Tag Archives: Site Stuff

Happy New Year! What’s Coming for DFE?

Now that the dust has settled on the New Years celebrations and we’re heading into the official start of the new year – the first day back to work – I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on where we are and give you some thoughts on where we’re headed as the year progresses.

The first and most obvious thing is that “blogging” as a trend and a vehicle for large-scale traffic, is dead. Writing, I am happy to report, is not.

When this site got its start six years ago, huge volumes of traffic were being pushed through Blogger, WordPress.com and other sites because people wanted the opportunity to be social in their views and reflections and blogs offered the best choice at the time. However, setting up and running a blog – even on hosted sites like WordPress.com – still requires a certain level of commitment that most people just don’t have time for. Besides which, having a blog suggests needing to write something useful or profound, whereas most people would be perfectly happy to write a quick sentence about their kids or where they’re going tonight. So social networks like FaceBook and Twitter provide a low-impact, low-key way of doing everything that blogging was ever about – reading other’s thoughts, sharing your own.

As a developer and as an enthusiastic consumer of technology, my own habits have moved much more in the direction of social networking and away from this site: the @dragonflyeye Twitter account and the DragonFlyEye.Net FaceBook page have both become central parts of my day-to-day communication with my audience. The site is still in regular use, but largely as an essay writing site, and quite static. Meanwhile, the most recent update to the site layout – done about a year and a half ago – reflected some but not all of this reality. The site definitely features other networks more prominently. But it also was setup to enhance the profile of the writing and actually represents a return to a fairly traditional blog layout.

In more techy/wonky news, recent developments in HTML5 and CSS3 support across the Internet have made this an exciting year to be a web developer! Whereas support for Internet Explorer 6 had previously stunted broad support for the rich new layouts promised by CSS3, we head into the new year comfortable in the knowledge that support for “Web Fonts” and other neato tricks like text rotation can be relied upon sufficiently. Personally, the idea that I can create a new version of DFE with the slick custom fonts presented by sites like The Blaze (conservative bastards that they are!) has me jumping out of my skin to get started!

So, what does all this mean for the future of DFE? Where do we go next? Well, here’s an unordered list of goals and projects for the near future:

  • Writers! As ever, I am looking for new writers with new voices for the site. In my most conceited moments of pure dream-land, I have always envisioned DragonFlyEye.Net as Rochester’s online answer to Harper’s and Rolling Stone. I don’t want the site to be all politics, all the time. And I am actively campaigning to find new writers and essayists for a wide variety of topics including those proven to be of interest to my Twitter followers: science, technology, music and culture.
  • A new layout, a new focus. I think it’s time to completely rethink the DFE layout yet again. Whereas the current focus is on egalitarian display of my writer’s work, I think the next layout will need to focus on the “DFE Network” as a unit: Twitter, FaceBook, Bit.ly, perhaps Google Buzz and others. The front page will likely take on more of a news magazine look and feel, in an effort to drive more traffic onto the site.
  • Onward and upward, Social Networkers! The ability to directly engage with you, my audience, has been an invaluable asset in understanding what it is you’re really interested in and what will drive the next wave of inspiration. Thank you so much!! And we’re not stopping now. I’m wracking my brain, trying to come up with cunning new ways of expanding my reach on FaceBook, Twitter and other social networks. By all means, help me out with a few #ff’s and “likes”!
  • Mailing list. Email still has a prominent place in our communications, with new innovations like Google Wave pointing the way to richer versions in the near future. So, DFE is going to have a mailing list soon, so as not to miss out on these new technologies. This is requiring a lot of recoding to an old plugin I wrote for a local band many years ago, but hopefully I won’t be too much longer with that.
  • Twitter integration. Yeah, I know I listed SNs above. But Twitter in particular has been a key to my current strategy and will be a lot more key in the future. I’m playing around with Twitter logins to allow commenting quickly and easily through the Twitter API. Also, there’s going to be some new back end funkiness that will help me find more of you cool people.

Wow. That shouldn’t take too long, should it?

I want to thank every one of you who reads my blog, my Twitter feed, my FaceBook page and everything else I’ve been working on over the past several years. Thank you for sticking with me as I’ve struggled to transition from my old rapid-fire, hyper-partisan blogging into new realms of content and media. I could not do this without you. Or rather, I totally could, but it would boring as hell…

Happy New Year from DFE!

Happy Birthday to DFE!

It was six years ago today that, in a combination of political frustration and professional angst, the DragonFlyEye.Net domain which had previously been used for an “About Me” type of webpage gave way to the new, PHP  and politics driven version. Its hard to remember what it looked like back then, but fortunately, the Internet Archives have a version which as I recall is pretty darned close to the original. It’s dated April 20th, 2005. I’d hoped to revive the old site for a day, but this has been a busy holiday weekend and frankly, my code back then was so completely different than what I do now that I barely understand it.

