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Grandview Watch: News about this Website

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Goodbye, hello
News about this Website I realized that there may be a few people who still have this blog sitting in their RSS feeds who don't come here any more, but might see the new post. You might have noticed things were a little slow for the last couple years. It's dead, officially and with no sorrow, Jim.

This blog will probably remain up as an archive for some undermined length of time.

I'm starting out fresh with my new blog, Watching Grandview Heights. I'm using a wordpress.com site because I just don't need the hassle of a self hosted website any more. I may come to regret that decision, but for now it seems good.

Back in 2003 when I started this blog, self hosting was the only option that was available for a serious blog (free sites like Geocities and Angelfire had their uses but were not so good, and Blogger and Wordpress were just starting). PHP Nuke and its variants were the best free software for content management systems, and as far as I know they are still being developed. When I wasn't poking around in the PHP code and patching holes that let hackers bring the whole site down it was great fun.

The web is different now. Most people find sites with a search engine, a special domain like "yourname.com" is just not a big factor in getting noticed. I may be getting myself into a uncomfortable relationship with wordpress, but it is so easy and neat to use their service.

So long, It's been a good run, it's time to move to new adventures!
Posted by Admin on Wednesday, November 23 @ 16:07:46 EST (3363 reads)
(Read More... | Score: 3)

G.W. is five years old
News about this Website

This month marks the fifth year for the Grandview Watch website.

How old is that in internet years? Some say that the internet time is like dog years (7 dog years for each human year), others say that dogs are passé and LOLcats now rule the net. I would put up a LOLcat to illustrate the anniversary of G.W., but that fad will probably be history before I can post the photo.

In 2003 there was no YouTube (still two years in the future). E-Bay had just started to hit the big time. Google was the leader in internet searches, but that was only because it ran the search engines for Yahoo and AOL (Yahoo started its own search in 2004). The word “blog” had been coined, but was not in wide use. A more common name for websites like this one would have been “community portal”.

In 2003 some bloggers still updated their websites by pasting text into HTML creation software, then uploaded the static pages. The software that runs this website, PHP-nuke, was one of the first new database driven content management systems available for those without deep pockets. The software is still popular with a community that builds modules and is producing updates.

Take a moment to click through the archive, there are lots of interesting posts in the five years of this website. Five years, and a lot more to come. Keep hitting this website, I expect lots of interesting posts will be on the way.

Posted by Admin on Monday, July 28 @ 03:25:33 EDT (1289 reads)
(Read More... | Score: 0)

Curse the comment sp*mmers
News about this Website

I had to turn off comments again as I was hit by a rash of comment sp*mmers. I have been checking into various solutions for the problems, and I don't see any real good options. Even the traditional Captcha has lost it's effectiveness, as sp*mmers now use cheap labor to manually solve Captcha problems and fill old comment sections with crap.

So for now, no comments in articles. Use the feedback section to the right and I will post comments for any who feel the need to reply.

Part of the problem may be just the age and declining user base for this blogging software. I'm evaluating switching to M.T. or W.P.

Posted by Admin on Monday, May 21 @ 16:46:10 EDT (1441 reads)
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No comments
News about this Website

I had to turn off comments for unregistered users a long time ago, the comment spammers (people who leave advertising links in the comment section of posts) had become too annoying. Right now I have some persistent comment spammers who keep creating accounts and spamming the place, so I'm turning off all comments for a while. Hopefully the spammers will lose interest and comments will be back soon, I'll also look into methods of keeping the spammers out.
OK, comments back on. Spammers go away!

Posted by Admin on Tuesday, November 14 @ 12:15:23 EST (1502 reads)
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GW stays on topic
News about this Website I had a submission to the front page of a PR letter from a Judge running in Franklin County. It may be of interest to readers of this blog, but it is not staying on the topic of this website - Grandview.

I'll be happy to post stories about anyone who is running for an office in the Grandview city council,or school board. I really don't want to go outside, because if I make exceptions there could be no end to the number of candidates . And submitting a story anonymously doesn't help either.
Posted by Admin on Tuesday, August 15 @ 15:59:59 EDT (1474 reads)
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Hacked by Islamic propagandist?
News about this Website

Somebody called “Atukns for Islam” hacked Grandview Watch's servers on 8/4, leaving a surprisingly good looking image in the root of my domain. The message “death will reach you everywhere” may have been some sort of threat, but I think they could have ratcheted up the fear by giving a time frame – after all, death WILL reach us all, eventually. Here is a screen shot.

http://old.zone-h.org/en/defacements/mirror/id=4469280/

Notice that I call this propaganda, not terrorism. People are way too sloppy with that term, labeling every action that involves Islamic people terrorism (and a lot of the anti-bush protest inside our country too). Stop wetting you beds, wingers. Real terrorism kills lots of people, so save that label for the real deal. And stop canceling the freedoms of our democracy in order to keep yourself from shaking in bed. {/rantmode}

Link to a story about the risks of terrorism.

