Monitoring the news

Steve Herrmann (among others) made an interesting post on the BBC’s “The Editors” blog about a website called News Sniffer which “aims to monitor corporate news organisations to uncover bias”.

It does so by grabbing regular copies of the BBC (and other news outlets) RSS feeds and running diff against them to identify when content has changed, and then highlighting those changes to the user. It also has a “Watch your mouth” section which aims to identify when comments have been removed from the BBC’s “have your say” area.

I really like the idea behind News Sniffer it doesn’t make any claims about why a news outlet may or may not be biased it simply gives people the chance to decide for themselves, which can only be a good thing.

** Update (03/11/2006 13:31) **

Steve Herrmann has just posed a follow up to his previous post, it looks like News Sniffer is doing more than just uncovering bias, it’s also helping to uncover bugs in the BBC news website that “causes some comments not to show up”. The most interesting part of the post are the comments from a senior journalist Matt Eltringham about how the BBC moderate comments:

“The HYS debates are operated by a team of moderators who work across seven days a week from 0700 to 2300. Every day we receive about 10,000 emailed contributions to the debates we have started – debates often suggested by our readers[…] Regardless of whether a debate is pre or post moderated the presumption is that all comments should be published unless they break the house rules.”

It’s always good to see an organisation like the BBC explaining how and why they do things internally.

Las Vegas Trip

This post is a little late, but last week I spent four days in Las Vegas staying at the New York New York hotel on the main strip. It was a great few days, and my first trip to the united states, although being held up at the airport by customs for an hour and a half wasn’t great! Four days was just about the right amount of time to spend in Vegas, we had enough time to see all the sights without getting bored (after all once you’ve seen one casino they all start looking the same).

Some of the highlights of the trip have to be

Here’s some pictures from the trip:
The New York New York HotelInside the New York New York hotelThe sign for HootersThe New York New York Hotel at nightThe Eiffle Tower at the Paris HotelOutside Ceasers PalaceThe view from the Eiffle Tower looking over the stripThe Bellagio Hotel

Optimizing Page Load Time

I came across an interesting article today (via Slashdot) entitled Optimizing Page Load Time written by Aaron Hopkins a Software Engineer for Google.

He’s put together quite an interesting study on how to improve the load time of a web page, using a variety of methods, covering everything from the obvious “Load fewer external objects”, to using HTTP Pipelining at the browser end. There’s also some interesting points about how host names affect the speed of your website like:

By default, IE allows only two outstanding connections per hostname when talking to HTTP/1.1 servers or eight-ish outstanding connections total. Firefox has similar limits. Using up to four hostnames instead of one will give you more connections. (IP addresses don’t matter; the hostnames can all point to the same IP.)

And a few, simple, yet often overlooked tips

Set an Expires header on everything you can, with a date days or even months into the future. This tells the browser it is okay to not revalidate on every request, which can add latency of at least one round-trip per object per page load for no reason.

It’s well worth a read.

My New Home…

Well after far too long I’ve decided I should resurrect this blog. I’ve been trying out a few different blogging platforms and I’ve decided to use WordPress for a while. So far so good! It has some nice features (like being able to create stand alone pages that aren’t blog posts), and the interface is nice and pretty well thought out, so if all goes well then I’ll keep using it and posting more often, so subscribe to the RSS feed…

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