St. Louis is super rad, in case anyone's wondering. We got into the city around 3 p.m. after eating at some very folksy diner in Peoria and reading their local newspaper. Lots of death and meth in the Peoria news. So basically it's like most cities in the Midwest. Read more – ‘Oct. 4-6th Tour Diary, Part Two’.
So I'm sitting in the house basement where I did a show last night, waiting for my tour mate to wake up so we can grab some breakfast. Last night was a blast, and I thought I'd write about it. Read more – ‘Oct. 4-6th Tour Diary, Part One’.
I've decided to retake the plunge and attempt to do some Wordpress development for a friend's website. Because I hate myself, apparently. My coworker and tall-person Ryan Nagle helped walk me through setting it up on my local machine without using MAMP. Because we're ballers, shotcallers with 15-inch MacBook Pros. Read more – ‘Setting up WordPress on your local machine without using MAMP’.
I filed a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA, for those in the business of asking for records) on June 25th with the National Security Administration, trying to see if they had any information about my phone number (and/or any metadata related to it). I got the response a few days ago. I’ve been moving, [...] Read more – ‘The NSA Rejected My FOIA For Data About Me’.
The 2012 Elections Ballot Builder was a pretty big undertaking for me on the team. I wasn’t the lead developer on it, but I did learn a lot pairing with my colleagues who helped pave the way. It was also my first encounter with hooking up Backbone.js with a Django app. It was also a [...] Read more – ‘Coolness I’ve Learned At The Chicago Tribune, Part Three’.
During my first week on the Chicago Tribune News Apps team the first project I started was to build a Chicago Tribune’s Weather page. This involved using the styles of a project that already lived on our touch site, which was designed by a different team. I had to take their look and feel, use the same [...] Read more – ‘Coolness I’ve Learned At The Chicago Tribune, Part Two’.
Seeing as it’s been almost a year since I last updated this blog, I thought I’d write about my time so far on the Chicago Tribune News Apps Team. This will be the first blog post of a handful, so once I’ve got them all done, I’ll include links to the bottom of this main [...] Read more – ‘Coolness I’ve Learned At The Chicago Tribune, Part One’.
I’m excited to announce I’ll be joining the Chicago Tribune News Applications team next month. It’s a team of epic badassery and I’m honored to join them. Their dedication to showing their work, hacking their CMS and committing great journalism really appeals to me. Not to mention they’re one of many leading the charge for [...] Read more – ‘My Soon-To-Be Guided Tour of Chicago’.
Earlier I wrote a piece about using algorithms to help with your journalism, spurred on by this piece in Wired. Now I want to cover more the area that the piece mentions: Using algorithms to actually write stories. Read more – ‘Algorithms and journalisms, part two’.
This morning a story from Wired made the homepage of Hacker News. It was about a company that can take in data, run it through a program and spit out a basic news story. The company has been written about before, and when it first bounced around journalism blog-o-circle-sphericals I had meant to write something about it. This company is doing what we should be doing more of: Automation. Read more – ‘Algorithms and journalisms, part one’.
We've launched some cool projects recently at the Boston Globe. So I thought I'd show my work and chat about a few recent projects in the lull between primary election nights. Read more – ‘A few new Boston.com projects’.
As it's a new year, it's time to write some resolutions.
My only resolution last year was to get on stage and attempt to entertain people. I accomplished that goal in these last few months. So I thought expanding my resolutions to three would be doable. A few of these were inspired by the internet. Read more – ‘2012 resolutions’.
I did something in python today. It wasn’t that hard, but I thought I should write up something quickly about it. We’ve got some people entering in some data in a Google Doc spreadsheet for a project. After fiddling around with attempting to make Google Docs API spit out not-ugly JSON, I said screw it [...] Read more – ‘Quick CSV to JSON parser in python’.
Earlier I read this post via Hacker News on testing startup ideas. It got me thinking about whether or not you could do something similar in your newsroom. I’ll call it A/B Testing for News Coverage™. The basic idea is this: Use the data of what people click on with Google AdWords/Microsoft’s adCenter to help [...] Read more – ‘Using A/B testing to find story ideas’.
Recently, I had a conversation with some folks at work about the iPhone 4S. This led to some chatter about Siri and I showed my coworkers how to find the closest burrito joint. The future is amazing, etc. One of them asked, “Isn’t Siri still in beta?” Yes, yes it is. I responded that I [...] Read more – ‘We should stop calling live projects beta’.
