Graphics / Web Designer Needed

Folks:
I have need of the services of a graphics / web designer for some work around TTLB. If you are such a person, please drop me a line with a brief note on your services and I’ll share detailed information on exactly what I’m looking for. Compensation is flexible; actual cash and/or free advertising on TTLB are both possibilities. I’d also welcome recommendations from fellow bloggers / anyone.
Thanks!

“TKS”?

Not sure precisely when this happened, but I just noticed this morning that Jim Geraghty’s anachronistically named “Kerry Spot” is finally moving on. As of this morning, the title is shown as simply “TKS“.
Intriguing! The Kerry Spot seems to be following in the footsteps of the likes of American Telegraph & Telephone (AT&T), National Cash Register (NCR), and lest we forget, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). All these illustrious institutions found their old names left behind by the times, and moved boldly on to a world where their acronyms, Seinfield-like, became names meaning nothing.
We wish Jim luck in this bold new branding move!

Tracking Easongate Posts

Folks:
I’ve moved another step forward with the Easongate page here at TTLB. I’m now showing individual posts as well as blogs. Check out the main Easongate page and the new post listing page.
At the moment, this is by no means a comprehensive listing. I am parsing blog’s XML feeds, so if a blog has “index.xml” available, it should be picking up any Eason Jordan posts, but if there’s no feed, it won’t find anything. I’ll be continuing to evolve/enhance this functionality to broaden the reach and try to capture as many posts as possible.
Unlike most of the Ecosystem functions at TTLB, this page actually will update throughout the day as new posts are found. So check back early & often.
I would ask that you please do NOT e-mail me with pointers to your own posts that aren’t listed: as I mention, I will be enhancing the automated scripts to cast a wider net, but I simply don’t have the personal bandwidth to try to manually add posts that were missed; sorry.
General feedback / reactions / suggestions are welcome as always, however. Enjoy!

Tracking Easongate

Bill Roggio of Easongate.com dropped me an email earlier yesterday and asked if there might be a way to track how many blogs are talking about the Eason Jordan controversy. I thought it an interesting technical problem to solve (for a worthy endeavour), and gave it a shot.
You can see the results here: http://www.truthlaidbear.com/easongate.php
As of this morning, it looks like 438 blogs currently mention “Eason Jordan” on their front page, with a total combined Average Daily Visits of at least 721,687.
A few caveats:
– These stats only capture weblogs registered in the TTLB Ecosytem, so the count is likely somewhat higher in reality
– Only blogs which have public SiteMeter counters have their “average daily visits” included in the total
– The “Combined average daily visits” statistic needs to be handled carefully. I’m sensitive to not distorting what that number really means, so please do NOT say anything like “according to TTLB, over xxx,yyy people are reading about Eason Jordan”. We can state the total combined # of average daily visits, but we have no clue how many “visitors” — i.e., people — there are. I had to whack the NYT for this, and I want to make sure I don’t encourage the same kind of mistake myself.
And my perspective on the actual issue? Quite simple: Davos should release the tape, as many others have requested. Then we can all make a fair and well-informed judgement of whether Mr. Jordan deserves the benefit of the doubt, or the door…

The Week in Blog: February 7, 2005

And there was much rejoicing
Last week started on a high with reactions to the remarkably successful and relatively peaceful Iraqi elections lighting up the blogosphere. Iraq the Model, standard-bearer for the nascent Iraqi blogosophere, summed up the triumphant mood:
How can I describe it!? Take my eyes and look through them my friends, you have supported the day of Iraq’s freedom and today, Iraqis have proven that they’re not going to disappoint their country or their friends…Could any model match this one!? Could any bravery match the Iraqis’!? Let the remaining tyrants of the world learn the lesson from this day.
Those in search of first-hand coverage from Iraq were not disappointed. Cigars in the Sand provided direct photo coverage from Baghdad; Friends of Democracy offered a host of Iraqi correspondents covering the election. Other in-country blogs included I Should Have Stayed Home… and Iraqi blogs The Mesopotamian and Life in Baghdad. And as always with a major event, many roundups could be found, including these from Arthur Chrenkoff, Jeff Jarvis, and of course, Glenn Reynolds.
Targeting Eason Jordan’s Targeting
CNN chief Eason Jordan spent the week in a position familiar to the likes of Dan Rather and Trent Lott: with a large blogosphere-shaped target on his back. Rony Abovitz, blogging at the World Economic Forum, released the hounds on Jordan with a startling accusation:
During one of the discussions about the number of journalists killed in the Iraq War, Eason Jordan asserted that he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by US troops in Iraq, but they had in fact been targeted. He repeated the assertion a few times, which seemed to win favor in parts of the audience (the anti-US crowd) and cause great strain on others.
Tuesday, Captain Ed, Little Green Footballs, and Power Line picked up on the report, and it was all downhill for Mr. Jordan from there. On Wednesday, self-described “recovering TV reporter-turned-blogger” Rebecca MacKinnon confirmed Abovitz’s account, (“I was in the room and Rony’s account is consistent with what I heard”), lending significant credence to the story given her own disclaimer that “…Jordan happens to be my former boss who promoted me and defended me in some rather sticky situations after my reporting angered the Chinese government…”
Jordan himself released a clarifying statement (“To be clear, I do not believe the U.S. military is trying to kill journalists in Iraq. I said so during the forum panel discussion. But, nonetheless, the U.S. military has killed several journalists in Iraq in cases of mistaken identity.”) and CNN rolled out a backpedalling e-mail declaring that “Many blogs have taken Mr. Jordan’s remarks out of context.”
The problem, however, is that no official transcript has been produced of Jordan’s remarks, nor has any audio or video recording been made available — yet. But that may change shortly, as blogger Sisyphus indicates that the World Economic Forum has responded to his request for a copy of the session videotape.
Thus far, the mainstream media has all but completely ignored the Jordan story, but that too is changing. The Washington Times ran a brief piece Friday, and Hugh Hewitt, who has done much to keep the story alive on his blog, appeared on the Chris Matthew’s Show Saturday and raised the issue, prompting — and predicting that “will break in the major media over the weekend”. Perhaps a litte over-optimistic, but with high-powered bloggers such as La Shawn Barber on the case and a new blog devoted solely to the controversy, one wouldn’t want to be in Mr. Jordan’s shoes.
The Week in Blog is a new weekly feature at The Truth Laid Bear. Check back every Monday morning for a roundup of the stories that resonated throughout the political blogosphere over the past week.

