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Practice Safe Hex

By M Davies   /     Mar 10, 2012  /     Technology Hates Me, Twitter  /     1 Comment

A few months ago, I wrote a post about the local media's use of social media and what they were doing right and wrong.  I'd like to think that six months later, they have figured things out, however, I'm not so sure.

On Monday, Andy Palumbo blogged about nearly pulling the plug on his Twitter account because of a virus/phishing attempt circulating through Direct Message.  Several people that I follow on Twitter in the local media have "received" this virus and it started spreading like wild fire.  I got two of the messages myself:

 

Did I click on them?  Um.  No.  Although, I'm sure plenty of people say nasty things about me online. 

Here's the thing about viruses.  They don't spread unless someone clicks the link or opens the file, or runs an executable, etc.  If you don't do these things, the virus doesn't spread.  The problem with Twitter is that it uses a lot of shortened URLs to save space in Tweets making it hard to tell if a link is legitimate or not.  I have a solution to this:  URL Void – http://www.urlvoid.com.  You can put any link into box on the website and it will scan the URL to let you know whether or not the site is safe to navigate to.  If those who were "hacked" on Twitter took a few extra seconds to practice safe hex by plugging in the URL in question from these direct messages, they would see that the website was an exploit. 

Deleting your Twitter account because it has the potential to be "hacked" is just silly.  And let's be clear.  These accounts were not "hacked", the user clicked on the URL that they received in a direct message, this is how this type of VIRUS spreads.  There is a big difference between being "hacked" and receiving a virus.  I get viruses and spam sent to all seven of my email accounts every day, but am I going to delete my email account?  No.  Am I going to get rid of my Internet access because there's a potential that someone unauthorized may try to use my Wifi network?  No (because we have MAC address security enabled, layer 2 FTMFW).

You just have to be smart about how you use the Internet, practice safe hex, as I like to call it.  A few years ago, when I was more active into Newsgroups, I followed one called alt.comp.virus and one of the posters wrote up an entire article about what "Safe Hex" means right here:  http://www.claymania.com/safe-hex.html.  The article is several years old, but a lot of the same theories still apply.  I think in this instance, tip #4 is very applicable:

4. Be cautious when reading email with attachments and downloading files
You should never, ever (and we really mean it!) do the following:

  • Never open email attachments from someone you don't know

  • Never open email attachments forwarded to you even if they're from someone you know

  • Never open unsolicited or unexpected e-mail attachments until you've confirmed the sender actually meant to send them. If you know the sender and you are absolutely sure they intentionally sent the attachment, then scan it with an up-to-date virus scanner before opening it.

  • Never pay attention to virus warnings or even forward them unless you subscribe to a serious virus newsletter.

  • Never obtain software from "warez" sites or peer-to-peer programs like Kazaa. Get it from known, trusted sources only.

Additionally, it is wise to consider configuring your email program to display messages as "text only" and not "HTML". HTML can easily include malicious scripting (which may "do something" unwanted automatically), malicious links (usually obfuscated and too easy to click) and other unwanted junk. Keep in mind that if you send HTML email, many anti-spam solutions may aggressively target HTML formatted email as SPAM.

If you replace "email attachments" with "Twitter Direct Messages" or "Shortened URLs" it is the same advice I'd recommend to anyone using Social Media these days. 


Here's a few other tips I can share with you:

  • Phishers usually tend to be bad spellers and/or bad at punctuation and grammar.  That's the first way I can spot a phishing attempt at 20 paces (whether it be by email or social media platform)
  • Email addresses that the phishing message comes from is usually fake, or non-existent on the domain.  On Twitter, the account is usually created only to spread these viruses.  They may have no actual tweets with a ton of followers, they may have a bogus picture and URL in their profile information.  If it looks too good to be true (i.e. She's a supermodel stripper wanting to send you XXXXX pictures) then it probably is. 
  • Hovering over the link in your email client and checking your status bar will let you know if the URL is legit.  Example.  I can make a link say www.ebay.com but then have it redirect to a fake site using HTML. This however, does not work on Twitter if the URL is shortened, you will need to use a link checker such as URL Void (mentioned above).
  • DO NOT USE THE SAME PASSWORD ON ANY ACCOUNT FOR ANY REASON EVER!  You are just asking for trouble if you do.

And now I will share with you a story….(names changed to protect the stupid)

A “Network Engineer” I know was victimized by one of these phishing emails and actually had his bank account compromised.  Here’s what happened: someone had sent him an email stating to be from ICQ and that he needed to confirm his email/password on his account so that his account wouldn’t be deleted. He did exactly what the email asked of him. (WRONG! BAD! NO!!) Nothing happened for months, then all of the sudden after a deposit was made into his personal checking account, the thief decided to make a move. At the time, the engineer was using the same password for his E-mail, ICQ, and Bank. The phisher knew about the deposit via email, knew what bank he used and knew the password. He was able to transfer the money elsewhere thereby stealing it and leaving the checking account penniless. The bank fraud department had to get involved and was able to see the unauthorized transactions. They had to close out the account and reimburse for the fraudulent activities. Long story short…if a Network Engineer can be fooled by one of these emails, ANYONE CAN (except me of course….KIDDING).

