Archive - Mar 2011

March 21st

Stress

This morning, I went to a program on stress reduction at work. (You can read a little bit about it on the blog I write at for work, Healthy Communities Online.) I have a lot more to write about that, later.

While I was there, I turned off my cellphones, and only later found that Fiona was sent home to Papa’s house with a fever of 102. Kim stayed home much of last week with Fiona fighting a cold and was a bit stressed about it.

Meanwhile, I’m reading about Isabella Oleschuk, a 12 year old girl that disappeared from the town next to mine yesterday morning.

The best article I’ve found so far is A Story About Bullying, Survival and a Missing Child.

Beyond my neighborhood, people are trying to put their lives back together in the midst of fighting in Libya and the destruction in Japan.

Maybe it is time for a little more stress reducing meditation, and perhaps a prayer or two.

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March 20th

Spring Cleaning

Yesterday was a day of spring cleaning, of getting done several tasks that have been waiting too long to get done.

Tasks around the house

Besides the typical laundry and dishes, which had been compounded by my being gone for much of the week and Kim and Fiona being sick, I spent time out side repairing the ravishes of winter on our yard with a rake.

Winter also took its toll on the black car. It was shimmying pretty badly and pulling to the right. I took the car in to get the wheels aligned, and saw that one of the front tires had worn way to thin and needed to be replaced. I should take a moment to note that Danny at Town Fair Tire in Orange was a paragon of customer service. If you are looking to get tires replaced, go to Town Fair Tire in Orange and ask for Danny.

Kim picked me up at Town Fair Tire and the two of us went over to Village Bagel for a cup of coffee. I had a great bagel to go with it. By the time we were finished with our coffee, the car was ready and Kim headed off to get her hair cut, and I headed home to get some projects done that have been waiting too long to happen.

The first project that I tackled was to create a stop motion video of the construction site at work.

First, I found a website with a webcam of the construction site. Then, I wrote a small script on one of my Linux machines that would run a wget command every minute to pull save a copy of the image. I then loaded the stopmotion program for linux, imported the images and saved the file. It came out much better than expected and leaves me with a few different projects.

One is to gather the images over a longer time and show the building as it takes shape. Another is to create other stop motion videos. For example the Cape Cod Coast Guard Beach Cam might make a great video. I could also check other webcams around the world. If you have suggestions, let me know.

I might even take my shell script and generalize it to make it easier to create these movies. I’m also interested in exploring Gimp Batch Mode so I could do some preprocessing of images between capture and being added to a movie.

Public Mapping

Another project I’ve been wanting to kick off is setting up a Connecticut instance of the Public Mapping Project. This is a project to use open source software to make it possible for anyone to create new legislative districts online. They have a sample that people can use with Virginia data. They also have an image set up on Amazon Web Services.

I hadn’t worked with Amazon Web Services before, so I spent a little time exploring it. Finally, I got it working properly. Maybe I’ll write a quick description of how to get it to work nicely later. During my testing, I set up a Drupal 7 instance on AWS. It was fairly quick and easy to set up, and I may write more about that later. As I worked on it, I discovered that my Smartcampaigns domain had expired so I renewed that.

Unfortunately, the Public Mapping Project instance ran incredibly slowly. Also, I couldn’t find documentation on how to prepare Connecticut data, so I fired off an email to the project head and am waiting for a reply.

Upgrading this server to Ubuntu 10.04

However, the Public Mapping Project also works on straight Ubuntu. This site has been running Ubuntu 8.04 for a long time. I had tested earlier versions of the Public Mapping Project on various versions of Ubuntu, and couldn’t get it to run. I had particular difficulties on Ubuntu 8.04 and eventually upgraded my workstation to run Ubuntu 10.10, but still haven’t gotten the Public Mapping Project to run smoothly there.

I’ve hesitated to upgrade this server out of concern that it might be down for an extended period, especially if I screwed up something, or simply that the process might take a long time. However, last night, I bit the bullet and tried the upgrade.

The upgrade was fairly uneventful. A few minor problems cropped up. Apparently, the old tspc package that I’ve used for tunneling IPv6 is no longer supported, but there is a new package gw6c which does essentially the same thing. So, my IPv6 is back up, different address, slightly different configuration, but up and running.

I also had problems with locale and installing Postgres. I set them aside and went to bed. This morning I tried again, and Postgres appears to have installed properly and I’m not seeing locale errors right now.

