Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --

This is a mini note. The plan is to be more later. When we don't know. We're exhausted.

The Beta switch for this site has caused problems -- with posting, yes. For readers as well. Which is why we're doing this mini-note. We didn't grasp what some of the e-mails were talking about until we were working on this edition. A note is needed to reference features due to all the mix-ups here as a result of the switch.

And here's we start expanding the note.

E-mails since we switched Thursday were complaining about not being able to find features. What were they talking about? Ava and C.I. found out when they were finishing their TV commentary. They do their own links and were going to offer several to previous pieces in their current commentary. They don't. They offer the Mad TV review and that was almost it. They couldn't find their commentary where they noted an improvement with Mad TV. They knew the week they did it but when they'd click on that week's link, they were taken somewhere else.
There's some feature reader Len was trying to access that he bookmarked months ago. He wrote that he re-reads it about once a month and when he goes there now, he's got some right-wing rant against Hugo Chavez that's from another website. (After 20 minutes, they gave up trying to find the How I Met Your Mother review which they know they reviewed as a Monday night thing. They also note, in reply to Stuart's e-mail, that yes, someone in that show is supposed to have "crazy eyes." They don't think the actress does. They're talking about Amy Poehler in this week's review, not a character she plays. The comment on no one having "crazy eyes" on How I Met Your Mother, refers to the actors, not the characters they play.)

Mindy e-mailed that doing a search of our site (with the little square at the top of the site) returns searches for our site and other sites. But Ava and C.I.'s problem was the one most readers were complaining about. They click on a week's archive and they often end up elsewhere. Sometimes that's another week of our features, sometimes it's another site.

Why? We have no idea.

It's the Beta switch. We switched the site over Thursday after Rebecca attempted to switch her site Wednesday, after the text that said it would take just a few minutes, and it took over nine hours for her to switch. We don't want to be in "Beta." But Blogger/Blogspot is switching all their sites to Beta. Right now, it's a choice (for some). We figured better to switch now and get it over with to avoid problems. We had no idea that it would be all the problems that it was.

The Common Ills can't switch. The site is too large. C.I. will have to wait for when Blogger/Blogspot switches every site (when they do that switch themselves). Rebecca, Mike and Trina have switched. Wally, Elaine, Cedric, C.I. and Betty haven't. (Kat's site hasn't been switched though C.I. intends to do that for her when there's time.) (Kat's still in Ireland.)

Our illustrations are usually e-mailed to Rebecca who then photoshops then, mails them to her site using a program called Hello, and then we grab them from there. The Beta switch, pay attention, meant that she couldn't mail them to her site. She didn't know that until she tried. C.I. ended up e-mailing them to The Common Ills and we grabbed them from there.

Remember "pay attention"? There are no highlights. We e-mail them and doing so takes a little over an hour. We'd be spending much longer if we attempted to copy & paste them. (There are no breaks for paragrpahs when we copy and paste -- everything runs together -- so we have to space them out if we're copy and pasting.) So there are no highlights. There was nothing in the directions about the Beta switch warning us that switching meant we couldn't e-mail to the site.
Fred had it all figured out and e-mailed this afternoon to suggest we switch back from Beta. We didn't do that because you can't. Blogger/Blogspot wants everyone using their Beta program and, once you switch, you can't switch back.

Now let's note who worked on this edition:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and, me, Jim;
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review;
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike of Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz;
and Wally of The Daily Jot

We thank all of them for their help. We thank Dallas for his help. He hunted down links and had huge problems due to the fact that it was near impossible to locate past features this site had done. (For the same reason that readers were complaining -- everything's mixed up since the switch to Beta.)

New content:

Editorial: Now what? -- The elections. Now what? Says it all

Truest statement of the week -- Joni Mitchell recording a new album of her own songs is news. We're really excited about that. More so than the elections.

TV: Saturday Night Dead -- Due to the content for this edition, I (Jim) asked Ava and C.I. to hold off on reviewing the show they'd planned to. Ava will tell you that I made that request on Friday at ten-thirty p.m. What would they review instead? One of their friends at Mad TV has been on their back to review SNL for months. They weren't keen on doing that. Along with the reasons they note in their review, it's also true that it was the TV equivalent of their "safety school." If there was nothing else, they could review it. But they reviewed it and there are already 230 e-mails (Ty counted). One has a complaint. "Saturday Night Dead," Benny informs, has been used as a headline before. Blame me (Jim) for that. They didn't have a title and I slapped that on it so it could be posted. If I'd known that was a common headline, I would have made it "Dead and Dying" or something else. (When it was a "common headline," I wasn't reading because, during some of that, I wasn't born and, during other parts of it, I was too young. Other than Benny's complaint, everyone loved it and Cal e-mailed to explain that the show really is that bad "which you can prove by going to their message boards where only two people posted about the show. A few years back, I'd go there and post and I'd be part of many. Now days, no one watches and no one wants to talk about how bad it is."