The bottom line is this:  As long as hackers/spammers and phishers see an opportunity to make a dime off of someone else or get a sick thrill off of ruining someone's online reputation, it's not going to stop. Security threats are not going away anytime soon, they are going to keep growing exponentially and Internet users (business and home) really need to stay educated in order to protect themselves and their assets online.

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Housekeeping

By M Davies   /     Dec 09, 2011  /     Technology Hates Me, Twitter  /     0 Comment

I haven't blogged all week because I was partially pissed at WordPress and partially busy with other things.

My WordPress to Twitter feed mysteriously stopped working after I unlocked my Twitter account for the POTUS visit and then re-locked it in the same day. I changed my password, and I suspect that may have been the cause of my grief. I spent 3 days fucking with it to try to get it fixed.  It turns out, I had to login and create a brand new "Twitter" app to allow oAuth access though the API.  After screwing with that for an hour or so yesterday, I got it working.  Hallejuah. 

Speaking of Twitter….

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I need to immediately stop the Twitter Timeline recap posts that appear on Sundays.  There's a long story there, that I really don't want to get into at the moment.

What else?

I installed a caching plug-in on WordPress in hopes that will speed up the load time of my blog.  I had a bitch fit with my hosting provider, Dreamhost, last week and they believe the problem to be on my end.  Trust me.  It isn't.  I'm on a shared hosting server, and the other domains hosted here are chewing up all of the server's allocated resources.  I'm not stupid.  But, I will do what they say to "optimize" my blog.  My next "opitmization" step will be moving my domain names to another provider.

I started a new blog, for photos only.  I take a lot of sunrise photos, and have been itching to try out Tumblr to see what the fuss is about, so I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone.  The new domain is http://sweetvalleysunrises.tumblr.com/.  I have it linked from my blogroll and also installed a wordpress widget to display some of the posts on my right side bar.  I'm sure you can view it now if you scroll down far enough.

That's all I got for now.  I'll be back to blogging more this weekend. 

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Now Trending on Twitter: #ScrantonMovieTitles & #ScrantonMovieNames

By M Davies   /     Nov 04, 2011  /     Hilarity, NEPA, Twitter  /     0 Comment

Something that really helped me get through the end of this week was the NEPA Twitter community.  Someone decided to start the #ScrantonMovieTitles and #ScrantonMovieNames hash tags (I think it may have been @WFTE_FM) and everyone seemed to feed off of each others Tweets, each title getting crazier than the last.  If you aren't already on Twitter, you are very much missing out on a good time.  A hash tag (identified by the # symbol), by the way, is away of identifying a topic you are talking about on Twitter, so you can easily link to other users talking about the same topic.  You can read more about hash tags and other Twitter basics here

I compiled a list of the Scranton Movies and who Tweeted them for your review.  There is some hilarious stuff in here. 

@WFTE_FM

  • Four Weddings and a Hoagie #scrantonmovienames
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Payoffs #scrantonmovienames
  • Anchorman: The Legend of Janet Evans #scrantonmovienames
  • Brokeback Montage Mountain #scrantonmovienames
  • The Lord of the Yuenglings #scrantonmovienames
  • A Clockwork Pieorgi #scrantonmovienames
  • Heyna & Louise #scrantonmovienames
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Sun Hotel #scrantonmovietitles
  • Shaving Ryan's Privates #scrantonmovienames #ohwaitthatmightbeporn
  • The Silence of the Texas Wieners #scrantonmovienames #okstoppingnow

The Boys from Rock 107:

@107Prospector

  • Enter The Dalton #scrantonmovienames #scrantonmovietitles
  • The Prompton Adventure #Scrantonmovienames #scrantonmovietitles
  • Glenburn Can Wait #scrantonmovienames #scrantonmovietitles
  • Berwick BullDOG Day Afternoon #Scrantonmovietitles #scrantonmovienames
  • Last Tango in Plymouth #scantonmovienames #scrantonmovietitles
  • Driving Miss Dalton #Scrantonmovienames #scrantonmovietitles
  • Journey to Center Moreland #scrantonmovietitles #scrantonmovienames
  • MOSCOW on The Hudson #scrantonmovietitles
  • Ransom #scrantonmovietitles
  • Bang the DRUMS Slowly #scrantonmovietitles
  • Nanticoke Born Killers #scrantonmovietitles