I’m now 26. Many people have been this age, and many will be after it. As I normally attempt to save this blog for journalism matters, I’m going to break form a little bit and write about myself. Or rather, I’m going to write about what I want to accomplish in the next year. So, [...] Read more – ‘So I’m older now’.
As I thought it’d be neato to once keep track of everything people are writing about a project I’m somewhat involved in, here’s a spreadsheet of all the posts people have written so far about the launch of BostonGlobe.com. I’m trying to keep track of the number of words per post as well as whether [...] Read more – ‘Blog posts about the BostonGlobe.com announcement’.
While chatting with a friend yesterday, I decided that I want to ride my bike across the United States. I mean, not now. Not even soon. But just someday -- I want to dip a tire in one ocean and then in another. Quite a goal, obviously, and not one I plan on doing until years and years from now. Read more – ‘A proposal and road trips’.
In case no one has seen me posting this link recently, I thought I would post it again. Here’s now an updated list of 20+ web developer jobs open at newspapers. If you’re a person who has these skill sets, you should really think about applying. Where else can you get to build awesome projects [...] Read more – ‘Use your awesome tech powers to help save journalism’.
In my morning email blast from the St. Petersburg Times, I saw a column from Sue Carlton that looked interesting. After I read the lede, I didn’t feel like reading any more. Yet again, it was one of those “A funny thing happened (insert whatever your story is about)” ledes. I would never claim to [...] Read more – ‘A funny thing happened to the St. Petersburg Times’.
Now that we’ve set up the views and whatnot, it’s time to make the damn server work. This is probably the part that is the most difficult, in my opinion, as it’s the difference between a project being an idea on your laptop and being something that’s live and in the world. After you read [...] Read more – ‘Step Seven: Configuring uWSGI and nginx’.
Now that the database is set up, it’s time to make our views and templates work. In essence, the views talk to the models, or the database. The templates then talk to the views and spit out the content. It’s super awesome. So, let’s edit our views.py file. That will be located in /opt/django-projects/firetracker/fires/ Here’s [...] Read more – ‘Step Six: The Views and Templates’.
Today I accepted an offer to join the Boston Globe as a newsroom web developer. I’m super excited to be joining such a great newspaper, one that has a long and distinguished reputation. I feel like I won the lottery. So that brings me to the sad part about this announcement. I am also leaving [...] Read more – ‘Shipping up to Boston’.
We’ve got our models.py file figured out in Step Four. Next we need to set up a database for models.py to talk to, and then edit our settings.py file so it knows where everything lives. First let’s set up a database in PostgreSQL via the command line, which you can also learn at this site. [...] Read more – ‘Step Five: Setting up your database and settings.py file’.
Now that you can FTP into your server and have a database set up, it’s time for the fun to begin: Building your first project! As I mentioned in Step Two, we’re building FireTracker, your fancy Tracker Of Fires app. And with that, you need to know how Django works in order to build the [...] Read more – ‘Step Four: Writing your Django models’.
Now that you’ve set up your Ubuntu server, installed Django and set up your app, now it’s time to actually code the damn thing. But first you need to learn how to FTP into your server with an FTP client. What’s that, you askt? It’s the thing you use to connect to the server, edit [...] Read more – ‘Step Three: Connecting to your server with an FTP client’.
In this post I will walk you through how to set up a basic Django project on that AWS instance we’ve already set up. As you remember, after logging in with your terminal application, you’ll be at a prompt. What follows are some basic commands for setting up and installing various tools. SETTING UP YOUR [...] Read more – ‘Step Two: Installing and setting up a basic Django project’.
After my 8th Annual Prediction of Awesome Things list of awesome things, I decided to post cool shit that cool people in journalism did this year. These are projects done by people I know in some fashion, projects I thought should get more hype. And projects by people who are sometimes too modest to point out how awesome their work is, and thus don't write about how they made their dent on journalism. Read more – ‘Cool journalism shit that cool people did in 2010’.
One of my last development projects while I was at the St. Petersburg Times finally launched today, a site to track the health of banks. It’s called BankWatch, and you should check it out. We built it in Django with Postgresql. The data is sorted using jQuery’s table sorter, and the charts are made in [...] Read more – ‘A new/old web application and the question of attribution’.