The Full Brobeck -- The illustration is finally showing up. Kylie saw the illustration at The Common Ills and wondered where it was at this site. It showed up in the "compose" mode. It just didn't show up when it was posted. We gave up trying to fix it. When we logged on this evening, it was there. Right now, this is the second most popular feature. (You know the most popular, it's always Ava and C.I.'s commentary.)

Remember Ehren Watada? -- When news didn't get covered. On the illustrations. We avoid using photos that we didn't take. Why? Copyright issues. We used a public domain photo of Abeer for our feature on her. We would have used a copyrighted one on that just to put her face out there. When Darrell Anderson was preparing for his return, we were already talking about increasing our visuals here. Dona argued that we needed to do Anderson and Watada to have something to use as an illustration to put a "face" on the issue. We couldn't get one of Ehren Watada we were pleased with. This one? Our apologies to Watada. It looks enough like him, we decided, and short of someone adding more hours to the week, we'll stick with it.

You gotta' stay loose, limber and prepared -- Ty wanted this illustration done. We painted it second. In the print edition, it's paired with a poem we did. We weren't thrilled with that so we worked out some text to run with it online.

Go down, Dexy -- the most popular illustration and the third most popular feature. A question popping up is are those daisies or stars where Chalibi's eyes are? They are what you ever you see them as.

Junior campaigned in strange places -- we don't intend to use photos that are copyrighted. This one is. We've altered it by zooming in on the key section. We think it is educational. We considered doing a painting of it or turning it into some sort of collage (both of which would free the copyright restriction). But we knew people wouldn't believe it. KC e-mailed that even after seeing it, he's still shaking his head. He can't believe "that a candidate would be so shameless." We can't either. We think it needed to be noted. We ran the photo for educational purposes. We hope not to have to do that again. Providing a link for people to check it out themselves wouldn't have worked because when The Times archives a story, the photo doesn't go with it. (Check anything a few months old.) So it's up. For educational purposes. We're getting real tired of hearing about poor Junior. We'll put out concern into people who don't pose in front of Confederate flags.

10 CDs we listened to during the writing of this e... -- Dona was reading over Ava and C.I.'s TV commentary (at their request). That is an epic. It also put them way behind both because the show aired late Saturday and because they ended up making phone calls. They hadn't planned on that because they didn't know the show would suck as bad as it did. It was a very different way of working for them. Usually, they've watched ahead of time and toss things around before writing. This one was written immediately after the show went off and delays in writing were caused only by their attempting to figure out who they could reach at the late hour to get background from. They were able to reach two friends with the program, four who were once with the program and one at NBC. When they finished it they were exhausted and pissed as hell when they found out that very little had been done by the rest of us while they were gone. Pissed at Beta Blogger/Blogspot which was the reason nothing was going up. At one point, while they were in another room, one of them yelled the F-word and Rebecca (and everyone else) heard because those not present were on speaker phone. At that point, Rebecca gave us some advice which we greatly appreciate. "Start picking up." We're usually all in C.I.'s room (the core six, Kat as well when she's here) working on the edition. (If we're all together, everyone helping plus the core six and Kat, we're in the living room.) As the edition goes on and on, you've got The Times, The Washington Post, several California papers, magazines, CDs, books and other things strewn all over. Rebecca's advice was to pick up the mess. She said turn the music up higher and pick up the mess. Everyone was close to the edge and her advice was helpful. John Mayer's Continuum is mentioned at least three times this edition. That was the one we put on as we all started picking up. It put us behind in time, but it helped us all bring it down several notches. We even stopped at one point to replay track seven and dance.

Just FYI -- letting you know what was going on.

Highlights -- what we offered due to the fact that we couldn't post highlights in full.

So that's it. We'll see you next week. C.I.'s considering dropping Sunday morning entries at The Common Ills due to the problems with posting here. Why? Beta's a pain in the ass. We're having more problems than we did before the switch. C.I. thinks it makes more sense to put those on hold until we can figure out how to get around the problems. So if you're unhappy about that, blame us.

See you next week.

--Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.
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