@Hoover107

  • Kingston Pin #ScrantonMovieNames
  • The Hanover and The Hanover II #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Honey Pot and and the Sorcerer's Stone #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Sex in Dickson City #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Falls Down #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Exeter-Men Origins: Wolverine #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Freeland Willy #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Sweet Valley Girl #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Mayfield of Dreams #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Last Tango in Avoca #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Warrior Run of The Roses #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Fast Times at Scranton High #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Dumb and Dunmore #ScrantonMovieNames

@Ferg107

  • A Couple Two Tree Days Later #ScrantonMovieNames
  • McGloin's Navy #ScrantonMovieNames #WestScrantonMovieNames
  • Up Da Thin Red Line #ScrantonMovieNames

@DaveD107

  • The Money Pittston #ScrantonMovieNames
  • The Glen Lyon King #ScrantonMovieNames
  • McAdoo About Nothing #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Valley View Of The Dolls #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Starship Throopers #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Jack The Bear Creek #ScrantonMovieNames
  • The Great White Haven Hope #ScrantonMovieNames
  • No Place Like Honesdale #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Golden Eynon #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Hazleton And Confused #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Escape From Witch Mount Pocono #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Star Trek III: The Search For Peckville #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Debbie Does Dallas #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Raiders Of The Lost Archbald #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Susquehanna And Her Sisters #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Back Mountain To The Future #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Dickson City Hall #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Another Forty Fort Hours #ScrantonMovieNames
  • The Duryea Hunter #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Star Wars Episode I: The Olyphant-om Menace #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Plains, Trains, and Automobiles #ScrantonMovieNames

WNEP Tweeters:

@MichaelErat

  • Saw 5 or 6 A'dem At Least #scrantonmovietitles
  • The Accidental Coal Mine Tourist #scrantonmovienames #scrantonmovietitles

@DBohmanWNEP

  • Bed time for Bath Salts #scrantonmovienames
  • Damn SWB Yankees #scrantonmovienames
  • Broadcast Newswatch 16 #scrantonmovienames
  • Dial "M" for Moosic #scrantonmovienames

 

@yacuboski
Guess Who's Coming to Angela Park? #scrantonmovietitles
That Championship Polka #scrantonmovienames

@PechaKuchaScran

  • Everhart of Darkness #Scrantonmovienames @EverhartMuseum
  • The Dark Crystal Soda #Scrantonmovienames
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Warshington #Scrantonmovienames
  • Meet Me In St. Stanislaus #Scrantonmovienames
  • Anthracite And The Seven Dwarves #Scrantonmovienames
  • Minookasablanca #Scrantonmovienames
  • "Steamtown," which gave us the immortal line, "It's Steamtown, Jake." #Scrantonmovienames
  • Scrantastic Voyage #Scrantonmovienames
  • North By Northwest Mountain #Scrantonmovienames
  • Keyser Soze Auto Parts #Scrantonmovienames
  • Gertrude Hudson Hawk #Scrantonmovienames
  • Weekend at Bernie's Tavern #Scrantonmovienames

@christiank22

  • Urban (decay) Legend #scrantonmovietitles
  • Forrest Frack #scrantonmovietitles
  • Escape from Lackawanna #scrantonmovietitles
  • To kill a frontend-alignment #scrantonmovietitles
  • Fear and Loathing on Interstate 81 #scrantonmovietitles

@ChrissyK20

  • Once Upon A Time in the Westside #scrantonmovietitles
  • Strangers on a Steamtown Trolley #scrantonmovienames 
  • Or —> Trolleyspotting #scrantonmovienames
  • The Rocky Glen Horror Picture Show #scrantonmovienames

@JavarisTharco

  • #scrantonmovietitles Towamensing Heist!
  • Jurassic Pittston #scrantonmovietitles

@TunkAutoMart

  • Planes..Trains..andTunkAutoMartmobiles #scrantonmovietitles

@mandyboyle

  • Larry the Key Guy: A Mall Walker's Journey #scrantonmovietitles
  • The Closed Bridges of Luzerne County #scrantonmovietitles
  • Pierogi Wars #scrantonmovietitles
  • House on Haunted Hill Section #scrantonmovietitles
  • To Have and To Heyna #scrantonmovietitles
  • The Casey's Speech #scrantonmovietitles
  • Dude, Where's My Tercel? #scrantonmovietitles
  • Journey to the Center of the Eynon #scrantonmovienames
  • The Treasure of the Steamtown Mall #scrantonmovienames
  • Piggies #scrantonmovienames

@RadioShell

  • Who Killed Jessup James #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Clarks Green Mile #scrantonmovienames
  • Forrest City Gump #scrantonmovienames
  • The Kingston Speech #scrantonmovienames

