14 August 2007

Track down anonymous Wikipedia edits!

Today wired.com has a great article about Wikipedia Scanner, a piece of software created by a Cal Tech student that allows users to see what organizations have been anonymously editing their own Wikipedia entries.

What he found is amazing. Corporations, members of Congress, even the CIA editing their own pages. Score one for accountability!

Read the article.

Use Wikipedia Scanner.

13 August 2007

Joining Technorati

I joined Technorati, so you can find a profile for me and my blog there.

It's skeletal now, but I will add to it in the coming days.

#2,515,283 and rising!

Technorati Profile

Mike Wessler on Right Balance Radio

Last Monday Project Vote Smart's own Mike Wessler appeared on The Right Balance with Greg Allen to promote our programs, especially the upcoming Political Courage Test (PCT).

Mike did a great job, and we really owe Greg and everyone at the Accent Radio Network for providing such a great platform for us.

You can listen to the interview at The Voter's Speakeasy.

08 August 2007

More reflections on titles

This week there is a funny article in Slate by Michael Weiss entitled 'What Not to Name Your Blog.'
On the heals of the YearlyKos Convention, he comments on an array of liberal and conservative blogs' titles and their relative merits.

Lucky for me, I think 'I, Voter' passes muster.

06 August 2007

Google Ad Issues

This is just a link to a comment I posted in a Blogger help forum. I am getting a little depressed about the lack of response to my original post, so I thought mentioning the problem here as well might increase--maybe even double--my (minute) chance of a rapid response.

Also, maybe this is a very common problem. If you have a solution, or would like more information, please comment on this post.

Here's the text of my query:

My Google Adsense banners appeared on my blog for months, but all of
the sudden they're gone:


Everything on the 'Edit Layout' section looks right, nothing seems to have changed. There was one ad above the blog posts, and one midway down the right side.

PVS on the Radio

At 9:30 this morning (Mountain Time), Mike Wessler from the P.R. department will be discussing our Key Votes program on The Right Balance with Greg Allen.

Mike's an alumn of the Key Votes Department, so he'll know what he's talking about.

I'll try to get some info on where to listen to this later for those of you who can't make it to the site in the next 10 minutes.


24 July 2007

Help recover Senate history!

Last Thursday, as the Senate was debating a student loan bill, Republicans and Democrats inserted numerous non-germane amendments. Among them was a particularly controversial amendment proposed by Democratic Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado regarding a potential pardon of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby by President Bush.

No great revelation came of what would have been a non-binding amendment expressing the sense of the Senate. It failed 47-49. What is interesting is that within an hour of the vote, the chamber moved to strike it from official Congressional records.

Although a number of media outlets have reported on this, the missing breakdown remains elusive.

I'll keep searching for it, and if I find it I'll post it. It may even end up a Key Vote at Project Vote Smart. If you're reading this, and you know where to find it, please post a link in a comment!

It's Senate Amendment 2356 to H.R. 2669.

23 July 2007

Confusion on swearing-in dates

I'm doing a project for work at Project Vote Smart that requires the exact dates that senators and representatives took office. Finding the information was surprisingly difficult, and actually somewhat annoying.

After some rifling around on the official House and Senate pages, I found the definitive sources. The house has a biographical search that's pretty handy, and the Senate has a chronological list of everyone who has served (disclaimer: the list is a .pdf that crashed my browser twice). Now I find these pretty handy, but it didn't help my cause much that these analagous lists were organized so differently.

I thought for sure it would be on Congresspedia.org, but it wasn't. Later I added the information to former Rep. J.D. Hayworth's page as an example of where I think it should go.

While I usually defend Wikipedia, it was the worst resource of all for this project. While most sources, including Congress itself, consider senators and representatives to have taken or left office on the days of swearing-in (often January 3), Wikipedia cites the day Congress convenes. Again using the example of Hayworth, compare his official Congressional biography with his Wikipedia entry.

I am reticent to edit that page, because it could end up more of a mess if it loses internal consistency. But I highly recommend adding swearing-in dates to pages on congresspedia.

12 July 2007

Congressional maps at Govtrack.us

You may have noticed that I have added a bunch of new links on the sidebar. I will post a bit about each of them in detail, but I just want to quickly point out that govtrack.us has an amazing interactive map of Congressional districts. It's Google-powered, so it has the familiar Google Maps interface.

There are many resources for finding your elected officials. Congresspedia and the official Web site of the U.S. House have a descent ZIP-to-district searches, but they don't include anything about local officials. The Census Bureau has a very thorough one.

When I made my own ZIP-to-district look-up (I will post the code soon), I linked to Project Vote Smart, because I think they are the best one-stop shop for state, local, and federal information. Of course, I am biased.

11 July 2007

The Voter's Speakeasy

I'm going to make a lot of changes to this blog in the coming days, but Blogspot is moving agonizingly slow today, so this will probably be all I do before tomorrow.

Project Vote Smart has a new official blog called The Voter's Speakeasy. It's an excellent way to stay up-to-date on PVS, and gives additional insight into the work we do.

Full disclosure: I guess I haven't said it in this blog before, but I work in PVS in the Key Votes department.


The Voter's Speakeasy

Welcome back, dear reader

Like several blogs before this one, I started this one enthusiastically, but my inspiration dried up. In fact, I gave up on this one faster than any of its predecessors, because I spent all day using a computer, and this felt more like my job than a diverting hobby.

But I've changed my wanton ways. Over the next few days, weeks, months, years (well...) I will post to this blog again. So keep an eye out!

02 February 2007

Adding ZIP-to-district look-up

Hey, a bunch of neat web sites have a neat-o feature where you can enter in your nine-digit ZIP and find out your congressional district. I put one on my blog, cannibalizing the one on Congresspedia. However, I used Project Vote Smart's results, because I think they are more complete.

I hope to put a widget on my blog to make adding this to your own blog a one-step process.

29 January 2007

Google AdSense

After some deliberation, I decided to include Google Adsense on my blog. Making money on a blog has never interested me particularly, I am much more concerned with generating something useful, interesting, and fun for me and people who share my interests.

But I was swayed by a friend who uses Google ads on his blog. He convinced me that this could provide me with some capital that I could reinvest in the blog itself, adding features like a registered domain, etc.

Anyway, this will definitely improve the quality of this blog by providing me an incentive to post faithfully.

21 January 2007

The end of the electoral college?

I first read about this state-level movement on Red State Rebels, a blog for progressives in Idaho.

Thanks to this tool from Source Labs, I can put a Digg button right on the post. I'm still experimenting with it.

18 January 2007

Poor, neglected blog

I was inspired to start a blog about a month ago. But as the workload in my new job increased, this side project went by the boards. Now I am returning to it, hoping that instead of competing with my job for time and energy, it can assist me.

I work for the 'Key Votes' department at Project Vote Smart, which means I have to be knowledgeable about both internet research and the inner workings of Congress. The first part is easy, but when I started here a month ago, this represented the extent of my knowledge about Congress: