This is the kind of crime I can really get into…

An electronic street sign in Texas warns impending doom!

An electronic street sign in Texas warns of impending doom!

I know they say this is a crime and everything and that people’s lives could have been in danger because signs do such an important public service and all… but this is hilarious:

Austin drivers making their morning commute were in for a surprise when two road signs on a busy stretch of road were taken over by hackers. The signs near the intersection of Lamar and Martin Luther King boulevards usually warn drivers about upcoming construction, but Monday morning they warned of “zombies ahead.”

via Road signs warn of zombies | KXAN.com.

Hat tip to Miss Print.

Tweet Congress: Missing our locally electeds

Out in the community

Driehaus calling TwitterFone?

So, does your Congressional representative or Senator want you to know what’s going on? Well, if you look around the Greater Cincinnati area the answer would be mostly no.

Using TweetCongress, an amazingly great use of the Twitter API, you can follow exactly what is going on with your federally-elected officials. What’s even more amazing is that they publicly harass those Members of Congress who are not on Twitter to join.

Here’s what the intro to their site says:

“We the Tweeple of the United States, in order to form a more perfect government, establish communication, and promote transparency do hereby Tweet the Congress of the United States of America.”

via Tweet Congress.

I love it!

As Steve Driehaus‘s campaign communications director, I worked hard to get Driehaus into as much social networking and new media as possible (much was done before I got there, but there was still plenty to do). He was open to it, but, as I think he openly admits, it isn’t his strong suit. Plus, too many politicians think the mainstream media is their best shot and the other stuff is just “extra.” True, to a large extent. But not for long.

I am proud to say Driehaus got much better at it as the campaign wore on (even agreeing to have a blogger meet-up, which was fantastic). TweetCongress says Driehaus is not on Twitter, which isn’t exactly true. It just hasn’t been updated since I posted the last Tweet the day after election day thanking everyone for their support. Get on it, folks! It’s a great way to keep in touch with your constieuents…

Who else is on Twitter locally? Well, if you ask TweetCongress, House Minority Leader John Boehner of West Chester, Ohio – just on the outskirts of the Cincinnati Metro area – is the only one. Rep. Jean Schmidt of the Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District (and my representative, now that I live in Mount Washington) and Rep. Geoff Davis of Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District do not Twitter.

My work on this political campaign and consulting communications on another this past year made me realize one amazing thing: Politicians are waaay behind the curve on the technology front – with one major exception. President Barack Obama. ‘Nuff said.

Driehaus’s Congressional Web site live

Steve Driehaus has his Congressional Web page up and running, though there isn’t much listed on the site yet (plus he has had his new campaign Web site up for a while with it’s new domain name, www.driehausforohio.com, suggesting a possible future run for higher office).

There is on Driehaus’s Congrssional site, I noticed, a crapload of links to just about every social networking and bookmarking site known to man, though. I think this is an interesting and smart step forward for the new Congressman as he faces the challenges of crippled media in Cincinnati and the ever-important need to communicate with his constituents. Now he can easily ask visitors to his site to share what they have read with their social networks.

File photo

I have to mention (being the new media guy that I fashion myself), too, that there is not a link to “Share This,” the locally-founded (still with a local presence) social sharing service, that would take the clutter notch down about 10-fold. I’m sure they will work on this as they tweak the site in coming weeks/months. A quick Google search shows the Congressional site – which currently has a zero Page Rank – has about 42 pages, most of which are empty or needing content. It was likely a pre-packaged template that will eventually be filled with information and finish much higher in Google searches (especially after it gets passed around the blogs and other places).

What is conspiculously missing is any information about the Driehaus’s stances or record thus far in the new Congress (which I admit is new), including any mention, much less a transcript, of the speech he gave after his ceremonial swearing-in Friday in Cincinnati City Council chambers. In it he lobbied for the need to deficit-spend – something President-elect Barack Obama has been saying will be necessary and others have urged him to do once he takes office Tuesday.

“I can’t believe I am saying this,” Driehaus said in his Friday speech when calling for more federal government spending.

After the speech Driehaus shared some about his personal experiences so far in Congress. He told a story about being unexpectedly asked by Congressman Barney Frank to briefly run the Congressional debate as he was about to speak on the floor for the first time. Frank apparently had to rush to a quick meeting out in the hallway and called on Driehaus to take over the debate as he was waiting in line to speak for the first time. The drama only lasted a few minutes, he said, because Frank returned much quicker than either expected.

“It only took about two minutes,” Driehaus said. “I was very nervous.”

A side note: What was missing during Friday’s event? Reporters. There were, I think, two TV cameras there, but, aside from this columnist, no journalists of any stripe. And I had not come to report, but to watch. Further proof that Driehaus will have a difficult time making his case for why he voted the way he did when it comes around to election time next year. The only thing voters will hear will be an overload of political commercials with nary a speck of insight or objectivity. Welcome to the post-apocolyptic journalistic world. Scares the crap out of me.