@Kernsie

  • Fried Green Ridge Tomatoes #scrantonmovienames
  • The Olyphant Man #scrantonmovienames
  • West Side Invader Story #scrantonmovienames
  • The Sound Of Moosic #scrantonmovienames
  • No Country For Old Forge Men #scrantonmovienames
  • Keyser Valley P.T.A. #scrantonmovienames
  • Grumpy Old Forge Men #scrantonmovienames

Misc. Other Users…

@EternalNight11
@RowlffDogg
@KyleVonRebar
@MC_Swartzalot
@OHFScratch
@Mare7221
@newportliving
@TheArtimus
@bgfulton

  • Harry Potter and the Scranton Chamber of Commerce #scrantonmovietitles
  • Phantom of the Cultural Center #scrantonmovienames
  • Sleepless on Suscon Road #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Bridget Jones' Duryea. #ScrantonMovieNames
  • An American In Scranton #ScrantonMovieNames
  • OPERATION JESSUP: R3D AL3RT #scrantonmovienames
  • Broke Back Mountain? #ScrantonMovieNames
  • Shamokin Aces #scrantonmovienames
  • Throop Beverly Hills #scrantonmovienames
  • Escape from montage mountain #scrantonmovienames
  • Mayfield of Dreams #scrantonmovienames
  • Outside Providence #scrantonmovienames. (Actually a real movie from 1999)
  • Viewmont Mallrats #scrantonmovienames
  • The Hill Section Has Eyes #scrantonmovienames

And last but not least….me….
@mhryvnak

 

  • Tree Muskateers #scrantonmovienames
  • Pierogie Bear #scrantonmovienames
  • Journey to the Center of the Paczki #scrantonmovietitles
  • You, Me and Jabronie #scrantonmovietitles
  • Raiders of the Lost Ack-a-mee #scrantonmovietitles
  • Slumdog Middleswarth #scrantonmovietitles
  • Gone with the Wimpies #scrantonmovietitles
  • The Turkey Hills have Eyes #scrantonmovietitles
  • Once Upon a Time updaEynon #scrantonmovietitles
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Halupkie #scrantonmovietitles
  • Hatchy Milatchy and the Death of the Hollows #scrantonmovietitles
  • The Good, The Bad and the Ciavarella #scrantonmovietitles
  • One Flew Over The Market Street Bridge #scrantonmovietitles
  • Breakfast at Tastykakes #scrantonmovietitles
  • Gertrude Hawk Down #scrantonmovietitles
  • Mocanaqua Teen Hunger Force #scrantonmovietitles
  • School of Rock 107 #scrantonmovietitles
  • Petticoat Noxen #scrantonmovietitles
  • Some Like It Hugo. #scrantonmovietitles
  • A Fish Called Towanda. #scrantonmovietitles
  • Vince Sweeney and the Sundance Kid. #scrantonmovietitles
  • Inglorious Beer Garden #scrantonmovietitles
  • The Stegmaier Redemption #scrantonmovietitles
  • Shendo's List #scrantonmovietitles
  • North by Northwest Area School District. #scrantonmovietitles
  • Pothole Fiction #scrantonmovietitles
  • The Bridge on the Shit Creek Without A Paddle. #scrantonmovietitles
  • It's a Wonderful Loogie #scrantonmovietitles
  • The Piggies in the Blanket of Wrath #scrantonmovietitles
  • The Pirates of the Wyoming Valley #scrantonmovietitles #ripstevejobs
  • Plimmit's Labyrinth #scrantonmovietitles
  • Dial M for Mehalshick #scrantonmovietitles
  • The Wizard of October Blizzards #scrantonmovietitles
  • APal with Benefits #scrantonmovietitles
  • Children of the Korncrest Section of Hanover Township. #scrantonmovietitles
  • Beautiful Luzer(ne county) #scrantonmovietitles
  • Bowling for Conyngham #scrantonmovietitles
  • The Manchurian Coal Miner #scrantonmovietitles
  • Lackawanned Dead or Alive #scrantonmovietitles
  • Walk the Mine #scrantonmovietitles
  • Minsi Python and the Holy Sullivan Trail #scrantonmovietitles
  • Stookey's Revenge #scrantonmovietitles
  • 3 Mile #scrantonmovietitles #youbettaloseyourself
  • Don't Be A Menace to South Centralia While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood #scrantonmovietitles
  • The Hitchhikers Guide to Route 81 #scrantonmovietitles
  • Fast Times at Coughlin High #scrantonmovietitles
  • To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Sidoni #ScrantonMovieTitles
  • V is for Valley View #ScrantonMovieTitles
  • Chicken Dances with Wolves #ScrantonMovieTitles
  • The Name of the Montrose #ScrantonMovieTitles
  • Alice in Freeland #ScrantonMovieTitles
  • Play it again, Skrepenak #ScrantonMovieTitles

God, I have no life. 