So, instead of bringing you the entire site as it was constructed back then, I bring you the oldest article from the archives that I could find – the one from which the official birthdate is now extracted. Remember the lovely McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill? The one that did precious little and in any event was recently overturned by the SCOTUS? Well, as it happens, that’s the subject of that long-ago post. A little rough around the edges – well, a lot rough around the edges. A little embarrassing, to be blunt. But history is what it is, and here’s what it is:

Campaign Finance Reform: A Supply-Side Proposal.

The 2004 election proved a dismal failure of the McCain/Feingold Campaign Finance Reform bill, as the so-called 527 organizations skirted the line of what the bill regarded as “finance.”  Thus the effectiveness of an attempt to moderate the out-of-control money situation in Washington was dramatically undercut.  From the Swift Boat Veterans for Slander to MoveOn.Org, not only was the money machine not throttled down, the political pitch reached an all-time record-setting screech.

Neither should we be surprised to find that if there is a will, those who would seek to affect the outcome of the election can find a way.  Many of the 527s were in fact privately funded; much of that funding came from well-meaning people who are not necessarily those who’s overwhelming monetary influence the bill had hoped to limit.  Nevertheless, their influence introduced a new gap through which the abuse of power will inevitably slip, this time well outside of the scope of legislation.  Once again, the path to hell is paved with good intentions.

This overwhelming demand for electoral influence has resulted in the predictable quadrupling of the cost of political ads, and squeezed all but the wealthiest of candidates with the greatest canopy of investors from the competition.  Worse, the 527s are not contributing to the campaign directly, and are not bound to any measure of truth or accuracy because their ads simply expound on the supposed opinions of detached organizations.

The trouble is: there is no fair way to exclude or cap donations without infringing upon a person’s ability to demonstrably speak their minds.  While it may not be the civic duty of private citizens that this legislation seeks to restrain, incorporations and unions are granted the same rights and freedoms as those of an individual, and thus any such legislation must be universal.  Unfortunately, we inevitably incur the wrath of those who believe we are treading on their First Amendment right to free speech, as indeed we are.

How do we progress from here?  If the McCain/Feingold legislation doesn’t do the trick, how do we reform the campaign process?  Is there any method of controlling the money without also controlling free speech?

Perhaps the problem with the reform efforts to-date is that they focus on the demand side of the coin in what is as much an economic problem as it is a political one.  In seeking to curb the undue influence of the wealthy and connected, we have focused on the money exclusively.  If we focused on the supply side, we might perhaps find a more constitutionally amenable alternative.

There are a few specific things that campaign contributions seek to provide access to: television, print media and radio advertising.  Where these things are concerned, we have an outstanding vehicle for reform that has been in place for some time: the Federal Communication Commission.  No additional laws need to be passed, no mandates outside the scope of the commission, simply the will to exercise its power to benefit the voting public.

If the on-air radio and television stations were required to provide a percentage of their advertising time to political opinion, at a price negotiated by the FCC rather than the market price, we could alter the supply-side of the equation.  Rather than constricting the right of free speech through ever more stringent spending limits, the First Amendment would be championed by a move toward fair pricing and access for all interested parties.  Any advertisement that specifically endorses or criticizes a candidate, bill, referendum or party would need to adhere to the full disclosure policy set by McCain/Feingold, and petition for this block of time.

This leaves cable, Internet and satellite mediums.  The FCC has never regulated these mediums, as they represent per-fee voluntary choices in programming.  If the broadcast mediums offer a relative retreat from the inundation of political advertisement however, it would behoove cable and satellite stations to curb their diet of these ads to maintain their viewership and revenue.  Internet web pages are entirely driven by voluntary viewing, and as such require no reforms of this type.

In this way, the crushing need for finances would be abated, the overload of political advertisement could be curbed, and the playing field leveled to allow a more democratic rather than plutocratic process.

Considering the 1.5 billion dollars invested in the 2004 Presidential campaign advertisements, it is increasingly difficult to justify the notion long held as a starry-eyed picture of American Democracy: that anyone can grow up to be President.  Quite to the contrary, our current political climate is one that recalls history lessons of Tammany Hall.  If we would steer our ship towards a sunnier shore, we need to look at reforming the political system in a more comprehensive way.

Best of Rochester: We’ve Been Nominated!

City Newspaper’s Best of Rochester 2010

Fans! Readers! Twitter followers! Thanks to your love and support, DragonFlyEye.Net has been nominated to the Best Blog category of the Rochester City Newspaper Best of Rochester 2010 and we couldn’t be prouder! Well, we could be, if we won the whole thing, but one step at a time.

All of us here at DFE are proud to offer Rochester the very best news, entertainment and progressive political commentary that we’re capable of. And we’re even prouder that so many of you have joined us on FaceBook, followed us on Twitter and nominated us to the Best Of ballot for this year. It shows you care and we thank you!

We hope you help us go all the way this year by VOTING FOR US and passing along the link to your friends and family to vote as well.

And don’t forget to share the DragonFlyEye.Net FaceBook page with your friends as well!