I had everything on the website backed up, so there was only a small downtime. And it inspired me to do some cool upgrades, like a full RSS feed.

If you don't know what an RSS feed is, you should read up. The tech allows you to keep track of many websites, giving you notice when new stuff is up (a very good thing for websites like Grandview Watch, which have sporadic updates). It allows you to read the text, without the distracting and slow ads. And it has a high adoption rate – most websites have RSS feeds. The problem is that few people use it, maybe because the RSS readers take some tech skills to set up.

Bloglines is the solution. It is a simple to use, web based RSS reader – nothing to download, just go and set up an account. It's free and works fine. You will be able to read the feed from Grandview Watch, and almost every other website. Trust me on this, you at least have to give it a try.

Posted by Admin on Monday, August 07 @ 10:39:29 EDT (1641 reads)
(Read More... | Score: 3)

Three years on the Net
News about this Website July 2006 marks the third year that Grandview Watch has been on the net. The oldest posts were created on July 20th, but some older posts were deleted because of technical problems.

This post, entitled The Mayor’s Magic Show, was one of the first posts and the event still remains a classic in Grandview history. I wasn't writing an exaggerated story about the events that evening, they really happened. Mayor Sexton really did walk in front of the seating area for visitors, with her back to the council, and strut back and forth in front of the four of us in the audience, giving a political speech. It was a waste of the council's time, a waste of time for the visitors (we were all experienced council viewers who were not going to listen to the B.S.). And the loony idea that she was selling, putting the city into hock in order to raise general fund money, was her big idea that was going to get her re-elected. No wonder she only got 30% of the vote.

When I started this website I had hopes that it would become a community effort, and I would find other Grandview residents who wanted to create and post their own stories on the front page. I think that the Blogging effect (which was just getting started in 2003) has changed the way people look at websites – GW is perceived as my blog, and only my opinions will be posted (like most other popular political blogs). That works for me, but I'm still willing to post other people's articles if they want a platform. And if you have a blog of your own that comments on the Grandview scene, let me know and I will put you on my links list (on the right side of the page).

I'm getting a lot more insider info from people in the school and the city, some of it in complete anonymity (and I understand that you have to protect your job, this is OK). Just remember, I'm not a newspaper reporter, who has legal protection from questioning by the police about their sources. If you have evidence of a crime being committed, and don't want to get yourself involved, get word to the reporters from TVN and TWG. They have the resources to dig into the story, and they will be happy to do it (those sort of stories are what sells newspapers). There is some new precedent being created that has allowed bloggers to be treated like reporters, but it's all new territory. I would have to have a really good reason to go to jail to protect a source.

There are also mail services that allow you to send e-mail in complete anonymity, and even with a search warrant the police can't find the sender. Do some searching on the web if you need an anonymous e-mail box. Use a public wifi spot like Stauf's to create the mail box and send mail, the IP addresses can't be linked to you.

Three years down, and a lot more to come. Keep hitting this website, I expect lots of interesting stories will soon be on the way.

John Wagner
Posted by Admin on Wednesday, July 26 @ 11:39:57 EDT (1394 reads)
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A New Theme for Grandview Watch
News about this Website GW is a content management system website. What that means is that the data (the words in the posts, the configuration of the site) all are stored in a database, in a server that is located somewhere (Florida? NJ? Large Web providers can be confusing). The style of the site - called a theme - is configured by a set of PHP instructions outside the database.

This may be geeky, but it gives me a huge advantage when I want to improve the usability of this website. All of the fancy tricks it can do - searches, listing posts by topics, keeping track of surveys, etc., are made possible because of the CMS. A few years ago, a website with this level of functionality would have cost thousands of dollars and needed a full-time webmaster. This site cost ... less than that.
Posted by Admin on Tuesday, October 21 @ 11:37:29 EDT (1705 reads)
(Read More... | 2088 bytes more | Score: 4)

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