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading this!

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Picking up where “Beale” left off

By M Davies   /     Oct 01, 2011  /     NEPA, TV Rants, Twitter, Youtube  /     1 Comment

Sometimes it takes a natural disaster of epic proportions to realize that your social media presence is either succeeding or lacking.  I should preface this by saying, that I'm not a formally trained Social Media Analyst.  I haven't taken any classes on the topic, nor had any formal training.  Do you know why?  Because I could teach them.  I consider myself a subject matter expert.  I see and know first hand what works and what doesn't.  I have been online using, testing and playing with the internet since 1998.  I've seen it all and then some.  Without further ado, I am going to use this space to tell each media outlet what I think is working and what isn't working about their social media presence.  Regardless of what I say below, everyone did a commendable job with getting important information into the hands that needed it.  Your efforts do not go unnoticed and are to be applauded.

 

WNEP:

Facebook | Twitter | Website

They have a Facebook Fan Page and Twitter account, which is good, as some news outlets have one but not the other.  Their Facebook wall is locked down.  Only they are able to post to their wall, and viewers/readers are only able to comment on the stories/links.  Viewers/Readers cannot post to the wall.  They have a separate section for discussions and viewer/reader interaction….similar to their Talkback 16 forum.  This is a good thing.  In comparison, if any of you have been following WBRE's Facebook page since the flood, you can see what happens when a wall is not locked down….MASS CHAOS.  More on that later.  WNEP has more than 73,000 likes as of this post on Facebook.  HOLY COW!  They must be doing something right….or maybe more people like the Facebook page because they hate their webpage.

Their Twitter feed is updated several times a day with links to news stories on their website…however there is little interaction beyond that.  If you reply to a Tweet or Direct Message their Twitter account they do not respond.  This I don't like.  Social media gives out what you put into it.  If you want to increase your following a little interactivity with your followers goes a long way. 

Some of the reporters/anchors have their own personal Blogs, Twitter accounts and Facebook walls to further connect with their audiences.  To me the Facebook fan pages are kind of a bit overkill, but I guess it stops clueless people from connecting with them on their personal Facebook accounts.  I don't think that I'd want readers to know every aspect of my life.  I think that the journalists/photogs that do have Twitter accounts are getting breaking news/information out there than the main @wnep Twitter account.  A good example of this would be @RyanLecky and @TrishHartman and @MichaelErat.

Side note:  Why in gods name doesn't Mike Stevens have a blog?  Of all people of the people that are at that station…and he doesn't have one?  Maybe he doesn't know how to do the whole blogging thing, but I'm sure that someone there can show him how it works or possibly administer it for him.  His "On the Pennsyvlania" road stories should really be accessible through words, pictures and videos on a webpage that isn't cluttered with crappy advertisements (which is what the WNEP.com website has morphed into).  Most of the personal blogs from that I have come across, such as Andy Palumbo, are linked over at NEPA Blogs

WNEP.com was once a great website, but now I literally cringe when I go there.  It is very difficult to navigate and find what I'm looking for compared to the website of yesteryear.  I know things are constantly changing and evolving on the internet, but usually for the better.  This website is definitely not one of the more positive changes that the Internet has to offer.  I actually think it has regressed.  The homepage scrolls forever, and the main focus is on ads, ads, ads!  I understand the need to make money, but this is out of control.  I think that the ads could be done in a more tasteful way.  I think this has to do with the many webmaster changes….Mark Sowers left for the TL, Chris Nelhybl died unexpectedly, and now I'm not sure who has taken over the reigns in his place.  I know from experience that the programming/coding technique for applications, macros or websites varies from person to person.  That is why, if you are not coming in from the ground floor of a build, it could take MONTHS to figure out what the previous "owner" of the project has done.  I suspect that the current webmaster is still trying to figure out what exactly is going on with that website…or maybe they were just told to maintain what is there.  

I also think that WNEP cut away from flood coverage too quickly.  It seemed as though there was still a lot of stuff going on that needed to be covered.  WBRE had broken out into 24×7 mode, which I think was more because they were evacuated and unable to access their normal feeds, but it ended up working out to their advantage. 

Overall, an "okay" job.  It could be better. I would have given a C if there was no actively updated RSS feed.  Thankfully this saves me having to navigate their website to find what I'm looking for.  Bonus points given for Ryan Leckey showing up to do "Leckey Live" for my Leadership Wilkes-Barre class project last year.