It was Wednesday, March 18. The morning of the day after St. Patrick’s Day. As a college student, you tend to remember such days. I was still at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, doing my victory lap as a fifth-year senior. Data journalism was my calling, I had discovered, and therefore I decided I needed to [...] Read more – ‘Why you should go to CAR 2011’.
I joined a gym a month ago. And I went to a few sessions with a trainer. We did not click, so I stopped going. Then I woke up one day and hated how I looked -- that day being Sunday -- and I decided I needed to do this. Therefore, I have. Read more – ‘So I’m still kind of fat, but less so’.
I don't really know this guy or any of his work, but I think this blog post by Mark S. Luckie is, like this blog title suggests, quite wrong. He's now the Washington Post's "National Innovations Editor," which is why this post of his is so disconcerting. Read more – ‘Somebody on the Internet is wrong!’.
Well, that was fun. Last night our server for our 2010 midterm elections application was crying under the weight of tons SQL queries that weren't apparently caching. We run a medium Amazon instance, and boy oh boy did we learn a thing or two from this. Read more – ‘Servers on fire’.
I write this as a schmuck who had a summer internship every year in college after I decided to be a journalism major. Yeah, of course I can say that you don’t need an internship, especially when I had the luck to do four. So keep that in mind while you read this, because I [...] Read more – ‘Hey college students: You don’t need an internship’.
“that is my destination paper” — Me to pal Collin Sullivan, July 13, 2008, while discussing how awesome I thought the St. Petersburg Times was as a mere college student. Fast forward to the next summer. It’s July 7 and I’m sitting in the office of a St. Petersburg Times managing editor. It’s eight weeks [...] Read more – ‘On why I left my ‘destination paper,’ the St. Petersburg Times’.
Before I leave here for the last time, I thought I’d post the note I sent to the newsroom. Anywho, I’ll write more later, but I just wanted to get this out there. It’s been almost 17 months since I was first awed by the lobby of The St. Petersburg Times. My career here has [...] Read more – ‘My farewell note to the St. Petersburg Times’.
This is no recent discovery. I found this out maybe in 9th or 10th grade. It’s no surprise, really — bigger people run in my family. I was about 6 feet tall when I was 13, so I was bound to only get bigger. Sadly, I only grew two inches up and about 10 inches [...] Read more – ‘So I discovered I’m kind of fat’.
The rumor was everywhere. A big change was coming to Nebraska football, one that would impact fans and the program for years to come. Everyone had a source — a brother who worked in the NCAA compliance office, a cook who had overheard things during an exclusive coach’s meeting, a friend of a friend who [...] Read more – ‘College Conference Reporting Armageddon’.
Today marks one year at the St. Petersburg Times in some capacity or another. I didn't officially start as a full-time real person/employee until Aug. 27, 2009, but I started as an intern May 18. Close enough, dammit. As I sit here enjoying my Fancy Beer, I didn't think it'd hurt to list six things I've learned in the Real World. Read more – ‘One year anniversary: Six things I’ve learned’.
Hey folks. It’s been a month and a half since I launched a new web application, but I thought I’d post a link. It’s called MyLawmaker, and it follows in the footsteps of NYTimes.com Represent by Derek Willis and Co., as well as The Oregonian’s YourGov by Mark Friesen. You pop in your address and it [...] Read more – ‘My first I-mostly-did-it web app’.
Starting tomorrow, Aug. 24, I will be an official full-time employee of The St. Petersburg Times. After my summer internship they decided to keep me around. It goes without saying that I am thrilled, grateful, overjoyed and excited for this opportunity. Working for this newspaper has been a dream of mine for a few years. [...] Read more – ‘So I got a job’.
Check it out: http://projects.tampabay.com/fcat/ I originally wrote the models in Django with the help of Jeremy Bowers. Then Matt Waite made it better, followed by Martin Frobisher setting up the pretty design. Matt imported the legacy data, and on Thursday he imported the new FCAT data once it was sent out by the Florida Department [...] Read more – ‘First Django application goes live’.
My time in Lincoln is soon at an end. Today, sometime around 11 a.m., I received my diploma from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In four days, I begin my drive to Florida to intern at the St. Petersburg Times. I’ll be working with the Web team, designing some Web applications, doing some traditional reporting and [...] Read more – ‘Looks like I graduated’.
