could come in handy someday -- if I get a job teaching English in a foreign land, such as the Philippines or Marion.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sunset, Sunrise

Sojourn (warning, ugly web site), the band at last night's Sunset Concert rocked the crowd at Turley Park with covers of classic tunes like Steely Dan's Reelin' in the Years (the last song I heard, pedaling off to a late supper):
Are you reelin in the years?
Stowin away the time?
Are you gatherin up the tears?
Have you had enough of mine?
When I got back home, the guy who owns the house was there -- in town for the University School reunion: according to the The Southern, 300 graduates of school from all classes will be reelin' in the years at SIU campus, and "historical display windows in the SIUC Student Center ... will be on display until June 25. People can also take one of the campus tram tours, which will be held throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday."

Meanwhile, the schedule for the morning Amtrak train to Chicago is back to 6:30 departure this week -- which means rising at sunrise (5:35 am) to drive the crew from motel to station on time. Not much sign of sun, though -- just clouds and drizzling rain.

I keep forgetting to snap a photo of the panels for the mural going up on the east side of the Amtrak station tracks. They've been up for about one week.

Future Sunset Bands
June 26: The NK (Nikhil Korula) Band (MySpace), Shryock,
July 3: The Greencards, Turley Park,
July 10: Junior, Shryock,
July 17: Brian Wright and The Waco Tragedies (MySpace) Turley Park,
July 24: Gizzae, Shryock

Now playing: WDBX Live
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Firefox & friends

The Firefox 3 browser was released on Tuesday to much fanfare -- and a record number of single day downloads. As a happy F2 user, I joined the throng and downloaded it myself. Installation was a snap (or rather, a 'click') and so far so good.

Although the new version of Firefox has many improvements over F2, I haven't tried any of them yet, except for the feature that automatically posts a link to music listened to as a post is being written, such as this "smooth jazz" tune:
Now playing: Grover Washington, Jr. - Mister Magic
via FoxyTunes

So what else is new? A fellow twitterer just blogged about some other tools available for serious internetworking with friends and colleagues: Do Yoono How to Chirp, Flock and Minggl? The features of these content-aggregation applications are listed, along with a link to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, which explains how social networking aggregators began with Google's FriendFeed.

I can see the value of not having to log-in to every social network site in order to keep updated with MyFriends, Diggers, Facebookers, Linked-Inners, et. al. . . . But since most of my associates barely have enough time for email, it may not save much time -- unless I get some new friends (which would actually take more time!). . . . I will try to Minggl later, if it's F3 compatible.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Social Networking meets Social Work

On Saturday, a woman in distress, fearful of an abusive husband finding her, decided not to buy a bus ticket out of town, and I began my weekend as a social worker (a human resource). Since it was lunch time, I drove her to Good Samaritan, and dropped her off, promising to drive her and her things to Park Place East, which has cheap clean rooms for rent.

She told me she was diagnosed bi-polar, and was taking medication. Days before, she had been to the Women's Center, but didn't stay long enough to receive help; and also SIRSS, without much help. Listening to her speak, I realized that her own manic thought processes and actions were causing her distraught condition -- and vice versa. Because she was homeless, I got permission from my own house manager for her to stay temporarily in a vacant efficiency apartment near my house.

On Monday, I spoke by telephone to two representatives at SIRSS (Laura and Pam), and met with Mary Campbell at Good Sam to find out what the system could do for the damaged damsel. Park Place East rejected her application for a room because of an unspecified ordinance violation.

Driving her to SIRSS afterwards, I had to pull the car over into the City Hall parking lot so she could throw up. She said she felt dizzy and weak. At 2:30 p.m. I brought her to the intake room at SIRSS, gave my cell phone number to the receptionist, and went about my bus'ness. At 5 o'clock, I phoned SIRSS, who told me she had left.

The last time I saw her she was sitting on a picnic bench at the rear of the SIRSS building with some guys smoking a cigarette. Some of her stuff is still in the apartment. I suspect I may be seeing her again. Her father lives in another state; he has my cell phone number. She probably should check herself in for treatment. Since her medication apparently is ineffective. If see her again, I will suggest that option.

The Case of Look-alike Patient
Now what are the odds of this happening? . . . Yesterday, after getting off the phone with SIRSS, I'm leaving Schnuck's Market and I see a guy I think I know -- a counselor at SIRSS. . . . As he approaches I say "Hi Sonny" and he sez "I'm not Sonny. I'm his patient." and I go "wuhh?" And he says he explains that the real one has a few more pounds on him. So I say, "Well Goodbye, Not Sonny." and go home. But later in the day, I run into both of them at SIRSS. Turns out the patient is quite an artist. He happened to have his portfolio with him. I snapped his photo, but it wouldn't be right to post it here. But I encouraged him to get hooked up with C'dale Arts to have a show at the Civic Center.

