N&O loves broken links

Wow, I’m surprised this is still an issue. I’ve complained for years how the N&O loves to break links to its older stories whenever it updates its website. Surprisingly, the company still hasn’t learned.

I found links to the Officer Boyd column N&O Columnist Josh Shaffer wrote last February. The original link, no doubt sent around the world to thousands, now goes nowhere.

Nowhere as in 404. It’s dead, Jim.

Yet, the story still lives online at its new address.

What drives me nuts as a system administrator is that it isn’t too difficult to write a script that points the old links to the new links. Doing so preserves the links that millions have passed around. Not doing so means the N&O forfeits potentially millions of advertising page views that could be helping to keep the lights on over there.

I did some work a few years back on the website of USA Today. Did you know that links to USA Today content that’s several years old still lead viewers to the correct stories? It’s not rocket science, and any website worth its salt will work to keep their site from suffering link rot.

I first mentioned this five years ago. (actually six years ago). Some things never change, I guess.

Dependent Verification Services are still a bad idea

If there’s one thing the handful of longtime MT.Net readers know it’s that there’s never been a dead horse that I didn’t love to beat! In this case, I’m returning again to the topic of dependent verification services such as those offered by AON Hewitt. My employer is changing health plans and as a part of the transition employees are being asked to go through the dependent verification process.

This is my second go-round with this process and it makes as little sense the second time around as it did the first. The verification firms tout fraud rates of up to 15% as justification for employers to hire the firm. Some research I’ve found online suggests that verification process costs the employer about $21 per employee.

Employers take note: the cost to your employees should also taken to account. The verification process is an anxiety-ridden exercise that does not engender trust in one’s employer. Under threat of terminating their health benefits, you are asking your employees to gather their sensitive and confidential personal documents and scan, fax, or mail them to a third party: the verification service.
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If there’s an economy in your sharing then it’s not really sharing



You can say I know a thing or two about sharing. I was open source long before it was cool. I support Wikipedia with not only my money but my photography, which I freely donate to the public domain. Even this blog is licensed under Creative Commons, allowing anyone to take what I’ve made and use it practically any way they choose. So the brouhaha over the “sharing economy” in Raleigh has me puzzled.

I attended what was billed as a “public hearing” on Airbnb Monday night. Fans organized the meeting to make a case for why Raleigh should consider legalizing use of the home-hosting service. Like other cities, Raleigh, they say, needs to embrace the “sharing economy.” I’m friends with many of these folks but I have a different take on this issue.
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N&O makes “light rail” goof on front page

Light Rail? Umm, no.

Light Rail? Umm, no.

While we’re holding the N&O under a microscope, I tsk tsked over my coffee this morning when I read the headline that accompanied the print edition of this story…

RALEIGH — In West Raleigh and eastern Cary, government planners are laying the groundwork for the development and traffic that may accompany a string of proposed passenger rail stations.

A coalition of local governments and others has put half a million dollars toward a study of the roads between the two municipalities, aiming to improve safety and traffic flow at a half-dozen places where rail lines cross pavement.

I re-read the story again just to be sure and the conclusion is that these hearings have nothing to do with light rail. Heavy rail, yes. Light rail, no.
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I told the cabbie, “take me to Midtown”

… said no one, ever.

The News and Observer ran this story last week about changes to Enloe High School’s base. As you know, changes to Enloe are of high interest to me, so of course I read it. I didn’t get too far before something really irritated me:

CARY — Enloe High School is among nine overcrowded schools that Wake County school administrators have identified for possible limits on enrollment.

In a briefing for the school board’s facilities committee Wednesday, school planners also suggested keeping enrollment caps in place at 10 other schools, including Combs and Hunter elementary schools in the Midtown area during the 2015-16 school year.

See that? The “Midtown area?” What the hell is the “Midtown area?” Hunter Elementary is firmly in Southeast Raleigh and Combs is out on the southwestern edge of Raleigh. Neither one would be considered “midtown” in anyone’s estimation.

“Midtown” is an invention of the News and Observer to create a new outlet for its advertising. Have you ever in your life ever heard anyone say “I’m from Midtown?” Have you ever heard any other media source refer to Midtown? No? Me neither.

Maybe it’s time to give up on this moniker since no one outside of the newspaper has any idea what it means.

via CARY: Enloe High School near downtown Raleigh could see enrollment limits | Education | MidtownRaleighNews.com.

N&O’s Colin Campbell writes hit piece on Crowder

Well, that was predictable.

Days after Raleigh City Councilman Thomas Crowder defended against the recent attack on planning documents our city and citizenry spent millions of dollars and many years crafting, News and Observer reporter Colin Campbell writes a hit piece on Crowder’s pursuit of parking lawbreakers.

Objectivity does not appear to be Campbell’s strong suit. He needs a new beat, pronto. And shame on the News and Observer editors for condoning this tripe.