Oh. Hi there. How you doin’? Welcome to my updated domain, which I bought 16 months ago but didn’t do anything with until now. This is my portfolio site, so check out some stuff in those various links up there. It’s a work in progress, so bear with me. Thanks for visiting. Read more – ‘HELLO WORLD’.
Hey all. As some of you might know, I received a fellowship to work as a reporter at the Omaha World-Herald next semester out of their Lincoln bureau.
Part of my job will be to find stories off the beaten path, or what we call in the biz "enterprise stories." This means I won't be covering press conference, legislative bill introductions, city council, county board, school board, or any other kind of meetings. No police and fire siren chasing. I'm looking to do as many stories with computer-assisted reporting as I can.
As one editor said: "(You) will produce articles that will be unique to the World-Herald. Scoops. Enterprise angles on issues in the news. Features. Profiles. Trends. There probably will be stories involving the Legislature or local governmental entities, but these stories will be enterprising angles to some issue." Read more – ‘Looking for story ideas’.
Then here's your link: http://cleanupdata.com/
This site is totally sweet. Instead of having to use update commands to trim fields and move them to new places (Like when you're taking names and putting them into multiple fields), you just do it easily on this. Watch the tutorial and wait to have your mind blown.
So. Awesome. Use it now.
Here's another awesome link a friend sent me recently: http://www.getdropbox.com/ Read more – ‘Don’t want to do excess work in Excel?’.
Someone on a listserv I’m on sent out a link to this: http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=37403547074&ref=nf It’s a visual representation of different Facebook data, such as when people interact and when people add new friends. It’s a real nifty way to represent data. Perhaps someone could do something similar with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Internet usage, and pinpoint [...] Read more – ‘Cool Facebook visualization’.
I just added a new page on the blog — Public Records Law Links — so readers have a one-stop place for many state and local Web sites to help them find background information. I’ve included links to the local assessors office, court information, budget database searches and even how to track an airplane. I’ll [...] Read more – ‘More tools to help local journalists’.
One of my favorite newspapers is the Kansas City Star, and on Sunday they had an awesome story about their fights for some e-mails from the Missouri governor’s office. The paper, in conjunction with the Associated Press and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, eventually sued to get the records. Here’s the lede of the story, which [...] Read more – ‘A ‘Show Me State’ after a lawsuit’.
I haven't updated the blog in quite awhile, but I come back with a vengeance. This time it's about a story by Mike Maciag, one of my former roommates in Erie, Pa., while we both interned at the Erie Times-News. He set out to investigate Atlanta's collection of parking fines, and he discovered the city had lost about $10.5 million in unpaid tickets.
He eventually discovered parking enforcement was extremely weak, and he managed to track down and interview one person who had $4,100 in unpaid tickets.
You can view his story here.
Mike's always been a good pal, and more importantly a smart reporter who I can always depend on for help when I've got something data-related I'm working on. He has one major flaw: He likes the Bengals ("you know, America's team?") too much.
Here's his e-mailed responses to some questions I had for him: Read more – ‘Atlanta’s parking scofflaws’.
Last April, as part of the Daily Nebraskan's week long series on this year's presidential elections, I did a story on the donations from University of Nebraska employees: Click here
I found that:
"University of Nebraska employees donated $68,411 to various presidential candidates, which amounts to almost 8 percent of Nebraska's donations...
Former Democratic candidate John Edwards received the most money - $23,923 - from NU employees. Obama received $22,206, and Sen. Hillary Clinton got $5,945.
On the Republican side, former contender Mike Huckabee raised $5,400, Ron Paul $2,901 and Mitt Romney $475. Current Republican frontrunner John McCain managed only $451. Rudolph Giuliani and Duncan Hunter followed him. Read more – ‘FEC data + NU employees = story’.
In 2006, The Taunton (Mass.) Call discovered that a proposed city ordinance would make most of the city off-limits to sex offender by using mapping software –Link to a pdf copy of the stories Mike Stucka, who worked on this as a Northeastern University master’s project with former colleagues from the Taunton Gazette, is now [...] Read more – ‘Schools, sex offenders and mapping’.
Daily Nebraskan reporter Adam Ziegler looked into the suspicious nature in which Microsoft was chosen to be UNL’s primary student e-mail service: link here While helping him edit the story, I wanted to double check some of the facts a source stated. Susan Poser had said more than twice as many students used Hotmail than [...] Read more – ‘Checking their math’.