May 2006


Sometimes blogs give users control over the type of feedback they give. An interesting example is Orlando Sentinel's Scott Maxwell’s Taking Names blog. After his post about Jeb Bush's dog, Marvin, dying users logged on an published letters to Jeb from their dogs. I mean dogs logged on and left messages to Jeb.

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In Jan 05 while home for winter break I did an investigation for WDBO News into fire hydrants in Seminole County (listen to it here). I discovered that thousands of fire hydrants had gone untested for years. The county said it was the responsibility of the independent utility company Utilities Inc. (formerly Sanlando Utilities). When I concluded my investigation Utilities Inc. said they would start checking hydrants annually and that the county was going to urge the state to create a new law forcing utility companies to do so. Today I decided to follow up on my investigation.

What I found was surprising. As I had suspected the bill had failed in the state legislature. So the county sent a letter to all twelve of the independent utility companies in unincorporated Seminole County. The letter requested that they send a report showing that they are in compliance with the National Fire Protection Act’s requirement of annual testing of fire hydrants. The letter sent in January requested that if they can not comply by April 1st to please notify the County. As of today only three of the 12 had responded.

Of the three companies that responded, one stated that they had been annexed into the city of Casselberry, another that they did not have any fire hydrants and the third was able to show that they did conduct annual testing. The other nine did not reply. Utilities, Inc. was one of the nine that did not reply and their office did not return my calls. Because of the lack of response from the utility companies the county is now looking to make a new ordinance that would require the utility companies to submit their annual report or face penalties. To me what is most troubling is that these utility companies who own the fire hydrants don’t understand that they are responsible for maintaining their hydrants, instead they prefer to find loopholes in the law. The story will air tomorrow on AM 580 WDBO in Orlando, FL. UPDATE: Click here to listen to the story.

Every Wednesday CBS.com’s Melissa P. McNamara summarizes roundup of the “buzz on the must-read blogs.” If you check out today’s Blogophile she talked about the discussion from the New York Times article (See post below). I proud to say my blog made it on the Blogophile.

Just this weekend I had three family friends ask me if they should keep AOL or not. My opinion was that all you are paying for is to have @aol.com on the end of your e-mail, so no. Apparently I’m not the only one who feels that way PC World Magazine put AOL at the top of the 25 worst tech products of all time. Also making the list was Microsoft Internet Explorer 6. Funny, because our other conversation was about using Firefox instead of Internet Explorer. PC World says Internet Explorer 6 is a “virtual engraved invitation to hackers.”

UPDATE: Everyone also asked me how to export their AOL contacts to Gmail. Although there is no way to export your aol contacts easily you can take a shortcut. Here is a website that shows you how.

While I am excited about the launch of Unity08.com, (See previous post). I do feel that there is still more that can be done. I think that we are soon to see campaigns that allow users to submit their own campaign advertisements, allowing users to vote for the one that airs on the networks. I hope to see discussions or town-hall meetings take place online. They could even use Google maps to chart out a campaign tour. The possibilities are endless and I hope that Unity08.com seizes the opportunity to engage in some groundbreaking online campaign tactics.

This morning Unity08.com launched it’s website. (See previous post). The party itself could play a huge role in the 2008 election. I have to say I am quite impressed. One not that I had not made before was that according to the website they are not looking to form a new party but “fix the old parties.”
While not much is revealed other than their three goals, they do explain the types of issues they wish to take up. Unity08.com breaks issues into two categories; crucial issues and important issues. What they are really saying is there are issues that affect us a county and there are issues that are fun to talk about and get at peoples emotions. While the “important issues” are, well, important, the “crucial” issues are the ones that we should be talking about.
Crucial issues include: “Global terrorism, our national debt, our dependence on foreign oil, the emergence of India and China as strategic competitors and/or allies, nuclear proliferation, global climate change, the corruption of Washington’s lobbying system, the education of our young, the health care of all, and the disappearance of the American Dream for so many of our people.”
The website goes on to say “In our opinion – since the disintegration of the Soviet Union – our political system seems to have focused more attention on the ‘important issues’ than the ‘crucial issues.’” I couldn’t agree with them more. I truly think that Unity08.com can be successful. Even if their candidate doesn’t win they can hopefully force both parties to discuss the “crucial issues” more.

That is what I have heard from a couple of people tonight. We’ll I have to admit I had not heard of Unity08.com until I read Alter’s article in Newsweek. (See previous post). So I figured I’d do a quick Google news search and find other articles, none. Ok, how about Lexis Nexus, none. It seems almost surprising. A third party, that in my opinion could have a huge impact, isn’t getting a lot of publicity. Or is it? Consider what the party is about. Because it is an online party there is a great possibility that the site itself will gain popularity online and in blogs before it draws attention from the “regular media.” Or, maybe the publicity will follow tomorrows launch. We’ll sure find out, but before that, I wanted to address some of the questions people had when I told them about Unity08. For the record I do not necessarily support the ideas of the party but rather support its use of technology. After all, they don’t even have a platform yet. Here is what I was able to gather thus far. I’m sure we’ll learn much more tomorrow. I have to say, I’m really excited.

Unity08 is just like any other third party with some minor exceptions. The idea is that the party is based online. That means instead of having a convention in a major city to draw attention and vote on candidates it would happen online. Any registered voter can become a delegate and vote at the convention. The big question is how do you make is secure, prevent voter fraud. While people may be scared about placing votes online, it is possible to make an internet site secure. Anyone ever engage in online banking? Once you move beyond security, the difficulty becomes preventing people from voting twice. This isn’t American Idol after all. According to the one story that has been written, Unity08 will cross-reference voter registration databases. The other question is who’s behind it? According to Alter’s article, people with political experience from both parties. They include two former Carter campaign staffers, Hamilton Jordan and Gerald Rafshoon, Ford’s media guru, Doug Bailey and Maine’s former governor, Independent Angus King. More to come tomorrow.

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