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Aug
30

Freedom of speech confusion

Posted By · August 30, 2010 at 3:28 pm

A strange comment came up on WTHR’s Facebook page the other day. A guy took a swipe at IMPD with regards to Officer David Bisard’s alleged drunk driving crash, but he did so in a thread about a tragic story about Peter Lenz, the 13-year-old killed while motorcycle racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday.

Other commenters quickly called him out on it, saying it wasn’t the place for his comment. His response? He complained that they were violating his “freedom of speech.”

Does freedom of speech mean freedom from criticism? Because it seems to me when you put your opinion out there for everyone to see, you should be prepared to defend yourself. The original commenter was expressing his opinion, but so were the people who responded to him. He might have said, “Hey, sorry if I offended people by bringing that up, but it’s really been on my mind lately.”

The thing about having a free and open society is that everyone is allowed to express themselves – without fear of being jailed by their government after publishing a story about government corruption, for example. When it comes to casual interactions, the lines are blurrier. Someone says “you can’t say that!” and somebody else says “Yes I can! You’re violating my freedom of speech by telling me I can’t say that!”

The cool thing about Facebook et al is that it allows people to engage with each other and share ideas and opinions in real time…in a public forum. That means we need to be prepared to take a little pushback sometimes. If you don’t like it, you can always start your own blog…and disable comments!

Categories : From the Web Desk
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Aug
23

Sunday, Random Sunday

Posted By · August 23, 2010 at 1:04 am

A quick round-up as another weekend comes to an end:

-First, the “Observation of the Week” (coincidentally, also the “Animated Holiday TV Special of the Week,” because it’s August, we should start thinking about Christmas already!) goes to the co-worker who compared Colts back-up QB Curtis Painter to Hermey, the elf who wanted to be a dentist in the Rudolph special. Well done.

-Sticking with meaningless football games, NBC play-by-play guy Al Michaels made a curious comment at the end of tonight’s SF-Minnesota game. As the 49ers scored a safety on the game’s final play, changing the final score to 15-10, he laughed heartily and mentioned the final point differential moving from three to five points, and that “some people are not going to be happy with that, while others are going to be very happy” (paraphrased).

Obviously, he was talking about the betting line, which, sure enough, ranged from 2.5 to 3 points, favoring the Niners. First off, anyone who is betting preseason football games deserves to be kicked in the gut by a last-second safety.

But more importantly, how did Al Michaels know the betting line of a preseason game off the top of his head like that? Hmmm….

-In related news, I didn’t investigate the story too deeply, but I thought I heard that Pete Rose, who fought for 20 years to be allowed back around the game of baseball, then was finally given that right (in limited capacity), he says he can’t make a ceremony honoring him at a Reds game because of a prior commitment – at a casino.

Maybe he’ll run into Al Michaels.

-Week One of iPhone-ness has been a success. Possibly the biggest plus is the WiFi capabilities of the iPhone4, which means work at home is free and, occasionally, a signal pops up at work, making usage in the newsroom free as well. I still think I’ll come in on the high side of AT&T’s 200MB level, but it could be interesting if I can save $10 along the way.

I’m still working on making use of the phone as a work tool as much as an expensive toy, but the play side of it has been amazing so far. It came in especially handy this evening as a run through the Taco Bell drive-thru turned into a 10 minute wait in the parking lot.

Any tips you have to help me catch up to the technology are always appreciated in the comments.

On to Monday!

Categories : From the Web Desk
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Aug
16

Welcome to the world!

Posted By · August 16, 2010 at 9:50 pm

After several years of feet dragging, I’ve taken a bite of the poison Apple and bought an iPhone. Although I’m still not sure which side of the “work vs. expensive toy” fence it will fall on, it should help out in several areas of my personal and professional life.

Of course to do that, I have to know how to use it and thus far, all it has done is tease me from afar. After closing my eyes on the AT&T web site Friday afternoon and clicking “Complete Purchase” (or whatever the button said), I expected – because I was told by AT&T and Apple it could be 5-10 business days until they shipped it – to have a wait ahead of me.

And I was cool with that.

That coolness went away when the e-mail came announcing the shipping of the phone. “It will get here someday” was quickly replaced by a neurotic rotation back to the AT&T web site to check the status of my order. By mid-day Saturday, my new toy was sitting in a warehouse in Indianapolis and there was nothing I could do but wait. Seriously, I drive past a FedEx warehouse every day, probably the same one holding my phone hostage, and there was nothing I could do about it for two whole days.

Finally, today arrived and the phone was marked “out for delivery” and the race was on. The delivery estimate was for 3 p.m. and I had to leave for work at 3:30. By 2 o’clock and no phone, I checked the FedEx site again. “Incorrect Address.” Panic. Calm. Phone calls.

To FedEx’s credit, they were very cool on the phone, called back twice to double check our address and at 3:20, the doorbell rang. I’d have better off if they had missed me by 10 minutes.