Posting a Comment on DFE Using Social Networks like FaceBook and Twitter

Just a quick note to all my FaceBook fans and Twitter followers that they can actually use FaceBook Connect or Twitter logins to leave comments on my website. Rather than take the time to fill out all the necessary fields in order to leave a comment here (email address, name, website), you can simply click on the FaceBook or Twitter badges (or WordPress.com, OpenID or IntenseDebate, if you use those) and your credentials for those sites will be used to log you in to DFE!

No Security Hassle!

It’s important to note that none of your information from those other websites is shared with mine: you don’t need to worry about how I will use your information, because I’m not touching it. The only thing that social network logins do is:

  1. Redirect you back to the other site (FaceBook, for example)
  2. Ask if you actually want to grant me permission to use your credentials.
  3. Send you right back to start commenting.

It makes life easier for people who don’t feel like filling in forms and getting new accounts all over the Internet. Now you can better manage your online identity by keeping it only with a few trusted sources. Best of all, you can use the service to post your comments to your New Feed, letting all your friends know that you like arguing politics with us here at DFE.

Undr Construxun

Sorry for the untidy mess around DFE parts. I’m working on a new theme which is still in development and haven’t been able to work on updating the site. Blah, blah, blah. You read a lot of this crap from me, lately.

But the pace of things at DFE is definitely slowing down. And since it is, I’m creating a new theme that will reflect that while still maintaining a lot of content for viewing. Also, I’m trying to allow the new site to reflect a lot of what’s NOT happening on the site but is happening in the DFE network: FaceBook, Twitter and elsewhere.

Soon, I promise, you will see an entirely new and re-imagined DFE!

To Mainstream Media: Your Opportunity to Show Some Class

This site is a political site, primarily, with a ton of other random subjects as suit my fancy and that of my blogger friends who are good enough to help me out. I am generally uncomfortable delving into subjects such as the Brittanee Drexel case because there’s not a lot I can add to the conversation and because I feel like those of us in alternative media and media generally who have nothing to contribute aught not to interfere.

I understand that this crisis affects a lot of people and that those people deserve to have their pain acknowledged by their community. In fact, I am much more personally aware than most readers know, though by no means among the directly affected. But at the same time as I acknowledge the need for local media coverage, I find the national media coverage of such subjects largely ghoulish, voyeuristic and opportunistic. So while this space will remain largely silent on the condition of the ongoing investigation and on the suffering of Brittanee, her family, her friends and the coping of all those kids and teachers and parents and custodians and security guards and principles and so many others whom she knew and or went to school with, I felt as though I aught to address the one subject for which this website is suited: the media.

The South Carolina press has finally caught wind of the fact that Brittanee Drexel’s prom – along with that of hundreds of other Gates-Chili kids innocent of the entire awful affair – is this Saturday night. That means that the national media – who has already been watching this case – is also aware. You know what that means, don’t you?

Swarms of cameras outside of the party house where the kids are having their prom. Cameras and journalists pushing for a spot closer to the door, eager to interview kids who know nothing more than they do. Kids who can’t get inside because the media’s in the way; Can’t get in the way to their own prom because of people who will forget this case in a month. Maybe even a few kids who won’t go in, just because the media is there.

So, if you’re listening down there in New York, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, Fox News and all the rest of the Katzenjammer Kids: do us a favour and have your local affiliates – who have to live here – do a bit of light filming and let it go at that. Let these kids have their prom.

DFE Photo Makes it to The Consumerist

Friend of the website MP sent me a link to TheConsumerist.com where they used my photo to illustrate an article about Time Warner’s new habit of cutting off users they deem as using too much of their Internet connection they paid for. Actually, they used my photo of someone else’s sign protesting Time Warner’s Internet cap proposal.

It’s fun and gratifying to give out my photographic work as Creative Commons Share Alike works. Having had my stuff catch the eye of a big national blog like this is especially gratifying.

Hot Off the CafePresses!

So, I was bored this morning and decided that, rather than code, I’d play around with a few graphic design ideas I’ve been kicking around for a while.

First off, for those of you who love inscrutable three-letter acronyms in oval format for your car/truck/SUV/el Dorado, I give you the very latest in annoyingly trendy acro-sticker technology:

Next up, a bit more with the acronyms. Show your friends you know more than they think you do about fashion with this hot little trend-setter, available in men’s and women’s sizes. Read carefully:

That print features the skyline of New York in the lettering, in case you aren’t able to see it. There’s lots of other half-assed stuff you can buy at the DragonFlyEye.Net Swag Shop.

Blocked!

I’ve just been informed by a friend of the website that DFE appears to be getting blocked by a local store offering WiFi access to its customers. I shan’t mention their name until I’ve confirmed it myself, and since this is a store with multiple locations, I’ll also be checking more than one place. There don’t seem to be any other blogs from Rochester blocked, according to our friend, SM.

This could be an oversight: proxy filters tend to be overly restrictive by default. This could be technical: one store could have a minor bug, whereas if DFE’s being filtered in more than one location, it suggests a policy. Either way, its the purview of any company to allow or block whatever they like on their own network. But it’s an interesting case, nonetheless, and an excuse to take the laptop and do some investigating. So, I think that’s what I’ll do.