Alice, the fine arts volunteer

Alice, the fine arts volunteer

Originally uploaded by hjoew

Alice was the No. 1 volunteer for arts events in Cincinnati.

If you ever went to a Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra concert, Cincinnati Ballet or Cincinnati Opera performance or volunteered in any way with the local performing arts, you probably saw or met Alice.

She was a gem, one that occasionally poked you in the flesh, but one you admired and loved nonetheless. I adored her spirit.

About a year ago I had discussed with folks at the Symphony about doing a profile of her for the Post. Then, the paper closed before I got around to it. And I thought all along she would make a great feature in my CityBeat column. So, I e-mailed Greg at the Symphony a few days ago to inquire again how I might reach her.

It is amazing what is missed when one is off doing other things. She died a few months ago.

Breaking: Steve Jobs Taking a Leave of Absence from Apple

This can’t be good news. And I think, as these things tend to go, probably isn’t good news for the long run either.

CNBC is reporting on-air that Steve Jobs is taking a leave of absence from Apple until June to “focus on his health.” According to the report, Tim Cook will handle day-to-day operations at the company in the interim.

Here is the email that Jobs sent to Apple employees this afternoon:

Team,

I am sure all of you saw my letter last week sharing something very personal with the Apple community. Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well. In addition, during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.

In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June.

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for Apple’s day to day operations, and I know he and the rest of the executive management team will do a great job. As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out. Our board of directors fully supports this plan.

I look forward to seeing all of you this summer.

via Breaking: Steve Jobs Taking a Leave of Absence from Apple.

Enquirer: No Pay For You

Well, this majorly sucks. I can’t believe it is getting as bad as it is getting with no let-up in sight.

In a memo distributed today to all non-unionized employees at The Gannet Co., The Enquirer’s parent firm, a top executive announced that workers must take a five-day unpaid furlough from their jobs before the end of March.

“Like others, Gannett has had to make some very difficult decisions over the past year,” stated the memo, written by Robert J. Dickey, Gannett’s U.S. Community Publishing president. “Having to reduce staff, reformat newspapers and end delivery to some customers has had a deep impact on our company and all of us. We have consulted with many of you on how to minimize the impact on our readers and customers.”

The memo continued, “As a result of your feedback, and in an effort to minimize the need for more layoffs, I have decided to take another approach as we enter 2009. To that end, every non-represented employee in the USCP division will be furloughed for five business days during this quarter. That includes me, your publisher, everyone. Unions will be asked to accept furloughs in lieu of layoffs. We all will be sharing the financial hardship.”

via Enquirer: No Pay For You.

When it comes to giveaways, Dayton Daily cares more about spaghetti than your tax dollars | Esrati

This is pathetic. But, I guess, some consolation that we are not alone in our media misery…

The Dayton Daily “news” wasn’t at the Dayton Public Schools school board meeting yesterday when they voted to give an open ended $108,000 PR contract to the Cleveland political consulting group, Burges & Burges. However, the Dayton Daily was at a Fazoli’s in Huber Heights to cover a corporate PR stunt of giving away 25 $3 bowls of spaghetti.

Some area spaghetti lovers got a free plate of the stuff Saturday, Jan. 10, and a reminder about the most important rule of success – you have to show up.

via 25 win free spaghetti for a year from local restaurant.

via When it comes to giveaways, Dayton Daily cares more about spaghetti than your tax dollars | Esrati.

Hamilton County GOP: Democrat(ic) Money Burn: Obama Style?

It seems current Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman and former Hamilton County Judge Alex M. Triantafilou has a short memory these days:

The current discussion in Washington to spend over $800 billion that we borrow from China ought to scare the hell out of every American. Is it the right thing to do to “bring back this economy”? I’m not the guy to make that call. But, I am a citizen that is about to watch liberal Democrats do what they love to do: spend lavishly and explode the size of government. I just can’t believe that is what the American people meant when they voted for “change.” It looks a whole lot like more-of-the-same.

via Hamilton County GOP: Democrat(ic) Money Burn: Obama Style?.

Why all the sudden outcry? Was it not the Republicans who got us into this mess? Plus, is not the deficit – now, as it stands before President-elect Barack Obama takes office – the highest its been in decades? And isn’t it – now, as it stands before President-elect Barack Obama takes office – predicted to go even higher than it has ever gone in the history of the United States, to the tune of more than $3.1 trillion dollars of national debt?

Alex, I think you’re a swell guy. Pretty smart, too. But, geebus, when will their ever be an admission that it was Republican leadership that got us into this mess? Denial is not Step One in admitting you’ve got a problem. And this ain’t the time for spin, friend.