Website in 2006 (Clean, easy to read & navigate, not cluttered w/ ads)

Website in 2011 (too much crap going on and not spaced out well)

B-

 

Times Leader:

Facebook | Main Twitter | Youtube | Website

The TL is as solid as it was for the coverage of the 2006 flood.  I think that Social Media could come crashing to a screeching halt and the Times Leader would not miss a beat.  Their website is constantly updated and even has labels to indicate "Advisories", "Breaking", etc. so your focus automatically goes to those story links first.  Another feature that I do love about the Times Leader's website is that they have the times that stories were posted & updated.  You can get a sense of how fresh a story is when you are reading it.  I like that I can read most of what is in the newspaper online in advance of getting my hands on a copy.  I don't subscribe to any newspapers at my house because, frankly, I don't have the time to read them.  The Times Leader does not charge an online fee to read their paper as the Scranton Times and Pocono Record have opted to do recently. 

Now onto Facebook.  Their Facebook page is updated daily, but they don't post every single story to their wall.  Their wall is open for viewers/readers to post to it, if needed.  They have their Obits and Youtube account linked from the page and there is a discussion board for viewers to interact with each other on. I don't like the fact that the Facebook page is called Timesleader.com, it makes it hard to find, and for a while I didn't think that they had one.  Also, I'm surprised that there are only 2,810 likes as of this posting.  I thought the number would be higher.

Ah yes, Youtube…I nearly forgot that they had a Youtube account.  Wait?  Why would a newspaper need to use Youtube?  Well the answer is simple, young Jedi.   Thanks to video social media platforms (i.e. Youtube, UStream, and Vimeo), a strictly print media can make their break into video media competing with the big dogs in town (WBRE/WNEP).  The Times Leader has several video journalists that make their rounds doing interviews and covering various events.  Two that I follow are @PeterParker_PA (Chris Hughes) and @GerardH51 (Gerard Hetman). 

Side note:  After researching the other 3 media outlets, the Times Leader is the only one with a Youtube feed.

Speaking of Twitter, the Times Leader actually has a few accounts setup to handle their different areas of focus.  @tlbreaking only posts breaking news stories, @tlnews covers everything, @tlsports is….you guessed it…sports, @tlarts is focused on local happenings with the art community, @tlcourts covers the court briefs and police blotter.  All of these accounts w/ the exception of @tlarts are updated on a daily basis…and in some cases, several times a day.  They are mainly just posting links to articles with these feeds.  There is no interaction with their followers (at least that I can see).

Bonus points given for having a working RSS feed.

WNEP, take notice to how their ads are placed….  learn, embrace, change.

Overall, these guys have it down to a science, but I wouldn't have expected anything less out of them.

Website in 2006

Website in 2011

A+

 

WBRE:

Facebook | Twitter | Website

The underdog…I think.  Going back to Beale's post in 2006, he expressed that WNEP was at an advantage due to their extensive resources (i.e. the helicopter, the better website, etc.).  Plus at the time, WBRE and WYOU were both on air.  Obviously that is not the case anymore…  WBRE really stepped it up this time around.  The station had to be evacuated, as they are 2 streets away from the levee, and were graciously taken in by the studios of Fox 56 located on higher ground in Plains.  After the station went off the air to switch over to the Fox56 feed, WBRE/WYOU were transformed into a 24×7 news station which is pretty impressive considering that most of the reporters themselves lived in the flood plane and had to evacuate themselves.  I can't imagine the hours that they put in that week.  If I had to guess, I would have to say at least 80 a piece.  There were times when I thought that they were kicking WNEP's butt on coverage…Andy Mehalshick at Luzerne Cty EMA headquarters…brilliant!! 

The PAHomepage.com website has really improved over the last few years, but it wasn't around in 2006.  Nope, they were still using the wbre.com domain name (WYOU was also using their own domain as well wyou.com).  Back then, WBRE's webpage was my second least favorite news website in the valley.  The CV clearly won first place in the worst website category.  Anyway, if you still type in wbre.com or wyou.com in your web brower's address bar, it will redirect you to PAHomepage.com which is a good thing, because who would know to type in PAHomepage.com if your stations call letters are something completely unrelated.  I'm still not loving the domain name situation, but I'll deal. 

I'm going to deal with their Twitter feed first, because there is something annoying the bejesus out of me that I have to get off of my chest.  (@WBRETV) Why are you posting links to your Facebook wall for stories?  Not everyone has a Facebook account.  Duh!  Why not link to your own web page instead…you know, were readers could generate revenue by clicking the ads…and view the videos?  Sometimes links are posted with no description, so you have no idea what you are clicking on.  They do update the Twitter feed everyday, so I'll give them that, but they don't interact with anyone.  The only way any of this could make sense is that someone linked the Twitter and Facebook accounts.  In other words, say you log into Facebook and post a link to your wall…if your Twitter is tied to Facebook the link and text of what you put in the share box will be posted on your Twitter timeline.  While this may be a helpful feature for some…I think in some occasions its best to leave the two accounts stand alone.  @DaveKuharchik & @MonicaReports are the only two Twitter WBRE journalists that I could find, they update semi-frequently, but mainly to promote their new variety show @PA_Live (which BTW, NEPA Blogs now has a segment on…check it out here!).  I'm still bummed that Doug Currin left…he was very tech savvy. 