So, I’ll return to the Public Mapping Project later.

Other Stuff

This morning, I saw a message from Miranda that she has posted her Senior Thesis, Full Artist Statement. It is great and I wanted to highlight it. You can see photographs from her senior exhibition Composing Through Color: A Senior Thesis Exhibition

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March 19th

Calculating the ROI of Conferences

Earlier this week, I attended a Health Care Social Media Conference in Jacksonville where one of the interesting presentations was about the ROI of Social Media.  As the main conference was starting, Mark Ragan asked people their level of expertise with social media, ending off with a question about who in the audience considered themselves an expert in social media and perhaps even capable of leading the presentation.  I raised my hand.  I’ve been doing social media from a long time and from many different perspectives.

One of the topics that I see over and over is that of ROI, which I generally don’t think much of.  Yes, perhaps you can ultimately reduce everything down to dollars, and I can see cases where you might want to, but in my mind there are many things more important.

Yet the topic caused me to stop and think, what is the ROI of a conference?  Can you value the pieces of information you’ve gathered and the connections you’ve made?  Perhaps.  In fact, on a few of the levels that Chris spoke about, it is fairly simple.

Chris talked about measuring the number of Friends, Fans, and followers someone has.  It is one of the simplest measurements.  So, using TwitterCounter I went and checked to see how many new followers I picked up during the conference.  I figure it was 44.  Of course, not all of them were attributable to the conference, but it is a good number to work with.

What might be more interesting is the number of new people that I followed.  Given that I’m often pruning the number of people that I’m following, TwitterCounter’s Following graph doesn’t give useful information.  Checking elsewhere, I calculate that I probably followed about 26 people.

Chris drills down a little in his ROI presentation, by suggesting that people also look at Reach, Relationship and Reputation.  Klout is a useful tool for this, and so I checked to see that my Klout climbed from 45 to 50 during the conference.  My PeerIndex climbed from 41, sometime before the conference, to 50.  I haven’t been following PeerIndex regularly and they don’t provide historical data, so I don’t have more specific data.

Chris drilled down much deeper into how you can measure ROI.  The next part he talked about was strength, sentiment and passion.  I’m not sure how to relate this in a quantifiable way back to a conference other than some feeling about how much you value the connections you made at a conference.  In my case, I met some really interesting people whom I look forward to staying in touch with and sharing ideas with, and perhaps that is really the best measure of how good a conference is.

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March 18th

#ff @rawarrior @westr @StaceyLSimon @MeredithGould @JBNorberg

Last week, my Follow Friday post focused on people that I expected to run into at the Social Media for Healthcare conference I was going to. Well, I’m back and and slowly digging out, so I figured I would highlight some of the folks I spoke with at the conference.

@rawarrior writes about rheumatoid arthritis. You should check her out on Twitter, and follow the link to her website and Facebook page.

@westr is teaches molecular biology and social media. It is a great combination and I really enjoyed several discussions I had with him.

@StaceyLSimon works in public relations for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. While she was at the conference, she still got a tweet out referring to something one of the doctors had written about radiation and Japan. Smart, and dedicated.

@MeredithGould has a doctorate in sociology. I really enjoyed talking with her about group dynamics as they exists online and I look forward to many future discussions with her.

@JBNorberg has only posted nine tweets as of the writing of this blog post, so there isn’t a lot to go on from her twitter presence. We had a good chat at one of the social events.

There were lots of other interesting folks there, but I figured I’d highlight these and then call it a week.

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March 17th

Which Connecticut Cities Kill the Most Dogs Now?

This afternoon, a friend sent me a message about an article in the Valley Independent Sentinel, High Kill Rate Triggers Change At Derby Dog Pound. I wrote about this nearly in year ago in my blog post, Does Your Town Kill Dogs?.

I spoke with folks at the Valley Independent Sentinel, as well as various animal activists, and I’m glad to see that the Valley Independent Sentinel has finally published an article on the topic. What is even more important to me is that they article goes on to say:

They said former police Chief Eugene Mascolo instituted a policy requiring that dogs kept more than 16 days at the pound would be taken to a vet and euthanized.

...

Current police brass and City Hall officials said they did not know Derby was killing so many animals. Derby police officials said the policy ended in January.

On my todo list is to get updated monthly animal control officer reports from the Department of Agriculture to see how the statistics have changed since I first started looking at this.

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