Ecosystem: Self-Service, Performance, and More

Well, things may have seemed a bit quiet around here lately, but trust me: it’s been busy behind the scenes!
Over the past five weeks, I’ve put an intense focus on improving the stability, performance, and maintainability of the Ecosystem. And I’m happy to say that the heavy lifting is just about done.
Here’s the scoop:
Self-Service
The self-service interface has now been completely reworked and is fully operational. You can now request a change to your blog’s URL; request that two blogs be merged together; or for a blog to be removed entirely from the Ecosystem. It all starts on your blog’s details page: look for a new link right up near the top labelled ‘Request a change to this blog’. The prompts will lead you through the process, and output a snippet of code which, when placed on your blog’s template, will convey the change to the Ecosystem.
Why not just have the change happen online? Security. By requiring that all changes be initiated by code within a blog, I can assure that only the owner of a blog can actually initiate a change. That prevents abuse, but still allows me to automate the process. And that means much faster processing of requests.
For the next few weeks, I will still be manually reviewing and approving changes to ensure that all the functionality is working properly, so expect a few days processing time. But after that I’ll flip the code to fully automated, and the turnaround will be immediate, with results being displayed after the next nightly scan.
Performance & Stability
In addition to the usual tweaks here and there, I’ve implemented two changes which I believe have provided significant and noticeable performance improvements.
First, I’ve implemented gzip compression on all pages. I have to say, this was about the easiest performance fix I’ve ever seen — I’d recommend that any blogger worried about their bandwidth bill or site performance go ahead and do it. If you want to give it a try, it literally involves just adding a single line of code: check out Scriptygoddess’ instructions here.
Secondly, I’ve turned on query caching in the MySQL database. This is also huge: it means that the most commonly executed queries (pulling up Glenn’s statistics, for instance) are now cached and their access time is much faster.
The only not-so-good news is that sadly, I have still not been able to fix the mysterious exploding apache thread issue. But, I have developed a cron job which checks to see if a thread has gone rogue every minute, and if so, kills it off. So while the problem isn’t fixed, the impact is dramatically reduced. (And of course, I’m still way open to suggestions if you have ideas how to solve the root cause).
E-mailed Change Requests
I have made a significant dent in the long queue of e-mailed requests for Ecosystem changes. I’m now down to “only” a little less than a hundred to go. I will continue to work the queue down to zero, but if you have sent a request and haven’t heard back from me, you might try the self-service interface, as it is likely that you can accomplish whatever it was you were asking that way. Otherwise, patience, and I will get to you soon.
Spring Cleaning in January
In addition to the e-mailed requests, I’ve developed a number of scripts which have allowed me to hunt down blogs which are duplicates, idle, or simply defunct. Over the past weeks I’ve cleaned out a rather large number which fell into one or another of those categories.
Going forward, I will be tracking blogs that go ‘idle’. Blogs that have been idle (absolutely no updates at all) for 30 days will be suspended — which means they won’t show up any more, but their data won’t actually be lost. If your blog is suspended and you were just taking a break and are back, just drop me a line and I’ll re-activate it.
What this also means is that if you have moved your blog to a new URL and are no longer updating the old one, you can also just wait: the old blog entry will automagically disappear after 30 days.
Next Steps
The good news is, now that I’ve made progress on the basic blocking-and-tackling of stabilizing the Ecosystem, I can turn my energies back to the fun stuff: developing new functionality for the Ecosystem, and oh, yeah: blogging!
Stick around; I certainly will be…

Annoying your bosses for fun and profit

Forlorn over the utter pointlessness of kicking John Kerry around anymore, Mickey Kaus has been filling that particular void in his life by jumping ugly on Howard Kurtz, media reporter for the Washington Post and host of CNN’s Reliable Sources.
Mickey has consistently criticized (mocked, really) Kurtz for failing to say even a word about the contoversy surrounding CNN chief Eason Jordan’s allegation that U.S. troops have deliberately killed journalists in Iraq.
The delicious twist, of course, is that Mickey himself is now an employee of The Washington Post since the paper acquired Slate last month.
So Mickey is actually now criticizing the media reporter — and by association, the leadership of — his very own employer. Co-incidentally, the very same activity which he is beating up Kurtz for failing to do in his coverage (or lack thereof) of his paymaster Eason Jordan at CNN!
One must respect a man who so boldly leads by example. “Come on, Howard,” the subtext of Kausfiles taunts, “Questioning the competence of your bosses is fun! All the cool kids are doing it.”
Publishers and editors with a strong tolerance for such things should contact Mickey at mickey_kaus – at – slate.com …