WBRE's Facebook wall is still open for anyone to post…which boggles my mind. Thing were a little out of hand during the flooding.  There was name calling, snarkiness, and a huge swath of misinformation posted by well meaning readers.  It was a little overwhelming to sort through the good and the bad information.  The good thing about Facebook is the timeliness of the information…the bad thing, if the information isn't correct it spreads like wildfire.  Thank god that Luzerne County had a Rumor Control Hotline in place during the flood or people would have believed that JJ Banko's collapsed.  (Just an example of one of the rumors that I heard.)  This could maybe be a lesson learned for next time.  I'd recommend a similar setup to WNEP.  It just keeps things more orderly.  I wanted to also mention that WBRE gave several amateur photographers their much needed 15 minutes of fame.  Pretty much anything that was posted on the Facebook wall made it to the live newscast.  This was a win for WBRE as many of their reporters could not get to the counties that they serve due to evacuation orders and flooded roadways….however….Governor Tom Corbett was not a happy camper.

In his press conference held in Forty Fort, he condemned those in the media who were encouraging their viewers/listeners to go out and take photos to send in.  I must stress that WBRE said several times NOT to take pictures if it was not safe to do so….but people are people and care more about fame than safety.  While I think that this statement was not directed at any one specific media outlet, I feel like a lot of it may have been directed towards WBRE.  I also noticed that WBRE didn't show quite as many photos as they had after he made that statement.  Maybe it was just coincidence…who knows.

Stories are frequently posted to the WBRE Facebook page, so there is always fresh content.  Also helpful:  They have a "Fan Pages" link which lists out all of their personalities Facebook pages.  There's a network shows link which would be pretty neat, if it actually worked.  They also have a questions tab where they post polls to their fans. They have more than 16,000 Facebook fans as of this post.

Overall, their social media footprint could be better, but it is improving.  Bonus points for letting my Leadership Wilkes-Barre colleague and Comedian/Magician Tony Leone on the show to creep out Kristi Capel live on the air last year.  Points taken off for not having an RSS feed.

Website in 2006

Website in 2011

B-

 

The Citizens' Voice:

Facebook | Twitter | Website

The Citizens' Voice has really grown up in the last few years.  They have finally navigated off of that horrible content managed website they had a few years ago.  They have improved 10,000% since the 2006 flood. They do have all or most of the stories that appeared in the paper available for reading online…for free.  Their updates aren't as frequent as the Times Leader, but don't get me wrong….they are improving.  They really have impressed me with their flood coverage mainly thanks to their Social Media presence.  If I had time to read an actual newspaper each day, this is probably the one I would pick to subscribe to.

Out of the four main media outlets I am reviewing, this is the only one that has an interactive Twitter account, @CitizensVoice.  They interact with their followers and help get information across quickly than maybe some of the other outlets do.  A lot of the reports have their own Twitter accounts and will post live updates from where they are at.  @CVPatSweet @DAllabaugh and @CVBobKal do a great job of live tweeting.  Bonus points given for Bob Kal being one of the few that voted for the Leadership Wilkes-Barre class project idea that I pitched even though it was eventually voted down in the next round. 

The Citizens' Voice Facebook page has 4,270 likes as of this post which is significantly higher than the Times Leader.  I suspect that might be due to the fact that you cannot easily find the Times Leader because of its naming convention (as noted above).  They have the standard discussions and photo sections, but no obits or Youtube like the TL does.  I was almost certain that I've seen local video stories posted to the CV website, but now I'm not finding them.  I'm pretty sure they were not using Youtube to share them though. 

They finally have RSS feeds!  Yay!  (I just noticed this as I was typing up this post)  Bonus points.

Keep up the good work guys.  I'm heading over to Google News Reader to add your feeds as I write this.

Website in 2006 (HORRIBLE!)

Website in 2011 (Grown up)

B+

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Obama takes out Osama

By M Davies   /     May 02, 2011  /     Misc/Crap, Twitter  /     2 Comments

I feel as if I should comment about the announcement of Osama bin Laden being confirmed dead last night.  It seems like the right thing to blog about at the moment.  First of all though, I don't want to get into the he-said, she-said game of Republicans vs. Democrats and which president did the most on their watch to find him.  It's a moot point.