I had enough time to open the box, look at the parts, plug it in and leave. In the meantime, my wife ordered a new BlackBerry at the same time, it was delivered in the mail this morning and she has been busy playing and configuring all day. Such a tease.

All I know now is this better live up to the hype, because the last two days have felt like 200. (Okay, a little exaggeration there.)

This meandering story of an idiot waiting for his new phone was really a call for help. What do I do now that I actually have the phone? How does a 36-year-old web guy go about best using a shiny new iPhone 4? A call out on Facebook has yielded two parts sarcastic ridicule and 1 part help, but I have access to Indianapolis, and darn it, I’m going to use it!

Apps, cases, gadgets, whatever, help me out Indy! What are your favorite parts about the iPhone and why? What can’t you live without?

Categories : From the Web Desk
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Aug
10

How do you socialize?

Posted By · August 10, 2010 at 12:06 am

With all the social media in the world, how do you use it all?

I’ve at least tried to poke my toes in the water of most social media “phenomena” that come along (anyone remember Orkut?) and some stick, others are forgotten in the mass of password reminder e-mails buried deep in various inboxes. It’s obvious that not all social media platforms are equal, but do you use them equally?

This question popped up in a recent flurry of LinkedIn invites hitting my mailbox. I forget when I first signed on over there, but I’m pretty sure only about a third of my profile information is relevant anymore. I’ve Facebooked for, I think, at least five years (back when it was a college-based invite system, yet my alumni e-mail address got me in the door) and have Tweeted for pushing two. I’m far more immersed in Facebook, personally, and have gotten a lot more mileage out of Twitter from work than from home.

But where does LinkedIn fit in?

I’m pretty open to who I invite/accept into my Facebook world, with a few exceptions, family, friends, long lost faces from a high school yearbook, whatever. But LinkedIn seems different. It’s probably the layout, but it seems to me that it’s more of a professional environment. Yet a lot of folks seem to be seeking me out lately that would serve me no apparent professional gain.

Am I crazy?

Maybe I’m missing a chance to broaden my social opportunities, but I think LinkedIn should be people that you would be able to recommend for a job, right?

I’m really curious to see where everyone else draws the lines of their social media boundaries. Are you an “everything goes” type person? Or do you pick and choose your online acquaintances as strictly as I do?

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Jul
31

Cloudy with a chance of Farmville

Posted By · July 31, 2010 at 10:21 pm

With a couple clicks and a push in the right direction, the SkyTrak Weather Team has become the SkyTrak Facebook Team! While several members of the Eyewitness News team you see on air everyday has begun a takeover of the social media “airwaves,” the weather folks have taken off!

Now, in addition to getting your forecast and weather information on Channel 13, you can get it in your Facebook news feed, too!

Check out the fan pages:

Chris Wright

Chuck Lofton

Jude Redfield

Nicole Misencik

If you prefer your Twitter over Facebook, don’t miss Nicole there, too!

And just kidding about the Farmville thing. If I so much as see a lost cow anywhere around Jude Redfield, we’re shipping him off to MySpace!

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Jul
25

Rough start to the Brickyard

Posted By · July 25, 2010 at 1:56 pm

The 17th Brickyard 400 is underway and it hasn’t been pretty.

Indianapolis Colts’ tight end Dallas Clark dropped the green flag to get things going and it hasn’t been very pleasant since. Seven cars were involved in an incident in Turn 2 and cars are still feeling the effects. Not only have several of the cars involved been in and out of the pits, but so have most of the other cars in the field for everything from tires to tweaks to capping off the fuel tank. Numerous cars have had overheating problems and Max Papis even had his car catch fire and end his day early.

Speaking of rough, this crowd is pretty sparse, even considering the expectations of a small crowd. Economy, heat or whatever might cause it, there is still a ton of bare metal in the stands this afternoon.

Though that didn’t seem to take anything from the pre-race atmosphere, and in fact, may have enhanced things a little, giving a bit more room for fans (and media types like me) to move around and experience IMS.

Back to the race, we’re now 37 laps in and have found a flow and Montoya is off and running again. And with that, he pits to check a handling issue. Keep it to 55, Juan.

Lap 69: Things aren’t so hot for two-time defending champ Jimmie Johnson coming off a caution flag for debris, he’ll start 22nd. Greg Biffle, who had run down Montoya for the lead heading into the caution, won the race off pit road and held onto the lead as the race nears the halfway point.

Lap 81: We’ve got an official race. Or at least I’d figure we do by Indy 500 standards. Either way, we’re past the halfway point. The new tires have helped Montoya from being demolished by Biffle, but the 16 car is still slowly opening up his lead. Montoya’s Ganassi teammate Jamie McMurray is in third.

Lap 100: Another round of pit stops and Montoya, who pitted first, has regained the lead, but Biffle is back on his heels, within a half-second. Jamie McMurray is third, ahead of Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick.

