January 18, 2005

More on RSS Feeds from public broadcasting 

RSS seems like Really Sweet Stuff. To recap, what it means is you can 'subscribe' to sources on the web who publish an RSS feed, and get their latest information, stories, or rants automatically. Lots of blogs have RSS feeds, and most of the well-funded news sites. WILLblog even has one, though it's formatted as a Atom feed which is a slight variation of RSS. To view RSS feeds you need an RSS reader, which is either a stand-alone desktop program, or a plug-in for Outlook, or...well there's now a variety of RSS feed reader options. You don't have to be a geek but it might help. Here's a really great article on CNET with the basic terms, and links to download RSS readers. WILL provides a web page displaying RSS feeds from a number of credible sources, and also from WILLblog. ;-] This page does the feed reading for you so you don't need to download or install anything but your own browser. In case you're interested it's built with VBScript. We'll be adding to the feed list as time goes by. Meanwhile, if you have your own RSS reader and want some great RSS sources, NPR provides a web page from which you can subscribe to NPR new content by category. And I just found this RSS page on the New Hampshire Public Radio site, which now offers 7000 different feeds! How do they do it? It must be magic...

Condi Rice confirmation hearings live on NPR 

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice appears before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today and tomorrow, as the Senate considers her nomination as Secretary of State. If you want to hear them, they're live on NPR in RealAudio, and I'm sure audio archives will be published on the same page.

January 11, 2005

WILL web site redesign 

It's about time to seriously begin thinking about starting the site redesign process at WILL. It won't be quick, because we'll take the time to do it right, meaning based on web standards and user-centered design. I'm simply raising the flag here to begin the adventure, and I really want your input. That said, one thing I feel strongly about is the importance of maintaining an identity for WILL on the web. Yes, the web is global, but WILL is a local service, but which I mean defined by a geographical service area. If we lose our roots, we lose the things that define us and make us special. We are your East Central Illinois NPR and PBS station. We aren't NPR, PBS, or the BBC, even though we airs lots of their programs. I raise this because lots of 'experts' in web design tell us that people usually don't know or care if they're on a local station's web site, or on the NPR or PBS site. Users navigate across local/national web site boundaries often without noticing any difference. In the past NPR and PBS have encouraged us to take advantage of this by presenting lots of links to their sites, with the hope that users will be impressed at the depth of their 'local' site. Why does this bother me? Two points for now: 1) I don't want to decieve anyone into thinking WILL created all this great content on the Frontline web site, for example. Also, I can't provide user support if it's broken. We create our own content and put it all on our own web site. I'll do everything I can to provide user support for anything we create. 2) Style and aesthetics are vital to the evolving craft of web media, and I want us to have our own. As Midwesterners our style might seem rather plain, but it's our style. Stubborn? That's us! People may browse from local to national sites all the time without noticing, but is that a good thing? I want our web site users to know where they are. If the WILL site sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb amid all the other homogenized local/national sites, at least people know who we are. That doesn't excuse us from bad design. We're simply determined to have our own. Over the next few months, I want to work with you on the next generation of our web site. Any suggestions, ideas, preferences, etc. will be welcome.

January 06, 2005

Alberto Gonzales AG confirmation hearings live on NPR 

White House counsel Alberto Gonzales is appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning as the nominee for U.S. Attorney General. Will the committee use interrogation methods proscribed by the Geneva Convention? You can hear the hearing live from NPR at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4270020

January 04, 2005

Tsunami Aid: How to Help 

Remarkable to see former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton together on Larry King last night, asking for cash donations to help relief operations in South Asia. If it takes a natural disaster to rebuild partisan bridges, we can say that something good came out of it. Meanwhile if you want to help, how exactly do you go about it? Public Interactive, which builds web sites and services for public broadcasting stations, offers a site called Disaster Aid: How to Help. There you'll find links to aid agencies and other info about giving to help those people, communities, and nations affected by the December 26th tsunami. I hope this helps you help.

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