One final note on SIRSS.... If you were wondering what was happening with plans for a new building, the agency has purchased property across the street from its current facility on East College, and they have Capital Campaign going to get it built.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

All that Twitters is not gold

"A loyal fan" wants me to stop writing about Twitter. . . . a decision I had already made -- but not for the reason given by the fan (a few pennies from a Google ad-click). The fan has not been paying attention. I have repeatedly stated that I have little interest in analyzing C'dales woes and wonders -- except as they relate to my own activities.

For instance, picking up the Amtrak crew the past few days, I noticed that the traffic signals are no longer synchronized for smooth sailing (at 30 mph) all the way from Oakland St. to the Mall. I remember chatting with Jeff Doherty in his office 2-3 years ago, and him saying that he'd like to have people have to stop at the traffic signal at City Hall. He said he liked the idea of slowing things down, so people could look around. Not much to see, unfortunately. Very few people walk 'The Strip' of downtown Carbondale anymore. In fact, there is no "Strip."

Also this morning, I noticed the appearance of the Art Panels on the east side of the tracks at the Amtrak station.... Still unadorned with art, but the framework is in place. (I'll snap a photo and post it to Bytelife this afternoon.)

In conclusion, there's a lot of useless chatter on Twitter, but I can see its value for keeping in touch with friends and professional associates -- and for making new contacts and discoveries by following the links.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

SIMful behavior

Social Internet Marketing, or SIM, for short is a hot topic these days. A company in Raleigh, NC features stories about a couple of SIM clients, in Social Media IQ in Hub Pages, and my new favorite toy: Using Twitter: Smart Networking, or Reputation Disaster?

This is only my second day of SIMing with Twitter, so it's still too soon to tell how effective it will be. I do know that one local tweeter tailored her pants last night for a trip to Branson. She didn't say what she was wearing at the time, but I am wearing jeans and tee-shirt at the moment, my customary Greyhound ticket agent gear.

Mostly I've been focusing on work-related or media updates on Twitter -- somehow it eggs me on. And other social mediaites can be followed to -- like Ginger in Boston who discovered some new resources at this week's PRSA’s Digital Impact Conference, and reports on them in racetalkblog.com.

The "social media" scene in C'dale is retarded, due to the preponderant number of old-school paper-pushing sign-holders in the area. Just yesterday, two young sales people visited the Greyhound office to try to sell me advertising space in the directory. I explained to Ann and Benjamin it was a waste of money ($235 for a two line listing) for a business like mine, and probably for any business with a limited advertising budget. . . .I could publish the same directory for free at Shawnee Net. Would take a week or two (or several months!) since everything would have to be keyed-in, but that's a small price to pay for something free.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

That's right, a "bwook"

Over at Twitter, I hinted that I might not blog today. But how can I resist blogging about tweeting? 'Twould be like not talking about a big game or show you saw with friends.

Did you see the game last night, Bloggee? Or did you watch the City Council meeting on Cable Access? The agenda included an appreciation of retiring City Manager, Jeff Doherty. In a day or two the entire meeting will be available in audio.

I let loose a tweet or two last night, breadcrumbs along the community e-velopment trail . . . . (as this blog leaves more permanent markings of the journey). My plan is to convince local information purveyors (such as BE(E) at Main Street) to post their info to Shawnee Net or somewhere else that has an RSS feed, so folks like me can keep up with what's going on. I will do this, not by sending emails alone, but by personally visiting their offices and set up their free account. Twisting arms, if I must. If they refuse to get with the program -- the e-dification of The Dale -- then under the bus they go. And I'm just the guy who can do it.

Twitter has definitely made me more productive in the past 24 hours, although that may not be the case for everyone. Judging from the Twitter / Public Timeline most are like text messages to the world -- quite forgettable, but I may base a book on my tweets someday, the world's first bwook.

Tweet, tweet - there's been an 'quake

According my latest tweet, I'm composing this blog post about Twitter.Com.