Lap 121: History will have to wait for Jimmie Johnson. Starting from the outside of Row 1 a little over two hours ago, Johnson’s crew got caught in a long repair during a caution and went a lap down. Prior to the yellow, Johnson was the last car on the lead lap.

Through it all, Montoya held onto his lead, then battled Biffle for the lead on the restart, with McMurray sneaking into second.

Lap 132: Another driver has had his attempt at history deflated. Jeff Gordon blew a tire late in the race and was forced to pit under green, dropping him a lap off the lead. Meanwhile, Montoya’s lead is up to almost 3 seconds over McMurray and Biffle, who are battling for second.

Lap 138: Another caution for debris - for the second time, it involves a large piece of metal, apparently – will tighten up and shuffle the field. The top six drivers reportedly put on just two new tires for the final 22 laps. Montoya might have come out on the short end, taking four tires and lining up in seventh coming out of the pits.

Tony Stewart continued his climb to the top, getting out of the pits in second spot, behind McMurray and ahead of Kevin Harvick, Martin and Kurt Busch.

Lap 149: Montoya’s day at Indy has ended prematurely again. After leading the most laps for the second straight year, the #42 car got loose in Turn 4 and hit the wall, then was struck by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at the entrance of pit road.

Kevin Harvick took the green flag as the leader, but was passed by McMurray headed into the final 10 laps of the race.

Jamie McMurray holds on for the historic win at Indianapolis.

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Jul
25

It’s always sunny at IMS

Posted By · July 25, 2010 at 7:54 am

Despite clouds and even some rain showers for the (EARLY!) morning commute, the sun is shining bright and promising to wreak havoc on IMS today. It’s going to be a(nother) steamy one!

After hanging around last night to make sure a line of storms didn’t do too much damage to central Indiana, the alarm came awfully early for this web guy to get back to the corner of 10th & Meridian for the ride to the Brickyard. It’s a quick turnaround and an early day, but if you’re going to cover a race at IMS, the three hours between caravans from the station can mean a lot of missed opportunities.

So here I am.

I feel a little more out of my element covering the Brickyard 400 than the Indy 500, probably part by being more of an open wheel guy, but also even an abbreviated May schedule gives you a chance to get more familiar with the names and faces in the cars, even at the back of the field.

Speaking of the back of the field, the field for this year’s (This Space For Rent) 400 at the Brickyard is bookended by former Indy 500 winners. Juan Pablo Montoya will start from the pole and, by all signs over the last 52 weeks at this track, have as good a shot as any at winning. In the last spot is 1995 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve, a late entry and an even later qualifier.

You want predictions? No clue. Montoya *should* win, Jimmie Johnson probably *will* win, the hunch says a breakthrough for the old fella Mark Martin (ran very well last year and qualified solidly this year), which means someone else will likely end up with the win.

Stay tuned to this blog throughout the day as I document the day at IMS. And don’t forget the Eyewitness News team on Twitter, as well!

Brickyard morning photos

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Jul
19

Low tide for Google Wave?

Posted By · July 19, 2010 at 11:10 pm

Is it just me, or is Google slipping? While it used to be that Google’s newest offerings would be anticipated almost as much as the next iPhone fix, they seem to have fallen flat of late.

Right about the time the Twittersphere was exploding, Google Wave hit the virtual shelves. It seemed like it had potential, especially for a TV station web site looking to spread its social media wings a little. Information on any number of stories could be shared on an “as it comes in” basis, with viewers injecting their own ideas, updates or opinions. And it could be left active for hours – or even days – to let others join in and catch up.

Though it has since gone public, its early use of invitations (Google’s preferred means of forced popularity) meant that while the user base might have been small, it also would likely be dedicated and users would tie their Wave account closely to their personal identity, hopefully leading to honest, reasoned dialogue.

Yes, it could have been awesome.

But the Wave never seemed to hit the shore. I toyed with it amongst friends and aside from the “Wow!” factor, it seemed difficult to go back and follow later. And that was just 60 or so “posts” between four or five people. I couldn’t imagine the maze of conversation between dozens – or hundreds – of viewers.

Also, there was the bane of the Web for all-time – cross-browser slapfighting. Excited to bring my new Wave account to work months ago, I found that the Internet Explorer-based newsroom wouldn’t fly with Google Wave without extensions. An elimination of part of an already small user base is not a good thing. If needed, I could probably twist some arms to get a Wave-acceptable browser installed at my desk. But would IE-loving users follow suit? Seemed like too much hassle for an experimental run.

I thought maybe I had just let technology pass me by a little and that, while I thought Google Wave had fizzled out, it was actually thriving in some corner of the Web. Apparently, that’s not the case. Clicking through Mashable, the social media bible, they hadn’t even touched a Google Wave story since January, and hadn’t written new since November. Not good news for Google Wave.

So what about you, web-using public? Have you caught the Wave? I’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences. 

Next week: “Has Google Buzz lost it’s sting?” and other bad social media puns.

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