Newsroom tech: Sharing and a call for help

I regularly experiment with open source scripts and programs for possible features in Sun.Star Cebu‘s Cybercafe page. At times, I’d find programs that can be used to improve a newsroom’s system or the way a journalist works with the PC.

During a recent chat in an online course I’m taking, we discussed the open source philosophy. I told the group that I recently set up a newsroom intranet (which I’ll write about later) using a discarded PC and different open source programs. Two of my classmates, Ederic Eder and Chooi Yew Tzen, asked me how I did it and expressed interest in setting one up for themselves.

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Domain blog raffles off free .info domain

The Domain Blog is raffling off free .info domains as a way to generate traffic to their site. Steve Brown, owner of the site, says in a press release that: as long as people keep signing up for the contest every week, Ill keep it running.

You know how it is in business, Brown said, One of the best ways to get people to take notice of what youre doing is to give something away. Everyone likes getting stuff for free, and a free domain name is probably the most useful free prize anyone could ever want. The bottom line is free contests are fun and exciting, and a free domain name is a really cool prize.

To enter the contest, applicants must vote in one of his online polls.

Rep. Clavel Asas-Martinez declared persona non grata in Cebu

Fourth district Rep. Clavel Asas-Martinez has been declared persona non grata by Cebus leaders over her claim that there was cheating in last years elections in Cebu.

The manifesto was signed by Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmea, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Robert Go, Provincial Board members, mayors, vice mayors and some councilors.

Martinez told Sun.Star Cebu Ang mobarug sa katungod sa mga Cebuanos mao na hinuoy persona non grata? Si Gwen, ang tikasan, dili persona non grata? Unsa na ni, nabali na ang kalibutan (The one who stands up for the rights of the Cebuanos is now persona non grata? Gwen, the cheat, is not persona non grata? Whats the world coming to)?

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Blogger now allows image uploads

At last, Blogger now allows its users to upload images for their posts. The image upload button is now active. Before this feature was activated, Blogger users had to open accounts with image hosting services such as Photobucket. The downside of this is you eat up the webspace alloted to your account and if Blogger imposes limits (I still can’t find info on how much space Blogger provides its users) , your account may be suspended.

Still, considering that it is now a Google property, you’d expect great things to come from Blogger.

Flickr improves mobile blogging

I used to send mobile blog entries through Flickr. Last month, the posts that I sent to my Flickr account stopped automatically appearing in my blog (I was still with Blogspot then). When the automatic postings stopped, I could still post blog entries using the secret e-mail address you configure in your Blogger account.

When Blogger launched its own mobile blogging system, however, the photos that I sent through the secret blog posting e-mail address no longer got published. What was published was the caption that came with the photos I sent.

On Wednesday, my wife told me that automatic blog postings through Flickr still worked. She found this out while configuring Sun.Star’s blog on the Cebu ICT 2005 Summit. Only this time, you get another e-mail address for posts you want automatically published in your blog. The e-mail address has “2blog” added to it.

I think this is a better system. There are photos you may want to send to your Flickr account but you don’t want published in your blog. With the different addresses, Flickr gives you a choice.

Sun.Star Cebu named Newspaper of the Year

The newspaper I work for has been voted Newspaper of the Year in the Rotary Club of Manila National Journalism Awards. This is Sun.Star Cebu‘s third award from the Rotary Club of Manila. Sun.Star Cebu was named Regional Newspaper of the Year in 1990 and 2003.

Pachico A. Seares, Sun.Star Cebu editor-in-chief, said this is a first for a tabloid size publication format and a first for a non-Manila-based news organization to win the title.

To read the full story, click here.

Saved from a headline disaster

Last week I handled a page containing the story of how policemen were able to arrest a rape suspect after identifying him through documents found in a wallet he dropped at the crime scene.

I laid out the page and wrote this headline for the story:

Dropped wallet leads
cops to rape suspect

It was a good thing that our copy chief, Noel “Raskolnik the Lover Boy” Villaflor, has a sharp eye and a dirty mind. He immediately spotted the double meaning and we couldn’t stop laughing at the headline.

Still haven’t spotted the double meaning? Treat rape as a verb and suspect as the object of the action. Noel rewrote the headline to read:

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Changing the chat box

After trying out four tag board and chat scripts last night, I finally decided on using txtShout, a PHP tagboard and shoutbox system.

TxtShout is fairly easy to install and it doesnt need a database. The script shares the code used by my previous chatbox, Cbox.

Cbox, unlike txtShout, is remotely hosted. This means that the script connects to a server in order to retrieve the messages and store new ones. This arrangement has its advantages — for one you dont need to install any script, you just have to copy a piece of code and then paste this into your blogs template. But when the server is down, your chat box doesnt get displayed and loading is slowed because your website is trying to repeatedly retrieve data from the inaccessible server.

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Pope John Paul II book

Sun.Star Cebu yesterday received its copy of Pope John Paul II, a compilation of newspaper front pages on the death of the first truly global pontiff. The book prints front pages of newspaper around the world selected by the Poynter Institute.

Here’s the book cover
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and here’s the page where Sun.Star Cebu’s front page is printed
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