I'll begin by directing you to an article in The Star.com (thanks, tlev), Tweet, tweet - there's been an earthquake, which states:
"A little over a year into its life, Twitter appears to be reaching its tipping point – the threshold where mindless pastime ends and social relevance begins."
And it describes how "tweeters" alerted the world to the recent earthquake in China before anyone else. Another practical use of twittering (tweeting) can be read in Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth: Almost Arrested for Taking Photos at Union Station in New York City.
which describes how this NPR photographer was hassled and banned by security guards:
Just got told by security to leave. Asked to speak with a supervisor to explain why we can't take pictures at union station.
But the best use of twittering so far must be this tale from Egypt: How to use Twitter to get out of jail - where the one word tweet "Arrested" spoke volumes, and saved the tweeter's ass from jail. (Not so lucky was his non-tweeting translator.)

For tweeting to work most effectively, a mobile phone with text capabilities is absolutely necessary. Otherwise you're limited to computer-only, like me (until I upgrade my phone plan.)

Monday, June 09, 2008

Social Networking in the Parking Lot

Fresh from an afternoon of Twittering at home and office, I ran into a fellow "tweeter" in the parking lot outside of Family Video (that's me holding I'm Not There, the Dylan biopic where the main character is played by 5 different actors, including Cate Blanchett. . . . Get a load of those out-sized shades! My motorcycle goggles. But I digress).

KT is a computer specialist for the School of Journalism at SIU. He started back when I was on the faculty and using a Macintosh like everyone else in the Dept. I was faculty advisor for the original "S.A. Lukis" student advertising club that won a regional competition in Chicago. The prize was $25,000 in Mac equipment, which didn't buy as much computer as it does now. . . . But I digress. Again.

The subject of this post is Social Networking, the current buzz word on the 'net and in the news. Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, The Aleluminati, the list is endless. I myself belong to several, most recently this Twitter deal....

So KT and I chatted about twitter and later we will twitter about chatting . . . by his car as his Little Caesar's pizza grew cooler on the car seat. We each snapped photos of the two of us together for our respective blogs. I challenged him to see who could get it posted first.... If I wasn't so wordy, I would have won, but KT beat me to it. And still I digress.

I think a really great place for Social Networking is inside Schnuck's. Just sit on the bench and see how many people stop to chat. That will make an interesting blog post.

All a'Twitter

A new social networking sites has caught my eye called Twitter: What are you doing? where people continually update their latest activities. (brb, gotta twitter . . . ). This is great, I can start blogging about what I twitter about, and twitter what I blog about. Of course some stuff you wouldn't want to Twitter. (3:10 p.m. ... whacked off ... the heads of all the dandelions in the yard with a scythe purchased at Murdale True Value.)

I see some other local 'netters are already twittering, but only one was up-to-date today. The other two were a couple of weeks behind. You can follow these and other twitterers on line at the click of mouse ? My own exploits will be posted for as long as I continue twittering at twitter.com/lowercase_dave. Signing up is easy.

According the welcome email: The New York Times calls Twitter "one of the fastest-growing phenomena on the Internet." I don't know what to make of it yet, but when I find out, I'll twitter it, then blog it. Or perhaps the other way 'round.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Morris doesn't smell here anymore

On a visit to Morris Library yesterday to renew my card, I noticed that the smell is not the same in the stairwell, due to new rubber-tread stairs. And the floors are mostly empty; bereft of books now housed in an annex bldg. on McLafferty Rd.

And the new sign-in procedure doesn't work, either, for reasons I'll explain to someone at the circulation desk this morning. If you have a Morris "Courtesy Card," eventually you'll have to do the same. If you don't have a "Courtesy Card" and live near SIU, then maybe you should get one. $10 per six months.

I don't mosey 'round in Morris like I did, when browsing was a tactile and olfactory experience. The digital is devoid of these, no walking down the aisle, viewing Pulliam clock tower out the window, or sitting on the 4th(?) floor balcony. The new library will be devoid of these as well.

I wonder how much time or money it would take to recreate the Morris Library scent. Never smelled anything quite like it in other libraries.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

At large with Lynne & Jerry

Yesterday, I met "Biggest Loser" Jerry Lisenby (and his winning wife, Lynne), two trans-continental bicyclists taking a bus detour to Peoria for one of Jerry's speaking engagements. When they return to Carbondale later this month they will continue their bike trek across the continent to benefit the Children's Home of Illinois.

I'd like to host an event for Jerry and Lynne while they're here. Since he's a motivational speaker, a talk at the Public Library might be arranged . . . but he doesn't know about it yet. And I haven't heard his speech, yet I am motivated to take a look at a YouTube video of Jerry on the Today Show, which may be interesting to you if you're "getting up there" age- or weight-wise.