Every Sunday night, my ritual is to watch the Celebrity Apprentice.  I know that it's a stupid show, but I don't care.  Everyone has their own type of fix and this is mine.  I was using my phone to live Tweet some of the stuff going on during the show that I found funny.  Again, another stupid ritual that I have.  As I was tweeting about the cat fight between Star Jones and NeNe Leakes (more on that here) I noticed that the Twitter account for the CNN Breaking alerts had posted a Tweet that stated that "The President will be addressing the Nation at approximately 10:30 PM, subject unknown."  I think at this point I read the message out loud to my husband who was sitting across from me and said "Oh sure, Trump had to go and piss off the President about the birth certificate bit, now he's interrupting my show to get revenge!"  I kind of forgot about it and continued to watch/tweet about the Apprentice.  Then all of the sudden NBC came up with a scrolling message at the bottom of the screen with the three bells … DING DING DING …. "The president to address nation at 10:30 on an very important matter." or something to that effect.

This is when I started freaking out.  My heart started racing and I couldn't sit still.  I started breathing in and out heavily to the point of having a panic attack.  What does it mean?  Are we going to war?  Did somebody die?  Ailens?  Zombies?  Mutant alien zombies that will wage a war with us causing us all to die?  My god the combination of paranoid thoughts and scenarios my brain was conjuring up could have easily written a couple two tree of Twilight Zone episodes.

10:30 came and went, and there was no announcement.  To which point I tweeted:  "The big presidential announcement was:  PSYCH!  There wasn't one!"  As an aside, if you couldn't already tell from reading my tweets, blog and/or Facebook…I rely on humor and sarcasm a lot to get me through awkward situations (…and I also do it to be a smart ass…)  The Celebrity Apprentice was at the boardroom part of the episode which usually happens for about the last half hour of the show.  Just when Star Jones was going to explain who she wanted on her team for the final 3, NBC News cut in for the special announcement. This was at approximately 10:45.

At this point Twitter was … well… a twitter … with what the announcement could be about.  I have a few friends on my Twitter and Facebook who are journalists and have access to the AP wire.  One by one they all started letting it slip that it was in fact regarding Osama bin Laden.  And that the USA had captured and killed him.  Street creds go out to Bob Kalinowski of the CV and Phil Yacuboski formerly of WYOU for being the first on my feeds to know what was going on and thusly calming me the hell down.  I was ready to crawl out of my skin. 

It wasn't until sometime after 11 when we got to hear the words uttered from the President's mouth that we did in fact get bin Laden.  NBC's journalists and analysts kept speculating about what the message was going to be about, what it would mean to the victims' families of the 9/11 attacks, and how it could all backfire in our faces.  It was rather annoying that we basically knew the entire scenario of what happened long before the President was on camera.  NBC is a bunch of surprise spoilers! 

I guess my take away from this whole situation is 3-4 points.

1.  Holy shit.  News travels faster on Twitter than any Network / Newspaper affiliate could ever dream of.  I've never seen something go from "We have no clue what this is about" to "This is what it most definitely is" in a blink of an eye like that before.  I guess you could say the news went viral, but in this circumstance, I'd have to say it went SUPERviral.

2.  Regarding the actual "death".  It is great to see this scum go down finally after all of these years, but I don't think that terrorism will just magically stop happening.  My fear was always with capturing bin Laden that he would be raised to martyr status among the extremists and al Quieda members that built him up to be the leader that he was.  I just hope that the intelligence agencies and armed forces keep up the excellent work that they have been doing to keep any sleeper cells at bay. 

3.  I don't think that the victim's families will be totally relieved with this outcome.  I can't imagine the grief and suffering these folks have gone through since 9/11.  Losing a loved one is never easy, regardless of the circumstance.  The way that the people died on 9/11 was tragic and irreversable.  I'm sure that bin Laden being captured has to help find closure somewhat, but the fact of the matter is the loved ones who were murdered on 9/11 can never be brought back.  It's not as if suddenly they will wake up one morning and say, "Everything is all better now"

"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi  

I do hope that the victims families are able to find peace somehow.  Whether or not "justice has been served" remains to be seen in their eyes, I suppose.

4.  The incessant celebration.  It has been a long while since the Nation has all been on the same playing field with their beliefs.  It's sad to say that the most tragic times seems to bring out the best in people.  9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the recent Tornado's in Alabama.  These events make people stop what they are doing, regardless of race, denomination, age or political party and band together to help any way they can for the good of the country.  Why can't it be like this more often?  I agree that it is a good day/week/month/year to be an American, but I think some of these parties that they showed on TV last night did go a bit overboard.  We killed a man.  He was a bad man, yes, but still.  It just seems "off" to me.  I read online somewhere that when an American was killed over in the middle east that the extremists would party in the streets in similar fashion – and I know I've seen it on TV.  But we condemn that behavior.  Now we are essentially doing the same thing.  I'm confused on what to think of this. 

For what it's worth, there are my .02 cents on last night. 

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