How to destroy your page view rate

To help drive traffic (and thus ad revenue), a lot of websites tease their stories on the front page either by cutting off the story just before the salient part or by writing an ambiguous headline. Here’s a perfect example from the Star’s website this morning, teasing the results of last night’s Over the Rainbow on CBC:

Teaser headline in the Star

Who could have won? I must click through.

See? In an actual newspaper that was more concerned with telling you the news than selling your eyeballs to advertisers, that headline would be sporting a name in place of the ellipsis. (Indeed, the story’s URL gives it away, but many people wouldn’t notice.) Instead, you have to click through just to see the headline, right? Except that someone forgot to tell the Star’s advertisers how this whole teaser thing works:

Spoiler on page 1

Never mind, I got it.

If anyone at the Star noticed the incongruity of a teaser headline with a spoiler right underneath it, they just doubled down on the ad instead of losing the coy headline:

The Star giveth away

I said I got it.

Someone really needs to tell a Star editor that there’s no point in teasing the headline if it’s surrounded by the story. Okay, a semi-silly teasing headline on a website, no big deal. That would have been that, except that the Star did the same thing in today’s dead tree edition, placing the spoiler not just on the same page as the teaser, but in a wraparound that covered the teaser up:

The Star is giving it away.

Want to find out who won? Please buy this paper and turn to page E1. Try not to look to the left.


Insert what into where?

Insert disk graphic displayed on IBM server at boot

Kids these days may not recognize two of three things in this graphic.

I was greeted by this delightfully retro high-ASCII graphic last week when first booting up a new(-ish) IBM server to install an operating system. The only thing that would make it better would be displaying a 5.25″ floppy instead of a 3.5″ disk. It can only be a matter of time before hipsters start carrying floppies around because they’re more authentic than USB keys.

This server certainly didn’t have a floppy drive but I should count myself lucky: the operating system I was installing would have required shuffling more than 1,250 1.44 MB disks.

Doll on a dock

Doll on a dock

Is that a rod in your hand or are you just happy to see me?

People put the darnedest things on their docks. I hope he’s just holding the broken end of a fishing rod and not, uh, well, um, whatever it is that boys do when they pack up their satchels to spend a solitary afternoon by the river…

Fixing Mammoliti

A lot of ink and bluster have been spilled over yesterday’s confrontation between Councillors Giorgio Mammoliti and Gord Perks. I won’t add to it other than to say that Jack Lakey, the Star’s Fixer, wrote a blog post detailing a spat between his younger self, when he worked the City Hall beat,  and Mammoliti:


At one point [Mammoliti] told me – in front of other people in the council chamber – that I wrote the stories because I was anti-Italian. And then he walked away.

I was livid, not just at the comment, but at his timely evacuation of the danger zone.

In those days, I was a lot more jumped up and charged with testosterone. It was a serious challenge not to chase him down.

I called aside his executive assistant at the time, a good guy named Anthony Cesario, and asked him to pass along a message to George: If he ever said anything like that again, I’d drop him.

I was quite capable of it, and George knew it; he never came near me for months afterward.

If he’d followed through, Lakey would certainly have come to be known as The Fixer, but different reasons than he is now.

Road turkey

Road-running turkey

Near Millbrook, two domestic turkeys were foraging at the side of the road when I cycled by. One ran straight back into its field while this one ran up the road to the driveway and then ran up the driveway to the barn. Neither one took any notice of the car that passed by a few seconds earlier. So why did the turkey cross the road? To get away from the cyclist.

Major malfunction

Cyclist caution sign

Not only does this cyclist exhibit some seriously flawed technique, but he’s suffering a major mechanical malfunction too: those shattered rods flying in front of him must be the missing top tube and chainstays from his bike. The perils of crappy carbon frames.

Also, I notice that Mr. Stickman is carrying a few extra pounds:

Mr. Stickman is a little out of shape

Poor Mr. Stickman. He’s out for his first (and likely only) spin around the block this year, just trying to work off his winter fifteen and disaster strikes! I’m not even going to try to figure out what happened to his feet.