On a related note, I have been doing some research on Campbell’s reporting that is providing some interesting insights. Stay tuned.

RALEIGH — Two years ago, Raleigh City Councilman Thomas Crowder spearheaded an effort to ban front-yard parking in his district. These days, he’s filing dozens of complaints to make sure parking scofflaws are held accountable.Crowder has asked city zoning staffers via email to investigate 26 possible front-yard parking violations – many within blocks of his house – in his Southwest Raleigh district during the past year. Crowder’s complaints represent nearly 30 percent of the parking ordinance reports received in Raleigh since July 2013, according to city records.

“I have complaints regarding the above referenced property,” Crowder says in many of the emails, sometimes including a photo of the offense. “Please investigate and notify me of your findings and action taken.”

via RALEIGH: Raleigh councilman turns in neighbors under controversial parking ban | Wake County | NewsObserver.com.

Downtown summit? First things first

The News and Observer wrote an editorial about the need for a downtown summit. I’ve been pondering it for a while and have a few comments.

Revitalization has been a success, to be sure. But with that success comes challenges the city now must address. Yes, the City Council is doing so in working on a “downtown plan,” but a broader effort is needed, because the boom has brought up some issues.

Therefore, council members can lead the way in calling for a downtown summit of sorts, bringing in not just the dedicated advocates from places like the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, but residents from North, South, East and West Raleigh, people who perhaps, even now, don’t come downtown all that much. Even with all the hoopla, it’s still not uncommon to meet North Raleighites who have never been downtown, period.

Actually, some people will never visit downtown and it doesn’t matter what you try to do to change this. There are suburbanites who don’t “get” downtown and likely won’t ever. And you know what? That’s okay. Raleigh is a big city now and offers something for everyone – for downtown fans and others. You can get by just fine if you never go downtown.
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Healthcare still sucks

Now that I’m in a new job, Kelly and I spent some time this evening picking out a healthcare plan. Wading through a lot of boring-as-shit details boiled it down to the plain fact that insurance companies suck even more than they used to.

What kept popping up is this whole idea of “coinsurance.” Who came up with that? Basically if you get hit by a bus and the bills top $1 million, your broken, tire-track-covered ass is on the hook for $200,000. And that’s with insurance! “With friends like these,” right?

Healthcare is still broken and the industry is still playing everyone for suckers. If there’s ever a market that is screaming for more regulation – the kind with real teeth that stands up to these kinds of horseshit shell games that are still being played – healthcare is it.

Oh, and my opinion of UnitedHealthcare hasn’t improved any, either.

Can’t get there from here

No-Go Triangle

No-Go Triangle

Why does bus service suck so bad? That’s the question I have after trying to plot a course downtown by bus from our home this evening.

Travis is performing in tonight’s Pieces of Gold performance and needs to be at Memorial Auditorium by 6, so Kelly took him and decided that the 7 PM performance didn’t warrant another trip home. Hallie and I were hoping to take the bus to Memorial Auditorium so we wouldn’t have to fight for parking with the hundreds of other families attending the event but the bus that serves our neighborhood, Capital Area Transit (CAT) bus #3, stops running after 5 PM. Why does it do this? I have no earthly idea.

The result is what you see above. Fully 75 minutes out from showtime, the best that CAT can do is for us to walk over a half-mile to Glascock and hope that the busiest bus in Raleigh has room for two more passengers.

Plain and simple, this service sucks. Sure, there’s a bus stop nearby and apparently plenty of buses available, but try to find one when you need it and you’re out of luck.

Once upon a time, downtown Raleigh rolled up its sidewalks at 5 PM but those days are thankfully long gone. Raleigh really needs to get its buses on a schedule that makes some sort of sense for its passengers.

How Daylight Saving Time is worse than jet lag

I tried to keep my mouth shut this year about Daylight Saving Time. I really did. I was content to let my friend Damon Circosta take point on this as he likes to do, but I found I could hold out any longer. I’ve heard Kelly relate too many tales of office brain-dead-iness (also know as the Daylight Saving Time Fog) this week not to think this cause deserved another rant.

I used to enjoy comparing Daylight Saving Time to jet lag. After a few mornings spent awakening from unsatisfying nights of sleep, it occurred to me that Daylight Saving Time is actually worse than jet lag.

When you fly to a different time zone your body needs to adjust to local time. It does this through environmental clues, i.e. “the sun comes up later here so therefore I need to wake up later.” For instance in both Raleigh and Los Angeles, the local time at sunrise is around 7 AM and when you’re in either one the clock mostly matches the sun. However, when we reset our clocks without “resetting the sun,” none of the accompanying environmental clues are present to help reset our internal circadian clocks. It’s no longer 7 AM when the sun rises.

The result is a confused body and mind that struggle to reconcile this time fiction with what they are actually experiencing in the environment. Thus, Daylight Saving Time is actually worse than jet lag.

in Rant | 240 Words