We’re hiring

WestonWeb is hiring!

We are looking for a young, aspiring journalist to cover news relevant to our community: things like sports, schools, graduation–and all the other things we never think of.  You should be able to write (or photograph, or video) well and come up with your own topics.

We pay! Thanks to the generous sponsorship of our supporters, we can pay $30 for each 200-word post. It would be nice if you could post twice a month.

Roy and I are cranky middle-aged white guys. The successful applicant will be as little like us as possible. Ideally, he or she would be a student.

If you’re interested, drop me a line: adam@westonweb.ca.

Facebook hates WestonWeb–but the feeling is mutual

Facebook made some changes to its algorithm, and it is already affecting us at WestonWeb. If, like about half our readers, you get our site through the big blue box, you’re seeing much less of us. Our traffic is tanking on Facebook—easily down by half—and if I were in this for the money, I’d be worried!

Facebook has decided to focus on friends and family, not bringing you the news. And that’s fine! I’m delighted to see fewer flames and more candles.

We will, of course, still plug away here on the old-fashioned internet, just like it’s way back in 2009. You can also subscribe by email, create a bookmark, or—heavens!—use RSS. (We’re also on Twitter.)

 

 

 

What I’ve been working on

It’s been a slow new week, but your correspondent read years ago that if you don’t like the news, you should make some of your own.

Accordingly, I haven’t been (entirely) idle. I’ve been working on a low-cost particulate-matter sensor that we could deploy around Weston and Mount Dennis. And I’m delighted to report that I’ve got it working!

I’ve built the pollution monitor with an ultra-cheap computer called the Raspberry Pi, to which I’ve added a $25 sensor, some junk from around the house, and some Tupperware. The total cost was about $120 (don’t tell my wife)—but I think I can get that down a bit by using an even cheaper computer.

Here are the totally unscientific results for the past 48 hours, from Wednesday at 5 pm to today at 5 pm.

What do they mean? Your guess is as good as mine! (And please, feel free to tell me: adam at WestonWeb.ca.)

The red line is µg of 2.5 micron particulate per m³; the blue line is for 10 micron particulate. These results are likely not very accurate, but they’re a start—and honestly, for $120, I think it’s brilliant that I can measure anything at all!

The next step is to apply for a grant from my employer, to see if we can build some of these for the community. I’m cautiously optimistic. With a network of them, I hope to be able to create a widget to run on WestonWeb that would report the noise and air pollution in our community.  If you’re interested in taking part, let me know.

The best part, as far as ‘my son’ is concerned, is that the computer can be repurposed. That’s this weekend’s work: building an arcade system!

 

 

Will you be my pollution partner?

I’ll soon have the chance to do a bit of scientific research, and I was wondering if any loyal readers in Mount Dennis or Weston might be interested in participating.

My plan is to build low-cost (no cost to you) sensors that will detect noise and dust pollution. The sensors would automatically post data online so that we could all see how trains, construction, and traffic affect (or don’t affect) our lives.

To participate, you’ll need wifi, a place outdoors where you can put a little box, and some patience with me.

If you’re interested, drop me a line: adam@adamnorman.com

Another good year for WestonWeb

At the end of the year, I like to look back and see how we’ve done. 2017 was good: we’re reaching more people than ever and we published 368 posts–more than one a day!

Our site, WestonWeb.ca, got 80,300 views from 29,000 visitors in 2017. That’s down from 109,000 views in 2015, which makes me sad—more on that in a minute—but we continue to see huge numbers of people read us outside our domain, which makes me, on the whole, happy.

  • On Facebook, our posts were seen 105,000 times over the course of the year—so, it seems, we’re actually a Facebook subdivision rather than a domain. We’re waiting for the buyout.
  • We received another 80,000 or so ‘impressions’ on Twitter. They count for virtually nothing.
  • 9464 emails were sent out to 182 subscribers. They count for virtually everything.

So, so much for the good news.

The bad news is that Facebook and Twitter are no substitute for a free internet. If you come to WestonWeb, you know you’ll get the whole Weston story. Facebook, on the other hand, filters the posts that appear on your page. If a post is popular with other people, you’re more likely to see it; if they don’t like it, you won’t. It’s bad for you: like-minded people vote up some posts and push broccoli  stories out of sight.

The effect can be huge. Our worst-performing stories on Facebook get 80-something views. Our best-performing ones get 15 times that. And there’s no clear correlation between what I think is important and what you see.  If you use Facebook, consider signing up for our weekly email. It’s got every post, broccoli and all.

Finally, a special shout-out to our Iraqi, Yemeni, and Burmese readers; we’ve had one from each country. The UK and Holland  have regulars too, and have provided about 100-something views. Ahoy hoy and goede dag!

And, of course, Happy New Year!

 

 

 

We’re back!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year celebration. The Norman-Limkildes had too much of everything, and, between you and me, I needed a bit of time away from the blog and work. It’s been a busy year.

In 2016, we published 336 stories—not quite one a day, but more than 6 a week. Not even the Globe publishes on Sunday. Not bad!

We had 88,500 visits to the site. Pretty good, I guess, but I’m a little disappointed that it was down from 109,000 in 2015. It’s not all bad, though: our posts were shown another 50,000 times on Facebook, which was new to us this year. So let’s call that one a wash.

 

Dear reader, you seem to like posts on food. Some of our highest ranking stories were on Lutong Pinoy, a Filipino restaurant; Zeal Burger; and Buddha Chay, a vegetarian joint.

The biggest story of 2016, though, was about—of all things—a slow-moving building. Right up there was the lost dog, which damned-near whooped all the thoughtful and researched work with big data, context, and expertise. The raggedy little mutt outperformed almost every post.

I’ve learned quite a bit while writing this blog. This year, I learned that the slowest and smallest news sometimes matters most.

That’s one thing I love about this little ongoing experiment. We’re not bound by the traditions of downtown media. I can say “I”. I can wish you a Merry Christmas. We can write about the slow, the context-heavy, and also the very small and furry. And evidently, you keep reading.

That reminds me: I never did find out if they found Arnold, that raggedy mutt.

So here’s to 2017!